Repeat, “do not leave it a month between ballet jam classes”, “do not leave it a month ….” Yes, four days later and I was still suffering from calf related DOMS and there’s not even an improvement in my ballet jam technique to show for it. In fact, I seem to have got worse, co-ordination completely gone and balance – what’s that! This was my third class and when I got home I decided to go for a run to try to circumvent the DOMS. Didn’t work! Wednesday saw me limping up and down stairs but by Thursday I was able to try a treadmill run without fearing that something would snap. There was still a fair degree of discomfort on Friday and it was probably just as well there was a breakdown in communication about my sports massage appointment that morning. I’m not sure that degree of discomfort is called for, especially when you have to pay for it. Anyway, that’s rearranged for Tuesday and hopefully will not be quite as painful.
So the highlight of my week was Sunday afternoon which saw me and Lexi try out something new – Elliptigo! When you live so close to the facilities of Cyclopark it seems a shame not to make use of them. So rather than spend our time running past the railings and looking in, we ventured inside to be inducted into the art of not falling off a cross trainer on wheels.
Now the promotional video shows lots of happy beautiful people elliptigo-ing their way around sunny America. Us, we had a very rainy November Sunday afternoon. Just us, a children’s BMX party and two lone cyclists going round and round, and up and down in the pouring rain.
I’d been looking forward to giving it a go but having seen the weather forecast I was secretly hoping the session would be cancelled. Forget all my Sakyong Mipham’s “embracing the elements” talk, it was cold and it was wet. Unfortunately the cancellation didn’t come, just a phone call half an hour before to check we were still coming. Were they hoping we’d cancel? The other five “students” did.
In the morning I had volunteered at junior parkrun and so I came to the conclusion that if those children could brave the early morning elements on the river front (and I have to say all the volunteers were surprised at the number who turned up – 39 if anyone’s interested), I could probably cope with an hour traversing an exposed hilltop a few miles inland.
I had assumed riding an Elliptigo would literally be like riding a cross trainer that moved. It was only when faced with the machine itself that I started to realise a degree of balance was going to be required, and ballet jam has proved I don’t have a lot of that. Added to which I haven’t ridden a bike since I was in my tens – no, not my teens, the decade before that! I’m not even sure I had a bike as a child although I think I must have done. I still have a scar on the side of my thigh where I went a little too fast around the garden and came off as I went around a sharp corner. Mentally scarred as well as physically!
Chris, our instructor, gave us the spiel about the bike’s mechanics and told us how to operate the brakes and gears. Brakes I get the gist of but gears, what are they, when do you need them? And then came the time when we had to be brave and give it a go. We put our best foot forward – the left one – and after a few faulty starts managed to take both feet off the ground and move forward – well actually more swerve from side to side!
As I started to get the hang of it I had vague recollections of my parents realising, after the aforementioned bike incident, that they should have taught me how to use the brakes first. And as I headed off into the distance towards the first bend I started to panic a bit but thankfully they were actually quite easy to master.
However, the first accident happened when I tried to look behind me to see where Lexi and Chris had got to. That’s when I lost control and nearly ended up in the mud. Fortunately they were both too busy to see and there was no one else to notice so I mentally picked myself up and got back on.
After cycling around a small circuit a few times, and once Chris seemed fairly confident that we’d got the hang of it, we left the nursery slopes (oops, wrong sport) and started to master hills – up and down. And I discovered this is where you make use of the gears!
During our induction, Chris told us a lot of injured runners use elliptigo as an alternative means of exercise. You travel without incurring any impact (unless you fall off of course) but you use more of your muscles than cycling.
In total we spent a good hour and a quarter cycling around the course and although I didn’t feel it stretched me cardio wise, my legs and upper body had certainly worked. In the case of the latter, particularly when gripping the handles for dear life. Dismounting gracefully is also another tricky procedure which we will need to work on. And that’s the good news, both of us intend to go back, this week, and give it another go. But hopefully this time it’ll be a bit drier.
During our loops around the park we got a good view of all the facilities available including the BMX track. And guess what, we’re thinking of trying that at some point!