My favorite interval sessions, if there is such thing, were done on this rusty bike in a shabby gym of an old English squash club in Essex. This bike was not just any bike. It was a moody old thing. Being the only bike in this tiny gym, she definitely had character. She had an attitude. The moment you didn’t respect her, or the session you were about to (hopefully) endure, she could surprise you with her resistance and send doubts into your legs and brain during only your second or third set of many more to come.
The unique thing about this machine was that the resistance automatically went up the faster you pedaled. Since then I’ve never seen a bike like this. On most bikes the resistance breaks when your RPM’s go higher than a certain number. Not on this one. She stayed with you, no matter how hard you pushed!
This bike was a moody old woman you’d better confront with care and only approach in your best possible form. Although she was old and in bad shape, as millions of watts had been pushed out on her, every player knew damn sure never to underestimate her. Some days she would love you and give you an easy ride. Other days she would hate you and test how much of a man your really were.
Located opposite a big mirror you couldn’t help seeing your own eyes during the moment you were suffering most. Not a pretty sight. We did these sessions three times a week: on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It wasn’t rocket-surgery either: 1-minute intervals on Monday. 45-second intervals on Wednesday and 30-second sprints on Friday. I was always nervous before, but felt like a god after.
My best ever session was on a rainy Monday in 2005. I managed to do 24 sets of 1-minute sprints at 105 RPM’s, which was about 380 Watts. After almost an hour on the bike (including warm-up) I climbed off the bike, stumbled to the court-area, lay down behind the stairs and fell asleep almost straight away.
After years of absence I returned to my old club a few months ago to check up on my old girlfriend. She wasn’t there anymore. The owner of the new gym told me there was a big market for second hand fitness equipment in Eastern European countries and that she had been sold. Thinking back of our relationship I wondered if I’d meant to her what she’d meant to me.
(Saturday, November 24, 2012, Den Haag)