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01) Newcomer's Century
02) Rachel's Ride
03) Fooled the A's
04) A Modest Proposal
05) Sisyphus Speaks
06) Hidden Agendas
07) Dangerous Attraction
08) Enjoining the Army
09) Puke Now
10) Moving Target
11) Crack
12) Eyes Like Saucers
13) Irish Maniacs
14) Dropped by a Cop
15) The Doctor is In
16) Chuckie's Mission
17) Short Story
18) Sharon of Nine
19) Bicycling Heaven
20) E-mail Fallout
21) Dear Spin Bitch

Updated January 22, 2016 | By Bob Fugett (SlingShot)

Sharon of Nine
Article #18    01/08/2003

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It was deepest dark and crackling frigid winter night outside, while inside the slightly less frigid room a disco ball hung at the center and swirled multi-colored patches simultaneously across my face, the mirrored walls, and twined among the other dark figures standing breathless beside their spin cycles. I leaned motionless against my own. The pounding music had stopped but echoed in my thumping heart as I draped over the handle bars. My legs were heavy rubber. I could barely think. Still a singularity among those wandering square patches distracted and drew my attention.

One patch had a warmer hue than the others and repeatedly became the focus of my stricken eye. As I followed its spiraling path, I began to see that it held more detail than immediately apparent, so I peered more closely. Zooming in I tumbled as if into a cinema and found myself yanked out of the aching frozen winter to be surrounded by the full glorious color of an expansive warm autumn scene.

In that scene I was tight on the wheel of Sharon (of Nine) Giannino, and we were holding a strong pace through the blazing colors along 211 coming out of Montgomery. Finishing up a late-season New Paltz ride, we were alone; even though, on seeing her stand and lean into her big gear just after the bridge, I had warned the others, "I think Sharon smells the end of the ride. It's going to get fast now."

As an aside I'll mention this only once, and then drop it. I've lobbied for a couple years with regard to making Sharon's nom "Sharon of Nine." My wife agrees, as do various people we've talked to outside the biking community, but I only get blank stares from OCBC'ers when I bring it up. Apparently biking and watching Star Trek are mutually exclusive activities, so I'll give a brief explanation.

There is a character on one of the later Star Trek series called Seven of Nine who is beautiful beyond imagining, has a killer bod and is part cyborg besides! She was assimilated by the Borg and upgraded with their technology, making her part human, part machine. Sharon Giannino matches those specs precisely. When wearing her Stars and Stripes she has often been called an action figure; and, when she spins effortlessly off the front, everybody in the know has to believe that some sort of Borg technology is at work — beyond her nine cogs. Thus Sharon of Nine seems the obvious choice to me, but I haven't been able to get even two other people in the club to agree. As I said, just blank stares. Maybe people are embarrassed to be revealed as Trekies, but for the life of me I can't think of anything more embarrassing than wearing bicycling shorts.

Actually, I'm pleased to report that the beauty and killer bod aspects of Sharon's demeanor do not hold the same sway over me that it would have years ago. However, despite my advancing years, there are some triggers that still provide exactly the same effect they ever did, such as: "THE BITCH PASSED ME!"

 So when I saw her nostrils flare in Montgomery I knew it was time to go, or else endure the aggravation of seeing somebody already in the parking lot when I got there. Of course I warned everybody else that the ride was about to begin, but neither Charlie (Chatmandu) Brown (the only one there I can remember for sure) nor any of the half dozen other riders took me seriously. Maybe they knew better than to give chase. Oh that's right, (Totally Tubular) Louie and (Shoeless) Julie were back with another group doing their usual stellar OCBC job of helping a new rider make it through their first 50 miler, so Sharon and I were off alone.

As long as I stayed out of the wind the pace was manageable, so I was close on Sharon's wheel. I was sure she didn't know I was behind her, so I tucked over to the right, got real quiet and had time to think.

I remembered the reason that she had been my target all summer was because early in the spring, after a Wednesday night ride, I had told Randy (R&) how I'd spent the whole time way off the front chasing Sharon and Andrew.

Randy said, "Sharon!? That ain't gonna happen. Fuggedd aboud it!"

That little dig derived from my last name while supporting his other tendency to call me Useless due to my not pulling — ever. My good fortune at having amassed a dozen or so noms (while there are children in China who do not have even one) did not allay my knee jerk reaction. Sharon immediately became my quest.

Thinking about Randy reminded me how he was soon to retire and go on a cross country bicycle ride taking Roberta (&R) with him. I shuddered, figuring that meant the demise of OCBC.

I've always considered Randy the spiritual leader of the B's (at least since Crazy Mike's been MIA); and his quick sardonic wit, along with that chuckling sparkle in his eye while making sure nobody gets dropped (though he could leave the entire lot of them for dead in an instant) is a large part of what insures those rides are an ongoing challenge and a pleasure. Also it meant Roberta would now be giving up her title as the Spoke 'n Word Editor so would no longer be playing Sharon Osbourne to all the rest of our Ozzies. I thought, "This club will never be the same, how can we possibly go on? Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if Dr. Art doesn't just stumble around freaked out and stop writing articles altogether. Well, it's his own damn Vault."

I was just about to fall into an abyss of depression but we arrived at the intersection by the airport. Sharon looked back and found me on her wheel. She winced and I smiled. "Quiet bike isn't it?" I queried aloud but also thought, "Needer, needer, needer ... I've still got some glycogen." 

We made the left turn onto 416 towards Orange Park; and, since she knew I was there, I had to pretend to pull for awhile. I knew the wind would now be angled from our right front, so I figured the trees would hold it off me. As soon as we cleared the trees I jumped right back on her wheel, this time just to the left in a quiet little niche. I allowed the wind to do its magic (wear her down) while I hid practicing patience and repeating my mantra, "Not before the final hill, not before the final hill ..."

By the time we were on the last climb to the parking lot, the wind had done my work for me, and as the hill tightened near the top I finally heard Sharon give out that almost imperceptible tiny gasp of being done. I stood, passed her, and off-handedly taunted, "Guess it's time to breathe hard ... don't you think?" Then I did my version of a sprint to the end.

Helmet in hand I was standing beside my truck when Sharon coasted into the parking lot and growled, "I'm really tired of being your lead out."

I smiled and thought, "Ahh, a successful year ..." but suddenly the day compressed around me and moved away. It dwindled back down to become once again that little overly bright yellow square amidst the disco lights swarming over the walls. This was Sharon's spin class!

I felt the pain and realized I was actually in Sharon's world now. Her payback from that Autumn ride was complete, and what a payback it had been. It turns out Sharon is a professional aerobics instructor. The only reason I've ever been able to ride with her is because she's chronically overtrained from her teaching schedule, which also benefits her spin students, because her experienced guidance proves as good as one can hope for.

There were about a dozen of us from OCBC that had realized the good sense of getting in some high quality workouts over the winter months. Some signed up for Tuesday, some for Thursday some for both, while two acted as alternates after SlingShot and the Black Widow got sick of the snow and headed off to Tampa. All told, those in attendance were: Dave Bray, Charlie (Chatmandu) Brown, Randy (R&) & (&R) Roberta Dakan, Mary (The Black Widow) Endico, Sherry Herlihey, Tom Kearney, Jane Koch, (The Brave) Mary Lou Nolan, Virginia Richardson, Vinnie Scelta and Barbara Sessa.

Richard (Big Bianche) Lawrence is a member of the gym so made a couple guest appearances and once tried to throw us all off the program by bringing some of his mother's famous brownies. He had to be reminded those sinfully delicious treats are illegal in International competition — in the most ironic way.

Athletes are not barred from eating them, just barred from passing them out to the competition — especially to those with such cycling gravitas as SlingShot.

From the very first night, when we'd all filed through the door to Straub's Gym in Monroe, past the towering bright altars to step, walk, and run, on along the gleaming porcelain white macabre racks of pump and burn, down the long dank hallway that finally descended into Sharon's dark little dungeon of drills, we were all impressed with the extreme effort she puts into choreographing perfect exercise sequences to the perfect music. When one finds La Donne Mobile (that operatic student standard) paired with George Thorogood's Bad to the Bone plus selections from the Allman Brothers, Madonna and others, ending with Christina Aguilera's Beautiful for the grand finale warm down, all tunes carefully wound into a hammering, lung shattering set of sprints, dashes and dances, it is certain that an eclectic mix has been assembled with great effort.

After each class my heart rate monitor's computer readout revealed a perfect progression from warmup through intervals that piqued my anaerobic threshold again and again, punctuated by recovery and tempo work, all precisely paced to tunes from all over the musical spectrum. I'm sure everybody found instances of their own favorites. Plus the individual adjustment of effort available on the spin cycles, based on perceived exertion (in a darkened, no pressure, non-hostile environment), allowed Pokers through AA's to work side by side. Nobody got dropped, and everybody enjoyed a top quality workout at their own level.

Of course there is that little matter of Sharon's constant cracking of the whip, with the periodic crescendo of wheezing while a tidal wave of lactic acid washes over the room. In light of that, and since nobody likes my suggestion of Sharon of Nine for her nom, I might make one last humble suggestion.

Since a sought after nom amongst the AA men is BASTARD (the S.O.B. at the front pushing the pace up Ridgebury), which in 2001 referred to Kevin Haley, was abdicated in 2002 to Humberto Cavalheiro, and which in 2003 may be passed on to (Dangerous) Dan Sullivan, depending on the success of his next round of Liposuction, I'm sure nobody who has endured her spin class (that is to say those people now riding in front of the rest of you) will lodge any complaint when I begin referring to Sharon as the SPIN BITCH!


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