Friday, November 8, 2013

On Tap Dancing and Bicycling

One of my favorite things that we’ve been doing lately in my tap dance class is a capella. At least, that’s what I call it. The teacher plays a song, we get a sense of the beat and rhythm, then take a few moments to come up with a four or eight count step of our own that matches the song. She listens to what we’ve chosen, then tells us what order to go in. Then it turns into a round, kinda. The most basic, beat-keeping bass sound goes first, followed by the next complicated and so on, and it builds up to the most complicated, highest tone sound. Then in reverse order, each person stops making their sound until only the basic bass is left.

I recorded a couple of samples last month on my phone – hopefully they work here. (Aha! I had to turn the audio file into a YouTube video. Stupid technology.)

So here's a simple one, easy to hear the different sounds and the breakdown of the different rhythms.

This one's a bit more complicated, and more fun!

In unrelated bicycling news, I rode in the Tour de Sewer a couple of weeks ago. Some of my family was preparing to ride in the Tour de St. George, which sounds so much more sophisticated, doesn’t it? At first I thought about joining them there – it’s only a six hour drive from LA to St. George, but then it seemed like a lot of effort just to ride my bike a few miles. So I decided to do something with them in solidarity that day, even if only in spirit, and found this ride that was still a drive, but only of the 30 minute variety.

It was fun to see a different part of my city, especially by bike, than I would at any other time. The trails I rode were well-maintained, and I was only on city streets for the last four or so miles, maybe a bit more. There were three separate (I think; maybe four) bike paths/trails – Rio Hondo, LA River and something else. It’ll come to me as soon as I publish this post, I imagine. Oh, San Gabriel River (I looked on the site) bike path. One gentleman told me that if I took the path where we started from and just kept going, I’d end up in Azusa (it’s a made-up city name, though not made-up city, that means “A to Z in the USA.” We’re too clever by half here in Los Angeles.) and the San Gabriel foothills, going past lakes and all sorts of beautiful scenery. I’ll have to try that someday.

Anyway, I did the 25 mile version. Other available rides were 15, 50 or 60. The week before I went on a 25 mile ride on my own just to make sure I still knew how to ride a bike. I do, but only just barely, and discovered that any “calluses” I’d built up after years of teaching indoor cycling, and more recently training for the Huntsman, were pretty well gone. In other words, my butt hurt. My training ride the week before took me about two hours to do, but that includes stopping at just about every red  light in the San Fernando valley. I was pleased that this ride took me about 90 minutes or so. I still went at a fairly leisurely pace, as it was a “ride,” not a “race,” so I’ll have to work at getting consistently faster.

At one point though, a group of four riders passed me. I had been studying the signs on the freeway that ran parallel to the path I was then on, and didn’t realize they were coming up behind me until they hollered, “On your left!” A big guy was pulling lead for them and they were all merrily drafting behind, especially the little guy in the left who was happily listening to his MP3 player and doing his own thing. I watched them for a bit, then realized they had either slowed, or my competitive nature kicked in, so I leaned forward a bit, used a better pedaling form than I had been, and blew right past them. I don’t think they cared for that very much, especially since they had someone drafting for them and I didn’t, and we were all riding into the same head wind. Oh well. I can’t help it if I’m better than they are. I just needed to be reminded, I guess.

So what does biking and tap dancing have to do with each other you ask? Well you might. I recently discovered that next year’s dance recital and the Huntsman 140 ride are on the same weekend.

Yes, that’s right. I plan on riding my bicycle one hundred and forty miles from Delta, Utah to Salt Lake City one day, get in my car, drive all night, then perform in a dance recital the next evening. My only logistical concern was that I’d miss dress rehearsal the day before the actual performance, but my teacher is totally fine with that, and in fact is expecting it of me now.

There are, of course, many other concerns, such as the afore-mentioned sore butt, other sore muscles, and a general fatigue and tiredness. Take all those and mix well with a liberal dose of stupidity, and there you have me in June of 2014.



  1. Maybe this is a bit hasty, but if you're going to do the Huntsman and then the dance recital the next evening, I am (at least tentatively) planning on going and watching your dance recital the next evening - I mean, if I can stay with you!!

  2. Oh, my goodness. I think you are both crazy! Wow.

    Glad you posted about the Tour de Sewer. It sounds like a very pretty ride. Also, just so you know, if I do the Huntsman next year, it'll likely be the 25 or 75 mile version. I'm still not committed to that 140-mile ride through the desert. Wow. oh wow.

  3. PS I love the a capella tap dancing that you shared. And I think it's way cool that you had the strength to do so well in the Tour de Sewer. Even as I call you crazy for doing so much, I want you to know that I admire you very much. It's totally cool to see all that we can do when we work at it. You rock!