In the tall, grey part of the city, a pristine white studio opens onto the street. Tom Sproats, who came up with the idea for Scenic Cycle in 2011, is greeting members by name as the place fills with an excited, nervous energy before the spin class starts. “We really are a team. We never use the term ‘client’, we say ‘riders’. We try to break down the barrier between staff and the people coming in,’” Sproats says.
After putting my things in a locker, I hop onto my assigned bike, number 18. Everyone has pre-booked a specific bike online (our tip is a seat right up front); it’s the first time this specific-bike booking technology has been used in Australia.
There are a few things that immediately stand out. Scented candles surround the podium of the ‘leader’ (not instructor), giving the dark room a soft light. The towel I’m handed smells like lavender. Most notably, there are two enormous screens at the front of the class. Today we’re riding through vineyards in Napa Valley. As the music starts up (Florence and the Machine, Kanye West, Empire of the Sun) the ride begins: real time footage of a bike ride, through lush, autumnal greenery, past quirky cottages. Cars carefully overtake us. “It’s 50 per cent about the mind, 50 per cent about the body. I see Scenic Cycle to be as much about the mental release as I do the physical burn,” says Sproats.
We turn up resistance on hills, and fly down the other side. Of course, it’s not quite the same as the real thing. But the music, the leader’s voice, the footage, all serve to let your mind to go blank, forgetting how much your legs hurt and losing yourself in the moment.
As I walk out, I’m handed a little cup of bircher muesli, made by Sproat’s mum. I might try a ride through Alpe D’Huez in France next time.
Aurora Place, 88 Phillip Street, Sydney
(02) 9254 4102
Mon to Fri 7am–8pm