“You must be in really great shape!”, “What type of training do you need for a trip like this?” or “Are you in shape?”
These variations of exclamations/questions are something I frequently hear when I describe our upcoming ride.
The short answer to the question is a definitive “Not really.”
Sarah was on a Master’s track team and ran the 400 hurdles. Her training regime consisted of a combination of running, lifting weights and a gazillion sit-ups, five days a week. She can run/ride circles around me while playing spoons on her abs.
In January I went back to a combination of P90X and Insanity workouts, five to six days a week. On the rare occasions, informercials do not lie (unlike the time I was at the gym with the Shake Weight and fresh faux-hawk of Spray On Hair).
Unfortunately, this last month we were on vacation, followed by a series of good-bye parties and dinners. Just like my last long trip, I’m starting out 15 to 20 pounds too heavy; more fat Elvis than the younger version. I have a gut and moobs, although I do suspect I currently have excellent marbling.
Hopefully, some base level of fitness still exists.
In reality, one of the easiest ways to strengthen the legs is to take the stairs whenever possible. I took the stairs all the time at work. My office was on the 23rd floor and my daily business was conducted between the 17th and 23rd floors. There were multiple opportunities each day to strengthen the legs (single, two or three steps at a time provided variety).
I also played elevator bingo.
The elevator bank that led to my floor covered the range from the 15th floor to the 23rd. At least three times a week, I would get in and chance my exit to the fingers of groggy morning passengers. The lowest floor was my exit and the stairs beckoned to my office.
Am I the best shape of my life? No.
The beauty of cyclo-touring is that you train as you go. My recent diet of beer and copious amounts of food leave me no illusion that I will pay dearly for my recent Bacchanalian propensities . I will be miserable for about two weeks. My body’s aches will have aches.
But there is one consolation. I will have fabulous hair … one kick-ass spray-on faux hawk.