Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Cardio Machine

One of the great things about getting on the bike and riding the countryside is that it’s a very effective way to get a cardio workout.  Heart pumping, lungs working, super good for losing weight and keeping it off.  It’s also not as tough on the joints as say, running or handball. The best thing about it is, it doesn’t have to feel like a cardio workout at all.
On a bike, there’s so much scenery and interactivity you get in every ride. It puts you in touch with the outdoors, with nature, with the subtle and dramatic ways the landscape changes since the last time your rode there.  The sensation of rolling fast on a cool morning, riding through a grove of fir trees into a clearing with a view across the valley, hearing geese overhead, You’re in that moment.  
You see a hill ahead and you know which gear combination you’ll use to attack it, and precisely where you’ll get off the saddle to keep your climb aggressive. You anticipate what it will be like when you reach the top of that hill, still holding double-digit speeds, taking in another amazing view. With that anticipation, your brain tells the body to engage the climb. The hill steepens and you feel the change in your whole body. You reposition your hands on the bars, and at just the right moment you click the shifter to the gear you’d thought about long before you got there.  The legs reward you with a fast enough rotation to keep you down on the saddle. It’s all about the legs right now as you keep your momentum.
Just as you reach that spot when you’re going to lift yourself up off the saddle, you click the shifter up a gear or two, to optimize your pedaling while you’re up.  Committed to the speed you had in your mind, your heart and lungs are pumping more oxygen to your legs and core as you crank harder on the pedals. Sweat appears from everywhere as you feel the body temperature rise, and within seconds, it’s stinging your eyes and dripping off your face. The thighs are complaining, and your lungs feel like they’re going to burst if they work any harder. The only thing left between you and the top of that hill is your will.  
Are you still committed to that speed you wanted at the top, or are you going to give up, sit back, and only ride in first gear?  You push that idea out of your mind. You rock the bike a little more from side to side in case that helps you get more climb into your pedals. You say stuff out loud to cheer yourself on. It’s just you and the bike and the work. How bad do you want this hill?
So, is that a cardio workout? Sure, I guess so.


bikelovejones said...

Great post. Just got back from services at a friend's synagogue, whichr equired a ride UP to the Alameda Ridge. Steep, stupid steep; and I am determiend NOT to dismount and walk it. So I shift down, stand up and honk, five blocks on a 14% grade, all the way up to the top.
Ridiculous, but also kind of fun.
Yeah, it's like that.

Kelly Carlisle said...

Now THAT'S wassup. :)