I love cycling and pushing my physical limits, but I’ll admit that my training tends to drop off around the holidays. Winter weather hits, I don’t eat as healthy as I’d like and social engagements take up most of my weekends. By the time spring rolls around, I want to kick it into high gear to get in shape for my summer cycling season. I start doing my typical after-work loops and venture a bit farther away from home for longer rides on the weekends. But this routine can become…routine. That’s why I helped develop Backroads’ new Spring Training Biking trips.
Wait! Don’t put that winter active wear away just yet. If you’re planning a trip to the Dolomites during the summer, you might just need it. There is often this misconception about “sunny Italy” being, well, warm all the time. But it’s a long peninsula that experiences true seasons and isn’t always under the Tuscan sun.
DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY! That’s right, I’m talking about calisthenics: simple body-weight exercises that utilize the force of gravity. Push-ups. Pull-ups. Dips. Squats. Lunges. It’s an age-old method used by militaries, athletic teams and high school gym teachers alike.
Is spinning a good training for a biking trip? Will it make you strong enough to face the demanding hills of the Canary Islands? I was curious about this topic and I tried to investigate a little bit. I eventually found all the answers I was looking for when I met an extraordinary sporty couple: Andrea and Caterina.
It’s 50-something degrees out and you’re soaked to the bone. You’re on an epic ride and your heart is beating like the bass drum of a metal band–fast. While standing at the top of a gnarly climb, you’re sure that the well-deserved descent will be steep and send you screaming past moving cars like they’re parked on the side of the road. The only dilemma is that you’re dripping sweat, fully kitted out in spandex, and going 45 mph sounds awfully chilly and unpleasant. With hypothermia around the corner, you realize you might have to squeal the brakes all the way back down the mountain. Having a windshirt would have turned this epic fail into an epic win.
I’m flying down the hill at 50 miles an hour. Trees blow past me as I rapidly descend in elevation. Suddenly, smack in the middle of the road, I see two grizzly bears. I slam on the brakes, skidding sideways on my road bike. Somehow, I maintain control and stop, a mere 20 paces away from the two grizzlies. Startled, one runs to the side of the road, but the other holds his ground.
As a professional active traveler, my suitcase is filled with items that can get me from epic bicycle journey to Michelin-starred restaurant, to the opera and back to the trailhead. This said, when asked “what’s in my suitcase,” the contents certainly depend on the trip I’m about to embark on with one small, culinary-inclined exception: my trusty travel spork.
Long flights, trains rides and layovers. These extended stints of sitting and inactivity as you’re preparing for–or recovering from–your Backroads trip are the perfect opportunity for tight muscles (and possible injury) in the hips, legs and back. But your travels needn’t stifle your muscular health! All you need to keep your body healthy and ready for riding, hiking and adventuring is a little bit of space, forethought and this quick stretching routine that you can do in your hotel room, in the airport or even on the plane.
Happy comfortable feet empower you to tackle indulgent adventures and find delight in every moment. Having proper footwear should be priority numero uno as you begin packing for your trip. Whether you are biking, hiking or dancing your way through your vacation, these are the best ways to take care of your most-used instruments of travel, your feet.
The wind is blowing in your face, which is usually a pleasant feeling but today it’s making the riding one hell of a lot tougher. Your head feels heavy and your eyes are fixed on the tarmac just inches ahead of your front wheel, the beautiful scenery stopped mattering a long time ago. As the sweat drips from your face, you struggle to find your breath and you wonder, “How in the hell was I ever talked into going on an active travel trip?”
Here’s the first thing you should know: how you perform at high altitude can have very little to do with your fitness level. So let yourself off the hook for that one. Of course, being fit and healthy always increases your resilience and helps you recover more quickly from challenges. So it doesn’t hurt. Get fit. But don’t beat yourself up if you’ve done all your stair training and still find yourself breathless in Iquitos.
Riding 4,000 miles across the country gave me plenty of time to think about all of life’s intricacies and plenty of time to scold myself for over-packing my bicycle. Nothing can ruin a trip like realizing you’ve been too liberal with your packing and purchasing habits.
The sun’s shining, there’s a white carpet of snow covering the ground, and the trees are heavy from the latest snowfall. Working up a sweat, I ascend a small hill and drink in the view. As far as I can see, forest covers the landscape…
I used to be pretty serious about the whole competitive running thing. I’ve run my whole life. And I’ve run myself into the ground—quite literally. I’ve had plenty of injuries. Too many, in fact. And those injuries prompted me to develop Tom Hale Total Health.