Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I love riding to the harbor, especially at this time of year. It's beginning to fill with activity, since Summer is on its way ... but it's still not yet crowded, so one can enjoy the beauty and happenings without worry of obstacles like traffic and people ... not that there's anything wrong with either.
The only thing I DON'T like about riding to the harbor is that, as I mentioned in a previous post, the return ride is always ... ALWAYS an uphill ride. Hills are okay, but there are two main roads back home, and both of them are fairly steep ... like THIS one:
The photo doesn't do justice, even with the tall ship views from the bottom and top for perspective, but suffice it to say this hill is about an 18% grade and runs for over a quarter mile. It's almost as though every ride becomes a "training" ride because of hills like this one. Now don't go assuming I think there's something wrong with training ... I have great admiration for those who do it. For me, however, the word "training" conjures up images of something that isn't as much FUN and RELAXING as it is WORK ... and cycling isn't something I want to view as WORK. I already do enough of that. But since Summer is on its way ... and that often means getting in shape for beach outings and BBQ events ... I felt it was time today to begin a different kind of training regimen.
People often speak of "cross-training", using different forms of exercise to work (there's that word again) different muscle groups or to work the same groups in different ways. You might think that means doing something WITHOUT your bike ... but that's not always true. Today, I have developed a cross-training event that uses the bicycle throughout the entire process. Truth be told, it happened by accident, when I really needed a different route home from the harbor. Instead of taking one of the two road routes, I decided to enter the local park across from the harbor area. I've never gone that way before because I've seen the posted signs asking for "no bicycling" on the park sidewalks ... however, I see many people doing it every day, so I thought I'd be bold and give it a whirl. Geography dictates that going home WILL involve going uphill, so I knew there would be some kind of hill action ... but at least it was off the road and through some new territory. What I found was a veritable plethora of cross-training possibilities. Here's how it works:
Upon entering the park, one immediately encounters the first uphill path, followed by another, and another ... and then a series of "switchback" paths that lead ... you guessed it ... uphill through the park. Here's a look:
And here's a graphic depiction of the switchbacks:
Once again, a photo cannot do this justice ... it's a very long, winding path up through that pretty green grass.
Now ... here's where the cross-training fun begins. If trying to pedal up these paths becomes difficult, one can simply walk the bike ... and walking uphill with a bike works different leg and foot muscles, as well as working the riding muscles in different ways. This can be especially effective if done near the end of what has already been a good long ride, when your legs are "pre-fatigued". You can also skip the switchback paths altogether and push your bike uphill through the grass ... cyclocross style ... for a more invigorating workout. If you want to add some strength training to your day, there are three sets of concrete stairs ... one VERY long (#1 in the photo), one medium long (#2), and one normal (#3). You could carry your bike up them for added intensity and upper body work. Here's a look:
I did not opt for the added stair workout today ... as holding the camera in one hand and the bike in the other presented a problem that could not be easily resolved at the moment. Next time ...
I was a bit disappointed that I was obviously not the first cyclist to think of this cross-training plan. I noticed several others performing the same workout:
Workout or not, I couldn't help but stop and enjoy the amazing scenery this particular park has to offer:
And the best view is the one at the top of all the switchbacks ... looking down over the climb just made with superhuman strength:
It really is a LONG way down to the bottom ... you'll just have to take my word for it! Now get out of your computer chair and go explore some new territory of your own!!