Daily exercise is a key part of lowering cholesterol without medication, and in the long, cold winter months, my exercise of choice is tennis (and my real exercise is spin class.)
For those who’ve not tried it yet, spin class is an amazing cardiovascular workout. Some shy away because they’ve heard it’s intense…and it can be. But it doesn’t have to be – if you’re curious, drop by your local gym or spin studio and try a class. First class is often free and – like yoga – it’s best at least at first to go at your own pace and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. If you get hooked, like I did, you’ll find it’s a fun class that you can adjust as your fitness level improves – and believe me, after just 2-3 weeks of spin, you’ll be amazed at the change in your cardio fitness. (For more info about spinning, check out the explanation at the fun place I get to spin: Joyride.)
Why am I talking about spin class? Well, I use spin class for straight-up cardio workouts all year long AND also to train for the Backroads bike trips we go on every two years.
When I’m not ‘training’ for an upcoming vacation (I know, I know, oxymoron to some – but for us, it’s really a blast) I spin – at most – just once or twice a week, and play tennis the rest of the time. But one of the side benefits of these biking vacations is that you MUST get in shape or you won’t have fun – and that sends me to spin class about 3 times a week for the 3 months leading up to the trip.
Hence my two most recent posts about heart rate – where I could literally see my cardio improvement (and the reason for lapse in posting – first a technical issue with my site, then iffy wifi in Croatia.)
So spin got me in great cardio shape – but what it failed to do this time is to prepare me for the long, long hills we had to climb in Croatia.
Which is odd, because I’ve never had this problem before. For our other bike trips, spin got me in great cardio AND hill-ready biking shape. Well, mostly – there was still that long, long walk-of-the-bike to the top of San Gimignano in Tuscany…but that was our very first trip 10 years ago and we had NO IDEA the level of hills we had signed up for!
My guess is this time, I didn’t amp up the resistance enough during class, though I thought I did. OR it was that I didn’t do enough training with huge resistance on a SEATED climb, which his what most of the Backroads hills are – you are tackling a 5-7 kilometer hill and that’s far too long to stand on the bike – at least it is for me.
So this is me, next to the van that boosted me up a 7k hill that I chose not to ride (but the downhill part was a BLAST). Truth be told, I didn’t boost up ALL the hills on this trip (and I’ve almost never boosted up a hill on other trips). But the nature of this particular trip was you had to get to certain locations by certain times so you wouldn’t miss the boat that took you to the next island’s biking. So we took the van up certain (huge) hills so we could ride more of the route – and still make the boat.
I must say, I didn’t love taking the van up several hills. I’m, um, so intensely competitive that it was hard to convince myself that we were making a good CHOICE, not that we were failing. But that said, I need to do a little more research into how to use spin class to train for hills for our next trip. (Because I don’t feel safe biking where I live – crazy drivers.)
Luckily, I’ve got 2 years to work this out. And I really want to because where else but a Backroads trip can you see signs like this? All week we saw these crazy signs (but luckily we didn’t see the wild boar it warned of – though we did have a near run-in with a passel of sheep).