On the face of it, nothing is more counterproductive to cycling than vacation. I have had too many of these hiatuses. This last week I have found myself on the Norwegian Cruise Lines “Norwegian Gem,” on a seven-day tour of the allegedly warmer climes of south Florida/the Bahamas. We just got back on terra firma today, and for the last seven hours I have continued to feel the swaying of the boat in my legs. The Sea does not relinquish its grasp easily.
My time away from the bike is now at eleven days. I hope fervently to be cycling indoors tomorrow and outdoors Monday, though the forecast for DC is calling for rain. But I did take exercise clothing onboard, and actually got in a couple of sessions to ward off total atrophy. As a would-be athletic guest on a cruise ship, which is nothing more than a huge, horizontal floating hotel, you find every facility. They had a jogging route on the 13th level, the deck above the swimming pools. As I jogged, or walked, this path (5.5 circuits = 1 mile) I passed a driving range, shuffleboard courts, miniature golf, and an area that could be used for tennis, basketball, or soccer (sort of), though not all at once. All that would bespeak good health and vigorous exercise, except for the 35 to 40 mph winds that prevailed for much of the cruise, along with air temperatures on the open sea of 45 to 55 degrees. I actually saw a couple trying to play tennis in that wind. Neither had much form, and the wind robbed them of any semblance of success.
More sane was the scene in the gym on level 12. It had three rooms: a weight room, a class room (for calisthenics and spinning), and a room of various machines, including six exercise bikes. The bikes were multi-functional thanks to advanced computer chips, and I found myself on them for a couple of good sessions at least (when you’re part of a group on vacation it does seem a bit anti-social to wander off too often).
From our Level 9 cabin I ran up the three flights to the gym (somehow riding an elevator to exercise seems idiotic). Both times I chose were when few others were looking to work out, and I had the bikes to myself. The treadmills were much more popular. These bikes had many great functions, leaving my home machine looking mighty inadequate. I chose one without a TV screen, preferring to look out over the vast, gray, blank, North Atlantic. And once I figured out how to program the machines after false starts I had my warmup time taken care of. There is something surreal about looking ahead into a blank blue-gray vista with no focus and no destination, but it does reinforce the idea that exercise is for the sake of the moment, and not for an ongoing journey. It keeps your muscles tuned up and your psyche still longing for a real ride. Just do it! [Swoosh]
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.