There are two-word phrases in both English and Yiddish that sum up what I’m thinking right now about our summer plans.
And uh oh.
Sam and I are going to Europe for a vacation in July that includes a bike tour in the Czech Republic. We will spend six days riding, about 25-30 miles per day.
This is something Sam could do in his sleep — he rides up into the Oakland hills about three times a week, covering anywhere from 15-50 miles per ride, and does several century (100 km or 100 mile) rides each year.
Me? I take weekly spin classes at our gym, but I ride outdoors maybe once a year.
Of course, this whole thing was my idea. I was looking through guidebooks about Central Europe and reading about the food, which seemed like an awful lot of meat, potatoes, dumplings, more meat, and more dumplings. Washed down by the internationally-renowned beer!
I figured that if we didn’t do something drastically active, I would come back looking like a dumpling myself.
Plus biking is a great way to see the countryside in a more detailed and leisurely way than train or car. Sam had been fantasizing about doing a European bike tour for years. So, all in all, a great idea, right?
Then today I started training.
Sam led me on one of his basic bike routes, a 28-mile loop through the Oakland Hills. (For those of you who live in the area, it was up Tunnel Road to Skyline, then down Redwood Rd. into Contra Costa, then back up Pinehurst to Skyline and down Shepherd Canyon, through Montclair down to our house near Broadway. The local bikers all know this loop and just say “Redwood and Pinehurst.”)
OH MY GOD.
I managed it, which is a plus. I didn’t have to walk the bike at all. I only had to make one little rest stop that Sam didn’t make, and that was near the end of the last, biggest hill.
But boy, am I thrashed.
I had done this route once before, a couple of years ago, so I knew when I signed us up for the bike tour that I could do a ride of 25-30 miles. But it was exhausting. And what worries me is the prospect of having to do this for six days in a row.
I have about a month to train, but a week of that will be spent back east visiting family. I think I’ll be able to improve my endurance a little bit (at least get my posterior used to extended periods on a bike seat) but three weeks is not enough time to work any miracles.
So even if I try to train, it will still be throw-the-kid-in-the-pool-and-see-if-she-swims.
Stepping back, the bright side of this is that I am in much better physical shape now, at age 52, than anyone might have predicted when I was a kid. I was on the chubby side and far from an athlete — the kind of kid who loved reading and artsy stuff, and, when it came to team sports at camp, was always picked last and stuck in the outfield.
I’ve had bad knees since my late teens. I never did sports during college. My only high school sport experience was in freshman year, when a friend and I signed up for track & field because we had crushes on a couple of the the junior boys on the track team. (How would you describe that on the part of a college application that asks about sports involvement? “Running… after junior boys.”)
I’ve benefitted from my generation’s awareness of physical fitness. (Health clubs really became a mass phenomenon as baby boomers hit their 20s and 30s, didn’t they?) I’ve also benefitted from being married to someone who cares about his physical fitness, a nice little bit of low-key peer pressure.
In any event, the mere fact that here I am — making it to the gym several times a week and now attempting a six-day bike ride — should be worth a few gold stars in my internal report card.
And yes, there will be a van on this bike tour to pick me up if I need to bail at any point.
So things will probably work out fine. And if they don’t, I will come home with some world-class stories of disaster and humiliation. Either way, a vacation to remember.
But right now, my legs are jelly.
And my butt hurts.