“Dino, you’re fat. Get off the sofa.”
This is the way that my loving brother would coax me to the gym.
I didn’t have much choice in the matter. Having returned home from Australia homeless and penniless I lived in Seb’s spare room while I saved up enough money to go back to university. At this point Seb was in the midst of training to become a fitness instructor. I was the live-in guinea pig.
I recall one day Seb took me to the gym to do back-to-back gym sessions. We started with aqua aerobics (we were the only two people in the class under 50…), followed by a frenetic cardio class, followed by a body conditioning class led by Seb. Followed by collapsing back onto the sofa. The only saving grace was that Seb’s ideal post-workout snack was a tub of Haagen-Dazs.
Never before did I know that you could be so tired, that you could ache so, so much and still keep going.
Cycling across Canada reminds me of those gym sessions with Seb. Each leg has tested, boosted and exhausted my body in a new way.
The Rockies: climbing
I loved the mountains. Maybe it was because I grew up in the bottom of a valley but I love hill climbing. You have something to aim for. You know how long it will take to climb. I had trained for the mountains. My legs changed shape a but mostly they just enjoyed themselves.
The prairies: spinning
Flat is hard. Flat meant you could never, ever stop pedalling. There were no downhills, I could never coast. A gear change was a rare and special event. The prairies were a week long spin class. For five, six, seven hours I day I could sit on my bike and spin.
Cranking up the iPod, Florence & the machine, Tegan & Sara, and America [sic] got me across the prairies. I spun 800 kilometres in 6 days. What a ridiculous distance. With their deceptive difficulty the prairies battered my body and reshaped my legs in a way I hadn’t expected.
The forest: intervals
One moment I would be tapping away with the ease and grace of a swan gliding over the water. The next minute my heart was pounding, my thighs burning, my knees breaking underneath. I struggled like a loon trying to take flight as I fought the gradient. I feared collapse. And then… Breathe. Another swift, easy descent and my heart returns to normal.
The forests of the Canadian Shield were one, long (very long) interval class.
I don’t think Seb ever had a fourth class. Canada does. After climbing, spinning, interval training, I still have the Maritimes to go. How will the east coast test my legs?
The end is in sight. I have only 2,500 kilometres to go before my legs and I can collapse back on the sofa with a tub of Haagen-Dazs.