Friday, June 28, 2013

Bicycling the Greek Cyclades Islands

Seems like I disappeared for the past few weeks and I guess I sort of did. I took off for vacation to the Greek Islands. This was the third time my husband and I took an "Island Hopping" vacation. What is an Island Hopping vacation you ask? Island Hopping is a German company that offers Bike & Boat vacations that are out of this world. The boats are usually wooden sailboats approximately 100 - 150 ft. and accommodate roughly 10 couples. This makes these "cruises" nice and intimate. You share meals with your new friends, lounge deck-side as the boat is underway and then there is, of course, all the biking you do together. This particular trip was sailing and cycling the Greek Cyclades Islands.

For some reason when I thought of Greece I thought about a “tropical” place. I did not think “mountainous desert” but that was mostly what the islands were. At many times it felt like biking in Utah, and it was just as challenging. I have no idea where I mustered the strength from because I was in no way ready for this ride. Still struggling with neck surgery recovery, with only about 30 miles under my belt this season (and that accounts for three times on a bike), and no cardio training at all, I’m stunned at how I performed. If my leg muscles have such great “muscle memory” then I would really like to know why my neck is suffering from such amnesia! Not sure why it isn’t springing back to it’s normal strong state, but I’m hopeful that the trip has beaten it into submission and it will behave better from this point forward.

My neck was a big hurdle, that’s for sure, but I managed to get through it and for that I’m very proud and grateful. I’m hoping this trip has motivated me more and will make it easier to get back to my normal biking self. If I had experienced the same amount of pain at home I would have quit, but with views like I had in Greece it was easy to just keep on pedaling, keep on pedaling. Yes I sung the Finding Nemo song in my head a lot! This was our third Island Hopping trip and by the second Greek island I deemed it the most spectacular ride. It was worth the pain. I guess the saying is true, “No pain, no gain.” The more climbing you do the better the views and the bigger the downhill payoff. There was an awful lot of both.

At least there weren’t too many surprises and you got to know what to expect every day. Most days were carbon copies of the previous day . . . the weather was perfect upon rising and you knew you were going to start with a big climb. The boat always docks at sea level and all the towns are perched at the top of the mountains. And so went every day. Grind up the never ending hills, walk the adorable villages, and fly downhill taking in the gorgeous scenery. This never got old. On the good days we would pedal to the top, turn around, and coast back down, but on some days we would pedal up and over the mountain to the seashore on the other side. That meant we had to climb the darn hill twice! Those days required two ice cream breaks instead of one.

I always made time to do some yoga-inspired stretches along the way which helped tremendously. There is no doubt that yoga and biking make the perfect combination. I am looking forward to getting back to doing both regularly now that I'm back home and getting into the groove of normal life.