Sometimes you have to forget about silent sports for a little while and enjoy some time with loved ones. That was such the case for my family and I when we headed south in coordination with my daughter’s spring break at school.
In late March we rented a bigger vehicle and traveled through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Ohio. It’s not that I totally forgot about exercise, but I am one of the most routine persons I know – I could eat the same foods day after day, so when I get out of that routine, I tend to stray a little bit from my healthy lifestyle … hey, I’m human! I had thought about bringing my bike, but in the end we didn’t have quite enough room. I also knew I could utilize several YMCAs on the trip and would do plenty of walking/hiking.
We spent our first night in Lafayette, Indiana, which was pretty uneventful in itself, but it brought back memories to when I was 8 years old. My parents, six sisters and I piled into our big brown van in the summer of 1980 and headed to West Lafayette for the United States Canoe Nationals. Two of my older sisters – Kathy and Lara – were competing in the women’s C-2 race as high-school aged youngsters on the Wabash River. I still remember standing on the bridge overlooking the finish line as they sprinted to a shocking second place overall.
From there we passed through more of Indiana – ironically in a snowstorm – on our way to the Indianapolis 500 Museum. We stayed in Clarksville, Indiana, for two nights, which is right on the border with Kentucky.
There was a local YMCA there, so one of the mornings I went to an early-morning spin class. The bikes utilized these really fancy wattage meters that I didn’t know how to use. One of the gents in the class kindly showed me how to use them, so when he asked me to pick my fitness level, I thought, “Well, I’m in good shape … I’ll pick high.” He didn’t say anything to me about that, but I wish he had!
The meters had five different exercise zones which coordinated with a specific color based on the fitness level you picked. Depending on what zone you were in, the meter lit up to a certain color … for all to see! The spinning instructor’s meter linked to each of the 15 bikes in the class so she could see what zone each of her participants were in.
All was going well for a whopping five minutes until the instructor brought us up to the “red zone,” which basically equaled a very-high intensity. I looked down at my meter and I was pushing like 350 watts, and already sweating profusely. I don’t claim to know too much about watts, but I knew 350 – based on how I was feeling – wasn’t attainable for very long. I managed to maintain what she wanted through the first routine, but I knew I was already “cooked.” In retrospect, I shouldn’t have listened to her, but I guess I was trying to follow along the best I could. For the rest of the class whenever she requested we bring our zones up, I tried, but couldn’t do it. I basically just sat and spun for the next 30 minutes … with my heart rate still very high! The two ladies around me seemed to be doing much better and staying in their zones. I just hoped they weren’t looking at my meter.
The instructor could obviously tell by looking at her meter during class that I couldn’t stay in the “required” zones, so after the 45 minutes of pain were done, she asked me how it went. I told her I couldn’t stay where she wanted me to, and that’s when the lady to my right asked me, “What fitness zone did you pick?” When I told her high, five people around me laughed and said, “We’ve all made that mistake!” Most people pick a medium level. It made me feel a lot better that they were laughing with me and not at me. It was either that or how terrible I looked with my sweat-soaked shirt on. Regardless, I got one heck of a workout! I did chuckle about the whole situation, though.
Leaving Indiana we headed to Mega Cavern in Louisville, Kentucky, which is basically a huge underground area from an abandoned limestone pit. An entrepreneur has turned the cavern into a tourist attraction with zip lines and the world’s largest underground bike park.
A trip to Mammoth Cave after was a big highlight. It’s the world’s largest cave system with over 412 miles already being mapped! We went on a nice 2-mile tour inside that lasted like three hours.
Passing through Nashville, Tennessee, we saw some sites there, visited a few zoos in different locations and finally settled in Chattanooga for a few days. A must see in the area is Ruby Falls (another cave). There was a YMCA within walking distance from the hotel, so that was convenient, too.
Chattanooga also has a neat downtown area and a fabulous aquarium, and kids museum. What intrigued me most about the city was the bike-share program. There are 300 bikes around the city in 38 different stations for rent. They’re not fancy by any means, but they do the job.
Although I didn’t rent one because the weather was mostly rainy the whole time we were there, you can use a bike for $8 an hour or $15 for a three-day pass. The daily pass lets you take unlimited 60-minute trips, which means within an hour you must park the bike back into a station to “check in.” You could take the bike right back out again if you wanted to for another hour trip, but I think city officials do it this way so bikes are accounted for and they don’t stray too far from the city – it makes sense to me. It’s a good example of a city trying to make non-motorized public transportation available for its citizens and visitors. There is a 13-mile route along the Tennessee River you could bike on.
I’m pretty sure I read something a few years ago in our local paper that Green Bay tried some sort of bike-share program, but bikes were stolen and damaged, so it didn’t work. I’m not sure how they managed the program, but perhaps if it was done similar to the way Chattanooga does it, it would work better.
Upon leaving Chattanooga, we made a beeline back towards Green Bay to get home. I do like getting away for a while, but home is where home is. I’m always glad to get back to my normal routine and see my cats.
If you’re planning on taking a vacation in the near future, and you like routine like I do and, maybe you can’t take your bike, investigate your options before travelling to see what silent sport activities are available.
Editor’s note: If the city/area you live in has a bike-share program or you’re familiar with how other areas do it, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.