We just finished the Otago Rail Trail after enjoying some restdays in Dunedin and cycling from the Westcoast past the fjordlands, along the soutern senic route and through the catlins.
The fjordlands where a bit touristy and busy for our taste, but we met up with Aljan and Carmen (three times) which was really nice. Hitting the southcoast was absolutly amazing as we realized we just cycled the full length of the south island. We are now in the Alps and on our way to Mt Cook as we have two more weeks left.
Tired of cycling?
After two months on a bike we’re being asked often if we are not tired of cycling and how we experience being on a bike so long. We had 2800 kilometers to talk about it and we came to the conclusion that we still love it and it’s a wonderful experience.
Becoming a machine
When we started in Auckland we had to get used to traveling, cycling and camping but after a couple of weeks we noticed we developed our routines in those area’s and it became an automatism.
The second thing we noticed is that our body transformed into a machine thats has to do hard labor. To ensure that machine performs exceptionally it requieres a seamless collabartion between four components: our energy, physical condition, the circumstances and our mindset.
We and our machines need energy. Energy is mostly gained by food, good food and a lot of food. So we are not cutting back on grossercies and healthy food. We are eating all day around in small portions and have moments as ‘second breakfast’ and ‘second lunch’.
If our speeds slowely drops and our mood slowly turns south we know one of us is getting ‘hangry’ and it’s time to eat.
Energie is also gained by sleep and rest. We try to life by the famous quote:
“The tour is won in bed’.
So we try to sleep a minimal of 8 hours a day (failing a lot of time). And not feeling rested means our machine runs on less energie, so less power and certainly less fun.
Our physical state
The energy we gain has to be transformed into a power output. Well when your on a bike for a long period your body just adapts to the job it has to do. But it requires some maintainance so we try to strech (but forget it all the time), keep well hydrated and we are taking magnesium pills to prevent musscle soreness.
We both noticed that mainly our legs and calves have grown (they sometimes feel like blocks of steel). We are also losing fat all over the rest of our body and other musscles get burned as well becasuse we are simply not using them. In general it is visible we getting lean and for example jorgs biceps are getting smaller and smaller.
Headwind or tailwind? gravel road or sealed road? uphill or downhill? rain or sun or to much sun? on a bike lane or on the highway? You get the point there are a lot of circumstances that can have a huge impact on our daily cycling experiences.
Without a doubt the most crucial component! Your body can think it has reached its limit but your mind can easily strecht that limit to new heights. Your mind can let you smile when cycling through rain and hail. But it can also turn the easiest ride into a tremendous struggle and internal battle.
But we have some tricks to preventie that from happening. One of them is putting on music, which for us means the world around us instantly transforms into a beautuful movie. Or just cursing out loud is also a quite effective medicine.
But what is it like?
If all this components seamlessly work together in optimal form, it’s like having the legs of Hercules and being one with your bike.
You’re flying uphill, gliding over the road and sliding through corners. You look down and see your legs, musscles and veins producing pure strength. You listen and hear your tires sing on the pavement and your breath is deep and calm. You feel and sense your heart beat a battle drum. You’re focused and relaxed and the rest of the world just seems quiet. You know you’re in the zone, your zone and that feeling is magnificent and incomparable.
And what if something malfunctions?
Than it feels like you have the legs of spongebob and you’re handed over to the road and the mercy of mother nature and you just hope a campervan with a bike rack will offer you a lift. Which has never happend!
And the greatest thing about cycling it can all happen in one day and switch multiple times a day. Between the highs and the lows it’s just an amazing way to immerse yourself in a country at your own paste and style.
Because in the end it comes down to this:
The fact you can cycle 100 kilometers a day doesn’t mean you have to.