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Backpacking Fitness

Living the Life, Act 2

Now I know why I stay in shape

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In my first post on this blog, I spoke about my approach to fitness, and now I’m halfway through a two-week stretch that’ll put that approach to the test. In summary, all I want to do is to keep myself in solid enough shape to tackle anything cool that comes up, like a mountain bike race, half-marathon, or a climb up a 14ner. To that end, I follow a pretty regular strength training routine and, for now, ride a mountain bike four times a week.

So in one of my other lives I review, ahem, high-end cars and motorcycles. While this effectively means my enviro-cred is pretty much shot for life no matter how often I ride my bicycle to work, it can sometimes allow me to do some fun stuff, such as fly to New York City, pick up a sportbike and ride it 750 miles to Montreal and back over 3 days. Of course it rained every day and the thermometer never passed 60 degrees F.In a previous life, that trip would’ve shattered me after Day 1. My back and neck would’ve seized up permanently and the mild case of hypothermia I endured each day would’ve scared the bejesus out of me.

But this time, I actually enjoyed the whole trip. I’m going to assume that a big part of my positive experience had to do with my core strength—I’ve been hammering away at it for months. The other was having just read Dark Summit by Nick Heil. Heil’s account of the disastrous climbing season on the north side of Everest in 2006 reminded me that people will pay upwards of $40,000 for the right to be absolutely miserable and possibly die at 29,000 feet. Feeling my hands go numb after 6 hours of riding a sweet motorcycle in the cold rain is nothing compared to that.

Plus, it’s hard to beat Upstate New York in the spring, and Montreal is an amazing city.

Now I’m looking ahead to next weekend and doing the 24 Hrs of ERock mountain-bike race. What’s cool for me is that I feel ready. Ready to have a great time that is. Instead of nursing a sore back from all that time folded onto the saddle of a sportbike, I feel refreshed and psyched to see how I handle riding a mountain bike at 3 A.M. To me, this is what living the life is all about. It’s about challenges and facing them with enough of a foundation that I look forward to seeing how I do, not worrying about how I’ll survive.

That’s a subtle, but giant, distinction in terms of attitude, and I know I couldn’t make it if I didn’t feel good about my fitness right now.

Over the last decade Grant Davis has been writing and editing articles about health, fitness, and nutrition. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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