At the end of August, I’m going on a seven-day bike tour along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. The only problem is I’m not a cyclist. I haven’t even taken a single spinning class at the gym.
So, I started training. I purchased my first road bike and all the gear that goes with it—helmet, gloves, a few jerseys and padded spandex pants that make me look like I’ve had an accident (and I don’t mean on the road). From afar, I look like I know what I’m doing. Up close and personal, I can’t even take one hand off the wheel to wave hello.
After just a few rides on the bikeway along the Hudson River, my legs are killing me. And I haven’t tackled any hills yet. But I love getting out the bike and hitting the streets of New York. It’s a great way to experience the City in the summer, to feel its pulse. On the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, I ride by tourists waiting for the Circle Line, homeless people sitting by carts full of bags, cruise ship passengers pulling on suitcases, couples holding hands, dogs playing in dog runs, families barbecuing, children flying kites, yoga classes on the grass, and beer garden parties across the road. One day, I even stumbled on Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse, Little Red Lighthouse. I’ve watched the sun set over New Jersey, heard the crickets singing in the grass along the bikeway, and smelled the unmistakable scent of pot. I’ve seen runners with backpacks, dogs sprinting alongside their owners’ bikes. Once I saw a cyclist leaning very low over his wheel with his hands near his face. I wondered if he was texting but to my shock, as I rode by, I realized he was lighting a cigarette.
Training for my Croatia vacation has given me the gift of biking NYC and that alone is worth the money I spent for the cycling tour and bike gear tenfold. But now that I’ve been initiated into the joys of biking, I can barely wait to explore Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast on two wheels.