It’s all about the Bike

Actually, it’s all about the Soul.

Since I’ve been home in Greenwich, I’ve discovered Soul Cycle.  This is not your average spin class.  The atmosphere at Soul Cycle’s studio is more night club than health club.  Semi-darkness, glowing candles, and brain-numbing pumping music compel you to pedal fiercely to an impossibly fast beat.  My teenage daughters love the atmosphere and treat each class as a social event.  I wear ear-plugs to avoid deafness and welcome the darkness to hide my ineptitude.  Clearly, I am not quite the target market as the advertising professes:  “By keeping the lights low and riding by candlelight, Soul Cycle creates a cardio sanctuary where riders can come to clear their heads.”  Nothing could be further from my definition of the word “sanctuary”.  In fact, I believe that the term cardio sanctuary might be an oxymoron!

I say there’s nothing like the real thing if you really want to clear your head.  I prefer riding a bike that actually goes somewhere…like the gorgeous Croatian Coast.  Now that is my kind of sanctuary.

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At the end of June, our family embarked on a multi-sport Backroads adventure to the Dalmation Coast.  Each day we either rode a bike about 30 miles, hiked about 10 miles, or kayaked across a chain of islands..  Along the way, we determined that Croatia combines the best of Italy with its quaint hill towns, abundant vineyards, and ancient architecture with the best of Greece with its sun-drenched islands, fresh seafood, and turquoise seas.

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On our very first day of the trip, we got right “in the saddle”, as they say, and began with a strenuous climb up several miles of winding roads on our new bikes.  Jackie suffered through it, literally. Red-faced, sweating profusely, with her lopsided helmet sliding off her head, Jackie looked like she’d been on a bender as she reluctantly rose over the top of a cliff.  “You call this a vacation!“, she vehemently exclaimed.  Jackie quickly discovered that a van would pick you up and deliver you to the top of hills so that the remaining ride would be in only one direction –down! That was her kind of bike ride. This was the look on her face on a good day!

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By the end of the week, Jackie was doggedly pedaling up six miles with a smile on her face, Katie was aggressively leading the pack, and Jeff was psyched to get on his bike each morning.  I loved it all right from the start as riding a bike enabled me to see and experience everything in a much more connected and organic way.

I loved feeling the spray of the sea as we followed its serpentine outline along the coast…

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or smelling the aromatic lavender was we pedaled past colorful fields…

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or seeing the grapes bursting off regimented vines in lush green pastures.

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Every day, we entered a new town on another spectacular island.  Each had its own unique personality.  The beautiful seaside town of Hvar beckoned with its historic castle and monuments, beautiful open piazzas, yacht-parking-lot marinas, and bustling nightlife.

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The lazy island of Korkula offered bars with hammocks instead of chairs, quiet beaches, and sweet rum drinks.

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The nature preserve of Lokrum housed a lone monastery surrounded by salt water lagoons, rocky beaches with perfect cliffs for leaping into the sea, and exotic birds with exuberant plumage…here, peacocks outnumber humans!

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The fortress town of Dubrovnik was surrounded by immense stone walls that encircled the ancient city containing art galleries, historic fountains and churches, and gourmet restaurants.  I couldn’t resist outfitting everyone (much to their dismay) in the local uniform of blue and white stripes as we dined by the sea one evening.  As they say, when in Rome…

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After our arduous exercise, every night we were rewarded with fresh seafood, homemade grappa, and local wine.  Every meal was a unique experience.  We ate lunch at old stone taverns surrounded by musky wine casks, dined al fresco shaded by olive trees, sampled cherry grappa in an old stone cottage located on a private vineyard, and were serenaded by men who maintain their harmony as singers and old friends as we dined at a rustic picnic table in their home hidden in the hills overlooking the sea. (Note the blue and white striped attire!)

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On our last night in Dubrovnik, we ate dinner perched over the edge of the sea as the summer solstice full moon beamed down on us, illuminating the ancient walls of the city.

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 We finished our cycling just as the moon finished its cycle ….

 Now that’s what I call a cycle for the Soul.

 

 

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