Taking the train (along)

Taking the train (along)

Kip Knox is a dedicated cyclist, and when he spent two weeks visiting family and friends in Illinois recently, his dilemma was how to keep up his cycling during his vacation.

He was in training for a two-day, 188-mile ride from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, on Aug. 13-14.

“I really needed to get miles in on the bike while we were in Illinois because I only had three weeks left before the Big Ride when I got home. It’s very tough to beat yourself into cycling shape in three weeks,” said Knox, who lives in the Seattle area.

He looked for a bike to rent while he was here, but couldn’t find one to fit his 6-foot-4 frame. So he turned to his friend, Robin Kaler, University of Illinois associate chancellor for public affairs, for help in finding a bike. She contacted some cycling friends, and eventually one of them offered up a bike being stored in a garage for a friend.

Knox used the bike to do several training rides from Hoopeston, where he was staying with family, into Indiana.

It just so happens that the prime time for vacations is also when many athletes are in training -- for a fall marathon or half-marathon, a bike ride, a triathlon or some other event. Missing a week -- or two weeks -- of training is not an option.

Others just want to keep up their exercise routines, even when they’re away from home.

Kaler always runs when she’s traveling, including on a trip to India this past spring.

“My husband and I have run in Bangalore. We found a schoolyard that had a dirt soccer field and ran laps around that,” Kaler said. “I’ve run on mountain trails, just wherever we are.

“For me, it’s a nice change of pace,” she continued, adding that running is a nice way to explore a city. “It’s kind of silly to miss that opportunity, but sometimes it can be a real challenge from a safety standpoint, and not getting lost can be an issue too.

“I’ve run four hours on a treadmill before (while training for the Boston Marathon), because I was in a strange town and didn’t feel comfortable to go out and do a four-hour run in an unfamiliar area.”

One strategy is to find a local running or cycling club and ask for suggestions on routes or local group runs or rides. Bike shops and running stores can also provide advice.

Kelly Bails, president of Second Wind Running Club, says she gets e-mails from people visiting Champaign-Urbana who are looking for a local race, or nearby trails to run on. Some want to do a marathon training run with a group.

Sue Jones, president of Prairie Cycle Club, gets questions about bike routes or finding a rental bike. More often, though, visitors look at the club’s website and then show up for one of the group rides.

There are a number of online sites to help you find or map out a route as well.

The Runner’s World website has a routefinder with maps and descriptions of runs in various areas, posted by local runners. The MapMyRun and MapMyRide websites have similar functions, as well as a way to map your own route with your desired distance. Ride With GPS does the same for bike rides, and allows you to download a route to your GPS.

If you are a member of a YMCA, you will likely be able to use the Y in another community when you’re traveling, through the Y’s voluntary “Away (Always Welcome at YMCAs)” program, which allows Y members to access Y facilities elsewhere. There is sometimes a small fee for towel services or other amenities, or a limit on the number of times someone from another community’s Y can visit.

Gary Cziko of Urbana travels a lot, and he nearly always bikes on his trips, often on one of his folding bicycles he travels with.

“About four years ago, I took a bike to China,” Cziko said. “I had it in Beijing. I had a hotel that was maybe a kilometer from Tiananmen Square.”

Because of jet lag, Cziko would be awake before dawn, and he’d go out on his bike.

“I’d ride the deserted streets of central Beijing,” he said. “By 8 a.m. I was in this huge river of bicyclists, trying to get myself back to the hotel. Being able to go around China by bike was fun.”

Fitness is secondary for Cziko. His main motivation for biking when he travels is seeing the places
he’s visiting.

“Just being able to get around so easy. I don’t have to worry about parking or learning the bus system. In addition, you get to see the city,” he said. In Beijing, “I would get to places I wouldn’t walk to and the bus line wouldn’t take me. Little neighborborhoods where people are cooking up food. You see something of interest and stop. I really like the freedom of the bicycle.”

Although Cziko usually takes one of his own bikes when he travels, many cities rent bikes to tourists. And some, including Denver, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and Miami Beach, have self-service bicycle sharing programs -- like Zipcars, only with bicycles.

If all else fails and you’re staying in a hotel, most have pools and fitness rooms with treadmills and stationary bikes.

Resources for finding a running or biking route where you are traveling:
-- www.runnersworld.com/route/routefinder.html
-- www.mapmyrun.com/
-- www.mapmyride.com/
-- http://ridewithgps.com/

So, do you keep up your training while on vacation? If so, what suggestions do you have for athletes who don't want to take a vacation from their exercise regimen?

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