I’m now back home in ‘Bama-land, otherwise known as “middle earth” which is my “pet name” for Alabama after moving here from Southern California just over two years ago. I can now say that I’ve cycled California’s central coast. This was a bucket list activity, the seeds of which were planted in part by Breakfast Buddy Ed some years ago. Admittedly, he cycled a longer distance of the California Coast, about 400 miles from San Francisco to Manhattan Beach, and maybe even further down the coast. Plus, as far as I know, he didn’t stay in one hotel along the way! Roughing it was not going to happen for this woman; I need a hot shower and a real bed at the end of a day. I feel no shame in taking the softie–or shall we say sane–approach. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my cycling vacation (thank you Rocket-man!).

Jessica's Cheerful touch to every picnic lunch

Jessica’s Cheerful touch to every picnic lunch

Some folks’ idea of a vacation is to go to a destination spot (the beach, say) and totally veg out. Unquestionably, there is merit for that approach, and yes…I have done it. But, there is also enormous satisfaction in the alternate approach….working your ass off….literally. Those six days of cycling allowed us to challenge our bodies, pushing ourselves to a new edge, if only for a day when the ride included climbing for miles and miles. In the process, we burned lots of calories. In fact, I enjoyed a total caloric burn of approximately 13,298 calories during six days of cycling (I could probably safely get away with rounding UP!)….and that’s just calories burned during the ride.  Not too shabby for being 57 and not being able to run anymore.  There were also at least three 4-mile long walks on the beach and let’s not forget hoofing- it though airports and hauling heavy luggage.

Naturally I tried to eat less but I wasn’t always very successful, especially when we got to the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos. Yes, their cookies were pricey but Oh My God wonderful. I highly recommend the peanut butter cookies.  I’m ashamed to admit just how many cookies I ate that day!  We even enjoyed pie at Linn’s Fruit Bin and Bakery in Cambria, cycling most of it off on the way back to our hotel which included a mighty steep hill.

The Biker Chick gang and moi, plus Rocket-man and our guide Jeff , after eating pie at Linn's Fruit Bin.

The Biker Chick gang and moi, plus Rocket-man and our guide Jeff , after eating pie at Linn’s Fruit Bin.

In addition, our Bicycle Adventures guides prepared delicious picnic lunches and dinners out were fabulous too.

Too pretty to eat!

Too pretty to eat!

And, when I stayed with dear friends at the tail end of our cycling vacation, I enjoyed their cooking as well. Breakfast Buddy Ed filled our growling tummies with a wonderfully prepared grilled skirt steak and baked potatoes (I all but inhaled Breakfast Buddy Ed’s meal) and Biker Chick Silvie prepare the most amazing Eggplant Parmesan I’ve ever eaten!  I wanted a third helping but knew that would be overstepping guest boundaries (darn that rule!). Still, though nothing to hooray about, I managed to lose two pounds. More importantly, I most certainly increased my level of endurance and improved my cardiovascular performance. There were some days that my quads burned well past time off the bike saddle and muscles in my hands and arms were mighty sore from gripping the brakes in scared-out-my-mind mode during those long, steep descents. But, as crazy as it sounds to some folks, this is the reason I do this stuff; I want to be strong–mentally and physically–well into my 80‘s. Point in fact, the father of one of our Biker Chicks, in his eighties, joined us for a day of cycling. How awesome is that?!

Anyhow, wouldn’t it be wonderful to keep these gains throughout the holiday months ahead? That would be a cinch living in Southern California with it’s near perfect year-round weather. Here, in “middle earth”….much more difficult. So the challenge begins: how to stay in shape during the next two months of holiday feasting and on into the new year? I’m already salivating over winter pasta and risotto recipes that I want to prepare not to mention all the sweet and savory fare for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So, instead of sitting on my bum writing this –and getting caught up in Facebook and Twitter which can suck-up time quicker than a Dyson — I need to skedaddle myself on out the door and into the gym. I’ll get nowhere near 13,298 calories for the week but I’m sure to burn way less sitting on my tush!

Grab the gym bag and GO!

Later… peeps!