Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why Biking is Better for Me Than Zumba

I started biking regularly about 18 months ago.  Except for three months when I was casted and off m feet after breaking my leg in the mountains, I've biked regularly since.  Winter is rough for biking.  It snows, it is really cold, and there are a hundred things I'd rather do than be out on a bike.  But I live in Colorado, so a few bad days are always followed by a really great one, and even if I can't get a big bike ride in, I can at least tool around the neighborhood or do some simple shopping.  But still, it's winter, so my usual 30 miles a week ends up being about 3 miles a week, if I'm lucky.

And that's why I fill in with Zumba. 

But when it comes down to it, Id rather be biking.  Tonight I did an 11 mile ride, and thought about why I love it so much more than Zumba.

Biking is one of those things that I can do by myself.  There's no competition, I'm not trying to be faster than someone or to keep up with someone.  If my legs ache, I can slow my pace a bit, until I feel like I can give it full bore once again.  There are sounds and sights to distract me, but generally I'm alone, in the quiet, thinking my own thoughts.  When I finish a bike ride, I feel physically tired, but mentally and emotionally uplifted and ready to take on my next challenge.  My legs just do their thing, and I just ride away without a thought or a care, other than avoiding any road hazards I might encounter.

Zumba, on the other hand, leaves me both physically and mentally exhausted.  It is not a solo exercise, as I'm with a group of others.  While I'm working my body pretty hard, my brain is getting a workout too.  I can't just let my legs do their thing.  I have to pay attention.  I have to try to keep up with the moves, and make my arms and my legs work at the same time, usually at opposing tasks.  I am trying not to look like I'm flailing around (even though I'm definitely flailing around).  This takes mental work, and despite the fact that I've been doing this for months (since September, 2013), I have yet to build the muscle memory required to do the moves without thinking.  I can't think through my problems, and despite the number of fans going in the room, I can't let the wind just take my problems away. 

And despite my months of Zumba, I have not lost any weight or changed shape.  I would argue that I am stronger, especially in the legs.  But only biking starts to trim me down and give me the kind of aerobic workout that makes me feel blissful when I'm done.  I like doing Zumba, I like the friendly atmosphere and I adore my Zumba instructor.  But when it comes down to it, biking is going to win my heart every time.

And I've really not done a good job at making time for biking these last couple of months.  I'm going to have to be better about that.