This is the time of year when I start doing some cross-training. But I don’t mean “cross” as in “cyclocross”. My cross-training comes from my annual battle against the falling leaves.
I’ve been fighting this battle for about 15 years now, with no sign of winning. No matter what I do, the leaves fall again, and I have to clean them up. My only victory is to look at it as off-season cross-training — a chance to use muscles other than cycling muscles.
We moved out to where we now live — on the western edge of Geauga county — because we wanted a little more space. Never realizing that what comes with the space is work: grass to cut, driveway to shovel or plow. And then there are the leaves.
The first year we were here, the neighbors shook their heads when we walked out with a couple of rakes. We quickly realized that we needed some heavy artillery: one of those monster leaf blowers strong enough to blow your car off the driveway. The preferred approach is to blow the leaves into big piles, then load them on a tarp and drag them out back into the woods.
After 15 years, I’ve gotten it down to a science. It’s like a little game, trying to figure out the optimal way to get this done. I learned along the way never to make leaf piles you will not have time to haul away that day. Because inevitably it will rain that night and the pile will become a mass of wet, heavy leaves that never dries out. I learned to take any advantage of dry weather, even if it means skipping a ride (or sometimes skipping work!) because dry leaves are so much lighter and easier to work with. I learned the best pattern for dividing the yard into piles, shortest path into the woods, and the largest amount I can haul on the tarp without wrenching my back.
I had to do all this to keep my sanity. That, and thinking about it as cross-training. The ideal day this time of year is one we had the other day: relatively warm, dry, and sunny. I go for a 2-3 hour ride, then immediately spend another 2-3 hours working on the leaves. When I’m done, it feels like I’ve done an 80-mile road race.
I figure that is one of my secrets to keeping some off-season fitness. I’m thinking I could actually market that, and get people to come over and work under the guise of cross-training. It’s cheaper than joining a gym, right?