This was by far the most spontaneous I’ve been when taking time off to travel. It may not sound like much when you are finished reading this but for me it was an intentional decision to try it. Here I’ll share my thoughts on how this played out, how I fueled myself with great nutrition and completed my training while on an adventure through the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic part of the U.S.
This time-off of work had pushed later in the year due to COVID. I really needed to take it or potentially lose vacation days by year-end. So with that in mind I thought it would be cool if I took my bike with me somewhere traveling from town to town each day or so to explore while still completing my training.
I considered three options:
- Florida Keys
When I was thinking about it a bit more I shared my ideas with my daughter, Morgan, who is attending the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia. I said if I did the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic option I could come through Charlottesville to meet-up but only if she had time knowing her workload is tremendous right now. We determined it could work so the Southeast/Mid-Atlantic was the plan.
As I was considering ideas where to go, being in Charlottesville on Friday night/Saturday lunch time with Morgan was the anchor I would work around. One idea was to start in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to run and ride where the USAT Duathlon National Championships are being held next year. From there I looked at potential stops up the Blue Ridge mountains leading up to Charlottesville.
A couple days before the start of the vacation my work plans changed necessitating me to push my leave from a Sunday/Monday to Wednesday late afternoon. When this transpired I changed my initial thoughts. Tuscaloosa was just a bit out of the way to do and get to Charlottesville by Friday so I looked at other options in the Southeast with a desire to go somewhere I had never been prior. That somewhere became Charleston, South Carolina.
I figured if I could get there to begin Thursday that would be a good start and go from there. Wednesday was a full day. I worked until noon, completed a training ride on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, packed, got a few stitches removed from my head, picked up a few groceries and ice for the trip and was on the road by about 4:30 PM.
On the way up I stopped at a Chipotle in Jacksonville and ordered my typical selection – brown rice, black beans, veggies, mild sauce, extra corn and guacamole. From there I drove as long as I could until I got tired making it to the Georgia/South Carolina border. This left me with under two hours Thursday morning to get to Charleston.
I found a run from the Isle of Palms to Fort Moultrie on the Atlantic Ocean. I started the run before 9:30 AM and it felt like Florida – hot and humid. With all the time in the car and two days of hard workouts prior I struggled every stride of the 11.5 miles but I did enjoy the views of Fort Moultrie and the Atlantic Ocean. I ran the final 1.5 miles on the sand and it was the best of the entire run. I then jumped into the ocean and body surfed for a few minutes in the rolling waves.
On a tip from good friend, Lisa Swanson, I went to Gnome Cafe where I may have had the best breakfast bagel sandwich I’ve ever had. It was made with a tofu scramble, portobello “bacon” & cheddar “cheese” – all vegan. I ventured through downtown considering my options for the remainder of the day. When I was looking at places to run in Charleston one popular location was a river walk where there was a path adjacent to the water where walkers, runners, and cyclists could be found.
I drove through the route and determined it wasn’t for me. One of the things I was also considering at this point was yoga. I really needed a session as the last couple workouts and the drive really tightened me up. I looked at some options in Charleston and nothing matched so I turned my attention to Charlottesville. I found a class the following morning at 7:30 AM. So, my plan was simple – get to Charlottesville by 7:30 AM Friday morning to do yoga and follow that with my Friday morning ride and I had already scoped out options in Charlottesville for that.
I drove as long as I could Thursday evening and put up just under two hours from Charlottesville. That was a success as it left me with a manageable drive Friday morning prior to class. On the way to Charlottesville I found one food option for dinner and that was Chipotle once again. For all the blue signs I passed on the highway indicating food options at each exit, not a single one was a healthy option. One exit listed 12 on two signs – all fast food. Along the way I did have bananas, apples, oranges and kombucha to hold me over between meals.
Friday started out with a great hot yoga session at Hot Yoga Charlottesville. After class I walked over to a Charlottesville favorite of mine now, Corner Juice, where I had a smoothie in preparation for my ride through the hills. The ride was tremendous with great views and a challenging workout. When I finished the ride I returned to Corner Juice and ordered an acai bowl. It was fantastic.
I checked in to my hotel, showered, and picked up Morgan for dinner. We ate at Firefly and both had a house made vegan burger that was very tasty along with sweet potato fries. We hung out for a bit before calling it a night.
Saturday morning brought me to Monticello Trail where I ran a challenging long run but my legs were in much better condition than what I experienced in Charleston. It was an enjoyable run in 50 degree weather… During the run I felt so good about the weather and options available for riding that I decided to stay an additional day.
Morgan and I had lunch together at Brazos Tacos where we both enjoyed flavorful black bean tacos. We ran a few errands and split ways. She had to work on a lot of homework and I went back to the hotel to watch a bit of a UCF football game, seek a place to go sightseeing that evening and plot out my bike ride for Sunday morning. I accomplished all of those things and headed out to Skyline Drive via the Shenandoah National Park. The weather and sky were perfect for the limitless views. What beauty…
When I came back through the city I picked up Morgan for dinner and we went to Roots Natural Kitchen where we both enjoyed rice bowls filled with lots of veggies.
Sunday morning was different than my typical Sunday routine. Usually I get up extremely early to do a run – bike -run workout. Doing it early helps with the heat in Florida. This was a bit different with temperatures dipping to 47 degrees. So I still got up early, worked on some things in the hotel and then went out at 9:00 AM to start. My first run was through the University of Virginia (UVA) campus where I made a couple quick picture stops inside the baseball stadium and outside the law school.
Next was an epic ride. I thought the Friday ride was beautiful. There were a couple views looking out to the mountains that were breathtaking. This ride was a bit longer than Friday and much cooler. I dressed appropriately and with the sun out and no wind it wasn’t an issue. When I was finished my legs were toast and I was tired but felt so full of life having just experienced one of the prettiest rides of my life.
The second run was rough but I managed through it stopping at a really cool view looking down into the UVA football stadium. When I made it back to the car all I could think of was I needed another yoga session. I called New Yoga Now in Savannah to see if they had any spots in a Monday morning class and they did.
I picked up lunch, a smoothie via Smoothie King, and began my trek to Savannah. For dinner I stopped at the same Chipotle I grabbed dinner on Thursday night…again, few options on the highway, and made it to just under two hours outside of Savannah before I was tired and put up for the night.
I woke up early and made it to Savannah by 7:30 AM. I worked on this blog until class at 9:30 AM. When I was finished I was so grateful I made the stop at New Yoga Now and dedicated the time for my body…and mind. On a tip last time I was through Savannah from Jeff Howe, co-owner of Nah Dogs Vegan Hot Dog Cart, in St. Petersburg, Florida, I stopped for breakfast at Fox & Fig Plant-Based Cafe. Oh my, the Gunslinger Pancakes were incredible!!!
From there I headed home… What a trip and mission accomplished. I took it day-by-day and flexed accordingly, got all my workouts in and then some with the yoga sessions and ate healthy. I liked the mix of having some ideas to consider prior but letting the days unfold and go from there.
It may not seem like much but this was a much different experience than what I have done before. Thank you Lauren Nolan for the encouragement to try it…as she is a pro in this type of traveling mindset.
– Add Health to Your Life