Lamaze and the Art of Long Distance Cycling

September 5, 2008 in Czech Republic, Europe, Travelogue

< ![CDATA[  In case you haven’t noticed, I have four kids. I got all of them in the usual way: A big surprise followed by nine months of swelling. Once, at critical mass, a smart mouthed kid in a fruit stand in Toledo, Ohio, looked at me sideways and said, “Ma’am, you’re going to have to put that back.” I looked at him quizzically. “That watermelon you’ve stuffed under your shirt, Ma’am. You’ll need to put that back.” Ha ha. Very funny. That kid actually thought he was being cute. There are some things you just do NOT say to a Mama in the Winnebago stage of pregnancy. No matter how funny you think they are. Despite my predictions to the contrary, that I would NEVER not be home to someone else, the children did arrive. We took the classes. Why, I do not know. It isn’t as though the lamaze breathing ever did much for me during childbirth. Possibly, it kept me from killing a certain “Polish Nazi” doctor along the way, or hanging inept nurses by their ears when they repeatedly popped blood vessels... but with the actual process of hatching, not so much. Since the children arrived I’ve found it more useful. That deep cleansing breath works wonders when a toddler is discovered, having just dismantled the inner workings of a toilet, in a bathroom rapidly filling with water. The long slow breaths are great for continuing to smile in the grocery store as I drag two screaming three year olds for the van while the sweet grandmotherly check out lady thinks I should just buy them candy to “make them happy.” (“I’ll tell ya what’ll make them happy, lady, and it ain’t candy!”) Until recently though, I hadn’t found a reliable use for that non-sense “he-he-hoo” breathing they tell you to do instead of pushing that kid out. It certainly does NOT help at that moment. I now know what it is for. It is for those mommies who might be crazy enough to embark on a year and a half of cycling that just might drag them through the foot hills at the tail end of the Alps. The he-he-hoo breathing is for getting up hills in 90F heat with no shade in sight, and a 1400 foot vertical climb over four hours with fully loaded bikes and a wiggly eight year old as the whip cream on top. It is quite useful for that. It maximizes oxygen intake in the thick, hazy summer air. It provides a rhythmic pattern for pumping those calf muscles half to death up hill after hill. And, maybe most importantly, it is loud enough and sounds enough like Mom is about to die (because she is!) to keep the child on the back worried enough to refrain from asking too many ridiculous questions. The he-he-hoo thing is supposed to be to get Mom over the hump of the most painful part of the birthing experience... for which lovely drugs are available. Where, may I ask, are the drugs in the highlands of northern Austria? A nice little shot of something warm and fuzzy would have been just the thing about mid-day yesterday. It was definitely as difficult as the middle stages of childbirth. Instead I sucked warm “iced” tea out of my camel back and kept on pushing. So did Tony and the kids, and they didn’t even have the old lamaze breathing to fall back on. Arriving in Poysdorf, Austria was not quite as much of a relief and a joy as being handed a gift wrapped little bundle of wiggly happiness at the end of my other lamaze days, but it was close. No one brought me a fruit smoothie or an ice pack, but at least I was allowed to sleep a whole night and there are no diapers to change.]]>