These interludes allowed my girlfriend and I the chance to reflect upon the rolling palisades of unspoilt subtropical vegetation and floating hillside palms we were riding through on our humble (and delicate) scooter. Vegetation broken up with harmonious plantations of tapioca, tea, banana and occasionally coffee bean. This must surely be the least densely populated region of India.
Once reaching route 45 skirting the large regional city of Trivandrum the carefree riding experience came to a screeching halt. My next Chai stop involved reflection on how many near death experiences (in my own mind) we had encountered in the past 20 km. I estimated 1 every 4km. This lead to a close examination of driving in India compared to my homeland Australia. Based on some of these conclusions I have listed the following points or handy tips to remember when driving any vehicle in India:
The biggest vehicle always wins, drives with more aggression, and with the least regard for surrounding motorists. Seriously watch out for the buses, or more to the point bus drivers with their incessant horn blowing and maniacal cornering.
Remember the drivers here actually enjoy the game of ‘road cat and mouse’, laughing hysterically as you both swerve to avoid a last-second head-on fatality.
You are subject to greater ridicule and risk if you are over cautious, give way too much and in general drive with a Western attitude. Remember not going is seen as a sign of weakness and you will get ‘owned’ and disrespected the moment you show too much respect to others. This strangely enough places you in more danger. Think ‘eye of the tiger’ and ‘law of the jungle’. If you are not in the mood for aggression or being placed in a state of sustained high anxiety then don’t get behind the wheel or handles in my case.
Driving here quite literally feels like being in a video game. If you want to feel like all those x-box teenage years had some practical, higher purpose, come to India and rent a scooter.
From on road chaos to the dense, heavy feeling of humidity. It pervades every square inch of the atmosphere on the Kerala coast as the monsoon season approaches. Personally I find this heat both uncomfortable and exciting, due in part to the fact that many of the world’s most perfect breaks, and my favourite waves follow the planet’s reef fringed equatorial line. As I rode back to our rented home in Varkala I began to think about how this saturated heat would affect my surf fitness classes with the guests at Soul & Surf and why. So today we will examine some key tips to modify your surf fitness regime to stay vibrant and healthy on your next tropical surf trip:
Exercise early in the morning or late in the evening. Now this may sound logical but your body’s ability to maintain ‘thermal homeostasis’ or a stable core body temperature is significantly reduced when exercising in the high levels of temperature and humidity that the day time present.
Give your body a chance to acclimatise. Reduce the intensity and duration of your daily practice by at least 20-30% on arrival. Keep the main exercises in your program that you know help keep you fit and healthy and drop off the fringe exercises. Over time (most research recommends 7-14 days) if your energy levels are okay you can gradually re-introduce these fringe exercises. If you need help with this process contact me via my web site.
Take more rest breaks during your practice. Remember your body is under more ‘climatic’ stress therefore listen to it and rest where necessary.
Hydration. There is clear scientific evidence showing that tropical climates, or more specifically climates with higher mean temperature and humidity require increased consumption of water to maintain Thermal Homeostasis. So basically significantly increase your water consumption to stave off fatigue so you can surf for longer and maintain a daily surf fitness practice, especially if you are enjoying a few daily beers.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms that you are pushing too hard and at risk of heat exhaustion. These include dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, profuse sweating and headache.
I hope that these simple tips help you on your next tropical surf trip and keep you enjoying what we all love most, the simple act of wave sliding. I look forward to seeing you on the mat, or in the water!
Ryan Huxley is the co-founder and program creator at Surfbodysoul, a website that provides safe, effective, holistic, scientific e-book exercise programs catering for surfers of all age, level and experience. Ryan is a qualified Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Advanced Yoga and Pilates instructor. His list of pro surfing clients includes Fergal Smith, Chippa Wilson, Anthony Walsh, Paige Hareb, Emi Cataldi & Rusty Miller.