I'm new to this forum, and I apologize if this first post is too negative.
I used to ride a lot (150+ miles/week), but fell out of the habit about 14 years ago, after a fairly nasty accident. Then the kids came along, work got very demanding, yada-yada... and I pretty much lived in front of a computer all day.
I used to be the stereotypical 150 lb rider back in the day, but since then, I've gained a lot of weight (60+ lbs, most of it in the last year or so). I started riding again this past summer, and it's been a lot more of an effort than it used to be - especially the hills. And I live in a pretty hilly area... I've had to learn to swallow my pride and walk the bike sometimes. That was hard - I used to pride myself on being a good climber.
Rather than tax my old Bianchi road bike with my additional weight, I bought an used Specialized HardRock MTB, and put slicks and a rack on it to use for around town and for exercise rides. I ride it for errands, and also take longer rides - about 12 miles, for fun and exercise. I haven't ridden a whole lot, but have managed to log about 300 miles over the summer.
The problem is that I'm no longer so tolerant of the bent-over riding position, and at times I feel that I just can't get enough air to breathe that way. Sometimes it's fine, and everything clicks, and I can ride almost the way I used to. Other times, it's a struggle to breathe. And this is basically on the same routes - it just varies from day to day.
It came to a head the other day - I had ridden less than two miles, fairly flat terrain, when I started feeling intense pain in my chest, felt like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs, particularly if I actually gripped the handlebars (which requires me to scrunch over). The pain radiated down my left arm, and my left hand was tingling. It was a little better if I sat up and just touched the grips with my fingertips - but I was in traffic, and that wasn't a very safe way to ride at that point. I was pretty scared - nothing like that has happened to me before, and I certainly recognized the signs of cardiac distress.
I had to pull over to the side and rest for 5 - 10 minutes, and then started feeling a little better. I probably should have gone to the ER, but I didn't, and decided to ride home. On the way, the same thing happened, again after just 1.5 miles or so. I had to get off the bike and walk the rest of the way home, panting all the way.
Before anyone says anything, yes, I have an appointment with my cardiologist tomorrow (the earliest they could get me in...) But what I'm curious about is if the restriction of my lung capacity caused by having to scrunch over my belly could cause this sort of thing to happen. Is it possible that just putting riser bars on the bike, or comfort bars - something that would let me ride in a more upright position - , would alleviate this problem? Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this?
I really hope I'm not finished as far as cycling is concerned. I guess one of the messages in here is never to put off doing what you want to do for a "better time".