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Old 12-23-10, 09:16 PM   #1
dengidog
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What riding is doing for me

I read the posting about riding at an easy pace as doing nothing for you and blah blah blah. Well, all I can say is what it's doing for me.

Three months ago I was a semi-active couch potato (is that an oxymoron? lol) who worked out with a Wii. Then, we had to cover nearly everything in our home while our windows and doors were being replaced. I became a total spud. After a month, my old bike caught my eye and I began dreaming of actually taking a cross-country tour. Well, sitting wasn't going to do a thing, so I decided to start biking every morning.

I live in a very hilly/mountainous area, so I began slow...about 3 miles. It took me a lot longer than I'll ever admit and I was sucking wind most of the time. I began stretching the distance a bit, still at a pace that was so slow that a dachshund could have beaten me. I'm not setting any records, but I'm quicker now. I try to go as fast as I can on a route that includes quite a few (painful) climbs (Mt Sunnuvabich and Mt. Pure Evil are two of them). I now average 12 mi every morning at a pretty good clip. Of course, all of my efforts would probably be sniffed at by the bike elitists. You know what? I don't care.
I now ride 2 days, do Wii, ride 2 days, do Wii then take Sunday off. I know biking is making a difference because the first time I was able to Wii again after 3 months (the workers were finally done destroying our house), I saw MAJOR improvements in my all of Wii workouts. So...pffffft to Velo!

And the best part...riding is FUN!
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Old 12-23-10, 09:23 PM   #2
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And the best part...riding is FUN!
Then you're doing it wrong.

But welcome to the sport. Of course riding is good for you. Velonews is just saying that if you want to get faster you have to train. Big difference. But anyone who says there's no value to just going out and cycling is profoundly.....

Incorrect.

However, I doubt anyone @ Velonews ever meant to say that. That's more of a Fred Perception Gap.
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Old 12-24-10, 08:38 AM   #3
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Then you're doing it wrong.

But welcome to the sport. Of course riding is good for you. Velonews is just saying that if you want to get faster you have to train. Big difference. But anyone who says there's no value to just going out and cycling is profoundly.....

Incorrect.

However, I doubt anyone @ Velonews ever meant to say that. That's more of a Fred Perception Gap.
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Old 12-24-10, 08:42 AM   #4
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Good for you way to go. I started riding a couple of years ago after prostate cancer surgery. Now I've raised money for charity, done a few centries, go on group rides every Sunday, and commute to work 3 days a week (22 miles). All I can say is I enjoy and because it's not a group sport, enjoyment is really the key. Keep at it an ride, ride, ride.
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Old 12-24-10, 09:33 AM   #5
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That's great. Next you're going to want to go faster. Then farther, then faster, then farther. And it's all good and all fun. IMHO, keep it fun. I never ride my bike because I have to. I only ride when I want to. As a result, I "want to" a lot.
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Old 12-27-10, 09:21 AM   #6
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Then you're doing it wrong.

But welcome to the sport. Of course riding is good for you. Velonews is just saying that if you want to get faster you have to train. Big difference. But anyone who says there's no value to just going out and cycling is profoundly.....

Incorrect.

However, I doubt anyone @ Velonews ever meant to say that. That's more of a Fred Perception Gap.
Actually, I understood that. My point was a bit tongue-in-cheek because of the snobbery inherent in that kind of article. I'm not doing reverse snobbism because I understand that they have a particular audience that they cater to. Actually, I'm just trying to share my joy and amazement at how much of a difference biking has made to my health, balance and even--dare I say it? --mental attitude in just a few short weeks.

Since I'll never be someone that you're going to see on the cover of some biking mag, why not have fun? Life is too short (especially now!) not to have fun.

Cheri
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Old 12-27-10, 09:37 AM   #7
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Thanks for sharing a great story with good humor. It's stories like yours that will get others off the couch and back on that old bike (or a new one!).

IMHO, snobbery is inherent in this sport in general (at times reminds me of Jr. High School where you gotta wear the designer jeans, shoes, cool hair, etc. to fit in). Just do what your heart leads you to do on the bike and continue to have fun!
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Old 12-27-10, 09:59 AM   #8
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It's all relative. The starting point for Velo news and books like Cycling Past 50 and The Time Crunched Cyclist are cyclists who already have a high level of general fitness. A high level of general fitness however doesn't enable you to ride fast, far, and competitively with people who have undergone specific training. No amount of casual riding will get you there. To get there you've got to engage in a specialized, strenuous, training regimen, that takes you beyond what's needed for a healthy level of fitness.
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Old 12-27-10, 10:01 AM   #9
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Congrats on rediscovering cycling!! You'll find yourself going longer and longer and sooner than you know it, you'll look back and laugh because you didn't do this earlier. Wait till spring arrives and the beauty of the world around you will keep you out even more!

Keep on going......
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Old 12-27-10, 10:36 AM   #10
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Oh, man. I can see it coming. Six months from now we're gonna see another N+1 post. Congratulations on your re-entry to cycling.
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Old 12-27-10, 12:20 PM   #11
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Hi Cheri! Nice that you had your windows and doors replaced since that pushed you into reconnecting with your old bike. I got back into cycling recently too, but don't do as many hills as you do. You must be getting much stronger; hills are really good for building strength. And yes, +1, riding is fun!

I don't know where you live . . hopefully you can keep riding without being shut out too long by winter.
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Old 12-27-10, 12:27 PM   #12
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I mix my 15 mile rides with walking and taking off every 4th day or so. I only average about 12 MPH but there are lots of hills also. Its plenty for me...keeps the muscles toned and I don't get winded very easy. Everybody has to find whats right for them and stick with it. Ride safe!

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Old 12-27-10, 12:54 PM   #13
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Been thru that whole "riding easy doesn't benefit you" trap. Almost gave up riding at all as a consequence - it was getting to be too much work. Now I ride primarily to ride; not as a "flower sniffer" but not a "racerboy" either. Yeah, I train, but not compulsively. I'm happier, probably fitter, and definitely ride more than ever. Ya just gotta find what works for you, I guess.

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Old 12-27-10, 01:28 PM   #14
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This "Cheri" person -- I sense that The Force is strong with her. We must prevent her from going over to The Dark Side at all costs.
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Old 12-27-10, 02:29 PM   #15
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It's hard to explain all the benefits cycling provides to those who have never gotten into it. A kind of ironic story is that, as I have become obsessed with cycling, that obsession (and some things my dog was doing) led my wife and I to seek counseling. It's not that anything was really -wrong- with our relationship, it's that the two of us both want to keep our relationship truly -great-. So anytime things don't feel perfect, we do something about it. So we start with a counselor, and lo-and-behold when he was in his 40's and into his 50's (he is approaching 70 now) he was an avid racer. We're talking 5:00am hammerfests in the dark with his friends, weeknight carb-loading and leg massage sessions at his house, etc. When we met him, I just looked at Ann and smiled. But to cut to the chase, when I went on about how I wanted to be fit, and all the benefits that had for both of us, he called me on it. He said "You don't want to be fit, you want to be an athlete, which is far different. You WILL become fit, fitter than you have ever been in your life, but don't pretend that is your goal. You could become fit without doing all you are doing."

Double-edged sword, that experience of his. And he was absolutely right. We have now 'graduated' from his counseling. I've promised to get my honey-do list items done, and fill in any holes my dog digs, and so long as I do, she is cool with my indulging my cycling obsession. Cycling has absolutely helped my mental health. The other side of that is that, when I don't ride for whatever reason, my mental attitude slips. Counselor says that if I keep at it, I can get to the point where, even if I stop riding, those mental health benefits will be retained. I hope I don't need to validate that any time soon. Three days of no riding is my current limit, mentally.

From talking to people, and reading here, most of us derive similar benefits from cycling, and there is a common path us newbies follow to find the approach that works for us. I've learned I need to push pretty hard to get what I want from cycling. I did a year of commuting and at the start, I would hope for lights to turn red so I could rest. Then I started lengthening the commute, and eventually got the road bike and started riding on weekends. Now I have a "need for speed" I need to fulfill to feel, well, fulfilled. So I'm 'training' on a lot of my rides, like yesterday's 70 mile base session. That doesn't mean I don't also get to appreciate my surroundings - I'm seeing parts of the city (and ajacent towns!) I never would have seen otherwise, and I feel 'in touch' with those areas as I ride them. I can smell what's cooking at the neighborhood hangouts and flea markets, and that's a wonderful experience.

While there is a lot of conformity in cycling, it's also a classic "It's your thang" activity.
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Old 12-27-10, 04:06 PM   #16
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^^^The Force is also strong with this one. We must be cautious. ^^^
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Old 12-27-10, 04:59 PM   #17
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This is the type of post that inspires me. I admire both Cheri and AZTall for the efforts they are making and the results.

Bill
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Old 12-27-10, 08:51 PM   #18
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It's hard to explain all the benefits cycling provides to those who have never gotten into it. A kind of ironic story is that, as I have become obsessed with cycling, that obsession (and some things my dog was doing) led my wife and I to seek counseling. It's not that anything was really -wrong- with our relationship, it's that the two of us both want to keep our relationship truly -great-. So anytime things don't feel perfect, we do something about it. So we start with a counselor, and lo-and-behold when he was in his 40's and into his 50's (he is approaching 70 now) he was an avid racer. We're talking 5:00am hammerfests in the dark with his friends, weeknight carb-loading and leg massage sessions at his house, etc. When we met him, I just looked at Ann and smiled. But to cut to the chase, when I went on about how I wanted to be fit, and all the benefits that had for both of us, he called me on it. He said "You don't want to be fit, you want to be an athlete, which is far different. You WILL become fit, fitter than you have ever been in your life, but don't pretend that is your goal. You could become fit without doing all you are doing."

Double-edged sword, that experience of his. And he was absolutely right. We have now 'graduated' from his counseling. I've promised to get my honey-do list items done, and fill in any holes my dog digs, and so long as I do, she is cool with my indulging my cycling obsession. Cycling has absolutely helped my mental health. The other side of that is that, when I don't ride for whatever reason, my mental attitude slips. Counselor says that if I keep at it, I can get to the point where, even if I stop riding, those mental health benefits will be retained. I hope I don't need to validate that any time soon. Three days of no riding is my current limit, mentally.

From talking to people, and reading here, most of us derive similar benefits from cycling, and there is a common path us newbies follow to find the approach that works for us. I've learned I need to push pretty hard to get what I want from cycling. I did a year of commuting and at the start, I would hope for lights to turn red so I could rest. Then I started lengthening the commute, and eventually got the road bike and started riding on weekends. Now I have a "need for speed" I need to fulfill to feel, well, fulfilled. So I'm 'training' on a lot of my rides, like yesterday's 70 mile base session. That doesn't mean I don't also get to appreciate my surroundings - I'm seeing parts of the city (and ajacent towns!) I never would have seen otherwise, and I feel 'in touch' with those areas as I ride them. I can smell what's cooking at the neighborhood hangouts and flea markets, and that's a wonderful experience.

While there is a lot of conformity in cycling, it's also a classic "It's your thang" activity.
AzTallRider, This may perhaps be the most profound post I have come across here at BF and I appreciate your willingness to share with us your personal experience of going to a counselor. The best line is "Counselor says that if I keep at it, I can get to the point where, even if I stop riding, those mental health benefits will be retained." You were lucky to have found a quality counselor who seems to have given excellent advice.

My marriage counseling sessions didn't go quite as well as yours, and we ended divorcing. During the process my mental and emotional health spiraled way down. There's the saying to be happy you need these three things: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. I had none of them. So to help myself, I had to begin by finding something to do. I turned to my old bike that I loved so much back in the 80's, and decided I was going to ride myself back to my once happy self.

It was the best decision. I've pedaled up through the worst of it all. Riding has helped lift my confidence. It has gotten me outside. I love being outdoors and riding is like an adventure. Sunny, cloudy, hot, cold, I really don't care. I like the wind in my face. I like the ladies group I ride with. I like pushing myself, standing and feeling stronger. And I really like the smiles, laughs and warmth I get from Bike Forums 50+

My difficulties aren't over yet, but I absolutely believe that cycling/BF has helped my attitude to better cope with them.
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Old 12-27-10, 10:06 PM   #19
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My difficulties aren't over yet, but I absolutely believe that cycling/BF has helped my attitude to better cope with them.
Cycling has gotten me to my ideal weight, and I am certainly more physically fit than anytime in my life, but I'd still rate the biggest benefit as being the positive affect on my mental health, which has never been a strong area for me. When cycling, you are outside doing something great; you are part of a small percentage of the population that is doing something good for themselves, and good for the planet. You look at people who aren't cycling, and you want to shake them and wake them up! It's also easy to look at them and smile that smile you have when you know something someone else doesn't. You have both group camaraderie and individual challenge and effort. You can compete with yourself and others. You see the tangible benefits of what you do, as you go from just struggling to keep the pedals moving to working to go further or faster. Cycling provides a confidence and positive self image that allows you to be more positive to others, which cycles back for you. And it's really hard to be depressed if you are out there, on your bike, pushing yourself hard. It is just so inherently -good- for you. It can be so much more than just riding a bike; it definitely gives back everything you put into.

It's nice to find others who have the same understanding, Bare Feet: keep pushing!
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Old 12-27-10, 10:09 PM   #20
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Wow! Some really great stories here. Mine is similar to others. Until 4 years ago I was an occasional rider but many years ago I was a dedicated runner. Due to knee problems I had to stop running and thought I would never be able to do anything very active again. I gained weight, not too much but I wasn't comfortable. I developed other hobbies, nature photography became a passion. A few years ago I was "downsized" and lost my job of 20 years. Then my long term relationship ended. I could no longer afford to follow my passion for nature photography and the travel that goes with it. Things weren't looking good in my life.

I decided I needed to make some positive changes. I got out my old road bike and started riding. It hurt my knees so I only rode every 3 days or so. I was enjoying the riding but the knees were not. I contiuned to ride and went more often and to my surprise my knees started to improve as did my attitude and feeling of well being. I joined the local club and started riding with the slow group. I was happy and making new friends. I didn't think about getting faster and didn't care. But much to my surprise I did get faster and now I ride 5000 miles per season and ride in a much faster group.

I guess I've become obsessed (only 2 new bikes) but in a good way. I have many cycling friends. I'm in great health and happy with my self and my life. Cycling has changed my life and I have much to look forward to.

Bill
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Old 12-27-10, 11:25 PM   #21
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Wow. Cheri, AzTallRider, and Bare Feet, your direct eloquence not only delivers a compelling story, but also describes "the feeling" of cycling for many of us. Thanks to each of you for sharing your thoughts.

I started riding a bike for the first time since I was nine last year on New Year's Day. I hoped to find an exercise that would be easy on my knees. I never expected to find an activity that compels me to do whatever I can to find time to ride. I know that I am boring my friends, family and co-workers with this growing obsession, but they have also noticed my stress levels decreasing and my optimism soaring. And without a doubt, I am obsessed with cycling.

I am so happy on my bike, even when I return time and again to climb difficult hills. That feeling of accomplishment when I get my cadence up a bit more, manage a hill with my heart beating more slowly or increase my speed over the same route is Fully Freaking Fantastic. And with each goal met, another goal moves in to motivate me to get better - just for me.

I am lucky to enjoy the company of great group of women cyclists who cheer me on and challenge me to learn more, laugh often, eat well and always ride. Over this past year I experienced the joy of pushing harder than I thought possible, struggling to keep up, celebrating each finish, finding in myself some person that I never knew existed - and liking that person very much.

Like y'all, AzTallRider and Bare Feet, it is so wonderful to find others who "get it". Cheers to all!
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Old 12-27-10, 11:36 PM   #22
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Great stuff here; agreed.
On a less profound level, what I also learned here is that bicycling can improve your Wii performance.
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Old 12-28-10, 12:22 AM   #23
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Wow. Cheri, AzTallRider, and Bare Feet, your direct eloquence not only delivers a compelling story, but also describes "the feeling" of cycling for many of us. Thanks to each of you for sharing your thoughts.

I started riding a bike for the first time since I was nine last year on New Year's Day. I hoped to find an exercise that would be easy on my knees. I never expected to find an activity that compels me to do whatever I can to find time to ride. I know that I am boring my friends, family and co-workers with this growing obsession, but they have also noticed my stress levels decreasing and my optimism soaring. And without a doubt, I am obsessed with cycling.

I am so happy on my bike, even when I return time and again to climb difficult hills. That feeling of accomplishment when I get my cadence up a bit more, manage a hill with my heart beating more slowly or increase my speed over the same route is Fully Freaking Fantastic. And with each goal met, another goal moves in to motivate me to get better - just for me.

I am lucky to enjoy the company of great group of women cyclists who cheer me on and challenge me to learn more, laugh often, eat well and always ride. Over this past year I experienced the joy of pushing harder than I thought possible, struggling to keep up, celebrating each finish, finding in myself some person that I never knew existed - and liking that person very much.

Like y'all, AzTallRider and Bare Feet, it is so wonderful to find others who "get it". Cheers to all!
You inspire me, Pam! I hope to ride with you again soon.
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Old 12-28-10, 04:48 PM   #24
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dengledog, you have discovered the secret of life the universe and everything. That secret is (drum roll) do as much as you can as long as you can (drum roll). This will result in you being happier and those around you are likely to be happier also. You're welcome.
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Old 01-03-11, 09:19 AM   #25
dengidog
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Location: Chapala, Mexico
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Wow! Thanks everyone for all of the encouragement, several deep belly laughs, and just the neat feeling that you get it. When I first started, I was walking up Mt. Sunnuvabich while old men were pedaling past me. Now, I pass the old men! (ok, it's not that much of a victory but I'll take what I can get).

I feel better, my attitude is definitely improving, and the time spent on the wheels is like a break for me. I let my mind wander and it's amazing how much clearer things become.

For the poster who was wondering, I live in Chapala, Mexico (retired here) so my route is filled with hills, semi-mountains and amazing scenery.

Again, thanks to all of you for the encouragement!

Cheri
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