I'm 64 years old, 165 lbs. with a bad back (2 degenerated and 2 herniated discs, emphysema, one knee has been operated on and the other probably needs it. I can't do many types of exercise so for the last couple of years I have been trying to ride a bike a little. Now to give everybody a good laugh, I've been riding a Huffy Iron Man from K-Mart that I bought 12 or 15 years ago to ride with my friends kids. I understand Huffys are junk, but in almost 2000 miles the only problems I've had are 1 flat tire and when I caught my pant leg in the sprocket. So if everybody is done laughing back to my questions.
I retired this year, but before that I worked by a rail trail (Panhandle trail) and would ride 10 to 25 miles after work three or four times a week in summer. Now that I'm retired there is no level riding near my home and I can't seem to be able to do hills. On even the smallest hills I get so out of breath I think I'm going to die and can't even consider trying to ride the streets/roads around the house. I wondered if I was just much more out of shape this year so I took the bike to a rail trail (Montour trail) last week and rode 25 miles (the last 12 in pouring rain) without any trouble so I'm thinking it's just that I can't do hills. I've been trucking the Huffy to a nearby park 3 or 4 days a week and doing 8 to 10 miles that include the profile attached and at http://www.localhikesbeta.com/Hikes/...1464#elevation . In my lowest gear (30x28) I can manage to get up the biggest hill, but just barely and think I'm going to die before the top. I've done about 400 miles in the last several months but it isn't getting much better and I still can't do the hills around the house. So my questions:
I know that if I'm going to continue to ride I will need a real bike, but will a better bike make a significant difference in my ability to ride hills?
How much riding does it take to improve breathing? Am I just not doing enough or is it my emphysema?
How hard is biking on the knees? As I've been riding more my one knee is starting to hurt a little.
Any insight would be welcome.