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Old 01-01-05, 03:32 AM   #1
Time for a change.
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Target for recovery

I now class myself as one of the fortunate ones. 5 years ago a bypass, and 3 years ago cancer, but still riding and still enjoying it.

Before the bypass I was pretty fit, not only for my age, but within the group I ride with I was one of the fit ones. Got over the op and 2 years later had regained all of my fitness, and possibly a bit more and the cancer hit me. OK, early stages of Prostate Cancer, but it was caught in time and another op and I was back cycling after 8 weeks. Problem was that at a year later my fitness was not coming back. I was not putting in the effort, not pushing myself, and mentally I felt that it was about time I gave up cycling.

Then I hit on the cure for my lethargy and lack of motivation. I set myself a Target. In 1997 I had done a long gruelling crosscountry ride. 100 miles offroad in a single day. Can't say that it was an enjoyable ride, but was probably the hardest ride I had ever done. I set the target of doing this ride in one years time,the summer of 2003. 6 months of a little extra training bought me up to January 2003, and then I went to the gym as often as I could. I was going to do this on a Tandem, so extra motivation also came in as I could not let my co-rider down by failing on this one. June 2003 and 400 odd nutters, mostly 25 to 30 year olds on the latest full suspension bikes were laughing behind their backs at the 2 old uns that reckoned they were going to do this ride in the 15 hours of daylight that was going to be allowed for the ride. Our confidence was not boosted when the organisor pointed out to us that a Tandem had never completed this ride in the 6 years it had been run. Plenty had started, but none had ever finished.

14 hours later and the first tandem to finish the event got a rapturous reception from the other riders at the finish. We had done what only one year earlier, had been just a Kill or Cure idea in my brain.

No moral to this story, but just a little bit of advice to those of you that are worried about whether you will bea able to regain your fitness after a serious medical setback. You may not ever get the fitness back that you once had, but set yourself a target, go for it and you may be surprised at what you can achieve.
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Old 01-01-05, 10:57 PM   #2
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Thanks for the inspiration. I need it right now. I was in terrible shape, then had a heart attack in August, 2000. I was scared into shaping up. I started walking, and like you I found that I was motivated by having difficult goals. I eventually reached a long term goal of walking 15 miles in less than 4 hours. Then I started riding a bike setting new goals along the way. I was in the process of acheiving a goal of losing that last 40 pounds, while increasing strength and speed on the bike, when I wiped out and broke some bones and stuff. After 4 months of not being able to ride, I look forward to once again setting and acheiving my goals. I wish you continued success, and thanks again for sharing your experiences.
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Old 01-02-05, 12:38 PM   #3
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Great story. I'm 54 and no serious health problems (Yet! We all will have our share before we check out of here.) Anyway, my target is a sub-3hr olympic distance tri this June. Not near the target you set for yourself, but a good one for me nonetheless.

Congratulations and thanks for the post. Didn't you have a pic of the off-road tandem posted elsewhere?

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Old 01-02-05, 02:22 PM   #4
Time for a change.
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Please don't get me wrong, I am not one of the superfit cyclists that you see around. In fact amongst my group I am the slowest one. Age has meant that I have to really work to retain the fitness I have, and to get fit for this bike ride, I have to go to the gym twice a week, take part in spinning classes, eat the right sort of food to give me enough energy, and put my Life into suspension to enable me to do all this. I set my target, perhaps a bit higher than I should have as a Kill or Cure remedy. Point is I had to really get fit for this ride and I managed it. I did not find the ride easy, But the training for it was harder.
The Memorable part of this event though, is seeing all the young fit riders at the start, on all the latest bikes that probably cost fortune, and listening to their comments about the old gits on the tandem, and the side bets on when they will pull out. They soon get a shock when they realise that the bike that has just ridden past them up the steepest hill, while they are pushing their bike up it, is the Tandem, Or that the really gnarly downhill with all the ruts and loose scree on it, has just been taken by the Tandem at a speed that they can only dream about.

My point in starting this posting is just to let you know that it is possible to get out on your bikes after a medical setback, and it is possible to to participate in events that you may not think you can do. I'll get some pictures of the tandem shortly but in the meantime, here is a picture on the 2nd to last hill on the South Downs Way, so you can see how high we have climbed. (And it does start at the bottom of the valley
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Old 01-02-05, 03:17 PM   #5
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Dude, you are an action figure! I saved the picture as my desktop wallpaper.
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Old 01-03-05, 02:44 PM   #6
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For most of my adult life I had the goal of becoming the most physically powerful man in the world.
No joke.
Many, many hours in the weight room, and running and swimming.
At ages 46 and 48 I had two catastrophic training injuries.
The second one kinda did me in.
I gained weight and my physical abilities steadily declined.

About three years ago a fellow worker my age encouraged me to try a recovery.
I found a good physical therapist who used the Feldenkrais method; I bought a bike; and I sold my car.
I've lost fifty-plus pounds and so thoroughly enjoy riding my bike that I feel sorry for people trapped in cars.

I also seem to have plateaued.

Some of this I want to attribute to the aging process (58 years).
However, a personal study I did on the aging process suggests that true aging does not begin until the 63rd year of life.
Prior to 63, most of what we attribute to age really comes from less than optimal body management.

In other words, if at age 18 we provided ourselves with perfect amounts of the right kinds of exercise and food; and if we slept adequately and avoided stress, injury, illness and harmful substances and practices, we would remain relatively young until the age of 63; at which time, an unavoidable aging process would begin.
Do we have genetic differences that would lead us to have different experiences with aging?
In general, though, we do not truly begin to age until age 63.

That gives me another five years of recovery, and I want to begin the unavoidable part of this aging process in as good a condition of health as a I can possibly acheive.

But good health - - kinda nebulous.
If it doesn't hurt does that make it good health?

I realized I needed some sort of goal that would motivate me and, at the same time, would not get me back into my old self-destructive habits of abusive exercise regimens.
Tough one.

For myself, I have chosen a fixed gear bike as my goal.
By that I mean, I intend to pursue my physical therapy with such attentiveness to my wellness (as opposed to my strength or physical prowess) that I can eventually ride a fixed gear bike without injuring myself, and especially, without injuring my knees.

For those not familiar with fixed gear bikes, the term refers to a bike that has only one gear and the rear axle does not allow for coasting.
If the rear wheel goes around, the pedals go around.

Conventional wisdom says that persons over the age of 45 cannot ride fixed gear bikes without experiencing knee pain.
High spin rates alternating with high loads at lower spin rates leads to complaining knees.

However, a local (and famous) knee specialist, and my physical therapist, both say that the pain associated with fixed gear bikes and knees comes from less-than-perfect body mechanics and not from the loads imposed by a fixed gear bike (your mileage may vary).
They have suggested to me that with careful study, proper exercise and preparation, and appropriate gear ratios, that a fixed gear bike represents a good goal and a real benchmark of having attained an all around useful and functional body.

How cool.

What about this appropriate gear thing?

Fixed gear track bikes and messenger bikes typically come with a 48 tooth front chain ring and a 16 tooth rear cog on the rear axle.
With 700 X 35 tires, this comes out to about 81" traveled over the ground for every revolution of the pedals.
Perfect for an 18 year-old.

I found a gear on my commuter bike that gave me this number of inches per revolution (81") and rode it that way for a week.
My knees started to complain.
My therapist said I had bitten off too much to chew and I still had a lot to learn about my body mechanics.
Back to the drawing board.

So, a few more months of therapy and careful exercise, and I tried riding a gear ratio that gave me 63" of travel over the ground for every revolution of the pedals.
That worked.

Recently, I have upped it to a gear ratio that gives me 72" of travel for every revolution of the pedals, and I find that doable with only a little bit of complaining from my knees.
Generally, when my knees complain, they do so real time and this directs me to examine my body mechanics.


I will probably not progress beyond 72", and then again, I might.
I might even go back down to 63".
It doesn't matter (gettin' my head screwed on right, finally).

Now I have begun to study fixed gear bikes in earnest.
I have set the goal for myself of organizing my body to where I can ride a true fixed gear bike, geared at 72", at least one day out of the week, without pain.
Why 72"?
A fathom?
Six feet?
Mostly because it represents the edge of what I can do, now, on my 24 speed commuter.

This coming spring, or the spring after that, or after that, I would like to ride a fixed gear bike around my community as my commuter and go-places bike and enjoy it as thoroughly as I presently enjoy my conventional multi-gear bike.
I would consider this a victory of sorts, and any and every year after my 63rd birthday in which I could ride a fixed gear bike would, to me, equate to earning the privilege of wearing a Super Bowl ring.
Not to take away from anyone who has earned the privilege of wearing a Super Bowl ring, but priorities change with age, eh?
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