Summertime Blues

The summer riding season has flown by so fast! Where does the time go? I had the best intentions to write about biking and health but ended up just enjoying myself. I have a good reason though, let me explain.

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It was a wonderful summer riding the Bay Trail here in San Mateo, CA. From Coyote Point Harbor you can see San Francisco down the peninsula.

I’ve had bad knees for decades starting with a motorcycle accident in the early ’70s that caused me to have surgery on my right knee. Now that I’m 65 that surgery has grown old making that knee unstable while the strain on my left knee (the good knee) caused it to fail and become crooked. This took years to happen, years where I was fine to outdoor roller skate, jog, play sports, and pretty much do anything I wanted. Now I’m paying the price.

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I am going to miss riding my bicycle! In most pictures, I try to hide my knees or I stand to the side so it’s harder to see. One knee is bigger than the other because of scar tissue.

If you read my blog you’ll know my history, if not you can read about it here. I was overweight, depressed, walking with a cane and in bad shape until I decided to exercise regularly by riding my bicycle every other day. Now, almost 4 years later I’m in great shape and my knees are the best they can be. Unfortunately, the best is far from functional. Losing the extra weight and riding my bicycle made my knees stronger and less painful but the damage was done.

I put off doing something about them for far too long but on May 10th something shifted in my left knee and I could barely walk. After seeing my doctor we decided enough was enough. On the 26th (this Monday) I’m having both of them replaced at the same time. They’re also going to straighten my left leg. It’s going to be a long recovery and hard work but I look forward to the end result. Not only that, but my doctor chose my case to use robotics which is going to be awesome.

I will be in the hospital for 2 days and in an acute rehab facility for 1 to 2 weeks so I’m going to be busy. In the rehab facility, they will make sure I’m comfortable and know how to deal when I get home. They will be teaching me how to walk all over again with straight legs. I don’t like to admit it but when I walk now I have a side to side movement and people can clearly notice my bent leg.

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This is how you keep your bicycle from being ripped off.

I’ll be so glad to get rid of these knees. They click, move on me, give out on me, I can’t do stairs, and cause me a lot of pain. I fall way too much when I stop my bike because putting a leg down doesn’t always mean that leg is going to hold. I fell just last Sunday which I shouldn’t be doing with my surgery is coming up.

Despite all of this I’m very nervous and not sure how long it will take for me to recover fully and get back on my bike which are my main objectives. I’m in good shape because of my bike riding so my doctor says I should recover fast.

I’ll be off my bike for at least 6 weeks and will have to start all over again. It makes me sad when I think about how much work and time it took for me to get into this top physical condition. As long as I come out better and stronger it will be worth it.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel about blogging while this is going on so I won’t make any promises I can’t keep. We’ll see how I feel. I look forward to getting this over with and getting back to the things I love.

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Hoping for the best on Monday and looking forward to better knees, better health and being a better bike rider!

Take care and stay healthy. You can do it! Keep riding your bicycle and eating your spinach. You’ll be hearing from me soon, I still have a lot to share.

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett

Every Other Day For Three Years

When I started my cycling journey whilst questing for good health I often felt like quitting. Red-faced, walking my bike up the smallest hills, not being able to catch my breath and unable to keep up with anyone. I felt like a big fat failure.

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Me and my 1986 Schwinn World Tourist (10 speed), in 2016/17.

At the time I had lost my first 30 pounds by cutting calories but I still had over 30 more to lose and was in horrible shape. Maybe it was the excitement of losing the initial weight, maybe riding my bike was reminding me of happier times, probably the hormone changes and endorphins were kicking in, but something made me dig in and keep it up when I wanted to (and normally would have) quit.

Within a year I lost the rest of the weight. I was feeling wonderful and more importantly, I had a new attitude, like a new lease on life. That first year was a lot of hard work but now I was reaping the benefits of daily exercise. Almost 2 years later I’ve not gained a pound back keeping my weight within 5 pounds of my target of 139.

The biggest surprise was the change in how other people looked at and treated me that had nothing to do with my weight. They saw a hard working, positive, reliable, better me because I was now living that way. It was definitely an eye-opening learning experience about what I was really made of. One that taught me that maybe I was ok after all and that gave me the confidence to continue. It will be 3 years on February 20th I’ve never been in better health and I’m convinced I found the Fountain Of Youth.

Benefits Of Daily Exercise

  • Fights Depression Without Drugs
  • Lose Fat Around Internal Organs (the worst fat you can have)
  • More Quality Sleep
  • Eat Less/Crave Better Food
  • Maintain Healthy Weight
  • Positive Attitude
  • Get Sick Less (Colds, Flu)
  • Low Resting Heart Rate
  • Less Cortisol (Bad Hormones)
  • Reverse High Blood Pressure
  • Reverse Heart Disease
  • Reverse Diabetes
  • Reverse High Cholesterol
  • Better Bone Density
  • Fights Dementia
  • Live Longer

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Happy together, me and my 2017 Norco Rideau (24 gears), 2018/19.

What was the biggest thing that kept me going through plateaus and setbacks? All the improvements I kept seeing in my life! Even the smallest wins gave me the confidence to keep it going and get it done.

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Proud of my Lifetime Stats on MapMyRide started on Feb. 20th, 2016.

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MapMyRide ranks user’s rides. You can see how you’re doing compared to other people riding the same trails. They go by age and sex. The points are just for fun.

Keeping a record of your rides/exercise of choice is easy with all of the free apps these days like MapMyFitness (click HERE.) Made by Under Armor this system will track any kind of exercise including dog walking. Strava is another favorite (HERE.)

Wearable trackers like Fitbit offers us a way to track invisible health trends like sleep, resting heart rate and more. Click HERE for tracking your rides, HERE for tracking your rides if you own a Fitbit.

Click HERE if you want to know how to start changing your life with diet and exercise like I did. This is the beginning (part one of 3 parts), of the Lazy, Fat and Crazy Lifestyle Change. It worked for me it will for you.

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On the 20th I look forward to celebrating my good health, keeping the weight off, feeling wonderful, maintaining my motivation to ride 20-30 miles every other day and kicking 2019’s ass! Join me!

You don’t need New Year’s resolutions, you need to do one thing and do it well. You can do it!

Smoke On The Water

In 2017 there were terrible forest fires in northern California but the air quality didn’t suffer for most of the state. The weather was clearing out the bad air and no one needed masks unless they were sick.

Then this fall, another fire started up north (only 100 miles away) and near LA at the same time. Now there were fires above and below the Bay Area. A windless, rainless front dropped into the area and would not move. Our air quality was stagnant with smoke and haze for weeks making history. Even now I wait for the air to clear which is supposed to happen tomorrow when we finally get some rain-if we do get some rain.

Screenshot_20181109-085043_WeatherBugDon’t go outside! This was not the worst air day it got much worse. I couldn’t ride my bike for over a week until I bought N95 masks.

People not living here wonder how this could happen. For decades we had a horrible drought that killed trees, brush, and dried out our forests. When this second fire started the high winds scattered the fire with plenty of fuel to burn. Perfect fire weather.

Although we had a year in between of rain that restored lakes, rivers, and creeks in the state it didn’t stay green for long. Just as we were hoping the drought was over we had another dry year. After weeks of historically bad air quality, closures and warnings we’re told it might clear up the end of this week. Only then can we begin to figure out what happened and rebuild.

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Me biking last Thursday. Behind me isn’t fog or cloudy, the air is that thick with smoke and bad chemicals. The sun was out you just can’t see it.

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Wearing the masks made me happy for the first few rides. After I found out how irritating they are to wear I only rode 3 times with them on (meaning I only rode 3 times in weeks.) I had to keep stopping to wipe the sweat off of my face and dry off the inside of the mask. My sunglasses would fog at the worst times and be hard to wear. Drops of sweat would hang on the tip of my nose under the mask and at times felt itchy.  My nose would run. I saw only one other cyclist with a mask on-no wonder!

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The windbag at Windsurfer’s Beach hangs limp for weeks. Coyote Point is the mass of trees to the right in the background. Further down the peninsula, the landmarks like San Francisco and the airport are lost in the smoke and bad air.

This week is Thanksgiving. I last rode my bike on Saturday and should have ridden yesterday but I couldn’t put the mask on. The landscape on these masked rides hasn’t been that pretty and I feel for the animals trying to go about their lives in this soup. Everything looks unfocused, the light is strange, colors not sharp and everything smells like smoke. I did see some of the regulars who ride the Bay Trail but were surprised to see them not wearing masks. The masks truly are hard to wear exercising but to me health is everything!

Even in our homes, our air is bad there’s no getting away from it. I wear masks everywhere I go even in my car but I don’t wear one at home. Having my bedroom window open all year helps me sleep better but all windows are shut tight until this is over. Anything you run in the home isn’t safe unless it’s on a closed loop. All one can do is wait and get through it.

This is the first time that I’ve missed weeks of biking. I’ve biked every other day 20-30 miles for almost 3 years and although I’m not in training, it’s like a training schedule. I like to stay in tip-top shape. Biking helps my depression and mood swings so it’s been difficult coping without it. I’m especially thankful that I didn’t lose everything in these terrible fires.

We have a few Spare The Air Days during the year but nothing like this. I hope the news is right and the weather does change tomorrow so all of us can have a good Thanksgiving and be thankful for the clean air and peace it brings.

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Have you ever worn a mask exercising or lost time biking due to circumstances beyond your control? How frustrated were you?

Enjoy what you do have, count your blessings and be thankful!