An Athletic Lifestyle, Health and the Heart…
It wasn’t until after my buddy, Mike called to give me the full story on his upcoming heart surgery that I had a quick thought about why I live like I do.
First, while I refuse to buy into the silliness that is vegetarianism or worse, veganism, or any of the other diet fads, I didn’t always eat as well as I do today. I’ve never shied away from fast food, and even embrace it during cycling season, but I’ve cut back considerably from my younger days.
I eat healthy, well balanced, good food today, and it’s not because it tastes good. Sure, my homemade burgers are fantastic, even better than a Whopper (Burger King) and heads and shoulders better than anything McDonald’s or Wendy’s can turn out… Fast food is an experience. It’s no work eating. Pull up to a drive-thru and they throw a hot, cooked meal at you within a minute or two. I love easy.
Mike likes easy, and much more frequently that I do.
Unfortunately, three of the arteries leading to his heart are currently pretty pissed about his enjoyment of “easy”. Mike eats like $#!+. He liked to think he got a free pass on crap food because he’s active. Not so, and he’ll be acutely aware of this as he is trying to heal from his upcoming open heart surgery.
Too often, making the right choices is an abstract thing (in food and exercise). One never sees the concrete result. You simply don’t die (or one lives a little longer, however you want to look at it). Oh, some people claim to feel better if they avoid certain foods but how one “feels” is highly subjective anyway. It’s not often one can actually put their finger on a health problem and say, “Okay, I’ll eat better because my crappy diet caused “X”.
My buddy Mike can, and the rest of us who know him and care about him can. His artery blockage is a direct result of diet. He does everything else right. Hasn’t had a drink in decades, doesn’t smoke, and exercises like his life depends on it. If a crappy diet were okay, he should have shiny, healthy arteries. Instead, he’s going under the knife to have new arteries put in.
There’s a flip-side to this though…
He’s been an athlete for decades, having qualified for Boston every year and regularly running sub-three hour marathons (if I remember correctly, his pace for the Crim 10 miler – our local standard for how fast one can run – was less than 60 minutes). When he started having knee trouble he switched to cycling and has always been in the 20+ mph club. My buddy’s heart found new ways to get blood to it. It grew new branches to the arteries and while inefficient, because he was such an enthusiastic athlete, his body found a way to keep the effort up. If not for his fitness, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what his likely fate would have been.
In the end, we all know what must be done, it’s just a matter of being willing to do it. Eat healthy and lead an active life. This won’t guarantee longevity, I wish it did. What it will guarantee is that we get to live the healthiest, longest life possible. If we’re fortunate enough to find happiness, especially in the fitness end of that equation, we’ll also get to enjoy it as well.
Ride hard my friends.
Shared from WordPress
The Secret to Cycling Fast – 20 mph Plus – Revealed… And It’s Not What You Think! – http://wp.me/p248iZ-3Lz
Reposted by request….
I was working on another post when, just by happenstance, I stumbled onto something big. The real reason I can ride as fast as I do. Now, please don’t misconstrue that statement – I am faster than the average cyclist, but I’m not all that fast.
Beyond the pedaling tips, pedal in a circle, scrape mud, pull on the backstroke, high cadence… Beyond the nutrition (which is absolutely critical to cycling with any speed btw)… Beyond the training tips, Attack the hills, intervals… Beyond the bike and the gear. Beyond the daily rides and the workout schedule…
All of that stuff is great…
Read the rest at the link.
A Cyclist in Mourning…
I found out yesterday that my friends and I are going to lose one of our best cycling buds for the rest of the season, possibly for good. The wall of his heart is too thin after a lifetime of pushing it. He’s going in to have open heart surgery.
He’s cancelled all of the rides he’s signed up for and has been ordered to stay off his bike entirely until after he’s healed from the procedure and is well into his rehab stint.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, what would happen if we lost one of us. Our dynamic over the last year and a half has been quite spectacular. We each know our role and we each fit to make a complex human cycling puzzle that works like a finely tuned machine.
The logical part of me knows that all will be okay, that no matter what, I’m going to help my friend back to the best shape he’s allowed by his doctor. I know that I’ll ride no matter what, as will my wife. I know that the rest of my friends and I will take part in some epic rides together… Still, there’s that nagging range of “what if’s” that I’m struggling to suppress:
What if this is the end of the awesomeness? What if my buddy really was the glue that held us all together? What if he can’t make a full recovery, if he’s relegated to hour-long spins at 15-16 mph (he will not be pleased)? What if cycling is never as fun anymore? What will I do without the one guy who is the most like me of all of the guys I ride with, if he can’t come back?
Damn, it’s too depressing to think about.
I know the proper way to think about this, it’s just tough to keep from contemplating those selfish scenarios. Mike is, after all, one of my best friends and cycling won’t be the same until he comes back.
My goal over the next several months will be to become the guy
who can take his place my group needs until then… and unfortunately that means fixing a few personal character defects so I can be that guy – selfishness is chief among them [see, it’s started already]. Humility sucks.
UPDATE: I spoke to my buddy a short while ago… It’s good news! Well, as good as can be hoped for where open heart surgery is needed. He needs a change in diet and a triple bypass. Because he’s been an athlete for so long his body grew new arteries around the blocked one’s. They just have to graft new arteries on the existing to get a little more blood to his ticker. In terms of a full recovery, the news couldn’t be any better. Good news indeed.
With What Shall I Climb It, Dear Liza, Dear Liza…
Mrs. Bgddy and I were off, on our way to a hill climbing adventure when I began singing the title of this post to lighten up her nervousness.
She was not as amused as I’d hoped. I completely messed her up because she feared having that song stuck in her head whilst, and at the same time, climbing hills. Fortunately, when I saw the first incline I forgot all about it… as did my wife.
This begs an interesting question though… With what shall I climb?
16.7 pounds, 52/36 Pro Compact S-Works crankset, 11-28 10 speed cassette.
21 pounds. 52/42/30 Ultegra triple crankset, 11-25 9 speed cassette.
I’ve climbed with both bikes and the Venge is nice because. FIVE POUNDS. On the other hand, that 36/28 last gear is a little harder to get around on double-digit grades. So the question comes down to the weight of the bikes: Is the ease gained by the triple crankset cancelled out by the weight of the bike?
The Trek is the better climbing bike.
I make no bones about the fact that my Venge is the better all-around ride even if it is a thoroughbred race bike. It’s slightly more comfortable, a lot easier to make go fast, and better in a pace line. It’s also infinitely more reasonable at speeds over 50 mph (what goes up, no?… and if we’re coming down, it may as well be fast).
All of that notwithstanding, the actual “going up” part is hardest and the Trek isn’t that bad on the descent to warrant opting for the Venge. I can hit an easy 50 mph on the Trek without worry and Michigan hills can rarely beat Escape Velocity (45 mph) anyway.
If there must be a point, my friends, it’s this: We enthusiasts, myself included, can get bogged down in the bicycle weight weenie discussion. The thinking that weight is everything when talking about inclines is rampant. Weight is important but there are other factors that can counter overall weight as well, as is the case with measuring my Venge against the Trek. By all means, if you want that 15 pound bike and have the $5,000 handy, buy it! You will feel the impressive difference on the way up… On the other hand, if you don’t have that kind of money, look at the gearing and save $4,700.
Of course, my Venge with 50/34 chain rings and a 12-32 cassette could match the Trek’s gearing and I’d still get the five pound benefit… but who puts a compact crankset on an aero race bike?! Sheesh.
You Can Exercise or Not. Either way, Choose.
My wife and I were out of town. Not knowing the local roads well, we had no clue where to ride our road bikes… Which road roads were safe, which to avoid?
Locals have all of the goods when it comes to good routes. When it comes to my hometown, I know I do.
We called the local bike shop to ask where we could find a local ride. Turned out the local bike shop was closed but we did contact the previous owner because he had his cell phone listed on his web page. He put us in contact with the local bike club… And we rode.
We had a wonderful time, rode at a fantastic pace (we met with the B group, closer to our C or even D), climbed a bunch of hills and got our exercise in.
I have been beating the “contact your local bike shop” drum for years, for anyone who truly wants to delve into cycling. Local bike shops and clubs are a tremendous resource to enjoyed… Contacting a local club or shop takes all of the guesswork out of who to ride with and where to ride. Everybody wins when we use that resource. The club gets to meet, ride and share stories with new people and new people get to enjoy the best, safest roads in the area.
Just a Beautiful Morning…
…And Now It’s Time for a Breakdown
I was out yesterday afternoon for a 20 mile ride and I realized that I’m tired. Not just “I don’t feel like pushing on the pedals” tired, I’m tired. For the first time in five years I’ve gotten to the point where I can almost see that I’m doing too much cycling. Let’s just say it’s not a fully formed thought, there are just signs that are a little jumbled up and if put in the right order they could mean something.
I’m just not going to bother putting them in order. The writing is on the walls, even if it’s just scribbles right now.
It’s time for a little bit of a break, to take time to recharge and get excited again.
Tuesday Night Club Ride: A Little Help for My Friend Edition…
Damn it was hot last night. Mid 90’s, a ton of humidity, and 15-20 mph winds that felt more like a blast furnace hitting us in the face. Still, beats polishing the couch with my butt.
We rolled out at 5:15 for the warm-up. That’s funny now that I write it. I was sweating exactly twelve seconds after exiting my air conditioned SUV. We took it slow, with a gnarly cross-headwind. Three miles later we were rocketing up the road with laughable ease… soft pedaling at 25 mph… uphill (technically it’s not a hill in the cycling sense of the word, but it’s pretty close).
The one problem riding with the wind. At least in a crosswind the wind provided a little comfort. With a tailwind it was just unbearably hot. It was a cotton mouth day.
The ride was rough. With storms on the horizon, after two miles in a crosswind we headed north with a tailwind, at 29 mph .. soft pedaling. Well you can imagine what happened when we made a sharp lefthand, 120-140 degree turn. Four of us managed to keep the pace between 19.5 and 20.5 mph but it was tough sledding for sure.
And that’s when my buddy, Mike dropped off the back. I didn’t notice when he’d gone but when we made our final right turn with headwind, right before the hills and with some ugly clouds on the horizon, I pulled out of the pace line and headed back to help Mike.
I passed a few other stragglers before I saw him come over a rise. I turned around and took the lead. I pulled him back the whole way – eleven miles, and at a pace that he could manage.
Mike said to me a few times that I should have stayed with the group and finished the long ride, and he was right. Every now and again though, a fella needs a little help from his friends. My friend needed mine last night, so I ended up with 30 on the night instead of 37, and averaged 19 mph rather than 21.
I also ended up a lot happier, helping a friend through a tough spot. Because that’s what we do.
It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! Nope. It’s SuperSagan!
I found this capture of a tweet over at Velovoices:
Of course, and I commented the same, I’m sick enough that my first thought was, “Dude, I gotta learn to do that! It’d be awesome to haul that out at DALMAC and fly by the guys!”
That thought was, obviously followed by, “You’re too old for that $#!+.”
Still, how cool would that be?…
Anyway, it cannot be denied: Peter Sagan is awesome, and fantastic for cycling. While I’m definitely stoked about Cav’s return to awesomeness, I’ve been on the edge of my couch every evening hoping Sagan keeps (or “takes back” as the case has been) the green jersey.
Fit Recovery’s Cycling Dictionary: The Definition of Hill.
The Fit Recovery Cycling Dictionary defines the word “hill” thusly:
A section of raised land that requires use of the Baby Ring.
Differing from the actual definition of the word “hill”, the cycling definition of the word implies more than just your standard speed bump where the land rises for about 20-30 feet over an eighth of a mile. Do not be caught using the word “hill” in a sentence when referring to such a speed bump lest you be scorned with the typical response for doing so: “There are no hills on this ride”. For Instance, this is a speed bump:
This is a hill:
Know the difference and choose your words wisely.