Cycling Wednesdays: Get in the moment

I had planned to write this week’s cycling post on the futility of even considering the existence of any one “best” exercise. Gretchen Reynold’s NY Times Magazine essay entitled, “What’s the best exercise,” got me thinking about this highly bloggable topic.

Initially, such fodder seemed a perfect topic. There are few exercises I have not tried, (including the 400 IM), and I am passionate about physical fitness. It would have been easy–and fun–typing out reasons why the “burpee” would only be the best exercise if you were eternally locked into a single Room. I could have reiterated the importance of combining aerobic exercise with strength and flexibility training. I could have touted the insulin-lowering effects of high intensity interval training, and even hinted that yoga might reduce atrial fibrillation episodes.

But I changed my mind. Herein lies the beauty of having your own blog.

Here’s Plan B:

It was a (very) rural store stop two hours into a near-perfect Sunday morning training ride. While staring into the cooler, deciding what color Gatorade to fill my bottle with, one of the twenty-something cycling androids asked me why I had been nostalgically commenting on the essence of our ride. Guilty as charged. Those two espresso-enriched coffees I enjoyed before the ride must have made me chatty.

Despite the focus required to ride in a rotating double paceline at tail-wind-aided speeds, it seemed only right to point out the obvious.  Things strike you when fitness swoops in and allows riding with your chin off the stem and your eyes on something other than the butt in front of you. I was noting things like:

the beauty of the Spring flowers along the roadside brook,

the Belgian-like road, (at least in my imagination),

the warmness of the sun on my freshly-shaven legs,

the near-palpable camaraderie of the group,

the swooshiness of a carbon fibre bike, powered by fresh legs.

Yes.

All of this. It was true; I was indeed feeling the moment.

But why so nostalgic?

Because of stories like this: (Edited for anonymity of the sender.)

Hi John,

I have wanted to send you a note for some time now and let you know I started road biking a year ago and it has changed my life. I always recognized how much you enjoyed it and felt like you were such a healthy guy as a result. Anyway, it really agreed with me. About three months ago I was emergently flown to the Cleveland Clinic to have a large sarcoma tumor removed from my PA (Pulmonary Artery). I was 99% occluded and the surgeon felt that my biking probably saved my life as my RV was quite strong and able to push past the occlusion.

Long story short, I coded for 45 minutes, was given a homo-graft and new valve. I am now fighting the cancer with chemo and soon will start radiation. Doing really well and feel strongly that the cancer is already gone. I know it has been years since I worked with you. I am still with (medical company A), and I am just staying here in (a southern state) though. I always enjoy your posts and thoughts. Hope to get back on the bike in about 8 weeks… after the radiation. If you have any great ideas or thoughts on my recovery shoot me a note. Hope you are doing well.

Best,

BR

Why so nostalgic about a ride?

Hello…Because I am almost 50 and still able to go on that ride. Because Monday’s headache could be a brain tumor, Tuesday’s chest pain a heart attack, and Wednesday’s bad legs, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Who would even imagine a sarcoma?

Though a major goal of this blog is that my gibberish might help others, you should know that hearing passionate stories like BR’s helps me.

BR…Like Lance says: Live strong! Be well. I wish you all the best. Thanks for sharing your story.

And to all that write me, I offer you a big, heart-healthy, inflammation-busting, highly grateful, Grin.

JMM

2 comments

  1. I can relate to BR. I have been a runner for over 30 years and don’t quite feel right if I don’t get out for my daily run. A little over a year ago I noticed that instead of going 4-5 miles, within a couple weeks I could barely make a mile. I mentioned this to my PCP (a fellow PA). A few tests later and I had a stent in my LAD and I was dealing with cardiomyopathy with an EF of 30% (I went 10 minutes into a Bruce protocol the day before the stent, thanks to 30 years of conditioning). Thanks to my CRT device I am able to function pretty close to “normal.” I now savor every time I can get out for a jog, enjoying just putting one foot in front of another.
    Thanks for your posts. You are inspiring me research starting my own blog about being a provider and patient; experiencing both ends of the stethoscope.

  2. Great post, John. To BR and Greg, best wishes for your recovery and return of good health. When I’m running later today I’ll think of both of you and send good healing vibes your way.

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