Be True to Your Sport, Even if It’s Lame

At my recent doc visit where I learned that I get to stick needles in my fingers every day I also learned, “Your HDL is fantastic! Your LDL could be a little better, but it doesn’t matter because of your awesome HDL!”

I thought, “I owe it to my Airdyne.”

So now with the messed up foot I thought a couple of days ago, “How am I’m going to exercise?” Then my brain said, “Sweet Cheeks, your sport is riding the Bike to Nowhere. Walking the dogs is just the cherry on the sundae.”

“Good point, brain. It’s true.” At best I walk the dogs 2 leisurely miles every day but when I ride the Airdyne, I ride 10 miles in intervals and sprints.

It’s a lame sport. I’ll admit it freely. When it comes to sports, back in the day, I WAS competitive. I raced 400 meters and 400 meter hurdles. That’s won by an insane explosion of will, energy and thigh muscles. To win, you SPRINT. A lot of people can’t sprint 400 meters, but I figured because I was born and grew up at a high elevation I had a little biological advantage.

In later years my sport was skiing (downhill and Nordic), and then, when I moved away from snow, it was trail running — the closest thing to downhill skiing you can do on dry land without snow, or so it felt to me.

All this has taken a toll and I suppose that’s the price anyone pays for throwing themselves into some physical sport for most of their lives.

What I didn’t think of back then were the other benefits. During my trail running days, I began to get it. At 45, an age when my mom’s BP was already off the charts and she was on cholesterol meds, I was holding steady at 120/80. Genetics ultimately put me on those meds, too, but not until I was 60 and even then at a much lower dose than my mom was taking. Beyond the physical benefits of general fitness and (I wish) weight control (it could be worse) are the psychological benefits. Now I compete with myself to ramp up my performance to ride faster longer. Sometimes when I ride I imagine paintings which I then go and paint — or think about a little more. Often on a ride I have seen my way through a problem with a story or a friendship or gotten a great idea for an adventure with my friends. I listen to music and watch a bike riding video of the route of the Tour de France. It’s beautiful terrain and I have caught myself leaning into sharp curves when I’m “going” fast.

My Bike to Nowhere is from the 1970s. It’s copper colored with racing stripes — a little touch of irony that I love every time I get on it. It’s not a mountain bike (I loved that when I could actually lift my leg over a bike seat) or a steep winding trail or a ski slope but riding it made it possible for me to — without a lot of preparation — head out with my brand new X-country skis last winter and Langlauf with confidence the VERY FIRST TIME in nearly 20 years. That day was at LEAST as happy as any other of the extremely happy days in my life.

My dad and me in 1964 (I’m 12) setting up my first bike ❤ for him to use as a stationary bike so he could retain muscle mass and strength with his MS. You can see some blue paint. I wanted a red bicycle so my dad painted it before giving it to me for my sixth birthday. No training wheels. None of that little pedal-less faux bike kids get now. Things change — it wasn’t that they didn’t care about our safety. I think they had a different kind of confidence in our abilities.

The chart is from an app I use, “Map my Walk.” The red bars are Airdyne rides.

17 thoughts on “Be True to Your Sport, Even if It’s Lame

  1. Doesn’t matter how you exercise; it’s that you exercise. The Bike to Nowhere has done you well, Martha. Ride on! 😉

  2. Do you think you could actually balance on a 2-wheel bike anymore? I don’t think I could. I was considering a trike, but they look awfully heavy and it’s pretty hilly about here. Well, I’ll wait until spring. maybe I’ll get one with a motor.

    • I can. I ride my bike by laying it on the ground, stepping over it, and getting on. It’s fine, but not so cool at stoplights etc. I realized this spring that the reason I can’t lift my leg over the seat is because of the scar tissue from my hip surgery. I did it a couple of times from the other side, but it was awkward and I’m still struggling with fear left over from the time of not being able to walk well and falling all the time. SO I have to get over my brain. 🙂

  3. I was reading recently that having too low a blood pressure appears to correlate with dementia. Apparently, you want to keep your diastolic over 60. You’re good as gold.

    • I had to keep track of my blood pressure faithfully over I dunno 2 months? Because at the doc it’s always stroke level. Happily, it was always good, which made the doc’s PA feel like a monster, but it really WASN’T her. I hate doctors, not personally, but when you get enough icky diagnoses you don’t want to go there.

  4. Not lame! I used to cycle a lot, miles, till I got knocked off and fractured my skull. Then I still cycled till the frame split a year later. Took it to a bike shop, they lost the frame for a year! I got another bike but it was the wrong size. So bought a car! Grr…. I need to get a bike to nowhere. My old exercise bike was always uncomfortable. Now it’s holding the pear tree up! Don’t ask!

  5. Exercise is exercise. As my MIL says, “If you don’t move it, you’ll lose it.” I admire your commitment. Keep on biking to nowhere, it’ll get you somewhere.

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