Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back On My Bike

Before my first trip to the hospital, almost exactly two years ago, I was fairly physically active. I was doing some running (actually running wind sprints) and biking, and doing some light weight training. All this came to an abrupt end, of course, with the onset of my crisis. Since then, once I recovered (more or less) my ability to walk, walking has constituted almost the sole form of physical exercise for me. I use a treadmill or, if walking outside, I continue to use the cane as a safety device. Probably, I will never run again, since that would risk injury to the fragile, disease-ravaged spine. I find the idea of water exercise fairly tempting (I swam for years, back in the day), but fear the chlorine (eventually the irritation it causes the skin becomes unbearable, which is why I stopped swimming in the first place).

But then, there is the bike. This year I was determined to give it a try, once the winter broke. I wasn't completely confident. The muscles used in riding a bicycle are different from those used in walking, and they hadn't been used in a long time. There remains substantial numbness in the lower half of my body, so I wasn't exactly sure how well I would be able to control the vehicle. And once one's feet have left the ground, there isn't a lot of room for error. A fall would of course be fairly calamitous.

The transmission on my bike is 24-speed, so it can be cranked down to a point where, on a level surface, very little force (but a lot of pedaling) is required to achieve forward progress. I assumed that I should begin with this configuration, not knowing how much force I would be able to apply. I wasn't even completely certain that I could remain balanced on the thing. But as it turned out, things went better even than I was hoping. I was able to advance the gearing (but still considerable below the old normal) and ride up and down the street some way a couple of times. I was very happy with the results of this first attempt. I certainly could feel the fact that I was waking up muscles that had been asleep for a long time.

Since then, I have made a lot of progress on this. I can ride several miles, negotiating steep hills, just as before, albeit at a much slower pace. I can feel my strength and stamina improving. I'm not sure it will ever be the same as it was, but that seems hardly to matter. For now, I can just enjoy the ride.

1 comment:

  1. Many of the pools around here use bromine instead of chlorine, I find it easy on the skin and no nasty odor. Sue Roper