On Saturday I was able to ride 36.8mi with over 3790′ of climbing in just under 3 hours. Not that fast but I was happy as my ave heart rate of 142 for those 3 hours and I had a max hr of 165. No chest pain or discomfort. I started taking the smallest dose of Lisinopril(2.5mg) for my blood pressure but felt no issues from it. I’m planning on riding in the Tour De Poway in about a week. Not sure if I’ll do the full century or the metric century.
I rode in the Amtrak Century yesterday, my first try at one. On my previous posts I forgot to mention that my real goal was not to ride 100 miles in the time allotted (8 hours), but to ride it only stopping when needed. That was the real challenge I wanted. Not more that 4-10 minutes per stop. Could I ride 100 miles basically non stop?
I made it to 75.46 miles in 5 hours 14 minutes or riding time, 2365′, 135ave bpm, 156 max bpm. Only stopping at the rest stops to refuel and use the bathroom. My first stop was 4min.30 sec., 2nd stop, 6min.20sec and my last stop was 8min.45sec.
I was really surprised I had no pains at all, no numb hands, back pain, no sore butt or neck aches at all. It was actually quite easy. The only reason I stopped was my legs had no more life. From about mile 60-75 was a tail wind on mostly flat road which as you know means you can feel great and fly along thinking your strong as ever. Any hill though I encountered stopped me dead in granny gear. So being that at mile 81 was a 1.2 mile hill I stopped at the last train stop before the 100 mile mark and rode back to the start of the ride to return home (this century was one way). I could have rested at the last rest stop for 1/2-1 hour and gotten my strength back to finish but the competitor in me felt that was a bit of cheat to my goal. I was much more satisfied knowing I made it this far essentially non stop.
Considering I had never ridden more than 38 miles or over 3.5 hours in the last few years and got very little training in the last 2 weeks I am really happy with my results. This has given me so much more confidence in my hearts ability and strength, released a lot of mental blocks that come with being a heart attack survivor and hopefully will motivate any of you who have a goal in your recovery.
I want to thank Dr. Howard Elkin for being a great doctor, friend and teaching me that I can still have an active life, Dr. Elisabeth Kaback for her confidence and positive encouragement and the staff at Scripps Cardiac Rehab for helping me through some mental and physical blocks and of course my wife for being very nervous about me trying this but knowing I needed to.
Once you’ve had a heart attack, surgery or cardiac scare you will most undoubtably have many fears about returning to bike riding or any physical activity. I have fears almost daily after 6 years. Sometimes it’s before, in the middle or even hours later after a ride. “Should I have ridden that far? Will I have heart attack in my sleep now? Is that stomach pain from my electrolite drink or the beginning of another “event”? I’ve never seen my heart rate go so high? I’m too far from home and no one can get me?” These topics and many more I will try to write about here, both to hopefully help you and help myself.
Making yourself safer and feel better on those first few rides back on the bike.
There are a few that helped me get back on the bike and some I still use to help me on my rides.
- NEVER leave home without my cell phone, baby aspirin & nitro.
- Ride with someone! or tell someone EXACTLY where your going. I’m not kidding. Every street name or trail you will be riding on turn by turn. I have even driven my wife on my more common routes so she knows what the area(s) looks like.
- Wear a heart rate monitor. Knowing how much your heart rate goes up and how fast it comes down are great comforting #’s to know.
- Bring a blood oxygen monitor (oximeter) with you. I use a Nonin 9500, the same one used in my hospital, doctors office and cardiac rehab. I used it often the first few times but now I only use it before I ride, and after my cool down. The same way they do it in my cardiac rehab. I will bring it when I will be really pushing myself hard – a new goal or effort level. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that when I’m huffing and puffing my oxygen level is still high.
- Another not so obvious one is to make sure a hospital, urgent care or fire station are always on your routes.
- If your in a cardiac rehab program ride on an exercise bike first.
- If your really nervous about riding make a simple around the block trip then work up from there.
- Allow yourself permission to stop, walk or call a friend to pick you up for any reason, don’t try to tough it out. This is hard to for those of us who don’t want to feel or believe we aren’t the man or woman we used to be…I do miss that little voice that would tell me to man up and get up that hill!
- If you can’t have a friend ride with you have someone met you in a car at a location and come back with them.
- If your going up a hill and it’s too hard, it’s O.K. to walk, turn around or stop and try again.
- Now I know this next one is taboo in many cliques….switch to a compact or even…a…yes, triple ring set up on your road bike. Knowing that you always have an easy gear has calmed my nerves more than I want to admit. I ride with a compact up front and a 12-26 cluster and 175 cranks.