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.