Cathy Rides 310K After A Blocked Left Artery.

From the Toronto Rehab Foundation

Less than a year after she had cardiac bypass surgery, Cathie Singer and her husband Peter celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary with a 310-kilometre bicycling tour of Vietnam. “A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would move forward so quickly and feel so normal,” says Cathie, 53. “I recovered enough that on the trip, I wasn’t any different than the other cyclists. I felt totally normal, totally recovered – just another one of the group.”

Always a physically active person, early in 2004 Cathie began to experience chest pain. Her father died of a heart attack at 43 so she was aware of her increased risk. An angiogram showed that her left coronary artery was 95% blocked. Following heart surgery, Cathie enrolled in Toronto Rehab’s cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention program to rebuild her fitness and confidence.

“I thought I was knowledgeable about fitness and diet. I’ve always exercised and I read a lot on the subjects, but I learned so much from the cardiac rehab staff and the other participants,” she says. The staff helped Cathie, who is the mother of three grown children, to train for her cycling trip. Since her trip coincided with the cardiac rehab program’s fundraising walk-a-thon, On Track to Recovery, Cathie and Peter decided to get pledges from family, friends and co-workers for each kilometre they cycled in Vietnam.

Not only did they thoroughly enjoy seeing the country and meeting the people – including many children but they raised more than $2,300 for Toronto Rehab’s cardiac rehabilitation program.


Controlling My Heart Rate While Riding.

“Mindfulness is built around the premise of disengaging from overly emotional responses and extraneous thoughts that clutter the mind’s ability to think clearly. By using techniques such as breathing, visual imagery and meditation to slow down and focus on the present, the theory goes, a person can tap into a higher level of awareness. The more acute awareness is the byproduct of more active brain waves brought on by meditation, studies have shown.”

Can I really control my heart rate? On Friday I didn’t have much time to ride (preparing for the Avenue of The Oaks) so I decided to do some hill repeats in preparation for April 4th. After warming up for about 1/2 hour I started riding a hill I like that is 0.6 miles/205′. S0 for me that was 5min 30sec – 6min 30sec with a coast back down of 2min 30sec ‘ish. My goal was to do 10, I made it to 8 before I limped home. My heart rate would range in the 145-150bpm range at it’s peak and by the time I recovered back down the hill and turned around to go at it again I’d be around 107-110bpm. After my 5th uphill battle I was approaching 155bpm a little too easy for my liking  my doc doesn’t like me to go more than 155 bpm for very long)  so I concentrated very hard and focused on my breathing pattern, almost a meditative trance if you will. I made deliberately strong exhales and inhales while imagining (invisioning) in a very real time way that my heart was very relaxed and barely working to pump. I also imagined every artery in my body was widening open as I had to make through the steepest section. When I glanced at my heart rate on my Garmin after 20-30 seconds my heart rate was 4-7 beats lower every time I did this. Now this isn’t scientific but I did make sure my cadence was same on each of the last 3 hill climbs as a reference. I was now able to maintain 147-148bpm. Whenever I stopped this “technique” I would instantly raise my bpm.

I learned this technique of controlled breathing soon after my heart attack. I got terrible panic attacks and would “freak out” that I was going to have another one. I started listening to Jon Kabat Zinn’s cd made with Dr. Andrew Weil,  Meditation for Optimum Health. Also through Pranayama yoga classes where breath awareness is a major component of your practice.

I really started to utilize Mindfulness Meditation when I first started riding again after my heart attacks. I was terrified to go too far, to hard, too fast etc…so I decided to use what I had been listening to at home and what I was earning in yoga while pedaling. It seems like such and obvious think now but I still forget about it. But, when I see a hill coming up or my heart starts to get a little out of range for my liking I try these techniques and they work for me.

Reiki heals the heart of pro cyclist Hayden Roulston back to racing & the Tour of California.

 Now, I watch the races on tv  and read a few cycling blogs and mags but do not follow the peloton religiously so I was unaware of Hayden Roulsten and his condition. After watching stage 7 of the Tour of California and hearing that Hayden Roulston (Cervelo Test Team ) had come back after being told to stop racing due to a heart problem I had to find out what his condition was and how he made it back to the peloton? From what I could find Hayden was found to have a rare heart disease, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia,  affecting the muscle of the right ventricle which can cause sudden death. Roulston was suffering shortness of breath and an irregular heart beat. 

Hayden had a random life altering meeting with a lady in a cafe who turned him to the practice of reiki, a Japanese hands-on healing process, and Roulston is now a devout follower, convinced it saved his career. “When I first tried it, I trained the next day and felt something different.” says Hayden. Having ignored doctors request he pursed the rieki treatment and last March took 4th in the individual pursuit at the world championships in Manchester and a double medal winner at the Beijing Olympics. Along with his change in diet and lifestyle Hayden believes that rieki was real key to his commback “Reiki is the the be-all and end-all for me … it’s pretty amazing stuff.” he told the New Zealand Sunday Star Times. Some bloggers I have found have been skeptical of the rieki and credit his comeback due to his cleaner living. Either way why not try all of the options at your disposal.

I know that from first hand experience with rieki, healing hands, meditation and other unknown techniques to me  I would not have been nearly as successful in my abilities after my own heart attacks without the attention to the mind and body connection that I received at various times.* Side note: I plan on writing more about my experiences with mind body healing soon.

Congratulation Hayden on your success at the Amgen Tour of California and for the inspiration I get from your unwillingness to let the medical community dictate your lifestyle and medical options.


Photos L-R; Cervelo Test Team,  Cycling,

To read more about Hayden view these links;

Two years ago Hayden Roulston was a dead man riding.

Roulston wins battle of heart and mind.

New Zealand channel 3 News video interview

The Reiki Digest story on Hayden.

Ask a Cardiac/Heart Related Cycling Question.

I have tried a forum format for this site before but people seemed to be hesitant to want to sign up and go through the hassle of it all. I would love to have anyone who stops by this site be able  ask a question, talk about thier issues, ask drug questions, anything realted to your heart and riding (or exercise) is fair game. No doubt someone out there has a had a similar issue or question….So fire away

My 3rd Cardiac Rehab Program

Below is a chart (click on it to view it larger)showing my routine during phase 3 & maintinence of my cardiac rehab at Scripps Integrative Medicine.

After 30 minutes of either stationary cycling or running on the treadmill or track I would perform the following pictured workout. While cycling or running I was allowed to maintain a heart rate of 140-145 maximum. On the stationary bike I would usually do a 3 minute warmup, 3x 8 minute intervals then a 3 minute cool down before starting the rest of the work out. The intervals might be 120-125bpm then 125-135 bpm and finish with 135-145bpm.  I would up my heart rate by either a low cadence hard gear or just by me regulating high cadence efforts and the occasional standing up to peddle. The runs were on their outdoor track (still monitored). It was a mix of walking fast, no lower than 125bpm and a slow jog which I would be able to hold 145-150bpm without a problem. My treadmill work was also done as intervals. Again, a 3 minute warm up then 3x 8 minute jog and 3 minute cool down.

I also will be posting notes and comments on 2 other programs I participated in over the next few months.

If you have any questions please feel free to post them here. I’d be glad to pass on my experiences.


This was my personal program reviewed by my doctor, nurses and exercise physiologist based on my health. DO NOT COPY this program with out first consulting your doctor(s).

My best riding since my heart attack…

YTD Riding Total- 576.93 miles / 38,524′

  • Road – Geared: 440.55mi / 34,363′ 
  • Road – Fixie: 136.38mi / 4,161′ )    
  • Dirt: 0

Not that any workout I do is worthy of publishing, bragging about or keeping track of but, I think it might be of help to some. Plus, it helps motivate me. Those of you who have had heart surgery and want to know what someone else is doing who has had 7 stents and 2 heart attack (5 years ago+ as of this posting) is doing. 

So. I’ll post what workout. I do, riding or otherwise, with pertinent info; heart rates, blood oxygen etc…

February has me out more so far but it has been tough with our new baby to get more than 2 hours in.

Goals for the year:

1. Feb 14, Palm Springs Century, full length – bailed out due to rain interrupting training and new baby duties.

2. April 4, Avenue of the Oaks Century (metric)

3. Sept 12, Amtrak Century, full length

4. Ride a BMX race again…..TBD

5. Ride 100 miles on my fixed gear….TBD

6. Do 10,000′ climbing in 1 day….

7. End the year with 150,000′ feet.

Riding Log- As of 04.1.09

04.01.09:  Road Ride-Fixed

  • 1:35 min  
  • 19.52 miles 
  • 875′ climbing 
  • 129 ave BPM / 156 max BPM (ave)

03.30.09:  Road Ride-Fixed+ Rehab work out

Warm up/(5)x 2.15sec effort at 8 out of 10, 145bpm-155bpm  & 4min recovery inbetween/ recovery home/cardiac rehab leg and weight program

  • 51.20 min  
  • 10.59 miles 
  • 260′ climbing 
  • 120 ave BPM / 154 max BPM (ave)

03.29.09:  Road Ride-

Felt amazing. My best ride since my heart attack. Climbed ober 2000′ in first 18 miles. My highest ave heart rate to date.

  • 2:38 
  • 32.63 miles 
  • 3047′ climbing 
  • 141 ave BPM / 160 max BPM (ave)
  • Blood oxygen levels: Before ride 78/98%. After ride 109/98%
  • BP after stretch and cool down-111/74/86bpm

03.26.09:  Road Ride-

  • 2:22 
  • 39.50miles 
  • 3049′ climbing 
  • 139 ave BPM / 157 max BPM (ave)
  • BP after stretch and cool down-119/79/90bpm

03.23.09:  Road Ride-Fixed+ Rehab work out

Warm up/(5)x 2.30sec effort at 8 out of 10, 145bpm-155bpm  & 4min recovery inbetween/ recovery home/cardiac rehab leg and weight program

  • 55.42 min  
  • 11.57 miles 
  • 358′ climbing 
  • 126 ave BPM / 148 max BPM (ave)

03.21.09:  Road Ride-

  • 2:43 
  • 35.02 miles 
  • 2513′ climbing 
  • 134 ave BPM / 158 max BPM (ave)

03.20.09:  Road Ride

Hill repeats- 30 min warm up/(8) x 6.30min x0.7mi hill with 2.30-45min recover in between and recovery home.

  • 1:39 min  
  • 15.66 miles 
  • 2,1111′ climbing 
  • 126 ave BPM / 159 max BPM (ave)
  • BP after stretching/cool down 110/77/86bpm


03.17.09:  Road Ride

  • 55.42 min  
  • 11.57 miles 
  • 890′ climbing 
  • 126 ave BPM / 148 max BPM (ave)

03.15.09:  Road Ride

  • 3:53 min  
  • 43.76 miles 
  • 2,212′ climbing 
  • 121 ave BPM / 158 max BPM (ave)

03.11.09:  Road Ride

  • 1:07 min  
  • 14.74 miles 
  • 1,113′ climbing 
  • 131 ave BPM / 147 max BPM (ave)

02.24.09 – 03.10.09

03.04.09:  Road Ride-fixie + Scripps weight program

  • 40.01 min  (5) x .75mi efforts at 145-155bpm with 4 1/2 – 5 min recover spin in between.
  • 9.29miles 
  • 278′ climbing 
  • 130 ave BPM / 155 max BPM (ave)

03.06.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1 hr 49 min. 
  • 23.24 miles 
  • 2125′ climbing 
  • 129 ave BPM / 151 max BPM

03.04.09:  Road Ride-fixie + Scripps weight program

  • 30.37 min 
  • 7.16 miles 
  • 214′ climbing 
  • 138 ave BPM / 155 max BPM

03.01.09:  Road Ride 

  • 2 hr 06 min. 
  • 24.88 miles 
  • 2,233′ climbing 
  • 138 ave BPM / 155 max BPM

02.25.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1 hr 16 min. 
  • 17.41 miles 
  • 867′ climbing 

02.6.09 – 02.23.09

02.23.09:  Road Ride -Fixie 

  • 56.53 min. 
  • 12.74 miles 
  • 400′ climbing 
  • 130 ave BPM / 148 max BPM
  • bp before ride 129/70 71bpm – bp after cool down 114/76 81bpm

02.21.09:  Road Ride 

  • 2:11 min. 
  • 27.47 miles 
  • 2251′ climbing 
  • 137 ave BPM / 150 max BPM

02.19.09:  Road Ride 

  • I felt good but my hr seemed to be 12-15 higher than normal so I cut my ride short.
  • 35.10 min. 
  • 6.90 miles 
  • 597′ climbing
  • 145 ave BPM / 169 max BPM

02.14.09:  Road Ride 

  • 2:09 min. 

  • 25.32 miles 

  • 2325′ climbing 

  • 137 ave BPM / 152 max BPM
  • bp before ride 127/76 75bpm 

02.11.09:  Road Ride 

I had just stared some hill repeats when I flatted and ran out of air and no pump, so I came home and did my Scripps Rehab workout.

  • 24.09 min. 

  • 5.57 miles 

  • 1397′ climbing 

  • 134 ave BPM / 153 max BPM

02.08.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:13 min. 

  • 14.59 miles 

  • 1274′ climbing

  • 135 ave BPM / 152 max BPM

01.28.09 – 02.05.09

02.05.09:  Road Ride -Fixie (quick one before the rain)

  • 43.44 min. 

  • 9.93 miles 

  • 371′ climbing 

  • 131 ave BPM / 151 max BPM

02.03.09:  Road Ride -Fixie

  • I tired hard to make it 50 miles but my butt got sore and the winds tired out my legs.

  • 2:43 min. 

  • 36.33 miles 

  • 507′ climbing 

  • 125 ave BPM / 150 max BPM

01.28.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:34 min. 

  • 18.77 miles 

  • 1431′ climbing / 1502′ decend


    142 ave BPM / 160 max BPM


01.05.09 – 01.25.09

01.25.09:  Road Ride – Fixie 

  • 1:39 min. 

  • 20.32 miles 

  • 957′ climbing / 962′ decend

  • 130 ave BPM / 141 max BPM

01.22.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:41:00 min. 

  • 23.07 miles 

  • 1473′ climbing / 1362′ decend

  • 131 ave BPM / 151 max BPM

  • After cool down 115 BPM at 97% oxygen.

01.17.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:35:00 min. 

  • 21.62 miles 

  • 1150′ climbing / 1267′ decend

  • 137 ave BPM / 154 max BPM

01.13.09:  Road Ride 

  • 1:14:00 min. 

  • 17.39 miles 

  • 824′ climbing / 898′ decend

  • 142 ave BPM / 161 max BPM

01.12.09:  Random at home workout 

12×16 stairs / Medicine Ball 200 ( did most of it) / 3×8 8# chest flys / 3×8 8# standing flys / 1×12 stationary lunge per leg
no hr monitor on

01.08.09:  Road Ride 

  • 49.37 min.

  • 10.49 miles  

  • 854′ climbing

  • 138 ave BPM / 161 max BPM 

01.06.09:  Walking / Hill Repeats

  • 50 min. 

  • 5 hills with park bench work out in between-3x 10 steps ups / 3x 10 push ups / 3x 10 tricep dips

  • 50 crunches on a stability ball.

01.01.09 – 01.04.09

01.03.09:  Road Ride 

  •  8.41 miles 

  •  34.47 min. 

  • 630′ climbing

  • 139 ave BPM / 161 max BPM 

  • (2x) 45sec with 60sec rest between -full body plank,  back plank ( I forget what it is called but pretend your Superman), (2x) 15  slow girlie pushups , 10 minutes of strecthing.

Cholesterol question from

Below is a question and answer reprint from fitness section.

Cholesterol level

I have a question about cholesterol levels, diet and exercise. Background is this: I’m 59, 5’11”, 155 lbs. I ride around 150 miles a week- a lot of it packed in on weekends, plus I run every day for a weekly total of 30-35 miles. I’m a strict vegetarian on a very low fat diet (no added oil apart from what I get in tofu and soy milk, plus 3g of flax oil per day).

I do eat non-fat milk products in the form of yoghurt and take a full suite of vitamin supplements including several grams of Vitamin C daily (I haven’t had a cold in 20 years). I recently had a fasting blood test where my HDL was low at 34 against a total cholesterol of 125. My doctor without any discussion apart from the fact he knew I exercised and had a healthy diet, prescribed Pravastatin to change my HDL/LDL levels.

I have several questions regarding what I can do about raising my HDL without resorting to a statin drug with known side affects including muscle pain and soreness (the last thing I need). I’ve also read that statin drugs don’t actually raise HDL so I’m puzzled by the prescription. I was surprised by the bloodwork results since I haven’t ever had a bad ratio like this before and my parents had no history of high cholesterol or heart disease. My exercise, diet, and weight have been pretty constant for a number of years.

Since I already have a decent volume of moderate intensity aerobic training, would changing this affect HDL? More miles higher intensity? Would weight loss have any affect on these blood values. I used to marathon at 10 lbs less but I was always courting illness and injury.

Could my diet be too low in healthy oils? Everything I eat is non fat or has very low natural oils. I eat no transfats or saturated fats. I did read that flax oil and Vitamin C supplements can suppress HDL readings so I don’t know if either of those might be an issue.

Are there other dietary supplements that I might try rather than taking a statin drug for these cholesterol values?

Since I don’t have any risk factors other than the low HDL, I’m interested in pursuing alternative solutions before resorting to drugs like this. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Bob Bolin
Boulder, Colorado 

Kelby Bethards replies:


You bring up an interesting point. We live in a sedentary society. Thus, your doctor’s inclination to give you pravastatin. We tend to see people that unfortunately wouldn’t run to catch a pay cheque. That being said, onwards.


An HDL of 34 is a bit low. A bit low for what? Cardioprotective effects. You said your total cholesterol is 125, or is that your LDL? The reason I ask is if your LDL is 125, that is a different story than if your total is 125. If your total cholesterol is only 125, then your ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) would be low. We, as physicians, are trying to lower bad and raise good cholesterol. HOWEVER, you are doing some of this on your own by exercising.

You are correct in how to lower your LDL and raise HDL… exercise. You have a genetic predisposition if your HDL is low. Niacin, vitamin B3, can raise HDL levels and lower cholesterol; however, it can give people a hot flushing feeling after taking it for about half an hour. Any treatment can have side effects, and those need to be considered.

If the risk of the medicine does not justify the benefit, then it isn’t too useful. For most, pravastatin is useful. But you have pointed out that your only risk factor is a bad HDL (not a diabetic, not a smoker, no prior heart disease, no high blood pressure, no family history – assumptions I’ve made). So, you need to re-visit your practitioner and press it again… do you need pravastatin? Or why do you need it?

Copyright 2006 – 2008 Future Publishing Limited. All rights reserved. Future Publishing Limited is part of the Future plc group. Future Publishing Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company registration number 2008885 whose registered office is at Beauford Court 30 Monmouth Street Bath, UK BA1 2BW England.