As a dedicated bike rider, I confess to loving the Superheroes Edition of this info-graphic.
As a dedicated bike rider, I confess to loving the Superheroes Edition of this info-graphic.
I am now entering my eighth day of no bike riding. Regular readers will find this unusual. Not as much as I do. Unfortunately, I have come down with a bronchial infection that completely wipes out my energy. It started last Sunday during Chicago’s famous Bike the Drive ride. I wrote about Bike the Drive earlier this year. I rode the last eight miles of the ride last week against the wind while fighting a fever. It was a v e r y long eight miles – the dog rides in her basket, so we are talking about me propelling a 50 pound bike. When I got home I slept for three hours, but that was just the beginning. For the next few days, fighting a fever I did not know if it was night or day. I wasn’t able to get to the doctor until Wednesday. By then the fever had gone, but the coughing and low energy remained. Because it is viral there isn’t any medicine I can take to fight it.
My biggest problem these days, besides getting some walking in, is the annoying cough spasms. I found the following cough remedies at Medical News Today for anyone else who may be suffering from a summer cold.
Coughs play a role in clearing irritants and infections from the body, but persistent coughing can be annoying. The best treatment for a cough will depend on its underlying cause. There are many possible causes of coughs, including allergies, infections, and acid reflux. Continue reading
I got my first two wheel bike when I was six or seven. My uncle found it broken down in an alley and fixed it up it for me. It was an original ‘fixie’ – no brakes, the pedals just kept going. I flew all around the neighborhood on it for years.
I got my first real bike – one with 26 inch wheels – when I was 10. Santa Claus brought it and because we had a cold snowy winter in 1950 here in Chicago I wasn’t able to ride it outside for a month. So, you can see that I have pretty much spent my life behind bars – handle bars.
It has been nearly a month since my oral surgery on April 11. You can read the details here. I have been clocking my recovery since then. In the past week I managed a couple of 30 mile days, so I had pretty much concluded that my body finally made it back to normal. My night’s sleep had returned to around the usual seven hours from more extended hours, too. Continue reading
I am now past one week since my oral surgery and feel like I am recovering nicely, thank you. You can read details of the operation here. One of the most difficult aspects of being 79 is that I don’t have a lot of people that I can share experiences with to give me a perspective on my situation. In the past few days I have managed three bike rides. It took more than four days to feel that I had enough energy to ride at all. I had to wonder is that normal (for someone 79)? None of my bike riding friends is within decades of my age. I can only go by how my own body feels.
I found this wonderful illustration featuring a bicycle and thought I would write a post on biking. As Monty Python used to say, “And now for something new and completely different.”
Tuesday was an especially fun day of riding. Temp was over 55F, so I got to take the dog along in her basket. There was a north wind which will usually put me off. That’s one of the things about being a 79-year-old bike rider, a headwind figures more and more prominently in your plans. We have had such a chilly spring though, that my dog hasn’t gotten to ride much with me. I didn’t want her to miss out again. I am proud to say that I felt like I outsmarted the wind today. I found a patch of the bike path about a half mile long that had a slight incline heading south. As a result, I had the wind blowing at my back pedaling up the hill. Very nice, no significant extra effort. Then, when I turned around and had to ride into the wind, voila, I was able to reap the benefit of the slight decline, and, again, virtually no extra effort. Happy ending. We managed several hours of lovely biking on this early spring afternoon. Continue reading
Spring in Chicago is a wicked time of year. While we don’t get crippling blizzards like the worst of winter, we suffer from a Chinese water torture of erratic weather that is below freezing one day, low 50’s the next, then back down to the 30’s, and, oh yes, there is the wind. As a result many Chicago bike riders don’t consider riding till late April or May when the weather fluctuates more moderately. For that reason I am celebrating my dog Gabi’s first bike ride of the season. Regular readers know that Gabi rides with me on the Lakefront most days of the year – over 45F – with no wind or rain. She averages around 3000 miles a year in her 13 years of living with me.
I have many shots of her on the bike, but, clearly, it is not easy to get ones of us together. The only ones I have are from the annual Bike the Drive ride that takes place on Memorial Day each year, when Chicago closes the famed Lake Shore Drive for several hours and lets bike riders take it over. About 20,000 of us take advantage of that each year. The ride is sponsored by the American Transportation Alliance (ATA). This year’s listing follows:
With Chicago consistently being ranked by Bicycling magazine as one of the best cities in the nation for biking, there is no better way to celebrate the start of summer than with a ride on the city’s crown jewel roadway – Lake Shore Drive. So grab your bike and enjoy almost 5 hours of car-free riding on Sunday, May 26. Proceeds benefit Active Transportation Alliance’s work to improve biking, walking, and transit throughout Chicagoland.
In past years ATA had photographers along the way capturing riders who wanted a photographic memento of the ride. I stumbled upon some pics from the 2008 ride.
Because the weather appears to be mellowing, I am guessing that a lot more folks will be getting out their bikes to ride ‘in the new season.’ Here are a couple of stretches that I recommend you do before and after your ride.
I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.
As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.
As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flow back into my legs when I finish.
I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes the difference…
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Temps have been in the teens here in Chicago with intermittent snow and ice, so I have been unable to ride my bike for the past two days. I live in a high rise building which has a health club, but I can’t stand the feeling of confinement I get there. As a result I have taken to walking the stairs and doing yoga – fine for my body, but it ain’t riding a bike. Herewith some items I found that make me feel better .
I thought there were some interesting observations in this. I would just like to add that personally, I have found my regular bike riding to be like a moving meditation. Consciously I enjoy the sensation of flying across the pavement, but unconsciously, a whole other thing takes place. I can’t explain it, but often I can create a blog post in my head and when I get home just write it like someone else is dictating it.
I will be 79 next month, but I feel better than I did when I was back in the work force 20 years ago. Biking has a lot to do with that. Think about giving it a chance. You probably enjoyed it as a kid.
One of the things I have learned writing this blog is that a sedentary lifestyle can be as bad as smoking for your health. Get moving ….
Best wishes for the holidays!
I am thrilled to report that today marks the 18th anniversary of my retirement. On October 2 of 2000, I bade the financial world adieu and started my life as a guy who didn’t have to get up for work every morning.
I got my first job at the age of 10 sweeping the floor of a dry cleaner and continued to work till I reached 60. Although my degree is in Finance, I went into the publishing world writing and editing. I liked markets, but always knew I would write. I wrote and practiced journalism for most of my career, spending 20 years working for Reuters covering markets and then teaching journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University for several years. Because I had written about markets for 30 years, my boss at a major philanthropy asked me if I would like to manage some money. So, I managed $900 million in bond investments for the final five years of my working life.
No mas. I thought I would celebrate with this biking post. When I was working I used to tell my friends at the office that when I retired I was going to ride my bike on the Chicago lakefront every day. They thought that was funny. I was never more serious.
You all know how I ride my bike nearly every day year ’round here in Chicago. I do it because I love it. Period. Everything else is gravy.
I am always excited to run across items like the ones below. They point to some of the fun I get cycling. If you aren’t doing it, or haven’t done it for a while, think about giving it a spin. You might find that flying across the pavement feels really nice. As you can see from the infographic below, there are some notable physical benefits, too.
Regular readers know that I ride my bicycle regularly here in Chicago. You also know that I am 78 years old and have been retired for nearly two decades. So, why this on commiting? Well, it is about biking which I love. Also, I know that some of you are avid bike riders and thought there may be something worthwhile that you might learn here.
I actually tried bike commuting back when I had a job. It didn’t work out well. I lived about two miles from the office, but I found that riding for that short amount of time proved totally frustrating. I would just get warmed up and start really enjoying the ride and I would be at work. It was kind of like that old potato chip ad – “They’re so good you can’t eat just one.” That’s how I felt. I didn’t want to stop riding and start working. At any rate, I take my hat off to you guys and gals that do have the discipline to ride to work every day. It’s a great way to get your heart pumping.
Can I get an Amen?
People who bike regularly, either for pleasure or as a way to commute, appear to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to two separate studies published simultaneously in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation and Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA/ASA’s Open Access Journal.
While structured cycling as part of a formal workout routine is already known to guard against cardiovascular illness, little is known about the effects of habitual biking done for leisure or as a way to commute. Together, the findings from the newly published studies suggest that leisure and commuter biking may be an important public health strategy in large-scale efforts to reduce cardiovascular risk.
In the Circulation study, 45,000 Danish adults (aged 50 to 65) who regularly biked for recreation or to commute had between 11 percent and 18 percent fewer heart attacks during a 20-year follow-up (1993-2013).
The analysis showed that as little as half an hour of biking per week provided some protection against coronary artery disease. Additionally, people who took up biking during the first five years the authors followed them had about a 25 percent lower risk of developing heart disease, compared with those who remained non-bikers in the subsequent 15-year period.
Researchers caution that their findings do not prove definitively that riding a bike for leisure or to and from work can prevent heart attacks. However, they say, the lower number of cardiovascular events observed among those who biked on a regular basis is a strong indicator that such activity can boost cardiovascular health.
“Finding time for exercise can be challenging for many people, so clinicians working in the field of cardiovascular risk prevention should consider promoting cycling as a mode of transportation,” said Anders Grøntved, M.Sc., M.P.H., Ph.D., senior study author and associate professor of physical activity epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark.
Researchers also tracked participants’ overall exercise habits, activity levels and frequency of bicycle riding, along with heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, smoking, diet and alcohol consumption. Participants were asked to provide information about cycling habits at the onset of the study and once more in five years.
In all, there were 2,892 heart attacks during the 20-year follow-up. Researchers estimate that more than 7 percent of all heart attacks could have been averted by taking up cycling and keeping it up on a regular basis.
“Because recreational and commuter biking is an easy way to make physical activity part of one’s routine in a non-structured and informal fashion, based on the results, public health authorities, governments and employers ought to consider initiatives that promote bicycle riding as a way to support large-scale cardiovascular disease prevention efforts,” said Kim Blond, M.Sc, lead author and research assistant at the University of Southern Denmark.
The Journal of the American Heart Association study revealed that middle-aged and older Swedish adults who biked to work were less likely than non-bikers to be obese, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or pre-diabetes — all critical drivers of cardiovascular risk.
Researchers followed more than 20,000 people in their 40s, 50s and 60s over 10 years and monitored their commuting habits, weight, cholesterol levels, blood glucose and blood pressure.
At the beginning of the study, active commuters (biked to work) were 15 percent less likely to be obese, 13 percent less likely have high blood pressure, 15 percent less likely to have high cholesterol and 12 percent less likely to have pre-diabetes or diabetes, compared with passive commuters (used public transportation or drove to work).
During a follow-up exam 10 years later, the portion of study participants who switched from passive commuting to active commuting also had an improved risk profile. They were less likely to be obese, have diabetes, hypertension or elevated cholesterol, compared with non-bikers.
Collectively, at the 10-year follow-up, those who maintained biking or took up biking at some point had a 39-percent lower risk of obesity, 11 percent lower risk of high blood pressure, 20 percent lower risk of high cholesterol and 18 percent lower diabetes risk.
“We found active commuting, which has the additional advantages of being time-efficient, cheaper and environmentally friendly is also great for your health,” said Paul Franks, Ph.D., senior study author, professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Lund University in Sweden and guest professor at Umeå University in Sweden. “The multiple advantages of active commuting over structured exercise may help clinicians convey a message that many patients will embrace more readily than being told to join a gym, go for a jog or join a sports team.”
Researchers noted that there was no minimum amount of time or distance required to reduce one’s risk, even though people who biked longer or more often experienced small additional gains in risk reduction.
Because the study was observational, it is difficult to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between improved cardiovascular health and commuter biking, but the findings do indicate a strong cardio-protective effect from cycling.
Based on their findings, researchers also estimated that maintaining biking habits or switching from passive commuting to biking may have prevented 24 percent of obesity cases, 6 percent of hypertension diagnoses, 13 percent of high cholesterol diagnoses, and 11 percent of the cases of diabetes.
“The really good news here is that it’s never too late to benefit from an active lifestyle,” Franks said. “People who switched from passive to active commuting saw considerable gains in their cardiovascular health.”
I have to confess that I am a morning person. Have been all my life. I am up around 4:00 to 4:30 AM most mornings. Yes, I go to sleep close to 9:00 PM. When I was working I stayed up a bit later and woke up about a half hour later. I realize that this is not typical of most people, particularly those with jobs. So, I thought I would share this item from the Rush University Medical Center here in Chicago.
Give your morning routine a makeover
Does your morning go anything like this?
Being in bed feels so good that you can’t get up, so you hit snooze — three or four times.
Once you open your eyes, you realize you have a 9:00 o’clock meeting, so you check your email while still in bed to get ahead of the workday.
Now you’re running late. You throw down vitamins with a glass of juice. You can’t find your keys or your left shoe and run around the house until you’ve found both.
Finally in the car, you grab the biggest coffee you can order and two glazed donuts at the drive-thru, and traffic has you fuming before you even get to work.
All that rushing around can set a negative tone for the entire day, making you feel stressed, lethargic and irritable — and, possibly, affecting your ability to focus on tasks or calmly cope with work-related crises.
To help get your day off to a better, and healthier, start, follow these tips from Maria C. Reyes, MD, an internist at Rush University Medical Center. Continue reading
As a variation on my weekly funnies I wanted to share some pics I ran across on one of my favorite subjects – riding a bicycle. I think there is some really cool ink here.
I must confess I am seriously considering adding one of the above tats to me.
Have a great weekend!
A couple of things to lay out before we start here. First, I don’t drink coffee with caffeine as I try to keep drugs of any kind out of my system. Second, I am a regular bicycle rider and always on the lookout for new sources of energy.
The other morning I had a new situation. I had a date for early afternoon to attend a play. In addition, we had reservations for brunch at noon. From this schedule, I was not going to have a lot of time to get in a bike ride. So, I thought I would rise at first light and take out the bike for a ride ahead of walking the dog and my social schedule for the day.
Normally, I start the day with what I call my rocket fuel. It is a smoothie that contains all my vitamins. You can read about it in A super breakfast smoothie.
On the morning in question, my reservation about my smoothie was that it takes 15 minutes to make and another 15 minutes to drink. I didn’t want to spend 30 minutes doing that. I wanted to be riding my bike. On the other hand I was concerned that having just awakened from a night’s sleep, my energy reserves were low. I sure didn’t want to black out. I hadn’t eaten in over nine hours.
So, what to do instead to give me a quick shot of energy. I like my coffee in the morning, but since it is decaf, I don’t expect a boost from it. Here is the beginning of a light bulb going off in my head. As recently as April, I got turned on to coconut oil as a wonderful source of nutrition. Check out Why should I try coconut oil? for more details. Since that time I have been using coconut oil in every way I could think of to cook in, shave with, etc. Coconut oil has a lot of healthy fat in it which provides energy. I decided to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to my coffee. Continue reading
I am just finishing up the remains of a lost weekend. You may not remember the book and/or movie of that name about an alcoholic. I do. I was a little kid when the movie came out in the 1940’s and had the bad luck to be brought to see it with my mother. It was way beyond my pay grade at the time and I remember having nightmares about a bat flying through a hole in a wall and bleeding. Anyway, my current lost weekend has nothing to do with alcohol.
Friday started out normal, I got up early and rode my bike, then breakfasted with my girlfriend and took the dog for her walk. I had to bring her in for her semiannual physical checkup as she is a 12-year-old senior canine.
After the vet visit I brought her home, fixed lunch and then walked the pooch again. It was now nearly 1:00 PM, time for another bike ride. My back was sore, though, so I thought I would lie on the floor with my feet up on a chair for five minutes or so to relieve my back pain. I learned this position in a yoga class years ago and it works very well. I assumed the position and relaxed. The next thing I knew, I was waking up and it was 1:25 PM. I had slept almost a half hour in the middle of the day!
Upon rising I also became aware that I was still very tired and certainly did not have the energy to take the bike out. So, I took off my cycling outfit and went to bed to rest. I fell asleep again and didn’t wake up till 4:30 PM. Wow. Two things struck me immediately, I still felt tired and I had to get up to walk the pooch again.
With great difficulty, I roused my non-responsive body and put some clothes on. I live in a high rise building and found myself leaning on the elevator wall to support myself on the ride downstairs.
Mercifully, the dog didn’t want to do much walking and we returned home in short order.