July 26: I’m going to try not to drone on for this blog. So today was, in my eyes, a pretty big day in this whole process of CABG x5 (and again, that refers to Coronary Artery Bypass Graft x 5 bypasses) rehab. I mean everything I’ve been doing and striving for was going to kind of come to a head today at this visit to the Clinic for a second stress test with it’s accompanying echo. And this day today put me at the 10 week mark since surgery. Yea, 10 weeks since I was laying on a table under a bank of lights awaiting a small team of people to open my chest up, shut my heart off, put me on artificial devices to keep me alive, then graft 5 pieces of my own arteries onto 5 main branches of my coronary arteries, then restart my heart, sew me up and send me to the ICU with a gazillion pieces of apparatus hooked up to me. It still all feels like a crazy dream, that day. Like, did that really happen to me?

Yea, seems like so long ago. But the minute I hit that ICU I was determined to get my life back, despite some of the later talks I’d had with my cardiologist and my exercise physiologist which possibly pointed to the contrary. That’s all been on my mind this entire time, and that’s why I was so freaking nervous when I drove to the clinic this morning for the test today. There was a part of me, the glass is half empty side, that kind of dreaded the thought of my cardiologist telling me that my heart wasn’t going to work as it had prior to surgery, that they found some irregularities in my heart rhythm and that my heart’s mechanical operation had been compromised by the heart attack. 

Then there was the other part of me, the glass is half full side that over the last 3 weeks has really been kind of training for this damned stress echo test, hoping I’d just kick some ass and get the green light to begin harder cycling, and get the green light to continue with the adventures that I’ve just come to love doing - and sharing. I guess I’ve been worried and scared that a valuable piece of my life could very well be taken away from me, not by other people of course, but by my state of health, by fate, by my genetics. 

I’ve really tried to live in the latter of those two sides, to think positive, to believe that it’s possible to get through this, to have my cake - my life - and eat it to - my activity level. So this is why I’ve kind of taken the last couple days off to let my body recover from the hard workout on Friday (and I was feeling that puppy) and the piss poor ride on Saturday when I just couldn’t even get my HR up. Had to be recovered for that damned test! Took Sunday and Monday off just to REC a bit and get some strength back. 

Got up this morning, and I had to have been fasting 12 hrs prior to the test, with no caffeine! The caffeine thing was tough. Man I just LIVE for a good cup of strong java in the morning, so no brekkie and no java this morning. Up at 6 and out the door for the clinic at 6:15. Got there at 7 and hoofed it to the Main Campus and the J1-4 & 5 sections for my tests. Did the EKG first, and that was a snap. Blood test was second, and again, no problem. Yapped with the tech the whole time because I had a tee-shirt on with some rock climbing text on it. He told me of his bud who’d done Mt. Rainer then ended up having CABG x3 surgery not long thereafter. Said the guy’s goal now is to summit again post surgery. Wow, THAT dude could be my long lost brother! 

Then had a long wait for my stress echo. And I was nervous as hell. Just waited and waited and waited. And there people like me from virtually all over the world waiting to do their tests, folks from Spain, France, Sadi Arabia, Canada, and then a host of people from all over the USA. It was a bloody United Nations in there with all these people waiting for the 9 testing labs. I mean it was an assembly line of stress testing. Guess that speaks volumes for the Clev. Clinic with respect to its superiority in cardiovascular care. 

Finally got my call and did the long walk down to lab 7, where I was horrified to see there was no bike, just a treadmill and all the imaging and EKG equipment. Man was I bummed. I had to do this test on a freaking treadmill when I don’t even run anymore…plus my SI joint is just on fire right now from all the housework I’d been doing on Sunday and Monday during my “off days!” I even questioned them on choice of equipment. But there were no bikes up there. Told them I’d just soldier on and do the damn thing on the treadmill. 

First the EKG chick took my BP, which was stupid high. And I told them my BP had been great for weeks prior to coming into the lab. She told me it wasn’t uncommon for people in the lab to exhibit high BP’s because of being nervous. Well, that was definitely me. Up next I had an echo done, where they use this ultrasound device to look at and in the heart. They can measure wall thicknesses as it’s beating, they can measure chamber diameters and volumes, ejection fraction, more stuff than I could ever understand. Hell it’s just amazing what they do with this thing, and I can watch the screen and see my heart working. So we did this echo as I’m in a rested state, which took about 15-20 minutes. Then came the real deal - the stress test on a damned treadmill. 

Got hooked up on what had to be 8 leads for the EKG, and as I’m standing there was told the treadmill would go up in inclination & speed every three minutes, and to tell them when I couldn’t continue. I looked at the chick, and asked, “like REALLY can’t continue?” To which she responded yes. I was thinking, “been there, done that, but I had the plug pulled early in that first stress test on the bike.” So I was a bit dubious about the “can’t continue” statement. Got it going with a brisk walk, where at the end of three minutes I was asked for the level of perceived exertion while at the same time I had my BP measured before preceding on to the next level of difficulty. That first level was bloody easy. Well, by the third increase in speed an inclination I was running. Now I could hold one hand on a rail in front of me or on the right side of me, but NOT both hands on both rails. That was cheating they told me. So I was up to about moderate perceived exertion by then. The whole time I was kind of bumming because it was running and not cycling. Hell, my legs felt like shit running and my low back, my SI joint was feeling cranky. But I kept it going. So by the 6th increase I was feeling like I was running up a GD wall for gosh’s sake. I mean I was really starting to hold those rails for fear of being spit off the back of that high speed fan belt. 

Now by that time I’d gotten my HR up to 160, and for the life of me I just couldn’t get it to go any higher. The legs were feeling rubbery and my breathing was more like hyperventilating. I had pretty much run out of gas and hit the proverbial max wall. So I signaled that I was done, and then as I was gasping for O2 the other chick had me lay back down on the table for another echo as my heart was racing. She even had me hold my freaking breath several times as she did these measurements. Man I was just gassed!

So I’d felt kind of bummed that I didn’t get any higher in HR, but then I began to wonder if the meds had stunted my max HR, another question I would ask my cardiologist when I saw him. So as I was getting the second echo, the EKG chick said that no one had gone that long in like three years, and I was thinking, “are you kidding me, I SUCK as a runner right now.” That’s when I told her they would have been pissed at me had we done the test on a bike because I’d still be on that fracking thing! I mean hell, I’d kind of been training for that damned test on the bike for weeks now. Had I known it was a run I’d have included some running in my rehab workouts. 

Nonetheless, felt good to know they thought I did well. Got dried off then went to wait for my appt. with the doc to go over all the results. Again, a whole army of people were coming in and out of the labs pre and post testing. Finally got the call to head into the doc’s office where I first had a nurse take weight, height, go over my med stuff, then do a BP test on me - which was exactly what it’s been for months, about 114 over 76. So that kind of put me at ease. So the doc came in with an assistant who was doing her fellowship in sports cardiology. Shook hands with both the doc and the fellow and he immediately told me I absolutely crushed it on the stress test. Said everything, echo, EKG, BP measurements, everything looked great. Now I had a list of about 14 questions for the doc, but upon hearing that I was just totally stunned.

He went on to tell me a bit more in depth how things looked amazingly well. And after that I began with my first question. And I prefaced it with, “now this might seem ridiculous but my most important question has to do what how hard can I go now with respect to HR.” He smiled, and I proceeded further, telling him about how I cheated with my volume in cycling. Again a smile. But how good I felt with the prescribed HR zone - Z3 - sandwiched between an hour or so of Z2. Also told him of my 1 hour of solid Z3 at top end of the prescribed zone, where again I felt really good. Then I told him how much I wanted to get back to long bouts of steady state Z4, and how much I wanted to get back to 4-5 hour rides etc. More smiles. I even showed him my chart from the three cycling sessions I’d done at the clinic under supervision. He and the fellow went over that and they looked happy about the results, especially the pre and post BP measurements. 

Also told him I was still good with staying away as much as I could with anaerobic Z5. But man, I was just hoping for the moon to be able to go into the LAT zone again. I was just a jabbering, babbling knucklehead. I finally let him get a word or two in. And that’s when he said he saw no problem with LAT workouts and with long riding - BUT I had to hydrate with water and electrolytes all the time - that was a must! Bingo, my wish had just come true! He also discussed going anaerobic, and described it as “Risk/Reward”. He reiterated he had no proof on one side or the other if my going into high Z5 or max HR would or would not result in a cardiac episode. I looked perfectly fine in the max test I’d just done on the treadmill, but you never know. 

So he had zero issue with anything in the Z4 range. Now he did mention I shouldn’t do hard riding during any kind of viral infections like the flue etc, as that could stress the heart out much more than normal. Same for heat/humidity situations, where I’d need to back off the intensity such that I wouldn’t put undo stress on the heart. But otherwise I was just good to go. We then went over some of my resistance questions. Said I still need to stay with the unilateral exercises and NO rock climbing for 2 more weeks. Then at the three month mark, two weeks from now, I can begin very light bilateral exercises and super easy rock climbing. Had to do a gradual build from there. 

Asked a couple questions about my meds. He thinks staying on the statin for the rest of my life is a good thing, especially since I seem to have the genetic propensity for severe coronary artery disease. He also wants to stay with the super low dose of BP med because of my activity level and the intensity I take everything to. Told me if I were just a normal Joe, he wouldn’t even prescribe the BP med, but my volume/intensity kind of changes things due to the high BP’s you get during intense exercise. He did say this is totally adjustable and I can go off it if my BP is going too low. Only other meds I’m on is an anti-spasming drug for my left forearm where the left radial artery was removed, and I’ll be on this for just 3 more months, and a children’s aspirin and a multivitamin. 

Also asked him about the somewhat stunted max HR I’d gotten in the test, and he affirmed the meds did indeed stunt the max. They’re a kind of governor on my HR. This would totally SUCK if I were still racing, but today I could give a shit less. I just want to be able to maintain hard efforts in the backcountry and when out with my friends and clients, NOT the kind of efforts you put out in a CR’s or road races. Seems my HR zones are about 10bpm off right now. Oh well, I can definitely live with that one. 

And finally we talked about the peripheral blockages still in my coronary arteries. Doc revealed that recent studies indicate the blockages can begin reducing as soon as several months after statin drug and/or Mediterranean dieting. Now he said we cannot actually look at that with a heart cath, but we could see it through testing down the line, the same kind of testing as I’d done today. With all bases covered he told me I’m good to go for a year. No more testing, no more visits. I’ll go back in July of ’17 for the same workup as I’d gotten today to see if I’m at least where I was today, if not much better.

I left his office feeling as if I’d just gotten my life back. I mean I was just elated! I can go out and do my thing now, with relatively little in the way of restrictions. Just have to work back slowly with the resistance and rock climbing. So this is where I’m at, and I feel just wonderful about my prognosis. I did indeed win the lottery and get that second chance in life, and it’s like I got the cake and I can eat it to! I’m totally dedicated to the lifestyle changes in eating, stress, and indulging in too much brew at times. Going to do all I can to NEVER lay on that operating table again to have my chest split open for heart surgery. 

So that’s the scoop, and I think this is just the right place to end my blog for this season. American Dirt will get finished in Spring of 2017, in addition to a number of other little adventures on the hit list. I am going to take Judy on a well deserved mini-vacation to Prince Edward Island in Canada on the Atlantic coast. There’s a fabulous gravel bike trail - the Confederation Trail - there that goes for about 200 miles from west to east across the island. We’ll do it as a mellow vacation and just have some fun in the Canadian Maritimes. Haven’t done an R & R vacation for a while, so this should be great. Then next year when I’m pretty much in the best shape I can be in with respect to my heart being tip top, I’ll return to the beat-down-fest stuff like AD. 

Want to thank several people by name for helping me get my second chance in life: my sister Kim, my cousin Sue, and my girl Judy. Without these three, wow, I wouldn’t know where I’d be right now. So I look forward to seeing you all on and off the road the rest of this year. Take care all and thanks to everyone, too many of you to name, for all your kind cards, emails, phone calls, and visits. You guys are just amazing………pete


July 25: Took today off what with the weather in the 90’s again along with stupid humidity. Really, more than anything I just want to hit the Clinic tomorrow rested with some energy to expend. Don’t know what to expect in that they’re doing an echo as I’m doing the stress test. Don’t know how that works, but it sounds interesting to ride a bike and have this cold, gelled wand rolling over the heart  as I’m going harder and harder on the bike. Full slate of tests going on, with EKG, Blood test, stress echo, and then consultation with my cardiologist. Looks like I’ll be at the clinic for a good three hours.

Anyway, didn’t do any cardio today but I did do the resistance, working on shoulders and core this afternoon. Went up in weight on the iso seated shoulder press, and all feels great. Zero problems with the sternum feeling sore or stressed. That’s about it, so tomorrow I’ll have a much more in depth blog.


July 24: Just did a short 1 hr walk with Pepper this morning. Took  the day off of everything else…but I ended up spending the day trying to get caught up on house work inside. Ton of stuff to get done and I must have spent 8 hrs working in addition to making a giant pot of home-made chicken noodle soup with all fresh ingredients. That alone took the better part of 6 hours on and off while I was doing all the work upstairs. So as it turns out this was NO off day that’s for sure. I am totally and unequivocally beat to heck, probably as tired as if I’d done a full on ride. Just feels good to be able to work again, and I just have a boat load of projects I have to get done around here, stuff I’d planned on doing on and off all summer long…and then the heart issue. Relaxing now with a nice glass of Red Zin!


July 23: Just brutal humid again. Judy and I got on the bikes at 7:30 AM and even that was too late. Hell, we could have gone at 5 AM with the same results: sopping, soupy, horrible humidity. So what with yesterday’s hard ride my aim was to go long and easy and completely under my target zone. Well, the first hour went as planned, and I was doing a great job at keeping it low, but then the second hour, well it was just a major step even further to the low, and that’s when I realized that I’d gone hard enough yesterday that my body was just beat. HR just wasn’t coming up at all. Was a case of HR not paralleling the perceived exertion. 

Yea, funny how that first hour was decent, but how the second hour went to shit. Suddenly in the second hour my legs were heavy and anything remotely taxing just didn’t show in HR. Had an incident like this earlier, maybe like a week ago, and it was after a tough workout. So I just totally shut it down, soft pedaling all the rest of the way home. During the whole ride I was just sweating like crazy, water literally running down my arms onto my hands and onto the handlebars. Couldn’t keep dry for nothing. My sister even called during the ride to warm me of the humidity, telling me I was at a point where it was so humid out that the body would not be able to cool itself with sweat anymore. Hey, I knew it sucked out there. 

Now I’d planned on three hours of cycling but when I couldn’t even get my HR up I knew it was time to point the bike home. Nice thing now about using the HR monitor again was being able to read the situation, and then change the workout accordingly. I mean it was right there in front of me: HR will NOT come up any more…you’re done…do not pass go…go home! So I ended up with about 2:30 hrs. I did keep the HR monitor on for a while to make sure my HR came down to the place it usually does after a ride, and it did, so I felt like I hadn;t pushed it over the line by riding in that humidity. 

Later on I did my resistance workout, doing chest today. Now I decided to go up in the unilateral exercises, going up in weight about 15 lbs from last week. Felt MUCH better to! So I was looking at my handout for the next appt. with my cardiologist and found that it’s this Tuesday rather than Thursday. So I think I’m going to do an easy walk - yea walk - with Pepper tomorrow, and then do an easy ride on Monday. This so I have the guns to do a good stress test echo on Tues. Don’t want to be so tired that the HR does not come up as it had today. 

Stayed with pop tonight so I did this healthy toasted Ciabatta bread sandwich where I made an avocado spread rather than using mayo, then added chicken and fresh veggies. Turned out really sweet. Pop even like it. Oh yea, last night was my “cheat” day of the week for eating so I bought Judy and I some food from Taco Tanto’s in Kent. Judy ate the healthy version burrito with no meat, while I just had to go with 2 El Biggo Combos that had ground beef, pinto beans, rice, cheese and lettuce. I added jalapeno peppers to the mix. And be damned if I wasn’t able to punch down both of those burritos in one sitting. Yup the appetite is definitely back!


July 21: Just did a 1:30 hr hike with Pepper today at the Happy Days trail and up on the bike and hike, this to stay the hell in the shade today. Didn’t feel like going out in that inferno on the bike, so it was hike instead. And even that was pretty dang hot. Add all these gnats to the mix and it was ugly at times. Swarms of gnats would try to get in any orifice they could land in, nose, eyes, ears, mouth. Damn they’re just about as bad as in Canada!

Legs felt a bit tired today, so laying off the bike for a day was probably a good deal. Did a resistance workout again, with today’s exercises covering arms and upper back. Time to start adding weight. Felling good with my wimpy 15 pounders on the arms stuff. Doing a single arm T-bar exercise for the upper back. All is feeling good with the resistance. 

July 22: This crazy hot stretch of weather has caused me to change my rides from late morning to early morning. Ever since my early morning IM swim training back in the mid-90’s I’ve hated early morning workouts. Just cannot get my body and mind ready at 6 AM anymore to train. Part of that has been my low back just being stiff as hell first thing in the AM. And over the past 16 or so odd years since racing, well I eliminated all those morning workouts that I freaking hated doing, and only did because I had to train. Racing was a bit of a different story back then with respect to the morning stuff, but training…training was totally different. 

Yet with the forecast temps for today, especially the heat factor stuff being predicted in the 100’s, I just could not do the ride later in the day. So I was on the bike at like 6:50 AM today doing a WU down to the bike and hike. Then as soon as I got on the trail I ramped it up to the upper end of my training zone and rode at or just above my high end for one hour. Felt pretty good most of the rep but I was just sweating like a faucet the whole time. Wore a headband and took along a washcloth to continually wipe my face, arms and hands down. I have a little course now that will give me almost exactly 1 hour of high Z3 cruise tempo. There are a few places where I flip it, but by and large I can just keep it steady state the whole time. 

Once done I was just wiped out. I mean that humidity just sucked the life out of me, and no matter how easy I soft pedaled the 40 min back home, it was hard to get my HR way back down as I usually do. Now it wasn’t in the low end of my training zone at all, but it was only about 10bpm lower than that low end, and that’s unusual when you’re noodling at 10 mph! Drank a full bottle of electrolyte and a full bottle of water on the way back home. My gear was just soaked and I’d only ridden like 1:45 hours. 

Ate some brekkie, drank another 2 quarts of water, showered then just lay down for an hour. I mean I was torched for a bit. Was able to finally get up and work at the desk, but wow, did that beat the tar out of me! No resistance today, going to give the old heart some R & R due to the extreme heat.


July 20: Bike today, and kept all of 2 hours under target HR. Got a late start so we had a bit of heat to deal with, and that coupled with the higher intensity ride yesterday kind of barked at me to just get low intensity volume in today. Did a ride with Judy on bike and hike. One thing I continue to notice is I feel my HR is now lower as I’m riding faster with this below zone stuff. Curious how this next stress test is going to go with that factor. 

I’m hoping so much I’m given the go-ahead to go up a zone into Z4 after next week’s test. That little stint I did with Bill on Tuesday felt so refreshing. Might sound sick, but I just love to get it to that high Z3/low Z4 area and go steady state for long stints of time. The legs feel powerful, the lungs feel good breathing deeply and the heart feels wonderful just pumping away nice and evenly (at least it used to!). 

I’m also noticing the HR I’d feel in my throat, I think I mentioned this weeks ago, well that’s a lot less prevalent. That they’d told me could be because my sternum area is right above the aorta, and since the sternum was healing, it may be more sensitive to the strong HR at the aorta. Used to be really weird feeling my HR in my throat. Every now and again I still do, but it’s a pittance now compared to a month ago. I do still have that “tight collar” feeling at my esophagus, which again they think is because of the healing and sensitivity of the sternum. That second one I really hope goes away, because it’s bothersome as hell sometimes. 

So the ride went well, I’m drinking electrolyte and water, two bottle’s worth for a 2 hour ride, more than I have in I can’t remember how long. The Mediterranean diet thing is going well, as I’m eating a lot of cod, tuna, salmon and veggies. As I’d mentioned I’m working on a lot of Indian dishes now, veggie and fish Indian dishes with some pretty cool, exotic spices. 

Also staying with the unilateral weight training using 15 lb dumbbells for most everything. I’ll ask my cardiologist if I can get to more bilateral stuff next week. I’d also like to get the push-up, pull-up thing going, so I’ll see if I can get an idea of when down the road I could begin to do that kind of stuff.


July 18: Pretty tired today so I just took the day off of cardiovascular exercises. I did do some resistance stuff again, today working upper back, core and shoulders. Hey, this is the shortest blog yet!

July 19: Did a ride with Bill and Judy. Total ride time was 2:45 hours. My intention was to go long (still a relative term to suggest longer than advised), and therefore below my target zone. But sometimes intentions go awry. Started off pretty good for the first hour, keeping it well under my target zone. Then things got a little quicker for the remainder of the ride, where I got up into the middle of the zone, to the top of the zone, to above the zone.

I am getting a bit better with the hydrating part of this. What I’m doing right now is filling one bottle with a Gatorade mix and the other bottle with water, then I put them in the freezer for about an hour. That way I really enjoy drinking ice cold water or electrolyte when out of the bike. Just makes me drink more often. And I’m finishing that first bottle in less than an hour. Such was the case today where I finished that electrolyte bottle under an hour in. 

So when we turned around this goober in tennis shoes just flies by us. And it was like, I was ok with that…if not for the fact that the dude just kept looking back at us to see if he was gaining on us. I mean he was a freaking swivel head for God’s sake. That kind of irked me. I’m good getting passed by people at this point of my life - even on the bike and hike trail - even by a dude in tennis shoes. But shit, just go about your way rather than worry about whether or not you’re gaining on me, or staying ahead of me by looking back all the time. Really, you’d swear the guy was on a solo breakaway or something. 

Well, I commented to Bill about the dude and Bill just stepped it up, with me just jumping in on the draft. Passed goober in no time and then backed off to wait for Judy. So Judy gets back on and the goober dude did it again, then started looking back every minute. This time I picked the pace up, then Bill jumped up ahead and did a pretty awesome pull. Now we’re on fixies so there’s only so much cadence and speed you can generate, and I think Bill was at that point end point. Now my HR was above the target high end by about 5bpm, so I was ok, just digging on the draft.

So Bill finally pulled off and I kind of felt obligated to do something, so I did about a mile pull, where I probably went like 10bpm above my target high. Felt good, but I backed it off soon thereafter just to stay on the safe side. I’ve got enough already to discuss with my cardiologist, I don’t want to be a total ass and throw in something about a 10-15 minute pull way above my target HR. 

Waited for Judy again, and then eventually the goober slinked on through. From there onward I just tried to keep everything in my target zone and not let testosterone take over. Felt really, really good at the end of the ride though. I know I was a bad boy, but wow, did I feel good! Got home, worked for a bit then did a resistance workout for chest and arms. I guess it was a good idea to take yesterday off!


July 17: No bike today. Did a hike instead with Pepper for 2:15 hrs. Just needed to take a REC day from cycling. BUT I started doing my resistance again, finally after nearly three total months, two of which were since the surgery. Now I’d been told to just go light and to do unilateral lifting - one arm at a time alternating. This so I will not put opposing stress across the sternum as you would do with bilateral exercises. Makes sense to me.

So I did chest with alternating chest press, followed by alternating chest fly. Then I did alternating triceps extensions and alternating biceps curl. Finished with leg lifts for the core. I had suggested to my lead exercise physiologist that I did mostly the body weight stuff, but he was worried that even a simple pushup would put too much stress on the sternum right now. Same for pull-ups and all the crazy hanging core exercises I do. So for the next month I’ll just work on the dumbbell stuff unilaterally. Hey, just doing SOMETHING is way better than where I was at. 

Back to healthy eating again after the seafood orgy last night. Make some cod on the pan in EVOO and put together a good salad, then had some home-made hummus on the side. Actually felt “right” to be eating healthy. What, did I say that?


7-16: Another ride today, this one a long one - well, long considering the circumstances - of just over three hours. So with the humidity today, I wanted to concentrate today on drinking while riding, a tactic I rarely used over the past years as discussed in yesterday’s blog. Filled on bottle up with electrolyte and the other just plain water, and I began nipping on the electro. bottle from the start. Since I’d planned on going long my conciliatory action was to reduce the intensity as much as possible below my target HR zone. 

Rode with Judy and our plan was to go on bike and hike out to Peck Rd, but damn, the devil got the best of me and I suggested we take some Hudson/Stow/Kent backroads out to Towner’s Woods. And road riding it was. Have to admit I felt so good just getting the F off of that bike trail for a bit. Shit, I’ve pretty much memorized every bump, hump, leaf, twig, groundhog hole, and dog doodie along the length of both the Summit and Portage bike and hike! Had to get the heck onto something else for a change. So…I broke the rules again by doing some road riding. Tell you what, it’s going to feel like I’m going to the confessional booth when I sit down with my cardiologist on 7/28. “Doc…um…well…you see, blah, blah, blah…but I’m feeling great!”

Yea, it’s a list that’s getting bigger by the day. So we did the backroads where I had a few little bumps to climb. Just kept it pretty mellow and I had darned near no problem controlling HR on the low side despite the humidity today. Only once did I go into my target zone in the whole ride and that was on this little wall climb on Johnson Rd. Yet I was still able to cruise along at like 15-16 mph on most other terrain. Got back on the bike and hike at Towners Woods and took that to Ravenna, then flipped it and came back home. I killed that first bottle of electro. in the first hour and then started on the second bottle of water the second hour. Killed both bottles by the end of the ride. Haven’t drank that much liquid on an easy ride in, well, I couldn’t tell you when, especially noodling around here. 

Got home, drank another 32 oz. of electrolyte, ate 2 big veggie sandwiches, then hauled my buda belly upstairs to work for a while. 

Then later in the evening, my big moment, doing my “cheat” meal, the first one I can remember in like two weeks. I took Judy and pop to the Red Lobster and we just splurged on all the cholesterol laden, butter infused, fat heavy, calorie rich food we could order. It was a damned eating orgy! Felt good to get that one off the chest. Now it’s back to being a good boy.


7-15: Man, this humidity is not my cup of tea. Did my ride late morning, round about 9 AM, yet the humidity was still pretty thick. Since my talks with my cardiologist and exercise physiologist, I’ve really tried to be way more cognizant about hydration and electrolyte supplementation while riding. Ended up buying some Gatorade powder and some Cytomax mix to drink during and post riding. Now those of you who know me and my MO with respect to on the bike hydration/electrolyte use and eating, have seen that I just seem to go into the “camel” mode on the bike. For some odd reason I just go and go and go without water/electrolyte and even food. 

It’s not that I do or did it on purpose, I just seem to go dormant with respect to my fluid intake and eating while on the bike. I’ve been known in the past to ride 5-7 hours without any water or any food. It’s crazy, and as I’ve said, I didn’t purposely do it - it just kind of evolved over the past 16 years. And I got damned good at it. Off the bike I’m great, drinking well over a gallon of water a day and eating 4000-8000 calories worth of food. 

But this is now a real issue what with this cardiac thing going on. My docs have really warned me to keep my blood from thickening up by staying well hydrated all the time - especially on the bike. I’ve also been told that over time, like during those 16 years or so of my endurance cycling, that my lack of hydration on the bike could “possibly” be one of several factors in why those coronary arteries accumulated plaque at such an alarming rate. Well, all this has gotten my attention, just as the nutritional aspect has. So I’ve brought out some brand new water bottles from the basement and began using them on my rides. 

And tell you what, it’s tough to all of a sudden start drinking on rides, especially on my 2-3 hour rides. I know this will sound crazy, but in such short rides it just feels totally unnatural to be drinking or eating. Now with this humid weather where I’m loosing fluids like water dropping over a falls, I really have to force myself to drink on these short rides. Never even used to put a water bottle on my bike with 2-3 hour rides. 

Which brings me to today’s ride, with the nasty humidity I put a bottle on the bike. Warmed up with Judy for about an hour below my zone, then Judy had to go to Yoga so I did my “zone” ride by myself, working to mid to high zone for 50 steady-state minutes. And man, I was just dripping sweat off my forehead, having to use my hand like a windshield wiper every couple of minutes to keep sweat from seeping down into my eye sockets. So amidst this, I’d take a hit of water off my water bottle. And it just felt so hard to do, to remember, to act on it instinctively. I’d note my HR going up just 3-4bpm each time I reached for the bottle, one handed the bike, and took a hit of water. It actually took energy to do that. It took me off my rhythm on the bike to, which I think was another factor in raising the HR. Rhythm is super critical when going steady-state, and this steady-state mode is my bread and butter in cycling nowadays. It’s my tempo mode. It’s where I just get into a zone and get zoned out. Maybe that’s why I kind of evolved the whole camel thing over the years?

So I’d really try to take a hit of water, and it was tough! I’d forget for 10-15 minutes, then realize I had to drink. Then I’d drink, get off my rhythm, HR would go up, then I’d have to relax and get back into the zone. This is going to be a relearning process that’s for sure. Had a pretty good “zone” session, and was soaking wet when I got done, with the time of day being only 11 AM. Ended up doing about 3/4 of my water bottle - still not enough drinking though. Went home, mixed up a quart of electrolyte, drank that, then drank another quart of just plain water. Ate an orange and banana - which I’d never done in the past - and then had some regular food to finish off. 

Met my bud Steve the master bike mechanic down in Hudson at Panera’s for lunch about an hour later where I ate a “healthy” turkey panini. Hadn’t know it until Steve told me just after my surgery, but he’d had a triple bypass - and other vascular issues that required surgery. His paternal family history sounds a lot like mine - cardiovascular disease! So we had a lot of stories to tell each other during lunch. It was kind of like telling your “war stories,” to each other. And it’s kind of refreshing when the person you’re relating your war stories to has been there and done that. I mean just talking about the “heart pillow” that you get after open heart surgery. To us it’s hilarious now. I mean you use the heart pillow to caress while in the crouched position, between your chest and knees to brace your sternum when you cough or sneeze. 

And let me tell you, just after open heart surgery, a cough or sneeze is something that can put you through the roof with pain! It’s like taking a cannon ball to the chest. Anyway, we talked about all kinds of pre and post surgery subjects. Was great catching up with Steve. Think I’ll go easy and long tomorrow with Judy…and tomorrow will be my CHEAT day for nutrition!


July 14: I’ve noticed that my blogs are starting to get shorter and shorter. I think…and hope it’s a sign of me getting back to a normal life again. Like I’d said several times earlier, I’m not just going to do some kind of droning on blog about my freaking boring life. Once I think I’m pretty “back”, I’m pulling the plug on this until the next adventure, which will be the final state and a half’s worth of American Dirt. And after that, well I have a little “hit list” in my desk, that contains more than a couple lives worth of adventures left to do. I love writing and blogging, but only about something worth writing and blogging about!

Ok, so I know I have a few more kind of like “milestone” visits to the doc’s coming up which are still blog worthy, one just two weeks away, where I’m hoping that my progress is sufficient to deem me able to continue to a higher degree, higher intensity of rehab. My sister tells me I should be back to some semblance of normal about 6 months into this. I can definitely tell you this, no way am I going to continue this puppy (blog) for 4 more months. 

So I got in a 3 hour ride today, doing all of it well under my prescribed HR zone of 118-132. And I did this so as to not totally disrespect my rehab parameters. My justification is that I’ll ride longer below the zone so as to not stress the heart too much. When I ride in the zone, I try to keep the rides shorter. No matter how I cut it, I’m still riding more than they want. I WILL come clean with my cardiologist when I see him in two weeks! And I have hopes that he’ll take pity on my cycling obsession and maybe even give his approval to my longer/harder riding sessions. 

Most of the time I was like in the low 100’s for today’s ride. Nice thing was that I felt like I was riding at a good clip. So the heart seems to be getting stronger by the week, and hell, I’ve only been on the bike for 3 weeks now. Judy was with me, and as usual we rode bike trail - but man…I almost suggested that we ride some Kent backroads today. I’m getting bike trail burned out right now. So we took it into Ravenna to the end of the Portage bike and hike. The first two hours were great where I had that low HR going on, but as the temp and humidity climbed up so to did my HR. By noon I noticed my HR did not match my effort. HR was going up while my effort was remaining the same. 

And by the end of the ride it was tough not to get my HR into the low end of my zone on virtually any acceleration or little bump in the trail. I really think I’m totally good for like a 4-5 hr ride, but under the right temp and dew point conditions. Right now I’m still concerned that the heart is getting a bit “too” stressed when riding in high heat/dew point. Anyway, once home I did notice the HR went right back down to my daily activity HR with no problem. 

Got home and had about 2 quarts of water and electrolytes, then ate fruit and two veggie sandwiches. And you know what? I’m really beginning to dig veggie sandwiches. Really! I use good, sprouted oat and wheat bread, then put slices of avocado on the bottom, with english cucumber, red onion, and bean spouts on top. Made the hummus today, so I’ll begin to use that as a spread.

Finally, a bit more on the healthy cooking front: for dinner I cooked some ahi tuna fillets in olive oil and had an Indian dish with potatoes, lentils, zucchini, carrots and onion in a thick tomato sauce flavored with cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger paste, lemon, shredded coconut and yellow mustard seeds. Came out really good and healthy. BUT I think I’m going to have one of those “cheat” days this weekend. I feel some seafood and heavy creams coming my way!


July 13: Did my ride today starting at 6:30 in the morning, that so the heat and humidity wouldn’t play so much of a factor in my HR, which it does to me big time. I wanted the intensity of the ride to elevate my HR, not the weather. Warmed up to the bike trail and then just got in the tempo mode for an hour, working to stay in the upper reaches of my zone. Felt great but still, the humidity was just stupid. I was sweating like a snowman in July for God’s sake. My handlebars eventually got slippery and slimy from the rivulets of sweat running down my arms onto my hands and the bars. 

Eye sockets were filling up and my forehead turned into a small waterfall of sweat dripping onto my already soaked handlebars. I ran into Judy just as my hour of tempo was complete, so for another hour we just soft pedaled around and BSed. And that was it. Man was I hypoglycemic by the end of the ride. That bowl of Raison Brand just didn’t last too long did it? Got home, drank like 2 quarts of electrolyte and water, and ate a fruit salad with yogurt. And that was my rehab day. Just stayed indoors and worked the rest of the day watching the thermometer go up all day long.


July 12: I’m not a knucklehead all the time! Yea, today, what with having gotten in like 2x my main set time on the day’s ride yesterday, I decided to go easy today and just do a nice hike in the valley with Pepper. And heck, today is the two month mark since surgery, and hiking gives me much opportunity to reflect on life. So we went down the Kendal Lake and did the X-country ski trail loop with the out-and-back add-on that goes to Buckeye Sports. Did a really brisk pace especially going up that first little kicker to get above the lake and up near the old toboggan run - and just felt great.

Only hassle today was the heat and humidity and deer flies and gnats. My T-shirt was just soaked about half way in and I had to stop a couple times to give Pepper some water and food. Even she was panting like heck at times. We ended up with about 1:40 hrs of hiking. Right from the get go today I noticed a huge difference in my conditioning while hiking now compared to several weeks ago. Had to be the past three weeks of cycling with the higher HR’s than I was doing back in the walking/hiking stage of rehab. 

Man, I’m getting pretty antsy to get going with the upper body stuff. I mean I look in the mirror after a shower and see my upper torso just atrophying to beat the band. One more week and it’s game on in that arena. I think once I get that facet of fitness going I’ll feel I’m on much more of an even keel. 

Continuing with the “heart healthy” cooking, and unfortunately my pop is an unwilling participant of some of this. Like for instance this eve I cooked this Indian dish, a red curry recipe with tons of good veggies and some tofu. Yea, I’m eating tofu! So I made sure to cook some marinated chicken drum sticks for pop just in case the tofu thing didn’t go over so well. He really didn’t know what to think of the tofu, especially when I told him it’s made with bean curd. That’s when he started stripping chicken off the bone and mixing it with the dish. 

Also on the “heart healthy” front, I’m going to begin using humus, making my own, instead of slathering on mayo on sandwiches and such as I used to do. God did I love mayo on sandwiches and burgers. Been eating a lot of veggie sandwiches with avocado as a kind of mayo base, so I ran into this article talking about what to use on sandwiches as a substitute for mayo - bingo…humus spreads. So I’m soaking some chickpeas tonight, boiling them tomorrow and making this spicy thai pepper humus spread. 

My deserts as of late, courtesy of Judy, are these fruit and/or berry & nut concoctions where you mix in vanilla Greek yogurt with blueberries or anything really, and walnuts or almonds. Actually turned pop onto this one and he liked it. Drinking red wine on the weekends, 1-3 glasses, and going way light on the beer - practically none. Wow, the surprises just keep coming. 

Well, not much else to report on the rehab front today.


July 10: Another super day temp wise, and I couldn’t help but to think about doing like a four hour ride today what with such wonderful 70-degree weather, but after doing nearly three hours yesterday I really wanted to try to be moderately…er mildly…er infinitesimally compliant with my workout parameters. My heart just wanted to go out and ride half a day, but my mind told me to cool it and be good, so I kept it at around two hours. Maybe I’m justifying here, but I was so bloody good and compliant for 6 weeks. I mean I was fanatically compliant. And now that I’m kind of cleared to bike and hike at higher intensity levels, zone 3, and for longer periods of time, I just feel like pushing the envelope a tad. I’m not racing people, I’m not killing myself climbing while on the bike or hiking, and I’m not taking myself to exhaustion. Just feels so good mentally and physically to be out there for stretches that are longer than prescribed. 

Still sticking to almost all bike trail riding, this because my docs for sure don’t want me doing anything off-road stuff because of the jostling to my upper body, and would prefer I don’t go on-road due to the car accident potential. They LOVE the bike and hike because it’s all paved with a low likelihood of accidents. Their biggest concern is me crashing or hitting a big chuckhole and possibly causing injury to my sternum. So back to the bike and hike. Three weeks ago I would have killed to ride the bike and hike - PERIOD! Now I’m getting just a tad tired of the same old bike and hike trail riding. I’d just love to do some riding out on the backroads of Portage Co., which was my stomping ground before any of this heart stuff began. Love it out there because there are zero cyclists, few cars and just miles and miles of beautiful old broken down country roads and abandoned rail lines. And believe it or not PO CO also has some great climbing, though not as sustained as the valley, there’s some steep stuff out there. 

Anyway, rode with Judy today, taking the bike trail north towards Clev. As I said at the beginning of this blog, after going for 3 hrs yesterday, I decided to dial it back a bit today, so my “zone” effort for today was pulling into a headwind going out to Alexander Rd, and then noodling while Judy pulled going back with the tailwind. That way I could go low on both the intensity and volume scale. Felt good on the pull into the tailwind and stayed in about the low to middle of end of my prescribed zone. Judy did a great job on the return trip pulling strong and steady. Ended up with about 2:10 hrs total with maybe 30 min in my zone. 

Made dinner for pop and later in the day I took Pepper for a walk for about 45 min. Funny, but I’m going through times now where I feel like the old me again, where I actually forget what’s happened for a few hours and I don’t have all these freaking physical and institutional  stipulations ruling my life. Like I didn’t even think about making dinner or hiking with the dog for those couple of hours. I just felt…good! Then something jolts me back to reality where I have to think, “should I do that because of my surgery?” Those occasions occur most often now when having to contemplate whether or not to lift objects, and of course with my cycling. But I do have these fleeting chunks of time where I don’t feel encumbered by the parameters. 

July 11: Did a ride with Marie, where today was her REC day due to her racing a 6-hour race yesterday. Now from my perspective that’s good, because that meant I wouldn’t be drafting off of a chick for the entire ride!  She’s a strong cookie, and I knew that I’d be an anchor around her waist on any other day other than her REC day, and I’m not too proud to admit it!

Met Marie at the bike and hike and we did the same ride Judy and I did yesterday, out to Alexander Rd and back. She was in the little ring…shit that’s the first thing I looked at when we began. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t in for some “Euro Start” thing with her in the big ring. Got going and the pace still had me in my “zone” damn near right from the start. And once we got rolling I’d say I was on the high side of my zone, if not several bmp higher for almost the entire ride. I just love watching people mature as cyclists, and Marie is one such person who has really taken to the bike. She’s gone  from being a biker triathlete to a real cyclist, a pretty darned good competitive cyclist. It really shows when your recovery day is 19 mph on the flats! That was her today. 

But man it felt good to be pushing on those pedals today riding with Marie. And what was real nice was the fact that she wasn’t half wheeling me (going faster and faster as we rode side by side), rather she just kept a nice consistent pace and tempo as we talked, another sign of a good cyclist. My only concerns were our riding up the north and south hills at Brandywine Falls, where  a week or two ago I had to back off and go pretty slow because I was going above my zone. Now yesterday’s ride with Judy was good in that I could push harder and not go above my zone. That gave me hope in today’s ride where we were carrying more speed into the climb, and I just knew I’d be cheating a bit on this one! Well, I did indeed cheat a bit, topping out about 8bpm higher than my zone, but dang did it feel good. Felt WAY better than that first time. 

I’m also beginning to notice the fact that my bounce back time is getting shorter and shorter on these little climb efforts, that’s the amount of time it takes for your HR to come back down after a hard effort. So we flipped it at Alexander into a headwind and headed back to Hudson. Again, the only real kicker was the climb out of Brandywine where my HR went a bit above the top end of my zone. Now I’d asked my exercise physiologist last week about this and she said it’s ok to go over on climbs etc, but just not to make those efforts long and sustained. So what I did today was to really back off the pedals once I topped out such that the HR would begin to go down as opposed to go up if I kept the effort consistent over the top. 

I told Marie I needed to back off with about 2 miles left, that just to let the old ticker rest a bit considering it had gone nearly an hour at or above zone today. Ended up with 1:45 hrs total, and this was definitely my best ride since surgery…Marie keep me in mind on your REC days! Got home and cranked down on 2 quarts of water, one mixed with an electrolyte, and then I ate 2 bananas, one GU and two oranges. In the old days I’ve had had just a quart of water and some left-over spaghetti or a ham sandwich. 

Now as I sit here working on the computer, my legs are nice and sore, a good kind of sore, a soreness that I have not experienced for months! Funny how we can associate sore legs and high HR’s with a good workout? But that’s exactly how I’m seeing it right now. Well, got to work for a bit, then cook some dinner. Nice to be getting further and further away from May 11, 2016!


July 9: Did my outdoor ride today…and just had to go longer. Man, the weather was just perfect, with 70-degree temps and super low humidity. Met up with Laurie on her fixie, and we rode to Kent to hook up with Judy. The whole time I was cognizant to keep the HR below my prescribed zone because I knew from the get-go that I was doing my longest ride since surgery. Man, just couldn’t pass this day up. 

So I was really nice and below my HR zone on the way to Judy’s, save for this little winding climb through a neighborhood where despite the climbing I ended up in the middle of the zone. Seems as though my riding is getting stronger, my speed is increasing, my power is up, and best of all my HR zone is getting such that I can do all of the above and still keep that HR way lower than when I first started out. Used to be that particular hill sent me above my HR zone WITH me trying hard to go easy. On that climb today I pushed just a tad and still was 6bmp off of the top end of the zone. 

Got to Judy’s, where she suggested that we ride the Freedom trail from Kent into Akron. Done. Again, HR stayed low despite my pulling in the front. Only occasionally did the HR get into my zone, and this was just on the low end. Most of the time up front I was below my lowest end while pulling into a headwind, which is exactly what I wanted what with increasing my ride time to almost 3 hours. Flipped it and rode with a tailwind the rest of the way back on the Freedom Trail. I just felt amazingly great, and I remarked to Judy that I sure felt good NOT having that ischemia thing going on between my shoulder blades. Ahh…for the little gifts in life! 

Finished up with a ride of 2:50 hours with probably no more than about 20 minutes inside my prescribed zone. And all of that was piecemeal in bouts of 1-3 minutes at a time. I just can’t say how good it is to now push harder and not see that HR skyrocket up right from the gun. This really makes me wonder if my cycling just 7 weeks out of surgery is actually better than my cycling prior to surgery. Three weeks ago I’d have said no way, but today, with this ride, wow, I’m really beginning to feel different. Now I have to admit that I’m a good ways off from riding with the “big boys”, but this really gives me optimism that I’ll have some good fitness down the road without having to tap into the Z5 areas that Dr. Phelan had told me I should stop short of due to those peripheral blockages. 

Felt great the rest of the day, and since I’d done way more cycling than was prescribed, I really made an effort to not do any additional working out. Hell, I really wanted to take Pepper for a 1 or 2 hour hike, but opted to work at my desk the remainder of the day. Now I am entering a new era here in that Kim is on a well deserved vacation for 12 days and I’m back to my full-time gig with pop. We’ve had a few moments here and there, but I’ve been able thus far to not implode. My biggest challenge in all the changes I’ve needed to make, as I’ve detailed before, is to de-stress in tense situations with my dad - hell, to de-stress in LIFE! 

Been constantly working on the Mediterranean Diet thing, and I’ve found some great recipes online. Hell, I’m even staying away from fried chicken, fried shrimp, and fried anything, which I was just a fool for in the past. I used to make Bang Bang Shrimp and Avocado Eggrolls in the good old days, and I’d devour the stuff as if it was an entree. Today I made a Greek Cod Bake with Tomato and Onion, in addition to a veggie stir fry with fresh green beans and broccoli. Judy joined pop and I for dinner. And lately my drink of choice is a nice Red Zinfandel wine instead of 4-6 beers! 

Eating a lot of fruits for snacks, Raison Brand cereal with Almond Milk for breakfast, and Greek Vanilla Yogurt with mixed berries for dessert. I am allowing myself a “cheat” day each week, and man oh man am I getting close to one. I am working on my “98 Days” book on my ride 6270 miles across Canada, and I just had to share this with you. THIS is how I used to eat as pulled from my August 2009 TransCanadian blog: 

I’m all about BUFFET. So what happens? I fill up a plate with eggs benedict, fatada, fish cakes, bacon, baked beans and sausages, and Barney…granola, yogert, fresh fruit and a grapfruit. I looked at his plate and was totally disgusted with myself…NOT! Zipped through that and then went for more fish cakes, two blueberry pancakes with blueberry sause and maple syrup, and then finished off with 2 plates of danishes. Add to that some great black coffee and I got my 17 bucks worth all right.”

Yea, that was me 7 years ago. My, my, my how life has changed!


July 8: Today I need to correct some information I’d given you on Wednesday concerning my cycling rehab parameters, so that will kind of be the theme of this blog. Well, today was my 3rd and final Phase II Cardiac rehab workout at the Clinic. Now as I’d told you before I was kind of fast tracked into the Phase II, bypassing Phase I, and to be skipping Phase III. Doc Blackburn was kind of hoping I’d do several supervised workouts such that they could review my EKG information to make sure all was going well. He actually gave me the choice as to whether I wanted to participate in the process at all, but I got the impression he was counting on me to do several sessions. And I definitely thought it to be a pretty worthwhile endeavor despite having to drive some 70 miles to Clev and back for each workout. 

So anyway, he wanted the three sessions this today’s was my last. I’ll have to admit I was a bit skeptical about this only from the perspective that I thought I’d be doing cupcake rides on their stationary bike. Well, I was proved wrong on that one the first workout. That alone made me pretty happy to actually be pushed into a HR zone that made me feel like I was working. So the second workout went really well as my exercise physiologist Shannon upped my wattage the workout so I was in the upper end of my prescribed HR zone. We also discussed what my parameters would be once I went off on my own post workout number three. 

Today I readied myself with my four EKG leads and proceeded to WU on the stationary. Well, I was pleasantly surprised when Shannon upped my wattage again, this time by 10 watts instead of 5. So she eventually had me working at the very upper end of my HR zone, 132. There were many minutes where I was in the 133-135 area, which she was good with. Got in my 3 minute WU, my 33 minute main set, and then a 5 minute WD. It went great, and I learned from my Wed workout when I just sweated a pool of sweat on the machine and floor, so I’d brought a big sweat towel to put across the aero bars and to use to mop up my sweaty mess at the end of the workout. 

Once done they like us to tidy up around the workout device, wash up and change back to street clothing, and then just sit quietly for 10 min to let the BP and HR go down post workout. Then another measurement is done. She got my BP and that was awesome after the workout, 117 over 71, and my HR was still a bit elevated in the 80’s. But they were great results nonetheless. Ok, so now comes the retraction to what I’d written about my parameters now that I’m on my own. Shannon asked if I’d any additional questions about how I was to proceed on my own in between now and my next echo/stress test on 7/28 when I’m to meet again with my cardiologist and head exercise physiologist. 

Well, I just kind of wanted to “float” some ideas by her regarding my parameters for riding my bike outdoors. I mean hell, I could have just played dumb and not asked anything, then just do what the hell I wanted…BUT the sensible side of me prevailed. From a safe and logical perspective I just had to have clear guidelines as to what they expected me to do when self-supervised - which I KNEW I’d being adjusting anyway. I guess the difference between the playing dumb tact and the having clear guidelines tact is that on the former, I could actually do way too much, and on the latter I could do a little too much. Pete’s logic???? Yea, I know it sounds asinine. 

So on the progression side…I’d written on Wed the progression from one workout to the next is 5 additional minutes at the prescribed HR zone. Well, it’s not five, it’s ONE minute increase per workout! So again, my wheels are turning as she’s telling me it’s one minute not five, and then I asked her if I could do like 30 min of sub-zone WU followed by my main set, followed by another 30 min of WD. Well, she kind of laughed and told me that’s not what Doc Blackburn prescribed. And the one minute of addition of hard work to each succeeding workout…well, I reasoned if I worked out every day that was 7 minutes per week increase in my main set. Again, I got nuked by Shannon when she told me that was only until I got up to a 45 minute main set. Then it stays at 45 minutes until after I take my next echo/stress test on 7/28. Then, she told me they could readjust my workout parameters.

Shit, she was clipping my wings at every twist and turn here! And I could tell she was having a good time thwarting my efforts to increase my riding time. It was good natured, and I eventually remarked to her how she’d outfoxed me at every opportunity in me trying to get my ride time up. She also informed me that I still have 1 more week to ge before I can start a resistance program for my upper body. I’d thought I was good to go this coming Tuesday. Nope - one week from this Tuesday. 

So I left knowing how I’m fully cognizant of the amount and intensity of the cheating I’ll be doing on my riding over the next couple of weeks! BUT I am going to use the information Shannon had given me to make adjustments rather than ride like a fool too hard and too long. I did inform my sister of my intent to cheat a bit, and what I’m going to do is exactly what I’d ran by Shannon, that’s doing a 30 minute or so WU before the main set, and then another 30 or so minute WD after the main set. I just find it impossible to get all kitted up and go out on the bike for 43 minutes total. Kim wants me to email Doc Blackburn for a kind of “permission” to do what I’ve put forth here, but I’m a bit hesitant on that one. I’ll mull it over for a day or two this weekend. 

I do NOT want to screw up anything heart-wise, and I do get that the heart is still recovering from surgery, so I cannot just go whole hog on my cycling. But as I’ve always said, to me there’s a physical as well as spiritual side to my cycling. I need more time on the bike to fulfill that spiritual side, to relax, to feel good, to enjoy life. And that’s where the extra time comes in. I can definitely deal and live with the stipulation on my main set, high intensity time. I just have to have a bit of time on each side of that to satisfy my spiritual side. So…that’s where I’m at right now.


July 7: Just got smashed by the humidity and heat today. So I did my outside ride today with my self-agreed upon parameter of staying in my prescribed zone only as long as my docs deem necessary. Today that would mean I’m only supposed to stay in my zone for like 40 min. So if I do a 2 hour ride, just 40 min is within 118-132bpm. The rest would be below. 

With that in mind, I met Judy on the bike and hike and right off the bat I could see that today was going to be brutal with respect to temp and humidity. We rode at 10 AM and it was already like 80-something with this insane dewpoint. My HR responded great as we got going, and I’ve noticed that I am going faster at a higher perceived exertion at lower HR values. So that was great. But the further and further we went into the ride the more the heat and humidity really started to affect me. I kind of rode in my zone for a bit, but not nearly for the full 40 minutes. Then I began to back off a bit to the low side after a while since the heat was just getting hotter by the minute. 

No those of you who do not know me are not aware that through my 30-some racing and training years I have never been able to deal with heat very well. Mix in a high dew point and I’m just melting. I’ve had to DNF races where I was literally crawling on all fours to the finish line in this kind of weather. I mean I just totally overheat and turn into a blob of protoplasm. So my history in HH (heat and humidity) is terrible. Mix in a headwind to get HHH and then I’m truly screwed. Well, today we had HHH and I felt it an hour into the ride. It was there that my head just began to get a bit off. Hell, I was wiping sweat out of my eye sockets right from the get go in this ride, so at the halfway point I knew that I was on the downside. 

So I told Judy I was going to pull the plug on doing my “zone” riding, and just defer to riding well under my low end of the zone. And I could definitely feel it. My body just begins to shut down, where I have a tough time cooling myself off. We kind of rode at a moderate pace with my HR in the 100-110 area and I felt much better. My thought process on this was as such: I’ve have big issues with the HHH well before this surgery, so now, with my heart just getting back into higher beating and higher demands, the HHH could really knock me for a loop. So I felt I’d better back off and not tax my old ticker with an even higher stress load - even at my prescribed HR zone. 

Man, I was just dripping on the way back. Even had Judy pulling for a bit, and I had NO problem drafting just to keep the HR down. Now as we got closer to home I noticed that I had to do less and less for my HR to go up, and by the end of the ride even a little bump in the road sent my HR up 5-8bpm. I ended up getting in like 1:50 hrs total, and probably did get the 40 min of zone in only because my HR was going up even while going easy on the way back home. Really glad I pulled the plug on this one, and I don’t think I’m going to temp fate until I’m months into this rehab process where everyone thinks my heart is stronger and more prepared to deal with hot and humid conditions. 

Yup, when I got done I really felt the weather. I felt weak for sure. Drank about 32 oz of electrolyte and then made this big salad with some salmon in it. After that I drank another 32 oz of water. Wanted to work more post ride, but shoot, I was really spent so I lay down for an hour. And for the rest of the day I just felt one step off because of the weather. HR was normal, so I had no ill effects with respect to heart rate post ride. I just felt tired and slightly weaker than normal. Let’s hope for some cooler weather!


July 6: Second workout at the Clev. Clinic Cardio Rehab Dept. this morning. Now the big difference today vs last Friday’s workout was that I did not do a treadmill run. My left knee’s medial meniscus and the SI in my low back were sore from just that short 18-20 minute treadmill run, so Shannon, my attending physiologist was good with me just going to all cycling today. Heck, the last thing I need right now is some stupid running injury to kick in as I’m really trying to get myself back in bike shape. At this point running ranks very, very low on my priority list, so getting sidled from a meniscus tear or my SI joint flaring up to the point to where I cannot do anything - NO WAY! 

So what she did was just double my bike time. I guess what they were trying to do is measure and monitor me with those two different sets of HR zones for both bike and run. I don’t think I made it clear enough from the onset that in my world right now cycling is primary, hiking secondary, and running tertiary. To me running is no longer a “spiritual” and pleasurable endeavor. It’s boring, painful, slow, and drudgery. Yup, there was a day when I just loved to run, where I got the runner’s high, felt the speed, felt the exhilaration and excitement, felt the love. Today I feel no love.

Got changed into some running shorts and hooked up a 4-lead EKG telemetry unit to my chest. Then Shannon did my BP, weight, resting HR and such and all looked good. So today she wanted me at 35 min in my “zone” 118-132, with a 3 min WU and a 5 min WD. Got through the WU and then up to my prescribed zone, though it was more on the low side so she bumped the wattage up 5W and that kind of slowly got me where I needed to be. Now I was keeping the cadence at like 105-115 most all of the time.

The other folks doing there workouts must think I’m some sore of nut because within 10 minutes I was just dripping with sweat and spinning my brains out. The bike I’m using is this thing with pseudo-aero bars with contacts on the aero position and the upright bar position that you can hold which give you your HR reading. So I was in the pseudo-aero position most of the time, with my ass scooted up onto the nose of the saddle in order to get maximum cadence, kind of like scooting up on the saddle nose to sprint in the saddle. The bike has just these cheapie plastic toe clip pedals that you cannot use regular clipless cycling shoes with, so I just use my running shoes. And finally the saddle…uhhh…it’s one of those big fat, wide, nasty, horrible things that an elephant could sit on. This thing definitely was NOT the bike I used for my original stress test a week ago. 

But, for such a short workout I could definitely deal with it. So I kept my cadence and stayed within like 125-130 for the whole ON time of the workout, spinning over 100 all the time. During this stretch Shannon would ask me how I’m feeling and if I have any chest pain. She also did one BP measurement. At one point I asked her, kind of like suggesting, if she wanted to up the wattage so I’d drop the cadence, but she was good with where I was at. Dang it!

I should have worn a headband because by the end of the main workout I was just dripping head to toe with sweat. Once I was done with the WD I literally had to go to the men’s room to get a giant handful of paper towels to mop up all the sweat on the floor, on the base of the bike, and on the bottom tube area of the bike. Then I had to use these antiseptic wipes to totally wipe down the bike from all the sweat on the bars, seat and pedals. I mean I just washed that bike over with a waterfall of sweat! 

Shannon had me sit down a bit, then did another resting HR and BP measurement. Then she asked my dietary questions as to what I’d been eating for brekkie, lunch and dinner. Now I’ve been pretty damned good so far working to stay close to this Mediterranean diet thing, and she seemed happy with my answers. The one thing I did learn, according to her, is that pork is still considered a red meat despite the fact that it’s white - new to me! She really stressed the veggies and fruit, and believe you me, I’ve been eating more veggies per day that at any other time of my life. Hell, I’m pooping a veggie basket every day!

So I left there feeling pretty good with what I’d done thus far. I’ve one more workout there this Friday and then I’m on my own. Now there was one moment where I was kind of taken aback, and it came when I asked Shannon about how I’m to progress after the Friday workout. She informed me that we’ll go up another 5 minutes at my “zone” on Friday, and then I can up my rides in the “zone” by about 5 min at a time 3x/week. And I was thinking, “shit, I’ve already done a 2 hour workout outside in my “zone” on my own with my new HR monitor!” And as she was going over the progression, I was doing the math in my head, “up five minutes to 40 min workout, to 45, to 50, to 55…and I’d be like a month away from what I’m doing outside right now.” Hell, what I did last week! Well, I’ve been excellent thus far in listening to everyone in this whole rehab process, but I’m making this one adjustment on my own - I can NOT just go out and ride 45-50, 55, 60 etc. minutes. I’ll stay with my 2 hour ride, but just make my “zone” set inside of that. The rest will be under my zone. 

And I’m thinking all this as she’s talking to me. I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that “Pete’s been a bad boy!” So I listened attentively and played good patient. I guess I get it in that they want me to very gradually work my heart back into shape. I do get it. But it’s just not even worth going out on the bike for 45 minutes - to me anyway. So I’ll do the right thing and contain that main set, my specified HR zone, in the middle of the ride and have it sandwiched between all below zone riding.


July 5: Pretty sedate day from the rehab dept. After yesterday’s ride where I felt like I was just a bit trashed from the prior 5-6 days of cycling, I almost took the full day off today. But then when I decided to do some grocery shopping, I figured I’d do a complete Z1 noodle to the Indian Grocery in Cuyahoga Falls, just to spin the legs out a bit. 

Humidity was just terrible today, so I really concentrated on the Z1 noodle so as to not be dripping with sweat when I got to the grocery. Got on the Bike & Hike heading towards Silver Lake. Legs were still a bit on the muscle soreness side, but the cardio felt about like it should. I opted out on the HR monitor today, figuring I’d just go about as slow as I could and not worry about where the HR was. Honestly, I just did not want to see HR’s today. I mean I’ve been so independent from the HR monitor for the past 16 years that it still kind of feels like a pain in the ass to do. It’s kind of like my fixie - in that I just love the simplicity of cycling at this point in my life.  

That simplicity involves no gears, no super light weight carbon frame, and not thinking while cycling - other than enjoying the ACT of cycling. Same with the HR monitor. Been there done that. Over the years I’ve evolved to love the “less is more” philosophy. Shit, I have like 12 bikes, and some damned nice ones, BUT the only bike I really ever ride with any frequency is my fixie. So anyway, I know it’s important now to keep track of my HR in this whole rehab process, but today, seeing that I wanted to go total Z1 and relax, I just didn’t want to deal with a HR monitor. So my HR monitor friend, you stay at home on the desk!

Got going late for the humidity today, leaving at like 11:30 AM. But knowing the grocery opened at 11, I figured I’d give them a bit of wiggle room, since I’ve found in the past they can be a bit liberal in their opening hours, sometimes stretching it to past noon. Wore a tank top cycling for the first time since my surgery. And damn did I need it today. I was just on the brink of really sweating up a storm even noodling along at Z1. I’ve been better and better about wearing “revealing” shirt attire over the past couple of weeks. At first I just didn’t want to display that nice vertical zipper than runs down my chest, but I’m getting to care less and less about this, to the point where now I just don’t give a shit!

That tank totally revealed the first 3 inches of the scar, but had I worn anything else, I’d have been soaked for sure. At least I was able to give the upper body a chance to cool down with the sleeveless gig. Been riding a lot more now with my hands on the handlebars. When I first got going on the fixie, I’d do a ton of my riding no handed to keep the road shock from translating up to my sternum. Today, I’m able to ride much, much more with hands on, with no shock issues on my sternum. Only exception to that is when I’m riding on really crappy road surfaces like west Barlow Rd etc. 

Rode the trail to outside of Silver Lake, then did the Silver Lake loop down to the Falls Corp line where I headed toward the grocery. Got all my goodies at the grocery: Nigella seeds, cumin powder, red chili powder (thai chili), yellow mustard seeds, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, fresh red chili peppers, and asafetida. Got some of this stuff to make some Bombay Potatos for a dinner side dish!

The ride back was sweltering, so I tried extra hard to just keep it totally easy. And that was pretty much my day. I mean I’m at home working upstairs and I’m cooking dinner and doing light cleaning with zero problems. So I’m getting closer to living a normal life again without all the assistance. And today is the 7-week mark from my surgery, so I’ve one more week before I can begin an upper body resistance training regime. I’m movin on up!


July 4: Think I was feeling the effects of yesterday’s aggressive ride with the new HR monitor, in addition to the prior week’s worth of riding. Did a 2:15 hrs ride, but from the get-go my HR just wouldn’t come up. Try as I might I was never able to get the HR up over 125 - and that’s after yesterday when I was 125-132 for nearly 2 solid hours. Legs felt heavy but the cardio felt ok…other than the fact that the HR just stayed low. And add insult to injury where when I did a small climb, the HR stayed low but the effort felt high. 

So I met up with Judy and we did the bike trail to Ravenna. Now I was moving along ok on the flats, but it was just that the HR was so stagnant. Alright, so I’ve driven that point into the ground! On the way back, on the flip side, I just told Judy I was going to back it off and go easier so that I wouldn’t put myself any further into the hole. So I backed off to something under 110bpm. Felt like I was doing a noodle ride, which was kind of reassuring. Judy split off and headed home while I continued to Hudson. Along the way I saw Wally cruising by on his tri bike in the opposite direction doing his loop. Thought I’d see how he was doing so I detoured off the bike trail on headed out on Wally’s loop backwards. 

Sure enough we ran into each other somewhere on Newcomber Rd. Just shut it down the rest of the way and BS’ed with Wally as he rode with me down to Barlow Rd. Finished with my legs just feeling like they’d been beaten to a pulp. I mean it was painful to even walk up and down stairs. That in itself tells me that I’m a long way from being back in shape that’s for sure! I’m still amazed at how much that surgery took out of me. 

Took a nap after eating and hydrating and I was out for at least 1.5 hrs. Just felt like a walking zombie the rest of the day. Hit the bed at like 7 PM…Happy July 4th!


July 2: Did a ride with Judy and Laurie today where we went from Hudson into Kent just past Towner’s Woods park. And again, I felt slightly better in all facets of riding. Right now I’m kind of the “governor” with respect to our speed in that I’m trying to stay within this 118-132 HR zone. My hope was that this restriction would not prove to be too slow for Judy and Laurie. Now as far as monitoring my HR, I’m still finding that by palpating my radial artery on the right wrist. Understand that with me just measuring for 6 seconds and multiplying that number X 10, there’s a lot of room for error. I mean just missing one beat can put you off by 10bpm, so I’m aware that my accuracy is not nearly lab quality. BUT, I did order a HR monitor chest strap yesterday, so I’m hoping it’s here for the holiday riding. 

As I’d mentioned in past blogs, I have like 3 old Polar HR monitors that go back about 20 years. I also have a small box full of expired chest straps and their sending units. So what with my Garmin 810 and its HR monitoring capability, all I had to do was get the corresponding chest strap and sending unit. Got it from REI, and with my points from purchases last year, hell, I only had to pay about $1.43 for a $75 dollar chest strap. 

So anyway, I did this ride with the radial artery palpitation method as we rode along. I’d really just do it on occasion on the flats, and more than anything, at the top of any climb. Still noted that I was over my high end on the HR with a climb like the one on Hudson Rd, just right of the bike and hike trail. But the ride was better than the previous, so I guess things are progressing. My only hesitation is that I’m probably going a bit longer than my doc had intended, this since my monitored workout on Friday was about 45 min to 1 hr total. Today’s ride was about 2:15 hrs total. 

Later in the day we took pop to Westbranch State Park for a little picnic with Judy’s sister and relatives. My biggest challenge that day was not eating all the cake, pie, chips and sugar goodies before dinner, and then not putting butter and salt on my potatos, corn and chicken. Made it through, but it’s still hard laying off all those items. Still not grooving on the Mediterranean diet!

Came back home where Kim was dog sitting her dogs and our dog Pepper. She cooked up this really awesome fish stew dish from a cookbook a patient of hers had given her. It’s on HEALTHY Chinese cooking. Amazing that such a book even exits, but tell you what, that stew dish is crazy good, so we’ve one keeper so far. We’ll be experimenting with that puppy for the rest of the summer!


July 3: Well, first ride with the HR monitor and wow, what a difference than what I’d been doing. Now I’d first thought the zones doc had drawn up for me might be a bit too mellow, but what a difference when you’re not palpitating the radial artery for 6 seconds. What I had been doing on the flats was just too easy when not using the HR monitor, and what I’d been doing on the climbs was a bit too aggressive.

So I got my 810 on the front bars, strapped on the chest strap and off I went for a ride with Judy on the bike trail. Noticed that I could really get in a pretty good workout on the flats in the 118-132 area I was supposed to be in. I tried to stay around 129-132 most of that time, and then when I came to a climb, like the one out of the Brandywine Valley area, I had to back off and to out of the saddle and kind of do this slow motion pedaling - this because of the fixie. On that climb I hit 137, but that was when I topped out and got seated. It was a short stint above my high end. From there I just tried to keep it pegged within about 2bpm of my 132 top zone. 

Did this for a full 2 hours and just felt great. I mean I actually was feeling like I was in the cruise mode, with a nice steady state pacing and HR. Shit, it’s been over 16 years since I had used a HR monitor. Like the day I quit racing, that very day was my last day of every caring again about what HR zone I was in. From then forward I just put all my HR monitor stuff in my desk drawer and that was the end of that. After that last race I did not want to every use one of those buggers again. Just didn’t care. I’ve used perceived exertion from 2000 onward. Until today! So now that I have these prescribed zones to rehab, (let’s call it training instead) I really need to dial it in more. And judging by my palpitation method of the past several days, I was off of where I needed to be. 

And I was actually happy that I had to ride harder with the HR monitor. Made me feel like I was doing something. Only downer was the climbing where I had to dial it back. Only problem there is that it’s pretty hard to dial it back on a fixie. I mean the only thing to do is to either slow the pedaling way down…or walk the bike! So far I’ve been able to make the climbs doing the 40-50 rpm thing and only go over my HR top end by 3-5 bpm. I’m sure that if I had to climb something like Truxell Rd I’d be in a shit bit of trouble with respect to the HR. I’ll wait on the bigger climbs until I can pick up another HR zone above where I’m at right now. 

And that’s my big hope here: being able to eventually work into the Z4 realm. Though I don’t train or race, I still love to venture into Z4 when climbing or when I “pretend” to do some TTing on the flats. I have a stress echo test on the 28th of this month, and on my wish list is being given the go ahead to get up into the next zone. Now my current zones may change a bit just because my heart is adapting again to harder work and because my efficiency on the bike is improving, so they might in fact have to be revamped. But whatever the case I’m really looking towards getting into the higher zones so I can climb bigger climbs without having to dial it back. 

Anyway, I did the bike trail to it’s end out at Alexander Rd, then flipped it and headed back - right into a headwind. And man, that dude just worked me hard on the fixie. I was doing an overgear for a solid hour. Kept the HR at the upper end of my prescribed zone the whole way back. And when I got home by God I really felt like I’d gotten a workout!

Did a dog walk with Kim - NOT a hike! But we still got in like 1:15 hrs of walking. So shoot, that was a total of 3:15 hrs of PT for me, a guy 6 weeks off the operating table. Felt really stoked about that.


July 1: Drove to the clinic today for my first Phase II Cardiac Rehab session. Now like I’d said, the doc kind of wanted me to do 3 of these sessions where I’m monitored via this EKG device that has telemetry and sends my signals to these monitors that the assistance exercise phys people in the gym look over. One of the monitors is up in front of all the bikes and treadmills so we, the cardiac rehab people can also see where we’re at. 

So my sister had kind of told me that I’d be shocked at the conditioning of most of the people in this class that I’d be in. And I mean shocked in a way to where I look like a superman compared to the rest of the class, this despite the fact that I’d had like 2-4 more bypasses than some of them. Well, she was right. I was expecting this to be like an exercise class, but of a much gentler nature, but no, these poor folks are at such a low functional level that I’m bloody humbled by how lucky I’m at where I’m at. This was more of a “let’s teach people how to MOVE again class!”

So I checked in and met with Shannon, who I’d met during my stress test. She briefed my on the protocol and such, and got me hooked up to the telemetric EKG device, then told me I could change  into my workout gear in the locker room. Well, I’d brought my cycling kit with me, but when I saw all these people in there in like jeans and basketball shorts and such, I thought I’d look like some kind of clown at the very least in my lycra bibed cycling garb, or a hot-shot at the most with all that fancy shit on. So I told Shannon I though it better for me to just do the workout in my cargo shorts, that way I wouldn’t stand out in the crowd. She laughed and directed me to the stationary bike. Next time I’m just going to bring my gym shorts!

She got me started with an easy WU and then dialed the wattage up to where it elicited a HR that was within my 118-132 zone. It was on the low side for a bit so she increased the wattage several times to get me closer to 130, which I was totally stoked about because I’d though this would be some patty cake workout. And I’ll tell you what - I was working in the moderate to somewhat hard zone for a bit, and it actually felt harder than any of the riding I’d done in the last two days, so that was awesome. 

Now I couldn’t help but to look around the room as I’m doing this bike, cranking away at like 104 rpm, sweating and shifting back and forth in those freaking cargo shorts on this big “old folks saddle”. And it was wild because all around me the folks were just riding at like 50rpm at like 60-70 watts, and the ex. phys folks were kind of trying to keep them motivated to keep the intensity up in their particular HR zone. Some of the folks could not ride the upright stationary and had to instead ride the recumbent bike. And some of these folks were my age and younger!

Got in my prescribed time on the bike and then Shannon directed me to the treadmill to finish the workout. So on the run I had to be like 126-138 HR. Now this was really a smack to my ego when she set the mph to 5.5, which is 11 min/mile pacing. And I was just groaning to myself at how freaking slow that is…BUT since the last time I’d run I cannot tell you when, it felt…well…fast? Ahhhh, did it hurt to. Just felt like total shit, and my HR went up to like 144 from the get go so Shannon had to dial it back to 5.0 mph - a 12 min/mile pace. At that point my ego was on the floor, so I just tried to work on my form and technique to try to bring the HR down. And it worked. Got the HR back to about 139-140, which she was ok with. Right next to me was a Japanese lady who looked a bit younger than me, and she was walking at like 2.5 mph and complaining that it was pretty tough. The ex. phys assistance was next to her trying to kind of coax her through the remainder of her time on the treadmill. 

So I did that for about 20 min, then cooled down. Now by then my legs just felt shredded and my low back was feeling like shit. Told Shannon that if my back hurt the next day i may have to do the whole workout on the bike, which besides was my main mode of working out cardiovascularly. She was totally good with that. By that time I was just soaked with sweat, with my t-shirt wet enough to wring out. 

So that was it, I mean I was shocked at how much more qualitative that workout was than what I though it would be. So this gives me hope that their going to continue to up the intensity as time goes on. Now I did ask Shannon if what we were doing was more to just get my heart used to beating harder and faster again rather than to give me the training effect - improve my cardio-respitory efficiency. And she told me it was for the former, which made sense because it’s tough to get the training effect at like Z2-3. But I have to admit, right now THAT is making me work! Just so amazing how defitted I am right now what with open heart surgery. But, it’s a starting point and by God I’m happier than a clam right now being able to do more and do more harder!

Went home and took Pepper for a hike, and noted that my left medial knee (meniscus I presume) was pretty sore from running and my low back was pretty sore. So I think I’ll 86 that from the next 2 workouts at the clinic. I just don’t want to F up a knee or the low back and then not be able to keep progressing with the rehab. Hell, I’ve been down long enough already without having to deal with yet another issue. So Pepper and I did like an hour of hiking and called it a day, with my having to ice my knee later in the afternoon over at Judy’s. 

I plan on riding Sat, Sun, Mon, and Tues before the next visit to the Clinic, so I think at least my efficiency will be even better. Going to be a GREAT 4th weekend!


June 30: Well, got in ride #2 of my post-op life. Actually it felt better than the previous day in that my anxiety and comfort level on the bike had changed - anxiety less/comfort improved. I believe the anxiety thing is just from my cognizance of having to be so vigilant so as to not crash and blow up my sternum. And yesterday, having not been on the bike for so long, and then riding the fixie, well those combined to just wig me out a bit. But today was much better, much more natural in that I’m feeling more a part of the bike again. That especially true in riding the fixie where you eventually just meld into the whole pedaling process. Hard to describe to those of you who have never ridden a fixed gear bike, but after a bit you just adapt so well to it that the bike becomes an extension of your body. Crazy zen stuff huh?

Now the comfort thing…well I mean I hadn’t ridden the fixie for three months, let alone my duel mt bike for about 2 months, so just the bending over process and holding my body up with my arms, that just felt foreign to me. And my butt was not used to the thin racing saddle, and my legs just were not used to the pedaling motion. Heck, everything was feeling different. But today, with just one day of cycling under my belt, getting on the bike and riding just felt so much more natural. I hope that bespeaks of muscle memory! I was kind of thinking this part would come much slower, but be darned if I didn’t just seem to feel right back at home on the bike. 

Ok, on the other side of adaptation, was the late ride and post ride part. That’s one of the biggest things I noticed from ride #1, my upper body muscles were fairly sore. Amazing how just a few months off can really set you back to the start. I mean my whole posterior upper body was mildly sore, then my pectoral minor muscles were also sore in addition to my abdominals. I think the most sore muscle groups from that ride were the trapezius muscles and the neck muscles, this from having to hold my head up while looking ahead. Man those neck muscles are really sore when I turn my head side to side.

So I rode Barlow to Stow to the bike trail and met Judy. Then we headed north on the trail. I’d monitor my pulse every once in a while to make sure I was staying within my parameters, and I seemed to be riding smoother and steadier than yesterday. Judy even noticed it, so as I mentioned earlier, the whole cycling technique and efficiency thing was starting to come back to me because I certainly hadn’t gained any amount of fitness in the span of one day! It’s the muscle memory thing for sure. 

Have to admit that I did a lot of no-handed riding to take some stress off my traps and shoulders. Then on the same tangent, I would ride “light handed” on the bumpy stuff so as to not jolt my sternum area. To do this I simply just lightly hold the bars and let my fingers kind of steer the front end over bumpy stuff. This way the front end doesn’t translate any road shock up through my arms to my chest. 

We went up to Brandywine Rd., then flipped it and headed back. Now by about 1.5 hours into the ride yesterday I could really begin to feel my legs. Today I felt better, as if the legs adapted in just a day. And again, I think this is the result of the legs just “remembering” how to pedal efficiently again. I did a little add-on by riding to TGI Fridays while Judy headed home. Got in another 2 hour ride. 

Next up was taking pop to the dentist for the final visit. And the only reason I mention this today is because he was just in one of those moods where he was extremely agitated and confused about what we were doing and thereby was tough to deal with all the way (we only had like a 10 minute drive) to the dentist office. It was a situation where I just tried like hell to keep my cool what with pop, keep my stress level down. And it was crazy hard. I’ve told Judy and my sister how hard this facet of my “life changing” really is. It’s literally like turning off a part of your personality. I mean the physical part (training my body back to where it should be), and the nutritional part, those are pretty easy compared to lowering my stress level in all phases of my life. So anyway, pop was on a tirate this afternoon and the whole time while I was driving I was trying so hard to kind of let everything go in one ear and out the other. I was even doing this deep breathing thing. Yet there I am, literally trapped in the car listening to him going on and on and on about: his med cards, his wallet, where are we going, why, it’s too hot in the car, open the windows more, why doesn’t the AC work. I wanted to press my ejector seat button and get sent into the air and out of the car like James Bond. I guess I was half able to control the stress, so this is still a major work in progress!

Later in the day Jim & Cindy, Wally & Terry and Henry stopped over to visit us at Judy’s. We had a great time catching up with everyone while eating some great food - Mediterranean style of course.