It's a new year and time once again to give a new look to this blog. New graphics and colors. Same bike writer!

This blog is created not only to track my own progress on my biking journey but it is intended to also assist others who have either osteo or rheumatoid arthritis or both like I do. I hope as you read about the progress I have made that it gives you inspiration and hope that you can overcome the dibilitating effects of these conditions.

If your doctor agrees that you should be capable of expanding your limits read on and don't be afraid, just listen to your body and give it challenges. Biking is a great non-impact form of exercise and greatly enhances flexibility and range of motion.

It's not a substitute for Doctor visits, taking your meds or otherwise getting off your health plan but it auguments what your Doctor does for you and can give you a better quality of life. Go for it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bike to Work Day...discovering all the gears

I ended up with a double commute today, had to make a trip home mid day. After work I had a very enjoyable ride. I've decided that the only way I am going to manage hills is to keep riding them. At some point I will get strong enough that they don't wear me out. So it was back to Island Lake State Park today. We had wonderful warm spring weather after a couple of days of rain it was nice to be out in the parks as everything is getting so lush looking and it seems like every tree, bush and shrub that flowers is out in full bloom. Spring is strutting her stuff!

Island Lake is pretty hilly and has some steep climbs (for these parts), I had the opportunity to discover my low gears today. So far with my new bike I've explored speed and the higher gears and found the joy of my large chain ring in front. Today was for exploring the low gears and the small front ring. I learned a lot about using it with various combinations of the rear cassette gears. I never got into what is called the "granny gear" which is the small front ring and the largest rear ring. Guess I didn't meet up with a hill that big yet. But I did notice that my average speed for my ride was greater than normal and that my time for the distance was shorter by a pretty fair amount. Not that I'm out to set records or concerned about speed. I prefer to enjoy my rides and surroundings. I do ride for exercise and fitness too and at times am more focused on the productivity of the ride, but don't sacrifice smelling the roses, I just don't stop an take pictures of them when I am out for a workout ride.

Today was certainly a workout ride and meant to be one, it was my mission. It just so happened to be absolutly gorgeous out too which just added to the whole aura of the ride. I might have had to stop and take a break while going up some hills today, but I rode up every one and didn't get off an walk once. That's improvement.

For me it's more an issue of getting winded instead of fatigue and legs giving out. While I had a normal early season conditioning issue to deal with (riding outside with wind and varying terrain and hills) is way different from a trainer in the winter on flat ground with no wind to deal with. So that passed quickly enough and I was gaining endurance and stamina. Then about two or so weeks ago I found that instead of getting stronger I was getting winded much more often. Just before that I had a flare up of my RA and took a Humira shot to tame it down. It was my first one since June of last year. Last year I had several bouts of shortness of breath and getting winded very easily. Three times it turned out to be pneumonia, however it happend more than that and pneumonia was not the cause as it could not be detected.

Last year I had a pulmonary and cardiac workup, several trips to various specalist doctors and loads of testing later that revealed no problems with lung functions and no significant heart items to cause what was happening. I have a heart murmur and some day the valve will need replacing but not at this time and it is not contributing to the shortness of breath. I have a 90% blockage in a very smalll artery going into my heart but again, the Dr. was not concered because of where it is located and the existance of 3 other arteries in that cluster that are ok with no blockage and agian, it was determined that this is not contributing to shortness of breath. I passed a stress test on a treadmill last year just fine.

So my family doctor (I believe they call them primary care physican these days) felt all along that it was more a matter of conditioning or rather being out of condition. One would think that continued biking would address that. Since I am experiencing this again several weeks into the season it leaves me to believe something I suspected last year and that is that RA is contributing to this. RA can attack organs as well as joints. A trip to the rheumatologist is in order. The most odd thing about this whole issue of shortness of breath is the following; during the first 20-30 minutes of a ride I get short of breath constantly and feel like I can't go on. Somehow I push through this and before I know it I am breathing fine and feel like I could go on for a very long time. That just dosen't make sense to me.

So, combined with commute of just over 4 miles and 9.3 at the park I had a total mileage today of 13 .8 and a total for Week #7 of 36.55 miles. I like it and I'm happy. And I brought home another big bouquet of lilacs and the home is perfumed by it.


  1. Deb it's wonderful to read about your progress. I always try to tell people that bike gears were meant to be used and should be used often. When riding off-road its recommended to be shifting every few seconds. When road riding, I still shift often and it makes a difference, especially for real long rides. in regards to being out of breath the first 20 minutes, it's perfectly normal, and it's just your body needing to warm up. It happens to me to. Once I'm warmed up it seems I can go on forever, like you said. I agree that with osteo, it may take you a little longer to warm up. i have an auto-immune disease (Type-1 diabetes also known as juvenile diabetes) and it takes me a little longer to warm up too. But, I know that my organs are getting stronger from cycling and I hope in your case - that's happening to you as well.@

  2. Thanks for sharing that you have a bit of a struggle with a warm up period, I've been puzzled about this as it seems to come and go, at times I need almost no warm up period and at other times I really struggle for the first 3-4 miles. It helps to know others do too so I don't worry that I'm doing something wrong by pushing through that period.