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Bicycling Again

Gaddis Pond Rest Area, Big Grove Township.

When my medical practitioner diagnosed plantar fasciitis in 2015 it mean I had to give up running. I’d been running for exercise since 1976 when I enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Doc suggested bicycling. I took my Austrian-made Puch Cavalier ten-speed down from the hooks in the garage and delivered it to the bicycle shop where I bought it in 1980 to get tuned up. Parts were scarce for the old bike, but the technicians found them. I brought it home and hung it in the garage where it stayed until this month.

During a recent medical check up I asked again about running. I needed more exercise and my feet felt better. I could run again, I thought, maybe not five daily miles as before, but something. He said if I returned to running, plantar fasciitis would flare up again. I started walking and it wasn’t enough.

On June 18 I dusted the bicycle off and rode for the first time: about five miles. I’ve been out the last four days and expect to continue bicycling, gradually increasing my daily distance.

I’m a cautious bicyclist. I have a good sense of myself on the bicycle and know how to use the derailleur gears as they were designed. I couldn’t locate my helmet or riding gloves so I adjusted our daughter’s helmet so it would fit. I put a fanny pack over the handlebars to hold my mobile device and the garage door opener. I still have the plastic water bottle I got when the bike was new. I have two pair of bicycling pants with the cushion in the crotch. I’m wearing my old running shoes for now.

While I was in graduate school I ran and rode a lot. I would run from my apartment on Market Street in Iowa City out to the Coralville dam and back. Afterward I rode the bicycle for another ten miles. I was a restless soul then. I made all the usual rides: to Sand Road Orchard; to Kalona before dawn where I saw kerosene lamps illuminating homes and barns; to Stringtown Grocery; to the Kalona cheese factory; through Hills, Lone Tree and Wellman. I was a primitive rider, having no training and an undisciplined approach. I made a century ride with the Bicyclists of Iowa City and experienced glycogen burn out. At the time I didn’t know what was happening to me and it was a little scary. Not freak out scary though, and I made it home safely.

I need more exercise. It’s cheap medicine. Today I rode 7.6 miles with a goal of being able to make it to Ely without stopping. After that, who knows? For now it’s enough to feel the cool breeze as I ride and make progress toward an unspecified goal.

Another part of life in Big Grove Township.

3 replies on “Bicycling Again”

Some bicyclists (and I guess I’m one) are full of advice. So before I get into ephemera, just to let you know that you’ve made a good choice. You already have the garden, but exercise is not optional as we age, it’s required! My joints no longer enjoy even long walks, much less running, but bicycling is easy on them, keeps them loose, and improves my mental outlook and sharpness. I’ve come to believe that daily rides are more important that getting in longer rides once a week or something, particularly for us old people.
Your old “10 speed” maybe all you need, particularly if it fits you well and is in good working condition. I’ve found that tires can make a remarkable difference in how a bike feels. If your tires are old, you may want to consider replacing them at some point. I’d suggest fitting the widest tires that your frame has clearance for. In the old days we thought narrow tires were “faster and more efficient” when it turns out that’s not as important as was thought even in those areas, and a wider tire is more surefooted, resistant to flats, and gives a more comfortable ride. I’ll often splurge and spend a little bit more on quality tires, even on my older and not fancy bikes.
I like cool drinks when riding on days like this summer is producing. The insulated stainless-steel drink bottle lines have models that fit in the standard bike bottle cage and they’ll keep water cold even on longer rides. Another thing that’s become a must have for me on hot days is a head sweatband or skullcap, as otherwise the sweat gets into my eyes.
The fanny pack to handebar bag improvisation was a good idea!
I like platform pedals for riding in street shoes like sneakers. There are fancy ones, but even the cheaper plastic ones seem to work well enough for me.

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Thanks for reading my post and commenting. I’m enjoying riding again. I don’t envision doing another century ride yet about 5 miles a day isn’t enough as I ride more regularly. I agree with your advice. The main thing now is to stick with it through the riding months. Enjoyed your piece on Ginsberg.

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