Let’s get some excercise

Since my semi-enforced retirement, I have been attempting, with mixed results, to do something about my physical shape. While round is a shape, it isn’t the one I prefer. Various health issues and a job that keeps one mostly behind a desk, plus a simple lack of time once I got home (I always tried to spend time with the kids, my wife or on home projects) have led me into a state where, if I’m frank, I have to describe my level of physical conditioning as simply “bad”. Perhaps “poor” is the preferred technical term. Whatever term you choose, it isn’t good to be in this spot, especially when you’re way on the wrong side of 50 and starting to stare 60 in the face.

If I want to reach 60 and spit in its face rather than meekly shake its hand, Something Must Be Done. One of the things about working strenuously around your house on things like landscaping and such is that you will get something of a work out. While it’s better than nothing, it isn’t exercise. It doesn’t get you heart rate high enough long enough to do the cardio-vascular system any good, although it will tone the muscles to some extent.

There are some things that are off the table, such as running. I gave myself enough stress fractures in my younger days that those alone have cured me of the concept of running as an exercise. Add to that the damage to your joints over time and I’m happy I had the stress fractures. I enjoyed running, and by now I’d probably be looking at knee replacements. Thank you, but no.

Swimming is a PITA. I’d have to go to a pool, which around here would mean the YMCA and all the festivities that entails. Pass.

Walking I can do. I have an excellent neighborhood for walking. Very little is flat, so you are constantly walking uphill or downhill. It makes for a good if somewhat boring workout.

Many years ago, I rode a bicycle, a lovely blue Peugeot road bike. Man, but I loved that bike. I dropped something near a grand on it around 1980. It was a nice bike, and I rode the crap out of it for years. But eventually we moved to a place where riding drew more beer bottles and deliberate near misses than I was willing to deal with, and I hung it up, eventually selling it.

Last weekend, Mrs. Freeholder and I accepted an invitation to spend the weekend in Boone, NC, in the NC mountains at an altitude guaranteed to get us out of the upper 90 degree heat and miserable humidity we were then currently suffering through. While there, I gave in to an urge I’ve had for a while and bought a new bike, which you can see below.

Specialized Roll Sport

That is a Specialized Roll Sport. They categorize it as a “fitness” bike. Yeah,it’s definitely not a road bike. I’d love to have one, but the years at a computer keyboard have given me a mild case of carpel tunnel syndrome. I do fine as long as I behave–pay attention to the ergonomics of my workstation, arch my blasted wrists–but things like being on the drops of a road bike don’t qualify as behaving.

A true mountain bike doesn’t work well either. There is still too much weight on the hands. Tried one of those a while back, made it a couple of blocks. Glad I didn’t buy it.

However, the bicycle industry listens to its customers and its potential customers. Us old folks who need to sit up straighter, not put a lot of weight on our hands, who would like a more comfortable seat and so on, well, there are bikes out there for us now.

The technology on this thing is amazing, and when you take he price point into account (a bit over half my old Peugeot), it is astounding. 21 speeds vs. the 12 I had. The derailleurs don’t click. It has, for cryin’ out loud, disk brakes. Yes, like a car. It will stop in a big hurry. I think I could actually stand it on the front wheel if I tried.

On the new hitch-mounted Curt carrier, ready to go somewhere.

It doesn’t have 120 psi skinny tires I was used to, instead it has 60 psi big fat tires, the better to deal with greenways, which are often packed dirt or gravel. It can do limited service as a mountain bike, but the tires themselves are a smooth tread, not suited for it. They can be swapped out if I wish, but I don’t see the point with this bike.

I had to take the front wheel off (quick disconnect, so it’s easy) and carry it home in the back of my Subaru Outback. Not an optimum solution. So I got a Class II Curt hitch and a Curt Tray-Style Bike Rack (both from carid.com, great folks to deal with) to carry the bike to places I can ride. I used to think this was stupid, but after my experience with the beer bottles, not so much. The hitch is great, the carrier is OK. It doesn’t cost as much as say a Yakima, and I think I see why. It will do for now.

As a matter of fact, that is sort of the motto for the entire thing. This is something of an experiment/learning experience. Just riding so far has been a bit tentative (and wobbly). It’s also shown me just how pathetically out of shape I truly am.

I’ve also dropped some coin on all the crap you need if you plan on riding away from home–stuff to patch tires, bike bags, lights in case you get caught out near or after dark, water bottle and cage and so on. You can see those a bit in the second picture.

I’m currently scoping out nearby places to ride, just to get used to pushing pedals again. I tried it out my neighborhood, and that was a bit of a farce. Even with 21 gears, my legs were on fire, and I didn’t even try the steeper part of the hills.

I’ve really missed riding. I know I should probably not do it alone, but I always enjoyed the solitude of me and the road. It’s really different than driving. You move at a speed where you see so much more of the area you traverse, but you see so much more area than you do walking. In some ways, it may be the ideal way of transportation.

As long as you live somewhere that doesn’t have steep hills.

2 thoughts on “Let’s get some excercise

  1. Walking is a good place to start. I used think that yard work would get it done, but I hate yard work.

  2. I may be a bit strange, but I've always enjoyed yard work. I had two grandmothers who both had green thumbs, and I inherited a bit of their talent. Plus if I can get someone who is good at the design aspect, or I can find an example that I like, I can handle monkey-see, monkey-do. I got a lot done before the summer heat came up, and it looks like we may be blessed with a short high summer this year, so I may be able to get back to it pretty soon. Right now I'm just mowing and being sure the irrigation system is doing it's job.

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