If the collapse on a trail that I’d hiked at least twice before in my previous life (before cancer) wasn’t enough to convince me I was in bad physical shape, the emergency room, overnight hospital stay and exhaustive stress tests last July, certainly did. As if all that wasn’t enough, the nearly constant media bombardment–that the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is in part caused by reduced physical activity–started to slowly sink in. Knowing how stubborn I am, the family dug in too,
bullying, lecturing, uh . . . gently pushing me to get a physical trainer to design a fitness program that would work for me, factoring in all my physical limitations and age . I finally took advantage of the physical training program the Huntsman provides for free for all their cancer patients–former and current–because apparently the gym time I’d been halfheartedly putting in for nearly a year after chemo hadn’t gotten me to the fitness level I wanted to be. Thank goodness stubbornness works in more than one direction.
The beautiful yo-yo weather (the day before it had snowed all day) was putting the spring back in our steps around here, so when our daughter invited her father to come along with her and the kids for a bike ride, I heard myself saying to Hubby if he’d air up my tires I might come along too. Well. After a series of failures that included a hard fall in our daughter’s driveway, they were still able to talk me into coming along. As long as I can take some reading material along in case I changed my mind, I’d go I said. Hubby loaded the bikes onto the back of the Honda and off we all headed to a flat road with little traffic out near Salt Lake Airport, just off Interstate 80. It’s an access road that takes you to the marina and a social club, and the scenery is really special as long as you like water birds of all kinds, blue skies, blue lakes, and salt flats you can practically walk on. That’s the whole story of how Hubby and I–weeks away from birthday #70–came to be out this weekend on a bicycle.
Several times I came this close to giving up. My balance was shot to hell. The seat was too high. The gears were set wrong. I hadn’t been on a bicycle since I was in my early fifties in Las Vegas. Patiently Hubby tested and made all the necessary adjustments. Finally, when my legs could reach out and touch the pavement any time I felt vulnerable or needed to stop, I decide to have a go at it. I was really nervous every time a car or another biker approached and my fingers inched close to the brake gear, but I gradually got used to it. I knew I could stop anytime I wanted and probably wouldn’t kill myself doing it. I only went into a near-panic once–when that damn motorcycle passed me in the same lane I was in without going around me. I decided I should have pinned a sign on my back like a driving instructor puts on the windshield for student drivers. Beware! Old lady bicycling for the first time in more than 15 years!
Getting back to all the hype about the new approach to aging, this study and that, plus my noticeably increased stamina and agility, I doubt that I’ve done enough to significantly reset my biologic clock. I decided that early the next morning when I woke up feeling young and rested after a good night’s sleep, pleased as punch with myself for not giving up on the bicycle thing but feeling pretty stiff. When I started to get out of bed I wasn’t sure if I could even lift my head because of my sore neck muscles due to tension I guess, or the fall on the driveway. Today I’m almost back to normal. Reversing my biologic clock? Not sure. I only know for awhile there I felt more like I had been born in the days of this contraption. If I had though, I guess I wouldn’t have even had to peddle. Hubby would have done all the work and I could’ve just sat there looking pretty!
I wish I had taken my camera along to capture this momentous occasion, but I plumb forgot–another age related phenomena that may also be reversed as long as we stay physically and mentally active. Bonafide photographs of all of us would have been so much nicer, and you would have proof instead of having to take my word for it. On second thought, I was holding on so tight to the handle bars I’m not sure how I would have managed a camera anyhow. Instead, my gratitude goes to the Flickr Commons Collection for these vintage prints, presented under the fair use “no known restrictions” designation.