Like many others, the pandemic interrupted normal life and sent me in a bit of a tail spin. Along with all the other adjustments, I found new routines had slowly added a dozen (or more) extra and unwanted pounds to my body. Weight just sneaks up on you. One morning you look in the mirror and gasp. After failing with a few traditional weight loss plans, I discovered one that worked. I began riding a stationary bike across the United States.
Running and Knees
I ran on and off throughout my life. I performed well in high school cross-country and track. Notably, I returned to running throughout my adulthood to boost stamina, endurance, and lose a few pounds.
I decided running was the cure to my woes. I bought some nice shoes, downloaded a fitness app, and researched nearby trails. Even though I am now in my fifties, I reconnected with trail running, enjoyed the fresh air and solitude of hill running.
Yet, I soon discovered that every time I increased weekly mileage enough to lose weight my knees would become sore and inflamed. I tried different shoes, knee braces, and flatter surfaces. Nothing worked.
Interactive Exercise Bikes
I saw a commercial for a Peloton bike. I was intrigued. A quick Google search and the price quickly shot down that idea. However, interactive spin classes and cycling trainers were appealing.
I continued my research and found Pro-Form’s version of the Peloton. The Pro-TC had interactive features, working with an iFit subscription you could access spin classes and trainer led bike rides all over the world. Pro-Form had a special offer—a free bike if you signed a three year iFit subscription agreement. Purchased.
First Few Weeks
After assembling the bike, I was ready to go. I hopped on and found a gentle ride around a lake in Norway. I made it two miles. My legs were fatigued and my heart pounding. I exited the workout, slightly discouraged.
My muscles and cardio quickly adapted. I rode several trainer led sessions on trails around the world and even tried a spin class.
I explored a “create” feature on my stationary bike. Markedly, I discovered I could hook up to google maps, chart a course and the bike would create a custom workout. I rode around my childhood town of Tucson, explored Paris, and visited Charleston.
The map feature wasn’t perfect. Instead of a running video, as in the workouts, the screen just scrolled through google street view photos. Occasionally, I discovered areas without any photos at all. However, the bike interacted with climbs by increasing resistance, and the breaks in photo coverage were limited. I could live with the short falls.
Yet, something was off. I needed a more comprehensive goal that tied workouts together.
Like a grand epiphany, it hit me. “I’m going to ride this bike across the country,” I told my wife. She was supportive, like she always is with my over-the-top ideas. “You do that, Troy.”
And so it began, the journey across the country, starting from my living room in sunny California, I began my cross-country trek.
Early progress was slow, only knocking off a few miles at a time. Yet after a coupe weeks, I found I could get twenty or more miles a day. Soon, I was crossing the Sierras and descending into Nevada.
I found that the over-arching goal of Boston, had several smaller goals built in. Daily goals such as, “I just want to make it to Reno today,” and weekly goals “I want to get to the Utah border before the end of the week.
The web of goals continued to inspire and a little extra effort. I built in sprint intervals during long flat rides and allowed the natural terrain for the hill work. Two months into my ride, I feel like Forrest Gump as I charge towards Nebraska.
This momentous ride would all be for nothing if I didn’t achieve the original fitness goal of losing weight. Here’s what happened to my body over the first six weeks of the journey:
- I lost twenty pounds
- Resting heart rate dropped from low seventies to mid fifties
- Blood pressure dropped from a scary 135/95 to 115/75.
Not for Everybody
A crazy goal, like riding across the country is certainty not for everybody. The Google photos bore my wife. She has her favorite iFit trainer and is achieving her own fitness goals.
My knees love cycling on my stationary bike, my fitness goals have been met, and I’m still motivated as I cross the flat plains of middle America.