I've just gone on a short, 10 mile bicycle ride through jogging/biking trails in Overland Park (a suburb of Kansas City). I know of at least two people who read my journal who routinely go on longer rides, and in fact, I've gone on longer rides not too terribly long ago. But early in 2004, I decided that I wasn't riding often enough, and I purchased what I've heard people call an elliptical trainer. The movement our feet make on those things isn't precisely elliptical, but I'll go with the flow and call it that. My elliptical trainer includes a heart rate monitor, and it helped me to discover something about myself that I hadn't been aware of, before. When I worked out on that device to about the same level of stress that I felt on the bike rides I had taken before, it told me that my heart rate was routinely rising to about 180 beats per minute, or so. That seems a little high to me, so I did some checking, and it turns out that, since I was 40 at the time, I ought to have been monitoring my heart rate during exercise and limiting it to around 140 beats per minute. After some thought, I realized that I had indeed been bicycling too infrequently, and my body had very cleverly adapted to infrequent exercise by developing the ability to sustain a heart rate of 180 beats per minute or more, for hours at a time, rather than developing the aerobic fitness that I was really trying to get from the bike rides.
Clearly getting the elliptical trainer was a good idea, and I set the bike aside for a while and worked on getting my heart rate down to a reasonable level, by exercising more frequently but for less time and with less effort. I'm finally to the point where I have to work to maintain 140 beats per minute or so rather than having to hold back. So I'm ready to start bicycling, again, but I don't yet have anything that will measure my heart rate while I ride. I went to "The Bike Source", yesterday, or rather to where The Bike Source used to be and found that it was closed. That was disappointing. But I had my handy Garmin iQue 3600 with me, along with some Map Source data loaded onto it, and I asked it to find stores with the words "bike" or "bicycle" the names, and let the iQue guide me to two of them. I couldn't find either of the additional two stores it claimed where there. Oh, well, I suppose Map Source data has the same chance of being out of date as the phone book. I was tired of looking for bike stuff after having just left work, and the other places it pointed me too were rather far away, so I have up.
I felt like I could have ridden 20 miles, but I really want to be careful not to fall into the same old habits again. I'll wait until I have some sort of heart rate monitor before I ride much more than 10 miles. Maybe I can still get out, this weekend, and get one.