Thursday, November 14, 2013

The SMART Ride 10

This is a departure from my typical blog format. It’s a discussion about my health and well being. On Friday, November 15th, my wife and I will get on our bikes and pedal from Miami to Key West for The SMART Ride. The course is 165 miles over the course of two days and is rated as the “best ride in Florida”. If you’ve ever driven the overseas highway to Key West you can imagine how beautiful it is viewed from a bicycle at 18 miles an hour.

The obvious health benefits of training for four months can not be overstated. I rode over 1500 miles in preparation for this event. My training was basically two spinning classes a week and a long road trip every weekend. On the road, I varied the mileage from 40 to 65 miles, gradually building my stamina, then giving my body a break by dropping the distance once every 3 or 4 weeks.

The spinning classes added intensity. I found using a heart rate monitor invaluable, in addition to monitoring my RPMs, calorie burn, and distance over time. My goal each class was to get my heart rate above my aerobic zone (> 130 bpm) but below my Vmax (159 bpm), my maximum recommended heart rate.

Setting goals and then developing a plan to reach those goals also has health benefits. It is an ongoing process that forces you to frequently evaluate your performance against the standard you have developed. Increased interaction between the mind and physical body has been shown to delay or even reverse senile dementia.

However, I believe the most important aspect of this kind of endeavor is the selfless act of giving. SmartRide 10 is a charity event that benefits those living in Florida with HIV/AIDS. We were required to raise a minimum of $1250 per person to qualify for this ride. The cost of the ride is totally underwritten so 100% of the donations each rider raises go to specific organizations approved by a volunteer board. Everyone knows someone affected by this disease. In my case, I just remember close friends of mine who died way too young as I watched them waste away. In my mind, I see them smiling at me in support of my efforts. That feeling of love and caring, of working to help others, does more for my health and well being, than all the exercise of a life time. How fortunate am I, to have found a way to put it all into one package? – SmartRide 10.