The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

a matter of heart

I got my hands on a copy of Karras’ book, RAGBRAI: Everyone Pronounces It Wrong and it has made me come to the realization that I may chose to walk my bike up some hills. I read about a couple of the deaths that occurred the 1st years of the ride, including one guy who died of a heart attack. (I know there were others as well)

This year’s ride for me was meant to be a reward, or a victory ride for me. June will mark the first anniversary of a new, healthier, more disciplined life style for me. This change came about after needing to have a stent added to my plumbing. Days before I learned that my left anterior descending artery (aka The Widow Maker) was 100% blocked.

I know that my wife doesn’t want me to do ride, but I NEED to do it. The dream of riding through Iowa in July keeps me motivated to get on the wind trainer on days like today when the weather is so miserable. It motivates me to eat healthier. It motivates me to be more vigilant when it comes to taking my meds; something that I use to have a problem with.

When I exercise, I am mindful of my maximum heart rate, and ride with a monitor on. On some hills however, I do exceed that occasionally hitting 150+.
I am not concerned about going over my max for a short period of time, but wonder about doing this for an extended period of time.

I recently wrote to David Ertl, who suggest that I avoid “extreme rates” and “ride within a comfortable heart rate zone,” something I have no problem with on flat roads, or moderately challenging roads. Those long roads with a killer grade are another story.

I have a 6 month follow up in a few weeks with the cardiologist, and will talk to him about my concerns, and seek his advice. Advice on not whether, but how I should ride with these concerns in mind.

So if you see me walking my bike up a hill like Potter Hill, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I can’t or don’t want to try to climb it. What it means is that I want to make sure that I am around for a good long time with my family, and to do many more RAGBRAI’s.

23 Replies

Profile photo of Michrider
Michrider !!!, January 25, 2013 at 5:57 am

Ed, not to worry, many of us (meaning me) walked up Potter Hill!!! Luckily, I found a stand selling cold Budweiser at the top of the hill, perfect!!! You’ll see many walkers on just about any RAGBRAI hill!!!! Meet me on an Iowa Kurb and I’ll buy the first one!!!!


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#470382

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Ken, January 25, 2013 at 6:44 am

Hi Ed,

I just turned 70 and this year will be my 4th RAGBRAI in a row. I too wear a heart monitor, more out of my love for gadgets rather than a real need to monitor heart but, it can’t hurt.

I asked my doctor about heart rate and exercise and he gave me the standard answer with the formula that would tell me my max heart rate would be around 132!! Hey, I have that just cruising on a flat trail. My rate at rest at my last exam was 68 and I do not have a blood pressure issue (120/70). So I did some research and found that it is technically impossible to exceed your “max heart rate”. (You can exceed the recommended but not the actual.) The web site just advises to be careful and watch out for dizziness etc etc.

I told my doctor I regularly hit 160+ when going up a nice hill. He told me to shift to a lower gear duh!! So I related this true story:

ANGEL RIDE in May Last Year. Steep hill, I was in granny gear managing about 4mph. As I was grinding away, there were two female riders behind me and I could her their banter all the way up the hill. As we neared the top of the hill, I heard one of them say to the other, “Okay, I’m getting back on my bike now!”

Hope to meet you in July!


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#470384

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Jboz, January 25, 2013 at 7:26 am

Convince your cardiologist to join your team and ride with you. Can’t hurt to ask, right?


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#470385

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Dan in Iowa, January 25, 2013 at 9:54 am

There was just a discussion about this very thing on bikeforums.net in the 50plus forum. Maximum heart rate is very misunderstood. Theoretically, your maximum is that point where you pass out and/or die. If your blood is flowing well now, there shouldn’t be any issue with exceeding the so-called maximum. Your body tells you what’s going on. Listen to it. Did you have an actual heart attack? If not, your heart is essentially healthy at its core and you’re improving it daily. Yes, listen to you cardiologist by all means, but also ask him if he’s active in aerobic and anaerobic activities. See if there’s a sports doctor in your area and ask some question of him or her too.


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#470395

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pmac, January 25, 2013 at 10:48 am

Keep in mind that Ragbrai is a fun vacation that you spend months getting ready for. If you have to walk a hill or two, its all part of your vacation and you should enjoy it just like the rest of your Ragbrai vacation. Nothing wrong with a little cross-training.


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#470397

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jwsknk, January 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

thanks for the reminder to people that if you see someone walking a hill it may not be bacause the “didn’t train enough” or “partied to Hard last night” and they could have a valid medical reason for it.


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#470398

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gas gas, January 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

the first death on RAGBRAI was in 1984 , the 12th ride . 28 year old male had a heart attack . Same year a 30 year old woman unexplainably drowned .1985 a rider walking their bicycle on the sidewalk was struck and killed by an out of control van .1987 was the first death directly connected to cycling .19 year old male fell under the wheels of a flat bed trailer .


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#470417

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Ragbrai Nation, January 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Ed, I have no doubt in my mind you will be riding many Ragbrai’s to come. Ur putting forth the appropriate attention to detail and u have the right frame of mind. Look for the 2013 Ragbrai Training Plan printable .pdf, coming out in March or April. Print it out and tape it to your refrigerator. It gives the recommended daily/weekly number of miles you should be riding in preparation for this summer’s Ragbrai. You don’t have to ride all of the recommended miles but I would ride MOST of them and I would include some hills. Doing that your conditioning should enter the subconscious, a footnote by the time the menagerie of Ragbrai begins. 😎


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#470485

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Ed Kanitra, January 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Ragbrai Nation: Print it out and tape it to your refrigerator. It gives the recommended daily/weekly number of miles you should be riding in preparation for this summer’s Ragbrai

Yeah, stumbled on that a while ago. I have no doubt that I could do up until week 8 right now. I need to track down some hills. Not too many of those along the shore.

http://ragbrai.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Chart-Training-2012.jpg


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#470501

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daveflyer, January 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Ed,

I began to ride RAGBRAI when I was 60, and this year will be 9 in a row. I did not train enough year one, but still completed and loved every minute of the ride. I don’t break any ground speed records, but I cover the miles, enjoy the food and drink a beer or two in the evening. I just hope that the heat and wind are down this year–last year was bad from that standpoint, but the locals always step in and make the difference. Enjoy and hope to see you on the road.


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#470553

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Ed Kanitra, January 26, 2013 at 5:09 am

Hey thanks for all the support and kind words!
I am so excited about doing this in July, and even more excited to do it in 2014 because my daughter says she would like to do it with me then. My concerns then however may be different than they are for this year’s ride. In 2014 it will be keeping a bunch of drunks from hitting on my beautiful daughter.


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#470617

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“Bicycle Bill”, January 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

“My concerns then however may be different than they are for this year’s ride. In 2014 it will be keeping a bunch of drunks from hitting on my beautiful daughter.”

1) How old is she?
2) How beautiful is she?
3) If a person is *NOT* drunk does that mean it’s OK for him to hit on her?

-“BB”-


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#470650

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Michrider !!!, January 26, 2013 at 11:53 am

Beebs said:
1) How old is she?
2) How beautiful is she?
3) If a person is *NOT* drunk does that mean it’s OK for him to hit on her?

Beebs, be nice to Ed! After all, she is his daughter!!!!!


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#470652

Profile photo of "Bicycle Bill"
“Bicycle Bill”, January 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

First of all, as a single man who is not involved in any kind of relationship with a significant other I feel that these were a legitimate series of questions (well OK, maybe not the last one… 😀 ).
Secondly, everybody’s girlfriend is/was somebody’s daughter first.

-“BB”-


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#470656

Profile photo of Ed Kanitra
Ed Kanitra, January 26, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Mich, and Beebs,
It’s alright to ask and kid around as long as it’s done in a tasteful manner which I think Beebs was. She will be 25 by next year, she is drop “dead gorgeous” as for who hits on her, she is a smart and independent woman although I wish Daddy’s opinion mattered more. 😉


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