I’ve written many odes to my Schwinn Airdyne over the years. Today I was riding through the Austrian Alps toward a glacier I would love to see but never will. The road is wonderful. I’m grateful to Bike the World — whoever they are — for all the rides I’ve taken with their videos as I ride my stationary bike.
As most of the readers of my blog know, I have damaged knees, two of them. The worst one suffered an ACL tear that was not repaired with surgery because I had no insurance. Yeah. I live in THAT country. The injury happened in 1992. It was treated with a leg brace and crutches and after that I was told not to hike for another six weeks.
It was almost 4 months in total before I was allowed to hike again. I got a mountain bike in that interval because a leg that is immobilized soon loses muscle mass. I know a lot of people — particularly women of my generation — don’t think much about “muscle mass” but I’ve realized in my sunset years that nothing was more important to me back then than keeping on the trails with my dogs. In 1992, I was 40.
The leg healed and I continued to run on it until 2004 when my right hip went south with osteoarthritis. This stuff takes a toll. I had surgery — hip resurfacing — on that hip and was supposed to be able to run again afterward, but I couldn’t. The three years between the first sign of the damage and my surgery were harrowing in many ways. The physical pain became excruciating, and it was very hard to get on any trails in that kind of pain. By the time I’d rehabbed from the surgery, my running muscles were gone and a repaired joint is not the same as the original. Ever. It’s good, but different. I tried running and it was so awkward and strange like I had someone else’s body. I have run since, occasionally, but I also know that high-impact exercise wears out man-made joints — of which I now have two — more quickly than does low impact exercise and that surgery and rehab is no picnic. I don’t want to do it again if I don’t have to.
My rehab back then — 2007 — involved an Airdyne just like the one I have now. That and an old-school Nordic track ski machine.
Where was I going with this? OK, so for more than 15 years now my primary sport has been riding an Airdyne. Today I was riding and thought, “Why am I doing this? What’s the fucking point?” A little voice answered, “There’s no point, maybe, but think of how it might be without it?”
I don’t know how it might be without it. I do know how it IS.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends an upright stationary bike above all other kinds of exercise for people with knee arthritis — both osteo and rheumatoid. So where would I be without it?
I don’t know. In worse physical condition overall, certainly. The Arthritis Foundation gives it several thumbs up for reducing pain and maintaining mobility. So maybe my knees would hurt (which they very seldom do) and maybe they wouldn’t work even as well as they do.
So I will persist…
My Airdyne is like the one in the featured photo but mine has racing stripes. I love the irony.