I have to admit that until very recently I’ve avoided exercise as much as possible. I’ve lived for nearly three-quarters of a century firmly ascribing to  the belief that one should never run when they can amble, they shouldn’t amble when they can ride. A person should never stand when they can sit and they shouldn’t sit when they can lie down, preferably in the shade of a tree somewhere with a good book.

But a few months ago I was diagnosed with COPD. After some basic tests it was determined that my lungs are only operating at 34% of normal. That’s really not a big surprise considering that for more than half a century I infused my lungs with lots and lots of licit and illicit substances. I stopped smoking a bit over a year ago.

For a long time I’ve known I had emphysema. One doesn’t have to go to med school to figure that out when simple chores leave you gasping for breath. I have pollen allergies and a few months ago something around here in Boquerón was flowering and really giving me a hard time. So I went to the pulmonary doctor at Hospital Chiriquí. One of the things he insisted that I do was to get in shape. “Well,” I thought, I AM in shape. Round is a shape, isn’t it?”

One of the things he insisted that I do was to walk at least a half hour a day. Well, I tried it, but it didn’t work out well. My hips are pretty arthritic. The walk from my house to the end of the street to get the bus is only 211 yards. That’s two football fields and an end zone laid end to end. By the time I get to the caseta I’m in serious need of some heavy-duty pain killers. No kidding. But while a few months ago I was also winded to the point that I needed five minutes or so to return to normal now, with the prescriptions I take, I don’t feel like that anymore.

But I did take the doctor’s orders to heart. I went out and bought a bike because the motion of riding a bike is different than how you use your legs when walking.


Regular readers may remember that this is the same place I took the picture of the motorcycle a few years ago.

I have to admit that I don’t ride every day. I should, but it’s really a pain in the ass and I go in to David a couple of times a week, and a trip into the city takes up three or four hours at least. Not only that, in order to go for a ride I have to “suit up.” Normally when I get up in the morning a put on a pair of shorts and walk around in flip flops. Period! That’s it! To go riding I have to put on socks, shoes, pants and a shirt.

Until a few days ago I’d been riding from my house up to the Town Hall (El Palacio Municipal).

House to town hall marked

It’s three quarters of a mile and ALL uphill. The difference in the altitude between the house and El Palacio is 77 feet. That’s the equivalent of nearly an eight-story building. I’d have to stop four or five times to catch my breath, but at least my hips didn’t hurt though my thighs felt the burn. I did, though, enjoy the glide back to the house.

Saturday I discovered something a bit easier with more level ground. And one of the bonuses is that there’s no traffic to contend with.

Marked Circle

Going from the house to the main road is slightly uphill for the first third of the street. Then, hanging a left it’s a nice coast down to where I make a right hand turn. From there to the next turn is all slightly uphill as is the short leg. Half of the long leg back to the main road is uphill. Each lap is a quarter of a mile. I can do two laps before I have to stop to catch my breath. Four laps and back to the house is a mile and a quarter with little breathers in there while gliding. Today I did just under two miles before going home. It’s the dry season which means it’s really hot when you’re in direct sunshine. When I get so I can do five or six laps without having to stop for a breather, I’ll tackle the ride up to El Palacio again.



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7 responses to “Exercise

  1. thepazeras

    That’s GREAT Richard!
    Good for you.

    Try these… less effort and gives you more power:

    Product Details
    Retrospec Bicycles Classic Road Bike Pedal with Integrated Toe Cage/Clip/Strap, All Black

    Keep on biking!
    Where did you buy your bike?

    Years ago – like 43 to be exact, a bicycle was my only form of transportation after I got divorced. My ex got the car because her parents paid for most of it so fair’s fair. It was a French-made, 10-speed Gitane racing bike. With a luggage rack in back the whole weighed slightly less than 15 pounds! Back then, 1972, it cost me 2-1/2 times more than what I paid for this thing, so if you figure in inflation it was probably worth as much as a small car, now. It had the toe clips and all. Back then Secretariat was the wonder horse. When I was in high gear, tooling along, every full turn of the crank lever was just 2 feet short of Secretariat’s stride at a gallop. I was CRUISIN’.

    • sorry to butt in but I bought a Gitane in 1971 or so. I live in Toronto so it was definitely an exotic bike. I paid $200.00 the equivalent of $2000.00 today. I was sweating when I wrote the cheque. It was a beautiful bike and highly collectible now I’m told. I’ve never seen any since.

      You’re not butting in at all. It’s nice to see someone else knows what a Gitane is and what a fine piece of equipment it was. I lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the time and thought nothing about hopping on the bike and pedaling the 30 miles down to Miami.

  2. oldsalt1942

    Bought the bike in David. It’s the same model that Kris and Joel have. A bit under $300. It is a place called Tomi not far from the bus terminal. When you get down here, if you’re interested, one or the other of us will take you there.

  3. lseldon

    Buena suerte my friend, stay in touch.

  4. Riding is good but swimming is better. If someone else hasn’t mentioned it I will. No stress, no gravity on those joints but lots of aerobic exercise and, blast! you live in the right part of the world to swim.

    You’re absolutely correct about swimming, but to get to the beach from my house would entail a bus ride and then a taxi which would be about an hour or so each way. THEN I’d be at a beach which is notorious for undertow and claims the lives of several swimmers each year. Besides, when you go swimming in the ocean you are voluntarily inserting yourself into the food chain where you are NOT the top predator. I’ll pass, thanks.

  5. Good for you! It sounds like you are making good progress. I’m happy for you.
    When I started I couldn’t make it up the hill at the end of our street. I remember how excited I was the first time I ventured out of the neighborhood. Just keep at it and you’ll be surprised how much you can do months from now, or a year from now!
    Keep up the good work. 🙂