Cycling Helped This Man Get Off Blood Pressure Medication

Age: 40
Occupation: Sales
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Start Weight: 225 pounds
End Weight: 168 pounds
Time Cycling: 3 years
Reason for Cycling: I want to go fast.

I initially got into cycling in early 2004 after graduating college, because I needed to lose the beer and pizza weight. I started mountain biking, but then I moved to Japan in the fall of 2004. It’s hard to ride mountain bikes without having a car to get to mountain bike trails, so in spring 2005, I bought my first road bike and rode it all over Shizuoka and Osaka prefectures, even competing in the 2007 Mount Fuji Hill Climb (which was truly epic).

After returning to the United States in 2008, I continued cycling in and around the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. Eventually, life happened, and cycling fell by the wayside. From 2010 until 2018, I barely touched a bike while I built my career and started a family with my wife. I did a few things over the years to try to stay healthy (rec league soccer, running, weight lifting), but none really had any staying power.

By January of 2018, I weighed about 225 pounds, and even worse, I had high blood pressure. Not great, and I knew it. I talked to my wife and let her know that I wanted to get back into cycling. So in March 2018, I decided to buy a new gravel bike.

I went out and started riding by myself really slowly—around 12 miles per hour of discomfort. I was so out of shape. Eventually, I reached a point where I felt stronger and was ready to ride with other people. And then, I wanted to see if I could find faster folks to see if I could develop some speed—I’m pretty competitive so my riding really took off from there.

By June 2018, I found a local group ride with the Akron Bicycle Club, and started going on their Saturday rides. By the end of the summer I was trying their weekly hammerfest—the Summit County renowned Thursday Night Fast Ride (TNFR). I love riding bikes for the joy of riding bikes, but that slight competitive element added the extra motivation to push me to be better.

Over the past three years, I have become more and more obsessed with the sport (apologies to my saint of a wife, she had no idea what she was getting into when I told her I wanted to buy a bike again). I bought more bikes and went to a bike camp. I participated in some gravel races, and made it onto a few podiums. I bought a smart trainer, started Zwifting, and even started structured training. I did a gravel race in 2019—a local event called the Road Apple Roubaix, which is not technically a race but people treat it like one.

I work in the food business, which is a minefield of temptation when it comes to eating unhealthily. Before I started riding again, my diet consisted of a lot of fast food or processed foods.

Due to COVID-19, all my business travel is canceled, which is helpful because I’m not eating out. Now, I focus on making real food from scratch and avoiding processed food when I can. I’ve also found an intermittent fasting plan that works for me, although I know it’s not for everyone.

I got leaner, faster, stronger, and healthier. After two years of riding, I got off of the blood pressure medication I’d been on for the past eight years. My resting heart rate is in the 40s, and I lost nearly 60 pounds.

All of these changed inspired me to join a race team in 2020, so I signed up for a USA cycling license and joined a team—the day before everything shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

I’m not really interested in doing a crit series since I haven’t ridden in a tight pack like that before, so I was really going to lean toward gravel events. By the end of last summer, some of those had started to come back again with safety measures including staggered starts and team time trial formats. Hopefully this year, I’ll be able to ride some gravel events and support local races. I’m signed up for the Road Apple Roubaix, and I hope it can take place.

Year-round, I usually ride six days a week. If it’s nice enough to ride outside, I usually log 10 to 12 hours a week and if I’m on the trainer, it’s closer to 8 to 10—it’s just hard for me to ride as long on the trainer. But, I’ll use training plans built into Zwift. This year, I did one 12-week block which had a positive impact on my speed.

Short-term, I’d like to lose a bit more weight through diet and riding. But long-term, I don’t want to forget about bikes like I did in the past and instead plan to make this a part of my life for as long as I can.

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