I have felt just like the author of this article on occasion…
Here’s the story of a woman in the Netherlands, Funda Müjde, whose father immigrated there 50 years ago. On a trip back to Turkey for a vacation, her taxi was struck by a 19-year-old car driver, and she became a paraplegic. It took a while, but eventually she got her mojo back. Her motto? Never give up!
One of the things that helped her regain her physical strength as well as her mental strength and attitude was the act of getting back on the bike – very special bike called a Berkel Bike, which moves by arm power, and optionally by leg power as well. Even if you can’t move your legs, the bike will move them for you. In addition, you can add functional electric stimulation, FES, and then generate power with your legs even if you are completely paralyzed. Funda got the idea to ride from the Netherlands back to Turkey to celebrate the first immigration from that country. Here is a story about her plan to make that journey:
And lastly, here is a short video about her triumphant arrival in Istanbul after completing the 4000 km ride. It’s in Turkish, but the images are compelling.
2014 was a good year for me, exercise wise, as logged in my training calendar on Strava. Thanks to my FES bike, I was able to cycle around 3600 km in spite of being a high level quadriplegic. I rode 200 times during the year, mostly exercising my legs, though I also exercised my arms once a week for most of the year. That’s an average of 70 km per week, every week of the year.
How did you fare with your own physical activity program last year?
( Since I don’t have any hand function, here’s a big shout out to my fiancée Julie, my daughter Ceara, my son Andrew, and the therapists at Spinal Injury Alberta, without whose assistance none of this would have been possible. Thank you, thank you, thank you!)
Most people that get to ride an FES bike typically do so for an hour or less. That is because they are using the bike in a clinical setting, and their assistants schedule one hour for each client. Since I’m using my bike in a home setting, I don’t face this time limitation, and I have had the luxury of exploring the limits of endurance. Over the course of the past two years, my longest sessions have gone from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, then to an hour, 90 minutes, two hours, and once 2.5 hours. This past weekend, those marks fell by the wayside.
In a unique situation, I was able to ride pretty much as long as I wanted, so I rode for 3.5 hours. Actually, I was not looking for a duration record, but rather a distance record. My previous record was 38 km. I wanted to see if I could break the 40 km barrier. Whoops, I went over that just a little bit: I rode 52 km!
The interesting thing is that I did not feel worn out and fatigued at the end of that ride. I mixed up the pace during my workout, alternating between harder periods and easier periods. I can’t say I felt as fresh as a daisy at the end of my ride, but I certainly didn’t need to go and lie down. As a matter of fact, the very next day I rode for three hours and covered 42 km.
About three hours into my ride, I did a short sprints session. With each succeeding sprint, my power output increased (27, 50, 65 W), as you can see in the graph below. It sure doesn’t look like someone who is fatigued!
None of the therapists I have talked to have ever heard of anyone riding this long or this far on an FES bike. But I don’t feel I have reached the limit of what is possible. Perhaps my next goal should be to ride 100 km in one day!