Anthony Zahn

Cyclist and Paralympian Anthony Zahn recommends riding a bike for non-impact excercise … and fun!

Riding a bicycle is great for those of us with CMT. It’s non-impact, and if you want to, you can go nice and fast. It doesn’t stress joints and you won’t trip. If you get bored easily, cycling will take you a lot farther than running, so you get to see more. (I won’t even mention swimming.) You’ll get to feel the wind on your face; what’s not to love?

A few tips: Get a professional bike fit from someone with a lot of experience and give yourself time to adapt. You’ll need time to get used to the bike, time to get some fitness, time to get comfortable on the roads and trails. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Be patient.

Make sure you wear “good” cycling shorts without undies. The chamois in the shorts is made of materials that keep you dry and keep seams out of awkward places. Underwear, regardless of type or material, doesn’t do this.

Wear a helmet! If you are new, you don’t have the skills to avoid needing one. If you are an experienced rider, you have an obligation to lead by example. Helmets are so good these days that there is no excuse not to wear one. They weigh only a few ounces and are well enough ventilated that on a sunny day the shade they provide actually keeps you cooler than no helmet. Wear a helmet!

The last tip I have for CMTers is a bit counterintuitive. Use clipless pedals and shoes and set the release tension nice and tight. It’s weird at first but it works. I haven’t crashed because I couldn’t get out of my pedals since I was first learning to ride. With my weak and unstable ankles having the release tension set nice and high allows me to ride as easy or hard as I want on any terrain without worrying about a foot coming off! (Coming off the pedal is an almost certain crash!) Have patience and faith and you’ll have the time of your life!

If you do these things, riding a bike will be something you do for fun, not just to stay fit!

[Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and if you use clipless pedals, use a wall for support and practice engaging and disengaging while stationary. Don’t wait until you’re riding and coming to a stop to find out you have difficulty doing so.]