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2014 year in review: exercise

1 Jan



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!)

Big ride

6 Dec

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!


My thoughts on FES

23 Nov

Improved warm-up results

21 Nov

Previously during my warm-up routine, I had been exercising with the stimulation frequency around 40 Hz, and a pulse width of around 300 µs. Now I have made a change, and increased the pulse width to 500 µs. Immediately I noticed an improvement in the warm-up results: at each level of increased resistance, the stimulation required is lower. A couple of times I have been able to go all the way up to a resistance of 5 Nm before the stimulation hits 100%. Why is this? A higher pulse width causes stimulation to reach more muscle fibers. Something to consider for those of you that are riding FES bikes.



Martyn Ashton trying to adapt

31 Oct

Martyn Ashton was one of the world’s leading trials bike riders, and the person who created the outstanding films: road bike party one, and rode bike party two  (see links below).



last year he suffered a horrible accident and is now paraplegic. This is a story of how he is learning to adapt:

I find it interesting that even though he was injured on a bicycle, his mind is focused on somehow, someday getting back on a bicycle, because that is who he is and what he wants to do in life.



Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant

21 Oct

Let’s wait to see if the results can be replicated with other patients in other countries. Nevertheless, this is very interesting news.


While many people in the SCI community have denounced this latest news as little more than a media stunt, there is more to the story than meets the eye, as the following one hour BBC documentary shows.



What it feels like to be paralyzed

20 Oct

One person’s view:

Quadriplegic getting things done

4 Oct

Here’s a short video by a quadriplegic injured at the C6 level showing how he accomplishes simple tasks with very limited hand function. My injury level is higher, at the C4 level, but still, provides incentive for me to try to figure out how to use my limited capabilities to the best of my abilities.



The meaning of life

10 Sep

What meaning or purpose is there to life, especially after a severe spinal cord injury? Perhaps this man’s speech can give us some ideas:

10:55 “And here is my idea of romance. you’ll soon be dead. life will sometimes seem long and tuff and god it’s tiring. and you’ll sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. and then you’ll be old and then you’ll be dead. theres only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence and that is, fill it. not feel it. fill it. and in my opinion until Ill change it. Life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can. taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running, being enthusiastic. and then there’s love and travel and wine and sex and art and kids and giving and mountain climbing. but you know all that stuff already. it’s incredible exciting thing this one, meaningless life of yours. Good luck.” (speech ends at 12 minutes).


The Precious Commodity of Time: Taking A Second Look at the Effects of Paralysis

10 Sep

The Precious Commodity of Time: Taking A Second Look at the Effects of Paralysis –