Friday, August 5, 2011

Had it not been for Dawn

If it hadn't been for Dawn Sahnow, you wouldn't be reading this, and I wouldn't be planning to ride 80 miles on my 80th birthday.

Dawn is a personal trainer at the Hillsboro Community Aquatic and Recreation Center. She is a delight. She is irrepressible. And how I found her is a long story. Too long for this post, maybe. But it's a story I want to tell, because I believe it illustrates an aspect of growing old in America ... and the challenges faced by those who want to maximize their vitality in spite of their age. So if I don't have room to finish the story in this post, I'll continue it in another.

The story begins with an injury. To tell you the truth, I don't know which one. Take your pick: the nail I drove through my foot while cleaning out an old horse barn when I was a teen-ager; the foot that got run over during a prank in college; the shoulder I impacted when re-taking up skiing in my fifties. They, and similar minor mishaps, landed me in physical therapy, which was always effective but always disruptive to whatever routine I had going at the time.

Fast forward to January, 2010, when the Beaverton Chamber Symphony needed some kettle drums moved from the Valley Catholic School to the venue of its performance at Oak Hills. I was the only orchestra member with a van that wasn't in the shop, and while wrenching the seats out to make room for the kettle drums, I wrenched something in my back, so I was once again in physical therapy.

I was getting a little sick of it. Physical Therapy is marvelous, but after a few decades, it gets tiresome. Besides, this time my back was still hurting, even after I had used up the last of my prescribed physical therapy sessions. This got me to ruminating, which in turn put me touch with a couple of truths. First, I was hurting myself more and more easily, as I aged. (I remembered that one time that I had hurt my shoulder just by picking up a suitcase.) Second, I realized that most physical therapy exercises, no matter what the injury, shared a common component: they were designed to strengthen the muscles which, if they had been strong enough in the first place, would have prevented the injury.

Eureka! All I needed was a well-rounded exercise routine, and I'd save myself the pain, the down-time, and the inconvenience of repeated six-week courses of physical therapy. What could be simpler? Or so I thought.

Okay, sorry, but I'll have to leave it there for now. I have to pump up my tires for tomorrow's ride.


  1. "Have to pump up my tires for tomorrow's ride" !!! Ha. I don't pump up my tires for the ride until 4.2 milliseconds before time to leave for the ride. I always want full air pressure. Then I was reading comments on the Neuvation Cycling website ( and that guy claims larger tires and less air are faster. So you pumping your tires the day before is probably spot on.

    Here is the blurb from the website:
    "The biggest issues for spoke and rim damage are tire sizes, tire pressures, and gearing. Small tires at high pressure transfer all of the road shock into the wheel. Not only that, higher pressure tires offer higher rolling resistance, poorer handling, and a harsher ride. That’s why pros use pressures that are relatively low (typically below 90 PSI). Most people weigh more than 140 pounds so they need a little more pressure but the idea is to use as low a pressure as you can without getting rim flats. Using a larger tire (like a 25C tire) will also help a lot. Finally, using big gears and pulling the bike side to side is putting a lot of stress on both the wheels and the rest of the bike. Spinning lower gears is the way to ride."

  2. Thanks for the tip, Leslie! It's going to be a long time before I pump up my tires, again!