Riding Hadrian’s Wall (Guest Post)

I am a 58 year old sedentary academic.  In May 2015 I had a hip replacement.  In August 2016, my family rode across England (at its narrowest point) on the Hadrian’s Wall Cycleway.  This is more physically active than I have been in many years.  It was fantastic.  Here is what I learned.

  • Pilates really works.  I spent a year before the hip replacement going to a Pilates gym 2-3 times a week, and once I was out of post-op rehab I did the same until the trip.  My recovery from the hip replacement was fast and, after the first few weeks, painless.  They told me that I would forget I’d ever had a hip replacement.  It’s true.  But the Pilates helped, by strengthening the muscles before the operation and balancing the strength in both legs afterwards.
  • It didn’t take that long to improve strength and speed.  Riding a few miles a day, a few days a week, for six weeks before the trip really paid off.  At the beginning I was walking up hills I could bicycle up by the end.  On the trip, I was the slowest member of the group, but since the group included my athletic husband and made-of-rubber adolescent children I wasn’t surprised.  The key fact was, I wasn’t slower by very much.  I could make it up hills I would never have attempted a couple of months ago, and I could catch up with them on the down slopes.
  • Since I’ve been home I’ve been bicycling in to work, because the intimidating hill between me and the university is no longer particularly scary.  (I’ll probably stop once the weather turns, though.). I’ve cut 5 minutes off my commute time (25 minutes instead of 30).   I would never have expected any of these changes, and I certainly wouldn’t have expected them to happen as fast as they did.
  • Riding a bicycle is really fun.
  • I need a better bicycle!