Inspiration: It was a busy summer weekend in Grand Rapids, and its time to wind down with a Spin class blog post…and get ready for a busy week ahead! One of the main attractions this weekend was on the Grand River…the Master’s US Rowing National Championships. Rowers from all over the US gathered in Grand Rapids, at Riverside Park. A series of events since last weekend prompted my wife and me to check it out.
Last Sunday, CBS News 60 Minutes aired an encore segment featuring Chris Downey. I remembered seeing the story several months ago…it was quite an inspirational story. A link to the story follows here…
A Different Kind of Vision
What I caught the second time, that I missed the first was that Chris was an avid cyclist before the brain tumor was discovered.
I wanted to connect with Chris and learn if and how cycling continued to be part of Chris’ fitness routine. Instead of a Guest Blog post this month, I wanted to share our brief conversation via LinkedIn:
Me: Good morning Chris…Thanks for connecting! When I’m not serving a local non-profit as CFO, I also am an indoor cycling class instructor for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids (Michigan). Given your passion for cycling, I’m curious if you continue ride INSIDE…and how (if) your fitness routine has changed since losing your eyesight. We talked about the 60 Minutes story before class today and many people saw the story and connected to it…were tremendously inspired by it! Thanks for sharing your personal story! I look forward to hearing from you.
Chris: Hi Steve – It’s good to connect. Within 4 months of my surgery, before I could get out and walk the streets independently, I was back out on a tandem for my first ride out on the streets. Prior to that, as soon as my surgeon gave me the green light, I got back on my road bike on a trainer temporarily located in our living room. For the first year or so, I was out on my tandem in the Oakland Hills and around with various captains that had been my old riding partners. It’s fantastic fun and quite a rush to be flying down a steep winding descent on a tandem with no sight it’s the best and most dynamic thrill that I’ve found. Skiing is quite a rush as well but less relaxing as I had trouble trusting my ability to stick with the guide in front of me and to not worry about trees and other skiers. That said, after a strong year and a half of regular rides on my tandem, the logistics of scheduling captains for rides got a little Burdensome and at that time, an old friend told me of a new men’s crew team that was forming in Oakland. He was already signed up and had already talked to the coaches about having me join in as a blind rower. I gave it a try and got hooked. It’s not as dynamic as cycling but the logistics are easier yet the workout is at least as good if not more intense with the benefit of a more full body workout. At any rate, I’ve been rowing over 10 years now and am on the water 3-4 days a week and training on land the balance of the days. I seldom get out on the tandem but do so on occasion – typically for charity rides. Crew keeps me in road ready state such that I can hop on the tandem and do at least a metric century ride at a moments notice. I’ve not done a spin class since I lost my sight although there is no reason that I couldn’t. On a tangent, I did have plans to be in Grand Rapids this weekend for the Master’s Nationals Crew Championships however I’ve been traveling so much over the last few months (concluding last week) that it didn’t seem possible for me to be in good/top competitive shape for the event to justify the travel costs and time. It should be a great event out there and I do have some friends that will be competing there and I look forward to hearing from them after the races. Happy spinning!
Me: Thanks Chris for the quick reply! I never really thought about the concept of tandem cycling, but it sounds awesome! I recall from the 60 Minutes story about how rowing has been a great fit for you…and great fitness. I’m so focused on cycling, I haven’t really taken time to balance my fitness routine to include things like rowing…but I do enjoy yoga and occasional strength training. I think it would be worth it for you to visit a cycling studio and give it a try. If you have passion for music and generally enjoy the mechanics of cycling…cadence, variable resistance to mimic flat or hilly terrain…I’m thinking you would enjoy it to compliment your rowing and other activities. Sorry you’ll miss a visit to GR, maybe another time. I was just talking with someone the other day about Riverside Park, where the event will take place…its recognized as one of the better venues for a rowing competition. I will definitely check it out this weekend (thanks for the heads up)!!! So good to have this exchange…all the best to you Chris!
Chris: The crew at “60 Minutes” did catch some film of me riding my tandem with a friend (who happens to teach a spin class on the side) but they had to cut it from the final piece. They had 7 days worth of material to cut down to 12 minutes so the digital cutting room floor was quite dense. I suspect that they thought the rowing was a more compelling part of the story and besides, they only filmed us climbing up the Oakland Hills which can give stunning views but boring video.
Also this weekend…a new playlist and ride profile!
Enjoy the Ride!
Genre: Alternative, Christian, EDM, Pop, Rock
Duration: 63 minutes / 52 minutes
Playlist and Ride Profile:
Warm up – The Search / NF
Surges – Back To Life / DubVision, Afrojack
Seated Climb – Supermassive Black Hole / Muse
Extended Seated / Standing Climb – Fear Inoculum / TOOL
Sprints – Hava / Steve Aoki, Timmy Trumpet, Dr. Phunk
Alt Seated / Standing Climb – MONSTERS / Shinedown
Seated Flat with Sprints (3X) – Eat Your Heart Out / WALK THE MOON
Standing Power Climb – Rumble / Zayde Wolf
Seated Climb…Powerful Running with Resistance finish – The Chain / The Highwomen, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires
Seated Flat with Jump Intervals – Bad as the Boys / Tove Lo, ALMA
Seated Hill – Shadow / Macklemore, IRO
Seated Attacks on a Hill – Sinner / Klingande, Stevie Appleton
Seated Flat with Increasing Resistance – Won’t Be Late / Swae Lee, Drake
Final Climb – Rush / The Score
Sprints – The Power / Duke Dumont, Zak Abel
Cool down & Stretch – God Only Knows (RUSLAN Remix) / for KING & COUNTRY, RUSLAN
SPin the News:
5 Impressive Benefits of Indoor Cycling Workouts