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Challenge: Riding to a Healthy Heart

Last month, new data revealed that bicycling ranks #6 among the most popular fitness activities in the United States. Through the National Bike Challenge, we’ve seen those fitness results right before our eyes.

According to our participant survey, nearly one-third of Challengers have lost weight and more than half have improved their well-being since the start of the friendly, online competition on May 1.

Those numbers are encouraging. Today, we hear from Gregg Smith in Michigan, about his health story.


I have been biking seriously for about 6 years, and have competed in a number of triathlons, duathlons and other bike races.

Early last summer I began to notice some unusual symptoms when I was riding, and a decrease in my racing performance, but I had just had a physical and stress test, so I didn’t think much about it. I figured it was just due to getting older. Finally, after competing in a bike race at the National Senior Games in August I figured something must be wrong with me. I saw my doctor and explained my symptoms. He referred me to a cardiologist. To make a long story short, they found 80% to 90% blockage in two main arteries in my heart (one of which is called the “widow maker”) and I ended up getting 5 stents implanted in those arteries to open them up.

Now I am completely healed and can ride and race as hard as I want to, and loving every minute of it. I recently completed a 20k time trial in the fastest time I have ever achieved. Since the symptoms I was having only occurred when I was riding my bike at something more than a casual pace, I believe if I had not been riding my bike and training for races, my symptoms would have gone undetected and the condition would have worsened to the point that I would have had a heart attack. So I credit my riding and training for possibly saving my life. My advice to anyone else is to not ignore any heart related symptoms you may be having, even if you are in great shape and have had a physical and stress test that came back ok.

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