Wednesday 28 January 2015

Cycling can help change your life

14/5/2013; Michael Killeen on his sideways bicycle, picture is for FIT Magazine. Picture credit; Damien Eagers / Irish Independent
GET ON YER BIKE: Michael Killeen demonstrates how his experimental 'sideways' bike operates and, inset left, Gordon Birch with his electric bike
Gordon Birch. Photo: Damien Eagers

There's much more to the humble two-wheeler than meets the eye, explains Ailin Quinlan

Ross Stack rides a unicycle, Michael Killeen has invented a sideways bike, Dean Jones is saving a fortune by cycling to work – and Gordon Birch's electric machine has done wonders for his diabetes.

After talking to these guys, you'll never look at your humble two-wheeler the same way. Cycling, it seems, can be seriously life-changing.

It certainly was for Dun Laoghaire man Gordon Birch, who last year purchased a bike on the cycle-to-work scheme to see if it might improve his worsening diabetes condition.

Not only has he now become addicted to the exercise – to such an extent that his car battery recently went flat from lack of use – but he's lost a stone in weight, his doctors are delighted by the improvement in his diabetes and his bad back has improved.

"I hadn't cycled for 42 years and I needed exercise," admits Gordon, a former bank employee who took redundancy last November.

"I've had diabetes for seven or eight years and my condition was getting worse. I have a bad back and a bad left foot which discouraged me from walking," says the 62-year-old who purchased his electric bicycle on the cycle-to-work scheme in October 2012.

He now cycles up to 16 miles a day on a route, that usually includes Killiney Hill.

"The cycling helped strengthen my back and I've tightened my belt by three notches – I lost a stone in weight which is good for the diabetes.

"My doctors are delighted by my blood test results which have shown a marked improvement, and the foot has improved as well!

"The cycling strengthened my core and improved my back and also my foot. I cycle every day now, I never drive or get the DART any more.

"As I improve, I use less power from the bike and I'm getting fitter. There's no comparison to when I left the bank!"

He's now comfortably wearing trousers he'd planned to discard because they'd become too tight – while several other pairs have had to be taken in.

"I feel much better now. I'm 62 going on 19 and my endocrinologist and GP cannot get over the improvement in my blood test results!"

"There's no tax, insurance or parking fees, no gym fees and it's great fun.

"Ironically, I recently had to replace the battery in my car – it had gone flat from sheer lack of use. The bike has changed my life!"

It has changed Dean Jones's life too – but in a very different way.

Irish Independent

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