Helping my Heart

Darryn Capes-DavisCommunity, Cycling

I must start this article by sending virtual hugs to my forever beating heart & wife of 20 years, Amanda Capes-Davis. She is my rock and everything I do is possible because of her support.

Early this century our beautiful daughter Renee was born. A favourite picture at the time shows that I was overweight and from what I know now, definitely not helping my heart. Over the following years I tried different things to reduce weight but except for the odd mowing of the grass nothing was helping. I knew I had to get fitter to be kind to my body and heart, but life just seemed to get in the way. Quite ironic in that I was letting my view of life take a toll on my life expectancy.

In 2007 I decided to do something about my health and fitness. If I could put healthy activities into my day then I may have a chance. So the plan was to cycle to and from work. One Sunday I bought a cheap Huffy bike from K-Mart and that afternoon was rolling down North Rocks Road to CMRI at Westmead. Now downhill was the easy bit. Getting back home I had to walk up the two steep pinches of North Rocks Road. However, I was determined to make this work.

Over the next 2 weeks I kept up with pushing the Huffy up the hills until I could start to ride up those pinches. After that achievement I believed I could do anything. Later in the year I entered my first Bicycle NSW Spring Cycle and managed to complete the 50km route. I remember well the need to sling a spanner to my bike as the huffy did not have fancy quick release skewers for the wheels.

I was hooked on the new activity I had found that could give me hope to be healthier and happier. I took to riding early on the weekend mornings and very soon I had completed my first 100km ride. After about 1000km of riding the Huffy’s pedals broke, the suspension squeaked like mad and I needed a new bike. Along came the Trek Soho  which I still own after 10 years and still use as my commuter bike to and from work. It has been blinged up to the max but that is another story.

Over the next 18 months my cycling adventures led me to Bike North, a social and advocacy cycling group with presence from North Sydney through to Parramatta. I became a Bike North Ride Leader. The best part though that over those 18 months I also lost over 20kg, going from 98kg to my current weight of approx. 75kg. This was huge for my heart and general health overall. I also had fun times cycling with my daughter in a tag along, I must say that really tests the arms as you battle to balance the bike for the two of you.

My cycling journey also led me to follow the general cycling rule of N+1, i.e. the best number of bikes to have is your current number plus one. Well, for me that has only gone to 2 bikes. I also have a bike that I take out for weekend rides. For 10 years I owned a Cervelo S1 which I have only recently upgraded to a Cervelo S3 Disc.

Over more than 10 years I have cycled over 54,000km, mostly on my trusty commuter which has over 36,000km on the odometer. My longest ride has bee a 100 mile (165km) Bike North Century Challenge. I am not sure how directly translate km to health benefits, but I do know I feel so much better looking after my heart and health overall.