Tandem cycling offers a workout built for two


May 10, 1994|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,United Feature Syndicate

One of the best sports for couples who like to exercise together is riding a tandem bicycle. You can't ride away from your better half, no matter how much more you could beat him or her in a race.

A fit bicycle rider spins the pedals 80 to 90 times a minute. A beginner may spin them at half that rate.

When you ride a tandem, both of you spin at the faster cadence, and both can get a good workout.

The person who puts the most pressure on the pedals does the most work.

So, even though one of you may be doing twice the work, you both can work near your limit.

On a good tandem, you can go faster together down hills and on level ground because two engines generate more power than one.

However, you will lose ground to single bikes when you climb hills. The wind resistance for two isn't much more than for one, but the weight is, and it takes a lot more power to move a heavier weight up hills.

The better rider sits in the front seat. When you start, lock your right foot in the pedals, with the left on the ground. Push off with one step and raise yourself to the seat.

The person who sits in the back copies the motions of the person in the front. When turning, both riders lean toward the turning side at the same time. When climbing a hill, the person in the back stands first while the front person keeps the bike stable, then a fraction of a second later, the person in the front stands.

Q: To learn about group tandem rides throughout the country, write to Tandem Bicycling, 2220 Vanessa Drive, Birmingham, Ala. 35242.

I heard you say on the radio that you treat arthritis with antibiotics. My doctor says that is not an accepted treatment.

Is there any scientific evidence to support your treatment?

A: Many cases of arthritis begin just like an infection does. A person is perfectly fine, then starts to feel sick, develops a fever and muscle and joint aches, and eventually starts to feel better except the muscle and joint aches remain.

We have known for more than 70 years that joints often ache when you have mononucleosis, rheumatic fever or urethritis (a burning on urination).

Fifteen years ago, we learned that Lyme disease, transmitted by a tick bite, and chlamydia trachomatis, transmitted by sexual contact, can cause an unremitting severe arthritis.

Within the last few months, scientific articles have implicated chlamydia pneumoniae and parvovirus B19, respiratory infections spread by coughing.

Another recent report describes how arthritis followed a stick with a thorn.

At the most recent meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, a couple of papers described how an antibiotic, minocycline, helped to alleviate the joint pains of people with rheumatoid arthritis, even though no infectious agent was identified.

And there are several papers indicating that people with osteoarthritis benefit from taking tetracycline antibiotics.

We do not know whether tetracycline-type antibiotics help to alleviate the pain and suffering of some people with arthritis by killing germs or by reducing swelling. We do know that some arthritics gain dramatic relief from taking antibiotics.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.

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