Freewheeling newsman takes to the streets

Rod Daniels `sets a tone for the day' by riding one of the bikes in his stable

Personal training

Health & Fitness

November 09, 2003|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

The first in an occasional series about the fitness habits of Marylanders.

It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's Rod Daniels taking a curve on his bicycle at breakneck pace.

Breathing in fresh air, pumping blood into his system, discovering a new vista: It's all part of WBAL news anchor Rod Daniels' daily workout routine. "I'm bicycle crazy," says Daniels, 51, who has a stable of ultra-light, high-tech bikes, including a couple always available for friends along for the ride.

His most prized bike is a Trek with a carbon-fiber frame, on which he can average 18 to 20 miles per hour after a season's worth of riding.

Six days a week, until the weather turns uncomfortably cold, he wheels one of his bikes out of the garage, adjusts its tire pressure and heads for the rolling roads surrounding his Anne Arundel County home. Riding "sets a tone for the day for you," says Daniels, who works from 4:30 p.m. until midnight.

With a computer attached to his bicycle, he fastidiously keeps track of his average time, overall time and mileage on rides that range from eight to 22 miles. He rides about an hour a day and averages 60 miles a week. Daniels enters all data into his home computer.

Daniels is also an avid tennis player. He picked up the sport in his mid-20s. He also stretches once a week as well with a coach. Off-season, he lifts weights and works out on the Body Trek machine and recumbent bike for a total of 90 minutes per session. On Fridays, he rests with a 90-minute deep tissue massage.

Wheels, though, are his love. "I'm just so jazzed up about the bike riding," he says.

Daniels says he feels better than he did at 30, an impressive feat for a man who has asthma and had hip replacement surgery last January. He credits biking for his easy recovery.

Daniels is a thorough researcher, who reads prodigiously on health and fitness and sticks to a strict vitamin regimen that includes a "total body nutrient support system" for long distance riding and a "strong multi-vitamin." Daniels also takes the "heart healthy" supplement Co-Enzyme Q10 and garlic. Before extended rides, he takes a preemptive dose of extra-strength Tylenol.

Daniels is always trying to improve his riding efficiency. While riding, though, his thoughts range far and wide.

"I think about everything," he says. "The thing I think about the most is how good it feels."

A high jump champion and basketball player in high school and college in New Jersey, Daniels, who is single, later decided to devote himself to "sports you can do for life."

Although he puts a lot of time and thought into staying healthy, he says, "I don't stress on the scale." At 6 feet 3 inches, his weight ranges from 235 to 240 pounds. "I would love to get down to 215 to 220," but, the "main thing is to be in really good shape," he says.

Before a morning ride, Daniels gets his carbs with oatmeal for breakfast. He makes sure he has lots of fluids before setting off and rides with a hydration pack on his back.

He takes as much care with his bicycles as he does with his health. "Tire pressure is really, really important," he says. He lubricates his bike chain before each ride. "Prep time is really important for safety," he says. "It all makes for a safe and enjoyable ride."

Daniels has had few flat tires. When he does, he dials for help on his cell phone. "I can't even change a tire," he says. "But I have good karma."

After a bike workout, Daniels heads for his home Jacuzzi. He sprinkles in salt from the Dead Sea, rich with minerals, and soaks.

It's a luxury to have the time to revive himself physically, spiritually and mentally every morning, Daniels says. And when he pulls into TV Hill for another long day, "I'm happy."

Training Tips

WBAL-TV anchor Rod Daniels offers three tips for staying in shape

* In fitness, you don't have to do what the next person does. Do what is right for you.

* As you age, the most important thing is stretching, stretching, stretching, both before and after you exercise.

* Make sure your bicycle is in riding form, and be sure to adjust your tire pressure.

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