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Why I bike 150 miles in two days

Inspired by his mother who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in her late 20s, Dr. Robert Doohen, an orthopedist, started long-distance bicycling and rode in his first Bike MS event—150 miles in two days—just two years ago. The Healthy Set Go team talked to Dr. Doohen about his experience. 

Why do you participate in the Bike MS event?
My mother was diagnosed with MS when she was 28 years old. MS is a potentially disabling disease affecting the brain, spinal cord, eyes and affects each individual differently. My mother has been an inspiration to me, and her experience prompted me to get involved in the MS Society back in high school. A friend asked me to join him in the Bike MS event and I knew it would be a perfect way to honor my mother, stay active and also support my friend on his personal journey to improve his health and lose weight.

  Dr. Robert Doohen at a biking event

How did you train for your first event?
We learned a lot that first year! Many events have teams and I recommend first-timers to join a team. Teams provide an established group to train with beforehand and is a wonderful source of motivation and fun during the event. With Bike MS, many teams set up a tent at the halfway point with food, fellowship and masseuses for all those sore muscles.  I suggest looking at online training schedules and ride with groups to prepare for the event. To select a bike, I used a local cycling shop. 

How do you stay active in the winter?
I struggle with staying active in the winter just like most everyone else. A helpful tip is to remember that staying active doesn't always have to be with traditional exercises like running, walking or bicycling. Some of my typical winter activities like snow removal and chopping and hauling wood help keep me moving. If you have a favorite outdoor activity, try to bring it indoors. I have a trainer for my bike and an elliptical machine too. Like with the actual event, I think it is much easier to stick with a plan if you have a partner to help keep you on track.

What keeps you motivated?
Long distance bicycling is not a passion of mine and it doesn't come easy for me. However, as I often tell my children, just because something is hard, does not mean that it is not worthwhile. At the end of the MS 150, I immediately commit and sign up for next year; it is how I keep myself motivated. During the summer, I also swim and play golf because it helps me to avoid burn-out with the same old routine and activity. 


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