Sunnyside Bicycles: Getting Heart Healthy

Jun 18, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Community

by Vanessa McCracken

Discount offer from Sunnyside Bicylces at the end of this post!

My dad, who has no history of heart or cholesterol problems, had a quintuple bypass this past March. My dad, the healthiest guy I know, the man I tease for his almost neurotic obsession with eating well and exercising to ward off Alzheimer’s disease — which runs in our family — had to have open-heart surgery. He was walking on the treadmill, as he does for 90-120 minutes a day, 6-7 days a week, when he experienced some chest pain, and the next thing you know he has five major blockages, three over 90%, that have to be bypassed. None of us could understand how or why this happened.


My dad reading to his youngest granddaughter. Thank goodness he is a regular exerciser and his strong heart saved his life!

After the surgery, the doctors came out and told us my dad sailed through the surgery. They said it was the easiest, smoothest quintuple bypass they had ever performed and said that being so fit and healthy saved my dad’s life. If he had not been so consistent and disciplined with his cardiovascular exercise, my dad would not have survived the chest pain episode on the treadmill. The doctors then turned to me and my brother, looked us square in the eyes, and said, “You now know this runs in your family. It would be wise to be proactive and get your diet and exercise under control to prevent something similar or worse happening to you.”

Wait, how did this become about us? And how come I get to inherit my dad’s heart disease but not his height? He’s 6’1” and I’m 5’3”. So unfair.

There is nothing like having a heart surgeon call you out to make you stop and take a hard look at your priorities. Opening the second store in Reedley and undergoing the massive expansion in Fresno have made work my top priority for the last year; however, going through this experience with my dad made me put my health back at the top of my priority list almost immediately. Am I still busy? Uh, yeah! I’m still working seven days a week, often 12-14 hours a day. But I took a hard look at how I spend my time each day and made a promise to myself to make time to ride at least 5 days a week. I stopped feeling guilty about taking this time for myself, and instead, think of it as mandatory for my health.


Saturday morning Reedley road rides!

One way I’ve managed to stick to my program is by holding myself accountable to others. I started leading four bike rides a week, so that way, no matter what, no matter how busy I get or long my to-do list is that day, I have to ride my bike. This has helped me tremendously, especially in the midst of the Fresno expansion. On days when we were hopelessly buried in projects and under deadline, it would have been very easy to just immerse myself in work and put myself last on the priority list. Knowing I had people waiting on me to ride, though, forced me out the door and made me feel a lot less guilty about leaving my to-do list unfinished.

The accountability works both ways, too! I’ve had people show up for my rides and say, “I would not be riding today if it weren’t for meeting the group to ride together” or “I almost stayed home but couldn’t because I told so-and-so I’d be here.” It’s amazing how hard it can be for us to put our to-do lists down and make time for our own health; not just our physical health but our mental health, too. Cycling does so much to improve my mood and attitude; I get as much out of our rides physically as I do emotionally. People always thank me for leading the rides, but I benefit just as much if not more from being out there!


Our group ride calendar is always up at both shops, so you can see what fun stuff we’ve got coming up!

If you’d like to join one of our rides, feel free to stop by the shop or call for details! A list of our upcoming rides can be found here or here. We schedule different rides to accommodate different levels of riders. If you have any questions at all about which ride might be appropriate for you, please don’t hesitate to call or stop by either shop!

Sunnyside Bicycles Fresno is at 6105 E. Kings Canyon Road (Kings Canyon/Fowler next to GB3 and Baked Sunnyside) and can be reached at 559-255-7433.

Sunnyside Bicycles Reedley is at 1760 11th Street (off the bike trail between G and I) and can be reached at 559-726-2153.

Come ride with us!

Kings River Life Special: Mention this month’s article and get a free Bontrager flat repair kit or Solstice helmet with the purchase of a new bike! Offer expires July 30, 2016.

Vanessa McCracken co-owns Sunnyside Bicycles with her husband, John McCracken. She is a graduate of Barnett’s Bicycle Institute and is a BBI-certified bicycle repair technician, as well as a League of American Bicyclists-certiifed League Cycling Instructor. She loves bikes!


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