One Doctor Turns to Cycling for Exercise and Spiritual Rejuvenation

One Doctor Turns to Cycling for Exercise and Spiritual Rejuvenation

Interview by Elizabeth Schainbaum

If you are looking for Anthony Retodo, MD, during the morning commute hours, several times a week you’ll find him on his Bianchi road bike heading to work.

Dr. Retodo, medical services director of Kaiser Permanente Folsom (Calif.), is a cyclist who leads a Wednesday ride for colleagues, participates in several long-distance cycling races a year, and bike commutes regularly during warm weather months. He also spoke about the joys of cycling at an April 25 community forum on making the greater Sacramento area more bike-friendly.

On May 8, Dr. Retodo participated in the 30-mile Mayor’s Annual Bike Ride to The Capitol as part of Bike to Work Day. The ride takes a group of about 50 to 60 officials and cyclists from Folsom, Rancho Cordova, and El Dorado County along the American River from Folsom to the California state capitol. This was his third year participating.

On May 12, Dr. Retodo was the physician who evaluated cyclists at stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California’s anti-doping checks — and he even biked to and from the event in Folsom from his office.

“Folsom is very progressive and is becoming more and more bike friendly,” said Dr. Retodo. “They are creating a healthy community and that’s our mission, too, so we need to be at events like the mayor’s ride and the Amgen Tour of California.”

Dr. Retodo discusses his entry into cycling, advice for getting into the sport, and why bike riding is more than sheer quad power — it’s spiritual.

What is your advice for people just starting to bike ride?

Just get out there. Start slow. Go where it’s flat and then increase your distance. Bike with a friend or join a group because it creates accountability, and it helps defeat the inertia to get up and go, which can be an obstacle in the beginning.

How did you get into cycling?

I’ve always tried to stay active. My original sport was Taekwondo but I got injured, and I was looking to do something else. I was training for Eppie’s Great Race triathlon. Out of kayaking, running and cycling, I liked cycling the best, and I stayed with it.

I think it’s important for clinicians to stay physically active. How can we preach about health if we are not healthy ourselves? When we are active, we are being good role models, and we’re also better healers and listeners. Also, we can understand that it can be hard to start exercising because we’ve been there, too.

What do you like about cycling?

There’s spirituality to it. As you rotate the cranks, it’s not just pounding your feet up and down. It’s knowing how to equally push and pull, and knowing how to apply force in many different ways to deliver power. You also need to keep moving forward or you’ll lose your balance and eventually fall.

I lead colleagues up a steep ascent called Costco Hill during lunch. As we go up the hill, we become aware of the sky and sun, and then on the way back, we are aware of the earth as we glide downward. Riding during the middle of the workday is also a great opportunity to get outside, relax and recharge. We can get so caught up in our work. When I return to the office after an hour of riding, I feel rejuvenated for the rest of day.

Cycling can be social. With events like the mayor’s ride, you have a diverse group of people who have come together for the same purpose: riding. Suddenly strangers are becoming friends. That’s what biking tends to do; it brings people together and moves us all in a focused direction.