CYCLISTS’ HEALTH NOTE: MAMILs and Heart Attacks and Getting on With Life



Rob Nicoli, Scarborough

Rob Nicoli of Scarborough - The West Australian Health+Medicine Liftout July 27. 2011, page 5 - Photo by Simon Santi

Cadel Evan’s recent winning of the 2011 Tour de France has without a doubt raised awareness of cycling as a sport. With that awareness has come a bit of a focus on middle aged men in lycra (MAMILs) and often with a disparaging overtone. As MAMIL I do find the some of the comments, well stupid and immature, so I thought it was great to read of Rob Nicoli story in The West Australian and hence I am posting that story here as this article as it is not online at The West’s website.
Part of the reason I am sharing this story as published is that Rob has had a heart attack and cycling is part of his focus on a healthy future.

Middle age hasn’t slowed Rob Nicoli down, in fact not even a heart attack last year could do that. At 52 he still rides 300 km a week in between full-time work as a mechanic. That’s not to say, though, that he hasn’t noticed the odd ache and pain that are the unwelcome reminders of his younger days playing football, competing in triathlons and water skiing. But Mr Nicoli said he’d never use that as an excuse to retire to the couch. “I played footy from the age of 13 to 38 so there’s hardly a joint in my body that at some stage doesn’t give me grief,” he said. “But bike riding is the one thing that only hurts while you’re doing it. If you go for a run or go to the gym you can hurt for days afterwards but bike riding you can have muscle fatigue and be a bit sore in the legs, but as a general rule you can get up the next day and do it again.”

It came as a shock when he realised he was having a heart attack in December after he started having chest pains and his left arm went numb.

He has since learned that even though he was fit, a family history of heart attack, as well as an enzyme which dilated his arteries to twice their normal size, put him at risk.

While he is still coming to terms with the side effects of the medicine he must now take to ward off another heart attack, Mr Nicoli was determined to get back on the bike and back to work.
“I don’t like necessarily being overweight and the only way for me to eat what I like within reason is to exercise regularly,” he said.

Mr Nicoli said one of the things that kept him motivated was going out for a ride with a group of young people.

“It puts you back in your place and makes you realise where you used to be and where you’re not now (in terms of fitness),” he said.

“It also keeps you on your toes and makes you want to do a little bit extra so you are not getting kicked all the time.”>


The West Australian Health+Medicine Liftout July 27. 2011, page 5

From a personal perspective, I have a pace maker and found my cycling has not been negatively impacted.

I hope we all take a little something positive from Rob’s story. Well done to The West for telling it.

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