Cedar Valley Deere employee embracing healthy benefits of cycling

When Jeramie Johnson, a 39-year-old John Deere employee, started to experience some knee pain after lifting weights over six years ago, his doctor recommended a new pursuit, which has become a passion: cycling. 

Johnson started riding on a stationary bike. This changed after he learned that his nephew was going to go on the 2015 RAGBRAI, an annual bike ride across Iowa in late July sponsored by the Des Moines Register. Johnson decided to join his nephew. “Riding RAGBRAI was quite fun, and I enjoyed myself out there,” he said.

After riding the event, he also started to feel much better. The back of his knees did not hurt as much as they used to. “After coming back home from the race, I noticed that when I was walking around, the pain in my knees was almost completely gone. One other thing that I ended up noticing after riding was that my lower back was feeling a little better than usual.”

He said for him there were some negatives to getting into bike riding. He had to watch his red blood cell levels in this sport. “At a point in my cycling career I became borderline anemic, or in other words I almost lost every red blood cell.” 

Some other concerns to the sport were making sure that he got a healthy balance of rest and training, but also eating the proper food groups. “The meals I started eating were full of high carbohydrates and protein, a well balanced diet is the first step in not bonking when you run out of energy mid ride,” Johnson said. “It was all a trial and error method to find what works best for me.”

Overexercising was also a problem that sometimes arose, and this led to different side effects. “If you were to overexercise and don’t get to rest the right amount to balance the scales, you can end up running too many hormones, so you have to balance those out as well,” Johnson said. “This ended up causing the top 20 to top 10 of the best cyclists to start doping, to get hormone patches or add more red blood cells into their bloodstream.” This was seen when it was found out that Lance Armstrong was caught doping.

Johnson’s first event experience has led to riding in many more events. He has participated in the Race Across Indiana as well as a mountain bike race over in George Wyth State Park. He also rode in a yearly race called TOMRV that goes on for a weekend where riders travel from Davenport to Dubuque, a 107-mile ride one way with a group. They ride to Dubuque on Saturday, then rest at a hotel, then ride the other 107 miles back to Davenport. There are also races closer to home that go from the west end all the way to downtown Cedar Falls.

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