Discovering a New Passion!

How Dan Baker found cycling while recovering from an unexpected hip replacement.

“The day you can’t finish a hike with the family, call me.”  These were the parting words from my orthopedic surgeon after reviewing the X-rays of my left hip. Thirty-two years of playing the beautiful game, soccer, at a high level had taken its toll.  At age 43, the warranty on my left hip, my pivot point, had expired. Leaving his office, I felt confident that I had a good 4-5 years before going under the knife. My soccer and running days were long over and I was already in the mundane routine of strength training and elliptical machinery at my local gym.

But the day did come sooner than expected.  Almost seven months later on a family hike in San Francisco, I stopped short of our next ascent up a short hill.  Bending down, my hands on my knees, I finally succumbed to the dreaded decision of going under the knife for a total hip replacement.  Now at age 44, I was ready to be augmented.

One of the best activities to strengthen and rehabilitate the hip muscles is cycling, and boy did I take to it.  A couple of months after surgery, I became an avid spin cyclist, going to the gym at least 3 times a week to get my sweat on and suffer for about an hour each session.  I felt stronger each day and also felt like I was making some sort of come back. But come back to what? I didn’t want to be a gym rat. I needed a new driver, a new passion. And road cycling was the answer.

Dan Baker and members of the Flying Dazos team at the Bike MS Waves-to-Wine charity ride

I’ve been riding for a little over a year and a half and have taken to the sport like a someone learning a new language.  Everyday, every week and every month, I’m learning something new. Cycling, just like with soccer, impacts the body, the mind and the spirit. Whether it’s just a fun, easy ride or a day to push to get that coveted Strava PR, there isn’t a day where I don’t come away with having learned a new technique, a new understanding of how my body is responding or my mental awareness of my body on the bike and the environment around me.  Cycling, for me, is a constant act of mindfulness and meditation. And when you couple this when riding with a good friends, I question why it took a life-changing surgery to get me to ride.

My new “beautiful game” is cycling.