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Two Wheels for Health and Fun

On a crisp, bright morning, obstetrician-gynecologist Pamela Ephgrave calls into her office to check her schedule.

With a few hours to go before her first patient, the Sioux Falls doctor is taking advantage of a chance to train on two wheels. Sliding her toes into the clips on the pedals of her bicycle, she has her pager on and she’s ready to hit the trails.

“I’m not a fast rider. I enjoy riding slow and taking in all the physical and emotional benefits of a long bike ride,” Dr. Ephgrave says. “Its exercise, but it’s also a lot of fun.”

Discovering something new

Cycling has always been a hobby and mode of transportation for this women’s healthcare specialist. In college, she often commuted without a car. Even now, between March and November, she tries to ride her bike to work at least twice a week.

“I used to think that a long bike ride was 20 miles,” she says, laughing.

Long distance riding became a passion after a family vacation. About seven years ago, Dr. Ephgrave and her husband started training because they were planning a cycling trip to Spain.

“We figured we might as well go on some long rides,” she said. “Once we tried it, we were hooked.”

Since then, she’s become a regular rider on the MS 150, a two day ride where cyclists put in 75 miles a day. She trains all year for a variety of long-distance rides.

She doesn’t participate on every ride, every year, but tries to fit in several events throughout the season. This past summer she and her husband rode in the Bike Northwoods Tour, a six day event that took them through hundreds of miles on the back roads of Northern Wisconsin.

Finding common ground

“I love meeting the other people who ride,” she says, taking off her helmet for a short break along the side of the trail. She has found that she often meets people from other parts of the state or country that she has encountered in previous rides.

About nine months out of the year, she’s able to train outdoors, working in training rides of 30 to 40 miles. During the winter, she hits the gym, riding stationary bikes or working out on an elliptical machine to keep in shape.

“Knowing you have those rides coming is a powerful motivator to make it to the gym,” Dr. Ephgrave said.

While some days are too busy for serious riding, she makes sure to ride on her days off and carries a pager on her hip for the times she’s on-call. Some weeks she is able to put in 100 miles or more. When training on the bike trail she can make it to the hospital in minutes to handle an emergency call.

Smiles on the road

“When I’m on the bike, my mind gets to relax,” Dr. Ephgrave said. “I’m not watching TV or thinking about work. Your brain gets to work on different things.”

Having experienced the personal benefits of exercise, Dr. Ephgrave is an advocate for staying active. Dr. Ephgrave encourages her patients to give bike riding a try. “This form of exercise is fun, easy on the knees, and takes you to places you would never see from a car,” she says.

If a patient of hers would encounter her training on the bike trail or the roads leading out of Sioux Falls, they should expect a smile and a friendly wave.

“I like to set a goal and then get there -- with the added bonus of having time to meet people along the way.”

Posted Date: October 2011