As a teenager, Glenn Hirsch had an ambitious goal: To ride his bicycle across the country. By the time he hit his 40s, he’d completed some long rides to benefit the MS Society, but still had not reached his cross-country goal.
When he turned 50 in 2000, he figured he’d better get moving. And he did – in a big way. He fulfilled his dream by riding 3,200 miles – from Seattle to Washington, D.C. in 48 days – to benefit the American Lung Association.
For his next adventure, Dr. Hirsch thought about hiking the Appalachian Trail. But after he suffered a heart attack in late 2000 and underwent bypass surgery in 2001, the biking bug returned.
“During my post-op check with the cardiovascular surgeon, I was given a new weight restriction for lifting -22 lbs.,” he explained. Three weeks after the surgery, “I figured my bike was light enough to lift, so I took a short ride in the neighborhood. Later that fall I took my first ride on the Silver Comet Trail.”
Then in 2004, the family medicine physician made an eight-day trek from San Francisco to Los Angeles to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. The biker doc was back – and ready for an even bigger challenge. In 2006, Dr. Hirsch’s 11-year-old nephew, Ian, lost his battle with leukemia. Ian’s family founded the I Care I Cure Foundation to support research for gentler, more humane treatment for childhood cancers.
In 2009, Dr. Hirsch began a 3,000-mile bike trip from Key West to Maine to raise money for that foundation and to honor Ian. Biking along the East Coast Greenway in segments, Dr. Hirsch, 62, has traveled through eight states so far, covering more than 1,800 miles.
Dr. Hirsch, who practices at WellStar's East Cobb Medical Center, joined the System in 1995. He credits WellStar with giving him the flexibility to reach his biking goals – and take time off to recuperate from his open heart surgery. “I’m happy to be a part of an organization that supports me in all parts of my life,” said Dr. Hirsch.
“You’re never too old to fulfill your dreams,” he added. “On my cross-country trek, I was inspired by a 79-year-old man who was on the ride. He paced himself – and he did it.”
Dr. Hirsch will finish his ride in 2013, the same year the Hirschs celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. If you would like to follow “Uncle Glenn’s East Coast Greenway Bike Ride,” visit http://icareicureicycle.blogspot.com, a blog created by Lynn Hirsch, Dr. Hirsch’s wife. The blog also provides a link for making contributions to I Care I Cure.
The blog’s latest entry features the Lance Armstrong quote, “Chasing records doesn’t keep me on my bike. Happiness does!”
Lynn Hirsch says the quote applies to her husband. “Glenn isn't after any records, he isn't the fastest rider and he has his aches and pains when he gets off his bike after a long ride. But he loves cycling and has spent some of his happiest moments on his bike,” she writes.
Dr. Hirsch, who frequently rides his bike the 10 miles to East Cobb Medical Center from his home in Vinings, advises three things for optimum health: good nutrition, exercise and plenty of sleep.