On October 27th, just before the Expresso Top 100 Ghostbusters II challenge ended, Linda Atkinson, age 60, rounded the bend to complete the ride she saved for last: Savage Revenge. She pedaled hard on this celestial 20-mile ride through virtual space at the Waterworld Geelong facility in Norlane VIC, Australia. “You’ll never catch me!” she yelled to Gary Simpson, who she was racing to the finish line on the bike next to her. Linda beat Gary by three minutes.
The GB II challenge required riders to beat “ghosts” or personal best times in past rides. Because she was new to the Expresso bikes, she had not ridden this route before and opted to ride it twice that day. With her friends cheering around her, Linda completed Savage Revenge the second time. “I had a cry when I finished it because I knew I was at the top [of the Expresso leaderboards] and I was so proud,” explained Linda. Linda went on to ride 600 miles in October, 350 miles in November, and 400 this month.
15 years ago, she would not have been able to accomplish this. Linda has a condition called Hypothyroidism – her immune system is attacking her thyroid gland – as well a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Linda worked 20 hours a week and was also a room attendant which is tiresome for anyone, but Linda suffered from extreme fatigue and tightness in her chest. After being placed in many hospitals, she was diagnosed and treated. Slowly her energy returned. “I’m very grateful to have my health back and now I look forward to riding the bikes every day,” she says.
Linda joined Waterworld nine years ago and began using the spa mostly. It was a six-year process to become active again, but she slowly fell into an exercise routine. In July, the instructors at her facility created an active adults program called Livewell. This program is designed for adults over the age of 55 to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle. The program’s participants are required to get a doctor’s approval, meet to exercise together at the facility, and are given weekly exercise goals to meet. “My instructor, Pam, uses weight-training, balance exercises, and cardio with the Expresso bikes.”
During Senior Month in Australia, in October, Livewell created an Expresso bike challenge asking the members to compete for the most miles. Linda won with 500 miles and was awarded a t-shirt and gift bag. She continued to ride the rest of the month and reached 604 miles by the end of the month. This was her first win on the Expresso bike and not the last. “It made me stronger and very happy,” she explains. “It was quite a social event too. I met a lot of people through it.”
She competed in the Ghost Busters II Expresso Top 100 challenge while simultaneously racking up miles for the Livewell challenge. On that day at the end of October, she chose to do Savage Revenge twice to get it done and over with. She took only a half an hour break between the rides. She explained that the first Savage ride was harder because she rode slower to leave a margin to beat her personal best time. The second ride went much quicker. “I felt elated [after completion].” she says. “It was very emotional for me because of my history of illnesses. It was like winning a gold medal.”
Hypothyroidism and her B-12 deficiency cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Linda is more than managing – she’s competing and conquering. “I love seeing that you get in front of a ghost,” says Linda. “I’ve got a competitive nature and I love seeing the finish line!”