Anthony Redding's old mountain bike hung, untouched, in his garage for a good 15 years.  But when he received word he'd have to get both of his knees removed, he decided to make a change and get back on his bike.

We caught up with the Hanover, Pa.-based National Bike Challenge participant to talk about his journey back to bicycling.

How did you get involved in the Challenge?  What inspired you to join?

It was posted on a newsletter at work. I thought I would enter and follow the challenge. Watching the ratings and comments is a good motivator to get out there and put some miles on the road.

What's your goal for the totality of the Challenge?

My goal is to ride as much as possible and see how I measure up to the other riders.

You got back on a bike 3 years ago — what was it like after a long hiatus?

I never rode seriously before. I had a Wal-Mart mountain bike hanging in the garage for at least 15 years. When I found out I would need knee replacements in both knees, I figured it would be good to blow the dust off the bike, and get my leg muscles in shape to help with the recovery from the surgery. It was challenging to ride again after being out of the saddle for so long.  Also, my daughter, Kayla, started doing Triathlons, and when I went to watch her, I was amazed at the scope of the competitors — beginner to professional, all categories of physical shape, all ages. Seeing their determination made me set a goal not just to ride to get ready for surgery, but to maybe participate in a triathlon also!

I did my first Triathlon at age 57, and REALLY enjoyed the biking portion. So I started riding more. I would ride with my daughter, and she always gives me inspiration to push myself. I upgraded my bike in November of 2011. I started using Endomono to layout routes. They went from short 1/2 hour loops close to home to 50+ mile routes with some very interesting hills. This year I rode in the PA Hope Ride for the American Cancer Societies Hope Lodges, which was a 140+ mile ride over 2 days from Hershey to Philadelphia Pa. 

What was really surprising was the fact that when I rode my bike, my knees felt better! When they would start aching I would ride for as little as 15 minutes just to loosen them up. But the ol' knees got to the point something had to be done, so I scheduled the surgery. But I was able to get in a 65 mile Covered Bridge Ride in Lancaster the Sunday before!

Tell us more about how bicycling has helped you recover from surgery.

As I mentioned, riding my bike was beneficial to relieve some of the pain prior to the operation. Riding longer and more frequently helped develop stronger leg muscles. I had partial knee replacements done on both knees August 20. I followed the doctors and therapists instruction closely, because I wanted to get back to riding as soon as I could. Two weeks after the surgery on September 3, I set my bike and trainer up in the basement, and slowly pedaled for 10 minutes. I used a step stool to help get on and off of the bike, but have been pedaling every day. Within a week, my endurance time has increased, my ability to pedal stronger has increased, and I attribute the riding to completing my therapy sessions as of today! Both the doctor and therapist said, riding is one of the best exercises to use for knee therapy.

What kind of bike do you ride?

I ride a Scott road bike I bought on eBay. Hopefully I can upgrade  next year.

What do you love most about bicycling?

I love how it calms me. After a stressful day at work, a short ride helps clear my head. Weekend early morning rides on back country roads enable me to see a  lot of simple things in nature you don't see speeding by in a car. The people I have met on the rides are phenomenal ! Encouraging, fun loving, and a little bit crazy every now and then. 

And I love that my daughter for encouraging me to do this! Thanks Kiddo!

(Photo: Redding and his daughter, Kayla)