I had been thinking recently about writing a post on how strong biking makes me feel. Instead, this week being on the bike will force me to acknowledge physical weakness. I got back on the bike this morning after being home on the sofa for a full week, sick with an upper-respiratory flu that I haven’t really shaken yet.
This has become a bit of an unwelcome spring ritual the last few years, this nasty bug. Whether or not I get a flu shot (and I usually do but missed it this year), I seem to come down with a crud that knocks me off my feet and onto the sofa, where I lie doing abs workouts in the form of gut-wrenching coughs and concerto-style nose-blowing. I drink lots of water and herbal tea and take a few symptom-relief meds and wait it out, the way my mother would have handled it.
Every year I go through the same thing coming back. The first day I think I can put in at least a partial day at the office, I go ahead and get on the bike to ride, because that’s my habit. Downhill to work isn’t so bad. My office mates may not have appreciated the “productive” coughs I served up all day (which make me feel so unproductive), but I survived.
It’s the uphill climb coming back that really tells me I’ve been sick. I can listen to the congestion in my chest rattling as I suck wind. I gear way, way down compared to what I’d usually be in to climb. I pedal more slowly. I really, really appreciate “missing” the stoplight because then I can stop and breathe.
And since it was chilly this morning I sure wished my lobster-claw gloves had a nose-wiping patch. My nose usually runs like a faucet anyway when I ride, but it’s more fire-hydrant level at this point. (What’s that? Too much information? Sorry about that. Forgot the “style” part of this blog for a minute there….)
So why do I do it? Why not just take the easy way out and pick up the car keys?
Well, apart from all the hassle that driving represents for me, I’d honestly rather be out in the fresh air, even feeling a bit shaky, then stuck inside the car. I feel as if I’m on the road to recovery if I follow my usual habits, rather than giving in. The ride uphill on the way home becomes a barometer for my real recovery. I may be up and walking around and able to go to work, but until I can pedal home breathing normally and not have to granny-gear the last couple of hills, I’m not really well.
I’d really rather ride, even sick, than not ride.
- When you’re sick do you lay off the riding as part of your recovery?
- How do you know when you’re ready to start riding again?