Let me be a lesson to you

I’m sitting here sipping on my feeling-sorry-for-myself iced almond mocha, and it almost reminds me of going to confession when I say, “It’s been 8 days since I’ve ridden my bicycle.” (I grew up Catholic – if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can get an idea here).  What in the world would make me stop riding for so long when I have all the time in the world, and my bike is just sitting there looking anxious and lonely in the garage?

Well, pretty much nothing does.  In fact, when I explained how my more severe hip pain started to the therapist today, it went like this.

“So I started getting an unusual pain in my inner thigh after I rode 80 miles on July 4th.  I did some stretching because I thought my hips were tight, then I rode 300 miles in the next 7 days.”

And then I said, “Wow, that sounds really stupid when I say it out loud.”

A lot of things we do in the name of fitness sound really stupid to the outside observer.  Suffering is such an accepted and expected part of the sport of cycling that a lot of things stop sounding crazy to us after awhile.  There can be a lot to be proud of in that respect – you can see amazing improvement in speed, distance and climbing, and feel euphoria when you know you’ve pushed your boundaries.  It seems maybe a little tricky to know the difference between when you are pushing good boundaries and when you are pushing bad boundaries.

There are two basic lessons I’ve learned in this last year.  I’ll be brief.  These are only my opinions anyway, take them or leave them.  And really, probably these will seem obvious to everyone.

(1) If you suddenly start feeling a pain you’ve never felt before, that should be a sign to step away from the bike for at least a day or two.

Depending on where your pain is, there’s all kinds of possible solutions – bike fit, cross-training, more down time.  Everyone is quite different, and I’m no expert, but my main point is as listed above.  I had never felt a sharp pain in my inner thigh leading from my hip – EVER.  That would be a sign to stop and figure it out.

(2) It is my experience (and like I said, I am no expert and am giving no medical advice) – that if one has a chest cold, especially if one has asthma, one should not ride until the cough is completely gone.  My other extended time off the bike in this past year was last fall when I bull-headed kept on riding in spite of bronchitis and a sinus infection.  Many rounds of antibiotics later, it finally cleared up – but my asthma plagued me for months.  Someone close to me gave me this same advice early in my illness (she may or may not share my first name), and I pretty soundly ignored her.

I suppose on the bright side, recovering from my injury should be a learning experience.  I have hope that it’s also possible I may end up stronger and fitter in the end – is it even possible I will be a tiny bit flexible again?  Stranger things have happened!

And so to end on a positive note, one of my favorite pictures from the good ol’ days.

Heather K, Jill, Sumi, and Me (Heather Bru) on Mt. Soledad on a fine spring day.

Heather K, Jill, Sumi, and Me (Heather Bru) on Mt. Soledad on a fine spring day.

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