The trail ahead finally came to an end as the sign clearly said, “No Bike Lane Ahead” causing me to turn around and head home.
Little did I know that when I biked this new trail on March 29th going 23 miles round trip, that the very next day I would become deathly ill with the creeping crud that’s going around. My roommate was already complaining about coming down with it from his work-mates, but since he wasn’t staying home from work or acting very sick I just ignored his warnings. I’d had my flu shot like I get every year and I never get sick! Famous last words.
I woke up the next day with a small cough. I keep a glass of water by the bed because I get a dry mouth at night so that’s what I was thinking that morning as I gulped some water. I felt fine and was proud of my 23-mile ride, even bragging about it to my best friend.
I bike every other day come rain or shine and today was an off day so I planned to get some steps in between my writing and bragging. As the day went on I felt bad and it overcame me so fast that by nightfall I had a fever of 101.5, a headache that wouldn’t go away and was coughing so hard I thought my head would explode. I actually saw lights inside my head and immediately all my new-found energy was gone. For the first time in years, I was sick and all I could do was crawl into bed.
I felt betrayed by my body, after all, everything I’d read told me that people who sleep right, eat right and exercise don’t get sick as often as the average person. In fact, I read that a healthy person only gets sick half as much as the rest of the population. I was angry that I couldn’t get on my bike and felt that all of my hard work of the last 6 months was being lost. I was angry and felt depressed for the first time in ages.
After a few days of this negative thinking while laying in bed it came to me. I had become part of the problem. There was nothing I could do about getting sick, I had done everything right and still caught the bug. All I was doing with my bad attitude was making things worse for myself. I stopped my complaining and refocused on taking care of myself.
Just as I’d learned how to be healthy again after decades of bad habits I relearned the importance of patience and acceptance. Once I did, my week of sick time passed, my fever broke and I felt ready to get back on my bike.
On Tuesday, April 5th, I got dressed to go biking for the first time since being sick. It was a sunny, windy day nothing unusual for the Bay Area in the springtime. I was weak but feeling happy.
The first thing I noticed was the wind gusts hurting my ears which never happened before. I pulled over and used my earbuds without plugging them in which happened to work. I was puzzled since I had no ear aches and on the way home I was able to remove them with no further problems.
After the first half of my ride, I noticed a lack in stamina and my back was hurting. My endorphins never kicked in and I wasn’t enjoying my ride. I still had plenty of strength for hills but wasn’t feeling it. I had to bike against the wind gusts on the way home and as soon as I got in the door I peeled my clothes off and fell back into bed.
After sleeping a few hours I got up had something to eat and started hydrating myself. I’m not young anymore and had a private laugh at how silly I was expecting to just fall back into my biking routine after being so sick. Instead of getting upset this time, I made sure my choices the next day were well balanced towards good health hoping to have a better outcome.
On Thursday, it was a gorgeous day with high temps, low wind gusts and sun. I did my normal route this time, it was much better and more enjoyable. I finally felt that it was all coming together again.
Yesterday it was lightly raining when I went out and the weather report said rain so I expected it but by the time I got to the San Mateo Bridge it was pouring and I was soaked. I usually go under and past this bridge but I had 4 and 1/2 miles to ride to get home so I headed back rather than take a chance on catching a cold. There were no wind gusts so I made good time.
Before I got back home I stopped to photograph 2 jackrabbits that were chasing each other in the rain oblivious to me. This is the best picture I got of them and all you can see are the ears sticking up on one and the head on another. Bad weather brings the animals out they feel safe because people aren’t out in the rain. I see more animals during bad weather it doesn’t keep me from biking.
When I got sick last week I felt that my body betrayed me, that all of my hard work biking was lost and that I’d have to start over again. Then I rediscovered what I already learned, that balance is the key to good health, mental and physical, and the weakness was in my mind not my body.
With the right balance of sleep, healthy food, exercise, and water, with a little fun thrown in, you won’t have time for depression or unhappiness. We all get sick but the better you treat your body the more resources it will have to protect you and your mind in times of stress.
Treat your body well and your mind will follow.