Bug on the Run

Today I started to feel like myself again. There is really something wonderful when you’ve been feeling run down and sick for day after day, tired and achey and foggy-headed, and then it goes away. It’s wonderful

Monday I went to my doctor’s office, where they swabbed me and looked me over. They now have a rapid strep test, which was negative, after which they sent the swabs to be cultured to test for all the stuff that doesn’t show up on the rapid test.

I did get a prescription for Nystatin, to clear up a flare-up of thrush that had bloomed over the weekend and started to hurt my tongue. After a few days, my tongue feels much better. Between that, and reaching the 10 day point after which most bugs have resolved themselves, I am doing pretty well.

Now I just have to catch up on all the stuff that didn’t get done while I was feeling bad.

The Littlest Visitor

When our family from Houston visited us recently, we had a fun time with our two nephews, Max and Reed, nicknamed Boo. While they were here, I would have thought that the smallest of our visitors was the adorable Reed, who is not quite two years old.

Now, however, it appears there may have been another visitor from Houston, one which didn’t get back on a plane at the end of a week. I refer to a malicious microbe, which seems to have found my body a pleasant spot for an extended stay. Monday night I felt like I was running a fever, had a headache and muscle aches. I did not sleep well, and Tuesday I spent most of the day trying to decide which of my overall body aches were related to cycling, and which were signs that I had a bug. Since exercise doesn’t usually leave me with a sharp headache, I knew that was probably a bug. Though so far, I haven’t run more than a low-grade fever, I’ve been wrestling with the bug all week.

But it wasn’t until yesterday that the littlest visitor and its replicated cohort modulated into their latest game, “let’s give Paul a sore throat.” Let me just say at this point that it seems like a design flaw in the universe that, after all I’ve been through, I haven’t somehow gained immunity against bugs like this. And I really don’t want to get into the whole ‘giving a guy who has problems swallowing already a sore throat’ business. (And they want me to believe in Intelligent Design. Ha.)

Not only is this interfering with eating, it interferes with my sleep. I wake myself up coughing, because the whole unconscious-saliva-swallowing-and-breathing thing, which is fairly tricky for me already, gets much more complicated when there is a sore throat and a little post-nasal drip involved. It’s quite unpleasant, and not at all restful.

Which is why, having now had a 1000mg of acetaminophen and a large mug of warm beverage, I’m going to try sleeping some more.

Full Body Cycling

Normally, we think of cycling as a sport that involves lots of leg muscles. But today, after the second of our bicycling adventures, it’s my torso and arms that are stiff and sore.

I think it’s because, the way we do cycling, the actually pedalling seems to be the least of it. We don’t just hop on the bikes and go, we drive somewhere and then hop on the bikes. Which means bending and reaching to put down the rear seat of the car. Then there is carrying the bikes up the half-flight of stairs from the basement to the driveway. There’s bending over to remove the front tire, and then lifting and wrangling the bike into the back of the car. Then the other bike has to get up to the roof rack. At our cycling venue, the bike has to come off the roof, and the other out the back. Then we can start riding.

At least today we put my bike on the roof. (Here’s a tip for using a roof rack: it’s much easier if the bike is light enough for you to actually hold over your head.)

After the ride, of course, all the loading has to happen again, and then it has to be unloaded at home, including carrying the bikes back down to the basement.

Kimberly, for some reason, complains that her calves and situpon are the sore parts. (It appears there are some advantages to being too short to reach the roof rack, or manhandle a bike into the back of the car.) I believe my situpon benefits from the fact that I’m riding the same English leather saddle I’ve had since at least high school, the same one I rode across the country. It’s well-adjusted to my ischial protuberances by now.

After our ride, we went over to the Ballard farmers’ market, where my newly purchased cycling shoes weren’t the only pair. Riding to the market seems like a common practice. We may start doing it ourselves, since the Burke-Gilman trail runs most of the way there. (The Burke-Gilman is a former railroad right-of-way that’s been converted into a 17 mile paved path through Seattle and north along Lake Washington.) Then the driving would only involve getting down and back up Queen Anne Hill. I may be optimistic, but I’m not even approaching the idea of riding up that!

Back on the Bike

I finally rode a bicycle again last night. It’s been a long time; even longer than the time since I last posted here.

Partly, this was a delayed response to watching the Tour de France last month. Partly it was due to my disappointment with myself at not having kept up with my exercise, to the point past where feeling sluggish turned into feeling achey and bad. I’ve realized I’m too old and beaten up to go without exercise; if I don’t work my body, it eventually hurts physically just to sit around.

Another source of inspiration was Kimberly’s discovery that the Lance Armstrong Foundation was organizing a ride in Portland on her birthday at the end of September. That seemed like an exciting goal, especially since they were doing several routes. The shortest, a relatively flat 10 miles, seemed like something anyone could do with a little preparation. Still, I figured I really ought to try riding, just to make sure I wasn’t overestimating. My body’s current capacities are still a mystery to me.

It took several weeks to follow through on this idea. I envisioned riding a lap around Green Lake, a park nearby that has a lovely, flat, paved path around it. One lap is just under 3 miles, so a 10 mile ride is a bit more than 3 laps around Green Lake. I decided my “test” would be one lap.

However, getting to Green Lake involves a car. Which involves a bike rack, which involves digging the pieces of the rack out of the spiderwebs in the back of the garage, and cleaning it all up, and putting the bike carrier component back in place of the kayak carrier components, and getting the whole thing installed on the roof of the car. Just the sort of obstacles that can delay execution of a Plan, no matter how Masterful. Lucky for me, I’d already recently tuned up the bikes themselves, so that all they required was some air in the tires.

This week the weather has been hot for Seattle, into the 90s and high 80s during the day, but lovely in the long evenings. To provide incentive and commitment, I asked Kimberly to go for a ride with me Friday after work. It seemed like it would be perfect weather. (It was.)

I wrestled Kimberly’s bike onto the rack, and stashed mine in the back of the car. When Kimberly got home, off we went. It was really fun. It turns out that riding a bike is like riding a bike: you don’t forget how. It was clear to me that, although it’s been a very long time and much is rusty, this is the same body that has put in thousands of miles on bikes. It’s just going to take some work to get the rust off.

It was very nice to have the ability to make one’s own evening breeze after a hot day. And I passed the test; I was able to ride one lap fine.

This served as a “shake-down” ride. I discovered that Kimberly’s bike is substantially heavier than mine, and really, it would be worth the few moments to fiddle with her brakes so that I can get her front wheel off, if it meant I could put her bike in the back, and mine on the rack on the roof. I also learned that I miss the cycling shoes I got rid of a long time ago, not so much the Italian Duegi racing shoes with the hand-carved stiff wooden insole and the cleats, but the pair of Avocet casual touring shoes, with the low-profile nylon uppers and the stiff, flat sole that would slip into the toe clips easily, and had that sweet little rubber bump just where it would nicely catch the edge of the pedal. (My running shoes are really awkward with my pedals.) I got a hint of how much training looms when we hit the short, very, very slight uphill section of the path, and I could feel my thighs straining. And I was made aware of just how much strength I’ve lost in my shoulders and neck, because holding my head up while leaning over the handlebars quickly got them burning. And boy, do they hurt this morning!

Despite those complaints, and the multiple attempts it took to get Kimberly’s seat adjusted properly, we both had fun. And we’re going to ride again tomorrow. And while our neighborhood is rather hilly, Seattle has many lovely flat places to ride. It may even be possible to chart a mostly level route around our neighborhood, until we’re ready for some hills.

I’ve really got to get some proper shoes, though.