Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Post-Flu Slow Bike Phase

So, I've been rendered nonoperational with the flu this week. Not the "meh I feel yucky" kind of nonoperational, but the "what day is this?" kind. But while I am missing a lot of work and good riding, I'm not complaining. First, because it's only the flu and does not look like pneumonia (historically I've been partial to the latter). And second, because over the past two years this sort of thing has gone from what used to be a regular occurrence for as long as I can remember, to becoming rare. So I am happy to pay the price with this one bout of flu for what has otherwise been a pneumonia-free, flu-free, cold-free year, thanks very much and knock on wood.

Still, as I count the days until I can breathe freely and stand up without feeling dizzy again, I look at my roadbike with a touch of dread. I know it will not be the same again the next time I ride it. "The bike" will feel slower. And I will feel frustrated, set back, discouraged. This makes the post-flu phase a tricky, delicate time, because it can lead to riding less, which will only make things worse.

When it comes to riding with others at times like these, I never know what to do. Almost everyone I normally ride with is a stronger cyclist than me, and even in my best shape I already feel guilty for holding them back. So after being off the bike, my instinct is to ride on my own for a bit until I get back to the state where I am worthy of these superstar riding partners. The trouble with that approach is that I don't push myself as hard when I ride alone. If I join the others right away, I may feel embarrassed and overwhelmed for the first couple of rides, but I'll get back into shape faster.

Getting back into riding for transportation is easier, and makes me appreciate just how little effort cycling can take. I simply switch into a low gear, pedal softly, coast as much as possible, and eventually I'll get there - with less effort than walking. Of course the bike is still slower than it was before I got sick. But that's how it goes. It should be back to its old speedy self in a week or two!

31 comments:

  1. My strategy after being off my bikes this summer has been to haul out my Kickbikes to strengthen muscles and provide intense cardio workouts in hourly + segments. Anyway, it's all a head game and as long as I'm out there, it's winning. Hope you take it easy and don't over do. Jim Duncan

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  2. First of all, take care of your self and feel better soon! As for feeling guilty for "holding them back", nonsense! As Grant Petersen wrote, "Just Ride". It's meant to be fun and if it's anything less than that, make a change in your game plan. I stopped riding with the "go-fast" boys (and girls) since I'm in the "Tourist" clan and prefer sensory input over speed and bravado. I also started commuting 13.5 miles into Providence not because it's a workout, saves money, etc.. but because it's fun to ride a bike and I feel good doing it. Of course, you know all this ;-)

    It was a pleasure to meet you at the Builder's Ball. I'm sorry the music was so loud. I would have loved to talk with you. I hope you liked my Bikey face in your photo.

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    1. yes...god forbid that anyone ride for transportation or exercise rather than twee leisure.

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  3. Feel better soon, and take it easy until you are fully recovered.

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  4. My advice in your recovery phase be in control of the rides you go on. Say to your friends "I'm going on a gentle pace 20 mile ride with a decent cafe stop", say what you expect to average and be conservative. Then, if people want to come with you, its to be with you not to hammer you while you recover. We are relatively slow, especially on the tandem, so quite often people will ride out at our leisurely pace then leave us at a cafe while they hammer some hills, catching us on our leisurely way home.

    Be in control of your recovery rides.

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    1. Tim, I think your advice is really good. Tell your friends what kind of a ride you feel up to doing; they can decide whether they want to ride with you now or wait.

      That was part of my strategy when I first got on my bike after surgery. I did some rides alone, and I took others with friends who are relatively strong riders. They were willing to accomodate me with rides that had "bail out" points.

      If you are going to ride alone, V, you might want to spend some time on a fixed gear. Short rides on it will help you rebuild your strength and endurance relatively quickly.

      I need to do a good training ride. If you'd like, I'll come up your way with a vat of chicken soup! ;-)

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  5. I'm recovering from a a broken wrist and clavicle as well as a weird bout with the flu. I had to put some platform pedals and north road bars to ease myself back on. Still too broken to really ride, but with these things, baby steps are very important :/ Good luck on your recovery!

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  6. Good to read you are on your way to recovery.

    Maladies are the one rub in my bike transit lifestyle. As I've mentioned in replies to your posts before, bike commuting in Chicago makes errands so easy I no longer bother to buy more than a few days of fresh gorceries.

    Which is wonderful indeed until the time a few years back I was so darn sick I could barely get out of bed let alone ride off somewhere to get sustenance. Along with having to deal with a virus, after a couple of days I was nigh to starving.*

    Lesson learned I now keep a few cans of lentil soup and dried fruit in the larder to carry me along should I fall ill again.

    *as may be deduced from the tenor of my posts, it is not as though I have anyone nearby ready to come to my aide ;)

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    1. For me, this is one area where the difference between living in Europe vs the US has been most apparent. In most European cities and even small towns I've lived in, it is pretty difficult to be more than a couple of minutes walk from a pharmacy or grocery store; they are small but they are everywhere. In the US the stores are larger but more spread out, even in big cities, which can be a drag.

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    2. In just that way Chicago has been America's most European city. We get a lot of European tourists for just that reason. Sad to say the old Chicago neighborhood system is fading fast.

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  7. Bummer about the flu. Just remember that everyone goes through this--even your riding buddies -- and friends won't make you feel guilty.

    here's to improved health and weather.
    cheers.

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    1. Oh no I didn't mean they make me feel guilty; it's all me : )

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  8. A few years ago I was in my first year of serious riding and training for a double century when I came down with a flu that laid me up for about a week. Like you, I thought my first ride after the flu would be discouraging and that my condition would have taken a big step backwards.

    In fact, on that first ride I rode stronger than I had ever ridden before. That's when I learned how important it is to a training program to take a few days off every so often to give your body a chance to fully recover.

    Having the flu isn't the best way to get some rest, but without having the flu I might not have learned that lesson.

    Anyway, I hope you feel better soon, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how little you lost while you were off the bike.

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    1. I think we're all different as far as how much time off the bike does what to us. For me a week is fine and can even be good (if the weeks prior to it are intense), but beyond that it quickly takes its toll. On the positive side, I am pretty quick to get into riding shape.

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  9. I've had a head cold all week and went out today for the first time since Sunday. Felt like I was dragging a bit and couldn't figure out why. This post has me thinking the cold might be partly to blame. Thanks! As for when you return to riding, maybe you should hook up with a bike club and do a C ride until you feel stronger. Feel better!

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  10. Hm. I thought you were going to write, "this biking thing has strengthened my immune system and my will, fears cower when they see my bike."

    Anyway I have this head cold thing and swear I fell asleep riding the other day.

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  11. My eye does not recognize the bike in your photo. A new ride?

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  12. Glad you are on the mend. It will go along well if you treat yourself kindly and allow your body to recover in its own way.

    It is such a young and American thing to pummel yourself about not successfully turning your pleasures into work. Why not allow bicycling to be simply a pleasure again, the way it was when you started this blog?

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    1. I've never had as much fun, joy or pleasure riding a bike as I've had over the past year.

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    2. Indeed! Bikes are always interesting to look at and photograph, but they're at their best when used for adventures, taking you to new experiences!!

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    3. I think anon 6:36 was referring to this:
      "I look at my roadbike with a touch of dread. I know it will not be the same again the next time I ride it. "The bike" will feel slower. And I will feel frustrated, set back, discouraged."

      While cycling of all kinds is joyful, for many the bane of performance riding is that, to fully experience the high, you want to have those all-important miles in the legs. It is a bit of a conundrum. I suspect personality type influences the severity of this mild malady, and how it manifests. Conceptually I loath not being at my best in the hills, but since nobody else could give a hoot, in reality I don't much either these days. Still...

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    4. I would take it a step further and say that some of us need the miles and the legs in order to *not* experience cycling as "performance cycling." Malachi Doherty talked about this in his recent book, and he tapped into what I'd been struggling to express for a while. The romantic in me wants to go on a nice looong ride in a random direction (=climbing!) and not have it be this strenuous, super-serious, grim torturous thing after which I can't walk for a week. To have it instead be about the flowers and the mist and whatnot. But paradoxically, you have to attain a certain degree of fitness in order to get to that point. This year I did it, and enjoyed both being at that point and the process of getting there.

      But you know, I don't see any of these conundrums as problematic. Feelings are contradictory. Highs are made more meaningful by the occasional lows. The struggle is part of the journey. Et cetera.

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    5. Hmmm, I think we are saying much the same thing, but from different directions. However, I do believe that "get[ting] back to the state where I am worthy of these superstar riding partners" is a slightly different type of riding than "flowers and the mist and whatnot." Pacelining with a Seven it's not so easy to sniff the flora whizzing by. But as you point out, condundrums are often what adds the spice to life. Get better soon!

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  13. I have a very weak immune system and I'm also prone to pneumonia and Flu every year. As much as I tried avoiding getting the flu shot, I finally broke down and started getting one every year. The last few years or so I have not had any serious bouts of flu or pneumonia. I'm not recommending the Flu shot, but in my case it was a must.

    Get well soon.

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  14. Okay V, if you're sick and need a boost, watch this video. Riding for the masses. Love it!!

    http://vimeo.com/51197418

    It even makes this grumpy old man want to give it a go.

    Get well.

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  15. I am sorry to hear you are sick and hope you get well soon.

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  16. Well, reading your words, I have nothing but pity... throwing off the lethargy that comes with a bout of flu is no easy matter... having sad that, I spent the night awake in a stupor... my turn now, all my office mates have done 'time'... had to bring out the car for work.

    Get well soon.

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  17. I do recommend the flu shot, it's ace!

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  18. Sorry to hear you are unwell, V. Do take it easy; we don't have a duty to cycle; we do it because we love it and in the way we most enjoy.

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  19. The flu and cycling definitely do not go together. Get well soon!

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