Thursday, August 18, 2011

More post half-century ride thoughts

Here it is, Thursday. Five days after the half-century ride and I still don't feel totally recovered. I wasn't expecting the difference between 43 miles and 58 miles to have such an effect on me (43 miles being my previous longest ride), but with this latest ride an old injury reared its painful head.

Back in the early 1980's when I was at the University of Colorado in Pueblo, I didn't have a car - just my younger sister's 10-speed bike. It got me to school, it got me to work. One day I had a piano lesson with a local jazz pianist, and he let me borrow a jazz record or two. I didn't really have a way to carry them except in one arm and try to control the bike with the other. His last words to me as I left his house on my bike were, "Don't fall off your bike." I got to the end of his driveway, lost my balance and flipped off the curb. The next thing I knew, I was looking up at the sky, flat on my back on the asphalt. The piano teacher didn't see it happen or I'm certain he would have come out to help me. No one, in fact, saw the incident. I didn't think too much of it, just scraped myself up, got back on the bike, and wobbled back to my apartment.

The bruising was about as black as I've ever seen bruises, but my lower back took a hit much harder than I realized. Not long after the incident I went to the emergency room with such severe back pain that I could hardly breathe. They sent me home with pain killers and muscle relaxants, which helped, but something worse began to go wrong. When I would sit in class, I was fine, but my hips would stiffen in that position making it very difficult for me to get up and walk to the next class. Usually I limped very painfully to the next class. This went on for the remainder of my university days.

That hip stiffening still happens if I sit on the hard concrete steps of the front of my building for too long. It will cause me to limp back to my apartment. I used to have a car that would also cause that problem with the way the seat was positioned.

The half-century ride reawakened that old injury and its aftermath, so my recovery has been a bit slower. If I have one of those hip stiffening episodes, it can take about 2 weeks to recover from it fully.

I will do at least a 35-miler this weekend, but probably no longer than that. I need more time to recover.

My advice to anyone who takes a tumble from a bike is not to assume you are okay just because you get back on your bike and ride off. Some injuries take a little time to develop. Some injuries you carry for life.

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