On the downside, I am increasingly exhausted. I mean "Get-back-into-bed tired, and-I’ve-only-been-up-2-hours" exhausted. Yes, I get to the Y daily for an hour of rugged PT and cardio, plus the 10 block walk there and back. But that shouldn’t be so taxing should it? Yet, I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve just made an appointment with my PCP to have myself checked out (fearing the worst of course), when it occurs to me to ask Danielle about it. “Oh yeah, building back muscle mass is incredibly exhausting,” she says. “And it’s counter intuitive. The more exhausted you are, the more you have to push it.”
Well, it doesn’t always work that way, but I do what I can. There’s lots of inspiration on the street; find someone going not too fast, and get in rhythm behind them – sort of like pace lining. If I got that close of course, I’d be arrested, but it helps with motivation. And walking, as Danielle has pointed out, is all about momentum. The faster I move forward, the less stress on bones and muscles.
Meanwhile, I’ve discovered something about protein: it’s important. The ingestion of chicken or fish (don’t like red meat) has an immediate and lasting effect on my strength; stairs are quickly becoming manageable.
As for actually getting back on the bike, I rarely ask Danielle about it anymore, and she doesn’t bring it up. It’s just as well. One of the hardest aspects of all of this, has been the constant moving of goal posts (always further away, never closer).
But I still miss cycling. I’m now more personally aware of its dangers – but I’ve come to the conclusion that life is intrinsically dangerous. I think of my friend S, who never cycled but stepped into a pothole and has struggled with walking ever since; or my friend A, who tripped on a bench at The Hi-Line minding her own business, and broke her arm. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that if you leave the house, you’re taking a risk (and even if you don’t).
Meanwhile, until I can get back on the bike, would it be too much to ask for an exercise bike that is responsive? With gears, with steering and a screen that actually takes you somewhere? How hard can it be? We’re living in a digital world after all. I hate exercise bikes that never move and even worse, the whole concept of cycling classes with loud music and some instructor yelling at me. I know it’s supposed to motivate me, but here’s what motivates me: Hills. Curves. And - -
Hey what’s this?
I get on. There are 40 different courses, a “Pacer” in a yellow jersey to maintain motivation.
Mostly, this bike is safe: it’s self-balancing, the roads have no potholes (or cars), no pebbles, sand (or devious driveways), certainly no ice. I’ll never have to change a tire – or be stuck for a ladies room. And surprise surprise, I’m breathing! I can tell by how I feel the next day. It's not the real thing, but it's very close.
This is a game changer. From dragging myself to the Y, I'm going to look forward to it. And it takes the pressure off my need to get back up and running because it satisfies my inner cyclist somehow. In the meantime, this bike will help me build both strength and endurance, doing what I love most; when I do get back, I'll be ready. I never dreamed it could happen, but The Expresso Bike could actually become my new best friend.
Shhhhh, don’t tell Lola.