Big Fat Tire: For exercise junkies, too much of a grit thing (column)
June 3, 2016
How many of you have swung your leg over your bike even though it contradicted your doctor's orders following an injury or illness? I'm going to guess most of the people reading this have. Up here in the land of super-fit people, we tend to push ourselves, sometimes harder than we should, sometimes to the detriment of our health.
About two weeks ago I came down with pleurisy (I had only a vague idea of what it is, I had to look it up). The doc gave me a prescription and instructions to rest — no hard physical activity for a week to ten days depending on symptoms. For four or five days, following doctors' orders wasn't a problem — the joke of "it only hurts when I move or breath" wasn't far off the mark. I had a long planned, annual trip to the desert to ride and camp with friends within the week to ten days window though. I was feeling a lot better and I really wanted to go and snow was in the forecast for Summit. I love snow in November, December, January, hell, even into early May — snow is OK with me — but when it's snowing with less than a week to go till June, I feel the need to go somewhere warm.
Of course we always justify our actions; "I'm feeling much better" (I'm not dead yet). "I'll take it easy" and so on. Anyway, the late May snow was the push over the cliff — there's no way I was hanging out in Breckenridge, so I packed up and headed west, telling myself that when I got on my bike I'd turn around if it felt too bad. Of course my ego took over and I did the full rides with the gang. I was running on about 1/2 or 2/3 lungs but I wasn't in pain, which was going to be my sign that it was time to turn around.
Of course the rides all had junctions of no return where you're committed to doing the whole ride, so lungs be damned; you're going to be climbing out of here no matter what you do. We rode on through the chunk, and sand and slickrock along the edge of the Colorado River. I've been on my bike a fair amount this spring, so I've been feeling pretty fit, but now my legs were writing checks my lungs couldn't cash so I had to back off my normal pace and bring up the rear. Everyone kept asking me how I was doing and of course I said fine, but I was just hanging on. My friend Chris, who is one of the most thoughtful people I know, rode behind me, presumably to be there in case I keeled over and died.
I'm guessing that a lot of you reading this right now have a similar story to tell. Yes, we're stooped, but for the most part our premature excursions didn't kill us, although they might have slowed our recovery. Why do we do stuff like this? When you think about it, it sounds like addicts feeding their jones. That is the conclusion I've come to: We're a bunch of exercise junkies. We'll ski, snowboard, ride bikes, run, hike, work out in the gym — whatever the addiction is, we're not, or are only marginally, in control. I'd be pretty challenged to think of a friend who followed their doctors or PT's instructions to the letter, especially when it came to limiting their fun time.
So my advice? Do your best to do what the doc tells you, but you know as well as I that you're a junkie, and you can only keep the tiger in the cage for so long. Just make sure you have a friend behind you to make sure you don't die alone.
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It's getting warmer and the trickle of snowmelt is going to be if not a torrent, at least a freshet. This is good because it means there is more and more ground and less and less snow. More trails will be ready to ride in the next couple weeks. Being in that transition time means there will be a lot of sloppy mud out there. Don't be one of those people — stay off the trails when they're wet. Be willing to turn around if a trail is getting wetter and wetter. Don't ride around wet spots — really, this is absolutely lame. Be respectful, be responsible.
National trails day is this Saturday and the first big trail projects will be this weekend. The Friends of Dillon Ranger District will be sponsoring a day at the Salt Lick trail system in Silverthorne. Meet at the main trailhead adjacent to the gas station at the bottom of Wildernest at 9 a.m. On June 18, the IMBA trail Care Crew will be leading a day of trail building instruction with trail work on the under-construction Mineral Hill trail above French Gulch near Breckenridge. Check out these projects on http://www.fdrd.ord or http://www.townofbreckenridge.com.
Mike Zobbe is a member of the Summit County Fat Tire Society.
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