Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Little Things

Just before I was about to leave for my ride, my back did a little thing. If you have back problems you know what I mean. You feel something move or not move in a way it shouldn't and you think, "Uh oh, this could be bad." I've had back problems for 19 years and even after all that time I'm still not quite sure what I should do each time. I have a big tool kit: pilates, PT exercises, SI joint mobilizations (but for this I need a partner to do it right), cardio, rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, morphine derivatives, whiskey (just kidding). I did some of my go-to exercises and it was pretty clear. My right SI joint (where my sacrum meets my pelvis) wasn't moving. It needed to be mobilized and that is hard to do on your own. If I had a tail, I could just reach back and give it a tug, but alas, no tail. Darn.

I was having way too good of a day today to not go for a ride so I decided to go for it anyway. Word is that the Springwater is completely repaved and open and I want to ride the whole thing. Riding towards OMSI it seems like my back is going to feel pretty good while riding but not so good when I go to stand up. Once I'm on the trail I pull up behind a very fit, very big (think quarterback build) road biker. He's going a little bit slower than me (like 1 mph) so I decided to pick up some speed and pass him. I ride a little faster than normal for a bit to get some distance between us and then settle into my pace. 10 minutes later he passes me, then pulls in front and slows down again. Oh man, uncool. I hate it when people do that when I'm driving too and I decide to call him Smarmy Bike Dude. He gave me a smarmy look when I passed him and he's got a goatee (which are not my thing) so thus he's been named. I am not in the mood to play leapfrog with Smarmy Bike Dude all day (especially since he snuck up on me and didn't say "On your left") so I just decide to slow down and let him ride in front.

Riding east I happen upon an idea. I seem to be getting a searing pain whenever I stand up, so why not let Smarmy Bike Dude hit all the crosswalk buttons for me. This proves to be entirely too much fun. Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! I fly through all the lights. I'm quite easily entertained and thoroughly enjoying this game. If you know me well, you know I get excited about the little things in life: warm sweaters, a perfect bowl of pho, espresso in a heated cup, a picture of my cat that exactly captures her mood. It's a quality I appreciate in my friends, too. My husband is a great appreciater (if that's a word) of the little things. I love how excited he gets about making his own TV antennaes, or how he loves that his voice gets all hoarse and scratchy after a soccer game, or how excited he got when Homer did a Popeye impression ("I need fuel fer me mule, gas fer me ass!") But anyway, back to my ride.

At Powell Butte I decide to let Smarmy Bike Dude go and I stop to eat a banana. I do a few back exercises which seems to help and decide to keep going. It doesn't seem like my back is getting worse and I'm having a good time, so why not? About 19.5 miles into my ride, I stand up on my pedals to check my back and my SI joint moves a little bit. Ahhhhhhhhh! What a relief. But, I have no time to celebrate because their are slugs everywhere! Slugs left! Slugs right! Slugs in piles! I don't want to hit little guys (mostly for selfish reasons) so I carefully maneuver my bike around them for the last few miles.

At the end of the trail, I crack an egg on my helmet to down a little protein. Needs salt. My back is feeling much, much better now and after I make it back past the slugs I'm riding a few miles per hour faster. I stop at Powell Butte again for another banana. My fender has moved into a whole new realm of squeakiness and when I check it out I see the problem. It has broken in a third place. A few miles later I would place the sound it is making. I rode under a tree with a bunch of little brown tweety birds chirping away and said, "That's the sound!" My bike no longer sounds like the scooter from the Jetsons, or like chirping crickets. Now it sounds like a flock of tiny birds! This has some benefits because I no longer need to say "On your left," when I pass people. Long before I get to them, pedestrians all turn around to see what all the racket is about.

At the I-205 bike path, I turn north and then make my way home via Burnside, Couch and Davis. After a little over 40 miles, me and the flock of birds pull into the garage where I remove the fender. Happy that I got in such a nice ride on a somewhat questionable back day I settle in with an ice pack and some chai and think about even when I'm not feeling great (and the weather wasn't so great today either) I just love to ride.

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