One afternoon in late August a few years ago, when I was in the best shape of the season, I felt a painless popping sensation in my abdomen. A little Internet research sent me racing to a doctor, because it didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out I had developed a hernia. Turns out, I had three hernias.
Why was I in such a hurry? I had a trip to Moab coming up in eight weeks, and it takes six weeks to recover from hernia surgery. I threw myself onto an operating table, looked at my gut cutter and said, "Take me, I'm yours. And make it snappy, big fella." Next thing I knew, I had a belly full of staples and a new understanding of pain. About three days after leaving the hospital, my wife forced me into the car and took me to Potter Marsh to walk and loosen up. I held onto the wooden railing along the boardwalk as I shuffled along in short steps like an old man.
One week I was rippin' down trails and feelin' fit, the next week I could barely move. It was a shockingly abrupt transition. I felt like I'd been mugged (and then handed a large bill). My point is, this kinda shit happens quickly.
That's sort of how things have been for the past five or six days. It's been a great winter for riding, and I'm in better shape than usual for February. But since last Wednesday night some damned virus, a critter too small to even see, has been kicking my ass so hard that walking up a flight of stairs leaves me as gassed as pedaling up a hill. The closest I've gotten to a bike was when I had a brief window of energy Sunday night and finally made a couple of derailleur adjustments on my Pugsley before stashing it away again.
I've often heard people say we should "count our blessings." That's always sounded a little corny and I never liked the religious connotation, but point taken.
Occasionally, I'll remember to be happy that I'm having an illness-free, injury-free day. And I especially like to savor those days when my bike is running smoothly and silently, performing like a perfectly tuned machine. Those days are sweet.
When I finally get on a bike again, I'm going to gasp and cough as I clear the crud from my lungs and try to get back in shape. But I'm going to make a point of enjoying the fact that I'm on a bike at all.
Because germs lurk everywhere. And they're out to get us, the little buggers.