On one level it seems understandable that after twenty-four years of frequent riding it might lose some of its appeal. Most things become dull and tedious long before, but never cycling. Over the last many months however, riding has frequently felt like something I had to do or needed to do, less like something I wanted to do.
Do you ever feel that way, and if so, what do you do? Push through or take a break from the bike?
I thought I might rediscover my passion for two-wheels by not setting a mileage goal this year. You know, be less goal oriented and just ride and enjoy it. It seemed to be working, I was off to a good start in January when I had several good, long rides that I absolutely enjoyed. But then things turned south. With a head wind.
My lower back, then neck decided to scream in protest whenever I tried to ride, and then finally every time I tried to do anything. On top of that, my gut issues from last April’s food poisoning fiasco during the California bike tour decided to join in and make me suffer. My doctor recommended I give up wheat (gluten) and a range of other foods – many of which most of us would consider healthy to see if that would help. It did, but not as much as I hoped or needed.
My nature to “read and research” everything led me to learn about my symptoms and troublesome foods and finally to recommended diets. The diet(s) led me to give up not only wheat and gluten, but also all other grains and most starches. It has been quite the learning curve.
Every time I thought I found the right diet – not diet in the traditional sense i.e., weight loss, but diet in terms of recommended (and banned) foods – I found something better and more tailored to my health issues. Plus the more I read, especially about wheat products, the more I saw that in many ways our wheat here in the U.S. is poison for many of us and other than taste good it offers nothing in the way of nutrients that I cannot get from other foods.
If you are interested, basically I am eating real food, not exactly Paleo, but close. I eat nothing packaged or processed or labeled “gluten-free”, no sugar, wheat or corn. I eat meat, poultry, fish, a range of vegetables and a few fruits. Also eggs, cheese, but not other dairy, and good fats. For additional carbs I am going to try adding small amounts of white rice because it is more easily tolerated than brown rice.
Through trial and error I am learning what I can eat and what I need to stay away from, or be ready to pay the price. Thus far I have not missed any food I have had to give up enough to pay that price. It is a way of eating that continues to evolve as I am constantly tweaking the “approved” foods list. I keep a food diary of the foods that bother me and the ones that don’t, and I adjust my “diet” accordingly.
Repeat after me: getting old is not for sissies.
It has been about six weeks and I am finally feeling better. Not great, but better and most importantly for me I feel like I am finally on the right track.
The ride I took today reinforced that for me. It is the first ride of any distance I have done since February or early March and I felt strong, stronger than I expected. I wondered about that since I am not eating that many carbohydrates, but the protein and fat must be working. As I understand it, the idea is that your body will burn fat for energy if you do not provide it with a source of carbs. No gels or sugary drinks today, but I never felt like I might bonk. A good sign for a two hour ride.
Now my neck is another story, but I did it and I will nurse the neck and shoulder along. I needed to ride, I wanted to ride and it was worth the pain-in-the-neck to do it!
The issue of cycling being about play and not fitness (except as a byproduct of fun) is still something I want to focus on and explore.
Onward and upward.