Tuesday was a big day. After a ten month hiatus, I made my first attempt at a bike commute to work. It’s 15 or so kilometres on trails through the river valley. After the almost failed river swim a few weeks ago, I know that I do not have the functional fitness I used to have. I’m prepared to take a little longer than before. I had no idea.
First sign that I’m still in denial about my new fitness state: I style my hair. My thinking is that if I wear a big enough helmet, I shouldn’t muss up my hair too much. I factored in a little bit of head sweat. I did not anticipate wringing out dripping, matted hair.
Excited to get biking, I hoist my pack onto my back like I’ve always done. Holy shoot, my pack didn’t feel this heavy last year! As I precariously mount my bike, it takes me mere seconds to realize that my plan has to change or I’m not making it to work. Gone is the serene river valley route in trails populated by birds and bunnies. New plan is to stay on as flat a route as possible and hope that I don’t have to dismount before I’m done, because I’m not convinced I’ll be able to get back on my bike. Also, when did the bar get so high and my leg so heavy?
Grateful that the bike seems to be supporting me and my brick filled pack, I happily head out. Within blocks, I am wheezing as sweat drips down my neck and back. Halfway to work, I’m considering throwing my pack away that I’m now fairly certain is carrying a dead body. My arms are shaking, my shoulders are seized, and my legs cannot find the right gear to keep my heart from beating outside my chest. I imagine Kilian Jornet with his arm in a sling for 87 miles at Hard Rock Ultra and I persist. No taxi call for me. I will do this.
An old man passes me. I smile and shift down another gear. Good for him. A mom running with a stroller passes me. I wave at the cheery toddlers – two of them – who offer me great encouragement as they go by: “Yay! You can do it!” Inspired by their enthusiasm, I shift up a gear.
15 flat kilometres and 90 exhausting minutes later, I arrive at my office, drenched in sweat from head to toe…should have brought a change of underwear…should have brought a hose. I don’t know how I’m going to make it home – the dead body on my back is not going with me, that’s for sure. But I’m here, I did it, I know I’m going to be sore, and isn’t that really the best feeling? The fit life is once again mine.