For those of us who absolutely love cycling, illness and injury are frustrating setbacks. We know how much time it takes to get just a little bit better. We build on this form season after season. Those of us in search of good form endure the elements and treacherous conditions just to gain that little bit of extra power to cross the line first. That’s why getting sick or suffering an injury is so frustrating. When it comes to recovery, nothing beats time away from the bike.
There is a wide array of terrible diseases out there. Rather than dwell on the scary stuff, I’m going to focus on basic viral infections such as a cold or flu. The harsh reality is there is no better way to recover from a cold or flu other than rest.
Trying to ride while infected by influenza seems crazy to me, but I know people who have tried it. Honestly, I can barely move when I have the flu, so the thought of riding is counter intuitive. The last thing a body needs when it’s running a fever is increased physical activity.
The same can be said about running a cold. I have tried the classic “burn it out” method of trying to ride hard to expel the virus from my system and I think it’s a fallacy. Rest and hydration is the only thing that help a cold. The only thing I’ve found riding while sick does is extend the period of the illness.
Like illness, there are some awful injuries that can occur on or off the bike. You don’t need to dive too deep into your imagination to come up with something that might mean never riding again, but let’s not go down that path. From soft tissue damage to broken bones, it’s just important to focus on rest and recovery if you want to get back on the bike at one-hundred percent again.
Tissue damage can occur from any number of reasons on or off the bike. Overuse can trigger issues with joints. Crashes can result in strains, sprains, and bruising. Again, like when effected by an illness, your body needs rest to recover. Jumping back on the bike right away will either lengthen the recovery time or exacerbate the injury.
Broken bones seem more clear cut, but I’ve seen people mount cleats on casts. I’ve had to spend six months off the bike due to a broken bone. Every eight weeks I would go to the doctor for x-rays, and he would tell me to come back in eight weeks for another x-ray. It was getting to the point where I felt good, but the x-rays revealed that I needed to stay off the bike. As a good patient, I did as the doctor advised. It was a tough six months, but better than having to stay off the bike for longer due to jumping back in the saddle too early and causing more damage.
There is never a good time to get injured or sick, but time off the bike is warranted when it happens. Having to hit reset on your form is frustrating, especially if you are flying at the time of a setback. Rebuilding form and fitness is a long road. It’s no wonder people abandon the sport when major hurdles present themselves. But for those of us truly obsessed with riding, it’s only a matter of time until we are back to a decent level. I’m not be as fast as I once was. Various injuries and the passage of time have seen to that. But in that time I’ve learned the importance of a proper recovery. Stay well and take the time off if it’s needed. Stay safe out there, and as always, keep the rubber side down!