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Back to Normal in America? Almost There… Especially in the Flyover States.

A friend from another country asked if we were back to normal in the USA the other day… Well, that depends, really, on where you live in the US, but I’ll go with my hometown which will go unnamed for obvious reasons.

I went to my daughter’s swim meet yesterday afternoon and timed. The crowd in the stands was sparse by normal standards, but there were parents up there.

Not one kid, coach, parent (timer) or official wore a mask on the pool deck and only three parents had one on in the stands.

This is all good news to me, of course. I actually brought a mask with me, figuring they’d be required to get in the building (I have no problem playing along, though the misrepresentations of the science get tiresome). I was overjoyed when I saw adults walking into the building bare-faced, so my mask stayed in my pocket. Where it belongs.

We’re almost back to normal, but I can’t dare give out where I live for fear the mask-fascists will attack our school with their desire to c*ck-block everything good, happy and wonderful in the world to give off an air of superiority whilst, and at the same time, trying to keep everyone living in a state of constant fear and panic.

I will say this, though, with the left-wing extremists being the only people left in masks, at least it’s easy to tell who the nuts are.

Just sayin’.

For the record, according to the office of the Governor of Michigan (a Democrat), 98% of all COVID cases in Michigan occur in unvaccinated people. 96% of all hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals. 94% of all COVID fatalities are unvaccinated. The rolling average for cases per day in Michigan are around 1,300. That means in a state of ten million people, twenty-six vaccinated people will come down with COVID today, on average. 9.6 people will die every day in Michigan at current levels… which means about one vaccinated person will die every third day from COVID… and that’s with virtually no masks being worn in public. (All Figures are averaged from last ten days as posted on the Michigan Dept. of Health website).

Put another way, according to the Mayo Clinic (and who doesn’t like mayonnaise?), “The CDC has said the risk of infection is 8x higher in the unvaccinated than the vaccinated, and the risk of hospitalization or death is 25x higher.” And the Moderna vaccine appears to be much better than the Pfizer. Guess which one I got.

I will take those odds; being this close to “normal” is sweet.

To add context to why I’ll take those odds, one of the main reasons I’m not afraid (apart from the obvious, that I’m vaccinated) is that I actually went back to work at the height of the pandemic, ten months before the vaccines were even available. I’ve been living and working safely for just shy of a year-and-a-half. I’m still careful, of course, but I’m not fearful and I ditched the mask after I was vaccinated.

So, are we back to normal? Meh, close enough for government work.

The Surprising Consequence of Going Through the Vaccine Flu that Isn’t Talked About (Likely Because It’s GOOD)

What I’m about to describe has happened to everyone I know who has struggled with the first or second shots (or in my case, both). I haven’t heard or read a peep about this – and when I fill out the CDC questionnaire, they really don’t give an opportunity to riff about your experience. I’ll go with my second shot because it’ll make for a shorter, more readable post. For the first, and the long version, stretch the bad stuff out over a full week and add about 20% to the intensity of the symptoms. Thank you, my most excellent immune system.

My wife and I got my second jab Friday, expecting to sail through it because I had such a rough go with the first. My wife felt her symptoms come on first, just three hours after getting stuck. I, however, felt quite good three hours in. I was relieved. For exactly 1 hour and 58 minutes. My symptoms washed over me like the second 10′ wave on an ocean beach… the first is all giggles as it peaks just over your head… you’ve jumped and it catches you a little off guard, but you’re good and you bob down on the back of the wave. Then the second wave smacks you like a train right in the arm and topples you, dragging you across the bottom for a second. In the space of fifteen minutes I went from smiling to a shivering, sore, pile of I’m not moving from this couch, somebody put in a movie, please. Tylenol, or the preferred Advil Dual Action, would take the edge off the symptoms but would invariably lead to me going from freezing with two blankets on to sweating profusely with my robe flung open and both blankets discarded in just a t-shirt and fleece pajama pants. This would repeat every seven hours (and, of course, you’re only supposed to take two ADAs every eight hours). I went to bed Saturday night knowing I’d be a wreck for Sunday as well.

I slept in a couple hours longer than normal and woke up vastly improved and quite happily surprised. I went for a decent, easy ride with my friends but kept it to the couch and rested up for the remainder of the day. I felt better, but I didn’t feel all that great, either.

Then Monday hit. I felt I didn’t sleep long enough, but when I was up, I was up so I just rolled with it. The day buzzed by because I’m outrageously busy and long about lunchtime, I felt energized. It wasn’t emotional relief, either, I simply felt good. I realized I’d been feeling better than normal most of the morning and it lasted throughout the day and night, into this morning (and I’m hoping into this evening because it’s Tuesday night, baby).

I’m not the only one to experience this, either. Every person I know who had a tough time with either of the vaccine pokes has experienced something similar. With my first shot, after the week of hell I went through, the week or two after… well, it was worth it… I’ve got a great description, actually. So, imagine you’re a big rechargeable battery (in a sense, we are, though we recharge with sleep, beef and bacon). Now, imagine you get left on the charger a little longer than normal and instead of the charge stopping at 100%, you actually fill up to 105%. That’s how it feels, like I’ve got an extra 5% in the tank.

It has its limits, of course. By the time I hit 4 in the afternoon yesterday, driving home from work, I was done. I suited up for a ride, but it was a short easy spin (I was supposed to attend my youngest’s honor award ceremony last night but her tennis match went long so she missed it – entirely her choice and I was not bummed she made that one).

Anyway, point being, if you’ve got some trepidation about getting the vaccine in the first place, it’s not all bad news, doom and gloom if you feel symptoms. The feeling of being super-charged at the end is quite wonderful.

The Cold Road Back… On the Tandem

I woke up Sunday morning and my jaw hit the floor before my feet. I felt pretty good. I checked my phone’s clock: 5:38. And I slept in. I was sure once I got moving the pain and shivers would wash over me and I’d feel gnarly again.

Let me back up a minute. When I crawled into bed still smarting from the vaccine flu, I knew for a fact there was no way I would be riding in the morning. It would take a miracle recovery. I was sweating like a wh… well, profusely and I felt rough.

I made some coffee and waited for the inevitable feverish symptoms to commence. I wrote my post for the morning and waited… and nothing. I looked at the clock. My Dual Action Advil wore off at 6. I should have been shivering for an hour already. Nothing.

My morning coffee was glorious. It was one of those cups of coffee that makes you glad you drink coffee. The second cup was just as delicious. My morning coffee was made more glorious because I was beyond hoping… I was riding.

I texted my buddy, Mike at 6:30, who’d planned on riding gravel because it was going to be chilly and windy, that I’d be riding.

My wife woke up shortly after and she said she was feeling a lot better as well. She asked if we could ride the tandem, though. She loves the back of the tandem when she’s not a hundred percent, being able to just pedal, talk and look around. She likes not having to worry about holding wheels in the group, etc.. I won’t lie, I was hoping for the single bikes because the tandem is a lot more work and I was unsure of how I was going to feel, but husbands have to do what’s right in that situation. And I did.

Mike called a little after 7 and plans were made. I sent out a text to everyone and readied the tandem, took a shower and got dressed.

The plan was for an easy ride – all headwind for the first 17-ish miles, tailwind all the way home.

And so it was, and we had a great group.

We rolled out at a decent pace into a gnarly, cold headwind out of the northwest. Mike took the first three miles then we took the next four. McMike took the next bunch. We were barely at a 16-mph average… and I felt surprisingly good. Jess was in rougher shape. She was fighting short, sparse fits of nausea. Big Joe spent some time up front, as did Mike and Diane and I was grateful in our diminished condition. Normally, Jess and I will take big chunks of the headwind when we’re on the tandem, but we simply couldn’t. Our friends really stepped up.

17-1/2 miles out, we finally hit tailwind. The ride home was as easy going as the ride out… just with some help from the wind. My wife and I were synched up excellently as pedaling efficiency was concerned. I love it when we ride like that on the tandem (it’s becoming the norm, actually). On the long home stretch, heading up a slight hill, I could feel my wife decrease her effort (which happens from time to time) and almost immediately she started chuckling and simply said, “Oh! I forgot to pedal for a second.” I busted out laughing and added, “Yep.” She kicked in again and we rolled on.

Unfortunately, there was a lot more north than there was west to the wind so the return trip wasn’t quite as fast as I thought it might be, but neither my wife nor I really cared. The clouds started to break up about six miles from home and the sun started poking through, raising the temperature a few needed degrees. I’d overdressed a little, in case I took a turn for the worse, but it was a meager 36° (2 C) at the start – a few degrees made a big difference.

We finished with 35-1/2 miles at 16-1/2-mph (26.5 km/h). I was more than a little thankful that’s all we did. Having missed riding on Saturday, I was greedy thinking about how many miles I wanted to ride. When Jess said she didn’t want more than 35 miles I readied my Trek so I could ride with Mike to his house then come back the long way (it would have added ten miles). That last mile, though, while I still felt quite excellent, I knew I didn’t need to push it. I made my apologies to Mike (who agreed I shouldn’t be stupid and push it) and called it good.

And just like that, it’s all over but the waiting. Covid poke #2 is in the books and we’re less than two weeks to normal. What a relief.

Vaccine Flu 2: 31 Hours of Suck And Just Like That, It’s Fading… and a Lesson in Empathy

It is currently 5:40 in the am, Sunday. I got a full seven hours of sleep last night and my vaccine flu broke sometime during that stretch in bed. I sweated through two t-shirts last night, one before I went to bed was drenched and I didn’t even know it till I took it off (my fever was so intense, the moisture wasn’t even cold). This is much better than the first shot for me. With the first, it was a full week before I was back to normal, or to put it closer to where I’m at this morning, it took me five days to feel as good as I do after a day-and-a-half.

I was hoping to sail through the second shot after my body’s enthusiastic reaction to the first, but it just wasn’t to be. However, this’ll do. I was certain I wouldn’t be riding today when I went to bed. As I sit here, I don’t think there’s any question I’ll suit up this morning – in fact, my Dual Action Advil just wore off… I would have started shivering an hour ago if there wasn’t significant improvement over the night.

In my post yesterday, I wrote harshly about a woman my wife and I ran into at the bike shop. Her take on Covid was highly irrational and her behaviors in that regard were even less rational.

A friend whom I’ve been following for years commented:

I understand your frustration. In fact, I share it. But, this covid thing is highly emotional and I think you just need to be patient with people like that lady. I find it too easy to condemn her and be annoyed with her. But, a lot of people have died from this and there are those among us who are afraid of catching it. Don’t look for rationality where it doesn’t exist, even if you think it should, or ought to. She had an emotional response. I consider this subject to be the same as religion, unions and politics. Don’t argue because you aren’t going to change anyone. All you will do is fuel the emotional fire.

[ED. Emphasis provided by me]

Tony is right. I have no doubt I’m suffering Covid fatigue, but that’s not an excuse. Here’s my response:

You make an excellent point, Tony. While it doesn’t exactly fit, I can absolutely tailor it to fit me. As a recovered alcoholic working a daily recovery program, looking at myself first is normal… most people don’t possess the ability to look at their own lives and deduce that what they’re doing is slightly irrational. Thanks for opening my eyes, it’s appreciated.

Gotta work on that empathy. That’s one [area] I can use a lot of improvement.

Today I’m thankful for being on the mend… and possessing the ability to remain teachable. Now it’s time to get the bike ready for a spin! WOOHOO! I’m done, baby! Almost back to normal. And it’s been far too long.

And Sometimes You Get the Horns… Vaccine Flu Pt. 2: This One Might Be Enough for a Day on the Couch.

I had high hopes for my wife and I on the occasion of our second poke yesterday. I saw myself sailing through it. I’d hydrated, taken my Vitamin D, even got some early miles on the bike because I played hooky for my second shot so I would be resting comfortably at home as the vaccine took hold.

Immediately after the shot I felt a little off, but I put that to being hungry. We went to our favorite restaurant and took care of that issue and I felt quite good. My wife started with a low fever first, about three hours after her jab. I was doing maintenance on the bikes and feeling quite fantastic. I stayed hydrated and thought, finally, I was going to sail through the second.

Two hours later I was cold and I degraded quickly. My arm hurt like it stopped a hammer though the rest of the symptoms weren’t near as bad as the first shot, so I thought maybe I could sweat it out. I was a wreck by bedtime. I was sore, but again, not as bad as the first shot… also, the first shot took me a day to react harshly to, this one hammered me in five hours.

I went to sleep after taking a couple of Tylenol to help me sleep through the aches. At two in the morning, apparently that Tylenol wore off because I was hurting pretty bad. I rolled out of bed and took a couple more Tylenol and set on the couch to write this. The pain meds did their trick and I’m not feeling so bad again… actually, other than the sweating I feel quite good… and I’m going back to sleep.

Maybe I’ll be one of those who, after a day and a nap wakes up to feel better and recharged? Fingers crossed. We’re riding in six hours.

After that nap I’m feeling much better… I just may give it a go after some research that “experts” said it should be okay to exercise after the shot, and my butt is longing for my Venge.

Update: it was the Tylenol. I feel like

My wife just took my temp: 101.2.

In funny Covid-19 news, Sanjay Gupta recently said,

I wonder if you know where this is going… when did we start wearing masks outdoors?!

That would be a never. Now, granted, you can’t actually see anyone’s face in that photo… you’re just going to have to trust me. There are none. And certainly not now that the susceptible seniors are vaccinated.

In fact, that report was from yesterday. This is from the CDC two weeks ago, for Easter celebrations:

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from one other household indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart if everyone in the other household is at low risk for severe disease.

Now, I wonder why the left in the United States are so ill-informed.

Here’s a better one. We were at the bike shop yesterday and a woman comes in with a mask covering her mouth only. My wife offers that we’d just gotten our second shot. She, of course, backs up six more feet on top of the five already between us and says, “Oh, my, you’ll have to stay away from me. I’m not getting the vaccine because I spoke with four doctors who recommended not to, and you’ll be protein shedding for another two weeks.”

I responded, “Good luck with that [not getting the vaccine]”.

She went on for a minute that we were a danger to others for two weeks. I laughed and walked away. If “protein shedding” were a thing, I’d have heard about it already.

Now, humorously, my wife let me in on the fact that this very woman is taking HGH and has been trying to recruit my wife into a multiple tier marketing scam. And she’s on the stuff.

So let’s take an accounting:

  • She walked into the shop with her mask down below her nose. The word “useless” comes to mind.
  • She’s on HGH but the vaccine is just a bridge too far – and four doctors have told her not to get said vaccine.
  • First, why is it always four doctors? And are all of the kooks talking to the same four doctors?!
  • Aaaand better still, all of that and she’s nutty enough to believe in “protein shedding”. In vaccinated people.

God help us all.

The COVID Vaccine, Exercise & Symptoms; My Experience (Updated)

After being stuck late Friday afternoon with my first vaccine shot (Moderna), I rode my bike 20 miles at an easy pace for me, averaging a touch better than 16.5-mph for a little more than an hour. I felt a couple of minor muscle pains toward the end, a slight stabbing pain in my quad, then one in my forearm – both on the side I was injected. Other than that, for Friday, nothing any different.

I am not the only one of my friends to ride shortly after being stuck, and a friend who happens to be a well-respected pharmacist was one (he rode through both shots).

Saturday was interesting. I woke up with a surprisingly sore arm. That my arm was sore was not the surprise. That’s expected. It was the degree of soreness that was surprising. It was not enough I bothered with pain management (not even a Tylenol). I went about my morning as I would any Saturday with rideable temperatures and sunshine. I prepped my Trek for the chilly start 36 F, or 2 C, but with the sun rising quickly. We’re upping the mileage as spring takes hold and we had a nice route on tap for the morning; 41 miles and some change on what we call the sod farm loop (a favorite of mine). My friends started showing up shortly before 9am and we rolled out with six in our group, picking up two on the road. We managed a lively, enjoyable pace for the course just shy of 19-mph. Other than feeling a little discombooberated (a variant of discombobulated) at times when my heart rate went up with my effort, I felt no ill-effects on the ride other than my sore shoulder.

It was a special day, too. My mother, who lives about 45 minutes from my house, was scheduled for her second shot and, with my sister’s family busy, I was taking her to get it done. I showered immediately on getting home, got ready, slid into my vehicle and headed down to pick her up. I also picked up lunch along the way and ate while my mom was in getting stuck. Shortly after eating, I hit a wall of sorts. I was tired. I almost took a nap in the car but didn’t want to miss my mom coming out. Her second shot was administered at the University of Michigan’s stadium, the Big House – with all of the people roaming around, I just wanted to make sure she found the car because I’d moved to a closer, better parking spot.

Everything went fine and I got my mom back to her car without incident. Then, I got my butt home, where I took a nap. Then I watched some TV… and took another nap. And another. After that third nap it dawned on me, it was the vaccine that had me drained.

My daughters had their boyfriends over in the afternoon and my wife and I cooked dinner for everyone. It was an enjoyable time – my girls choose well.

I watched a movie and one-quarter before wanting my bed. Sleep took me quickly and I slept wonderfully, through the night.

On waking this morning, there’s rain in the area so the ride is a bit up in the air. It just may be a day off, but only for the rain – the vaccine wouldn’t sideline me a bit. If it dries out, I’ll ride. The soreness in my arm has subsided greatly and I can’t tell how tired I am quite yet, but appears to be the extent of my first shot symptoms. I ran an interwebz scanner over my arm and apparently Bill Gates forgot to load the tracker into my vaccine. Lucky me. I also haven’t lapsed into an autistic ball on the floor or turned into a zombie, thank God. I am, however, thankfully well on the road to normal. I’m expecting a bit of a tougher time after my second shot, but I have no doubt I’ll ride through it. My pharmacist friend did.

My experience may differ from others. I am exceptionally healthy and firmly believe I’ve just hit middle-age at 50. My immune system is, and always has been, excellent. I am slightly overweight, because I love food, but am still on the good side of the Body Mass Index scale. I’m also quite exceptionally fit. While I could drop a few pounds, I have no doubt they’ll be gone before summer hits. Excess weight tends to burn off when you’re riding 200 to 300 miles a week.

UPDATE: Sunday was a little rough. Thankfully, the weather sucked. Cold, windy and raining, so I was quite happy to spend the day lounging around. Unfortunately, I got so much sleep during the day, I found it impossible to fall asleep later that evening. This morning, Monday morning, I simply feel discombobulated and a little sore all over. No fever, just random body pain (mostly in the shoulders) and feeling a little run down. I did show up for work this morning, though I don’t know if I’ll stick it out or just go home and sleep it off.

The PERFECT TNIL: Riding Off Into the Sunset

Tuesday Night In Lennon was some kind of special last night.

To start, the warm-up was entirely out of hand. With a perfect 75 F (23 C) and a light breeze out of the southwest, I knew it was going to be fast, but I wasn’t quite ready for this. One of the guys, Craig, has two speeds: complete stop and “all go, no slow”. We turned in a 20-mph warm-up – 7 miles in 21 minutes, flat. Who does a warm-up at 20-mph? Oddly, that unnecessarily fast warm-up felt quite good…

We let the A Group, which was substantially larger than the B Group, go and get a minute on us before we rolled out of the parking lot.  We were slowed by a car coming up the road that was just enough to keep the group together out of the gate which meant a measured acceleration to cruising speed.  I was second bike back and ended up with the first tailwind pull, a mile-and-a-quarter up the road.  The pace had been expertly wound up to 22-mph and we took it from there.  A quick stop at an intersection for traffic to clear and we rolled out – and found someone had dropped their water bottle on the other side of the road.  Jason stopped to pick it up and we waited for him, crushing our average (it dropped from 22 down to 20), but that’s kind of how we roll.  

Somehow, I ended up at the front again, so I took another mile.  I felt quite good, but I had it in the back of my mind that I could have just screwed myself taking that much time at the front.  

The next 23 miles were some of the smoothest, most enjoyable miles I’d ever ridden on a Tuesday Night.  Into the headwind down the notorious Shipman Road, crosswind, hills, cross-tailwind – it didn’t matter.  Everyone lined up right and we all did our share to get the group up the road.  We made it through the hills with the group intact, all but one, who was only fifteen seconds behind.  We waited and collected him for the big push home.  

The tandem and Joe took us up the hill to the descent into Vernon.  Clarke and I were second bike and as we crested that climb, he and I took control of the pace and dropped the hammer.  We took the pace from 20-mph at the crest of the hill and slowly built it to 32 (52 km/h).  I held on up there as long as I could before my power started dropping and flicked off.  I latched on at the back and watched as a small group went up the road for the City Limits sprint.  

Until this year, I’d tried to position myself to be in the sprint every week.  This year, however, I decided I’d concentrate more on the lead-out and give everyone else a crack at the sprints.  I’ve found I like the lead-out almost as much as the sprint.

From that point we had about 7-1/2 miles to go and it was right back to smooth and steady – a perfect rotation at the front (other than one minor misstep by a new kid who just started riding with us last week).  The southerly breeze had dropped to a point we were barely stacking against it in the draft.  We kept our pace between 23 & 26-mph (37 & 42 km/h), pushing down the road like a finely-tuned machine.

I was third bike, behind the tandem, with a mile to go.  The guy up front flicked off and Mike and Diane took over.  They started cranking it up with just seven tenths to the finish and I was right on their wheel, down in the drops to stay in their draft.  26-mph, 27… 28 started creeping to 29.  

I was in perfect position to launch off the front if they just held out, but with less than a drag race to go they petered out and started bleeding speed.  Jason came by just in the nick of time and I went from the tandem’s wheel to Jason’s as he cleared my front wheel.  29-mph… 30… I thought about simply hanging on and giving him the sign, but just for a split-second.  In the drops, butt planted on my saddle, I hit the gas and worked around Jason.  32-mph… 33… I was pushing with everything I had to hold him off – the City Limits sign just ahead.  Pulling on the bars to leverage against my driving legs I crossed the line first, half a bike ahead of Jason.  

I stopped my Garmin and uploaded the ride before starting another for the mile-long cooldown.  It was all smiles and fist-bumps as we heading to the church parking lot to pack up and roll home.  We came around the final corner to this:


That’s about a wrap on our season.  We don’t have much time left and we’ll be knocking the time back by 15 minutes next week so we have enough daylight to finish.  Only five or six more Tuesdays until the night ride that’ll signify the end of the year.

We just found out the other day, one of the guys we ride with regularly on Sunday Funday has COVID – the first in our close-knit gaggle.  He’s not a fortunate asymptomatic, but he’s nowhere near a hospital, either.  More on that in a later post.  So far his tandem partner is safe, too – it appears as though she didn’t catch it, even riding with him on the tandem.  Fingers crossed.

A Surprise Wednesday Night PR…

I’ve been cycling rather slowly for more than a month. Whether I’m out with my wife, or my cycling buddy, Chuck, I’ve had good reason to take it kinda easy.  It hasn’t been all easy, though.  I’ve been hogging headwind for the better part of three weeks to at least get a better workout from my rides.  Still, I wondered if the easy miles weren’t to the detriment of speed.  It was through that filter I rode yesterday evening…

It was sunny, a light northerly breeze, and temperate, if below average. I started out into the wind and my average crept up to 18-mph. Then 18.4… 18.6… I was into my second mile, 18.8…

It was then I thought, “well maybe I go for the [19.75-mile] Jimmer Loop in exactly one hour.” It’s a really tough route to hold a good average on because there are so many turns and intersections so if I can squeeze close to 20-mph out of an average, I’m happy… 19.2, 19.3, 19.5… and I was into the wind. Heading west I was holding 22-mph on a horrible stretch of road, and fairly easily. 19.8-mph average.  Another mile north, into the wind again, and I was holding 21.  19.9.  Then there’s a mile loop around a subdivision that resembles a lollipop.  It’s almost impossible to hold a good average through that stretch because there isn’t much good… bad pavement, crosswind, tailwind for 20 seconds, headwind for another 20, then crosswind again, then bad pavement again… but I still had a 20-mph average turning back onto the main road.

And that’s when I started thinking about a PR over 20-mph average.  If memory serves Chuck and I never broke 20-mph on that loop.  We’ve been close a couple of times, but it’s just a horrible route for average – there’s no way to hold any momentum until you’re 14 miles into the 20-mile route.

After a short stint north, about a half-mile, it’s west again and a beautiful mile-long stretch of perfect pavement.  I was instantly up to 24-mph, flirting at times with 25 with the mild crosswind.  20.1 and 20.2…  A quick quarter-mile north followed by more bad pavement and then it gets tricky.  We go into a subdivision that starts out with a punchy little climb over a third of a mile that just saps you, and today it was into the wind, too.  A couple of tenths east, followed by more north, but flatter.  Then, a couple of tenths west, but you have to slow considerably for an intersection where the cross-traffic doesn’t stop.  More west, a jog south (my first tailwind of the ride), more west, then a straight three-quarter mile south and all downhill after a quick climb after the turn.  I was up to 26, easy, and I’d only lost a tenth off my average in the subdivision.  I gained it back when I turned east… for my second lap through the sub.  When I saw my average tick up to 20.2 before the second loop I knew I was going to challenge the 20-mph barrier for the route.  It was almost all crosswind and tailwind all the way home… if I just didn’t poop out.

20.3… Heading north again wasn’t all that bad.  The wind died down to almost nothing and I was still feeling pretty lively.  I held 20+ to the next sub before a nice downhill and some momentum.  A left turn and up a rise and out onto a main road with a bike lane… a little up and a nice downhill that helps you keep a great 25-ish mph pace for the next mile.  If you don’t get caught by the light, and I did.  A handful of brakes to slow down and stop, a quick drink, and I was hammering on the pedals immediately after the green.  I took it up to 22-23 and held it there in the crosswind. 20.4… and then south and tailwind.  20.5.  I was starting to fade but I only had three miles and change to go.  I kept my pace over the next two miles.  20.6… a mile in the crosswind and kept the pace just fast enough to keep from dropping the average.  Then a final three-quarters of a mile to my driveway and a new PR.  19.75 miles in 57m:47s.  20.53-mph average.

Here I was, worried about being hampered by too many slow miles and I completed that route faster than ever before.

I spent the rest of the evening with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  Nobody knew why I was so chipper at the bandit AA meeting last night, but I did.

COVIDcation-2020: One Day and a Wakeup and It’s Wrapped.

My Coronacation started March 19th before there was even serious talk of a lock down. I woke up at 2am with a tight chest – it felt like someone took zip-ties and closed off the upper quarter of my lungs. The dry cough started a few hours later. Fear hit me after the second cough.

And I went for a bike ride at noon… 24 miles took me 1:33: and change. It was the slowest I’d ever ridden a road bike. The fresh air did wonders, though, if nothing else, at least for my spirit.

Five days later my mild symptoms were mostly gone, though I’d lost some lung capacity. It would be three more weeks before I felt close to normal again – and I had good days and bad in the process. Some days I wondered if this was the new normal.

And then, as if someone took wire cutters to the zip-ties cutting off a quarter of my lungs, I started to feel like me again. And I finally relaxed.

We went on lock down on the 24th of March, a couple of days before I was set to return to work.

Since, with the exception of one week for bad weather, it’s been a mileage bonanza. While I was being paid to work from home till the 27th, I rode most every day unless the weather was horrible, and once I was laid off, I rode whenever the urge struck me. And the urge struck me often and repeatedly. Sometimes twice a day.

Can you tell when COVIDcation started for me? It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist.

Recovery during this time was… interesting. I handled it better than I hoped or thought I would. In the good old American spirit, I went to several bandit AA meetings; you can tell me what you would like me to do, but it’s my choice whether or not I’ll do it, dear politicians. That is the American way. For the ninnies, we did observe prudent judgement and stayed well away from each other, meeting outdoors – farther away than what is recommended by the “powers that be”. I would say I used the time to my advantage.

My family life was fantastic. There were a few rocky points early on, but once we figured out how to make things work, we all thrived. Enough my two teenage daughters are sad that I’ve gotta go back to work so soon. I know, a bond between a father and his daughters are special, but c’mon… I never would have hoped for that!

That said, here I sit… one day and a wake-up and I’ll be back to work. I don’t think I’m supposed to have enjoyed this as much as I have, but I’ll get over it.

What COVIDcation taught me is that I’m working my recovery program correctly. It should have been a terrible time, fraught with problems and fear and all of the temptation in the world to take a drink to escape it all. Instead, I simply did the next right thing at any given moment and it turned out to be one of the happier times in my life.

I literally turned shit into sunshine. As recovery goes, that’ll do.

Now Versus Then; My Journey in Recovery. Finding Peace, Contentment and Happiness.

This is a relatively short post, but I’ve got a gem laying out in the open at the end – a shortcut into a decades long understanding of recovery.  Don’t miss it.

I’m heading back to work next week after my layoff due to the COVID-19 virus and scare. I’ve been off for more than a month and a week. Prior to this, my longest vacation was two weeks and I only managed to pull one of those off in 27 years.

I was never sure of the money end of the layoff. We were told unemployment benefits would be available, but I didn’t trust it. The Federal Government had EIDL and PPP schemes but they ran out of money long before normal folks like me could even sign up. We immediately did what we could to minimize our bills. We even took the insurance off my vehicle (technically, it was put in “storage” so it was covered in the event a tree fell on it or something crazy). We spent wisely on groceries and ended fast food purchases. And my family thrived under the “lock down”.  I had more fun than a fella should be allowed to have.

We spent most days together, watching movies, playing games, tending to yard work – we even taught my youngest to play euchre. And I caught up on about 20 years of sleep. It was, without question, a glorious time off when many were struggling, I enjoyed almost every day.  Make no mistake, though.  The reason we were able to enjoy this was that, even with some economic insecurity, we had enough money in the bank to make it, even if it would be ugly without assistance.

After three weeks, the money started rolling in.  We got a stimulus check from the Feds, then a week later, unemployment started up.  We could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

As recovery went, I spoke to sponsors when I needed, I attended some Zoom meetings, and I even went to a few “bandit” meetings where we’d meet in a parking lot on lawn chairs, using the parking stripes as markers so we were well beyond our “6 feet” or “two meters”. I felt connected with my fellow AA’s and my recovery grew and progressed. I was given a new understanding of “going to any length to stay recovered”, and I loved it.

I was grateful for every day I had (there were two or three where my wife and I struggled to figure out how to occupy the same house together, sunup to sundown, but we got there – in the end, we thrived even in that pressure cooker).

This was the existence I prayed for when I asked God to help me recover. My end was that I’d give recovery everything I had. I lived up to my end and my Higher Power exceeded His. It’s not perfect, but I have the tools at my disposal to enjoy life on life’s terms – even when those terms are challenging.

There once was a time, decades ago, when my recovery revolved around repairing the progression of my disease, repairing the damage done by an astounding use of drugs and alcohol in a short period of time and the wreckage I created to stay high. The focus changed for the better years ago. My focus is no longer on distancing myself from my addiction, but on growing in recovery.

During a zoom meeting, one of the readings touched on the progression of the disease and that was chosen as the topic.  As I sometimes do, I had to modify that topic a little bit to suit where I’m at today:

Life today, for me, lies not in the progression of my disease, but the progression of my recovery.  It has for a long time, really.  It just took a decade or so to fully understand the meaning.

I enjoyed COVIDcation because working the steps when life turns sideways is natural.  I have recovered from a seemingly impossible state.  And with God’s grace, I’ll continue that today.  One day at a time.  Just for today.