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Well what do you know… my vaccine appears to be… working! Shocker!

I’ve been 100% back to normal since getting vaccinated. That’s a full stop. No masks (I don’t even look for signs anymore), no distancing, I’m back to hugs, handshakes and bro-hugs. I’m about three weeks away from “last year is last year”. I don’t even think about COVID anymore.

I’m treating my vaccine as, well, one would treat a vaccine.

Normal is fantastic.

Alas, I can’t help feel sorry for those who still run around in a mask, whether to signal some form of virtue (if you’d even call it virtue, I wouldn’t), because their employer or government requires them, or because they’re still legitimately scared.

Another set I feel sorry for is the group that won’t get vaccinated – be it vast right-wing or vast left-wing conspiracy folks (if you think they’re only from one side of the political spectrum, you’re wrong). In fact, this is an excellent line of thought to expand on.

Whatever the case with the COVID, I’m enjoying my double-immunity (had it and I’ve been vaccinated… didn’t really know I’d had it till I was sick for a full week after my first jab).

One of my friends sees everyone through a political spectrum. Now, we all have our political leanings and beliefs, but the vast majority of us can look beyond those beliefs and see the good in others and let the rest go to be friends. After all, these are politicians we’re talking about here. Not this friend of mine, though. In fact, I don’t think he much cares for me due to the way I lean. He certainly likes to take pot-shots at me from time to time. I rarely react, because other than his political views and the way he treats those who think differently, he’s generally a pretty good guy to be around. Funny thing is, he’s lost on the fact I choose to look beyond his political leanings even though I disagree with a lot of what he believes in. I like to say, “if it was actually as bad as he thought it was, I’d be just as mad as he is, too”.

On a ride a while back during a ride, we passed Nuggent Road and I pointed to it as we rode by. This friend of mine is a connoisseur of rock and roll and I figured he’d get a charge out of passing Nuggent Road.

He got a charge, all right. He let me know how Ted Nuggent was a denier of the COVID until he got it and how he despised the man because he’s a radical right-winger.

First, the Nug wasn’t a denier at all (though he was mis-reported as being one – shocker). He said the toll on freedom was too much, and he was right. Anyway, I took that opportunity and said, “He also happened to play a mean guitar”. Then I added, “You know, half the country is a whole lot of people to hate because of their political beliefs”. I didn’t say a word after that.

If you can’t see the good in people beyond a bunch of political bullshit arguments meant to keep you angry, I’d like to suggest you try to make the world a better place. As long as you know where to start doing that. Try a mirror.

I do. It’s a great place to start. The asshole looking at me is the only one on the planet I can change anyway.

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.

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.