But most important, this outfit attracts a pretty great group of travelers who are fun to get to know — and have an impressive array of interests and talents. And this worked greatly to my benefit as I struggled with an highly unexpected and ill-timed muscle problem just as our tour was getting under way.
A few days before the group met I was starting to notice a peculiar discomfort in my back, shoulder, and one arm whenever I sat in a chair for a meal. It came on gradually, and didn’t seem like a huge deal, but it was weird. While sitting and eating I kept fidgeting to try to get more comfortable. Just before the bike trip it became worse, making me uncomfortable no matter what I was doing.
On our first scheduled day of biking, I was in pain almost constantly. That was an intro day with just a couple hours of riding to test out the bikes, so I went ahead, hoping that the bike wouldn’t hurt. My wishful thinking suggested it might help stretch me out and heal the problem. But no, riding was absolutely miserable. I was always highly uncomfortable, and sometimes the pain became intense. I was in constant pain afterward, wondering how on earth I was going to deal with four full days of riding ahead. Would I just keep suffering and deepening the injury? Or spend days riding in the van while everyone else enjoyed my bike trip? I felt like I would never be myself again.Then my physical therapy team started to take shape. I met Bonnie, a nurse practitioner from La Crosse, Wisconsin, who talked me through the symptoms and gave me comforts I needed to relieve the pain — anti-inflamation pills stronger than my over-the-counter stuff and a heat pad that magically sticks to your skin and provides heat comfort for eight hours. That thing was like crack to me.
The next morning, as I was agonizing about what to do, John the physical therapist from Santa Rosa, California offered to talk through my problem and convinced me that riding for the day was the right thing to do. This was a treatable problem, and I wasn’t going to do myself intractable harm. Then, just before I got on my bike for the day, Rosie from Foster City, California, offered to physically check out the injured areas. She is licensed Rolfer, who checked out the muscles, quickly zoomed in on some of the trouble, and almost magically lifted some of the tension.
I’ve now completed two more full days of spectacular riding. I continue to have some discomfort on the bike, but it’s bearable, it’s getting better, and I’m no longer worried that I’m going to do irreparable harm by doing what we came here to do. It’s turning into a really fun week with a great group of people, thanks especially to my therapy team.