Sunday, August 1, 2010

similia similibus curantur

I could get on my bike today.
I could.
I keep telling myself that, and then I shake my head, no, no, I donwanna.
but I could.
and some might say I should.
I shake my head, no, no, I donwanna.

way back in the day of hippocrates a belief existed that similia similibus curantur, or "like cures like." in shakespeare's day this was expressed as "hair of the dog," which comes quite literally to us from the belief that a few hairs from the dog that bit one, when placed directly into the wound, would help one to heal with no ill effects.
nowadays, this concept is most frequently used when dealing with the effects of a hangover, as people insist that imbibing some alcohol the following day will reduce one's hangover-related pain.
well, let's apply this to biking.
it's possible I have a biking hangover. (I'm sure there's a more apt term for this.) I biked for eight and a half hours yesterday, pushing my body past a few of its limits, and although I'm ambulatory and wince-free in my movements, I am not exactly full of piss and vinegar.
it has crossed my mind that a recovery ride might be good for me today.
it has also crossed my mind that no ride might be good for me today.
because although this "like cures like" theme has been floating around our existence for centuries, I'm not sure that I really believe it. or maybe it works, sometimes, sure, but I don't think it's a must.

so let me tell you a bit about yesterday's ride.
to begin with, we received an email late friday afternoon telling us that due to construction in Little Cottonwood canyon, that leg was being eliminated from the ride and replaced with City Creek canyon at the tail end of the ride. now for those of you who don't know, Little Cottonwood is the toughest canyon around here, steep and relentless and--my favorite word--unforgiving. and to remove this canyon is to lessen the challenge of the 4-canyon ride by about a third. I felt equally disappointment and relief.
later friday night the next missive told us that, upon reflection and feedback, the route would not add City Creek at the end, but would instead culminate with Big Mountain. ow. that would be a hard climb at the end, but, okay.
then on saturday morning at 6:30 as we are gathering to take off, it was announced that Little Cottonwood was safely rideable, and we were welcome to go back to the original plan if we wanted.
yes, no, yes, no, argh!
at that point I adopted an attitude of whatever will be will be, and I headed out with a small group of friends along wasatch boulevard, to the mouth of Little Cottonwood canyon.
and up.
to the top, no stopping at snowbird for this ride.
and then down.
then up Big Cottonwood and down. then I hobbled up Millcreek, having to stop twice for more than just a moment of recovery.
then down.
then over to Emigration, where I limped up and up until a cramp attacked my right leg about a mile and a half from the top. I kept pedaling, it wasn't that bad, and it lessened a bit and then I decided I needed to stop for another pause.
1.5 miles to the top.... how could I not finish this stretch, get myself to the end of the final canyon? I set off again, slowly, and by some miracle reached the top, which came absolutely not ten seconds too soon.
after a bit of rest, it was back down and over across wasatch and back to the starting point at skyline high school, where our car sat, it's five or six sole remaining friends lonely in the lot.

yesterday pushed my body more than anything I've ever done. during both of my "pauses" while ascending Millcreek, I questioned if what I was doing to it was more than I should be. it's not easy to tell, at times, if what you're experiencing is part of strengthening yourself by challenging your limits, or part of pushing too hard and far and possibly creating disrepair.
my surgeon tells me to "listen to my body," but he doesn't know the relationship my body and I have: it speaks, I cajole and tease, it talks back, I tell it to man up, it throws out its final words, and I say "we're almost there, hang on."
but I am listening to my body today.
it's saying no, no, I donwanna, and I think it's being wise.
no hair for me today.
no like curing like.
I think I'll save similia similibus curantur for the morrow.

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