Coming up for air

When I started feeling hints of a sore throat a week ago Monday, I joked with my coworkers that I was getting "The Swine." By Wednesday, I was on the floor. I barely got out of bed on Thursday; I just lulled around my room in a feverish delirium. Friday was only a little better. I finally dragged myself to the gym on Sunday but seriously sore muscles and lightheadedness chased me off the treadmill after only a half hour. By Monday, I had just about had it with "The Swine." I know it's not the end of the world. It's just that I'm one of those people who never gets sick. About once a year, I pick up a mild cold for a day or two, but that's usually it. It's been five years since I even had something strong enough to keep me off my bike or from going to work. So coming down with the flu, whether or not it was actually the swine flu, hit me hard.

Today I woke up to a lot of new snow and a car mostly buried in the driveway, so I decided to ride Pugsley to work. It had been a week since I had been on a bike, or even outside for more than a few seconds at a time. My muscles still ached and my sinuses were still clogged, but the simple commute into the office felt amazing. I pedaled hard, surpassing the muscle aches, sweating out the rest of my fever, smiling at all the fresh-fallen snow and gulping down the moist 25-degree air that felt both refreshing and - after last week's cold snap - downright balmy. Nothing sets up a singularly amazing bike ride like a week of "The Swine." In a couple more hours here, I'll set out to ride 11 miles home amid a snow-blanketed night. Just thinking about it makes me feel giddy.

Besides making my rather boring commute suddenly feel like a dream ride, another benefit of having the flu for a week is that my Divide writing project has taken off. I might as well just start calling it a book, because whether or not it's ever published, it's certainly long. One wouldn't think that a person could write 100,000 words about the lead-up and execution of a single bike ride. I wouldn't have thought so either, but I've surpassed 80,000 words and I'm not even out of Colorado. (I started this thing back in September, but I've generated the bulk of it in the past three weeks.) There were a couple nights in the past week where I felt too sick to sleep, so I took my mind off my crappy condition by laying in my bed with my chin still resting on a pillow, whisking myself away to better days by typing on my tiny laptop computer. Not sure how many of those words are actually coherent. I may end up needing to rework most of it. But the big benefit of the flu writing experiment was how deeply involved I became. I feel like I stepped wholly outside myself and disappeared into the recent past, overcome with a wash of experiences and memories and sometimes brutal honesty that I just had to let out. Like I said, I don't know how viable the project is outside my flu delirium. But, in its own way, this past week inside has been an incredible experience.

I almost hate to let the momentum slide, but it's really about time I start riding my bike again. The White Mountains 100 is a frighteningly close two months away.


  1. A good pedal, and a Pugsley defeat the lingering affects of "The Swine"!!!!!!!!
    Glad your feeling better!


  2. Anonymous3:50 AM

    Be careful, pneumonia is the flu's best friend right after the flu! 10 years ago I got outside to sweat out the end of the flu and ended up in the hospital for a week!

  3. Glad you're feeling better, Jill!

    I've been devouring Ghost Trails whenever I get a half hour to curl up on the couch with a blanket. Just reading about your time out in the sub-zero wind made me get up and find a second blanket to wrap myself in! I kept having sympathetic fears that my feet were getting frost bite just sitting in my cozy living room. You're writing is so descriptive and heartfelt.

    It sounds like tour divide writing has been a good experience for you! I hope it's therapeutic and fun. I also hope you WILL turn it into a book - with pictures!

  4. Richard6:03 AM

    Glad you survived The Swine; we'd be lost without your blog. Take it easy for a while and work on the Divide book. Hope you find a publisher.

  5. We're looking forward to seeing you at the White Mountains 100... the oh-so frozen north is calling!

  6. You can stay on the treadmill for 30 fricking minutes? Impressive.

  7. Anonymous is right about being careful. Pay attention and if you start spiking a fever again or become severely short of breath, get to a Dr. It's NOT anything to try to manage on your own.

  8. Anonymous6:55 PM

    Can't wait for the book. How many words?

  9. Saw the news about the paper. Hope you're doing OK.

  10. Hi,Jill,
    I'm down here in Texas and enjoy reading your blog. Just wanted to say I'm glad your feeling better! Take care.

    You amaze me! I groan about the little bit of winter that we get down here. I can not even imagine riding in the kind of cold you all have.

  11. Welcome back Jill.

    Got the book and it is my flight reading material to Nevada and Colorado next week!

    Get well and you are right nothing like a ride to cure the ills!

  12. dinglearm1:38 PM

    welcome back. Can't wait to read your latest writing no matter what form it is in......

  13. Glad to hear you're feeling better. Good luck with the book. Any thoughts on a title? Can't wait to read it!

  14. Wow, fantastic pictures. I like your blog. I put a link to your blog from mine. I'm "Cactus" MTBiker from Verona (North East of Italy - famous to be town of Romeo and Juliet -). Sunday I'll be out in our mountains for a ride with some other bikers. We expect snow by 1000am and we will start our ride at 0815am. We'll see. We are not in Alaska but Alps are good too. All the best and if you want, come to visit my blog.

  15. Nothing feels better then a ride after a bout of flu or a bad cold.

    Off the couch, starting to feel normal again - being outside once again.

    Great blog you have going here.

  16. good stuff. I used to think I was "odd" for riding in blizzard conditions out here in Boulder CO during winter. reading you... I feel "normal." now a ride on snow/ice feels fine. I'd be curious to know what kind of rig you're riding (tires/wheels/size, frame, brakes, etc); maybe a post on equipment?

  17. The blessings of vaccination.


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