Bonnie Sparks Writes

…fiction and discusses editing, writing, mental illness, chronic conditions, bunnies, food, fitness, and geeky topics.

Workout: Re-learning how to Ride a Bike Part II

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Workout WednesdayIt’s Workout Wednesday time! It’s a chance for me to post about my progress with fitness. I’ve had M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelities or incorrectly titled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) since 2005. When it first began I was in the 5-10% ability range – bedridden, unable to sleep, unable to tolerate noise, unable to do much of anything except lie inert in a dark room.

As you can imagine, muscle wasting occurred and then I developed a blood clot. This blood clot went unnoticed until it travelled into my lungs and split into three blood clots. Such fun! The pulmonary embolism prompted me to get my body moving and now I’ve been building my strength back up, one workout session at a time.

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This post is a little bit of a story so I have divided it in half and part one went up last Wednesday. Before I get to it though, I have exciting news! Well, I’m excited about it. Guess what I’m doing tonight? Going rock climbing! Indoor rock climbing. I have never done it before and I’m quite surprised at my lack of nerves right now. I’m scared of heights. My fear of heights isn’t only reserved to being up high either. It includes tall objects, people, and animals (like horses and giraffes)… So this will be interesting! Anyway… back to the story…

When I was younger I loved my bike. I loved riding down my street, I loved careening down a hill with the wind swooshing past my body, and I loved the freedom of movement and speed

I made it! On the way I dropped my bike several times to avoid falling over and felt a panic attack looming. By the time I got to the park, which is about 1.5km’s, my confidence was very low. I decided I hated my bike and I shouldn’t be let near the stupid thing. I actually nicknamed it stupid, in my head.

I tried to ride back home, but got about halfway before I gave up and pushed my bike the rest of the way. When my partner asked me if I wanted to try riding, in lovely flat areas, I resolutely shook my head.

Sydney’s answer to snow?

The third time was amusing now I reflect on it, but at the time not so much. My partner suggested Olympic Park (beginning at Wilson Park), where it’s quieter and less crowded. Guess what though? It hailed! I’m optimistic more than not these days and when we woke up to cloudy skies I suggested we try riding anyway.

My partner has a good dose of confidence when it comes to riding so was in the lead and eventually out of sight. I was getting slower and slower. I was extremely anxious and nervous from the other day, my seat was too high (slap in the vag anyone?), my legs muscles were tight from the squat challenge I’m taking part in, and we were riding along a river. My next fear after riding next to a road is riding next to water.

First it began to pour, then hail. By that point I decided I absolutely hated my bike, I hated bike riding, I wasn’t suited to the activity any more, and everyone could go fuck themselves (I’m nice and aggressive in my head sometimes). This is an excellent example of my negativity taking over and in the past I would have let it physically take over too, but now I refuse.

We pulled over to a cafe to wait it out, but inside was full and there wasn’t much in the way of shelter outside. The car wasn’t very far so we decided to brave the storm and ride back. Who knows how long we would have been stranded for?

Luckily the hail had eased up, and even though my inner thoughts were grumbling occasionally, I began to reconsider everything. During my ride back to the car-park I decided I should consider the outing a triumph and an adventure. My confidence was low to begin with, sank even lower during previous ride to the oval, but I got out there anyway. I not only rode my bike, I kept going when it was raining until I found shelter, and got back on my bike to return to the car. I could’ve walked back and I could’ve not gone at all, but what would that accomplish?

View from the hill thingy

View from the hill thingy

I know I will be regretful if I say no to certain activities and I will lose respect for myself. I’ve struggled for years with my self-respect. It’s a lonely road to take when you let others disrespect you, but lonelier still when you can’t respect yourself. There’s times when you only have yourself to rely on. If you can’t be your own ally, how can you ever expect anyone else to be?

Besides, a year ago I wouldn’t be on a bike let alone riding through hail. You can bet your arse I feel accomplished now. I can complain about some things, but I can’t dwell when I know once upon a time my body was uncooperative.

We went back to Olympic Park for our fourth attempt. We were there for three hours. My butt hurt, I

couldn’t walk properly afterwards, but guess what? I rode my bike! Sure I still have trouble taking off, I like to begin on flat surfaces, I haven’t mastered gears yet (I’d yell out to my partner every so often ‘What gear should I be in?’), but I didn’t drop my bike once, I didn’t crash into anything, I rode up a hill thingy, and I crossed several roads!

I rode for 20km’s. BOO-YAH! Suck that inability to ride a bike properly.

Dork with Bike

Dork with Bike

Since then I’ve ridden my bike once more, at Olympic Park, this past weekend. I wasn’t exactly at the top of my game that day. I hadn’t had enough sleep, which exacerbates some of my ME symptoms. My spatial awareness, my balance, and my ability to rationalise was off. The heat, especially when very humid, causes fatigue and heart palpitations. The weather was crazy. Being hot and humid is one thing, but the wind was out of control. It got so bad in some areas I ended up having to get off my bike because I couldn’t pedal anymore.

I got off… but I got back on. Unless it is life threatening, you can’t let things like this stop you. Am I right, or what? Even more so when you’re battling mental illnesses and trying to recondition your brain. I was forced off my bike by the wind, I rode into a fence, I had heart palpitations (and then rested of course), I didn’t trust my body enough to ride up the hill, I went into a couple of poles and some tree branches, almost careened off the path into some bushes, but I kept trying.

I’ve taken back my bike’s nickname, I don’t hate it anymore, and guess what I’m doing this weekend? Just going bike riding…

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Note: If you’ve seen some of these images before and are wondering why it’s because I also post them to Instagram.

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Author: Bonnie

Between a blogging addiction, hosting reading challenges, reviewing, writing novels, and overcoming a neuro-immune disease, Bonnie attempts to do as many awesome things as she can and has a good dose of daily bunny cuddles. She resides in Western Sydney with her rabbit, Winston.

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