Cycling Seasons

March 23, 2009

A picture for people coping with Ehlers-Danlos or other chronic illness.

by Susan B Spitzer, PhD

It has been suggested by more than one physician that I might not be alive today if I hadn’t grasped the sport of cycling into my life. Certainly, the quality of my life is greatly enhanced by this luxury. I offer a prayer of thanks every time I begin a new ride. Although I cycle throughout the entire year, the best season to do so is most definitely during spring. The cool air, clear skies, and…well…just look at the pictures I took last year!

A couple of years ago, I was so ill that I was not able to even stand up unassisted. I was battling for my recovery with every ounce of fortitude that I had available inside of me. I knew that I needed to get on my trike in order to build my strength back up, but couldn’t do it alone. Since I had the assistance of a private nurse caring for me at my home during this period, I instructed her to get me on my trike. Naturally, if I was going to ride my trike, I felt I should also be dressed in my Lycra riding clothes. This was not an easy feat for the nurse to accomplish as I am a somewhat Rubenesque woman who has trouble getting into Lycra pants even when I can stand up on my own. To make things even more complicated, my nurse was less than cooperative as she felt it was much more important that I drink a can of Ensure than ride some bike. While this nurse was very nurturing, it was not what I needed. I let her go that evening and hired a new nurse to start the next day. When Teressa showed up the next morning, she wore her traditional nursing whites, but also brought with her a white pair of pedal pusher pants to go along with her bike on the back rack of her car. Twice a day, Teressa put me into my Lycra pants and onto my trike and twice a day I pedaled as hard and as far as I could. Initially, she just walked along side of me because I only made it from my driveway to the next door neighbor’s house. Eventually, I was able to make it to the corner and back, and at that point Teressa began to ride along side of me. We rode around the block. Then a couple of rides later we would make it to another black. Eventually, I made my goal of pedaling to the cemetery and back. That was when Teressa and I knew I had arrived into recovery from the horrendous episode that had disrupted my neurological system. Although it’s been a while since I’ve called Teressa to play catch up, I have been fortunate enough to be able to enjoy my cycling. Sometimes I’m more capable than others, and there’s no question that my condition is degenerative, but I intend on making it work for as long as possible. When the time comes that I am not able to ride, I guess I’ll have to discover a newer passion in life…after all…cycling replaced my previous passion of work! This video shows how I’m adjusting my cycling habits to accommodate changes in my physical condition:


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(c) Susan B Spitzer, PhD 2019