Two weeks on….

Conversation in the Barker household this morning. I was in cycling kit and sweaty, Kyle had returned from Reading. Wilbur is the Wattbike.
Kyle: Your hair’s looking windswept and interesting!
Me: I took Wilbur for a spin
Kyle: Were you wearing your helmet??!
Me: Well yes I was actually, smarty pants!
This small and slightly bizarre insight into Barker life may prompt two questions…Firstly, why on a beautiful summer’s day with absolutely no need to do interval sessions was I riding indoors and secondly why on earth was I wearing a helmet? Surely even I can’t fall off a Wattbike…
Almost everybody asks a) how the neck is and b) have I been back on the bike yet? Today’s session was a definitive answer to both those questions. The neck isn’t happy; whereas the floppiness was quick to resolve, the muscle spasm and pain is more reluctant to depart. Suffice to say many things irritate it – working on my laptop (hence me dictating this) swimming, Pilates, looking at my phone for too long, even just sitting and chatting for a couple of hours in the same position leaves me with a stonking headache and a neck and shoulders that feel like they’re on fire. Some things just come down to the need to support my head in a slightly forward position (like typing) or using my upper body (like swimming or Pilates) but the sitting and chatting (business meeting) pain was a bit unexpected. I think it’s because I do a weird disappeared cocking-my-head-to-one-side-like-a-spaniel thing.

I’ve purposely not been on the bikes except for a few minutes after reassembling them but the urge to get out and enjoy the summer was overwhelming today so I decided to try Wilbur rather than head down the road and have to come back. A half-hour warm up proved there is nothing wrong with my legs but I did have to jack up the handlebars which was my first warning that all didn’t bode well. Given that I won’t ride outside without a helmet (having been run over and had my helmet split in 3 places) I decided just to check how much of a difference this would make…. 20 minutes later the helmet came off and I finished my planned hour ride (round numbers only) with a headache having answered my question – no riding outdoors yet.

All is not lost, I can ride Wilbur in Dutch/ Mary Poppins style and I’ve also started running again, or at least I call it running, God knows what my running coach will call it (actually I do know… braking!) It’s an interesting thing, running when you can’t feel your feet or toes properly and I shall use this as my excuse for what passes as my attempt at some form of athletic endeavour. There is something very pure about running- you can do it anywhere with minimal kit. I spend a lot of time outside in beautiful countryside when I’m riding yet rarely feel a part of it, whereas running you’re moving much slower and become part of that scenery. I’m looking forward to acquainting myself with the Ridgeway and Thames Path in a whole new light over the coming months. The neck seems okay with running probably because I’m vertical and the pain in my legs and Darth Vader feeling in my lungs gives my mind something else to focus on.

As for the neck…. Rest, deep tissue massage and doing my rehab exercises in the short term. Once it’s calmed down and I’ve switched off the grumpy muscles and switched on the ones that need to work, I can start to strengthen it ready for its next adventure…. And yes, there is one booked.

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