Sunday, January 20, 2008

Flu Virus Lives at 5 Below

Friday was a fun day at work. I had several special writing projects to finish. And co-workers are always in a good mood on Fridays. It was cold though. The day started out around 10 degrees and just kept falling from there. Nonetheless it was a nice ride into work. I seem to have my winter layering pretty well dialed after a few years of winter commuting.

Sylvia had been sick Wednesday night and Thursday with a vomit-encrusted bug of some sort. She was feeling better Friday morning by the time I left for work. Little did I know I was incubating the mutant spawn for a surprise attack.

Shortly after lunch I knew something was not right. I started getting that feeling as if someone had planted Alka-Selzter tablets in my stomach. Then came the fun stuff. I'll just say I made several trips to the bathroom. I was also beginning to ache and feel very weak. By the time 5:30 rolled around the temperature had dipped to around -5. I was wondering if I should try riding home. I'd put my head on the desk for a while. I tried lying on the floor. I wasn't going to shake it on short notice. There was even a happy hour at work with FREE BEER and I wanted no part of it. (That's a bad sign.) As I packed up and shuffled toward the exit, my boss and a couple of co-workers said I shouldn't ride home. They offered to give me a lift. I had thought about this scenario and although I was truly miserable and quite sure it wouldn't get better soon I somehow couldn't get over my personal commitment (nay, RESOLUTION!) to ride to work everyday. I thanked them. They looked very concerned. I said I'd be okay. I hoped I was right.

Dressing for the ride home was slow going due to a few extra, uh, trips to the potty. I wasn't concerned about puking, should that occur. Puking is as easy as pulling down your balaclava and making a deposit into the shoulder of the road. My concerns were: 1)that I, due to weakness, would not be able to pedal fast enough to stay warm, and 2)that if I (to put it bluntly) shit my tights it would freeze and make my ride very, very uncomfortable. So, I left the shoulder loops of my bibs down as a precaution (so as not to have to peel a jacket and jersey in the event of necessary commando action). Plus, as I pedaled I tried to think thoughts as pleasant as possible -- thoughts that had nothing to do with explaining anything extraordinary to either my wife or the Brooks saddle company.

I ticked off the mental waypoints -- Poplar Bridge, most of the hills down, 1/4 of the way home; I-494 crossing, all right! halfway; the Crosstown, doing great! 2/3 down -- and for the final 2 miles I actually watched my odometer with those precious tenths of a mile sliding by. I knew I could make it. And I did. I was none too proud of my mood or my facial expression when I walked in the door.

You can't see it here, but I must have grimaced for 3 hours straight Friday evening. There was a little comic relief as April and Sylvia found the icicle on my chin to be quite amusing and snapped a photo of it for posterity. I peeled my layers as quickly as possible then began resuming trips to the bathroom. Each trip became more difficult since I was attempting to bury myself beneath successively thicker layers of blankets on the couch. Each trip I'd have to extricate my shivering body from 10+ pounds of covers. Finally, it happened. The remainder of lunch came up the front end and delivered about 5 minutes of agony. Then, all felt remarkably better. I was still shivering (not from the ride, mind you) but my suicide bombings of the bathroom had ceased. All I had to do was sleep.

Well, the beauty of these sneaky bugs -- they hit quick and hard but they usually don't hang around for long. Today I awoke and felt normal again. Hooray! Just in time for what looks to be a week straight of subzero commuting temps.

I thought I'd throw in a photo of the new Surly in its finished commuter form (fenders, rack and all). I'm debating whether to go fixed or leave it free. Even with its astonishingly low gear of 46X20 I am sucking wind on the hills. I don't know what's wrong with me. Maybe I've had the flu all winter.

No comments: