After nearly a month of miserable weather, today was a doozy - clear blue skies, 28 degrees, hardly a breath of wind. I bailed out of work as early as possible and hit the road for a couple of hours - photos from a couple of sites that I stopped at are displayed in the next few posts.
It was not the greatest of rides though. I started out feeling flat and winded. Small hills left me short of breath, where normally I'd be hardly puffing. I seemed to be 25% off my usual pace, like I hadn't been on the bike for a year rather than a month. I think I've shaken off the flu - but perhaps a bit is still hanging around?
I was hoping to ride for 3 hours, but the lack of oomph early on dictated a shorter ride. There are days when you feel that the wind is at your back and you could ride forever, and then there are days when you feel like you are dragging a tree trunk around behind you. Today was one of those "days with trees" sort of days. I took a lot of photos because I needed plenty of excuses to stop and recover - and it was a great day for taking photos too.
The kicker was when I was only about 5 minutes from home. I was sitting at a red light, and decided to swap my water bottles around - moving the empty one to the rear holder and bringing the full one forward. That might seem like a strange thing to do when so close to home, but I like to guzzle a lot of water as I wind down on the home stretch.
That simple act of reaching for the rear water bottle set off something terrible in my pecs. It felt like I had been stabbed with a hot knitting needle in the arm pit, with the needle being pushed slowly across my pec to my nipple. It was absolutely excruciating - a muscle tear in slow motion. It's happened before a few times when I have been riding - the first time when I was trying to get a bulky camera out of my back pocket (I have opted for flat-pack cameras ever since). It seems that I can't combine rides of a few hours with certain arm movements - I probably need a physiotherapist to explain why.
The lights went green, and I had to struggle off with one arm held across my chest - it hurt too much to lean forward and hold the handlebars with the bung arm. I managed to ride a few hundreds metres, and then I had to stop. When this has happened in the past, I've ridden through it - the pain being bad, but manageable. This time, there was no way I could keep going, even though I could almost see home. I had to pull over and stand on the foot path for a few minutes until it subsided.
It just so happened that I was on a busy road, and I got to see many motorists driving by with bemused looks on their faces, wondering what the hell I was doing standing there with one arm held across my body. I tried stretching the arm this way and that - nothing worked. I was going to have to wait it out.
Eventually, the knitting needle was withdrawn from my pectoral muscle, and I was able to continue. It doesn't hurt at all now, and I was able to pick up heavy stuff when I got home. Maybe it was a cramp or spasm rather than a tear?
Who cares what it was - it hurt like all buggery. Damn this getting old.
On second thoughts, it might have been the subclavius muscle giving grief - it depresses the shoulder, bring it forward and down, which is what I was doing in order to swap the water bottles around. How on earth do you perform stretches on a muscle like that before a ride?