Bike or Hike?

Monday I made a discovery – I may be able to live a more active lifestyle than I originally thought!

To give some context we need to go back one year ago to Anchorage, Alaska. I was staying with my cousin, shortly after my official diagnosis of fibromyalgia. I have always been an outdoors girl, hiking on weekends in the Columbia River Gorge or Cascade Mountains. This particular trip I was determined to get outdoors. Who wants to waste such a fantastic opportunity as Alaska?! So my cousin George convinced me to hike the foothills behind Anchorage.

I surprised myself by hiking almost 2 hours! Granted, I needed to take multiple rest breaks, but that gave me the chance to really take in the views of the city and the Sleeping Lady further beyond. At the end, I was exhausted and retired to a couch with heating pads on my knees and muscles. The next couple days were devoted to recuperating.

The following week, once my body was recharged, I again dared to venture out, this time on a bike. We biked from Midtown down to the coastal trail. This time I really did my body in. While the actual ride along the coastal trail was pleasant, the bike back to Midtown was torturous.  My body ached for weeks afterward, especially my knees. For the most part, I have avoided a bike ever since.

Skip ahead to Monday’s office picnic in the park down by the river, a good distance from my house. Faced with the choice of  riding the bus for 40 minutes and riding a bike for 15 minutes, I chose the bike with trepidation and full expectation of a week’s worth of regret and pain.

I could not have been more wrong. The ride there and back was glorious; I have not felt such carefree bliss in years! It is amazing what a sense of control and freedom a bike gives the rider, and I want to be drunk with it. Besides a few minor aches, I feel great!

So what was the difference? No major hills, as Appleton, Wisconsin is basically flat. I am also in better shape than I was last year, with a better grip on my condition. I am eating whole foods, walking a lot, and gardening.  I have a regular sleep schedule. Am I suddenly the bionic woman? Absolutely not – but I am able to be more active.

This gives me hope for my travel goals. I have been worried I will be quickly worn out and unable to hike the Slovenian Alps or bike the Danube River. Now I have the confidence that I will be able to get out into Europe’s outdoor treasures. Cheers to that!

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
This entry was posted in Exercise/sports, travel with fibromyalgia and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Bike or Hike?

  1. Barb Ward says:

    Great start and great writing!! Looking forward to more!!

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