It took a week to get the last ride report up because my brain has been in a decongestant-induced fog. Every fall and spring there’s at least one week where my sinuses and my lymph nodes get together and throw a big party to celebrate the changing weather and create a metric ton of snot. There were several days this past week with ideal riding weather – sunshine, crisp, cool air and dry pavement – but I just couldn’t muster up the brain power for it. It’s a little funny how I defaulted to driving two tons of metal around instead, like it’s somehow safer to be operating a large vehicle instead of a little scoot, but there you are. When you’ve been driving a big hunk of metal for twenty years, it’s easier to autopilot a little bit when not feeling your best.
At this point in my life on two wheels, still in my first year, I am nowhere near the point where anything is second nature on a ride like it is on a drive. It’s still very much a full brain and body activity for me. But it really does make me feel so much better to get out there and ride, so when I’m feeling mildly under the weather there’s always this choice:
Do I feel good enough to ride and try to feel better, or just bad enough to stay in and not risk doing something stupid?
They taught us in my MSF course that we shouldn’t ride if we’re feeling particularly emotional – good or bad – because of how distracting it can be. Any brainpower we’re giving to our excitement, our stress, or our sadness is diverted from the focus we should have on the ride and our safety. One instructor compared it to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol because of how badly reaction times can be affected. I naturally have a very busy brain and big feelings, so learning to ride has been an incredibly helpful exercise in learning to narrow my focus and shut out the noise. There are plenty of times, stuck in traffic or purring along less-traveled back roads, that my mind will wander a bit, and I still need to rein those in. It’s a work in progress.
But you can’t out-focus pseudoephedrine, so last week I stayed in – drank my tea, took my decongestants, unloaded on a million kleenex (better than the inside of my helmet, because EWW) and am pleased to say that I’m finally feeling better. I noticed yesterday on my drive into work that I was driving with riders’ eyes again – scouting further ahead, watching alleys and parallel parked cars more closely, and noting “escape routes” in multi-lane congestion.
Looks like it’s time to gear up again.