Inspired by Shannon
Just about fourteen months ago I’ve stopped riding my bicycle. The level of physical activity I had maintained up until then came to an almost complete stop. I was diagnosed with a ruptured disk in my lower back. The pain became unbearable and it stabbed down through my right leg. I couldn’t walk any longer, let alone exercise.
Instead of surgery, I took the long road to recovery and stayed in bed for over a month. The many x-rays and scans of my back were examined on both sides of the Mediterranean with virtually the same verdict. Surgery was ruled out as I was suffering from three separate injuries to my lower back, the oldest of which dated back to 1996.
My body had been complaining and giving me warning signals for some time but I had turned a deaf ear. For four years in a row I was driving a two hundred kilometers roundtrip everyday to work in Lattakia. I would spend the whole day standing up on my own two feet on the job site. I kept lifting weights that I was not supposed to, twisting myself under or over machinery and climbing stairs like a fifteen year old kid on the trail of a naked Britney Spears (or whomever they are running after nowadays). Eventually, there was one wrong move too many and my back gave in.
I have done well coming out of it the way I did. However, my body is not the same it used to be. My frantic mobility had slowed down. Even riding my motorcycle became a rationed joy and I have come to accept that the longer rides were not for me any longer.
I have never been a health freak. I enjoy a good meal, a social drink or two and a cigarette or cigar every once in a while. I’ve always burned what I ate though and my weight remained almost constant. But in the last year alone, I have gained six unwanted kilos due to the lack of any proper exercise. The main problem was that I hate any indoor work out routine. I am an active person in the way a manual laborer is rather than a white collar stiff going to the gym to burn those extra calories. I enjoy the outdoors tremendously and my favorite passion had been hunting quails in the countryside. Simply translated that would mean a thirty kilometers walk on rough terrain at least twice a week. Then hunting was banned in Syria, not for the right reasons I am afraid. I needed an alternative and fast, so I bought my first bicycle as an adult.
The Tartous Corniche (Sea Boulevard) is a seven kilometer road stretched north to south at the sea front. At least four times a week, I would ride by the sea to the edge of town and back home, a distance of roughly sixteen kilometers in a little less than forty five minutes. On weekends with nice weather and calm winds, I would sometimes ride to Rimal Zahabieh and back, a distance of thirty five kilometers. I kept my weight in check and my physical stamina the envy of people half my age.
I am back on my bicycle and it feels great. I love to ride it in cold weather in my afternoon break. I owe it to Shannon. I read her post about getting back in shape, switched my PC off, left the office in a hurry and took my bicycle to the shop for a thorough check and tune-up. Here I am, twenty four hours later, enjoying the chilly wind blowing in my face and the beautiful sea easing my eyes and mind. I am riding again, and I would do so every chance I get.