Friday, April 10, 2009

N=1 - I bought a bike

I bought a bike. And I'm riding it.

Those are revolutionary words for me.

I have always been unathletic, physically weak, and combative when told to exercise. "I can't, I have sciatica". "I can't, I have bad knees". "I can't, I'm working on my dissertation".

Excuses to avoid physical activity fall easily from my tongue, and as long as I stay slender, I use those same excuses on the critics inside my head. I live in a cerebral fantasy world in which if I'm smart, productive and thin, I don't need to exercise my body. I'll admit it, I'm lazy.

The psoriatic arthritis diagnosis reconfirmed my beliefs about my history of inactivity. "Hey," I told myself, "I'm different from other people, I have this disease, and always have. Of course I'm always weak, and tired, and fragile. Heck, I injured myself while sailing! Who develops chronic back problems from SAILING, for Pete's sake?"

Must have been early PsA, I've been telling myself. These kind of experiences have taught me to believe that I'm much better off behind a desk where I won't embarrass or hurt myself.

Until... a few weeks ago, someone on the psoriatic arthritis message boards who sounds like he is in a lot of pain wrote that he still goes for his run every day. This simple post blew my mind. Many days just getting down the stairs to the kitchen is intimidating. What, is he nuts? His passing comment about his run became a direct challenge to my laziness.

A day later, an article written by a doctor declared that gentle exercise helps arthritis. "Swim, or walk, or bike" it said. Another challenge to my long held beliefs.

By the way, today is the last day of my blogging challenge. I never thought I could write something every day - that I could keep this up, this crazy blog, and find the courage to put my writing out there so publicly. But I have.

And I'm sad. Sad that the my blog campaign is over. I love a challenge. I love a good dare.

So I bought a bike. It's a green Trek townie - a new friend called it elegant, and a long-time friend told me I look like Pee-Wee Herman on it. It makes me sit super upright, to not hurt my back, and I bought a pink helmet with stars to go with it, just for kicks.

PeeWee, eat your heart out.

I ride, and ride, and ride. It makes me happy. I rode 4 miles one day last week without pain. Biking with arthritis makes my body feel the way it did swimming while pregnant. Weightless, strong, and normal.

My new challenge is to ride my bike 3 times a week. For two months. At least 2 miles. And I won't ask any of you to sponsor me ... I promise.

Ready... set... GO!


  1. If you keep up the riding, you're going to find that 2 miles isn't even a warmup. Make sure you reset your distance goals every few weeks - I think you'll be surprised at how quickly you improve!

    I'm very proud of you, little sister.

  2. Hooray!! what a great goal! you should post a pic of your pretty new bike and pink helmet with stars! :-)

    (you're big brother andy sent this to a few of his biking friends :-)

  3. THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT! Very very kind. Now I gotta go ride today...