Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PSA: OTC Cold Medicine and Cycling

Having spent the last four days alternating between DayQuil hazes and NyQuil (I wanted to say "dazes" for the sake of rhyming, but we all know that's not how NyQuil works) blackouts, I wanted to put out a little PSA for anyone that's on tour and fighting off a cold.  I've been in your clipped-in shoes, person.  I know how it feels to be on the road, a few days out from your next scheduled stop, with swollen glands, a hacking cough, and a throat that burns with every breath.  A bad cold can put you in a real tough spot.  If you take some rest days, it could possibly throw off your whole schedule.  If you don't take some rest, there's the chance that things will get worse and end your whole tour.  What is a cyclist to do?

I think most people would say to just take some time off.  In a black and white world, that is the best solution.  And on a lot of bicycle websites, I'm sure you'll get that very advice.  Take some time off and rest.  It's the safest, most responsible thing to do.  No one ever died from some R&R, right?

Well, this blog isn't like most bicycle websites (at your peril, possibly).  No, sir or madam or n/a.  The safest advice isn't always the most practical, and I lean towards practicality.  Sure, you shouldn't touch a hot pot, but how are you going to strain your macaroni if you don't?  What?  Are you going to wait for it to cool completely?  But you're hungry now and mac n' cheese is better hot!  Face your fears and get an oven mitt on!  That said, if you get sick on tour, and don't have the luxury of taking some time off (it happens to a lot of us that poorly schedule our tours), you need the rhinovirus-oriented version of an oven mitt: OTC Cold Medicine.

I'm not sick anymore, but this view of Crater Lake is.

But here's the deal, life on cold medicine can be difficult.  For example, I started writing this two days ago when I was halfway through a dose of DayQuil, and now here I am two days later finally able to string sentences together into complete thoughts (please direct all snark to the comments section below).  Sitting down attempting to concentrate becomes difficult.  Walking around your apartment without bumping into the tables and counter tops becomes difficult.  Remembering why you were even walking into the kitchen in the first place, before you went and slammed your toe into the island making it throb with pain, sidetracking your already distracted mind, but seriously, why were you even walking into the kitchen?  What were we talking about?

So if everything else in life is more difficult on cold medicine (with the exception of passing out on the couch at 8pm while watching Stranger Things), why would it be a good idea to ride long distances on it?  Well, it's not, but again, this is advice for people who don't have a different option.  This advice is for the type of person who has places to be and specific times to be there.  The type of person that can't rent a car to make up for lost time.  The type of person that will not take 'NO' for an answer.  All that said, you really should take some time off and rest.

In any case, here are some ideas for you sickies out there that can't waste a day on treating yourself well:

  • Avoid Drowsy Warnings - If an OTC has a drowsy warning, that is not the medicine for you.  Only daytime versions while riding.  Never ever ever ever take NyQuil and ride.  You'll die.

    Note: If you're on a prescription with drowsy warnings, you need to take some time off from riding.  Your doctor put you on an Rx for a reason.  Listen to them.

  • Keep OTC Dosages Low - Take the minimum recommended dosage and put as much time between dosages as you can.  This should help keep the fog level down.  You could even try cutting the dose in half.  You don't need to feel perfect, just good enough to ride.

    Note: This only applies to OTC.  Always follow your doctor's exact instructions for prescription drugs.  Also, always finish your antibiotic script so you don't create superbacteria within your body.  Those things will eat your flesh.

  • Easy Does It - Don't try to maintain a killer pace.  Your body needs some of that energy to fight off disease.  You're going to lose mileage per day while sick, and there's nothing you can do about it except make it up once you're healthy.

  • Shorten Your Day - Cut a third (or more) off of your day (if you can).  As with the above tip, you can add the lost miles to your healthy days.

  • Nap - If shortening the day isn't possible, wake up early in the morning, get a good morning ride in, and then take a midday nap.  Just find a nice patch of grass, lock your bike to a post (or your own leg with a cable), and lay down.  A solid two hours after lunch should get you primed to finish your day.

  • Stay Alert - It may be necessary to offset your cold medicine with some caffeine.  That's probably not the most medically sound advice, but it's more sound than being run over by a car.  Use your best judgment with this.

  • Listen to Your Body - I get that all of this advice is telling you to ignore your body, but again, life isn't binary.  If you are riding and you realize that what you are doing just isn't safe (can't concentrate, can't stay awake, dying), get the hell off your bike.  Days can always be made up one way or the other (hitchhike, rental, etc).  It's not worth putting your life at risk just to save some time and/or money.

Finally, please remember that I am not a doctor and that some of my advice may not be good advice.  These are just some (hopefully) helpful tips for the people that are going to ride while sick, regardless of how many times they're told that they shouldn't.  If you have any other thoughts, please leave a comment below.  And please remember that the best way to get someone to take your advice is to offer it kindly.  If you have advice, suggestion, or admonitions, just state them clearly and with as little condescension as possible, and people will probably listen to you.  Even if you have the best advice in the world, if you come off as a pompous ass, no one is going to care what you say.  Unless you're funny.  Then you can say pretty much anything you want.

Denis Leary - NyQuil

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