The common enemy of all bike racers, aside from roller bladers and taxis, has to be illness and injury. Nothing interrupts training cycles of the determined more than being sick. When we get sick or even feel illness coming on we should of course do what is good for everyone else-- rest, see a doctor, get the right medicine, etc... So when I started feeling a little less than perfect on Thursday of last week you know exactly what I did . . . that's right, absolutely nothing. I ignored those first twinges of a sore throat and a head ache that wouldn't go away until I was full blown sick with a chest cold this morning.
As a bike racer I fall victim to the same sense of invincibility many endurance athletes feel. For most people in the United States, that sense of invincibility diminishes somewhere after pledging a fraternity or getting arrested for disorderly conduct. But for a lot of athletes it never completely seems to go away. We take risks and push limits well beyond what most would consider prudent. Why else would we roll down a mountainside at 75km/h protected by spandex and a helmet made of foam? And then ride back up it to do the same thing again, just this time faster.
Being a bike racer is about calculated risks. Knowing when to put in an effort or when to let the break go. Knowing when to push it through a corner or when the outside line is really faster. However, listening to your body is equally important. We run our bodies at such high levels, between training intensity, fatigue and then just every day life. There is a class of us out there who try to train like pro's just without the support of a team soigneur and masseuse to help us bring it back to reality. Those folks are left to their own device to try and make sure they don't over do it all.
However, you take all of the above and toss in a little extra drama in life, a touch of extra stress at work or just a bad day stuck on a plane or bus next to the guy whose coughing up a lung and voila...you are sick. It's definitely time for me to start listening to my body just that much more. Another nap is my near future.