Back to the couch

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. I can’t remember the last time my back went into spasm. Considering the effort involved in riding my bike across the country, it’s a wonder I can even stand these days. Last week I rode over 300 miles. Today, emptying the dishwasher was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It was a minor muscle spasm in my lower back. Not a big deal. I started doing the runner’s stretch. The one where you lean against a vertical object and stretch your calves and your hamstrings. (The psoas muscle is what you really need to stretch but not while your back is out.)

The stretch calmed the spasm down but I decided not to ride to the baseball game today. Instead I spent an hour mowing the lawn. I rationalized that walking my bike up mountains out west didn’t cause me any trouble so mowing my lawn wouldn’t either. And it didn’t.

I spent the rest of the day in a recliner and on the couch listening to the game. (The Nats lost; glad I didn’t go.) Then I read some of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. It’s a humbling book. He studied every kind of science that I can think of and barfed it up into a humorous tome. The big take away is we, you and me, are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And one of these days we will be wiped out in a flash from one of a number of ugly catastrophic events. (A volcano eruption that would make Mount Saint Helens look like a suppressed burp. A lethal microbe that passes from one person to the next. A rock from space that we never see coming. A humongous solar flare. Just to name of few. Sweet dreams, baby.)

Then I listened to an Offcamera interview with William H. Macy. (Go to The hour-long interviews with artists are pretty terrific.) It was filled with wisdom and laughs. One insight about playing bad people: even the biggest asshole you know thinks they are the hero of their own life. That’s how decent people can play evil characters. (Just think of Macy in Fargo and it makes sense.)

I plan to take it relatively easy this week so that I don’t die with my cycling shoes on during the 50 States Ride on Saturday.


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