Late last week, I tweaked a muscle in my lower back. I hoped it would be all better the next morning – but I almost fell over getting out of bed.  I had no choice – I couldn’t even get on my bike, let alone ride it anywhere.  I gingerly eased into my car, and collapsed in my chair at work upon arrival.  I’m still healing now – several days later – and I haven’t been on a bike in all that time.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to get to work – either taking our car or having my wife drop me off – though not without some anguish, since our weather’s been pretty nice!

This isn’t the first time this has happened – I broke a wrist in college and was off my bike for nearly a year (yep, I REALLY broke it!). I also sprained my wrist last May (when my wife was 8 months pregnant – yeah, she appreciated me not being able to lift anything!). Again, I was able to figure out getting to work between taking the car some days, getting dropped off and picked up on others – but it was tough! I don’t work far from where I live, but driving and biking are the only real ways to get there and back.

So I’m curious – am I alone in this, or do the rest of you injure yourselves from time to time as well?  How do you get where you need to go when you can’t bike?   Do you always have a backup plan – or is a day you can’t bike a day you can’t work?


  1. mwmike

    Don’t be such a wus. The best thing for a “tweaked muscle” is getting on the bike. When you can’t miss work, and your choices are walking (I hate walking) or riding, you ride.

  2. Matt

    mwmike –

    I’m willing to ride w/ a fair amount of discomfort, but sometimes pushing through the pain only makes things worse in the long run. This was one of those times.

  3. Ghost Rider

    When I have lower back pain, my legs are so weak that riding is next-to-impossible. Good thing I have my chiropractor on speed-dial.

    Injury sounds like “sick day” to me — if I can’t ride my bike, I have no interest in going to work.

  4. Dan

    My household has two cars and three drivers, so it isn’t tough to either drive in or be dropped off. However, cycling is preferred.

  5. Dan

    Although, when I had knee troubles a couple of years ago, taking a week off of the bike was the best thing I could have done. Came back ready to tackle anything.


    The older you get the more you have to treat your injuries with respect. Toughing it out just ends up hurting you more, at least when you’re no longer in your prime.

    I will take our second car, although I’ve been meaning to just sell it. The bus or a ride otherwise.

  7. Chris

    I always try to ride every day, unless I’m REALLY hurting. But I commute on a folding bike, so between transit and carpooling, it’s easy enough for me to adjust the length of my ride to how I’m feeling.

  8. BluesCat

    I hurt my knee last year, just before I went on vacation in September. All the sitting in airplane seats and car seats caused it to really get inflamed. When got back to going to work, and would I hit the one, “serious” hill on my ride, I was whimpering like a little kid. I had to curtail my bike commuting drastically.

    Like Rantwick said, the older you get, the more you have to treat your injuries with respect, and I would add you also take a LOT longer to heal. I was still suffering into December, when the folks over at Commute by Bike came to my rescue.

    They had an Ultra Motor A2B Metro E-bike with road tires. It wasn’t suitable for the icy streets of Flagstaff, so they sent it down the hill to me to demo over the winter.

    With the electric assist of this bike, I’ve been able to ride, to heal, and get back to commuting by bike even more than before I was hurt!

  9. Chris

    Funny thing is I just tweeked my lower back about a month ago. It kept me off the bike for two weeks. Heck, I didn’t even go into work the first week. I could hardly get out of bed nevermind sitting in the saddle. I am glad that it’s better now. I can’t imagine being unable to ride for a year.

  10. Alex J

    On occasion, I will run to work. It is only 3 miles. It fills the void when I would prefer not to drive and the bike doesn’t seem like a good idea (icy/snowy roads).

  11. Matt (Post author)

    Alex –

    I’m thinking of trying that in a few months – my work location is changing to a site just over 3 miles from my house (almost exactly 5k, in fact). My ideal would be to run to work and then go bike some nearby trails afterwards… but the logistics on that are a bit difficult 😉

  12. Skinny

    My back/hip down to the back of my knee have been giving me a fit, for sometime now. The funny thing is I would ride my road bike for 30 miles at 18mph and it would feel better all day. Then the next day back to the pain game. I have an appointment with an ortho. tomorrow. I have not been bike commuting. I miss it.

  13. Jack

    I find cycling is the ultimate muscle relaxant. I’ve tweaked my bike before then rode 15 or so miles and never felt any stiffness at all.

    Most doctors will tell you that not moving is the worse thing you can do for a tight back.

    Take a couple tylenol and then ride. The longer the better. Be ready to stretch and ice. But don’t sit.

  14. ha1ku

    I second the comment about listening to your body as you get older. I’m not as spritely was I used to be, so I’m careful not to over-extend myself to the point of aching joints or a muscle strain. Not all of us have the option of a sick day, but if you do use them. That’s what they’re for!

    I’m fortunate that I live on the bus route and, if I want to, will drive. Again for those who have no such options, it pays off to have a friend or two who can help.

  15. Mir.I.Am

    Matt – Boyfriend has been in and out of the chiropractor solving the mysteries of back pains (read: getting old) since mid-Jan. Back spasms are keeping him off the bike for the most part. We are so lucky that we decided to move to a walkable neighborhood last May! We walk everywhere now, including to the chiropractor… Or I meet him on my bike and we walk home together. We still don’t have a car, so walking is the best way.

  16. john h

    Feel better soon. I get aches and pains after playing volleyball with my Friday morning group but I’m the only one under 50 so I dont complain much. These things happen as we age , best to stay active with a variety of activities, cross training. Get weel. =)

  17. Japhy Ryder

    I just blew my back out last week, too. It’s the third time it has happened in about 5 years, but I always have nagging pain. Luckily, I have a very understanding boss who allows me to work from home.

  18. listener mark

    I agree with Ghost Rider. If you are in so much pain that you can’t ride your bike then you have no business going to work (assuming you have the luxury of sick days.)

  19. Terry

    Bus is the best all-year option, but my scooter is my above-freezing option. I sold the car so it wouldn’t be a temptation.

  20. illiniwu

    i messed up my neck one week and didn’t feel comfortable riding because i could barely turn my head. makes changing lanes difficult! took public transportation which was unpleasant, because it takes twice as long and the weather was nice. if it was raining all week i would be less annoyed. i say better to rest up than be sorry later.

  21. Peugamatic

    I literally feel your pain. I currently have a bulging disc in my lower back and it’s been torturous not riding. I’m not supposed to bend over for weeks! Does anyone have any thoughts about converting my vintage Lotus to an upright bike?

  22. Cliff

    I used to suffer from chronic sciatica a couple of times a year starting around the age of 48. It would not hurt when I road my bike, but it did when I stopped. About a year and a half ago I started doing yoga a couple of times a week. I have had no signs of sciatica and much quicker recovery from any injury. The stretching and strengthening have help me in every aspect of my life. The yoga like my bicycling is a sustainable part of my life. I cannot imagine doing without either. My doctor back in the early stages of diagnosing the sciatica told me that “motion is the lotion”. Keep moving Matt.

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