April, May and June. Much as I love cycling with these three ladies, recent history shows that they are reluctant to return my affection. Not only is autumn and into winter my favourite riding season, it also seems to be my high season for ride-disrupting illnesses and injuries. This time of year has brought me bronchitis (2008) and knee injury (2007). Further back, an acromioclavicular joint dislocation happened on a frosty June morning. In 2009 there was a sickness-induced interlude between my Audax brevet in May and the next 200k ride on the very last weekend of Juneā€”just clinging to my run of one brevet per month that year. And there was a similar lay-off due to illness last year.

So I'm not at all surprised that the pattern continues in 2011…

Three weeks ago I sustained a back injury (I know not how) which progressed to the point that two weeks ago I could barely stand or walk. I had a preview of my fast-approaching dotage, as the offspring fussed about helping me dress, tying my shoelaces, bringing me hot packs, and generally seeing to my needs. Fortunately I was able to feed myself and wipe my own bum, so a shred of dignity was retained.

Apart from the disappointment of being separated from my bike, I found the experience of being temporarily disabled gave me pause for reflection: how good my life is, how fragile and valuable is one's health, and how very glad I am not to have debilitating chronic pain.

These ponderings were reinforced last week when, just as I was preparing to return to the saddle, I woke one morning to find that the back pain had returned.

Or so I thought…

By that afternoon I was in hospital having a few bracing shots of morphine pumped into me. You know how whenever you go to the Accident & Emergency Department there's always some poor sod groaning behind a curtain? Last week, that was me. Who'd have thought that passing a few tiny kidney stones could be quite so excruciating?

So while I'm missing the fun and convenience of pedalling myself to work (certainly getting no comfort and joy from travelling with Metro-Bloody-Trains!) and I can feel my physical fitness draining away, I'm keeping things in perspective. Tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or the day after that…or some time soon, I'll be throwing my leg over a bike again. And things could be a whole lot worse than that.