Cycling whilst ill

The season of winter sniffles and colds is just around the corner and I appear to have been visited by the snot fairy a bit early this year. Despite this, I’ve still had to get around and for me that means cycling. Cycling whilst ill can be challenging and even unpleasant. Coughs and colds can often make you feel like your lung capacity has been reduced, making physically demanding activities such as fast cycling or hill-climbing difficult as you struggle to catch your breath.
Despite the potential for cycling whilst ill to be an unpleasant experience, there are a few things you can do you compensate for your weakened physical state:

  • Don’t rush, it’s not a race after all. Give yourself a bit more time than usual for a given trip, cycling more slowly will reduce the demands which cycling places on your body.
  • Take a break. If it’s all getting a bit too much, get off the bike and walk it along for a little while. It’ll give you a chance to catch your breath whilst still making progress towards your destination.
  • Walk up the hills, ride the flats and the downhill sections. Riding on a flat or downhill shouldn’t pose too much of a problem, even if you are feeling under the weather. Walking the uphill sections will remove some of the most physically demanding parts of the ride whilst providing you with a chance to rest.
Please feel free to share your own tips and experiences of cycling whilst under the weather in the comments below.
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4 thoughts on “Cycling whilst ill

  1. Beechams Powders (contain Aspirin) or just Aspirin itself, helps with the aches you can get with a monster of a cold.A soak in a hot bath with a Brandy goes down well at the end of a cold, wet ride in winter.A good nights sleep…never under-estimate the restorative powers of a good nights sleep.Ride if you feel up to it, but don't overdo it (the hills advice is good – that's how I ride all year round – would rather get off & push than break a sweat!)And don't forget to ride ;>D

  2. If I get an attack of Acute Viral Rhinopharyngitis AKA the Common Cold, I find cycling promotes a wonderful cleaning of my upper respiratory nasal passages (I won't go into details). Of course, if I develop full blown Man Flu I take myself to bed and stay there for 48 hrs before even trying to mobilize never mind cycle!

  3. I've never that been bothered by colds and sniffles. No particular strategies needed as far as cycling goes.As for flu, proper flu, the last time I had that was in early 1976, and cycling was out of the question, as was everything else. The main thing I remember from that illness after 10 days motioneless in bed was that when I went to put on my school trousers they fell down to my ankles as I'd lost so much weight.

  4. @Ian,I do the same things with hills over a certain length or grade. If you're just suffering, why bother? On my regular ride from Macclesfield to Manchester walking up two of the hills provides a welcome rest around the 2/3rds mark (about 12.5 miles in)@MiddleAgeCyclist,I think I'm aware of that particular therapy, those gloves with the 'brow-wiping patch' can help with that.@pete,I only ever properly had the flu once, back when I was in school. The mile and a half walk home almost killed me. I don't think I'd bother going anywhere under those circumstances, regardless of mode.

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