Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Man versus Nature

If you expected a dramatic account of some crazy bike ride or ascent of one of our glacier covered volcanoes, don't even bother to read further. This post is about natural forces within ourselves, namely the biology of our (read my) immune system. Unless one suffers one of the terrible autoimmune disease, we don't even know we have an immune system. Only when this complicated biological machinery goes out of balance, we feel it. Enter seasonal allergies. A year ago, I was probably in the best shape of my life, after eight days of intense bike touring, even a tough 8-hour mountain bike race felt just like a long ride.
This spring, my poor lymphocytes went into an overdrive. Allergy sufferers know the symptoms, but after couple of weeks of stuffed sinuses, inflamed middle ear, intense headaches, chills etc etc, I felt downright drained of all energy to run or bike. With all the cytokines, histamine, IgE and other (normally useful and necessary) molecules at high levels, running (slogging) 5 miles last week resulted in cramps at night and overall sickly feeling. Waking up feeling feverish, with my face swollen, itchy eyes and pulsating sinus pressure, we decided to ride around the neighborhood and check out the Magnolia Farmers Market.
First, we rode along the Elliot Bay on a bike path that leads to the Olympic sculpture park and the Aquarium.

On the way back, we rode past anchored cruise ships, wondering who in their right mind would ever set a foot on such a monstrosity, especially during a few days of precious vacation.

Our neighborhood market was kind of small, but we did find some fresh veggies we were looking for, as well as a nice surprise: a Czech bakery stand.

A slice of raspberry strudel was delicious, but the business was suffering due to a nearby parked truck selling crepes. Now, if you did not know, we Czechs make the best "palacinky" in the world. Unlike the dry French version, we fry them in a pan in oil or butter - which makes them fluffy, moist, yet very thin. Unfortunately, our minority here cannot pull off a massive marketing campaign for Bohemian Crepes to change the stereotype...
At the end of the day, I felt like my battle with my own biology was till an uphill one, but the day as a whole was surely a win.

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