Friday, April 3, 2009

Recovery, not just a frolic through the daisies

As I write this I have a little voice sitting in the back of my head reminding me that it could be worse, after all it is only my elbow that causing me difficulties. To see a real injury, go get the latest issue of NZMTBR and check out Sheryl McLeod’s xray! She is one lucky lady! I have good friends who have had much worse injuries than my elbow and have come back fighting fit and strong and more determined.

Despite this knowledge that I’m actually very lucky, I’m struggling at the moment, both physically and mentally. I love being back on my bike, it still brings a huge smile to my face, but it also makes me a bit sad. You see, it’s really hard to ride at the moment. I’m so unfit that riding to work is a struggle. Last night we went for a ride at Bottlelake. Yay! I sensibly took my bouncy bike, even though I hate taking it there because the sand is so bad for the bike. I’m glad I did, I needed my gears. And even with my gears it hurt my lungs a lot and I couldn’t do a full lap. That made me sad, I used to be able to 2 or 3 laps on my singlespeed and still hold a conversation at the end. The most disturbing part was that later in the evening I realised it wasn’t just surface tiredness (if you know what I mean) I was really deep down tired. My legs hurt like they used to after a race. Logically, I know this is normal, but mentally it’s actually quite hard to get my head around. Three months ago: fit, strong, confident, balanced; I could ride for a long as I wanted, where I wanted. Today: unfit, weak, regaining confidence, wobbly; I struggle to ride for 40 minutes and know I can’t ride in the hills yet.

This recovery is much harder mentally than last year when I made the decision to try and get fitter and better. Every bit of progress I made felt like a huge leap forward. Every ride seemed to hold new challenges and milestones. And while its true that every ride is full of challenges and milestones for me now, they are all old challenges and milestones and I really don’t get the same fantastic (and addictive) feeling of conquering something new.

Relearning to ride my bikes isn’t actually much fun. With my currently bung arm not really straightening much I’m very lop-sided on the bike. The more I try to straighten it, the more it hurts and then I start unconsciously dropping my right shoulder. From there everything is out of whack. I am getting better at focusing on keep my arms and shoulders more balanced, but it is pretty disconcerting how loose the front end of the bike feels at the moment with my uneven position. The jury is still out on the road bike, my first ride this morning was not the most successful ride I’ve had recently. Nice and fast, but very painful. Need more core strength and a different stem I think.

It’s not all bad news though. Last night I did a tiny little huck, but a huck all the same. It felt good. Real good. Riding through the rough stuff and letting my bike float through it felt good. Pushing the bike through the corners felt good. Being out with friends in the setting sun on my bike felt good. Not feeling my sit bones felt good (every ride has been rather uncomfortable recently as my butt has got soft in more ways than one). So my confidence hasn’t gone, which is a huge positive. When I’m riding I hardly ever think "Oh no, what if I fall off", which is good because once you start thinking like that you tend to fall off. I just need to be less impatient I guess. Of course it will take time to get back to where I was before the crash, but dam it!, I don’t want it to. I’m prescribing my self more regular sandpit rides, more bike maintenance (I’d forgotten how much I enjoy working on my bikes) and more swimming. I’m doing a recreational race on the 19th of April and I do not want to be last!

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