Chocolate Foot

Putting our best foot forward

First race and ride back after a major crash!

robyn trish 350Injury is an almost unavoidable part of the equation of doing a sport, whether it be from over-use or through accidents. My most recent one was unfortunately the latter, a gentle road ride with a friend derailed by an errant dog, which not only injured my hand and back but claimed the frame of my lovely S-Works Amira as well!

First and foremost, seek medical advice if you have sustained injuries before you get back on the bike!

For me I got the delayed news of a fractured L3 of my lower spine (fractured transverse process to be exact). It's a bit like a broken rib, not much you can do but rest. REST is not a word I like very much, but I have to say, I have a doctor who can read my mind. Within minutes of telling me the news, my first question was ”When can I get back on the bike?” ... most normal people would probably want to know about the fracture itself, how did it happen, what can be done for the pain? My questions were "Can I ride again?", "Will I have any residual long term problems with my back?", "How long will it take to recover?", "When can I swim?", and "What exercise can I do?".

There was discussion about if you were a professional player, the doctor could get someone back out playing rugby in 4 weeks, perhaps involving a steroid injection and lots of intensive physio, etc. I knew I did not fall into that category. But when can I RIDE again? So the advice was listen to your body. You will know ... when you  can roll out of bed with out  grimacing in pain, holding your legs and pulling yourself up on your side ... this is  possibly a start. Possibly when it doesn’t hurt to twist and move. Unfortunately mountain biking involves a very dynamic motion on the bike. Lots of in and out of the saddle. Lots of turning and twisting into corners, descents and ascents. Unlike a lot of road riding or triathlon, you hardly sit for long. The mental concentration is huge.

So I was then given that gentle lecture: ”It is only 3 to 6 weeks out of your life. If you can do nothing for 2 to 3 weeks, you will get much better results”. I listened ... the tears start to well up. I really am in a lot of pain, the doctor is right, 3 weeks won't kill me, what am I going to do? Thoughts race through my head. I leave promising to do nothing for 2-3 weeks. I thank this amazing sports doctor for her time. I get into the car and sob. For goodness' sake ... snap out of it. Its only a broken back! Right!

So, wind the clock forward.  3 weeks on I do my first swim. 4 weeks on I do a flat road ride sitting in the saddle. 5 weeks on I do my first MTB ride on fire trail. I was more nervous than a beginner mountain bike rider. I was lucky enough to have great friends who joined me on my first rides. I think my confidence was zero out of ten. I knew my fitness wouldn’t be great. I almost needed someone to hold my hand.

I didn’t push any boundaries. A short easy ride with a friend who who wont ride off or judge.

Well, I didn’t forget how to ride. It was all good. My next ride was a mountain bike on single track.  No pain ... again no boundaries pushed and road with my best friend.

All clear ... no pain ... never ride if you are experiencing pain from an injury. There is a difference from the pain of training and the pain of doing your body harm. You wont gain any benefits of training if doesn’t hurt doing those hill climbs, or fast sprints or indoor spin classes.  When injured this does not come into the equation. Start out easy and build, baby steps for long term gains, dont too much too soon, or you may pay the price!

So I entered my first race at 5½ weeks post injury. I listened to my doctor!

How do I get through my first race back? I don’t want to hurt myself, Will I survive? Can I do this? (So many thoughts again run through your head). I don’t want to let my team down. Am I fit enough?...

I did a reccie lap a few days before signing up for this race with my friend, who was just happy to race with me again ... she wanted to see me out racing sooner rather than staying in that “Can I do it?" dilemma. She was also very supportive in that is doesn’t matter how you go. "I am out there to  support you, the result doesn’t matter!". What a lucky girl I am to have such amazing friends supporting me. Well, we did it. We raced 4 hours as a pair. My team mate did a fair few laps more than me. But I did what I could given 5 weeks off. 

The result is ... I am BACK! OK, not as fit or as confident. But I am BACK! I cant wait to sign up for my next race. I am excited to train and get fit again.

And we did come first in our female pairs 4 hour race! That’s a major confidence booster!