It happened at long last. I rode singletrack.
Eleven weeks may not seem that long, but if you think that the whole of May, June and most of July was spent missing out on all the days riding and funning that could be had then it might start to feel longer. But trust me, it felt way longer and if it wasn’t for the help of some talented professionals, a lot of determination, and very focused thinking I’d still be dreaming of being outside on my bike.
After getting the ok to start riding a bit of gentle static bike two weeks ago I went straight to the road bike and started getting the left side of my body to fire up a bit. I enlisted the help of Back In Action physiotherapy in order to get the scar tissue eased up (there is a real danger that if left untreated the scar tissue turns to one solid block. In the foot – where there is 26 bones – this can spell disaster) and getting a range of movement back. Then when I was given the go ahead to weight bare on my injured foot (still in the cast) I began to really get things moving along and started a dedicated rehabilitation and fitness program with Monika Marx (Marx Conditioning). Intervals, single leg spinning, rest days, and glacier creek icing is my current schedule but I have been spicing it up with some tasty road rides and hill climbs.
The recovery started to really move on as soon as I could move and then yesterday – after being told by my physiotherapist that he has never seen anyone recover from my particular injury as fast as I have been – I decided to just gently explore a super green trail on my XC bike. Things were good so I dived into some casual singletrack just to feel it out. I was amazed. I have a long way to go but I feel incredible considering.
If I was a robot this is what I’d assess myself as:
-Stance and Balance: 3/5. Little off the back of the bike (partly current suspension set-up)
-Timing and coordination: 4/5. Not as sharp as I need to be but this will come. The fastest I have traveled in nearly three months is 60kmh on my scooter so my eyes are out of practice.
-Pressure control – 3/5. Turning right is a problem at the moment as I can’t naturally weight the outside (left) foot yet. I can but I have to focus myself to do it because I have spent so long guarding that part of my body. The rest of it isn’t so bad. I can pop and move the bike, not as nimble as before but surprisingly spritely all things considering.
My set-up is funny at the moment. After lending my bike out to several people and not resetting it, the suspension is way out of tune. Too soft at the back and not responsive in the front. This resulted in me being extra nervous in turns and feeling biased towards the rear of the bike when my usual stance is to be aggressive over the front.
I might need to switch from 1×10 to 2×10 for a little while before I get my horsepower and torque back. Riding a 29er felt odd at first. The usual virgin two niner feeling of ‘really high horseback’. However, on the trail the bike was ideal. The larger wheels allowed me to roll and have confidence to make timing mistakes without getting bombarded with as much trail feedback as if I was on a 26″. I’m a little slower to react at the moment so having a bike that made up for little mistakes was good. The stability and planted nature of the 29er felt great to my pour tired legs but when I had to move it around and swing through quick turns it required a lot because of how much slower and missing the top end strength and fine twitch muscles at the moment.
It was good to ride at this level again. I haven’t progressed or risked anything for years and it felt like my riding was plateauing. I knew I would have to start taking risks to push through to something above. Now I feel like I have that knowledge but I have an upward progression ahead, and that if I keep the momentum of it then perhaps it will help me push through a little more. Now, as well, I feel like I know what I missed. I hadn’t been injured in ten years (properly injured) so this taught me a few old lessons. Best of all, not getting injured while riding means I have no fear to overcome. Just a burning desire to be back and healthy.
This might be the start, but there is still a way to go.