Recovery Week In Review – Week 6

It has been two months and two days since I crashed at Mt Stromlo during Round 10 of the 2012/2013 CORC XC Series.  During that time I’ve been trying to get back to my pre-injury fitness by slowly building my strength and endurance levels.  Between 1 January 2013 and 14 April 2013, when I crashed, I was averaging 250km per week on the bike.  I had ridden in the Mont 24 Hour, 100km Capital Punishment, some short course XC races and plenty of 70km+ rides on both the roadie and MTB.  In total I had ridden 2’242.4km in just over four months.

It’s no secret that I ride bikes as a form of therapy and rehabilitation.  Exercise is an amazing tool to soften the edge of anxiety and depression.  Mountain biking is something I can fully immerse myself in; the riding, the technology, the competitiveness and the social scene.  Canberra has an amazingly inclusive and tight-knit mountain biking community.  One of the reasons why I have enjoyed riding so much these past nine months (the first time I ever road singletrack was on 9 September 2012 at Bruce Ridge) is because of the people I have met and ridden with from The Berm.  It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an elite rider, if you enjoy riding you are welcomed with open arms.

So this week was supposed to be the start of my new training regime.  The plan was to restart my daily commuting on the roadie and get as much singletrack in between as the girly would tolerate.  I have a lot of ground to make up and the weather in Canberra is not very accommodating; we have had a lot of rain and sub-zero temperatures.  This past week I have woken up, checked the weather on my iPhone and walked onto the balcony to gauge my tolerance of the early morning temperature.  Only once did I brave the cold and ride to work.

I did however use every opportunity before and after the heavy midweek rain to ride my new Giant XTC 29er 1 – Kate.  I managed to get a couple of rides in at Mt Stromlo, two at Bruce Ridge and two at Sparrow Hill/Kowen Forest.  For my sixth week of recovery riding I ended up having my second biggest week in the saddle since my crash.  After today’s 66.6km road ride around Lake Burley Griffin I amassed 209.1km.

So after six weeks of Recovery Riding I am now transitioning  in Training Riding.

Rec Week 6 03

Recovery Week In Review – Week 5

Recovery Week 5 started off with a 20.2km ride on Monday afternoon at Kowen Forest after a particularly ordinary day at work.  The ride itself was cut short after I got chased by a sheep and then had a low speed collision with a small kangaroo.  But I did have a lot of fun just riding on the Kowalski’s immaculate single track.

Aunty Flo GIF

Wednesday saw the arrival of my long awaited Soldier On jerseys and a quick 22.6km ride home on the roadie.

BOTB 13 004 BOTB 13 003

Thursday was the day I picked up my new Giant Composite 29er 1 Kate, which I spent the next two days drooling over and swapping out components before her maiden ride at Mt Stromlo on Saturday morning.

Kate 04

Round 2 of the CORC XC Series was held on Sunday and after a sluggish start I was very happy with my finish and even managed to have an off on Kate without letting the new carbon frame bike hit the ground.  How did I manage that you ask?  Well I just made sure my body hit the ground first and I lifted the bike into the air and made sure she didn’t make contact with the ground.

After a big week in cycling, mostly off the bike, I was happy with my 74.1km in the saddle and left with a huge smile about a new bike and my Soldier On jerseys.

CORC Rd 2 - Soldier On Jersey


Recovery Week In Review – Week 4 (With Bonus N+1)

Once again Recovery Week didn’t go to plan.  Week #4 saw my chest cold take hold and a day off work.  Some ordinary weather kept me off the bike and I finally got to go for a ride on Friday afternoon.  This week I rode total of 14.7km; well below my average of 200-250km a week.  I was planning to put another 20-30km on the tally today but due some ordinary weather Round 2 of the CORC XC Series was postponed.

But the week itself wasn’t a complete bust.  I have been looking at acquiring N+1 for a couple of months now.  It was my plan to buy the new steed in Victoria before the end of June as my preferred bike was a lot cheaper interstate.  I have been holding out hoping for a local bike shop to have a sale or negotiate a good deal.  As luck would have it I was able to abide by Rule #58.

I’ve had really good service at Onya Bike in Civic since I bought Zooey last year.  I was able to pick her up at a mid year sale and was impressed by the service I received.  I had heard mixed reviews from over riders in Canberra, but to date I can’t fault them.  It was them who told me about The Berm which ultimately changed my life in Canberra and planted the seed that grew into an obsession with mountain biking and complete change of lifestyle.

So when I went into Onya Bike on Saturday afternoon after looking for Wedding suits around the corner I was surprised to see the bike I’d been lusting over on sale.  I spoke to the staff member (whom shall not be named) and I was promptly taking a medium sized Giant XTC Composite 29er 1 for a spin around the wet Canberra CBD.  After a few seatpost adjustments I was parting with some hard earned cash for a deposit on what will soon be my new XC racing bike.

For what was supposed to be a quick trip to buy some new bike tubes I ended up getting a great deal on a new bike and even negotiated some component swap outs to suit my needs and riding style.  My Father, Brother-In-Law and Girly were in attendance and I don’t think any of them expected me to buy a bike.  But a great deal coupled with the chance to support my LBS couldn’t be passed up; so my plans of N+1 have been brought forward by about a month.  This time there was no buyers remorse, just excitement over the impending acquisition of N+1.


Recovery Week In Review – Week 3

My plan for Week #3 got thrown out of the window early in the week.  After spending the previous weekend in Melbourne I developed a nice little chest cold.  My old friends coughing, wheezing and migraines came to visit; and stayed.

I managed to get on the bike a few times and instead of my projected 150-200km’s for the week I accumulated a disappointing 62.6km.  However my time off the bike wasn’t for nought; I have noticed a definite improvement in my injury while I’ve been off the bike.  The chest feels stronger (I can feel the scar tissue under the skin) and my shoulder and neck aren’t as tender.

But I am a little perturbed.  I have Round 2 of the CORC XC Series this coming Sunday and it’s at my favourite location; Sparrow Hill.  I’ll try and get out there before this weekend for a few recce laps to dial in my bike and legs.

I dare say come late Sunday morning I’ll be finishing my race heaving and dry reaching; but with a big smile on my face knowing I’ve finished and got some points back on the board!

Recovery Week In Review – Week 2

After a massive 277.4km the previous week, I went into last week with a lot more confidence and renewed vigour for spending time in the saddle.  But after Monday’s short commute to and from work I felt that familiar twinge in my shoulder and neck; my injury was flaring up.  So Tuesday as a riding day was a scratch.  I wore my brace to work under my business shirt and took my painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.

By Wednesday I was still sore, so still no riding… and Thursday became SSDD.  I was getting a little anxious to get back on the bike; but Friday was spent driving to Melbourne for some Wedding planning and a going away party for the future in-laws.  But in the back of my car was Zooey.

Saturday was a typical Melbourne morning; cold and raining.  I drove to Lysterfield Park for some muddy MTB fun with a friend from my Army days.  I followed up with another couple of solo laps after a quick bite to eat.  Lysterfield Park is a great MTB park, but I didn’t get to experience it’s full potential with all the mud and the many, many slower riders who just don’t understand the concept of moving out of the way.

With the next CORC XC race on 2 June, I’ll be putting some more kilometres down to build up more fitness and hopefully keep my recovery in check.

Recovery Week In Review – Week 1

After last weekend’s disappointing DNF in Round 1 of the 2013 CORC XC Series I hopped back on Sara, my Giant Defy road bike.  My first roadie commute on Tuesday afternoon didn’t go very well; I was slow, out of breath and my legs felt like they were on fire.

I was quite dejected and even let out some of the little dark clouds I keep hidden in the closet under the stairs.  But soon I realised I was still recovering from my injury and all I needed to do was get some more kilometres under the tyres and take my time building up my strength, fitness and endurance.

I woke up early on Wednesday morning and decided to ride Zooey into work.  It was a cold morning and I wore too much cold weather gear; by the time I arrived at work in the very chilly 2 degrees I was sweating profusely; a lesson learned prior to the sub-zero Canberra winter.  My ride home was quite enjoyable with a little extra km’s thrown in.  Later that night I joined Sonja and Fi for a lap around LBG. I started off taking it very easy and then stepped it up a few notches.  Finally I was feeling comfortable back in the saddle.

I was feeling motivated and drafted up a training program to help me get race fit once again.  Because of this, Thursday was a self-imposed rest day.  Friday saw me take the quick route to work; a ride I’ve done at least one hundred times before and a ride I did in a little over 4 minutes longer than my best time.  My legs felt good and so did my overall fitness.  I was starting to think Tuesday morning may have been an off day so I decided to test myself on the ride home.  I crossed into NSW and headed the long way home.  41.2km and a few decent climbs later; I was a sweaty, hungry and very happy rider.

I woke up on Saturday morning, had breakfast and kitted up for the long ride out to Mt Stromlo for some XC laps with fellow Bermers Tony and Pad.  By the time I finished riding some of Australia’s best singletrack and gotten home I had ridden 80.6km on my beloved Zooey.

Sunday morning is traditionally The Berm’s Sunday Morning Social and Breakfast ride; but being Mother’s Day we were forgoing the regular breakfast at Edgars.  I rode out in the cold and incredibly foggy Canberra morning.  The sun was yet to rise and even if it did, the thick morning fog would not let it shine through.  By the time I arrived at Bruce Ridge I was completely soaked from the heavy humidity and I had lost my cycling glasses.

The ride around Bruce was enjoyable as always.  The tracks are tight and it’s easy to get lost in the thick eucalypt forest.  But with our fearless leader Nat out in front on his new Open hardtail, we carved a quick but enjoyable ride through the dusty tracks.  But like all good things, the ride came to an end and I headed back home on my mud and dust caked steed.

Zooey With DirtAfter uploading my ride to Strava I discovered I had demolished my weekly goal of 150km and had ridden a staggering 277.4km for the week.
Strava Week Ending 12 May 13

To say I was happy is an understatement.  Although my legs are a little tender I know I am on the mend.  I still experience a dull pain in my chest and sharp pains in my neck and shoulder at times; but I’m not pushing myself to my limits.  I’m confident I’m on the right track and I’m doing all the right things to get better.

Weekly Wrap Up

Back On The Bike (Possibly Off It Again)

It’s been three very long weeks since I had my crash at Mt Stromlo during Round 10 of the CORC XC 12/13 Series.  It was my first venture into short course racing after entering and successfully completing several endurance mountain bike races.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I went into the XC race full of confidence… Maybe too much confidence.   I’m not saying it’s the reason I had my off or is responsible for the extent of my injury; the truth is I entered the race as I wanted/needed a challenge and it just so happened I felt fully dialled in during the ride.   But then, seconds from the finish line I attempted a jump, didn’t stick the landing and have been going through the last few weeks in considerable pain.

I’ve never been one to sit back and wait for injuries to heal and for rehab to work.  The truth is I’ve torn muscles, broken bones and had bouts of acute illness and gone straight back to work or back into sport.  It’s a stupid thing to do and as I get older and my susceptibility for injury increases; it takes longer for me to heal.

So now on the eve of Round 1 of the new CORC XC 2013 Series I face a conundrum:
Do I race or do I sit this one out?

There is not straightforward and simple answer; only more questions…
Do I want to race? … Yes
Should I race? … No
Am I fit enough? … Maybe
Has my chest & shoulder healed enough? … No
Is it safe for me to ride? … Maybe

I went for a ride yesterday afternoon on the same track as tomorrow’s race.  I only did one lap and I struggled a little bit.  It takes a fair few kilometres for me to warm up and by the time I had reached the 7km mark I was finally warm.  My chest and shoulder held up well, but I didn’t go as fast as I normally do and will need to go during the race.

However I woke up this morning quite tender and tonight I’m in considerable pain in my shoulder where the tear originates.  As with all muscle injuries you don’t feel the full extent until you cool down; and well I’m feeling it right now.

I’ve prepped Zooey and set my alarm for tomorrow morning with the intention of riding out to Mt Stromlo as part of my warm up; although a 30km commute seems a little excessive for a 20km race.

I guess I’ll just wait and see and if I decide it’s best not race tomorrow I’ll go out to Mt Stromlo and cheer on the rest of The Berm riders and help out my local MTB club.


The Agony & The Ecstasy!

Every now and then you have a ride where nothing seems right.  
You are off your game slightly; the legs just don’t seem to have enough for the climbs; your lines in and out of corners are terrible.

It’s during rides like these you have simple offs.  A misjudged corner and you hit it with too much speed and end up in the trees or in the dirt.  Other times you can’t get your shoes out in time and end up on your side with a large chunk of mountain bike using you as a pillow.

Then there are days when you are dialled in and everything feels good.
…And then you meet the ground…

ImageLuge at Mt Stromlo did a number on me this dayImage
I bruised my patella, tore some ligaments and got some nice gravel rash
ImageAn attempt at a “wicked” jump at the end of my first CORC XC race saw me come off at speed and smash into the ground.  Lots of gravel rash from my feet to shoulder but the best was yet to come.ImageA Grade 2 tear in my pectorals major and a few weeks of sling and painkiller action to come.

Currently I’m off the bike for a few weeks while my chest and shoulder heals.  It’s a huge let down considering the amount of training I’ve been doing in the past couple of months.  I’m faster and fitter on the bike than I have been before and now I have no choice but to not ride or risk further injury and time off the bike.

I’m hoping I will be back on the bike in time for the next CORC XC race in early May, but only time will tell.