June 27, 2008

The Things That Go Unsaid

So here I am, on my way to BC Bike Race, finally!!

I don't know if I can fully put into words how stressful things have been since my crash at The Test Of Metal. What looked like a decent scratch to my leg and a broken pinkie finger ended up being worse, much worse.

No matter how close you zoom in on this pic, you can not make it look like a significant leg injury...trust me, I've tried!

In fact I doubted it's validity so much that I went for a 45min road ride the day after the test, and again on the Monday. My range of motion was limited, and it was pretty damn painful, but I told myself that it was simply a bit swollen and that I was doing myself some good by getting out there and spinning it out.

Well, come Tuesday the 17th it was very evident that this was in fact a bad idea on my part, and that my injury was far worse than it appeared on the surface.

Something...or someone, I have not yet included in my blog posts is my current girlfriend Jackie Muir. We have been together a few months now and I kinda eluded to her in a kayak post about a month ago. She is a physiotherapist...it's not how we met, but we both knew that if things did indeed work out for us that at some point she might end up as my personal physio. Neither of us thought it would be this soon or this severe. Jackie is herself a well rounded endurance runner and athlete and is currently training for her third Knee Knacker 50k on July 12th. I can now state beyond a shadow of a doubt that without her professional assessments and treatments over the last ten days, I would simply not be doing this race!

We knew my leg had taken a turn for the worse when it started waking me up at night. If I shifted in my sleep whatsoever I was left groaning and awaiting a dull pain to subside before falling back asleep again. In fact if I stood up and walked at all I was overwhelmed with a pain above my knee that demanded I stop moving for a few seconds until it subsided. This started mid week and continued up until this past Monday night. My leg was not showing any signs of improvement and Jackie went to work on the acupuncture, deep tissue massage, and stretching routines on an almost daily basis.

By this past Monday night, the 23rd, she had decided that it was time to add in ultrasound treatments twice daily. She did not say it, but her reaction could not hide it. She did not think that I was going to recover in time to line up for BC Bike Race. I called up Todd and asked him to find an alternate partner in case I had to pull out of the event all together. It was not as if I doubted my ability to suffer through a day, two days, or even three days, but seven days of racing hard on the bike just did not sound probable to me. Even a day did not sound probable to Jackie, but she refused to vocalize it. She later commented that the reason she did not go into sport specific physio is because she could not find the heart to tell an athlete that they were in fact too injured to pursue a racing goal...a racing dream. YES, BC Bike Race is definitely a dream race for me!! "The Ultimate Singletrack Experience"...need I say more!

Throughout all of this I still tried my best to get out on my bike and test out the leg, but fate had other plans it seemed. My ride still needed to be tuned up after its thrashing during The Test, and on Wed the 18th I was to learn the hard way that North Vancouver bike shops get busy...ridiculously f#$king busy!

"Did you make an appointment?"

"Umm, no, sorry."

"Can you leave it for a week?"

"Umm, no, sorry."

I managed to find a shop in downtown Vancouver as I was over there picking up my latest Princeton Tec bike light, 'The Swerve' which is a very well thought out rear red light for biking at night or in traffic. Super easy set up and ridiculously bright, an instant hit in my books!

Right next door was SnowCovers, specializing in bikes during the summers, owned by good friend Christine Cogger out of Whistler, and the bike shop I purchased my first and only road bike through! I strolled on in, was told it would be ready in the morning and was off again.

Thursday morning (19th), on my mountain bike, leg not feeling so good but I don't really care, I make it all of two hundred meters before my derailleur literally swings backwards and seizes up my entire drive train...SHIT!

Bike back to shop on Friday (20th), fixed on the spot, was an unseen issue from my crash. Off to work for the day.

Saturday the 21st, finally, ready to ride! In the car, off to the trail head, Roxy freaking out as she hasn't really been digging the 'walks' so much lately. Three pedal strokes, yes three, I counted, SNAP, broken chain!
"SHIT, are you freaking kidding me!"
Back in car, back home, off to work for the day. Roxy glared at me as I told her to get right back into the car,
"You have GOT to be kidding me! I HATE you!!"

After all this I fully realized that my leg was messed up and I shouldn't have even been attempting to ride anyways. I didn't even fix or replace the chain, just left the bike in the corner and sulked for a few days.

When you are addicted to those little endorphins that coarse through your veins after endurance activities, you start tripping out when your body is denied access to them! I was not happy, not fun, not pleasant, and putting on a fake smile for anyone blind enough to believe it all. I could not run, could not ride, could not paddle due to my broken finger, and even walking the dog on hilly terrain reminded me of exactly why I was sidelined from everything to begin with...life kinda sucked! AND, Roxy wasn't helping AT ALL, as she was freaking out even more than I was!!

Where am I now? Sunday? Sunday sucked too!!

Monday the 23rd...Monday was the day where I think my body realized that it was now or never. I needed some form of improvement so that I could at least test out my body before Saturday morning's race start. Another acupuncture session and off to bed hoping for the best.

I awoke Tuesday morning and headed to the bathroom for my morning pee. I was midstream before I woke up enough to realize it,



After I calmed down we both realized that I was far from 100%, BUT, I was WAY better than I had been all week and the major stumbling block we were facing seemed to have been removed.

That brings us to Wednesday the 25th...which will forever be known as 'The Best Day Ever'!!

Sunshine, oh beautiful sunshine! Twenty five degrees and absolutely gorgeous outside. I was off to get my chain replaced and test out the bike, the body, and the lungs. Roxy was doing back flips in the back seat of the car as she was anticipating what lay ahead. I decided that with only three days until the start of the event, I had better get in a good ride and really see where I was in terms of recovery. I decided to do the 'Bridle Path' to 'Neds' loop which was just under a few hours of riding. This trail is a great mix of climbing, descending, and technical, so all in all I figured I'd get a good gage of what I was looking at in terms of pain and fitness.

The first twenty minutes really hurt, but it was more along the lines of having not ridden or done any physical activity for almost two full weeks kinda hurt. Once this worked its way out of my legs I started to feel pretty good. I could not feel any specific leg pain and as my ride progressed I continued to up the pace. 'Neds' is rated as a 'black diamond' downhill, but it is one of the more tame black diamonds out there. I lowered my seat and bombed down the trail, loving the fact that I was back to riding again, and enjoying a perfect day out on the trails, and away from work (my one day off before BC Bike Race)!

The only issue I faced was after one steep section that slammed my bike down a bit harder than I anticipated. I jammed my finger a bit and was forced to pull over and allow my hand to recover before continuing. It sucked, but I'm pretty sure that 'Neds' would be pushing the upper limits of what we might tackle during our ~550km of riding during BC Bike Race, so bring it on baby!

Thursday the 26th, noon start at work, back on the bike in the AM to try and get a bit more saddle time before Saturday's start. If I was 80% on Wed, I was 70% on Thursday. My leg quickly reminded me that it was still going to take a few days to fully recover, and after a decently paced first 30 minutes I was able to ride a medium pace for an additional hour to total a whopping 90 minutes on the day!

And that puts me at today, thanks to great friend and BC Bike Race Exec Melissa Pace, I am taking the scenic route to Victoria...via a whale watching tour through Prince Of Whales Tours!! Yeah baby, now we're talking, let's see some blubber!!

25 hours and counting, follow along, BC Bike Race. I've been told that with this years is much more competitive than 07 and a top ten placing would be very solid, so that's what we're shooting for, that, and an incredible seven days of riding BC's best mountain bike trails!!


P.S. Thanks Jackie, couldn't have done it without ya!


The Chaser said...

Also left unsaid: your ability to suffer is much higher than the average fool due to being a multiday adventure racer. You will be fine! Kick some ass, see some great views, don't worry about the fitness.

Congrats on the gf. You will keep her busy (job security).

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Woo Hoo Gary's got a girlfriend!!! Congrats! Good leg with the leg- I'll be sending you happy leg thoughts!
and oh ya, be SAFE!

Matt Hart said...

kick some ass dood.

garobbins said...

I'm keeping her busier than I ever intended to! Gotta learn to stay on my damn bike!

garobbins said...

Erika, I tried, I'm just not that good at playing it safe!
Hart, I got my ass kicked, does that count?!

Anonymous said...

G- safe is overrated anyway- at least you some cool owwwies!