I was out on a sunny Saturday morning ride with my friend, Ed, and taking a very simple corner when THUD I found myself flat on the tarmac, face first, in a crumpled heap. It turns out my left pedal was not properly screwed in and so when I went to push out of the corner everything gave way. It hurt. My whole body seemed to swell up on impact, my hands, my face. I could hardly move my shoulder and my knuckles looked like they had golf balls lodged underneath them. I cried.
A trip to A&E, and two subsequent visits since, reassured me that nothing serious was wrong, it was just a case of some very nasty bruising, minor metacarpal fractures and a little bit of mild concussion. I was so lucky.
I’ve found it pretty hard to handle if I’m honest. The sheer frustration that it was something so controllable, means I will be checking my bike super-religiously in future. The pain and discomfort since then – especially given it’s made looking after Finlay incredibly challenging, as has work, as I’ve had to tape up three of the fingers on my right hand.
But following a consultation with a Maxillofacial Surgeon last Thursday afternoon I was advised that there was no long term damage, and they said to just look after myself, and get lots of rest.
My decision to race the High Wycombe CC 10 mile TT on Friday 14th April was purely down to my own way of handling things. I knew I was not going to be on form, granted, I might not even get around the course given the state of my face, hands and shoulder. But I knew I had to get back on two wheels sooner rather than later, otherwise I ran the risk of being fearful of getting back up and running, which I really didn’t want.
I decided to race on my Cervelo P3, rather than my new Scott Plasma, as I had not had a chance to get out on the Plasma and given my nervousness, thought it best to stick with what I knew. I tested out my kit the day before; the only problem noted was that I could not wear my visor due to it rubbing on my (still swollen) cheek. I could handle that.
Race morning was wonderfully relaxed. I had no pressure on myself. We played with Finlay in the car and I got ready nice and slowly, chatted with a few friends who were also racing, before setting out on a gentle warm up.
The race itself: My start was awful. I could not put any pressure down through my shoulder so I found it really hard to get out of the saddle to get up to speed. I weaved a little, and winced through the discomfort, but once I got the pedals going I felt okay, and quickly got into rhythm
Entering the A404, my legs felt quite simply, ‘flat’ – like I was missing that extra gear. I found that it was nigh on impossible to keep my power numbers where I need them to be, and as a result I found my mind ended up drifting a little. Nevertheless, I pushed as hard as I could, with the outward leg feeling like an absolute drag, both emotionally and physically.
I was forced to a standstill on the turnaround roundabout as three cars were approaching, and again, found it difficult to get back up to speed as my shoulder was weak and couldn’t take the pressure on my handlebars. But what this did mean was that I seemed to find a second wind on the return leg. Maybe it was a new burst of adrenaline from the stop – I sometimes find that stopping mid-race can actually be of benefit as it gives a much greater focus and drive to get the speed back up, to make up for time lost. Mind over matter can sometimes be a stronger force than we realise.
The return leg was most certainly easier, and I was able to push for the final mile, feeling like I could not have given anything more, given my form, as I crossed the finish line.
I was delighted to ride a 21:16, to finish in second place to my teammate Rachael (Elliott) who rode a 21:10. This was hugely unexpected, and demonstrated that sometimes you don’t have to be in peak physical condition to deliver a decent result.
Post race I have slept lots, and focussed on getting my body back to form. I am slowly building up the intensity in my training sessions, and am starting to feel a lot better in myself.
My next race is a 25-mile Time Trial on the H25/8 in Bentley this Saturday (22nd April). With a few more days recovery, some time with Alex at the Drummond Clinic and ‘recuperated sleep’, I am very much looking forward to this!