Ok ladies and gents here it is; The Official Progress Report July 2014.
I'm not in to race reports, they are dull. If you want results it isn't like they are hard to find and if you were that bothered about what a race was like you would probably have watched it or done it yourself. Fortunately I'm saved from this awkward situation for now as I haven't been racing. We are all friends (or at least loyal followers) here so I'm pretty sure you know why. If not check my last 5 blogs updates along with about 90% of my twitter content. In summary; I crashed, it hurt and now I am trying to rise phoenix like from the ashes.
We all love a bit of Strava don't we so here is the file from the fateful day, 21st of April '14. Just pulled it off my Garmin which despite lacking a screen still managed to download. Phew, losing training data, now that would have been serious. Notice how the ride didn't finish quite where it started.......hmmmm.
Right then, what have been up to since then? Well I had a bit of reality check and realised it was a bit trivial to worry about my racing season and I was best off just focusing on my recovery. So rather than letting the post crash machismo* take over I decided to take it slow.
Fortunately for me it was Grand Tour time on the TV so I eased back on to the turbo sometime during the Giro d'Italia in May. Even with my new found reserve it was too soon and I ended up with all kinds of cramps and spasms in my back and ribs. Another fortnight later I gave it another go, this time joining in with the Critérium du Dauphiné. Attempt number two went better and was the start of regular time on the turbo. I have always been a turbo trainer devote but I've never loved it this much before. It felt like a huge step forward and due to the perspective adjustment which occurs with breaking your back (and getting away with it relatively speaking) it felt like such a privileged.
This isn't to say it was comfortable or easy. As you can see the brace I was wearing to hold my neck in position was a brutal bit of kit** that didn't allow me to breath deeply or bend from the waist up. Raising my blood pressure frequently caused the screws holes in my head to bleed and washing afterwards was hellish difficult and probably more exhausting than riding.
I turbo'd on-wards through the Dauphiné, then the Tour de Suisse to the Tour de France. A week into the Le Tour (on the 1st rest day conveniently) was when my brace was scheduled for removal. It came off on time despite an attempt to just give me another scan, tighten my bolts and send me home due to a mistake in my medical notes. I wasn't given much more clearance to do anything now that I was in a hard collar so it was back on the turbo again to finish off Le Tour. I could add walking to my regime, a bit of core work and rehabilitation on my upper back which was extremely weak after the accident and subsequent surgery.
That brings us almost up to date; The power meter and HR strap went back on recently so I can start to get an idea of where my fitness is. The jacked up front end of my bike has been returned to normal and some clip-on tri-bars have been fitted. I'm pushing to get the all clear to take my rigid collar off so I can start to reintroduce swimming and running. My neck feels fine if a bit inflexible but my back still ends each day aching and lying down for the night is bliss (although I can't get used to using a pillow again). I discovered how nervous I was out in the big wide world when I got caught out on an evening walk down a steep cobbled hill in poor light and was considering crawling to avoid a fall.
I am trying to turn this setback into an opportunity to start from fresh, build back up correcting all my long term problems as I go and come back stronger than I was before. To help me along with this I'll continue to work with Swim For Tri in the pool and Train Sharp Cycle Coaching on the bike.
I have started to look at the race calendar again along with some opportunities to do fund raising for the Great North Air Ambulance Service and Spinal Research so I'll keep you posted on that.
An invaluable tool through all of this has been my Compex Sport Muscle Stimulator and I hope to embarrass myself with a video blog about this in the not too distant future.
Until next time then.
*Please read 'The day I raced with a broken collar bone' and other short stories about idiots.
**No, I couldn't take it off. Ever. And in reply to your second question; sleeping was a nightmare. Figuratively.
Hi, I'm Ali. I like riding bikes and coaching people to achieve their athletic goals. I've been coaching for more than 10 years now and have never failed to make an athlete faster (I can't quite believe this myself either). I used to race bikes, triathlon and in 2014 I broke 9 vertebrae and my skull. Follow my journey here and on Twitter.