Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Progress report

I'm pleased to report that I'm on the mend after my door-related critical fail a couple of weeks ago. Head felt fine after a week and getting back on the bike helped.

12 days post-headbutt of roller door

But the more serious calf tear coupled with a swollen Achilles remains, although it's slowly mending. The week I spent on the couch basically did nothing for it, despite me doing all the icing/massaging/elevating I could be bothered doing. That ended up being quite a lot. As soon as I started walking again I could feel it and it got worse. Riding gently, even moderately hard was fine, but racing the Dursley Hilly was not.

I think it's because some movement is needed to get the blood flowing. But too much stretching or impact damages the muscle again. It's a fine line and I've definitely crossed it a few times in training and racing.

Back to the Dursley...

Last year I dun good and won it. And I think I would have had a decent chance of repeating that this year had I been fully fit, but it was not to be. The course was the full 45km with four big climbs (last year's was 36km and lost a climb). I'd recced it back in February in 1hr30 at a moderate pace, so figured a time of 1hr18 was doable at full speed.

Taking eight days off the bike knocked that idea on the head. From experience, I know when I take time off I tend to lose endurance before climbing speed so was a bit worried about whether I'd last the full 45km, especially with 35km to get up to Wootton-under-Edge. So I used some of the free energy drink that was on the cover of Tri Plus. I normally ride on water so I forgot that energy drinks usually need to be diluted well beyond the manufacturer's recommendations. I also didn't read the ingredients. I do not understand why they put aspartame in an energy drink...

The start was on a hill, but I rode it conservatively and didn't get too close to my usual TT heart rate. One down. Then a fast and occasionally tricky descent into Dursley (tick!) and past last year's start. Managed that in under 16 minutes with a bit of a headwind so given I did <1:03 last year, I figured 1:19-1:20 was possible today. If I could keep this speed up.

Crawley hill was next. It was six minutes of pain, a bit slower than last year but still OK. Then the descent of Frocester Hill (tick!) followed by a roundabout and a climb back up. I had Dave Kiddell two minutes behind me at the start, and he'd picked up some time when I clocked him on the return leg. But I'd put about 20 seconds into Chris Madge, who started six minutes in front of me. So I knew I was going OK but not flying.

Frocester Hill was manageable, 20 seconds slower than last year but I didn't feel that bad. Three down. At the top I was still on track for a sub 1:20, especially as there was a tailwind finish. Then the only part of the whole race I enjoyed, the nice undulating bit before the descent to the Sesley roundabout. I caught two riders on the descent but couldn't get past one so waited until we turned around back up the hill.

It was starting to hurt but I knew if I could make it to the top, I'd have the tailwind for the last 10km. Easy. As I climbed, I saw I'd put a good chunk of time into Dave Kiddell and was still 20 seconds ahead of Chris Madge. At the top I calculated I was about level with Rob Lyne - my 10 minute man who I'd seen when I was on the descent - who ended up finishing second by three seconds.

One more gulp of energy drink at the top and ... what's that? Oh dear. I feel queasy. No water for the last 10km. Maybe sneak one more sip in? Body says no.

I'd been looking forward to the tailwind but suddenly found out I was out of gas. Even the tiniest undulations that I'd stomped up last year reduced me to 53x23. Just hang on, not far to the finish.

One more sip at 5km to go. Bad idea. Very bad. Taste of chocolate muesli bar and Zipvit gel in my mouth. I tried to find a gear that I could roll without hurling. Nope. Just grind away, limit the damage. With about 1km to go I passed someone who I'd normally fly past, then completely blew and saw him roll past me again.

I could see the finish but I was more concerned with keeping my breakfast down. Luckily most of it had digested but not all. Blurgh. Stopped pedalling and dropped into the small chainring, absolutely crawling, eventually crossing the line at 25km/h instead of 45. Oh, one more retch for good luck. Thank goodness it was over. At least my ankle wasn't sore like it was at the end of the WTTA 29.

I'd done 1:22:06 and knew I'd lost any chance of winning but was surprised at how close the top placings were. Gavin Poupart won in 1:20:00 - an excellent result for him after puncturing last year. Then Rob Lyne in 1:20:03, followed by Chris Madge in 1:20:41. Derek Smetham, Rob Gough and finally Dave Kiddell had all finished ahead of me too. So not much more than two minutes between first and seventh. For a relatively long event too!

To compare, the gap between first and second in the WTTA 29 two weeks ago was 1'44, and that was done in a much quicker time. But the gap from second through ninth was also 1'44 so when you take me out of the equation it does make sense.

We did have the consolation of winning the team prize (me, Rob Gough and Ben Anstie) so that was something.

I was feeling rather poorly when I got back to the HQ but a cup of tea, a bit of cake and a Snickers picked me up and I felt good on the way home.

Funnily enough on Monday I was speaking to a colleague who'd put the same drink in his bottle as I'd used (hey it was free). It was just for his commute home but he said he nearly threw up at the top of a hill and was almost passed by an old lady.

I don't think I'll be using it again.

What next? I've entered a few races but I'm going to stop after this weekend's 64km Beacon RC Little Mountain TT. It should be a great event and I've been wanting to do it for over a year (made a promise to the organiser) but I'm going to have to scale back my ambitions and treat it a bit differently. To that end, I'm just going to take my road bike (there's a special roadman's category) in order to get a feel for the race and the course. Next year...

Then it's into full rehab mode. If I can continue riding lightly, that'll be fine. Then I will stay relatively sane.

I just wish I'd known what to do when I first tore it. Instead of resting, icing and elevating for the first 24 hours, I did 90km in the rain, a fair bit of walking, one-legged 'strengthening' exercises(!!!), carried a backpack and a bike bag back from Belgium and didn't see a physio until 10 days after I did it.

From what I've been reading, that wasn't the ideal way to treat a torn muscle.

I should take up stunt riding as it looks much safer. This video is brilliant. The bloke featured, Danny MacAskill, is going to be at BikeRadar Live at the end of May:


Hugh Jones said...

Ah! A straightforward bit at last

Jeff Jones said...