Katie is getting back to strength after some unplanned time off the bike.. she explains why...
I've never been injured like this before. Usually the adrenaline gets me back on the bike, after a quick check nothing's broken. But this time, I just couldn't get up. I gave it a few minutes more, and then 10, and still couldn't get up. Okay, I thought, so this fall might be a little different... And so it was. Almost 11 weeks later and I'm just beginning to turn the pedals again. Just from a few sore muscles, no broken bones!
I was practising at Round 4 of the British National Series at Margam Park. Less than a few minutes in, and the course headed down a very steep section - very loose, very rocky, very ouchy. While others were standing at the top figuring out how (or whether) to ride it, I thought hesitation would only make me whimp out completely. So after one look, off I went over the edge. Clearly, some hesitation would have been good on this occasion ;)
Too much speed, not enough traction, no control... somersaults, THUD. Shoulder injury, neck injury, whiplash. I was lucky it wasn't worse (gulp).
So much of what happens in life is a result of a crazy myriad of factors. Some within our control, some not (in this case, mostly within my control)! Sunday morning, before caffeine. Brain not warmed up. Legs not warmed up. And the first time off-road after many weeks road riding in Italy. Not a good combo.
I've had to live life in the slow lane since July, much needed after hauling too much luggage around Europe while volunteering for months. So what have I learnt from my couch while nursing my sore muscles?
1. After weeks of road riding, get your dirt mojo back first before trying loose, steep drops. Margam Park is not Italy, or Scotland!
2. Don't let your brain try the 'less is more' braking mantra, unless you have said dirt mojo back.
3. Do wonder why everyone else is standing around the top looking down the drop.
4. No point braking once you're in the air.
5. The smallest, cheapest rental car with no suspension is not good when you've just sustained whiplash. Especially when the drive home is 10 hours.
6. Handbag on good shoulder makes a convenient & classy sling (rest forearm on top of bag in between the handles). Camouflage rehab.
7. If last week feels like a blur and you feel strangely indecisive, you probably have mild concussion even though no-one's mentioned it. If so, walk to the doctor rather than drive!
8. Stay in the same place so you can get regular osteopath/physio treatment. Missing sessions will mean your shoulder tightens up like a plank of wood, and the words “deep tissue massage” take on a whole new painful meaning.
9. Don't carry your bike bag or luggage, even though your sore shoulder is “getting better”. You may get your bike bag and luggage all the way to NZ, but your shoulder will tighten up even harder than a plank of wood, and the words “deep tissue massage” will have you running (hobbling) for the hills.
10. Keep cranking up the heat in the sauna/hotpool, and you have an excellent stationary form of exercise endorphins and muscle rehabilitation. Feel refreshed without moving a muscle!
Injury can indeed be a blessing. Crucially, my shoulder injury helped identify the cause of my long-standing problem with tennis elbow. The effect of the crash on my upper body helped my osteopath identify existing neck & shoulder weaknesses and their underlying role in my tennis elbow. What had initially seemed like too much mouse-clicking was actually a case of various muscle weaknesses and subsequent over-compensation - a complete domino effect within my upper body. It may well have taken much longer to identify the cause of my tennis elbow if it hadn't been for the shoulder injury.
And best of all, when you finally get back on the bike again, every pedal stroke is so liberating. Sofa treatment really is great for enhancing one's gratitude.
Happy pedalling, Katie :)