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Entries For: September 2007


On the other hand....

A reality check today on the BBN velodrome

After my heroics last weekend I'm feeling pretty despondent again right now.

I thought I may have been ready to resume "normal" training this week and with this in mind I went to the Blackburn velodrome with my roadie for some max efforts, sprints and the like.

With the Trek Sprint Series only two weeks away I thought I would practise my Flying 200's. Well I couldn't even finish them. It was bad, bad, bad. I had to sit up before the finish line. I was gasping for breath; heart and lungs exploding out of my chest. I tried two more with the same result - namely no result. Who knows what the time was but it was very, very slow. The only excuse I can offer is the howling wind which was a block head wind in the home straight.

I had thought I might do some E3 intervals but gave that a miss and did some phantom match sprints instead. They were worse than the F200's. No kick. No acceleration. I couldn't hold my speed (as slow as it was) for a miserly lap.

All in all I ended up doing 6 max efforts (3xF200's and 3xsprints) in an hours training and came home feeling pretty shitty and pissed off with the world. Now I'm doubting whether I can even get back to where I was let alone where I wanted to be.

I told you a week was a long time in cycling.


The comeback kid

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I managed a couple of significant rides in this weekend

I surprised myself this weekend.

After getting the all clear from both doctor and osteo during the week to start some gentle riding I was nevertheless quite anxious about venturing outdoors again on Saturday. There was still a degree of pain and discomfort in most things I did and I was still quite restricted in my movements. But I was keen to get out into the sunshine.

Bev came along for the ride and we left my place at around 7.30am. It was a very cold but sunny morning with no wind. I was wishing I could somehow strap a heat pack to my ribs because the cold really bit. However we soon warmed up especially after the climb through the cutting on Rosanna Road.

It was a good thing Bev was with me because I couldn't look over my right shoulder, not good when riding on the road! She was my eyes and ears and kept encouraging me along the way. Thanks Bev. I probably would have turned back pretty soon if it wasn't for you!

I was surprised at how good I was traveling. Sure I was restricted in my upper body movement but the legs felt fresh and strong. I tested my fitness by surging up hills a few times. Not bad. Not bad at all. I'd left Bev behind in the distance. Hmm. Maybe I should have raced at Crib Point after all? <That was a joke, Carl>

By the time we got to South Melbourne I was starting to feel pretty sore and tired. We managed to catch every red light on the way and pushing off each time was a strain. I couldn't really get out of the saddle or put much weight on the arms. So the coffee and Pooh Bar at half time was very welcome. We'd done 25km so far at an average speed of >23 kph which considering all the red lights, stop-starts, and some hills was not bad.

The ride home was uneventful. More red lights and a lot of traffic. By the time I got home I was a bit sore and tired again but had finished 50km and had a big smile on my face. That was way more than I thought I could do.

Sunday morning I awoke feeling a little stiff and sore and not wanting to ride on the road on my own I decided to go to the masters training at DISC. I admit to feeling VERY apprehensive when I walked in with my bike a threw more than just a sideways glance at the spot where I went down.

My intention was to just roll around on the duck boards, on my own, when the masters were resting between their drills and not participate in any of the group activities. I didn't think I had the courage or confidence to go on the track proper. Eventually I did so, when the track was empty, to a round of applause from Carl. The legs were jelly around the bends I can tell you.

Carl jumped on with the motor bike and paced me around for a few laps. I think he got me up to 55kph which was mot bad in an 86" gear. The motor pacing was great, I wish I'd done more. I also did some standing starts (well, with a little push from the holder) 500 metre time trials and even joined in the 60 lap "take a lap" points score just hanging well off the back of the bunch for about 40 laps before pulling the pin. Staying in the drops for that long was too much effort.

So a successful weekend by any measure. Full of cycling because I also went to Siemans for the junior racing and back to the BBN club rooms Sunday afternoon for a meeting of the Trek Sprint Series helpers. Just a week ago I would have said none of this was possible. And three weeks ago I was doubting I'd be riding again this year.

But a week is a long time in cycling/football/politics.


On the road to recovery

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After three long weeks I can see the light at the end of the tunnel

Unless you've suffered broken ribs before I doubt there's anything I can write that can adequately describe what a diabolical experience it is. Still, I thought it might be useful to document how I've been coping (and not coping) over the past three weeks....

The initial impact was excruciating. I couldn't breathe or talk.  I felt I was knocking on death's door. Turns out I had a partially collapsed right lung which together with the broken ribs, pain and shock was responsible for my breathing difficulties. A night in hospital with loads of morphine and ibuprofen took the edge off the pain provided I didn't move, breathe too deeply, cough and above all sneeze.

The real fun started when I got home. I was discharged with a morphine derivative in tablet form, more anti-inflamms and instructions to "Breathe deep and cough regularly otherwise you could end up with pneumonia" Yeah right. This person obviously has no idea. Deep breathing was just not an option. Coughing was best avoided. I couldn't raise my arm. I couldn't bend to put on my shoes. I couldn't turn or twist. Even with the morphine, pain was always there - it just got worse if I stopped taking the tablets

Night time was especially bad. I could only find one partially comfortable position to sleep in - on my left side. But two hours later I would wake up very sore and stiff, totally unable to turn or get up. For the first few nights I needed to wake up Ann every couple of hours who would slowly and painstakingly roll me over and out of bed so I could walk around a bit, take more drugs and get back into bed - again with help. The drugs would make me sleepy and yet I couldn't sleep. And so it went on for most of the first week.

Initially, pain is the most obvious emotion but as the pain started to subside a little my mind would turn to cycling and I became increasingly frustrated, depressed and angry. I was being told I'd be off the bike for up to six weeks and it could be six months before full strength returned. Put simply, this was just not fair. The crash was not my fault. I was totally innocent and unlucky. The guy who caused it remains a mystery. No one had seen him at DISC before or since. He didn't race that night. Just picked himself up and went home apparently. The more I thought about it the angrier I got. I should be training my butt off right now. This summer was supposed to be big for me. We had plans.

Frustration grew. Immediately following my crash the weather turned spectacularly good. God wasn't just content to put the knife in, now he wanted to twist it as well. With Emily's help I managed to climb onto the wind trainer and did a couple of 30 minute easy spins. I couldn't do anything with high cadence because the bouncing hurt. Likewise anything at high resistance strained my back. The wind trainer is in my old darkroom. No windows or natural light of any sort. And yet I knew outside it was glorious sunshine and everyone would be spending their weekend riding outside. Except me. More bitterness. Why can't it be raining?

At the start of week two I did something I should have done straight away. I consulted a couple of friends of mine who are sports physiotherapists. One of them is a cyclist who races with CCCC and has broken his ribs before. The other is the clinic owner who I have known since uni, was my best man and works with footy clubs and the Victorian Rugby Union team. Again he has plenty of experience with broken ribs.

I can't over-emphasise how therapeutic it was talking to Gary (the cyclist). He put things in perspective while providing the sort of empathy that can only come from someone who has suffered the same fate. The next day I went to see my regular phsio/osteopath who likewise had broken some ribs while playing football. I wish I'd gone earlier. He explained that it is impossible to break ribs without traumatising the soft tissue around them and I had significant damage to the muscles around and between the ribs. And although I'd only broken ribs 8 and 9, I'd badly bruised ribs 4-7. Everything was in spasm. Tendons and ligaments had been strained.  A very significant portion of the pain and discomfort I was feeling was therefore not the ribs themselves. There's nothing we could do to make the ribs heel faster but we could certainly start working on the other problems.

And so we did. Treatment by Mr. Physio and Mr, Osteo over the past week has certainly helped. I have more movement and can now do most things for myself. I've been able to complete an hour on the wind trainer a couple of times. I've even managed to do some E3 intervals. I'm still very restricted in my movements and the pain is certainly still there but I'm hoping to do my first outdoor ride this weekend. Just something nice and easy. Any takers?

I'm probably another 2-3 weeks from "proper" outdoor riding but I'm increasingly optimistic that I'll be able to make the first round of the Trek Summer Sprint Series at the start of October and the start of the Blackburn track season a week later. I'll be unfit and probably just making up the numbers but someone has to come last and I'll consider myself a winner just for being there!

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