I’ve sat down to write this update post several times over the last two weeks. At first, it started as a positive, Christmas-themed piece. That didn’t work out so well, because even Santa Claus would have barfed at my overly enthusiastic attempt to find good in this situation. Then I tried to own the fact that I’m constantly sour, short-tempered, and wincing in pain, and that piece should have been titled “STFU and HTFU.”
I am all over the place here. It has been almost three weeks since this injury, and I have spent that time vacillating wildly between optimistic! and IHATEEVERYTHING.
When I got home from the hospital, I got on the trainer that night and spun at 35 watts for an hour. It was feeble and awkward, but I did it and was happy to have only missed one day of riding. It didn’t seem to make my back any worse, so I got back on the bike the next morning with the goal of averaging a very easy 75 watts for the hour. That felt fine and then twenty minutes in, I got pissed off at the whole situation and ended up doing the intervals that would have been required for that week’s training. I didn’t feel any worse after the ride than I did before and spent the rest of the day recovering flat on my back, so it seemed okay when I got on the trainer the next morning to do a one-hour endurance ride and finished two hours later.
That’s how it has continued. Each day I set riding goals that seem manageable, they feel easy when I start riding, and then I smash through the goals and ride like a bat out of hell. I’m partially motivated by a desire to stick with my scheduled training, partially motivated by the idea that I’m now a professional cyclist, and partially motivated by fear that cutting out all training but riding will set me back. These motivations combine to ensure that I smash the fuck out of the pedals every single time I get on the bike, and then spend the rest of the day hobbling around like a 96-year-old woman.
But I consider myself lucky, because even though the pain can sometimes make me shriek and want to throw fragile things at the wall just to watch them shatter, I can still ride. It’s probably not helping me heal faster, but for the most part, pedaling does not hurt. You are reading this and thinking I sound insane: cannot walk or pick up a gallon of milk but insists on riding? But that ability to ride is saving me right now. When it feels like this damn injury will never heal, when I am afraid to sneeze or laugh too hard, when I worry that I’ll be less good in the future because I can’t lift weights anymore, I focus on the fact that I can still ride my bike and that matters more than anything else.
I can’t finish this post without mentioning the death of Burry Stander. My back hurts and that sucks, but I am alive and will get to ride my bike tomorrow. I cannot describe how grateful I am for that ability, especially when that same gift was unfairly taken from somebody so successful, young, and promising. When I go out to ride now, I think about him, about how sad and unnecessary his death was, and how I and every cyclist owe it to him to make the most of each ride simply because we still can.