Yesterday I came across this picture, taken 2 weeks before my wreck at the velodrome. When I look at it now, I get the strangest feeling — like I’m looking at a different person, with a different life. That person is doing something I can’t, something that seems so far off at the moment.
Three months is not really all that long, but it seems like another lifetime.
I’ve been wondering what it was going to feel like to go back to the velodrome for the first time. Would it bring back traumatic memories? It’s been hard to picture myself riding on the track again. Would this make it worse?
We drove out there Friday night, in part to watch the racing, in part just to see people, and in part to bring my bike back home, finally. All good things.
Surprisingly, seeing people riding and racing on the track actually made it easier to imagine riding on it again. Maybe it was seeing that people do in fact ride there and not wreck. Of course I knew that already, having done it many times myself, but that’s not the last — and lasting — image that I had.
I’m thinking that is part of the whole process here — updating images.
I did have one small flashback. One of the riders inexplicably crashed at the end of a 3-lap time trial. He seemed OK, but a short time later a paramedic squad and ambulance showed up. I have to say, it felt a bit surreal to be standing there, on crutches, moving out of the way for the guys to take a stretcher down to the infield.
Fortunately the stretcher came back up without a person on it. Another image updated.
You often don’t realize how you sound to other people until you have one of those moments when you realize that someone else is listening to you.
That may seem obvious: if you’re talking to someone of course there is someone listening to you. But most of the time we’re not — or I should say “I’m not” — acutely aware of it. So I just talk.
The other day I was on a teleconference for work — I’m still working from home as I can’t yet drive — and after a while became aware that my wife was there and could hear what was going on.
And then I became aware of what I was saying, and it didn’t sound good. I hit the mute button and asked her, “am I sounding like a dick? Because I’m feeling like a dick.” And she answered, “yeah, you kinda do sound like a dick”. Ouch.
I’ve been feeling that way in general — being stuck at home is wearing on me, no exercise is wearing on me, restless sleep is wearing on me. And the result is a low tolerance for anything I perceive as BS.
Not really the best way to be.
Then I was thinking, it would be good to have that bit of awareness that, hey, other people are actually listening to what I’m saying. What do I really want to say?
When I got on the phone today for another call, there was the same amount of BS, but for some reason it seemed different. I guess that’s good.
I had a PT visit today — last one before going to see the doctor again next week. I went up & down stairs on crutches, did exercises with a physio ball, stretches. I’m so ready — mentally — to start doing something more. Here’s to hoping the doctor says the leg is ready too. (raise glass, drink wine).
Today I’m feeling like I do on the Tuesday when the Westlake training series ends: what am I going to do now?
Since I’m not racing now, I’m racing vicariously through watching the Tour de France. This is the closest I’ve following it in years. It may not have been the most dramatic race, but it’s still compelling to see the progression of a 3-week race — from the initial nervous racing, crashes, and then the suffering in the mountains.
Because I’ve watched so much this year, I’ve found myself paying a lot more attention to the scenery. Which caused me to make a decision: once I’m sufficiently recovered, and able, I want to ride through the Alps and the Pyrenees.
I figure that is good motivation, and will be a good reward, for getting myself able to ride again. It’s also a reminder that the simple joy of riding was what led me down this path in the first place.
Coincidentally, while looking for pictures from this year’s tour, I came across this relevant post from snowboarder Gretchen Blieler, about her recovery from a serious training accident: http://www.teamusa.org/Team-USA-Winter-Bloggers/Gretchen-Bleiler/Life-Lessons-One-Year-Later
Tomorrow the racers in Le Tour will wake up and feel compelled to go ride for several hours. They won’t feel right otherwise. I know that feeling just from a week of racing at Tour of Ohio or Superweek.
Thankfully, I won’t feel compelled to watch television for 3 hours.
If you were following bike racing 10 years ago, you undoubtedly have a lasting image of the dramatic Joseba Beloki crash on the melted-tar descent, with Lance Armstrong going off-road to avoid him.
Today the Tour de France finished in Gap — the same destination as that day in 2003. I still remember the pictures of Beloki laying at the side of the road, his face showing the agony.
What I hadn’t remembered was that he broke his femur in two places. It looked like a bad crash (well, most crashes look do look bad). But I now have a real appreciation for the suffering that is evident in those pictures. I know that look.
I also know that he did recover, and came back to race again, although he wasn’t ever quite the same.
Wonder if he’s available for rehab consultation. He would surely understand.
I had my eye on July 12 for several weeks: the Tour of the Valley time trial at Mastropietro Winery.
Not to race it of course, but to finally make a little field trip and be out among people again. I was increasingly feeling like I needed to do that.
So I had it in my head that July 12 was going to be the day. It then the turned out that nobody would be home to take me. I resigned myself to not being able to go. Until that morning, when I pictured the scene at the winery, with everyone getting ready to suffer in the TT, then hanging around afterward, eating and drinking. It’s a great setting for a race.
So I sent out a few emails to see if anyone nearby might be willing and able to give me a ride. It was not looking good initially.
My heroes for the day were Mark Gori (Spin Bike Shop) and his girlfriend Eleanor. Many thanks to both of them for being willing to get me safely to and from the race. I think it’s rare that a couple of high school seniors would be willing to inconvenience themselves to help out an old guy. Chapeau.
I have to say, I wasn’t fully prepared for how difficult it was going to be to negotiate the winery for roughly 5 hours. I didn’t consider that I’d need to do things like use the public restroom while on crutches for the first time. Today I feel like I did my own version of a time trial — only I’m sore in different places.
It felt amazingly good to see bike-racing people again — one more little piece of normalcy restored.
Right now is one of my two favorite times of the year to ride.
The other is in fall, after the racing season has ended, and it feels good to Just Ride Around.
I like right now because all the cold, wet training days are over, and it’s just racing. And also because there is something special about being able to ride until 9pm. In some ways it’s like that feeling I had as a kid, at this same time of year. We could stay outside and play (pick-up baseball usually), until dark, coming home all sweaty and bug-bitten. Sometimes I think we ride our bikes because we still want that kind of experience.
Which always reminds me of the song shown up above.
The last two few weeks I’ve found myself looking out the window between 8 and 9pm and feeling a bit bummed that I’m missing it. And then wondering whether I’ll miss the entire fall also.
Then I start thinking about how it turns to the cold training rides. I have no idea how I’m going to approach those rides this time around. They’re generally not enjoyable, but they beat riding the trainer.
But this time, depending on how all of this goes, those cold rides might end up being my first taste of freedom.
PS to Ray H: That vinyl is for you.