(My cross bike set up on a training ride before the first race of the year. Taking a little break at a Methodist church which is my denomination. "Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection." ->>)
First off, I had another appt with Dr Porter (DAP) last Wed and got the stitches removed from my latest surgery. The incision looks great as does the stability from the reconstruction in December. Despite the fact that he feels my foot and ankle is extremely stiff and a long way from the flexibility that he would like to see, he feels confident that I can begin racing again at this point! That was a load off for sure and now I can finally make some definite plans for what my spring races will entail. Otherwise, I still have a major nerve issue, and my first mtb of the year I confirmed that rough terrain vibrates the foot a lot and that this is going to be more of a problem than I expected. Time will tell and I'm praying that this won't entail yet another surgery to take care of the problem. I would like to think it will work itself out and everyone will live happily ever after. Aside from that, I have my work cut out for me with some PT to gain the ROM back that I have lost over the last 1.5 years. DAP ended the appt with a discussion with driving home the point that I need to not be a martyr in these early months of recovery and training and racing. I laughed it off... me a martyr. No way!
Second, as I stated above, I did my first mtb of the year! I actually did it the same day that DAP cleared me to do it and I had to do about 80 mph back from Indy in order to hit the trails before dark. It was pure bliss! Not only did I get the pleasure of riding my new Sworks 29er built by Terry T. that Dave Coar had fit me on the previous day, I also got to ride the new XX components. The mtb and the riding will have to have their own post in the days that come. I felt very blessed to be able to ride my mtb, which I love, only 55 days after being out of a cast.
In bigger news: the racing season is officially here for me, which I also feel blessed to say! Yesterday, marked the start to a crazy season that will not end until December. Here I go!
I decided to have the season kick off with a race near Grand Rapids called Barry Roubaix. I headed out with Mike Benedek and Josh Johnson to get the craziness going. It was slated as a "killer gravel road race" and the name did not disappoint. I signed up for the 65 mile race in the elite class. It was probably a little ambitious to race this distance so fresh off of surgery, but I didn't want to be a sandbagger based on my experience, plus, if anything, the distance would be good training for me. I consider myself a 45 minute specialist, and a 2.5 hour max racer. This would prove to be a much longer time than I'm skilled at, surgery or not.
All in all the two 35 mile laps took me 4 hours 18 minutes. I thought during the race that it was the hardest race I had ever done, and 24 hrs later, I am still putting it up there in the top 3 of the hardest races I've ever done. This was for several reasons, of which some were the relentless climbing that was done on sandy, rocky inclines, the cold weather, the nasty crashes, the wind, dust, and constant braking bump vibrations. It was tough. I've never been so uncomfortable on the bike.
The first lap started off nice as teammate Josh Johnson and I rolled out with the elite group. After the neutral, the racing picked up fast, and the second we hit the gravel and dirt Josh and I
found ourselves dodging bodies and bikes flying across the road. We made it out clear, but a couple gals made the group ahead of me, and I had some work to do quick. Well, I did make up some time, but given that we hit another rough section quick, I found myself behind more and more crashes. That's racing. Wrong place, wrong time. Anyway, the first whole lap was pinned to the limit. Fast speeds, high heart rates, and lots of climbing. I started to slow my pace in the last 7 miles knowing I had a long way to go. At the lap turn off, the large group withered down big time. Of the 700+ riders, only about 70 did 65 miles. That being said, I ended up riding the last 30 miles solo. Its a lonely battle to ride such a tough terrain in your own silence. I just did what I could and reminded myself how lucky I was to even be riding my bike at all, let alone racing in such a beautiful area. God has been good to me, I kept reminding myself.
At this point, the ankle was doing a number on me though. It was huge, and totally numb. I took a couple stops to unclip, sit down, and try to get some edema moving, but it didn't help much. I seriously thought about dropping out several times, but refused to let myself give into the pain that I have been trying to fight for so long. Not a martyr, huh?
In the end, I finished 4th of 9 girls. I was about 10 minutes off 3rd (my goal). This gal was lucky to have at least 4 guys pulling her the whole race. Really, it didn't matter where I finished. Normally, I would never say that, but I've learned to not gauge my victories against others. It was a victory for me just to be out there.
Its funny where your mind wanders in racing. That last 30 miles I debated the discussion with DAP I had earlier in the week. "Do what you can, but don't be a martyr." Well, I thought he was way off. I'm wouldn't suffer such a great amount for cycling. No way.
At mile 50 of the race I ended my debate when I decided to put my head down and keep going to the finish. Drool was hanging from my dust covered face and I could barely clasp the brakes, and I didn't even think my left ankle was connected to my body anymore. It was then I decided that I think all serious cyclist are a little bit of martyrs in some way. Think about it. We go through some serious sacrifices to accomplish true bliss.
"Of coarse being labeled a martyr is all relative depending on who you ask" said DAP.
Well, if you ask me now, I will give you an honest answer. After all, I had 4 hours and 18 minutes to debate it.