Riding with or in pain is something that ALL cyclists deal with. At some point in every ride, something, somewhere will hurt. People have various ways to deal with this, stretching, stopping, slowing…
A few common key pain points are:
4: Whole Body
Often during a race a rider will ride so deep that they can’t see, breathe or function. And often all three at the same time. Dealing with the sort of pain that can feel like your lungs are bleeding is what sets cycling apart from the majority of sports, and sets the riders apart from the majority of other sports people. It’s not normal to want to hurt yourself over and over again, but we do. And in a way. We enjoy it.
Recently I’ve had my FAIR SHARE of pain while riding. And in even more instances pain while not riding, caused by events while riding! Kicking it off which being run over by a car in a race, two days later two get downs in one race, dislocating a shoulder after a run in with a wandering pedestrian, then a mystery crash resulting in a snapped frame an elbow that should of been called an ‘ebone’ and the worst road rash I’ve EVER had.
After that last crash, after 8 hours in A&E (not quite 24), after no sleep in 48 hours, after 5 pro plus and after two paracetemols I decided it would be a good idea to race the National TT champs. The race I’d set my heart on over the winter, spring, summer. I’ve an on off relationship with the race, where my bike seemed to break every time I rode or I’d go the wrong way, loosing a couple of minutes, I’d sacked it off last year. Enough. No more thanks.
But after being talked into it by my dad, we’d decided I’d give it one last crack before I turn senior in 2015. He forked out over £2k on a BMC TT bike, sorted me out a trip to recon the course a few weeks before the day, and kept me on track while I’d had a hard time on the road with crashing and bad luck. I counted up the hours I’d racked up on the TT bike in the 8 weeks I’d had it before the race, it was around 100 hours. Thats a LOT of aero hours, sitting on THAT for hours. Borrowed DEEP deeps and aero helmet. So in the simplest terms. There was no f-ing F-ING way I wasn’t riding. Hurting or not.
The few hours before the race ran pretty smoothly. Warm up was good. Arm heavily bandaged. Bike ready. All good. Apart from the 4 minutes before the start when I had a MAJOR panic to find a spanner (Thanks Chris Newton) to make my bike UCI legal for the second time that day.
I got to the start ramp with 10 seconds spare. Rolled down the ramp with one foot clipped in. And I was off. Into a whirlpool of pain. Brain numbing. Eye Darkening. Body crushing. Pain.
Two miles in I thought to myself “Yeah this is OK”…then SPLAT! Straight into a massive hole. My elbow that I’d padded BEYOND BELIEF slammed down onto my arm rest. I nearly threw up there and then, but I saved that for 1km to go. I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
I rode the rest of the undulating 12 mile course with my right arm firm to the bars, whilst my left wasn’t bent as you’d normally be on a TT bike, but straight, unable to lean on it.
Maximum gradient of 30% in the last 2km. A little tricky to ride when you can’t really get out of the saddle. The most wonky time trialist that day.
39/28. Not small enough.
Creeping. Crawling. CLAWING. CRYING. SCREAMING
my way to the top. And also vomming but less on that!!
I made it to the line in the 25th fastest time. Collapsed on the nearest bit of grass. I wiped the sick off of myself and tried to compose myself. I was absolutely heartbroken. But after a while, after some quality motorway services food I felt proud that I’d ridden, given the circumstances and all of the odds against me. I wasn’t last. But I was broken. Even worse than I’d felt immediately after I’d decked it. Arm wouldn’t move. Knee wouldn’t move. Back wouldn’t bend. Hand couldn’t grip.
But I was still proud.
So ultimately pain was met friend that day. And also my worst enemy.
That ride was for you Dad!