Cherry on the Cake

Bike box

Two weeks ago I broke my (left) collarbone in Majorca and rode (unknowingly) on it for a day in half. Since then my bike has been sitting in it’s bike box feeling sorry for itself waiting patiently to be re-assembled. My head has been all over the place, one moment I want to jump on the bike and ride away, the next I just want to jump up and down on the bike and break it. Although knowing how it has survived all my accidents I doubt that it would break. I have had a massive constant head vs heart battle as to whether to start the Etape. I have also been questioning whether I should be on a bike at all given that I started road cycling 18 months ago and have been in a sling twice. I have spoken to various people each expressing a different opinion and have been so distracted but have finally made a decision.

This year my motivating goal was to make it to the start line of the Etape knowing that I had worked hard, put in all the training I could and (if I had a good day) I could get to the finish in a decent time. Last year I wanted to get to finish the Etape at the top of Tourmalet, still on my bike, to prove to myself that I wasn’t fat and unfit anymore. Instead the day of the Etape came and I was en route at a feed station supporting friends. During training I hit the deck and seperated my right shoulder. Two days before the Etape 2010 I had regained enough range of movement to (painfully) touch my handlebars but I couldn’t put any weight through it. This year the injury is completely different, I could be in a position where the collar bone is strong enough to ride and hasn’t caused much restriction of movement. I am getting re-xrayed 3 weeks before the Etape and if it has healed I  can ride that day. Being off the bike for 4 weeks will mean a loss of fitness and confidence. Riding a bike is more about heart than legs. Last year there wasn’t a decision to be made, this year I had to make a decision.

This type of cycling is hard, it is incredibly physically and mentally demanding. You are constantly push your limits. It is only you inside your head that is pushing yourself and the Etape this year is 210km so will easily take over 7 hours. I am someone who suffers from a bad head at the best of times. I have had moments when I think that I just need to HTFU and put Lance Armstrong’s quote “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever” into practice. I have had this niggling feeling that if I don’t start that I am weak and am quitting and that I am not a quitter. I have considered starting and seeing how far I get, however a number of experienced cyclists have advised me against starting the Etape, including one who frequently tells me to push and hurt myself more…

There are so many variables that I have no control over, skills of the riders around me, the weather on the day, the outcome if I were to unfortunately fall on my left side again.If my right arm was at full strength it might be a different matter, it still fatigues quickly and on one of the decents in Majorca I could feel it tiring and the Etape this year is technical and constantly up and down all day. If I had a really bad day physically and mentally (and they happen regardless of broken collar bone) and ended up on broom wagon I think that it has the potential to put me off cycling forever and I don’t want that. Most of the time I love cycling and don’t want to risk it all for just one day.

It might be obvious from this blog but my decision is to not start the Etape this year and add the route to my “one day I will ride” routes, along with London ->Paris. I have decided to aim for the Etape Hibernia instead, this will give the collarbone (and my confidence) a little longer to recover. The bike has (thanks to my parents) been allowed out of its box but is now chained to the turbo trainer of tedium.

The last two years I have done most of the training and have achieved so much but unfortunately missed that cherry on top of the cake, maybe next year…


About marystumbles

These are my thoughts as I stumble through life.
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2 Responses to Cherry on the Cake

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Some decisions are tough but you seem to have made your peace with it. Looking forward to hearing how well you heal, both mentally & physically.

  2. Pingback: It’s all part of bike riding | marystumbles

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