Sunday, February 12, 2012
The small but still prominent competitive bone in me loves to get in with the younger crowd just to see if I've still got it.....or ever had it for that matter. Racing here and there either on the road or mountain bike is something I've done throughout my two wheeled life. A friend of mine has always stayed away from the competitive part of the sport saying that when you race you're really pushing yourself and taking risks to go faster, and that's when you're more likely to get hurt. That's exactly what happened to me last October. About a third of the way down a Super D course I could see the guy that left the start 30 seconds before me and I just knew I could catch him. I'm not exactly sure why or how it happened, but I went over the bars at what felt like 100 MPH. It's the hardest I've ever hit the ground. When I got up my chest felt really tight and it hurt to move my arm. I reached up and felt around and confirmed what I thought had happened. I had broken my collarbone.
This isn't the first time I've crashed or injured myself riding. I've always lived by the motto if you never crash you're not riding hard enough. Over the years I've broken a couple of toes, dislocated my shoulder on 3 different occasions, busted a knee cap wide open and even cracked the bone in the heel of my foot. The countless scrapes, cuts and bruises that accompany mountain biking all run together like the days of busy week. Most of the time they come and go, but every now and then an injury will hang around like visiting in-laws. You just can't seem to shake 'em, but they do go away eventually.
After breaking my clavicle I knew I would be off the bike for a while and I thought I knew what that meant. Of course I understood the physical aspect of it would hurt me fitness wise. I've always been able to gain a pound or two from just the smell of a double cheeseburger but that didn't concern me. I seriously underestimated the mental aftermath that would be left behind. My favorite response to the question where are you going or what are you doing....I'm going to exercise the demons. That's what riding does for me. It takes my mind from troubles at work or life in general and puts them on the back burner for an hour or two or three or four. It's hard to worry about making your house payment when you're dodging trees in the woods or even think about FAFSA applications when your legs are burning from a 13% grade you've been climbing for 30 minutes. Riding equally provides physical and psychological benefits that create a healthier mind and body.
Since cleared by the doctor for some light physical activity, I've started watching my calorie intake and even starting running again in an attempt to rid my midsection of the 10 or so pounds I've gained over the last few months. Weather and free time permitting I've even got a few road rides and a couple of smooth easy mountain bikes rides in the last few weeks, but a winter with very little riding has taken its toll on this guy. Each spring arrives with a road paved with pain and sweat, but this year it's sure to be a little longer and most definatley have a few potholes along the way. I have no doubt I'll get there in one piece, it'll just take a little longer and I'll have to work that much harder for it. Before I know it, this injury, like all the others before it, will eventually fade and end up a trail tale being told over a cheap beer after a ride. Probably with someone rolling their eyes because they've already heard it.