Well, this is really several posts mashed into one (i.e. TurDucKen). I have been on the road so writing and posting has taken a back seat to other things… like driving, and working, and healing.
Let's take it from the top. First order of business, driving.
This marks the beginning of my BIG summer trip. I left on Sunday and headed 1500 miles north to Traverse City, MI. I left Texas and it's hundred degree weather in my rear view mirror. When I arrived, I discovered I had a stowaway… the hundred degree weather. Yeah, that heat wave hit Michigan too. Fortunately, at this point, sanity has returned.
I am always amazed by how beautiful this area is, each time I see it. I forget a little over the course of the year. Each year I wonder if it is worth the drive. Each year I get here and remember that there are places on earth with their own quiet magic. This is one of them.
I have been unexpectedly light at work this week which has allowed me to recover from the long drive. I still clearly have plenty of time to play around. I wandered out of the barns the other morning. It was close to dawn and there was this dim pink light in the sky. A fog bank was rolling in off the paddocks and I noticed this tree in the parking lot, under a street light, that seemed so awesome in that moment. I went to take a picture of it and though I never quite captured what I was seeing, I did get some great shots of the early morning stars (planets) and the barns while they are still quiet and sleepy. Sometimes, I really love my job. Sometimes.
Last order of business, healing.
"Why do you need to heal?", you say. "Because I am an idiot", I say. Sunday I opted to do a local group ride with the new bike. There was weather rolling in and I seriously considered just hooking up the camper and getting on the road. Ok, so maybe the consideration was less 'serious' and more 'laughably brief and fleeting'. I headed out and took Seabuiscuit for his first serious group session.
Obviously I had been riding him all week (as if there could have been any other possibility) and was totally impressed by the speed and handling of that little bike. I have never ridden a bike that said "sit down, shut up, and hang on! I got this!". SO MAYBE the bike doesn't talk but it seriously managed to get that message across.
My first serious solo ride saw me go blazing across a patch of rough pavement so hard that my bottle ejected from it's cage and ended up in a bush across the road. I also trashed my wheel and ended up walking the bike several miles home. (Typical thoroughbred! Runs really fast then limps home.) **SIGH*** Fortunately, the wheel was fixable and my local bike shop employs magicians (seriously, I think they may ALL have degrees from a certain School of Wizardry). With my wheel fixed and my ego recovered, I was ready for my next adventure.
On the ride, the route began with some seriously rough, steep climbs. I was pleased overall with the bikes handling in those circumstances. I have stepped up to the big boy chainrings (55/42-23/11 on a 650cc from a 50/34-28/12 on 700cc for those in the know) and was worried how I would handle certain climbs. I felt like I was going SOOOO slow, but seriously, so was everyone else. I was keeping up with the leaders and there were some very solid cyclists on nice road set ups there. The difference was that I did not make the same choices. I often chose to stand when I might have done a seated spin on the old bike. Overall, I was getting to the top slightly faster and with similar HR data. All good, I say!
Later in the ride, the terrain became a little less punishing and I took a long pull. It was fun taking the boys on a merry chase!! Around the midpoint in the ride, the skies opened up and it began to POUR!! It rained for the rest of the ride. I was pleased with how the bike handled the wet roads, seeming largely unaffected in it's ride.
When we were nearly back to the shop, as in making the last turn across traffic about a block away, I misjudged the rider in front of me and had to hit my brakes pretty hard. The back wheel kicked out forcefully and I went down on my side at 20 mph. Fortunately, since the roads were SO slick, I kept most of my hide. Unfortunately, I did hit REALLY, REALLY hard. I was aware of my head slamming into the ground at the temple and the explosion of white when it did. Thankfully, I had a good helmet and it is sporting the dent instead of my skull. WEAR A HELMET WEAR A HELMET WEAR A HELMET!!!
I jumped up far more concerned about the bike than my body (after all, only one was new!!) and discovered that aside from some minor issues, it was basically ok. I accepted a ride home instead of biking home since I was pretty wobbly and didn't quite trust myself. I was getting waves of dizziness and suspected I might have a slight concussion. Regardless, negotiating a bike through traffic alone didn't seem all that smart.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon involved getting ready to depart for the drive to Michigan at a much slower pace than originally planned. While I couldn't afford the time to go to the ER if I was really okay, I wasn't prepared to drive a 40 ft rig 1500 miles with a head injury either. Regardless, there was work to do which would afford me the time to make a better judgement. By about 4 pm, the work was done and my head (though throbbing since NSAIDS are contraindicated with a possible head injury) was clear. I departed Austin and began to take in the scope of the rest of the injuries.
I am still not really training. Aside from some bruises and road rash on my knee, elbow, hip and side, I have injured my hip and shoulder, as well as given myself a seriously sore neck. The hip I believe will be fine. I ended up with a massive hematoma that is now draining down my leg and turning my entire thigh every color of the rainbow. The bigger concern is my shoulder. That joint already had some damage from my martial art days and it is touchy on the best of days. Apparently, when I fell, I stuck my elbow out and jammed the arm into the socket. (Bad choice, I don't recommend!) As a result, actions that require any motion under pressure like opening a car door, are excruciating. Braiding has been misery and biking and swimming are out of the question. I have had to scale back the numbers of horses on my list, so not only am I not training, I am not making much money either (ggrrrrrr). I am in this beautiful place, bike heaven, with a heavenly bike and I can't even consider riding.
I have been doing a little running but each run ends the same way. The concussion going through that hip builds until I can't stand it anymore. Then I end up giving up on the run and walking home, thoroughly discouraged. I have tried to keep my head up through this but it is faltering a bit. I worry about that shoulder. I had a huge knot in the deltoid muscle insertion that is now bruised over telling me that the impact was enough to do damage to that connective tissue. The joint itself is not tracking well and full of crunch. I have spent a portion of each night in the tack room of one of barns with the horses ice boots draped across my shoulders. The deep penetrating cold of the ice boot is like no other when it comes to pain relief. It is the thing getting me through the nights right now. Still, none of this is truly new. My shoulder has done all of these things before and I was able to quiet it down without surgery once before. I am optimistic that I can do it again.
The worst part of all, according to the people that are near me, is the total lack of energy expenditure. Apparently, this duck needs to train to be pleasant. I will get back on the bike soon regardless, otherwise there may be an intervention at the horse show!!
Today is my birthday. It is not a birthday that takes me into a new age group. That is the next one. I am buying myself a new front derailleur to replace the one that I bend when I crashed. Appropriate, I think.