The week starting on the 31st of July was a weird one; it began with a fun three days racing on the boards at Track Nationals followed by an Interclub and a Kermesse courtesy of John Barkley, and finished up with a trip in an ambulance to a Belgian Hospital.
Despite making it through an inevitably sketchy track nationals, picking up a 3rd in the points race, surviving my 2nd ever interclub after chasing on after a get down to 10th place, I fell short of a successful week after being taken out in a local Kermesse and breaking my collarbone. After being stopped by a spectator from attempting to carry on due to a suspected concussion and checking my bike for any serious damage I soon realised that I couldn’t move, or feel, my right arm. After a quick check and a lesson to the Flemish on lookers on some of the more colorful words in the English language. I came to the conclusion that I had broken my collarbone. Shortly after that I worked out that I was going to miss the Junior tour of Wales, which I think hurt more at the time. The peloton soon passed the wall I was slumped on and whilst I cheered on the South East boys, the friendly woman who’s wall I was bleeding on, flagged down the broom wagon and ushered me in.
Belgium’s roads aren’t that smooth, beaten up vans aren’t that smooth. The joyful Flemish man belting out a questionable rendition of the Spice Girls ‘wanna be’ wasn’t that smooth. It’s safe to say that my trip to the first aid tent was defiantly an ordeal and what I expect purgatory to be like. Once we arrived at the tent, I was sat down and taken care of. By taking care I mean they sprayed iodine on all my little cuts and scrubbing my deeper wounds whilst I tried to work out the Flemish for painkillers, turns out they can’t hand them out. Whilst I sat chatting to a really nice Irish lad whose name I missed, my parent’s, who had driven down to pick me up on there way to France for a much needed holiday (sorry mum) where fretting wondering where the hell I’d gone. Eventually the found me chatting away to this Irish lad, assuming I was okay my mom promptly but her arm around me, as mums do, this however was met with more colorful language (sorry mum)
Luckily for me the Hospital in Torhout was used to cyclists and this sort of injury and they where really good to me. After taking a quick x ray the Doctor said something along the lines of “ay we’ll plate that if you want”. So 16 hours later I was under the knife and 3 hours after that I was coming round and feeling fairly groggy. This feeling stayed with me as we travelled home and I continued to pop paracetamols until we arrived in Solihull.
I had to take two weeks off to recover from the surgery to give the wound chance to heal and to gain movement back in my right arm – along with a few pounds. Once these where over and the Doctors gave me the okay and after a long conversation with Mark, I hopped on the turbo. Bars flipped and my arm strapped up – Steve Cummings esque – and began building it back up, which is easier said then done. The first few sessions where grim, it just didn’t feel like my legs were there. I think on my first session back on the turbo I did a whopping 9k which was just about the most uncomfortable 9km I’ve ever done, but I was just really happy to be back turning my legs and already began looking forward to next years racing. At first it was definitely hard to get my head into the long tempo and sweet spot type efforts. Mark tried his best to keep it as interesting as being in a box, whilst in an empty shed, can be by varying cadences and the efforts. This along with a month subscription to Zwift without a doubt kept me motivated and pressing on. Doing these sort of non-maximal efforts on the turbo is definitely a lot more difficult than knocking them out on the road. In fact the first week of these efforts I had to do on heart rate as I was nowhere near the required watts, but in a whole lot of pain. As the weeks progressed and I got stronger and able to get a decent position on the bike, the watts slowly increased which was really pleasing to see. The next 3 weeks were just turbo, turbo, turbo, with the longer sessions nearing 2 hours. Normally this would be hell on earth but I was so motivated to get back on the road, especially after hearing the Junior Tour of Wales being so good.
After 3 weeks of turbo training and doing lots of stretching and rehab work everyday, I was given the all clear by the doctors. The next day I hopped on the local club run and got back to doing what I love – riding my bike.