Wednesday, 13 December 2017

How not to follow up the Tour Divide

I was hoping that an upside of the Tour Divide might be some uber fitness I’d be able to bring to some end of year riding.  I obviously got to the end, but quite a bit more damaged than I’d really bargained for.  The groin and ankles showed some measurable recovering in two weeks of convalescence, limping around Arizona, then California.  But on returning to Oz my hands appeared just as useless as they were when I finished.  To give you an indication of what they’d become, let your fingers go totally limp, then try to insert your hands into your jean pockets - no straightening digits!  The muscles responsible for finger straightening (the lumbricals) were one of the sets of muscles I had zero control over.  Cupping hands (to cup water), gripping zippers, and cutting food (extending forefinger down the spine of a knife) were all in the too hard basket and required workarounds.

Back in Oz, having not touched the bike for a couple of weeks I was keen to at least turn the legs over.  That first ride greeted me with a rude shock - actually multiple tinglings in my hands accompanying every little jolt and corrugation.  After a week of this, reason finally sunk in and I decided that hammering hands that were clearly trying to recover was not a smart thing to do.  This resulted in a lifestyle choice I’d not taken since my teens - extended time off the bike.  For months I’d catch the bus to the city, and the train home, sometimes catching glimpses of people on their commute.  It didn’t take much of this before I’d muse, “I used to be one of them”.  Riding became a distance memory.

Despite being assured by those in the know that all would probably return to normal in the hands department, tangible improvements were almost impossible to realize.  As weeks passed things seemed to be happening on the left hand, but the right was stubbornly unresponsive.  Only after about 3 months did the right suddenly decide to “wake up”, and assuage fears that I was dealing with something permanent.  At about the four and a half month mark things were looking up; I could stick hands in pockets and cup water, and the tingling was almost gone completely.  Time to ease back onto the bike.

You can guess what happened next.  Daydreaming on the M7 whilst following the flight of a bird I never did get to identify resulted in hands bumping off the bars, and the rest of me bumping along the concrete like a sack of spuds.  Thus ensued the pain in my shoulder I’m still dealing with 2 months post accident, now 6 months post Tour Divide.  What a shocker, but all in a first world kind of way.  At least Anita and I are still in convalescent solidarity (she is still on the blood thinners), and we can take solace in being useless on the adventure front, together.

Saw the quack two weeks ago.  Could they have fit any more screws in there?  The prognosis is slow;  “come back in 6 weeks”.  Physio now under way to regain movement in a shoulder that is pretty damn frozen at the moment.  I’ve signed up for the Audax version of the 3peaks at the end of Jan (perhaps optimistically), so at least there is that to work towards, although I’ve finally relented to the trappings of the virtual trainer to get things moving - by the time I’m allowed back on the bike proper (mid Jan), 2 weeks prep “off the couch” isn’t likely going to be enough for the 250 km loop. 

Hopefully next year will be a better one, for both of us. 

Not that I consider completing the Tour Divide equivalent to climbing Everest, but I can appreciate the irony - with apologies to Gary Larson.
PS:  if anyone is interested in a somewhat verbose (lengthwise) view of my Tour Divide experience in pictures and some video set to music I thought appropriate, here are some links - each version in 2 parts, which can be watched on Dropbox;

87 min version;

67 min version;

Dave out.

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