Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

March 25, 2011

To fight another day?

Just checking in, really... Maybe a little lessons-learned post. I had promised a couple posts ago that I wouldn't yammer on about my injury or "the leg" or any such waste of bytes, so I won't really get too much into that - as much as I can promise. It's been an issue, though, and its taught me to pay proper attention to what might have been either variables, direct causes, or things that needed replacing anyways. I have, through the course of diagnosis, winter's layoff and healing time, replaced my pedals - which were ten years old, and had graced as many bikes. ...And my shoes most recently were replaced, which were new at the beginning of 2006. Technology seems to have moved on a little. Knuckle-dragger.

Despite feeling knackered, I've medically confirmed that there are no major issues, injuries, or tears anywhere. That's good - all healed. Getting back to where I was before is the trick nowadays.

The myriad of problems the original injury may have started I made worse by trying to dial things out, yes; but along with learning how to turn off my knee-jerk response to cleat tweaking, I came to the realization after close inspection that those deep gouges in the pedal bodies and the wobbly feeling the soles of my old shoes were giving, might have been part of the issue. Now, lets be clear: new parts do not heal aches and pains. I rested, finally listening to my body. Then, and only then, I decided to basically start over and get everything neutral again - and part of that was refreshing key contact points that I'd successfully gotten every last dime out of. It's money well spent on a lifestyle and hobby that I'm still very much engaged in, even if it takes the rest of spring to pay them off.

So, my lesson? Check your stuff....all your stuff. I run my tires until I can almost see cords and I buy 'em cheap and solid. I buy white handlebar tape and run it until it's dark grey and edge haggard - I think someone called that "beausage"...Rivendell's founder, maybe... Beauty created by usage, something that black bar tape can't provide. In other areas, like the chain, I go the other way and replace probably before I need to: I buy chains cheap, basic, and run them for barely over 1,200 miles before retirement...but, that's because I know I'm sparing the rest of the drivetrain, which is a lot more expensive to replace. Jerseys, shorts, socks, I tend to wear holes into things before I consider retiring them - which is why I seldom buy anything with logos or sponsors on them (ok, that's one reason).
 
For some reason I'd put shoes and pedals into the same category as stems and seatposts: "you just don't have to replace them". I was wrong here - and the way my new foot/shoe/pedal interface feels confirms it: its not quite "like a whole new bike" the way a wheelset can transform a bicycle, but its WAY more stable and connected. I can, finally, once again feel my larger muscles engaging, and the pains and tweaks that plagued late 2010 are becoming a memory. Of course, setting the cleats where they should be, and adjusting the saddle height to compensate for the new shorter stack height ... and leaving it there while my body gets used to it, and not panicking about aches (as opposed to pain); stretching, and finally adding miles back on slowly. It's sorta like starting over - though I can feel those base miles still hiding in there.
 
Course, it will help a LOT if I just stop over-thinking stuff.
Written on post-it.  Taped to head.

Brings me to this coming weekend, and the first 200km brevet of the year. I'm forgetting completely about the issues - respectfully - and asking myself, with all this messing about, am I ready?  I've ridden two metric centuries in March, one flatish, one very hilly. Issues? A couple, but since dialed out. Usually, for me, that'd be enough. There is 'rising above' and there is cautious restraint - resting, waiting, living to fight another day. Where am I?

The forecast is borderline epic-bad. Rain. Snow. Sleet. Wind. Temperatures likely hovering a few degrees above freezing for the entire ride, and then dipping near sundown. No sunshine, and seemingly no tailwind. Basically, just the way we like it.
 
At this writing, as if a second-chance pass has been handed down, it's been rescheduled to Sunday - which removes the precipitation factor, at least.  Hmmmm.
 
I'm considering it... But I'm also considering that with all I've been through just to get to relatively pain-free riding again, perhaps I should wait. Would it be smarter of me to get back into the game on my own schedule, start with a 200k of my own in a month or so? Should I trust the adjustments I've made and jump in, willing to accept the risk? How far back am I set if I'm wrong? The big tipper: it's a PBP year - and that makes for a more active randonneuring season, but: I'm not going to Paris, don't need to qualify and I've already done this route a dozen times.
So....easy decision, right?

I hate this part.

Everything happens for a reason, also - and even though distance didn't do it to me, perhaps this is something telling me that I should start to consider trying a different kind of riding? Bah, who knows. Thinking too much again.
 
Couple days, I'll report back.
Thanks for reading!

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