March 28, 2011

Older and... wiser?

The 200km brevet weekend came and went - and I stayed home.

Against the strong calls of my passion for the sport and the internal egging-on of "go for it" and "you got this", I elected finally to err on the side of - well - ok, I wimped out. In truth, especially after re-reading last year's March tale of "no training, let's ride a 137 mile permanent", I probably could have just gutted it out. I don't know how I'd be feeling today, or next week - but I could have done it.

After the trials of --- good lord --- the last seven months of just pure madness with regards to the bike and how I feel ON it, I'm just not ready to take any more chances. I'm to the point now where it's really hard to even see where the pain stopped and the mental games began. I really, REALLY, need to learn to leave well-enough alone. The nearly continuous cycle of "oo, that hurts a little", make a change, ride it, "oo, now that hurts over there", change it, ride it, repeat: it never gave my body any time to ease into the changes I'd made the time before. Was it pain, or was it soreness? It was neither: it was impatience.

I think I'm finally at grips with this, but at the time I was so obsessed (and that IS the right word) with getting things "back where they were" that I never stopped to give anything enough time to soak. Despite it all, I have managed to get in a lot of 100km rides and haven't had anything really BAD happen. That should be a success - but at the end of every one, a new tweak. Stupid. I've never been floored, never just collapsed while climbing the stairs - nothing like that: (knock knock) ...which tells me, I've been going about this ALL wrong. Perhaps I'm so paranoid about pain, I've forgotten what real pain *is*. What I've decided to do is stop, pause, and give things time.

I've got the new shoes - whether or not I REALLY needed them, it's done. Just like it would be desperately foolish to start a brevet series on a brand new saddle, or a brand new bike that isn't quite dialed-in, I simply have to accept that these shoes are different. I've made changes to compensate and I need to ease into things slowly. I've gotten away with it in the past - but that was lucky. No more dice-rolls. It's dialed, and I'm leavin' it be until I'm sure it's right. I have locked and hidden all of my allen wrenches and have given the wife the key.

Instead of the brevet, I did a fair amount of miles out and around near the house. The back-of-knee issues are gone: verdict? The saddle was too high. The symptoms matched perfectly (doy), and all this time I may have indeed been looking in the wrong place (ya think?). Back in September when the calf hyper-extension started, it never crossed my mind that it was connected to me retiring my old Shimano sandals - which were thicker at the cleat than what replaced them. Once the thinner shoes were on daily duty, it was only a matter of time. The new shoes are even thinner there.

After dropping the seatpost 3mm, the pain is completely gone. In fact - almost everything feels better. Now, I'm letting it settle in. If the front of the knees starts to hurt, I went too far -- but 3mm is a small move, so we'll see. After that small movement, the cleat position seems to be the last thing on my mind, FINALLY. Maybe that was all it took - but, I'm giving it time. At this writing, a little soreness in places where you'd expect it. Yeah, it's only 3mm, but it's still movement that translates across joints and hits slightly different parts of different muscles. I've been wound up so tight since September, so small wonder I'd be a little sore. But, the difference this time is that it's a GOOD sore, not a hyper-extended sore.

Apparently, whatever stubbornness I lacked with regards to cleat positioning, I made up for it with the seatpost. "That'll never need to change, right?" Jackwagon award, center podium, the Dude. Even one of the above paragraphs is too exhausting when it comes to my fit issues. If it hurts, don't do it. If it's a little sore, but you can still do it, then you're probably close and need to give it time. If I had REALLY torn something, I wouldn't have been able to ride at all. Ask, always, of yourself - is it SORE, or is it PAIN? It's physical work - soreness is normal. Above all - if you have questions, visit your LBS and find a fit-certified person. Not convinced? Get a 2nd or third opinion. If it won't get better, STOP. See a doctor. Not WebMD, not BikeForums, not your cyclocross buddy whose nickname is "The Doctor".... a medical doctor. If you're not giving someone a co-pay, it's not medical advice.

Or, you could pull a 'Dude, and waste 7 months wondering.

I just got scared. Then I got paranoid. "I dialed myself in back in '98, I can do it myself." Fine. I'm over it. The shoes feel great, the new position feels great - and I feel like I got a good ride in, even though it was flipping bone-chilling cold riding back home into the headwind. Brevet? Shoulda, coulda, woulda ... moving on.

My 2011-2012 plan has been appropriately altered, so we'll see you after the first permanent. If that goes well, I'll do another one in May. If that goes well, June. If THAT goes well, July... but I'm not calling it another R-12 run until #6 is in the bag. If THAT goes well, that puts me right here, in 12 months, looking at the KCUC series, and the 300, 400 and 600km brevets - which will ramp me up for Tejas. Yes - it's still a goal.

Enough putzing about - the only thing I can do is fold this up, put it away, and move forward. I will ride long again. I will be strong again. This epoc of pain and ridiculousness is now history. Time to get back to business.

Thanks for reading!

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