Sunday, 19 June 2011

Elastoplast Mayhem

Pic: Dan Milner for The North Face®

Just under 5 weeks since I suffered a separated shoulder injury, I lined up at the Mayhem start line to see how the recovery had gone. Read on to see how me and my taped on shoulder fared......

Active Physio Clinics at work, reassembling my shoulder
The race morning started with a long visit to Sabreen at Active Physio Clinics to get the shoulder taped up, not ideal, but it took the weight off the damaged ligaments and it was held together with tape that I lined up at the start, ready for my first major ride since my crash, also a 24hr solo race. The arm felt good and holding a little back in the run enabled me to jump on the bike without aggravating it too much.

Powering back through the field after the run; gaining back lost ground
Pic: Dan Milner for The North Face®
My running is definitely not the strongest in the field, to say the least, and after an extended lay-off and most definitely zero running, I lost a chunk of time. Jumping on the bike I was well out of position and the first lap was a blur of passing riders as I pushed up through the field to undo the time lost.

Once I settled into my rythmn on lap 2, it started to look like a reasonable finish was on the cards. However, my arm had different ideas. I was already limited to almost zero climbing out the saddle, meaning I couldn't move around to keep comfy, something I like to do a lot and I could feel the results in my legs after the first few laps. Something I hadn't bargained on however was that, whilst the shoulder was strapped up, the rest of my arm had been in a sling for almost 6 weeks and, consequently, after 2 laps my hand started to cramp and my tricep started to wobble, unable to grip the bar properly nor bear my weight. Bother. I calmed my riding down on the descents and resoved to settle into a "steady" rythmn and make the 2nd half of the race mine by not slowing down. Despite all the rapid recalculation of the race plan, I couldn't help but smile. I was back on a bike and pedalling at least and my legs were just happy to be spinning!
Enjoying being back in action, swooping through the woods
(Probably making aeroplane noises in my head)
Pic: Dan Milner for The North Face®
My brother and Dad were doing a great job in the pits. I was getting race position updates and SIS bar and gel energy food quantities adjusted to my slightly slower than planned lap times. I had everything in place necessary to keep me going.
Pits set out in the back of the car before the off
Then, on lap 5, disater struck: A rider I was lapping, who was by the side of the course climbing up the bank after an off, slipped, accidentally kicked my front wheel from under me. On the way down I pulled the injured arm. Ouch. Getting back on the bike it quickly became apparent I wasn't in full control of the bike, particularly on the heavily cut up final descent. Double ouch. I pulled into the pits and my brother fetched me a fist full of painkillers; ibuprofen, codiene and paracetamol. All or nothing. By the end of the next lap, and well over an hour later, it was all over. I wasn't in control of the bike in slippy conditions and the discomfort was too much and not subsiding.

I owe a huge thank you to my Dad and brother for keeping me going as well as to The North Face and Santa Cruz for being so thoroughly understanding at a frustrating DNF and to Active Physio Clinics for getting me to the start line at all! If only I'd not been knocked in the most bizarre accident I've been involved in.

So, Mayhem 2011 wasn't to be for me, so I'll end with some great snaps that Dan Milner, who was over in the UK working with the The North Face team, took of the race weekend. I hope you'll agree he captured the event and the weekend really well:
Riders struggling at the top of the Kenda Climb
Pic: Dan Milner for The North Face®
Attacking the Syncros Singletrack
Pic: Dan Milner for The North Face®
Pic: Dan Milner for The North Face®
Mayhem at the Le Mans start
Pic: Dan Milner for The North Face®
Riding looking like I mean it!
Riding (very) cautiously through the slippy
conditions with that poorly shoulder

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