This is a response to “The road to recovery is long and twisted”, on how I’m recovering from an accident earlier this year.

It’s 50 days since I crashed. So what’s the damage? Well, after a nasty infection left me hospitalised for the best part of a week, my arm has completely healed. My ankle is still sore but getting better every day.

I’ve lost a lot of fitness during my recovery. I attempted to get back to my training just days after leaving the hospital, but it was too much too soon. My ankle was the issue. I could get the training done, it just meant being very sore and taking extra painkillers afterward. I decided after a week of this it probably wasn’t a great idea and took more time off the bike to recover.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-15-38-13

I was putting in a good 10-14 hours a week of solid training before the crash. My ‘fitness’ (CTL) was hovering in the mid 90’s, with a weekly Training Stress Score (TSS) of 750-800. I was doing lots of sweet-spot, tempo, and threshold intervals. With a few on-the-bike strength drills thrown in at least once a week too. The legs were good. I was ticking over nicely. Riding as fast and feeling as strong as I ever have.

When I got on my bike to resume training (my third attempt since the crash) earlier this week, my CTL was down to 42. More than HALF of what it used to be. I have a long way to go before I’m back in showroom condition.

It’s here I arrived at the fork. One way is what I had planned. The other is something a little different.

It’s part of the reason I’ve re-assessed my goals and ambitions for next year. If I don’t feel like I can give 110%, I just don’t have a desire to compete. I race to prove something to myself. Not to anyone else. Yeah. I could still turn up to my planned events at 90% and just enjoy them… but I wouldn’t.

Then there’s the main reason for not wanting to race – I can’t justify taking the big risks. I know riding a bike is always going to involve some kind of danger, but it’s the difference between going for a walk, or going for a walk with a Poison Dart Frog in your pocket.

But who needs to race anyway? I can probably count the number of events I’ve enjoyed doing on one hand. Hill Climb Season was my busiest time. As well as the SpoCo TT series early in the year. I had big plans for road racing in 2017, but deciding against doing them hasn’t left me upset.

My riding has always been about doing crazy rides with my mates anyway. My two strengths on a bike seem to both involve being miserable* for a length of time. Climbing hills and being REALLY miserable for 10mins or so, and riding long distances being a bit miserable for hours at a time.

* Uncomfortable, in a good way. Pushing your body onwards even when it’s asking you (then screaming at you) to stop. Shut up legs!

The plan now is to build my fitness back up to where it was over winter. No pressure. No racing. No dieting. Just having fun on my bike. I’ve already made a start — my CTL is back up to 48 after a solid week of riding. Then take on more challanging rides with friends. Like our Coast to Coast, five counties, or fast 100 mile rides.

There’s more…. During my time off the bike, I had the chance to reflect on just how much of my free time was spent cycling. Almost all of it.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

I feel like I’m missing out on other sports and hobbies I want to dedicate more energy too. When my ankle is strong, I’m going to start running. Then fell running. When the swelling goes down enough for me to fit into my climbing shoes, I’ll start hitting the gym in Preston at least once a week. I’ll go for long walks with my family like we did last year.

I now want to be fitter in general, but I also believe doing that will help me on the bike too. I’ll still train up to 10 hours a week (plenty to get fast again), but I won’t have that aching need to train cycling specifically hours at a time week in, week out.

I still have some exciting things planned for 2017. Both on the bike and off it. So watch this space. I may not be racing for a while, but there’s going to be a whole lot of things for me to write about on here still.