Saturday, December 29, 2007

With a Whimper

The long time since my last post matches the time since my last successful randonneur event. I’d like to report that my 2007 season ended with a bang, but it didn’t.

After returning from France, I decided to abandon my normal strategy of ignoring corporeal signals and finally see a doctor about my angry ankle. The discomfort and swelling stemmed from injury to the peroneal tendons in my right foot. (Apparently, tendons are supposed to be black in an MRI film; mine had a lot of white patches, indicating the places where the tendons were damaged).

Accepting the need for medical intervention was one thing; actually resting the ankle by laying off the cycling for a while was a tougher task. In addition to the Mount Baker 200km, at the end of September I took on our 1000km ride, a challenging jaunt from Seattle to Carson along the Cascade 1200 route, then a loop around Mount Hood to Portland, then back home.

I made it 520km to Government Camp, followed by a nice meal, and a car ride back. Not one of my more stellar efforts. Maybe the weather, but more likely just weariness. We had a cold Friday (rainy and low 40s descending Skate Creek and low 30s over Elk & Oldman passes, but dry) and that may have taken something out of me. I was also a bit sick and somewhat short on sleep the week before, which couldn’t have helped. Nagging concern for my ankle did nothing to improve my mental conditioning either. I had almost nothing to climb Dufur Valley Road to Camp Baldwin, not to mention the climbs after. I think I only made it up over to Government Camp because I knew there would be food there.

In the car on the way home on Sunday, I didn’t think about what I could have done differently or about whether I should have kept going. Normally that’s what I think about after a DNF. Not having those thoughts was another sign that I just needed a rest.

Rest came after the ride. In consultation with two doctors and two physical therapists, I developed a strategy to deal with the biomechanical issues that may have led to the ankle injury (orthotics in regular shoes and wedges under the cleat of my cycling shoes). In addition, my orthopedic doctor, an avid cyclist himself, strongly urged some time off the bike.

Two full months passed before I remounted the bike. On December 1, I met dozens of SIR friends for a “meet the teams” ride. At the end of the year, the Washington State Bicycle Association (the local racing association) sponsors a series of rides for prospective team members to check out the local racing teams. As we did once before a few years ago, SIR sponsored a subversive ride to lure racers away to randonneuring. As before, a few new riders joined us for a nice ride around the south end of Lake Washington, but the ride served primarily as a nice riding get-together for SIR.

Since then, I’ve been riding relatively leisurely weekend rides of 100km or less with good friends. The ankle seems to be mostly ok, so I’m looking forward to longer rides in the new year. A sad consequence of the layoff was a conversion of fitness into weight, so I now have too little of the former and too much of the latter. On the bright side, this provides great material for new year’s resolutions.

Wishing a happy new year of cycling to all.