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Thread: injury recovery

  1. #1
    Senior Member jimmat's Avatar
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    injury recovery

    Im wondering about how injuries effected others return to racing?

    I broke my clavical 2 weeks ago, had surgery and am expected to have a full recovery. That is months away. By mid summer / fall I plan to have regained at least my base by riding the recombant bike in the gym until my shoulder can hold my weight on the trainer and then get back on the road. Im a cat 4 50+master with many years of racing w/o serious injury and consistant mid pack performance. I race for fun/fitness.

    My non racing friends are saying maybe you should stop racing b/c you will get hurt again. I admitt that and am on the fence about returning to the crash prone crit scene. I usually point out that getting hurt is part of life whether you race, group ride, drive a car or walk down stairs. An option is to relegate myself to the local club group riding scene which is quite strong...but as you probably know it isn't the same as racing.

    I guess that questioning is a natural part of recovery as well as doubt. Anyway sorry to ramble, just looking for how others have delt with the decision to return to racing after a serious injury.

    Thanks

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    Senior Member Snicklefritz's Avatar
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    I had a crash last spring that involved a few broken bones in my left hand. Fortunately not the one I write with! Clearly this isn't as serious as what happened to you, but it did leave me wondering about what to do when I healed well enough to ride again. By the way, I did try riding one-handed with a cast, but it was kind of hard so I stopped and then rode on a tandem with a friend.

    So back to your question. I wondered the same thing myself when it came to crits. What happened if I went down again, would it really be worth the risk? It's a difficult thing that depends on a lot of different factors. If racing makes you happy and you really enjoy it, then you should stick with it. Have you considered doing RR's? Sometimes those tend to be less crash prone.

    For me, last year I crashed while training for my first race and by the time my hand was strong enough to use for riding ont he road, most of the season was over. In starting up this year, I wondered whether or not crits would be worth the risk since they are so crash prone. I guess the injury I had helped prompt me to try a lot of different things instead of just sticking with crits which I was going to do before. It didn't affect my decision to race or not.

    If the injury doesn't take a big toll on you and you recover well then I'd say get back into it if it makes you happy. If an injury takes a big toll on you, affects other parts of your life, etc. in a bad way then is the time to think about not doing it if you aren't earning your livelihood that way.

  3. #3
    Theodore Roosevelt's idol TheKillerPenguin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmat
    Im wondering about how injuries effected others return to racing?

    I broke my clavical 2 weeks ago, had surgery and am expected to have a full recovery. That is months away. By mid summer / fall I plan to have regained at least my base by riding the recombant bike in the gym until my shoulder can hold my weight on the trainer and then get back on the road. Im a cat 4 50+master with many years of racing w/o serious injury and consistant mid pack performance. I race for fun/fitness.

    My non racing friends are saying maybe you should stop racing b/c you will get hurt again. I admitt that and am on the fence about returning to the crash prone crit scene. I usually point out that getting hurt is part of life whether you race, group ride, drive a car or walk down stairs. An option is to relegate myself to the local club group riding scene which is quite strong...but as you probably know it isn't the same as racing.

    I guess that questioning is a natural part of recovery as well as doubt. Anyway sorry to ramble, just looking for how others have delt with the decision to return to racing after a serious injury.

    Thanks
    I broke my collar bone in august, and started doing slow rides on my mtn bike after 10 days. It was a clean break, but then again, I didn't need surgery.

    Anyway, after I started riding seriously again in October, I regained a good portion of my fitness in about a month. Spent the winter pounding out the miles, and this season I'm much, much stronger than I ever have been before. Serious injuries do not mean you can't return stronger than you were before.

    As to how I dealt with returning to racing, I just knew its what I wanted to do once I was able to again. That doesn't mean I wasn't scared as hell... After seriously riding again it took me a month to feel comfortable getting out of the saddle at all, and another month after that to feel safe sprinting with any sort of speed. It took me until early this year to feel comfortable taking corners quickly. But in the end, you just have to deal with it. You'll relearn everything, and you'll return to your comfort zone. After a few races, you won't be afraid anymore.

    Heal quick.
    Is trick from science!

  4. #4
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    I don't think it's limited to just racing....but anytime someone incurs a serious injury, accident, precarious situation, etc.....there is always a bit of hesitation about returning. Let's take one of my mountaineering experiences for example....

    December 30, 2000, Mt. Washington, NH, 16:00 in Huntington Ravine after being on the mountain for nearly 8 hours already. Forecasted Nor'Easter is starting to bear down on us, nightfall is about a half hour away and we're still on the last ice pitch in O'Dells Gully.....after which lies the last 800 vertical feet, consisting of a snow climb on around a 55 degree slope (Huntington Ravine is 1,600 vertical feet, so we were around halfway up) to the rim of the ravine. The gully faces the northeast, so we are hit directly by the snow/wind. Out of the three of us, only two of us had headlamps. I hadn't slept the night before, and didn't eat anything all day (we started climbing at around 8:30 a.m.), and drank maybe 10-12 ounces of Gatorade the entire day. I was running on fumes, literally. As the climbing leader reached the top of the last ice pitch (or so we estimated....we were out of contact with him due to rocks and ice), the middle climber and I (I cleaned the route) watched the snow pickets come flying down at us. That was a bad thing, as now we had to freeclimb the entire snow pitch, since we had nothing now to anchor the ropes into the snow with. So, as we regroup and begin the snowclimb, it is now dark, the storm at full force, constantly pummelled by 35-55 mph winds.

    We look around.....can't find the guy without a headlamp. Wonderful. We do a quick scan, and see him sprawled against the snow like spiderman, slowly working his way up the pitch in the dark about 30 feet above us. He was getting too cold and couldn't sit still any longer so he began ascending. On the last ice pitch, him and I were on a ledge, and he was beginning to get hypothermic - I spent the entire 2 hours belaying the leader on my knees on that pitch, while he was standing there shivering (it wasn't a very big ledge, and I wasn't able to kneel down for nearly a month afterwards, my knees hurt so bad afterwards). For the next two hours, I used my headlamp to shine between him and I to see the route up. We all knew that one wrong move, one slip, it was all over.....or, the possibility of an avalanche due to snow loading. Needless to say, it was a big sigh of relief once we reached the rim at 8:00 p.m.....but it was far from over.

    Putting a lot of faith in the climbing leader (he's been to the summit about twice as many times as I have....about 50+ at that point, and in 0 visibility conditions), he decided to cut across the Alpine Garden rather than go to the summit, and head down Lions' Head. Great idea....I was dead tired, but managed to somehow get some kind of a second wind after reaching the rim. Still no food or anything in me, but we forged on. BTW, the wind and snow was so bad, I couldn't find my ice tools that I laid down by my feet a few minutes earlier....took several minutes to find them.

    The ONLY saving grace we had was that visibility was surprisingly good, considering the conditions. We could see a good 300-500 feet in any direction, so we could see the slope of the mountain and get an idea of our location while we started the trek across the Alpine Garden. It was only about a mile across, but the conditions were so bad it took us 3 1/2 hours to finally reach the Lion head Winter Route. Yeah, imagine taking 3 1/2 hours to walk a mile. We would posthole anywhere from knee deep, to waist deep.....one time, up over my head. I have never been so physically exhausted in my life, yet we kept on pushing.....and I kept watch over the guy who was having serious issues while the leader kept going off up ahead. Halfway across the Alpine Garden, he was now collapsing and not getting up.....would just lay there for 3-5 minutes, telling me/us to just go on and leave 'em there. By now we had ice crusted to our eyebrows/cheeks.....I had a facemask and goggles, but felt guilty about putting them on because this guy didn't have anything like that.....so I let him use my goggles, and I put on my facemask. Much better, and he was a lot happier.

    After we found the markers for the Lion Head Winter Route, I felt a HUGE sigh of relief come over me. I don't think I've been quite that happy in a long time.....we'd finally be back below treeline, and on the "home stretch" so to speak. The climbing leader once again took off, leaving me and the other guy by ourselves. While this wasn't too bad, my headlamp had started to die a bit earlier up on the Alpine Garden, and I was already using my backup battery. Argh. Now that we were back below treeline, it was pitch black so you needed light to see (whereas you could actually travel without the lamps on for the most part on the A.G.). After about 20 min. or so of descending the Lion Head W.R., my battery was pretty fried....would have to shut it off for a min, turn it on for another 5 min or so and descend, then turn it off for a bit, and repeat. It finally died about 75-100 feet from the Huntington Ravine Fire Road....the leader had been waiting there for about 20 minutes for us, and came running up the trail when he heard us yelling out (couldn't see 2 inches in front of our faces). We finally got to Harvard Cabin at 12:30 a.m. on the 31st, much to the dismay of Ned Green, the cabin caretaker at the time (unfortunately, Ned died in a climbing accident in Huntington a few months later). Not quite sure how I did it, but managed 16 1/2 hours on the mountain with no sleep the night before, and had half a Clif Bar and 8 oz. of Gatorade for breakfast. Other than a few sips here and there until it froze higher up on the mountain (windchill at night was around -30 degrees, standing air temps were close to 0), that's all I had for the duration of the climb. Ate some crappy frozen meal that heats itself, and even after all that, it still tasted bad. I can't imagine how bad it must've been if I wasn't damn near starving to death. Went to bed around 2 a.m., but only managed about a half hour of actual sleep. Drove 240 miles home 6 hours later. Spent the better part of 3 days in bed resting, eating, and reflecting on what it was like to know that any minute could have been "it", and then having to keep on pushing to the top of the ravine knowing this. As the saying goes...what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger.

    If you've been cycling and racing the better part of your life, you will come back to it. Might be a little cautious at first, but in time things will be back to normal.
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

  5. #5
    Blue Straggler Starclimber's Avatar
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    If you REALLY want to be there, you'll be there, no matter what well meaning friends say or your own best interests may dictate. At least you have help on hand if things go wrong during a race. GuitarWizard's post touched on the seriousness of that 'other' crazy sport I've taken part in. That gnawing uncertainty of the outcome when the storm moves in is not something I remember fondly. By 'outcome' I mean staying alive. Huge difference knowing that help is not available. Shudder. Makes for great reading and cinema, though. Joe Simpson's 'Touching the Void' comes to mind. Another of his books, 'This Game of Ghosts' is highly recommended.

    Edit: Oh, and btw, Mr. Simpson is the grandmaster of coming back from injuries and having another go.
    Coach Bill

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    I don't know about you, but i'm itching to get back on the bike and start racing again. i separated my shoulder last week and its been a rough week not being on the bike

  7. #7
    Now Racer Ex Vinokurtov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmat
    Anyway sorry to ramble, just looking for how others have delt with the decision to return to racing after a serious injury. Thanks
    I wouldn't consider a broken clavicle serious, surgery or not. And I've never had to deal with a decision about racing do to injury because there wasn't any decision to be made. I went racing as soon as I was physically able. The only reason to stop racing is if it stops being fun or you can't physically do it anymore.

    People fall down all the time and break stuff just walking around, but no one asks them "so, when are you going to give up this walking thing?"

  8. #8
    214/13 PedalMasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarWizard
    I don't think it's limited to just racing....but anytime someone incurs a serious injury, accident, precarious situation, etc.....there is always a bit of hesitation about returning. Let's take one of my mountaineering experiences for example....

    December 30, 2000, Mt. Washington, NH, 16:00 in Huntington Ravine after being on the mountain for nearly 8 hours already. Forecasted Nor'Easter is starting to bear down on us, nightfall is about a half hour away and we're still on the last ice pitch in O'Dells Gully.....after which lies the last 800 vertical feet, consisting of a snow climb on around a 55 degree slope (Huntington Ravine is 1,600 vertical feet, so we were around halfway up) to the rim of the ravine. The gully faces the northeast, so we are hit directly by the snow/wind. Out of the three of us, only two of us had headlamps. I hadn't slept the night before, and didn't eat anything all day (we started climbing at around 8:30 a.m.), and drank maybe 10-12 ounces of Gatorade the entire day. I was running on fumes, literally. As the climbing leader reached the top of the last ice pitch (or so we estimated....we were out of contact with him due to rocks and ice), the middle climber and I (I cleaned the route) watched the snow pickets come flying down at us. That was a bad thing, as now we had to freeclimb the entire snow pitch, since we had nothing now to anchor the ropes into the snow with. So, as we regroup and begin the snowclimb, it is now dark, the storm at full force, constantly pummelled by 35-55 mph winds.

    We look around.....can't find the guy without a headlamp. Wonderful. We do a quick scan, and see him sprawled against the snow like spiderman, slowly working his way up the pitch in the dark about 30 feet above us. He was getting too cold and couldn't sit still any longer so he began ascending. On the last ice pitch, him and I were on a ledge, and he was beginning to get hypothermic - I spent the entire 2 hours belaying the leader on my knees on that pitch, while he was standing there shivering (it wasn't a very big ledge, and I wasn't able to kneel down for nearly a month afterwards, my knees hurt so bad afterwards). For the next two hours, I used my headlamp to shine between him and I to see the route up. We all knew that one wrong move, one slip, it was all over.....or, the possibility of an avalanche due to snow loading. Needless to say, it was a big sigh of relief once we reached the rim at 8:00 p.m.....but it was far from over.

    Putting a lot of faith in the climbing leader (he's been to the summit about twice as many times as I have....about 50+ at that point, and in 0 visibility conditions), he decided to cut across the Alpine Garden rather than go to the summit, and head down Lions' Head. Great idea....I was dead tired, but managed to somehow get some kind of a second wind after reaching the rim. Still no food or anything in me, but we forged on. BTW, the wind and snow was so bad, I couldn't find my ice tools that I laid down by my feet a few minutes earlier....took several minutes to find them.

    The ONLY saving grace we had was that visibility was surprisingly good, considering the conditions. We could see a good 300-500 feet in any direction, so we could see the slope of the mountain and get an idea of our location while we started the trek across the Alpine Garden. It was only about a mile across, but the conditions were so bad it took us 3 1/2 hours to finally reach the Lion head Winter Route. Yeah, imagine taking 3 1/2 hours to walk a mile. We would posthole anywhere from knee deep, to waist deep.....one time, up over my head. I have never been so physically exhausted in my life, yet we kept on pushing.....and I kept watch over the guy who was having serious issues while the leader kept going off up ahead. Halfway across the Alpine Garden, he was now collapsing and not getting up.....would just lay there for 3-5 minutes, telling me/us to just go on and leave 'em there. By now we had ice crusted to our eyebrows/cheeks.....I had a facemask and goggles, but felt guilty about putting them on because this guy didn't have anything like that.....so I let him use my goggles, and I put on my facemask. Much better, and he was a lot happier.

    After we found the markers for the Lion Head Winter Route, I felt a HUGE sigh of relief come over me. I don't think I've been quite that happy in a long time.....we'd finally be back below treeline, and on the "home stretch" so to speak. The climbing leader once again took off, leaving me and the other guy by ourselves. While this wasn't too bad, my headlamp had started to die a bit earlier up on the Alpine Garden, and I was already using my backup battery. Argh. Now that we were back below treeline, it was pitch black so you needed light to see (whereas you could actually travel without the lamps on for the most part on the A.G.). After about 20 min. or so of descending the Lion Head W.R., my battery was pretty fried....would have to shut it off for a min, turn it on for another 5 min or so and descend, then turn it off for a bit, and repeat. It finally died about 75-100 feet from the Huntington Ravine Fire Road....the leader had been waiting there for about 20 minutes for us, and came running up the trail when he heard us yelling out (couldn't see 2 inches in front of our faces). We finally got to Harvard Cabin at 12:30 a.m. on the 31st, much to the dismay of Ned Green, the cabin caretaker at the time (unfortunately, Ned died in a climbing accident in Huntington a few months later). Not quite sure how I did it, but managed 16 1/2 hours on the mountain with no sleep the night before, and had half a Clif Bar and 8 oz. of Gatorade for breakfast. Other than a few sips here and there until it froze higher up on the mountain (windchill at night was around -30 degrees, standing air temps were close to 0), that's all I had for the duration of the climb. Ate some crappy frozen meal that heats itself, and even after all that, it still tasted bad. I can't imagine how bad it must've been if I wasn't damn near starving to death. Went to bed around 2 a.m., but only managed about a half hour of actual sleep. Drove 240 miles home 6 hours later. Spent the better part of 3 days in bed resting, eating, and reflecting on what it was like to know that any minute could have been "it", and then having to keep on pushing to the top of the ravine knowing this. As the saying goes...what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger.

    If you've been cycling and racing the better part of your life, you will come back to it. Might be a little cautious at first, but in time things will be back to normal.
    Um, pretty amazing story. One question: Why were you on the route with a forecasted Nor-easter coming in? If that would've happened in the cascades, I'd be reading about you in the paper in a few days and it wouldn't be good. Sounds like you route leader was a jerk. Hope he wasn't a paid guide.

  9. #9
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PedalMasher
    Um, pretty amazing story. One question: Why were you on the route with a forecasted Nor-easter coming in? If that would've happened in the cascades, I'd be reading about you in the paper in a few days and it wouldn't be good. Sounds like you route leader was a jerk. Hope he wasn't a paid guide.
    We had "planned" on being at the summit for when the storm hit. Sounds insane, but we will actually go up when everyone else is going down.....we like extreme weather, and Mt. Washington provides it.

    The ice was reallllly hard, and the leader had reallllllly dull crampon points. He had to literally chop steps on the ice pitches, which is what took forever (2+ hours per ice pitch). I had wanted to descend at the start of the 3rd/last ice pitch, but it got vetoed. He's actually my climbing buddy, and runs the www.mountwashington.com website. In addition to that, he also holds a meteorology degree, and can predict Mt. Washington weather very well. The storm hit when and where he said it would, and with the intensity that he predicted....we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    I haven't been up there in the winter in a few years now. I'm due for a trip....perhaps next winter.
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

  10. #10
    Member Nacho Speedee's Avatar
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    Hey Jimmat -

    Thanks for the post. I've been dealing with the same struggle myself. I broke my clavicle and dislocated my finger (see Avatar) several weeks ago and I'm starting to wonder if it's all worth it. I was a serious runner before and running is obviously less dangerous. Still, I like racing and I like the team I'm with so I'll probably give it another go. Still, it's difficult to get the mojo back...

  11. #11
    abandoning fly:yes/land:no's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nitropowered
    I don't know about you, but i'm itching to get back on the bike and start racing again. i separated my shoulder last week and its been a rough week not being on the bike
    sorry to hear, nitropowered. good luck with recovery! still a lot of season left for you to dominate some sprints.

  12. #12
    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nacho Speedee
    ...and dislocated my finger (see Avatar)...


    We need a ::barf:: icon....
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

  13. #13
    Senior Member Duke of Kent's Avatar
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    Nitropowered: was that at regionals at Illinois two weekends ago? I thought the kid who separate his shoulder was from Wisconsin. Or was that you too?

    I did the same at Marian the first day. Bad 2nd degree separation. I rode the trainer while the crits were going on the next day, got three hours in. My left arm was really sore after a couple days, but my right arm got better quick enough that I was able to put some weight on it, and make riding bearable. I was back on the bike, outside, roughly a week afterwards.
    "If a non personal post makes you feel as if you've been attacked, maybe the problem IS you."

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