XXTWO – MAKINGITCOUNT
Crashes and injuries are unavoidable to a racer. The best don’t crash very much but they do still crash. You can avoid the pain of crashing and of the injuries that crashes bring, but to do this you’d have to miss the racing, the days spent in the back-country and even the extra ten minute loop on the way home. I wouldn’t want to miss out on any of that stuff – it’s the only thing I’ve been dreaming about for three weeks!…
“to be the best you need a lot of luck – and the harder you train, the further you push yourself, the more you crash and the faster you ride – the more lucky you become”
Three-and-a-half weeks ago I bit the dirt whilst riding on a trail designed for families – a million sketchy downhills, switchbacks, dropoffs and I stack it on a flat piece of disused railway line! I knew straight away (as you always do), whilst lying on the hardpack gravel underneath my bike, that something wasn’t right (apart from the obvious bit about no longer being on top of my bike, happily in control. After un-clipping my foot with my hands (never a good sign), I felt the warmth of the blood as it ran between the multiple bits of debris embedded in my calf muscle and down the outside of my leg.
Standing up I did my best Bambi-on-ice impression and not knowing what else to do, I got back on my bike and rode on through the rain, hoping it would wash some of the dirt out of my wounds.
A day later, even though I’d cleaned everything up well, I couldn’t ignore the swelling so I headed off for an x-ray. This confirmed that luckily there were no major breaks (result) but hairline cracks in the kneecap and the fibular along with some really deep muscular damage was going to take weeks of rest to heal themselves – not what I’m traditionally good at! First I tried to carry on as normal, which didn’t work. So then I tried resting for a few hours at a time, which didn’t work either. In the end the only thing that worked was complete rest.
After ten days I raced the Catford HC – I was nowhere near ready to race but pushing myself was a massive mental boost to my recovery – Photo by Dave Haywood
But during that rest I started dreaming, which turned to thinking and then I started planning. I realised the thing that makes me tick is riding my bike. It can be racing, or training, or winning, but just as much it’s about the days spent out in the hills not knowing where I’m going to stay, the hours on my local trails and even that extra few minutes I get to squeeze in at the end of a long day – what doesn’t kill you, only makes you more hungry.
I love that hunger. It makes you work harder and achieve more even when you occasionally fail. It drives you to develop the bike, never accepting that it’s as good as it could be. It pushes you to experiment with further, faster, longer and stronger. And despite the odd tumble it teaches you to make your muscles, heart and brain strive to do it even better tomorrow – On Sunday I rode my bike for 50 miles which was the first proper ride I’ve done since crashing. Tomorrow I plan on going much further.
If you’re not crashing, on the bike and in life; you’re just not trying hard enough.
“First ride back!” – Photo by Mark James (Hot Chillee)
Photos by Mark James and Dave Haywood.
#aeightracer – Glen’s an ex-racer who still finds time to ride mountain bikes, road bikes, TT and ‘cross bikes for Southborough & District Wheelers. He started building custom steel frames in 2013, has worked in bike shops since 2002 and started racing in 1998. He helps out with London and SE Cross League and receives personal support from Helly Hansen, Geoff Roberts Frames, Four4th Lights. His most recent claim to fame is 13th in the British National XC Mountain bike rankings and 15th overall in the National Series whilst setting up the.æight.bicycle.cøllective – #aeightracer
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