Disclaimer: this update is intended as much to inform and entertain you as writing it is to distract me for another chunk of time while spinning away on my Kinetic trainer. I'm not cooped inside by blizzard conditions, rather because I broke my fibula on January 6th.
After one of the most measured and consistent pre season training routines of my career, I began to gear up for the Tour of San Luis. All fall and winter I spent three days a week in the gym, which is notable because I haven't touched a weight since 2009. Muscles are like sand bags in the mountains. This year, however, I benefited from the team's instruction. A few pounds hopped on board, but unlike most off-season weight gain, these came with extra watts.
The gym offered a change in routine. I could crush an Italian breakfast (double espresso, minus the cigarette) and go to "work" without wasting time searching for that missing leg warmer. Over the winter I worked my squats up from the bar- rotating with yoga moms and computer nerds- to sets of 6x275 lb- rotating with ex military dudes and meatheads. The rapid tangible progress made the work fulfilling. Also, the pump is real. My mandatory UCI blood test showed a macho spike in free testosterone. And regardless of the physical benefits, the quality of people watching alone justified the membership. On the bike lifting translated to the first time that I ever beat my uncle in a two up town sprint. Just once though. Uncle Dan or Duncle is the last man on the Team King lead out train.
Virginia's weather cooperated so well that I stayed home and got to ride with my dad, uncle, and younger brother up to three days a week just like my first years cycling. Since most pro cyclists adapt to about one day off/week for travel, I enjoyed resting on Sundays without going anywhere.
One icy day, I slipped outside for a quick mountain bike loop after two hours on the trainer. And then I slipped on the trail. I never expected such a gentle, seemingly benign crash to matter but when my foot twisted against the frozen ground I heard and felt something like a cold chocolate bar breaking in its wrapper. I didn’t yell or curse, just let out an exasperated breathe. There was nobody around to hear anyway. I tugged off my sock and tried to stand.
“Mom, hey. Where are you? I think I broke my ankle. My phone battery is on 2%. Can you pick me up at the bottom of Carter’s Mountain? Ok. Thanks.”
The best part about the crash is that it happened in Virginia. I live close to my parents so I could call "mommy" to pick me up. I rode about a mile with one leg and waited while my ankle swelled.
I tried not to worry, freak out, or spill my coffee while crutching back and forth from the kitchen to the couch. Brad Hunter, a supporter mailed me the iWalk 2.0 which made getting around much easier, but I also leaned heavily on my family and friends. When your body is used to getting beat up all the time, it gets good at putting itself back together. After two weeks of getting spoiled on the couch my ankle deflated, the stitches came out and the doc cleared me to ride low resistance indoors. So, I’ve been Netflix and sweating all over the place, doing endurance rides indoors that have made people question my sanity. I’ve tried just about everything to pass the time, from playing guitar to writing this report. I have been watching the races like a crazy sports fan, dissecting tactics, willing my teammates to the line, and cringing with extra empathy at the crashes. I feel included in the action through whatsapp and the support of the team. Setting goals, highlighted by taking down Andy Guptill’s legendary 7 hour indoor ride by three minutes, learning to turn off my internal clock, and hydrate! hydrate! hydrate! made three weeks of spinning bearable.
This is the longest block of time that I have spent anywhere for nine years. The unexpected down time allowed me to reopen some creative channels through guitar, art, and reading. I picked up photography too. But the best side effect of the injury has been face to face relational consistency with friends and family. I hesitate to say that I’ve been enjoying myself since I feel a strong obligation to perform my job and do miss racing, my home on the road, friends on the team and in Lucca, but throughout the recovery I’ve felt abstruse peace about the situation.
I began training outside again after six weeks and the muscular soreness shouldn’t be a shock, but feeling the ominous gap between where I was and where I need to be overwhelmed me at first. The hardest days are yet to come. It’s a contract year and odds are my butt is about to get kicked for a while. My hope is that the personal growth and relational fruit of this trial rather than anxiety are the driving forces this season. I still have big goals and high expectations plus an extra month of “off-season” motivation. Thank you for your support and the personal messages on social media.
Special thanks to these people for the extra encouragement:
Scott Anderson: desiringGod.org
Brad Hunter: iwalk-free.com
Tucker MacDonald: https://dillingham.bandcamp.com
Lexi Hutchins: https://www.instagram.com/tomboycreative/
Casey See: http://www.iamsecond.com
And obviously my team and sponsors, particularly Kurtkinetic.com!
One of my goofy songs.