I’m suffering a bit. I had the delightful chance to ride like a pro. The Larimer County Pro Challenge Experience allowed mere mortals to ride with Mavic neutral support (the folks with the bright yellow cars and motorcycles) over a route and distance akin to what the pros ride. It also included Saxo-Tinkoff riders Tim Duggin and Rory Southerland.
It started out well. I hung with Tim, the 2012 US National Road Champion, and the front pack of riders . . . for about 15 miles. After that it was a long, lonely slog. I was punished for my mass. Southerland is my height, at 6’1″, but weighs a scant 165 pounds. Oh, and he rides for a living.
So now it has been several days, and I have a hard time sitting still. I like to lift, I love riding, and I’ve promised my daughter that we would participate in a mud run this fall, so I need to get out and run. This week I’m trying to slack off a bit, but I also love to eat. It’s tough, but there are things an athlete of any age can and should do.
More and more studies are pointing to the dangers of even low dosages of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Heat tends to exaserbate inflamation and even ice has been called into question as of late. Compresstion is still an effective way to treat inflammation, post workout. I own a pair of compression tights for that reason. There are many brands of such garments, but cheaper is not better. Bite the bullet and drop $100 on these tights to get your legs back a bit sooner. Riders at Boulder’s Colorado Multi Sport sware by them.
Estes Park, being a vacation destination, has plenty of massage theropists. Find one you like and utilize this resource. If you don’t have the money, or like a dear friend of mine, just can’t stand the thought of a stranger rubbing you, get a hold of a foam roller. There are several varieties of these. Some are solid foam, some are like a tube. Some have smooth surfaces and some have textures meant to pin-point pressure to work out the kinks.
If you can stand it, there are also massage sticks. Just like it sounds, these are plastic sticks with hollow plastic tubes around them and handles at either end. Roll the stick over the hurt spots to help stimulate healing.
Stretching is absolutely necessary to speed recovery and maintain flexibility. Eric Adams down at CrossFit Estes Park introduced me to Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching. The whole goal of this style is increasing range of motion and speeding rehabilitation. It would take another whole column to explain, so I recommend going to a trusted physical therapist, or head over to CrossFit Estes Park to have it demonstrated before you try it on your own.
Again, I am not a doctor, a physical therapist or any sort of licensed health care professional. Consult one if you have serious injuries or questions.
Have fun, be safe. I’m going to recover.
I’ m busy this week doing one of those things I can do when I can’t get outside to ride. I’m watching old race recordings. The Spring Classics season is coming to a head, but I won’t get to see those races until at least Sunday. Meanwhile, I have the 2003 Tour de France to keep me entertained.
If you don’t remember, the 2003 Tour was the closest of Lance’s seven Tour victories. He came into the race after fighting a nasty bug and while his marriage to Kristin was falling apart. Armstrong did not have the focus or the fitness everyone was used to up to that point. The race itself, from the rider’s standpoint, was a mess.
The first week of a grand tour tends to be a crash-fest, anyway. But the crashes that started this tour were exceptional. On the first road stage, Tyler Hamilton would be involved in a pile-up that nearly ended his race before it started.
Inside, the final kilometer, just one bend from the finish line, and with all of the sprinters charging, Kelme rider Jose Enrique Gutierrez over-cooked the sharp turn and put a foot down, causing a chain reaction. The crash stopped all but the front 25 riders, and sent Hamilton to the pavement. The crash broke his collarbone. As luck would have it, the bone was broken in a spot close to where the same bone was broken in the Giro d’Italia about 14 months earlier.
In the 2002 Giro, Hamilton would ride the whole race with the brake, and grind down several of his teeth, jaw clenched against the pain. Hamilton would do it again in the 2003 Tour, resulting not only in a fourth-place finish, but also in bolstering the quiet, slight, former Colorado resident’s legend. The worst, however, would happen a bit over a week later in the Alps.
During stage nine, T-Mobile rider Alexander Vinokourov put 30 seconds between himself and the group containing the top contenders. The group was screaming down the mountainside toward the town of Gap, trying to catch the Kazakh rider, and was making up time when, on the gooey melted tar, Spaniard Joseba Beloki, sitting 40 seconds behind Lance in the GC, lost control of his bike and he hit the tarmac at about 40 mph. The crash resulted in a broken leg, elbow and wrist. Beloki never regained the form he had before the crash. Most Americans remember the incident for Armstrong’s quick reactions. He cut the switchback, riding his bike through a farmer’s field and regaining the pack as they came out of the next bend.
One could argue that this whole Tour hinged on the crashes, and on Armstrong’s luck. Beloki was well within striking distance when he crashed. Hamilton went on to score a stage win on a long breakaway, collarbone in bandages. Don’t forget the stage 15 climb of Luz Ardiden in which a spectator’s bag handle hooked Lance’s handlebars, throwing him to the pavement and Iban Mayo on top of him. Hamilton went to the head of the race to slow Ulrich and company down to allow Lance to get back on. Lance would win that stage. And then there was the big one.
On the race’s final time trial, a 30-mile race against the clock from Pornic to Nantes, Jan Ulrich crashed around a bend on the rain-soaked street. Ulrich had beaten Armstrong by more than 90 seconds in the race’s earlier TT, stage 12 from Gaillac to Cap Decouverte. Ulrich was less than a minute down, but the crash would end the enigmatic German’s bid, and all of the crashes would define those involved.
Ulrich will forever be known as a bridesmaid to Armstrong. Hamilton’s actual racing will be remembered as tough as nails. Beloki will be the rider who could have been. Vinokourov, the only rider not involved in the crashes directly, will be the rider who threw caution to the wind and took ridiculous chances on seemingly pointless solo attacks. Vinokourov’s career seemed to end in a crash, as well.
On stage nine of the 2011 TDF, on another snaking descent, Vino would carry too much speed into a corner, fly off the road and break his leg. Vino claims he won’t retire, just yet. He plans to ride in the London Olympics, less than 100 days away, now.
Yah, okay, I’ve crashed, again. I’ve even broken something. This is my third major crash requiring medical attention in the last 17 years. It won’t stop me. I suppose that’s the beauty of not being a professional. A few more weeks and, like a dog off his leash, I’m off again.
Have fun, be careful. I’m going riding . . . eventually.