Return to riding

26 May

Just over a month since I had to cut my RAS adventure a day short due to Achilles tendinitis and I seem to be back into the swing of things. Achilles tendinitis is an injury so common that googling for information is quite a simple task, every running forum, cycling forum, health forum and whatever else across the internet is laden with threads about how people developed the problem, and indeed how they cured it, if they managed to cure it at all.

Firstly, you’ll know if you have this issue, the symptoms are quite simple in many cases, pain around the Achilles tendon resulting in swelling, a crunchy feeling when you move your foot up and down (known as crepitus), and general pain when trying to walk, or move about. My issue was likely caused by a cocktail of issues which made themselves known and culminated in the severe pain I felt when I tried to ride the last day of the RAS. The issues I spotted when I looked into it were, to be honest, pretty obvious, my saddle was too high, and slightly too far back, so at the bottom of the stroke I was over extending, and instead of pushing down, I was pushing forward and down due to the setback of my saddle. Things I did to rectify included moving my cleats back so the pressure point was fully under the ball of my foot, lowering my saddle slightly, and moving it back forward a touch, I should never have deviated from my Retul fit!!

These were all things that I could have done earlier and likely avoided the issue altogether! Anyway, I went to see a physio and was recommended to follow a well known protocol by a Sweedish Prof, google Alfredson and you’ll find all the info, the idea was to load the tendon and promote collagen regeneration and increase bloodflow for healing as the tendon gets almost no blood hence slow recovery times. The main issue was that I couldn’t resist trying to cycle, and every time I cycled it ended up hurting, it was very infuriating and likely counter productive at times. I think all in all I had around 10 days off the bike, which for me is a long time. It was very annoying given how fit I was feeling going into the RAS. However, slowly, with the heel drops working, I eased the riding back in, and 1 hour a night was about right, then I tried a road race. Idiotic. Within 1 hour of racing it was painful and I had to pull out, which was a real shame as it was a race I usually enjoy (Thames Velo). I gave it another couple of days and then went back out and had no pain, almost like the road race had done something good despite the pain, wierd, that was two weeks ago, since then I’ve been building it back up and increasing the load and volume, and so far so good. Very pleasing given I was told it would be a minimum of 6 weeks, possibly 12 weeks. Its been about 4-5 weeks. And I don’t think I’ve lost TOO much fitness, though I have probably put a few lbs on 😉

With the failed Thanes Velo race behind me, I decided to pull out of the divs last week, and concentrate on getting it better before ruining it again in a 4 hour race. However, I had entered a time trial on the 24th May that I thought I would be OK to ride. The bigger issue was that I’d not ridden my time trial bike since my win at the Sporting 14 way back in Feb! I had one ride on it in the week and it felt alright despite me nearly stacking it in the wet.

The event promised to be a good day out (Farnham RC on H10/8 course), plenty of good riders were on the startsheet, Wouter Sybrandy, coming back from injury himself, Tejvan Pettinger, who I’d beaten into 2nd at the KW 14, Liam Maybank of Twickenham, Richard Prebble as its basically next to his house, and Russell Hampton formerly of Raleigh GAC. On the day sadly Maybank and Pettinger were DNS, the weather was pretty ropey so I expected many not to bother, but of the 100+ field, most had signed on, including a LOT of women as it was part of the SEWETTS series.

As I warmed up Wouter was saying he had no idea what to expect of himself as he’d not ridden his TT bike for 6 months, I too had no idea how it would be, the last time I rode this course was just before xmas I was shite to be honest, owing mainly to illness I clocked a short 21. Richard said as I made my way to the start that he had done a long 20, so it sounded like conditions were reasonable.

I got off to a decent start and realized the wind was not a hindrance on the out leg, which it so often is on this course, I got to the turn at just under 29mph which looked reasonable, I rode pretty cautiously round the turn as I almost came a cropper in the week on the TT bike due to taking a wet corner too fast… On the way back it felt pretty quick, so I gave it as much as I could, which wasn’t much due to the blunting of my fitness, but I could see the avg slowly creeping up towards 30mph, with the finish in sight I was still in the low 19’s and I thought a 19 was on, I buried myself but it just didn’t quite come quick enough, I passed the line in 20.06. I was pretty pleased, I was 12w up on my December effort but still a good 15w down on where I had been before the RAS.

I got back to the HQ and I was pleased to see I was 2nd behind Hampton who had battered everyone and done a 19.22. Impressive. He will hopefully go on and do a ride at the BC champs to make me feel a bit better about being 45 seconds down, probably my biggest losing margin in a 10 ever 😀

Hillingdon GP next weekend, possibly another outing on this 10 course the week after before a few races and the Richmond Park TT’s.

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