It’s been about 5? months since the 2011 running of the Tour Divide and I’ve been quite quiet here this site. Kind of want to apologize, as my intention wasn’t to show you how I trained, do the race and then: disappear. 5 months is a long time to recap, so I will barely try but a few major points:
The Tour Divide takes a lot of energy to do and that energy takes a long time to recapture. Mental. Physical. Financial. Lots of energy.
Work disappeared like wild game in Alaska come the onset of winter and I become pretty much broke and my priorities sort of became, “become not pretty much broke“. I work for myself doing various things and those who also work for themselves know that it can be either feast or famine, and that’s sort of the tradeoff you have for the flexibility in your work schedule.
Injury! The shoulder injury I sustained outside of Silver City took a long time to heal. …Is taking a long time to heal. And I will extrapolate on this:
The initial pain seconds after impact was probably the worst focused pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was waling out on the track to no one in particular, tears streaming down my face, unable to even lift my arm anymore, worried that I did some Major Damage to Something. Bleeding everyone. Just a mess. Once a little settled down (and at an ER), doing something as simple as resting the arm on a table would hurt. Or not resting the arm on a table.
It hurt taking the bus back to Denver, from Las Cruces. It hurt changing clothes – I couldn’t even raise my arm over my head. Or close to over my head. It was funny, in a sad, sad way.
It hurt carrying my bike from the basement where it’s stored, it hurt to open the back door and it hurt just to ride the thing. It especially hurt going over cracks in the road, or up/down a curb. Or going over sand. Or any sort of bump. Differences in elevation. Sweet Mother, it hurt to brake. It hurt to go fast and it hurt to go slower. Basically, riding a bike made it hurt more and that made me think that I was probably best not to ride the damn thing and you know what happens when you don’t let yourself do things you love to do: you get depressed.
I joined a cyclocross team for the fall, to help keep some of the insane conditioning my poor body was chiseled into becoming. Man, I’ll tell you what really hurts: trying to race a cyclocross race with a sprained shoulder. So, that was a wash of a season for me. Will power alone and thinking that, “Hey, it may hurt, but not that much”, doesn’t really help it from hurting.
It hurt to sleep, if I slept the wrong way – meaning, on my shoulder – and uh-huh, my other shoulder has a little nerve damage from that time I got stuck in a flash flood. For 3 days in New Zealand. (a story for another time) So it hurt to sleep any which way, but on my back.
But ever so slowly, it hurt less and less. As of last week, 5 months, FIVE! MONTHS! I was able to go to the gym and do some bench presses. It hurt… just a little bit, when I racked up a total of 85lbs. That’s like, a little over half my body weight. I had to stop because, yup, it hurt. And man, it hurt so much, I did finally go to the sports doctor, as I was worried. They didn’t seem worried, but slightly compassionate. “Yeah, it takes a long time to heal” and they kicked me out of the office. Nicely, but they said it was a classical case. 100% recovery they said and yeah, you get to keep the bump. Don’t worry about it. Unless, it keeps hurting.
So it’s on the mend. Still. And it doesn’t hurt so much where I don’t want to ride a bike. Which is good, since I would think of bad, dark thoughts if I had to live a life without bicycles. And it doesn’t hurt so much, and I can now ride bicycles off pavement and it doesn’t hurt so much, that I can fall again and scrape myself up (and I do have quite a talent for that!) and not be worried that I’ll just re-injure the damn thing and start all over with hurting and trying not to hurt.
So that’s good and that allows one to relearn an important rule about life: Problems worked on will be solved as soon as they can, if not as fast as you’d like.
So. Future endeavors? Tour Divide again?
My lips are zipped.
I’m still on a large project called, “become not pretty much broke“, which is a also pretty important to me and the Tour Divide is an expensive race to race. I know you’ll say, “But Justin! You can do x, y and z and then it’s not so expensive!”, but you’re missing the point – it’s more expensive to race the race than to just ride a bike around, as fast as you’d like, anywhere you’d like, on your whim and desire and have a lot of fun doing so. Believe you me, I’ve done both and I know.
But, the Tour Divide is still the most incredibly outrageously amazing bike ride I’ve ever been on. If anything, I understand the allure to do it again and again. And I’m hooked. Maybe just on the idea of Best Known Times and Unsupport/Self-Supported adventure/challenges that have some sort of time that’s calculated with surprises and unknowns – an imperfect course. I also know I have a desire to excel physically, even though my greatest assets are perseverance and it seems an uncommonly high tolerance for pain, danger and solitude. I’m not particularly strong or, fast or, powerful, but keeping it together when things are rough, I can do.
So, without any future goal in mind yet, I’ll take a shot of documenting some of my more interesting physical foibles. Sorry for taking so much time out.
Really, it was really painful.