Last weekend, I spent three days with no bicycle in Germany and my leg problems got worse. When I got back I actually had to take another day off the bike, at that rate I was despairing of ever seeing an end in sight.
But, at the same time, I was hopeful that I could just ride through and keep going. This weekend I’ve been up in Yorkshire, and it’s been great for a few reasons. The weather is excellent. Yorkshire in spring with the sun out takes some beating. But, at least this weekend, the more I cycle the less I’m getting bothered by old injuries and niggles. Saturday I made a visit to Pateley Bridge for one of my favourite climbs – Greenhow Hill. All told it was 50 miles and just short of 2,000m of climbing. After an easy day going to Grassington, (an easy day in the Yorkshire Dales can still mean 1,000m of climbing) I went south-west towards Silsden and some steep hills around there. This year I’ve done relatively little in terms of volume of training (compared to previous years), But, in the past week, I’ve started to feel in good shape. The top end fitness has come back quite quickly. It is also a psychological boost to get the summer bike out of the loft.
From Sutton-in-Craven, I went up Ellers Road – a tough climb of 1.4 miles at 10%, with a particularly difficult beginning. It’s a very good test. I also found a new climb just to the south of Ellers Road. It is a climb called ‘Dick Lane’ or the ‘Cote de Dick’ if it gets in the Tour de Yorkshire. It is a very nice climb, 1.4 miles at 7% (and unlike its near neighbour Ellers Road – never too steep.) It is a smooth gradient, decent road surface and outstanding views across the valley to the left. I’ve been cycling in Yorkshire for 25 years but it’s still surprising how you can come across a new climb less than 15 miles from your house.
The weather forecast predicted a mild north westerly but the topography of the climb and embarkment seemed to funnel the mild cross/sidewind into a strong tailwind. The nature of the embankment catching the eddies and funnelling them uphill. I guess it can work in the other direction too. It would make a good hill climb.
After that, I descended into Keighley and found myself riding amongst the rush hour traffic.
Going back to riding through niggling injuries – I did try it back it last Autumn when I rode through the hill climb season, though curtailing training quite a bit. I hoped it would soon disappear but at that time it didn’t. I think part of me was willing to have a good break from the top end of competitive cycling after five years of nose to the stem. This winter has been really quite light on training, and at the moment I’m just trying to enjoy the riding rather than worry about getting the miles in for 100 mile TT’s and the like.
There are some injuries you can’t ride through and indeed can make worse. But, if there is persistently low pain, there is a case for seeing what you can do. Every case is different, and of course, it is worth seeking the opinion of a specialist. But, at least in the past two weeks, it seems riding very hard is better than doing nothing!
One difference between now and last autumn. Is that after a good break of a few months, I feel the old enthusiasm for training hard returning. In past few weeks, I was eager for the problems to go away so maybe that had something to do with it.