Getting back in the game. So much fun shredding laps at Snowmass with Juniper, Axel and Ian.
As I continue to recover quickly, I am reminded how blessed I am. While in the Outer Banks last week, Ian and I got out for some great road rides, swam in the Atlantic and walked on the beach.
Rushing back to Colorado for a very special wedding in Crested Butte, I stopped at home and grabbed my mountain bike. The Tall Boy LTC had not been touched since I crashed three weeks ago. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to hop on the bike while in CB due to rain, however I attempted a run…and succeeded. My Saturday run on the Caves Trail in CB South was slow but I was super excited to be running.
After a fun night of celebrating two of my favorite people in the world, Jari Kirkland and Troy Hiatt, I wasn’t sore from running the day before so I jumped on the opportunity to run with friends. Stevie Kremer and Sarah Stubbe took me on a fun run that had me ecstatic that I was really running again.
I still have some pain when I twist the wrong way but for the most part I feel great (other than my quads being ridiculously sore from two runs). With a trip to Sun Valley coming up this weekend, I spent the evening getting my bike rideable again. Thankfully my bike did not sustain any major damage from my crash – just crooked handle bars, torn grips and some scratches. With recovery moving in the right direction, I’m trying not to fall again or do too much but it’s hard to hold back now that I feel so much better.
I’d been hoping to race an enduro race since last summer and this past weekend was my chance. Excited and nervous, I headed to Keystone on Friday morning for the Big Mountain Enduro. It was a huge relief to run into Melissa Thomas, whom I’ve been racing against for 18 years, to take practice runs with on the 6 stages. After a few runs, I started to feel more confident and Melissa got me to drop a wood bridge jump that I never thought I would. Turns out she was right – it was super easy. I finished the day feeling less nervous for Saturday and excited to get started with my first enduro.
Saturday morning Melissa and I set out to practice run #1 before it closed for the racing to begin. We met up with a few of Melissa’s buddies and I felt good. The first three quarters of the run were fast on smooth green runs. This led into Helter and Skelter at the bottom. Helter dropped into the most technical part of the weekend (at least in my opinion) then dropped into Skelter. Nothing crazy but a series of 3 small rock drops.
Helter video: Melissa showing off the ‘Tripod’. Way better than the ‘Not Today’, ‘Biathalon’ or “Hesitation’
Coming out of Helter, I slid out in the turn leading into the drop of Skelter. My foot out of my pedal, I dropped into Skelter and went over the bars on the first or second drop. I hit one of the aspen trees on lookers right with the right side of my back. It really didn’t hurt so I got back up and tried to jump on my bike. After a few steps, I had a shooting pain though my hip and quad and quickly realized I wasn’t going anywhere.
The scene of the accident. Check out Pink Bike for more photos from Devon Balet and me on the backboard being carried out.
The Keystone Bike/Ski Patrol arrived quickly and evaluated the scene. I was told there was no arguing and that I was going to be taken to the hospital via ambulance. Normally I would protest but this time I succumbed due to the excruciating pain. Mike Daly, head of ski patrol, took control to get me on the backboard and into the truck as quickly and safely as possible. Despite being in intense pain, I was thankful for the professional and caring patrollers – they even got me to laugh a few times.
Once in the ambulance, an IV was started and the pain meds took my pain from a 10 to a 9. Better at least. The thought was I had broken either my femur head or pelvic bone as that’s where all the pain was concentrated. X-rays and CT scan showed nothing was broken so now it was just controlling the pain.
Ian arrived along with Eva Hagen and both were not convinced I hadn’t broken anything as I could not move without screaming in agony. After about 6 or 7 hours in the ER, I managed to get myself in a wheelchair and into the car. I didn’t move off the couch Sunday and made it to Steadman Hawkins in Vail on Monday. At this poiunt my pain had moved more into my back so we were able to x-ray the correct area. Turns out I had broken my L2 and L3 transverse processes on my spine. These little guys protect your nerves so the muscles were spasming and the nerves going crazy, causing the pain in my leg and hip.
I’m home on the couch for a week or so. Then a few more weeks of taking it super easy. Hopefully I can manage to be a good patient and allow everything to heal so I can get back out in September.
As for my ‘enduro career’ – it wasn’t the shortest. It just hasn’t officially begun. I’ll be back and I’m already looking forward to it.
As I’ve added strength training in with my aerobic training, I’ve become very interested in maximizing the potential gains strength training can provide. A week after surgery last December, I started lifting and doing whatever I could in the gym about five days a week. There was not much else I could do to keep sane, so strength training became my outlet. Once I was able to get back on the bike in the spring, I was pleasantly surprised with my fitness level from just gym sessions. I came back as strong as I had been each spring after a winter of skimo racing.
Too bad Salt Lake City is close but not quite close enough to train there on a regular basis. At some point, I hope to make it to SLC for a Gym Jones session. In the meantime, I hope my current strength sessions will help me to get back in race shape for skimo this winter.
I got the green light to skin and mountain bike a few weeks ago and I’ve been enjoying it to the fullest. Although I haven’t skied since mid-April Mt. Sopris is calling my name, especially since my new Sportiva Spitfire boots arrived this week. They fit great right out of the box and feel fine on my foot. Maybe this year I can motivate some friends to ride bikes with me from the house and then ski from snowline. None of this wimpy car stuff. I think round trip we’d still be around five hours…if all went smoothly. Any takers?
In the meantime, I’m enjoying every ride on my new Scott Scale 29er. Even with burly, heavy tires the bike is super responsive, so much so, that Ian has his eyes on it for a few races. But I’m not sure I’m willing to share.
With physical therapy a few times a week, I’m slowly gaining mobility back in my ankle and foot. I’m still no where near running but thankfully I feel great on the bike and in the pool. My strength is coming back the more I ride and with three gym sessions a week. Someday in the next few years I’m hoping my left calf will regain the size of my right one.
Time away from competing has given me a chance to reflect quite a bit. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is coach, train and mentor women especially. I’ve started taking courses to get my personal trainer certifications. Although I haven’t talked about my intentions much, I already have a few clients lined up and I’m looking forward to building a program for them.
As I spend more time on the bike, the temptation to jump into a mountain bike race is building. I’m feel pretty fit but I don’t have the ankle mobility to get off my bike and run up something or around someone. Am I capable of racing for fun knowing I may need to hold back a little? Honestly, I have no idea…