We mortals are but shoulders and wrists.
I usually do one of these season recaps every year so here we go....2013. Dominated by nagging shoulder and wrist issues but I still managed to have a decent year racing my bike. Things went sideways back in late April / early May. I was having a great run up getting more miles in March / April than I have in a long time. At some point in April, not really all that sure when, something happened with the shoulder. Not sure if it was rotator cuff or a minor AC separation but it had me laid up off and on for much of the early season. As I dealt with the shoulder an old wrist injury cropped back up as well which my best guess is a damaged sheath that keeps the Ulnar nerve where it is supposed to be.
I then did my best to not let either of those injuries heal all year.
This made my riding patterns very sporadic and ended with the norm becoming long rides followed by down time trying to get pain under wraps and then once it was bearable back on the bike for a long ride. Whatever I could manage really with races taking priority. Fun fact: over half (55%) of my miles on dirt this year were race miles, almost 300mi of racing on dirt. Luckily that pattern worked fairly well for my race plans for this year. I decided to take another stab at more endurance formats. I had tried this once before back in '08 or '09 but I don't think I was quite ready back then and returned to the XC summer series races the following years. As I've made incremental gains over the years I have noticed that my endurance is right up there with really fast guys and my ability to suffer through long hours in the saddle is top tier as well but when it came to those really sharp VO2max, anaerobic type efforts I wasn't on the same level.
Even with all of my health issues this year I managed to surprise myself a few times at my longer races this year. My win in the 100K at the Wildcat was a pleasant surprise and my finishing time was also a PR for me at that distance (although that was a fast course) and that was with early season fitness. A podium at Carrabassett was also unexpected and again my time was the same as my Wildcat time on a much harder course. Top 5 at NH100 with an all time personal best on that course and my fastest ever 100K time. Not too shabby. My luck ran out after that though and my last two endurance go-rounds saw me beat to a pulp with some of my wrist issues really catching up to me.
With my results this year I am fairly certain that I am an endurance type rider and I will continue to work on that type of fitness and that type of racing going forward. 100K and 100mi races are becoming more and more popular and we are getting more options in New England every year. I think I need one more year racing these distances consistently before I jump into a 100 miler but that is probably the eventual goal here. I'm certain I could probably finish one but I think with a bit more work I could be fairly competitive, not with the top SS guys they are beyond ridiculous, but I think I could be one of the better regional riders for sure.
First things first though; I need to get healthy. I'm getting there. I think I'm clear of the shoulder. Pain is minimal and when it crops up from time to time the recovery is faster and faster and I think I can focus on strengthening it again now. The wrist is still nagging but two weeks off the bike recently got me over a hump of sorts and I think I'm much closer to being back on track. Much of my early work in the gym this Fall will probably be PT in nature. I have gotten away with being hard on my body in the past but I think those days are over. Gotta smarten up a bit or I will crumble to bits in no time I'm sure.
Next step will be to stay healthy next year. Starting that quest with beating myself up less. Yes, its (pretty much) official. My days of riding fully rigid have come to an end. There are things I really like about riding rigid and a part of me has liked the added challenge (in a way) as well as the respect you get for being silly enough to actually do it. But the beating is no longer worth it to me and I've got nothing to prove. I have really enjoyed my time on the party bike so far this Fall and it has also reminded me that I am a pretty damn good technical rider and descender when I'm not getting rattled into oblivion.
More than likely I will be getting some sort of fork for the Spot and possibly even going back to running the Thudbuster full time. Even with the added weight and slight loss of efficiency I'm guess I'm going to be going real fast next year. The drive is already there even now. I'm excited for a healthy go at some long races.