The practical realities of my job mean that while many of my cycling comrades are fully engrossed in racing (or even just riding) their road and mountain bikes, I'm usually in some far-off land watching other people pedaling away instead of doing it myself.
But while that may condemn me to perennially mediocre fitness during the height of the season, it also means that I spend roughly seven months of the year doing nothing but building base miles with one competitive saving grace in mind come fall: cyclo-cross.
This season had started off pretty well. After spending last year stuck in mid-pack I'd finally started to figure things out, landing fairly consistent top-fives and even coming oh-so-close to that top step of the podium on two occasions (granted, this had all been in one of the most accessible categories, but here in Colorado, that's still no joke). I'd even managed to move up a category and scored a nice top-20 without the aid of a call-up. Things were looking good.
Sunday was a turning point, though, and not in a good way. I had a crap start (normally my strong suit) and got stuck behind a big group, leaving me way off the lead riders after just half a lap. Then the sand pit came up (another strong suit) and I happily blew through, making up two spots in the process – er, almost.
Unfortunately, I'd foolishly chosen a line that someone else already occupied and wasn’t able to avoid him when he came to a sudden stop before re-emerging on to the grass. Wham! I hit him, and hit him hard. I got up and quickly remounted to give chase but something wasn't right. My hand really hurt and I couldn't grip the bars. Not good.
Less than 24 hours later I'd gotten my diagnosis – a fractured base of the fourth metacarpal – plus a temporary splint that has rendered my once dominant hand into a fairly useless (and swollen) club.
Turns out it's pretty nice to have two fully functional hands as everyday tasks have now become annoyingly arduous. Like zippers. And driving. And trying to cut your food at dinner. Or hell, even wiping your butt (though thankfully, I've managed to adapt to that last part just fine). Needless to say, this has also put a damper on my usual 80wpm typing speed so I'll have to put off writing my manifesto a little while longer.
And as for cycling? For the moment I can't even rest my broken hand on a handlebar so even throwing a leg over my townie isn't an option. For now it seems my primary options are sitting awkwardly on a stationary trainer or running, both of which I loathe intensely.
Nevertheless, once I get my long-term cast on Friday I'll begrudgingly set things up in the living room (I do have trainers to review after all) and I've already started looking into trail running shoes. But they'll have to be BOA-equipped or something similar since – oh, right, forgot to mention – I can't tie my own shoelaces, either.
Yep, this sucks. But on the upside, I've now joined the legions of countless other cyclists whose seasons have been unexpectedly cut short. Time to look into other options. Stay tuned.