“Yer not wise,” this common Northern Irish phrase was used with great mirth when I mentioned to a few of my club mates that I wouldn’t let a mere broken shoulder and substantial road rash hold me back, I was in fact planning on setting up my turbo trainer in the garage and trying to keep a certain level of fitness while my shoulder and leg healed following a crash on some black ice. However, the one thing no one tells you is just how damn lonely the journey back from injury is, especially in this modern ‘Strava’ era when you can see exactly what your club mates are up to. Trying to get motivated for an indoor training session when fully fit is hard enough but when you are in pain and only have the use of one arm it’s a constant battle, as the old saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
But dammit, I was determined. I had missed most of the previous year, firstly due to a knee injury and later welcoming a new arrival into the family. 2016 cannot continue this trend, so I enlisted the help of Bosty, a VC Iveagh club mate who could slap on a training tyre and get the old winter Bianchi set-up on my Tacx Booster T2500 Trainer. Of course that’s when I started to notice the initial problems and a few obstacles to overcome. I hadn’t actually looked at the bike since the crash and I immediately noticed a few components that would need replaced, for one thing I’d need new pedals as my drive side Time Xpresso had pretty much been destroyed and then there was the rear derailleur, it resembled the angle of my arm following the crash, a new drop-out hanger would be a necessity. Luckily working within the industry that I do it was no problem getting the parts and I was just thankful I’d gotten off without a major overhaul required.
When everything was sitting ready to go I struggled into some kit and brought my trusty Bose SoundLink Mini into the garage, rather than listening to music I’d decided to listen so some Infinite Monkey Cage podcasts. For those not in the ‘know’, Infinite Monkey Cage is a science show with a twist hosted by Brian Cox and Robin Ince on BBC Radio 4. Give it a try, trust me. At this point I could have been greatly assisted by contacting Brian Cox and asking, scientifically, how the hell I could get onto my bike. I won’t bore you with the specifics but after some time I’d apparently managed it. The first thing I noticed, and anyone who has ever been in this situation will relate to, is just how difficult cycling with one arm for a prolonged period can be. It was while sitting on the bike, trying my best to spin and build up a sweat as my good arm ached that I starting thinking about cyclists with disabilities. My injuries are temporary and as much as it’s currently difficult sitting alone in a garage with a broken shoulder trying to maintain a level of fitness, these guys train with their disabilities on a daily basis, I mean what choice do they have?
Maybe I’ve just had my eyes opened a little but I’ve certainly gained a new level of admiration for anyone with a disability that can get up every morning, decide the disability will not stop them from achieving their goals and just get out and do it. I may have the long road of recovery ahead of me and I’m sure depression will set in as I see my club mates posting images or their rides, but I know this is temporary. The summer is still a long way off and when I eventually do set rubber to tarmac I’m determined to be as fit as I possibly can be under the circumstances.