As per every morning for the last six weeks I woke to a throbbing pain in my right shoulder, the remnants of a broken humerus will do that to you. However, something wasn’t quite right, yes the pain was there, yes my alarm had gone off at the usual time but a niggling feeling of disconcertion continued. Hauling my mending but still broken body out of bed while trying not to damage a shoulder already badly damaged has become second nature, yet I took my time and tried to work out what the difference was this particular morning than opposed to every other morning these last few weeks, in fact months.
If there is one thing we humans are, its creatures of habit, so putting the disconcertion to one side I proceeded to follow the mundane morning ritual of wakening oneself up. While stumbling zombielike throughout the house with eyes still weary and fused together by sleep I noticed a surreal brightness, could this be the reason I was struggling to focus or was it the eerie silence? Now when I say silence, I am not referring to the lack of a television blaring, children screaming or any of the other thousand and one normal noises associated with a family home, no, I’m talking about the lack of rain beating upon windows, tree branches knocking on eves and the wind rattling every last loose fixture or fitting. It was certainly strange but things still weren’t clicking into place, if you haven’t already guessed, I’m not a morning person.
It was while standing in the warm morning shower that things suddenly became evident, I realised I hadn’t turned on the bathroom light, yet an almost ethereal glow was illuminating my surroundings. Could it really be? Had the evergrey skies retreated only to cause havoc over the Atlantic? No other encouragement was needed, sore and hurting yes but damn it, I was going to make the most of this glorious opportunity to get back in the saddle, face the elements without fear and see exactly where I was along the path of healing.
Lifting the bike down from the rack I studied the damage caused by my crash, unfortunately it wasn’t only my shoulder that was broken, I had smashed a pedal, shifter and rear derailleur. Replacements had been purchased for each of these and I set about getting the Bianchi back on the road to make the most of this drastic upturn in the weather.
Let me just make it clear, a Bianchi isn’t the type of bike for those looking a straight back, plush seat comfort kind of ride, I would never profess to being part of that adventure verging on commuter bracket. You certainly won’t find straight bars, wicker baskets or flat pedals on my bikes. Never shall I have that Piella Bakewell look of tweed flowing, legs askew and whistling while going downhill, no, not quite me. Not, I hasten to add, is there anything wrong with that, I have many friends who will only ever throw their proverbial trouser down socked legs over a steel framed work horse from some retro era. So the first ride back on the race geometry of the Bianchi was always going to be testing, but with blue sky above and open road ahead I was damn well going to enjoy it.
Drifting along the tarmac, legs spinning and listening to that ever present road buzz after such a prolonged and necessary absence was fantastic. Yes the shoulder was bloody sore but the feeling of freedom that cycling can bring paled the injury into insignificance. Never has cycling between tree laden verges with the sun flickering between the branches felt so good, I was back in the saddle and the day, although cold, was glorious. I guess it’s only when something has been taken from us for a period of time that we realise just how much we actually miss it, or when the skies have been grey for so long that you actually start to believe the sun no longer exists, that you remember spring is literally around the corner.
This year VC Iveagh have organised a ‘Spring Classic’, an event inspired by those old classics first held in Flanders in 1958, they were and still are great early season races that take guts and grim determination to finish. Of course not that the weather ever plays ball at this time of the year but today has made me determined to achieve my goal of targeting this event as my first sportive of the year. I can’t think of a better way to focus my recovery than on an event new to the calendar but steeped in tradition and with it taking in some of the most inspiring climbs and descents of my youth, Slieve Croob, the Windy Gap and even the Boiling Well to name a few I’m really looking forward to sharing the road once more with my VC Iveagh compatriots.