They Can Rebuild Him … Again!

As an athlete I’ve often pushed my body past where it wants to go, shrugged off injuries, ridden through the pain and relied heavily on the adrenaline coursing through my veins to keep me going, when any normal individual would stop. In July, I had to stop!

I’ve been off the bike now for 6 weeks and I’m just getting past the cranky (no pun intended) stage, although my wife may say otherwise! So what happened this time? Unfortunately there is no dramatic tail of epic proportions; it was the return of an old injury, my biggest one to date, my torn ACL/PCL and cartilage, which was supposed to keep me off a bike for good! 
 
My 1000 In July challenge unfortunately became 460 In July + A Lot Of Rest! Old injuries have a habit of coming back to haunt you, especially when they were never fixed properly in the first place, that is where I stand with my left knee. With an initial prognosis of ligament replacement now, or a full knee replacement in 10–15 years, it wasn’t looking hopeful for my riding. My initial injury put paid to my BMX racing, this could be the end of my cycling for good!

Hanging up my BMX for the last time after crossing the finish line at the 2012 BMX World Championships, may have been the end of my BMX racing days, but that competitive itch remained. I have always had the thought that maybe one day I’ll turn the pedals in anger again, I wouldn’t be snapping out of the gate alongside 7 other riders, but there was potential for some competitive action.

Initially after World Champs race I went cold turkey, I was worn out from 14 months of training and literally falling apart, my body could no longer cope with BMX. I opted for a complete rest to rebuild, but it wasn’t long before the lure of the stop watch brought me out of competitive retirement; a triathlon, a couple of crit races, half a road race (that’s another story) and even a CX race, but I’ve not made it back as a competitive cyclist.
 
So the thought of never being able to scratch that itch again hit me hard! For a long time I felt defined by what I did on the track or against the clock, it didn’t pay the bills, but it was who I was (I thought). It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with racing not being a big part of my life, but some days, normally around key races I still feel a little lost. I’ve been able to replace racing with adventures, pushing myself physically and mentally, but on a journey of discovery, rather than to breaking point in the search for glory.

I was now facing the real prospect that the source of many of my adventures, my bike, would be taken away from me as well! For a very dark week I had consultations, manipulations and limped around feeling sorry for myself, I then got the news I wasn’t expecting.

“We can rebuild you! It will be a long, hard and extensive journey, but we can do it!”

It turns out the doctor that initially examined me is a bit of a pessimist, after getting the scans back, the future looks bright. My ligaments have been re torn, but the damage is minor, lots of rest, followed by physio and I will be back! The weakness is there and will always be there, but with the right physio and gym work I can protect the damage.
 
So although I know I shouldn’t, there’s still the possibility that I could strap a number board to my bike and race again! The doctor even said so, just not regularly at a top level!

Having time to reflect on what I almost lost has diminished the appeal of racing, it will always be there in the background, like any addiction, but for now, the thing I am looking for the most is having fun getting lost and not just on two wheels.

Let the adventures begin (again)!