is 10 years old!!!

Blimey! is 10 years old this weekend! Where did that go?

10 years ago I started this blog while recovering from a bike crash. Little did I know at the time the significant part that would come to play.

I’m gonna chew it over on a bike ride and get back to you later….

Yeah, so 10 years ago I was a hardworking IT contractor. I earned great money, but I hated it. In my spare time I raced my bike and played guitar.

When I crashed my bike it really shook me. I remember the surgeon telling me my shoulder would never be the same again…and he was right! 10 years down the line I can hardly raise my arm high enough to scratch my head. I cannot throw a stone, and I had to give up my dream of becoming a trapeze artist. It still hurts too. Not all the time, and my brain has learned to switch off to it, but from time to time. It get’s very sore after a couple of hours on the bike, but I manage it, usually by putting my hand on my leg and cycling my arm up and down. I’m not complaining, I can still ride my bike, and I can still play my guitar.

Yeah, so 10 years down the line, I live in France, where I’m semi retired. I still ride my bike a lot. I don’t function if I don’t get my exercise fix, and France is such a beautiful country to cycle in. I still play my guitar. I’m in “The Sugaree Band“, playing Rock, Blues, Funk, and anything else that takes our fancy. I started a Jazz club! It’s been going from strength to strength. In fact so many good things have come out of it it deserves a post of it’s own.

When that surgeon told me my shoulder would never be the same again I was gutted, and I didn’t realise the extent of the effect it would have on me. If he’d told me I would move to France and start a jazz club….well…who knows what’s around the next corner eh?

Here’s to the next 10 years. I wish you all well.


Turning a corner…

Been back on my bike a couple of weeks now. Legs are fine, but back shoulders and brain are struggling. Been going out regularly, but it just feels like a chore, no enjoyment. Did three hours with the ROCC boys on wednesday afternoon, first two were OK, but after that it was agony, I was glad when it was over. Then Carla has been taking me out and giving me a pasting. Last time we went I was just hanging on to her wheel down the main road from Cognac, just staring at her block. It was a lovely sunny day, but I just wasn’t there. But, I keep taking the nasty training medicine sure that things will get better…….

Then, last night, went for a couple of hours up to the forest above Cognac, it was like I was riding a magic bike. Hardly pressing on the pedals but flying along. Taking it a bit easy over the roughest stuff, but having a blast. Carla couldn’t believe the transformation. Nor could I really. Maybe turning a corner.

Maybe I shouldn’t but I did……

first ride again
First ride back after an injury is always a blissfully painful experience! But, just one day short of six weeks I’m back on the trails! I’m not actually supposed to be riding yet, but with the Revs on the Mule wound all the way up to 130mm and set soft I figured it was just as comfy as the turbo and a lot less boring even if I only rode up and down the lane.

Of course I didn’t ride up and down the lane, I rode down to Rochechouart. It was a lovely sunny day, just right for rolling easy and enjoying the ride. Yeah, but I didn’t do that ‘cos I wanted a work-out. So, once the initial shock to the system had gone I rode fairly briskly. It was just great to be back.

After 20 minutes I started to get back ache, shoulder ache, and was a little uncomfy. Only to be expected. After a brief rest in town, I stormed gently back along the Biennac road before sprinting gingerley up out of L’Age for a well earned cuppa. Just one blissful slightly painful hour on the clock.

I’m not supposed to be out on my bike just yet. At my last visit to the Hospital in St Junien I had a new X-ray taken, including one of my chest. The consultant confirmed that I had in fact broken three ribs! No wonder it had been so damn painful. He told me that my collarbone was joined, but that the join would be ‘soft’, I should begin to use it normally, but nothing strenous. Maybe wait another couple of weeks before riding. When I asked him about mountainbiking he just shook his head and laughed (whatever that means). 🙂

I know I shouldn’t but I did……

My KH400 at the Chateau in Rochechouart
While i’ve been waiting for shoulder to recover i’ve been fettling my motorbike, the last thing I was waiting for was a new set of plugs, and they arrived today. I popped them in, and fired her up, 2nd kick. Ticked over beautiful, dead even and smooth…… I know I shouldn’t have, but I just couldn’t stop myself. Grabbed my helmet and went for a blast.

I rode a loop that brought me back up the main road from Chalus to Rochechouart, a road created specifically for hustling a two-stroke along i’m sure. Hardly straight for kilmometres with lovely winding bends on a super smooth surface that gets you working the motor, rowing the top three gears, and havin’ a blast. I stopped briefly at the Chateau to check for leaks, and problems, there were none. I razzed home.

I have told yer ’bout my new/old motorbike haven’t I? I will. 🙂

My First Real Break…

My first real break - Puxton
Yep, it was my first real break, I was fourteen at the time, crashed my bike! Some things don’t change eh? Anyway, actually, it was a motorbike, a scrambler, a 250 Cotton works frame with leading-link forks around a 250cc Villiers engine. I used to thrash about on it over Puxton which was an old gravel pit.

We used to time each other around a circuit. On this particular day I was going like a nutter, got slightly more airborne than I should have, and stacked it. Broke my right wrist, easy diagnosis as I could see it was broke. After a few weeks in plaster the doctors decided it wasn’t healing so they were gonna plate it. I spent the next few weeks with my arm in plaster up past my elbow. Now, here’s the funny, strange but true bit…… because I couldn’t bend my elbow I couldn’t wipe my bum! Couldn’t reach see, so had to teach myself to wipe left handed. To this day, as a right-handed person I still wipe left-handed! 🙂 Can you imagine what a stroke of luck that was when years later I broke my right shoulder?

Talking of years later, Puxton got built on, the playground of my youth gone forever.

Back on my bike!

back on my bike -turboYep, i’m back on my bike. Rode up the Col de Galibier with the Tour de France riders yesterday!!!

OK, not exactly… I set my mountainbike up on the turbo in the shade of the patio. Carla set the tele up so i could watch Le Tour while riding. As the TDF riders climbed the mythical col I span an easy gear in the same cadence. It was hot, it was hard, I suffered alongside the pro’s. It was uncomfortable, but I managed an hour. Hey, I even sprinted when the breakaway went over the top.

My ride done, Carla washed me down with a bucket of warm water, I towelled off, then settled down to watch the rest of the stage with a cool beer! Sastre’s move on Alpe d’Huez was fantastic. Andy Schleck’s work for his brother was awesome. It’s been a great tour this year, though I’m a little disappointed that it’s all gonna come down to a time trial to decide the winner.

Who do you think is gonna win? … and if it was won on merit, who then?

Short shoulder update…

Had a new x-ray taken down at St Junien hospital yesterday, followed by a consultation with the doctor. It’s healing well, but it’ll need a lot more time. Have a look at the x-ray yourself, see if you can see the progress.

I’m wearing a strap that holds my shoulders back tight. I asked if i could have a spare one so that one could get washed while i wear the other (like on the turbo or something!). He took a look at the one I already have, decided it wasn’t tight enough, so gave me a new one and strapped my shoulders back tighter than ever! Next visit – two weeks hence.

BTW – I ain’t feeling sorry for myself over this. No one forces me to ride a bike, I do it ‘cos I want to. I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity. I’m happy with my lot. 🙂

It’s bad, but not that bad….

x-ray-shoulder-2008Seen the Orthopaedic specialist at St Junien….. he says it’s a bad break, though he’s seen worse. The good news is that he’s confident it will heal OK without surgical intervention. I’m happy with that. As I understand it the first 10-14 days are most important in terms of a fibrous union forming. So, plenty of rest and good food to give my body the best chance.

Thanks to everyone who’s written to me, or posted comments. You’re all very kind.

The story continued from yesterday…

Back at the sharp end – Jean-Phi managed to catch Marco and the two of them finished together – first two home 100kms in less than 4:30hrs. Lionel arrived a couple of minutes down. Carla rode the 85km option with Beauvallet Cyclo-club president Theo. They came home in 4hrs 55mins (well done wifey).

Now, Merci a tous …
Davy, thanks for stopping and helping me get down to the marshal at the road cross – you’re a good lad. Thanks to the first aid crew who looked after me with ice packs and water. Thanks to the ambulance crew (the pompiers) for taking me to St Junien hospital in their “vehicule presidential” (which means they put the lights and siren on ‘cos they don’t like to stop).

Thanks to the nurses and staff at the hospital for strapping me up, and turning me around with efficiency and minimum delay. Thanks to my friend Peter (Beta Biker) for bringing me home from hospital in his Italian open topped sports car. If you’re gonna travel injured, you might as well travel in style.

The upshot is that it is broken, and i might need to have surgery on it. I’ll find out for sure later today. I’ve gone onto starvation rations so that I don’t bulk up too much, and i’ll be on the turbo trainer as soon as I can.

In the mean time i’ve got the Tour de France to ride from the comfort of my armchair, and i’ve got some time to work on my French. 😉

A humbling experience

In the old days, pre-shoulder, I could descend with the best. I would just throw the bike downhill and ride the knife edge that is control. The faster you go the sharper the blade. It’s amazing that the brain can control two brakes with fingertip accuracy while positioning the body for perfect balance, while reading and predicting what’s coming next racing down a hillside over rock, roots, grass, and dirt. Not to mention sorting out where other riders are so as not to hit them. You really are just there in the moment, there is nothing else, and nothing else quite like it.Things are a little different now, try as I might, pain and stiffness stop me from approaching adequate. It is a very humbling experience to be among the slowest going downhill. Riders coming from behind calling me to move over because I am holding them up. Then when I cruise past them on the uphill they try hard to hold me off so that I won’t hold them up on the next downhill.

I rode the Merida 100 at Builth Well last weekend, and part way down one descent I moved over to allow a couple of faster riders through. They flew past me and were gone in seconds. I cursed as I battled with the terrain, so frustrated, then as I came around the corner, there they were, stacked on top of each other in a big rut, but unhurt and laughing! Lucky lads.

I took over 5hrs to complete the course, and was the third vet home just 4 minutes down. If only I hadn’t made the daft mistake of riding my hardtail. Ah well, I’ll know next time.