Sometimes the right riding is no riding at all

Its always tricky being a mountain biker, talking about mountain biking whilst not having actually done any mountain biking. But this time there is a good solid, 30 year reason for the pedaling drought. And hard as it is I have to admit this time actively not riding has been the best thing.

Hard tail? Full Suss? All Mountain? Erm, No mountain, no bike even. Armchair month for the win.

So let me expand. For about 8 years, following a fairly meaty crash in the Alps, I’ve been suffering with episodes of extreme ‘discomfort’ in my hips, and after what seemed like a silly off about 3 years ago my right shoulder hasn’t worked properly. On top of a bike lifetime of collected off’s, scrapes, bumps and grinds I’ve been slowly grinding to an achy painful halt and my riding has been getting progressively more limited.In an effort to combat this lessening performance earlier in the year I decided to attack my fitness with renewed vigor. Monthly mileage targets, structured riding sessions, weights and plyometrics sessions, etc, etc, etc. The result? Pain, and shed loads of it.To my mind I knew the causes. I ‘knew’ it was the broken shoulder, I knew it was a damaged hip. I knew lots of reasons for the aches and pains, what I couldn’t do was sort the problem out but I knew that taking pain killers and having people stab my joints with cortisone wasn’t getting me anywhere.So I took affirmative action. I did nothing. I stopped, I rested. I had some deep tissue massage, I learned to stretch. I took some diet advice and learned that what I knew wasn’t what I should know. X-rays proved there is degradation to some joints, which is understandable I’ve hit a lot of ground in my time, but on the whole the bones are all where they should be. Perhaps not as pristine as they might be but not as bad as had been suggested in the past.


Strava keeping tabs as ever and the last months of riding were a fight and so here we are tracking recovery time.
Turns out the tools needed were not to do with the bike at all. 30 years of inadequate stretching and being completely inconsiderate to my injuries has finally compounded to turn me into a tight, inflexible lump of groaning muscles all determined to stop my joints moving as they should. All the tools involved are recovery based and the slower I go, the better they seem to work.

A month or more into the plan and if not pain free I’m decidedly better off. The journey thus far has been painful. Sports massage on muscles untouched for three decades is an eye watering experience but the feeling of flexibility returning is a world of relief. Time spent ‘relaxing’ every day on my new assortment of foam rollers and specific stretches has become therapeutic. I do of course feel unfit. Whether in my head or not I feel flabby and weak, but I feel strangely ready to start building again. A month now of building up movement and light strength work for a reboot into 2014.


This seasons magic performance enhancing kit. Not wheels, Frames, nutrition but a floor, a mat and a few lumps of foam.

So thats what my training and fitness needed. Nothing. Really nothing. Next time something hurts, or you reach for the painkillers think again. In fact think long and hard about what’s going on. We all want to ride, run, climb, train, etc, etc to our max, but sometimes we simply have to realise its time to power down. Less sometimes needs to be more. Here I am, I can feel the technical, strong, fast rider inside (a slightly more pudgy than normal rider) starting to get impatient to get out and I can’t wait to open the way to the trail for him. Inside this ginger guy there is a well rested rider all set to smoke it up next year…..

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