Sport by it’s very nature is a game of highs and lows. We all have them, from the weekend warrior training for a first sportive right the way up to the pro trying to win the most prestigious of races. For me during the last month or so it’s been going fairly smoothly, after a long lay-off  my legs are just beginning to feel like their old selves again. I don’t need complicated data to tell me I’ve gotten better, the fact that the local climbs have ceased to be a major struggle is all the evidence needed on that front. Having started from such a low point progress has been refreshingly quick. Well, it was until last Sunday anyway.

After a week of bad weather I decided to get up early and head out for a long ride on my Mountain Bike. Having not hit the trails for a couple of weeks I was eager to see what impact this new found fitness was going to have on my strava times. Looking back I really ought to have known it was going to be one of those days when I tripped over a track pump upon getting out of bed that morning. Not to be deterred I wolfed down the usual massive bowl of porridge, stuffed my jersey with energy products and set off.

My ride didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts, within 200 metres of hitting the first section of trail my chain dislodged itself. Ordinarily I wouldn’t think twice about something so minor, but rather ironically the chain-guard I had fitted to stop this from happening proved to be a curse rather than a blessing. We’ve all been there – feverishly attacking one bolt or another with a multitool, trying to look as a calm as possible as other riders fly past. As it would turn out this would be the first of eight such incidences to occur on that particular outing. Suffice to say the chain guard has now been removed.

A mile later, having just unravelled my chain for the second time I realised something didn’t feel right. Quite how I had forgotten to put my helmet back on after mishap number one I don’t know. So it was that I was forced to carry my hefty mountain bike back along the trail, searching for the spot where I had left said helmet. By this point my face had turned a deep shade of beetroot and fellow riders wore somewhat quizzical expressions as they went past.

For a while after that things did finally settle down. If anything I was pleasantly surprised by how much my technical skills appeared to have improved, with certain off-piste sections of trail no longer unrideable to me. It was having emerged from one such section that a rather nasty realisation popped into my head. “Oh sh*t, it’s results day tomorrow“. I groaned inwardly. At some point during the the preceding three weeks I had forgotten about that red circle in the calendar and had begun to exist in that state of blissful ignorance that inevitably doesn’t last very long.

Looking back I have decided to make that my excuse for what happened next. Rather foolishly I decided to try a new section of trail, really I should have known better than to follow that muddy track given that it had rained heavily the day before. A few hundred meters later I spectacularly failed to negotiate one particular corner and had my second unwanted encounter with a tree in as many weeks. It didn’t help that there was a bit of a drop at the edge of the trail, of course there just had to be a gorse bush there too didn’t there. Let’s just say my choice of words this time contained a fair few 18+ rated phrases.

I had no choice but to pick myself up and carry on. Fortunately my bike was unscathed and save for a few small tears my clothing had come also come out of it reasonably well. Soon the trail became impassable, the mud simply too deep to ride through. You won’t be surprised to hear that it was a great relief when, having carried my bike through ankle deep mud for twenty minutes I came across dry land again.

Apart from a brief hailstorm the rest of ride went on as planned. It was only during the last mile of the return trip that I felt a slight ache in my wrist, the kind that I figured would probably ‘polish out’ and be fine in the morning. Wrong. Very wrong. Five day’s later and it’s still too painful to ride. Rather annoyingly I can do just about everything else (including lifting weights in the gym) but trying to grip a brake lever is agony. Cue something of a low point.

Rather typically my wrist injury foreshadowed one of those weeks that I would love to be-able to forget but probably won’t be-able to for a while. The following day I received a rather underwhelming set of exam results coupled with what felt suspiciously like the early symptoms of a cold. Worse still I was forced to break with tradition and forgo the usual long ride on valentine’s day . Thus I was fully exposed to what is never a particularly enjoyable occasion if you happen to be single. All of the above coupled with some bad news from home has made getting to Friday afternoon unscathed feel like a medal-worthy achievement.

If I’m one-hundred percent honest with you then it’s fair to say that this post has been written in a state of despondency. Right now it’s very hard to mentally stay on track, the mind inevitably wandering into to places I would rather it didn’t – questioning if all this training is really worth it with that little voice telling me that it would be so much easier to simply give up. I’ve been here before, many times in fact. One lesson I’ve learned the hard way over the years is that not everything that pops into your head is to be trusted, particularly when it comes following a bad experience. I know that in a few days my injury will probably resolve itself and I’ll be-able to pick up where I left off. In the meantime I’m going to take the opportunity to focus on other things, upping my running mileage, getting some Uni work done (probably) and sticking to indoor sessions on the bike. Onwards and upwards.

Thanks for reading.


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