This is the second column from Scottish mountain bike racer Rab Wardell as he sets his sights on getting back and doing what he loves; riding and racing bikes. Over the next months, he’ll be sharing the hardships, victories, setbacks and successes as he attempts to get back on form and chase the pro racer dream, with all that entails…
“Over the last few weeks I have started my ‘regime’ for what is to be a big year, despite still having my right wrist in a cast. The majority of my training has been undertaken indoors, often on my road bike on the indoor trainer. I’ve been training almost every
day and I have been racking up six to ten hours a week on the ‘turbo’, running in the local parks in Glasgow or on the beach in St Andrews where my girlfriend lives.
I’ve also been getting to work on my core stability but this is limited due to the lack of movement I have in my wrist. I’ve been trying to keep things interesting, not to panic train as the first races are still over three months away and I have time to get in shape. I’m also trying not to hit training too hard to soon, so that I don’t lose motivation or gain fitness too fast!
To keep things fresh and interesting my sessions on the trainer are up to an hour long and have a set structure to allow them to seemingly pass more quickly. Each session has an aim and I’ve been working on building my endurance base and focussing a lot on the quality of sessions with little time for ‘glass cranking’ and losing concentration. The session emphasis is often pedalling hard gears slowly or light gears quickly in blocks of time with recovery, but always keeping that heart rate ticking along nicely.
Additionally when I’m riding the turbo trainer I need to listen to music. I find it’s a great chance to listen to albums as a whole which I love. Recent favourites have been Metronomy’s Nights Out and a friend’s band, Uncle John and Whitelock. When I go running I like to kick it off with the Rocky theme tune although I’m yet to have the whole city running along with me, but I think it’ll happen soon enough. I top it all off by listening to the tunes on good quality headphones. That is essential.
I am going to be making the jump from 26 to 29 inch wheels
I’ve also been working hard on building and developing my team. Things are coming together and the next steps are to confirm two or three more sponsors before launching the team in February next year. My bikes are going to be ordered in the next week and I can tell you now that I am going to be making the jump from 26 to 29 inch wheels and I feel that the bikes I’ll be racing are the fastest around. I have also been exploring various other avenues to maximise media exposure and to make the most of the online video boom. I’m working closely with Morrocco Media and we hope to create an online documentary covering UK mountain bike racing – more to come on that soon.
Last week was my latest hospital check up to see how my injury was coming along. In my mind I was healed and ready to progress towards road riding, rehab and getting back on my mountain bike, but when a doctor opens with the words ‘You’re going to hate me’ you tend to know it’s not going to be great news. ‘We’re not entirely happy that your wrist is fully healed and we think it would be best to keep you in a cast for another 6 weeks’.
This news took me a while to come to terms with and at the time I felt devastated. I was able to look at my X-rays for the first time and I have to say I can’t see a crack in the bone anymore, just a ruddy great screw holding it all together. However, if I fall on my hand again, breaking my wrist, that means I would need another operation to remove the existing screw and I would also need a bone graft to be taken from my hip to aid the union. I have to wear this cast again over Christmas and my follow up appointment is on the 17th of January 2012. I hope that on this day I’ll lose the cast and be back on the bike.
When a doctor opens with the words ‘You’re going to hate me’ you tend to know it’s not going to be great news.
I’m trying my best to focus on the big picture and remain positive. To race well I need to have a healthy body; that is the number one priority. If I don’t take the doctors advice and break my wrist again I could injure myself so badly I won’t ride pain free again, or have the full use of my right hand. In the grand scheme of things 6 weeks isn’t all that long to give myself the best chance of a healthy hand. It’s time to review the plans, make some new ones and set them in action.
It’s not the end of the world and with discipline and commitment I can come out of this as fit as if it had never happened.