Mastering the art of la siesta and managing an injury
After Saturday’s epic ride through the northern part of Mallorca I was pretty enthusiastic about all the fantastic rides that I’d be squeezing into my final week before returning to Toronto. Then it happened, the unthinkable; an injury. Saturday after returning I quickly became an eating-machine, devouring everything AND the kitchen sink as I’d somehow managed to burn just under 3500 calories during my near 5.5 hour ride. I drank wine, beer had a fantastic dinner, (avoided the stairs to the restaurant and took the elevator) and called it a night. Sunday morning I woke up early, walked downstairs for a very quick breakfast and noticed that something felt, well, “off”. My legs were toast pretty much from Saturday night at 8 o’clock onward but this wasn’t muscle pain, this was something in my left knee. Other than not having a bike show up at the airport or crashing and being stranded in no man’s land while seriously injured in a foreign country, having an injury is something that you try to put to the back of your mind as improbable. “It can’t happen to me”…
Sunday morning I decided to try my luck on the bike as sometimes it hurts more to walk then it does to ride. Oscar was here, the sun was shining, and it was 22 degrees for crying out loud: the PERFECT day for a long ride in Mallorca. Jumping on my bike I took a few pedal strokes; pain. It became quickly apparent that my left knee was not very happy with me after my long ride on Saturday but I persevered as most stubborn aries’ do thinking I could will it better. At about an hour and a half into the ride I discovered that riding today wasn’t such a slick idea. Instead of riding at my usual pace of 32-35km’h I was hobbling along like an old lady at a miserable 28km’h and was feeling the pain in my knee with each pedal stroke. Trying to take any undue pressure off my knee I used an easier gear and attempted an increased cadence of around 105rpm which meant my knee was ‘hurting’ about 100 times a minute for the majority of the 160 minute ride or for those of you who like metrics, 16,000 times I felt like saying ‘ouch’.
After a trip to the centre of Puerto Pollensa; my attempt at ‘walking it off’, enter the Farmacia. An ibuprofen gel and tablets were on my shopping list as was an abundance of icing and hanging out in a freezing cold pool at the hotel to deal with inflammation. Fun times. Sunday was so warm that I made my way across the street to the beach, flopped on my towel and went into an ibuprofen-induced nap. Admittedly, I’m not a big proponent of anything western medicine, advil included so it pained me (literally) to have to rely on ibuprofen to take away some inflammation and pain but when your sole mission is to ride a bike and you’ve just flown 10,000 km’s to do so, you’ll pretty much do whatever it takes to get back on track pronto even if that means unorthodox rehab methodology. So without traumeel, liquid EFA’s and any other anti-inflammatory treatment I’d resorted to good old ibuprofen which was knocking me out. I slept most of Sunday evening, night and continued to hone my siesta skills Monday with about 2 or 3 multi-hour naps which meant my second ‘rest day’ with no riding at all which was ok as the weather wasn’t that great and it was super-windy. I tried to rent a car to drive around the island to snap up some more photos but nothing was available; probably a good thing considering my new found narcoleptic tendancies. Instead, Oscar zipped us around the island in his Mini for a few pictures and then ended up meeting a friend (Xavier) in Alcudia, having lunch at a great pizza place, Don Vita.
It’s Tuesday today and as I awake I open these awesome steel window coverings that make it night in my suite ANY time of day and realize that it’s dark, ominous and the streets are wet. I venture down for breakfast and decide to return to my room afterward for another siesta. After a quick walk to the centre of Puerto Pollensa for a café and some pastries I return to the hotel and decide with the weather showing signs of staying dry, I should suit-up and get my ass on my bike. I have to clarify caloric expenditure/consumption on holiday; one would usually think that during a training camp where you’re exercising hours a day you’d be losing weight, well someone needs to talk to Havi and Tony about this concept. They believe the longer I’m gone each day, the more they need to serve me. Their conspiracy works every time…
Jumping on my bike at 11:30 I go for an easy stroll to Can Picafort. While en route I come to the realization that with only 4 days remaining I might not actually get to challenge myself on some of my favourite rides in Mallorca. Hard to believe that with 2 weeks of training I could miss out on some of the best rides the island has to offer. I pedal lightly out and back only clocking an hour and a half today, hesitant to push while my knee’s not 100% I decide to side with my better judegment . It’s Tuesday afternoon and after enjoying a wonderful lunch I’ve come to grips with this trip being every bit as much about a ‘rest’ as it has been about the frantic training camp I had anticipated. So far I’ve had great food, fantastic wine (as I sip a Corona’s Crianza), some pretty decent sleep (not all ibuprofen induced) and an opportunity to enjoy the geography, the beauty of the water and the mountains from where I sit to eat breakfast and dinner each day and the remarkably warm hospitality they’ve shown me at the Galeon where they refer to me as “familia”.
So much of life has been a race: A competition to finish first. It’s in times like these when you’re not at your best, 10,000 km’s from home and not doing what you truly came here to do that you become introspective and you reflect. Finishing first isn’t an option so you start to theorize and intellectualize about ‘how you’re playing the game’.
Tomorrow is Wednesday, a new day. I have every intention of spending 4 hours a day on my bike doing what is left from a training perspective: conquering sa Calobra; Puig Major, making my way south to Randa and possibly doing a quick time trial to Formentor. Anything’s possible if this Crianza I’m drinking and the lamb I’m having for dinner will heal my body.
Tonight at dinner I’ll plan my next 4 rides very carefully so I can share something exciting in the days ahead. In the end, I realize that I can plan till I’m blue in the face but nothing can stop Billy from jumping in front of me when I’m plunging down a mountain or my knee from deciding its had enough from the million percent in training volume I’ve increased in 2 weeks. You can plan extensively yet there is always the unknown that we often dismiss in our calculations, because we simply can’t calculate the unknown.