Last year was the year of the DNF. This year is shaping up to be the year of the DNS. Let’s review this tale of woe, shall we?
About 8 weeks before the Ragnarok, everything was looking great. The winter weather was balmy and I was out on the then-singlespeed Albatross, putting in some miles on the road. Less than a week passed, and I was down with the flu. It was a bad upper-respiratory flu that put me off the bike for nearly two weeks and left me weakened. But that wasn’t the worst of it: the flu apparently knocked things out of whack enough that I ended up with GERD (that’s gastro-esophageal reflux disease, in case you’re not old enough to know that).
Between the two, I lost a good deal of my fitness (which was just starting to ramp up from an easy winter off-season, by design) and had no real way of getting it back. Try as I might, I had no power and no stamina, so not only could I not ride much, but I couldn’t train either.
Result: pulled the plug on the Ragnarok about 3 weeks before the race.
By the time the Dairy Roubaix was approaching, I’d been feeling quite a bit better and has started to regain some of my fitness. I was back to commuting daily, as well as getting in one or two long rides on the weekends. I even managed a couple of gravel rides (on the rail trails — but it’s all we’ve got here).
The GERD was under control. I’d tested positive for h. pylori and had just finished the treatment when I had to take off to Minneapolis for four days of work travel. Four days, by the way, that would return me home a little more than 12 hours before the start of the Dairy Roubaix. Even so, I felt like I was ready. Not ready for a great ride, but a decent one — and one that would be excellent preparation and testing for the Almanzo 100.
Apparently, the GERD wasn’t as under control as I thought. Or rather it was, as long as it wasn’t subjected to a few 12-hour work days, the wrong kind of food, not enough sleep, and a little too much beer. By the time Friday rolled around, I was strung out, over-tired, and suffering a GERD flare-up.
Result: pulled the plug on the Dairy Roubaix. Michael and Andy rode it without me.
The Almanzo 100 takes place in one week’s time, but I won’t be riding it either. I pulled the plug this afternoon.
Why you ask? Two weeks ago, we went north to visit the in-laws. I went riding and put in 140 miles in two days. There was only one problem: by the end of the ride, my achilles tendons and calves were more than usually tight — almost surely because I was riding on 175mm cranks, which are too long for me for anything but shorter rides.
At the time, they merely seemed tight and I figured they’d loosen up over the next couple of days as long as I took it easy, stretched a bit, and did some daily self-massage with the stick.
Turns out that I was wrong there too. After trying to return to commuting the following week, the pain and inflammation refused to go away. Last weekend, even a short ride left my left achilles and soleus tight, inflamed, and painful. Now, two full weeks afterward and after an entire week off the bike, I’m just starting to heal and recover. I can ride short distances at an easy pace without pain, but things are still tight and seem to be constantly threatening pain. Not something that I feel like I can subject to 100 hilly miles of Minnesota gravel.
And, in the immortal words of my (cyclist) doctor: “Don’t fuck with the achilles.”
Westside Dirty Benjamin
While I’m pretty sure that I should be back in shape to ride the WDB in June, the way things are going it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be that lucky.
Rather than wonder about it for another month, I’ve pulled the plug on that too. Now at least some other rider, someone on the waiting list, can get a spot on the start list and start preparing for it now. It’s the least I can do.
Is there anything left?
Am I going to do anything this season? I certainly hope so, but my natural pessimism combined with some upcoming rehab and healing leads me to keep things to a minimum. Later this month, we’ll be riding reconnaissance for the Rockland Reckoning and riding the Powderhorn 24 in June. In September, I’m leading a group tour to Potosi, WI to visit the brewery and other things and later the same month is the Rockland Reckoning itself.
The rest of the time, I’ll just be riding. And that’s as it should be. Or at least the best I can do right now.