Wednesday 4 July 2012

Triple Recovery - 1 Month On

'Put on these 3 T shirts and this hoodie' said Dan in a very authoritative manner as he filled the bath with cold water.  I was in no position to argue with my son, as thinking for myself was just not possible.  I carefully eased myself into the chilling water where Dan proceeded to open 2 large bags of ice that he pored in around my legs.  There was no energy left in me to scream, I just sat and shivered in a dazed state.

To read about the South Downs Triple ride click here

Riding the South Downs Triple was a huge undertaking, the 300 miles with 34,700 feet of hill climbing in 37 hours was a mighty long ride.  My body struggled just after the 200 mile turnaround at Eastbourne, then it completely collapsed 40 miles later.  Somehow Dr Jerry Hill and Anne Dickens got me back on the bike after ensuring I was not in any immediate medical danger, then I cycled another 60 miles to Winchester.  So determined was I to complete the Triple, only a major medical complication would have stopped me.

Reaching Winchester and completing the South Downs Triple was a mighty achievement, but I simply didn't have the energy to get excited.  I was pleased that I had achieved my goal, but I couldn't find the strength to show any emotion.

The support crew were brilliant, they continued to look after me once I'd finished the ride.  They even sorted out all my kit and cleaned my bike.  This was such a luxury compared to my usual solo-solo rides.

My legs were surprisingly not too bad.  They hurt a couple of days later and are still weak from muscle damage a month later.  My hands were in a worse state, gripping the handlebars for 37 hours took its toll.  Despite extra padding inserted into my gloves, I damaged the nerves causing numbness and pins & needles in my left arm and both hands.  There was also a lot of muscle damage in my left arm, leaving it very weak.  Many Physio sessions and rest are helping them to improve.

The tiredness was immense.  Previously after a 24 hour event it took about a week to catch up on sleep. This time with 8 to 10 hours sleep a night and an afternoon kip, it took 2 to 3 weeks to get to some form of normality.  I was so tired that I couldn't think straight, but I wasn't tired enough to sleep.  The longer it dragged on, the more frustrated I got.  I sill get tired very quickly and need to be careful not to over do it.

KatePotter, my training coach, had prescribed a cocktail of vitamins to boost my immune system before the ride.  Catching a cold just before an event can be disastrous.   After the ride my immune system was shot to bits, making the risk of getting an infection very high.  Keeping away from public places and continuing with the vitamins enabled me to survive without catching a cold.

Getting back on the bike is out of the question at the moment, my body is still too weak to ride or do any other form of exercise.  In my mind I want to ride because I know that it is something I enjoy, but physically it is just not possible.

Post Event Depression (PED) is very real and the bigger the event, the bigger the possibility of a huge downturn.  I suffered from this big time after my South Downs Double where the lowest point was lying in a hospital bed waiting for an operation.  You can read about this in my post Into theDark Valley

Racing during the rest of the season is out of the question.  Instead I will turn up to Big Dog and Torq12:12 to provide pit support.  This should enable me to soak up the atmosphere of the races without the physical exertion of doing the pedalling.

To hear about the South Downs Triple from a different perspective, Anne Dickens has written about the moment I first told her of my idea to ride 300 miles.  Also Judy (BeerBabe) who stepped in at the last minute to provide fantastic support for the ride has written up her memoirs.

There were many lessons learned in preparing and riding the South Downs Triple where I'm very happy to use the experience to help others achieve their goals.  Recovery is going to take a long time, several months.  I will be back next summer, but I won't be taking on another mighty challenge for a while.

I'd like to say a really big thank you to everyone who has posted comments and tweets about my ride.  The enormity of the Triple has not yet sunk in and I appreciate the huge support  from so many people.  Thanks.

It would be great if two charities can benefit from my efforts, the St Marys ReigateCommunity Building Project and the BHF.  Please make a donation if you are able.  Thank you.