The long road back: Part 20

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Happy anniversary.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the worst crash of my cycling life over in California, resulting in major shoulder surgery, plenty of titanium and more painkillers in a year than I’ve taken in the rest of my life combined. The first few months of rehab were pretty rough, a crazy ride in pretty much every way imaginable – emotional, physical and financial – and I’m still living with constant pain not to mention a delightfully deformed left shoulder joint and scapula that prevent me from doing anything that requires too much load bearing, or even contemplate sleeping on my left side. I guess they may still improve some more with time, but they’re things I’ve now accepted as my ‘new normal’. Life goes on. While certainly not 100%, the good news is there has been a slow and steady improvement pretty much since the two-month mark. Sure, there have been setbacks (and I feel a far more resilient person as a result of them) but in the bigger scheme I realise things aren’t so bad. In fact, I now consider myself exceedingly lucky, especially compared to others who have suffered far worse injuries in bike-related accidents this year, including a couple of good club-mates. There was really only one moment straight after my surgery when I remember contemplating giving up riding. Bed-ridden, pain-wracked and with virtually zero independence at that point, I recall bawling on my mum’s shoulder like a 4-year old. Fortunately those emotions didn’t last very long. I was back on the trainer inside two months and riding on the road (very gently) inside four. I had my first race at about the six-month mark, although in truth it was really just a leisurely roll-around trying to stay as far away from other riders as possible, especially on corners. Out on the road my mind is still playing games on me, most notably on fast and unfamiliar descents (of which I rode several just last week up in Bathurst). But on roads I know, amongst riders I know, the mojo is almost back to 100%. I haven’t won a race since the crash, or even stood on a podium, but I’ve been pretty close on multiple occasions and feel it isn’t far away now. I’m certainly fit enough. If and when it happens I’ll be doing a quiet little fist-pump I’m sure.

This is the last post I’ll be making about my rehab. Doing it has been hugely therapeutic exercise, especially during the darker moments, and hopefully it’s been helpful for others too. Thanks for all the kind wishes. Ride safe. Rubber side down.

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