The outcome of my doctor's visit on Monday exceeded my expectations. Basically, I was turned loose to resume normal activities with the understanding of holding back on things that caused excess pain or swelling. No ankle brace, no cane, no nothing. I was actually leery at first. This was unexpected. I forgot to bring a left shoe with me, so I had to drive back home to ditch the cast and don a shoe on my left foot before going in to work.
Walking was a bit iffy. I couldn't roll off the front of my foot, so I had a huge limp. The therapist said I needed more time out of the cast, so I was going to get it hard core now. I found in the boot however, that it was easier to ride than walk. Tuesday was going to be my big debut back into regular cycling with clipless pedals under both feet. It's been over two months.
SteveG agreed to ride with me. Then tri-guy DanM was looking to do a longer, steady paced ride too. I thought terrific, those knuckle heads just averaged 24mph a week or two ago on a 31 mile semi-hilly, trafficy loop we do. I had no idea how I would hold up at that pace, thinking if I was smart, I would drop early and not make my ankle angry. Little did I know, Steve planned to use the opportunity to further hone his video capturing and editing skills.
It was nasty warm and muggy out, and windy too. We started at a reasonable pace which kept inching higher and higher over the first 10 miles. My cycle computer for some reason or another reverted to metric display, so I kept trying to translate the numbers into the more familiar archaic system we Americans use. It didn't seem like we were going too hard. What hurt the most were my hamstrings. It seems eight weeks off the bike and almost no stretching during that time left my nearly dysfunctional body in an even bigger wreck. It took a good 30 minutes before I started to loosen up.
We got out on Rt 101 in Amherst with a nice paved shoulder. I took some nice pulls at 50kph. Next thing you know, Dan was accusing me of ramping up the pace during my pulls. Me? Wouldn't think of it. Never. I realized my aerobic fitness was still mostly intact. I was feeling pretty good about myself.
On our way back, I flatted. I put a brand new rear tire and tube on the night before, and a tiny glass shard flatted it. I hadn't flatted on the road in forever, so I supposed I was due. We had a 24+ mph average going before I flatted. Stopping to fix it and some bad luck with stoplights on DWH pulled this down a little at the end of our ride.
What I noticed most in the video was difference in size between left and right calves. I've regained about half the lost mass in the last 2-3 weeks, but I still have a ways to go. Seated, my ankle is not a limiter whatsoever on the bike. My ankle does not yet support sustained out of the saddle mashing. My legs are pretty weak. I have no top-end, meaning starts from a stop are very gradual no matter how hard I try. It seems I've lost a lot of strength but not much aerobic capacity. This is exactly what I was after with the SkiErg. Perhaps a genetic predisposition for high aerobic capacity may be helping me here too.
I decided to sign up for the Ascutney hillclimb race on Saturday. I figure it is safer than riding the roads around Nashua. My only purpose in going there is to get a controlled baseline of my fitness. I suspect my training over the next several weeks should focus more on strength building than aerobic capacity. This will have to be metered carefully so I don't delay full recovery of my ankle.
I rode hard again today, solo, in the rain. Riding with clipless pedals really seems to loosen up the ankle, but an hour or two later increases the swelling. It's a double edged sword. I do know since Friday, there has been dramatic improvement in ankle mobility. I don't think I'm being too aggressive here. The folks at CPTE have me doing all kinds of full weight bearing stuff on my left ankle now. Some of it is unpleasant.
So how should I manage the rest of the season? I surely don't want to do any more road races this season. No off-road either. Too risky. Hillclimb races are safer than riding a bike path, so I do plan to do a few of those. I'm signed up for D2R2 180k, but I think that will be too much too soon. I may show up later and ride the 100k loop just to get something out of my entry fee. There's also the Ironcross race in October. I dearly love that race, a single 100k loop with everything in it. I won't be a podium contender this year, but it would still be fun. The deal is, it involves at least 30-40 minutes of hiking on steep, rugged terrain. It is not a low risk race. Will my ankle be fully recovered by October? I'm betting I'll be good to go.