To say Oceanias didn’t go to plan would be a bit of an understatement. While I am still sore and sorry about it, you can’t change the events that transpire; it is what it is. I suppose the disappointment was all the more palpable as I really enjoy, and tend to ride well, on the rocky technical Toowoomba course. The hard gritty climbing usually suits me, the descents are a bit wild. All in all it’s a course I usually like to race and do well on. So I suppose I came into the race with expectations to smash it out of the water and have a good race, and leave nationals, this Sunday, as a bit of an afterthought.
Having really been experiencing the grind of bike racing and training the past month or so, I took a bit of a confidence hit after a road crash 9 days prior to the event. Having never hit the bitumen, the thud of the hard ground at 42km/hr far outweighs any mountain bike crash where the lading is usually dirt, scrub and foliage. Plus you don’t usually crash at that high a speed offroad.
Landing on my shoulder, with a secondary blow to the head, I was lucky to walk away with musculoskeletal damage, a buttload of bark off and a headache. Fortunately, no broken bones however my shoulder range of movement was greatly restricted, I was unable to hold the bars on the mountain bike for about a week after; thankfully just in time for a solid day on the course for Oceanias, thanks to cramming buttload of physio and NSAIDS into the week leading into the event.
The gun went and the start was fast, with Samara, Holly and Bec leading up the climb, I was dangling. We pretty quickly had a break on the rest of the field, but I was working for it. It wasn’t a ‘no chain’ day by any means. I had one of those about two weeks ago where I was ready to crush everyone’s soul in racing and that was a bit foreboding; you don’t have too many of them!
By the end of the first lap I was in third, uncomfortable but to be expected when you’re consistently on the limit. I had passed Bec struggling with her bike, and Holly was just ahead, she had ducked into the singletrack as I was coming into the start finish. The next climb was good, I was putting down some good power, feeling strong.
Turning into the first powdery descent; poof! I was on the ground, on my shoulder; my front wheel had washed out. A very silly crash. The adrenaline was charging in race mode so I grabbed the bike, jumped on and kept on riding, kept on pushing. In the next rocky section I began to notice the shoulder again, namely because stabilising my bike was not happening and—poof!— I ended up in the bushes. I kept on going, feeling a bit beaten up by this stage. Bec came past having fixed her mechanical. I kept going, however stabilising those bars was such an issue that even climbing I couldn’t hold my line straight. I continued for the remainder of the lap, wildly pinging about the rock-gardens with little finesse and extra wildness thanks to lack of shoulder stability, I pulled into the feedzone to pull the pin.
Having spent so much physical and mental time and energy getting myself and shoulder to a place where I could race, post road crash, it was a huge let down to be unable to continue.
I was: exhausted, deflated, downtrodden and anxious about it all. In fact I had been so anxious the nine days prior, with the ‘can I? can’t I?’ of the shoulder really weighing down on me, it was like a big fat nihilist exhaust valve had been opened. Unlike my bike mechanical at round one, I was much less sad because I had been dealing the injury in the lead up to the event. I just felt defeated.
I watched the rest of the race, then stayed for the elite and junior mens races. There were a lot of broken faces on that course!
The rest of the day was just one of being wound up so tightly, as I found myself once again in bike purgatory, the ‘can I? can’t I?’ this time for National Champs, this weekend.
There’s definitely a part of me that’s sick of the extra fight required to come good from an acute injury just prior to a race, but the main part of me is worried about having done all the work and sacrificed so much the past six months, being as fit as I have ever been and in with a good chance, and then being unable to race. I suppose I have until Thursday to go do a hot lap or two of the course, see if it’s a feasible wish, and commit to it.