For a long time cycling has been a sort of therapy for me. I had big plans for my 'off season' taking a couple of weeks to just ride my bike where I wanted, stopping at as many cafes as we could along the way. Cake is life, after all.
This was all changed by my crash. I knew it would be a longer time off the bike, and off training than I had hoped. This scared me, one because of losing fitness and two what would I fill my days with if I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike, the horses or do any of the things I loved. I was used to being so busy and active.
I first sat back on the bike the day after I returned home. I had made sure it had been set up on the turbo (static) while I had been in Ireland. It was more of an issue getting myself on than it had been pedaling. The relief it gave was huge. It's strange but you get all sorts of weird thoughts- am I even going to be able to sit on the bike, will my hip be able to move enough to pedal. Sadly, I was back on my winter bike as my lovely team bike had faired about as well as I had in the crash.
Initially I did a lot of walking to help with my head, and also just to get around! I couldn't drive because of my arm being in a sling and too weak to do anything. I slowly built this up from just going down the road and then coming back and needing a nap, to get some fresh air to walking through town and to the park.
Because of the concussion I knew I had to start off really slow. I made sure I monitored my heart rate and kept a log on how I was feeling during and after. I had previously worked in Rugby and knew a fair amount on how to return to rugby from concussion so devised my own step by step plan on the bike for my head. There isn't that much guidance online on how to return to cycling. All of this had to be done sat up on the turbo in my sling.
I had started my own rehab plan with my shoulder whilst in the hospital. When you have hours to kill stuck in bed, in a neck brace with one arm you can get pretty inventive. I started with simple isometric holds and pendular exercises with my cast.
I had decided to go straight back to living at home on my own after returning from Ireland. For a couple of reasons, I like my own space and after years of not living at home was used to my own house. But also because I knew rehab wise it would make me push on. Obviously, especially in the early days I still required help and my family and friends would pop in and do whatever I couldn’t... Thank you!!! I actually think this really helped me improve and fast. Each day I would be pushed to try and do new things.
While I was in hospital, I had also made sure to keep on top of my breathing exercises, fractured ribs can sometimes lead to further complications with chest infections especially as I had had to lie flat for so many days.
As a physio there are many things that come under the ruling 'do as I say, not, do as I do'. My consultant and physio advised me that it would be a long time before I should be back supporting myself on handlebars and out of my sling... but what they don't know can't hurt them surely...
I gradually started supporting myself with both hands for short periods on the turbo, initially on top of my make - shift table, then back onto the normal bars.
As soon as I felt confident and it was comfortable enough inside, I started short rides back outside, again more for me mentally than to be doing anything for training. Initially I would wear my sling out and if my arm got tired put it back in and rode one handed for a short period...or stop at a cafe... I didn't need a better excuse.