miércoles, 22 de abril de 2015

My journey to Paris-Brest-Paris 2015

20th of September 2014
I booked my hotel in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines

5th of October 2014
I planned and booked my qualifiers

2nd of  November 2014
In my last race for the year, I crashed and broke my right collarbone.

12ve of December 2014 
Six weeks later, I'm back on the bike.

My form has obviously sank in those six weeks, but nothing to worry about, it is the end of the year and, if you have to be injured, this is probably the best moment of the year.

7th of February 2015
I entered my fist race of the year, followed by a race every weekend after that. The plan was to get anaerobic training before starting the long distance "season" at the end of March.

14nd of March 2015
I crash badly racing in my favorite circuit. The list of damages includes broken left femur, fractured vertebra, a strong impact on my right shoulder and lots of cuts and bruises. An "industrial dose of morphine and ketamine", a surgery to get an intramedullary rod in the femur, a week in the hospital, two units of blood transfused, wearing a brace for 8 weeks and an uncertain number of weeks until full recovery. PBP2015 seems won't be possible for me.

This video will give you an idea of what the surgery has made to my leg

18th of March 2015
This is how my femur looks after the surgery.

I wrote the Man of Kent 200 organizer to announce him I won't be able to ride it. First planned PBP qualifier that I'm missing.

1st of April 2015
18 days after the crash, I had a look at the qualifiers calendar and decided to sign for a brevet for every single weekend from 9th of May to 21st of June. If I recover in time I want to be sure I have places available to qualify for Paris Brest Paris. I publish this on twitter.

14th of April 2015
Exactly a month after my crash, I write the Oasts & Coasts 300 organizer to announce him I won't be able to ride it. It is the second PBP qualifier I'm missing. Painful, I twit
16th of April 2015
Doctor says everything goes well, don't do any "impact sport" (running, tenis, etc) otherwise "listen to your leg". I want my leg to sing me Queen's Bicycle Race

but it is singing Eagles' Take It Easy instead

20th of April 2015 
Surgery scars seems to be healing well

21st of April 2105
Heading a session with the physio I still think PBP2015 is possible
The session with the physio was very good. It infused me optimism and he gave me a plan of exercises.

Still he left me so tired I twitted: "Still trying to decide if the physiotherapist is a friend or a foe."

22st of April 2015
My leg is still recovering from yesterday's session with the physio. It is singing Eagles again and I abide.

23rd of April 2015
I finally can say goodbye to my bulletproof vest. It's been six weeks together but I won't miss you.

I can stop singing La Roux's Bulletproof

25th of April 2015
Back on the scale. I have lost 3Kg in 6 weeks. If you only pay attention to the weight loss, the blood transfusion and all the drugs they gave me you'd say I was in course to win Le Tour de France. Well you'd be wrong.

26th of April 2015
Three very important points today:
  • One of the surgery incisions got infected; doctor gave me antibiotics for seven days. I'll spare you the picture of the nasty looking scar.
  • Today, six weeks after my crash, I jumped on a bike for the first time. It was a bike attached to a turbo but still it counts to me. Here the session in Strava.
  • After the "training" session I assessed my chances of riding Paris-Best-Paris and It'll be challenging but I certainly think it is possible. It basically is a 200k in two weeks and three consecutive weekends riding a 600k each from 23rd of May. More details of my plan here.
27th of April 2015
First day commuting to the office (I was working from home until today). I took the crutch to guaranty a priority seat in the train but it was so crowded that I was lucky I got into the train, no way I could get a seat. 

My plan was to arrive at the office, go to the gym and do the exercises but it turns out that commuting is tiring and by the time I got to the office I was so hungry that I went for breakfast straight away and skipped the visit to the gym.

Once at home, after diner, I was regretting having missed the exercises so I did the whole session. When I finished the leg said it would not talk to me for a day or two.

28th of April 2015
Second day commuting to the office and second session at the turbo (the session in Strava). The first session had been 30 mins at 70 rpm so I aimed to keep 80 rpm for an hour in this second session. It turned out to be more challenging that I thought it was going to be. Had to sing Janis Joplin's Try (just a little bit harder) to the leg to keep it pedalling.

And once I was at it I also tried to stand on the bike (around min 40), but I couldn't, the leg still can't keep up with the forces involved.

Anyway happy overall with the session, just one more step.

29th of April 2015
Today is curb your enthusiasm day. The leg feels recovered from yesterday's effort but I force myself to not jump on the turbo or to have a session of strength exercises. Will keep it at just a muscle stretching session and tomorrow I will be ready for another small push.

30th of April 2015
Found this video in my Twitter feed. I had that weird idea that at some point I would ask to get my intramedullary nail removed but after watching this video I think I'm going to need a lot of convincing. My leg shakes when I watch it!

(sorry that video was removed but this other is quite similar and will be enough to understand why I'll need some convincing to get it removed)

1st of May 2015
If your doctor calls you to your mobile unexpectedly you know for sure that's not good news. It turns out the antibiotics I was taking for my infected incision were not the right ones according to the analysis results. He has prescribed a different antibiotic.

The incision has improved in the last week but the truth is it still looks pretty bad, hopefully the new antibiotics will have more/better effect.

On top of that, I decided to skip the turbo session I had planned. I have plenty of excuses but I'm already regretting it.

Sunday 3rd of May 2015
Two important news and one confirmation today.

Important news 1: At 00:01, after a 30€ payment, I got my pre-registration for Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 confirmed.

Confirmation of the day: The pre registration opened at 00:00, but being the organizers from France that was at "continental" time. Fact that I failed to appreciate so waited until 00:00, UK time, to pre-register. Not that this affected my pre-registration in any way but I just lost one hour of sleep and confirmed once more that my mother is right (she is always right) when she says I don't know in which hour I'm living.

Important news 2: Finally, seven weeks after my crash I went back on the bike. It was only a "quick" lap to Richmond Park, 25 kilometres. Challenging but felt so good I even wrote a report: Finally back on the bike seven weeks after the crash.

Monday 4th of May 2015 (Bank holiday) 
Second day on the bike, this time I went to Richmond Park with Carmen and the girls. Easier but hopefully building on yesterday's ride.

Tuesday 5th of May 2015
The leg definitively is feeling the efforts of the last two days. Going upstairs is painful and I limp all day. I think of getting back the crutch.

Wednesday 6th of May 2015
The leg doesn't seem to recover any bit. True it was a tiring day with a trip to Liverpool, but I was sitting for most of the day. 

I start to think it won't be a good idea to ride 200k next Sunday. My thoughts are in the line of, even if I manage to finish I'm not sure if the amount of damage I'll probably do to the leg will allow me to recover in time for a 600 two weeks later. 

Back home I'm really tired and I struggle going upstairs. The idea of give this 200 a miss crosses my mind, but I force myself to not make any decision until Saturday.

Thursday 7th of May 2015
Physio appointment. Got exercises for my back now I don't have wear the brace. The physio commented he sees I had improved since last visit (two weeks ago) and that cheers me up. I mention how the leg is feeling the efforts from the weekend and he recommends to take it easy. 

I work from home today to try to take it as easy as possible

Friday 8th of May 2015
Feeling much better today. 

Saturday 9th of May 2015
Definitively I'm giving a go at the 200 tomorrow; happy to admit I'm scared.

Sunday 10th of May 2015
I managed to finish the 200. I struggled pretty much all the ride and specially in every single climb (I put the foot on the ground three times) but managed to finish in 13 hours, which is 30 minutes before the time limit.

Very happy about this 200 but, at the same time, very, very worried about riding a 600k in two weeks time. If I ride at the same pace I would be finishing in 39 hours (time limit is 40 hours) without any sleep and riding through a whole night. That sounds really scary.

I'll have to wait and see how I recover, how I progress in these two weeks and be very careful determining if I should try it or not.

The ride in Strava and the report (in Spanish this time, sorry)

Monday 11th of May 2015
It is amazing how recovered I feel. My bottom still hurts but the leg feels fine

Tuesday 12ve of May 2015
Interestingly my leg feels worst today than yesterday. Time to take it really easy to allow it to recover

Friday 15th of May 2015
Visit to the physio. Just from showing him how I was doing the exercise and practising the new ones he recommended my leg got really sore. Got me limping for the rest of the day. Flying to Madrid with Easyjet didn't contribute to stretch the leg.

Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th of May 2015
A weekend in sunny Madrid. Relax, family, good food and good weather had a great effect, felt in heaven.

Monday 18th of May 2015
Turbo time. The plan was a 4x5minsx200w (sigh) but the muscles felt funny after the first set so I quickly call it a day (the session in Strava). Did gluteus exercises instead and went to bed really tired.

Tuesday 19th of May 2015
Maintenance day. Changed the saddle, I'm ditching the Brooks Imperial and set the Fizik Antares. A daring move just before a 600, but the Brooks let me really sore after the 200 so figured that keeping it for the 600 was riskier than using the Antares I use in my other bike.

I also managed to repair the problem with the front derailleur, it seems to be working in the stand but will try to give it a try outdoors tomorrow.

Wednesday 20th of May 2015
In an act of crazy optimism I have booked a room at The Red Lion hotel in Epworth. It is a crazy act because it means I have decided I'm finally going to try to ride The Flatlands 600. It is an act of optimism because it implies I think I'll be able to get to the 350km mark with enough time gained to be able to sleep at least a couple of hours. I don't have anything to base this optimism, it is an act of faith.

At least the name of the hotel had reminded me this Bob Marley's song... Iron like a Lion in Zion

Sunday 24th of May 2015
I managed to finish the Flatlands 600. A supposedly easy 600 that ended up being really hard for me. Full report here. The route in Strava here.

Wednesday 27th of May 2015
I got a cold sore in my lips. I know this signal from the past. This is my body telling me I have been working hard and I need to rest.

Friday 29th of May 2015
Woke up and I felt a pain in the knee, left leg, the one that was broken. It is fair to say I panicked a bit. I had to go to Kingston and the pain was so intense that I even considered taking the crutch because I had to walk from Eden Walk to Sigma Sport. I was limping ostensibly when I started to walk but, somehow, as I was walking the pain relieved. By the time I got to Sigma Sport I didn't feel any pain. All ended up in nothing but the soundtrack of the day was served by The Smith's Panic

Or maybe by Panic! at the disco

31st of May 2015
5 punctures, fell on a ford, got lost and added 10km to the route, rode alone most of the time, had to time trial to make it to a control (which I did with only 2 seconds to spare) and finished exhausted but I did finish the Windsor-Chester-Windsor 600 and somehow enjoyed it. The report (in Spanish) and the route in Strava.

3rd of June 2015
It is a Wednesday after a 600k here comes another cold sore in my lips. My body keeps sending me messages that it has been working too hard.

7th of June 2015
Windy, but without drama this time I managed to finish the 9 Counties 600. I'm now qualified for PBP2015. The ride in Strava. Report (in Spanish)

8th of June 2015
A few hours after I finished the 600k I got in a plane and flew to Los Angeles. Economy class is not the best for leg recovery.

10th of June 2015
Third cold sore in my lips in three consecutive weeks. This time is really serious, all my lower lip is affected. Really painful. Time to take it easy.

13th of June 2015
I finally confirmed and paid my entry for Paris-Brest-Paris 2015. Now time to plan trips and training to make sure it will be a great experience.

14th of June 2015
First club run after exactly three months after my crash. Went for a K3 ride and fount it really hard, always the last of the 17 riders in the group. When they stopped for coffee I decided to carry on so I can fall back to my own pace. The ride in Strava.

18th of June 2015
Went to see the doctors for the three-months-after-the-crash appointment and they say the bone is healing all right. They still want to see me in three months (18th of September 2015). Meanwhile I got green light to do normal life being sensible about practising sports ("If you never did parachuting don't start now"). I didn't mention the Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 just in case...

Left is my femur after the surgery. Right is three months later.
Sunday 21st of June 2015
Second Kingston Wheeler club run. Once again last in every single climb and skipped tea stop to avoid being dropped in the second half of the ride. Still happy with the ride, felt stronger than last week and even dared to sprint against myself in Esher (I took it). The ride in Strava.

Wednesday 24th of June 2015
First commute to the office on the bike. One step closer to normality.

Sunday 28th of June 2015
Third Kingston Wheeler club run. Went on Nick's ride. This is my comment to the ride in Strava: "Nothing better to re-gain some of your at-some-speed group riding confidence than riding with six experience fellow Kingston Wheelers you can trust and that allow you to skip working in the front while riding up and down the group fighting your own daemons. Thank you guys, really appreciated". 229 TSS this week.

Saturday 4th of July 2015
This week commuted twice on the bike and went for a non-stop solo ride on Sunday. The aim was to test my sustainable pace. I had the objective of keeping my heart rate at an average of 130ppm. I was really happy with the result; not only managed to sustain the pace but also felt I had progressed in the last weeks. My comment to the ride in Strava is really optimistic: "Tried to make the pace as constant as possible and ended up really, really happy seeing that my sustainable pace has increased a lot in the last three weeks. Form is certainly not there yet but broken leg can't be an excuse any more.". 439 TSS this week.

Sunday 12ve of July 2015
Commuted to the office three days this week and on Sunday decided to go for the same route as the previous weekend. The plan was to ride it a bit harder, averaging a HR of 135ppm and I managed to do it. My comment to the ride in Strava is: "So decided to do the same route as last weekend but a bit harder. Happy to see I managed to produce bigger numbers. Always great to see progress. Next week will easy a bit and then another three weeks block before "tapering" for PBP. All going well I should be fine for it.". 534 TSS this week.

Sunday 19th of July 2015
Commuted to the office three days again this week but this time made it really slow to make sure I was recovering. Went again for the same ride on Sunday aiming for an average HR of 140ppm and, again, I hit my target. Supper happy also to see my time up Juniper has improved for the third week in a raw. The ride in Strava. 457 TSS this week. Four week of the bock, eased a bit to allow my body to recover.

Sunday 26th of July 2015
Another week commuting three days to the office, but this time it was three consecutive days and in the first two I took a lap to Richmond Park on the way home. Times were not spectacular but the point was to get tired in the first two days to see how I managed the third consecutive day. It didn't feel great but I did it. Unfortunately weather in Sunday was rubbish and I chickened skipping my planned ride to spend more time in bed. Great for recovery not so much from the TSS point of view. The friend that is spending a few days with us at home said "I'm glad you didn't go for the ride, I was worried about you, but this proves you are not a robot" not sure how to read that but I still love him. 389 TSS this week. Failing to ride on Sunday means 240 TSS less and missing the objective of 600 TSS in this week.

Sunday 2nd of August 2015
Four days commuting on the bike and on Friday I flew to Asturias for the family holidays / training camp before PBP. In Asturias I ride MTB but that is fine, I need to get some of my handling skills back.

Sunday 9th of August 2015
Riding in Asturias when your friends are on holidays is trying to keep a balance between rest days, easy rides with them, waking earlier to climb El Naranco at threshold (around 25mins) and then easy riding with them, long rides on the road but riding the MTB. All in all the objective is to spend hours riding and try combine efforts with enjoying riding with your friends.

Wednesday 12ve of August 2015
122km on the MTB to go and visit the Ermita del Alba climb (the finish climb in La Vuelta's stage 16). This is a tough climb, 6.65km at an average of 11.2% I wanted to climb it all at threshold. I was unlucky and when I was 1.5km into the climb I got a puncture. I repaired it, descended that 1.5km and did the whole climb again non-stop. Good training!

This is my last ride before PBP. At this point my CTL is 65.1 and my TSB -23.8. Tomorrow Thusday is a day off. Friday I'll be flying to London and Saturday morning I'll be flying to Paris. By then I should be rested.

Saturday 15th of August 2015
Three days of resting had my CTL at 60.5 and my TSB at 4.3. Not bad.

The bike has passed the bike check and I was given my PBP chip. I feel a bit scared.

Sunday 16th of August 2015
That is me waiting for the go. I am relaxed and happy. The idea I have in mind is that just being there is already a reward. 

Thursday 20th of August 2015
5 months and 6 days after my crash I have finished Paris-Brest-Paris and I managed to ride all the way with a smile. The smile of the one that knows the journey was hard but it was worth it.

Full PBP2015 report here

Take care
Javier Arias González

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