here for more photos
So why has it been
so long since my last report? Well I had a little problem that involved
some repair surgery to fix. Back in December 2013 I tore my left bicep
tendon. It went undiagnosed for several weeks when I tore the rest of
it off and this time I went private and got it fixed. Initially the
surgeon was not keen to try and repair it, as it had been almost six
weeks after the initial injury, but I managed to persuade him to try.
Luckily there was a tiny slither still holding on, so it had not moved
up into the arm too far. In the consultation I asked him what was the
harm in trying to repair it, he said I might end up with a large scar
and have some numbness in the arm. My exact words were “I don’t
give a shit about a scar – slice the whole arm open if you have
to, but this needs to be repaired”.
in this photo you
can see the hole drilled in the forearm bone to secure the tendon,
below is the metal pin/button the tendon is anchored to
Luckily it all
worked out. They cut your elbow open, trim the tendon, seize it and
then drill a hole into your forearm. They when ream this hole to fit
the tendon, sow a button onto the tendon and push this through the hole.
The button is then turned so it anchors the tendon in place. Six weeks
in a splint with no movement, four more weeks in a sling, six more weeks
with no strain on it. I must admit it was not a good time, very uncomfortable
after a few weeks. At one point the dressing was nearly driving me up
the wall and I almost had Nicky take me to A&E but she took it off
instead and rearranged it all. Once I could see it was all ok, I could
relax again, but it wasn’t easy. During the first week I’d
also had the bad news that my cholesterol was up, so to cap it all I
was in a diet. After a couple of weeks I started walking for exercise
and the kilos dropped off. Weeks (months) later I was back on the mtb
and while the diet is no longer quite so strict, I’ve lost quite
a lot of fat and fitter than i have been for a while.
the first time the
splint/dressing came off after six weeks
My first ever ride back on the KTM was with the CHEC club but instead
of racing I just marshaled the event. Then came a wet and muddy ride
with Enduroland where I suddenly realised I’d not lost much speed.
Finally I rode for a day at Bagshot with the Blue Light Off Road Club
and spent the day there with Tommy, Tony and David. It was a great day,
Tommy remarked how much weight I’d lost, David didn’t even
recognise me when I walked up!
So the next logical step was to get back into the saddle so to speak
and get racing again. The next available race was with the South Reading
MCC, their final race of the year to be held at Ashdown Farm. I quite
like the races there but they can be a little hard sometimes, as it
can either be hard going due to braking and acceleration bumps, or slick
as a slick thing if it rains.
i always love the
look of the six days germany so when a set of graphics came up on the
forum i jumped at it
I'd already bought OE colour plastics so had to buy more in white!
The KTM was ready to go baring the rear tyre needed turning round to
get the square edge of the GT240 knobblies in the direction of power
output. Ah yes the bike! Well while I was off sick I did a little ebay
selling and buying and if I could not ride it I still needed to do something
with it, so I got blinged it up big time. The beauty is not just skin
deep either, as I had the suspension worked on too. The rear shock had
been modified last year into a single piston so that got a progressive
spring fitted. The fronts were totally changed too, they had ‘mx
tech huck valves’ fitted so needed shorter springs and these were
upgraded for my weight. A re-valve finished the job off. All the work
was done by Andy Bell suspension services, he’s an ex mx gp mechanic
and suspension guru.
Initially there were reports that it was going to cool down for the
weekend but come Saturday morning and it was anything but cool, in fact
it felt warmer than ever! We’d heard previously that the course
had become extremely cut up and was now very rough. But it’s always
rough so I didn’t pay it much heed. Tony, Nicky and I pulled into
the track at about 9am. It’s nice that the race doesn’t
start till 11am, as it means there is no mad early start to get there
on time. Things were well organised as usual, even more so this time
as bikes were being lined up in classes. I must admit I was quite nervous,
and had been all week! One side of my brain (the sensible side) was
telling me to go out, have some fun and take it easy. The other (more
dominant) side was saying – “hey you are fitter and slimmer
than you’ve been in years, get out there and give it your all”.
So I had this mad mix of emotions to deal with and I felt both sides
had merits. I’d try my best but if it got too much for my (still
weak) arm I’d either stop or take it easy.
don't forget to look
at your start time idiot!
I lined up on the first row as I was racing in Clubman A, just behind
the experts. We set off and the track took us straight over the ‘fair
mile’ byway and along the bumpy track into the tress/woods on
the other side of the valley. Almost immediately the state of the track
set the tone for the day – it was cut up and in terrible condition.
The track weaved through the trees on familiar tracks but now they were
so bumpy you could not even think about sitting down. Even some turns
were bumpy and no berms and been built up. Eventually we dropped out
the woods onto the open fields way over the other side of the farm,
and nailed the bikes up the hill to the two jumps. It may have been
open going but this was bumpy too and hammered the arms. After the two
jumps its down the ‘goat track’ and you double back on the
other side of the hill. This leads you to a mega rough slope that really
tested the suspension before turning back into the woods for a while,
then out into a field again and the only smooth part of the course -
the run up to the fair mile again, before entering the other stand of
woods. cont below...
first lap and i'm
joined by some riders who started in front of me
several go down behind
These woods flowed a little better and were not too rough. We excited
the trees into that little track that pops out onto the farm track,
turned down the hill, took a right before the farm and skirted the farmyard
to join up with one of the mx track's access roads. Once on the road
we entered the track but immediately crossed over it to the bottom of
the big hill. We accelerated up the hill, jumped, but then turned off
the track to the left. More flowing track and then back onto the mx
track for two turns before once again turning off. It was on this section
that several riders came back onto the track having taken a wrong turn
somewhere, so that was good for me, I made up time on them and kept
most of them behind me as we all got under way again. Several turns
in the trees and it was back onto the mx track for a series of jumps.
These I took very steady on the first lap, as I still had no idea which
way the track went. Finally we turned off again and one final new section
brought us back to the timing transponders. Boy it was hot!
tony jumping one
of the jumps in the woods
and again just after
soft suspension gives
him a hard landing though
The second lap I was bedded in a little and set my fastest lap time,
but still miss timed the jumps on the final section until I made a point
of counting them and from then on I knew I could give it some on three
jumps, but the last one you had to be careful as you had to make a turn
off the track straight after. The rest of the track was pure hell –
there is no other way of describing it. It was so tight and rough it
was impossible to get into a flow and the hammering was constant. By
lap number three I was wondering how much more I could take and an argument
broke out in my head between the sensible side and the racer side!
By now I was coming up on slower riders who started on the last row
so that helped me focus a little and aimed at passing them. I must say
that they all had exception manners and every single one made an effort
to help me get past. I had to do the same later on as I also got lapped
by a few of the fastest riders. I got quite a scare at the start of
one of the laps. I was flat out on the first straight when all of a
sudden i realised a flock of sheep had taken refuge for the hot sun
under the tree - and was bearing down on them at a rate of knots!
i hit the brakes and yelled which put the to flight and thankfully i
missed the lot. Its all on film so watch the video further down
I caught Tony and
got past at the bottom of the woods where the track splits slightly,
I gave him a little wave on the way past. Latter on I saw him again,
it was past the two hour mark and he’d refueled and set off again
but the heat got to him and his breathing was laboured so he had to
pull over into the shad for a while. I looked over at him as I went
past and he nodded, I didn’t recognise him at first as I was in
my own state of pain and suffering at the time!
If I pushed too hard my inner core body heat would sky rocket. I could
feel my heart pounding and the heat from my trunk was sky high so I
had to ease off a little. To be honest I wasn’t sure my 50 year
old body was going to hold up! Somewhere in the last third of the day
a branch raked me across the throat quite painfully. It must have been
moved by someone as I’d not been caught by it before. Dam me if
it didn’t get me again on the next lap too!
I pushed past
the two hour mark for another lap, then pulled in for fuel. A quick
three quarter fill and off I went again. Then I suddenly realised something
– I’d made a massive cock up. I hadn’t checked the
time when I started the race – doh! I thought about this for a
bit then remembered Nicky took photos so when I spotted her I pulled
over and quickly told her to look at the photo’s time stamp.
second last lap and
i'm just hanging in there, about to get overtaken
The next lap she told me the time so I was able to calculate my end
time. It was on this lap I had a tree body interface, a very painful
one! I was pushing on a bit trying to make it back to the pits so I’d
be able to start another lap (at the same time being quite disappointed
that it looked like I have time to start another) and just passed a
couple of guys when all of a sudden I hit something very hard and solid
with my left hip bone. It made a hard klonk sound like a hammer hitting
something hard, and my whole body reacted. I felt sick, I was in pain
and in a little bit of shock I think. I didn’t stop as I knew
I had to keep moving. I made it out the trees, over the bumpy field,
the two jumps and then it got so bad I pulled over and slumped in the
seat. One of the riders I’d just overtaken actually stopped and
asked if I was ok. I said I was in pain from hitting a tree but that
made me feel daft so I set off again and somehow finished the lap to
start my last one. By now I was in a lot of discomfort, my hands were
painful as I’d left on my hard grips, as it had been muddy recently
and i could feel my calluses were blistering off. My forearms were seizing
up, my hip was throbbing and of course the heat was still ever present
and draining. On the run up to the fair mile on the homeward stretch
I ran out of water/energy drink. Pulling into the pits for the last
time I was ever so grateful, I had finished – and was finished!
Film of the lap plus
a few bits at the end. Filmed in HD so select hd in settings
Back at the car Nicky and Tony were sitting in the shade of the gazebo.
I could hardly talk, I slumped onto the cool box as Tony had nicked
my chair. I was done, completely knackered, I felt sick and drained.
Nicky helped me get my body armour off and I slumped into her chair
trying to drink a cold coke, I felt sick. Nicky got out the cake she’d
made and the pair of them tucked into it, but I was too ill to eat any
– which was when they realised I wasn’t well. Nicky offered
to call the medic but I said no (well I shook my head) but secretly
was hoping she would as I felt like crap, like the worst kind of flue.
Nicky poured water over my arms and now bare legs to cool me down, which
made me feel a little better. The pair of them then started to pack
up while I leaned against the car and threw up a litre of energy drink
and half a can of coke!
I felt pretty gotten the rest of the day, an indication of which was
I didn’t eat all my dinner, a very rare occurrence indeed! But
it was all worth it (I think?) as the preliminary results are out and
I got third place in Clubman A! I’m very pleased with this result
I must say. To get a top three finish in my first race back from injury
and seven months off the bike is fantastic.