The Final Weeks of Winter

Written on Tuesday

My days here in Boulder are vanishing quicker than I want and slower than I’d like. Part of me wants to stay here, living this awesome lifestyle forever. I wake up whenever I want, eat a big old breakfast, ride 5 hours a day, eat more when I get home, hang out with Adelaide in the evening, and do whatever the weather permits on the weekend. It’s been very pleasant, though of course equally fatiguing. I’ve racked up quite a few quality days since becoming a Full Timer last month. My volume has increased, as well as the number of interval/high intensity days I can do per week thanks to the extra time and sleep. I don’t know how or why, but today was my highest wattage day for V02 intervals since last summer, and this is coming after 7 weeks “on” in a row. I’m excited to see where I’ll be after the rest and taper for Normandy.

Normandy…it’s happening. I’m on the squad for it. And it’s what’s eating at me day and night. It’s constantly on my mind and it can’t come soon enough. For weeks now I’ve been devoting every pedal stroke of training to that mysterious race, imagining every stage of it on every ride I do, despite not having a clue what it will be like (I imagine similar to the Tour of Namur in Belgium—hard from start to finish over tough terrain). It will mark the true beginning of my race season as the first team event and my first European throw-down of the year. I’m going to miss Adelaide and Boulder, but the chance to do even half of what’s on my race calendar this year is a dream come true, and you don’t pass up dreams no matter how pleasant your current situation is.

(Funny story about Normandy…I’m not on the roster for it and never was. We were emailed a the race calendar for the first part of the season last week and all I saw were the races, assuming that I was doing the races listed. Turns out I needed to scroll over to the right, or actually just look over to the right side of my screen, and I would have seen names written by each race. As of right now, I will not be doing Normandy).

My dad tore his quadricep tendon last year, which is one of the worst things you can tear and requires one of the longest periods of recovery out of any torn ligament (up to multiple years). To get an idea of what my dad is like and how much this has sucked for him, imagine me (training-wise) except ten times more intense, twenty times more motivated to suffer, and about seventeen thousand times more stubborn. Curt Peterson IS the definition of old man strength. So being on crutches for months on end, and then slowly rebuilding the vanished muscle from his leg has been torture for him. Not that he was taking it easy that whole time. He was on the erg (rowing machine) and in the pool swimming a day after tearing it, which outraged his doctor. He would go on to infuriate every physical trainer he had since.

One year later…now he’s in for shoulder surgery, having overworked his upper body while his leg was under repair for the last 12 months. A lifetime of hard sports is terrific for your health, as well as detrimental. He recently told me that he’d been spending two hours a day on the trainer, with ambitions of doing three hours a day in preparation for his ride across America this summer. He can’t ride outside yet because of the shoulder.

The screwed up ligaments in that shoulder have caused him to do all that riding one-handed with his injured arm resting between his hip and leg, with thumb bent backwards. He’s spent so much time with his hand like that while riding that it screwed his thumb up too and he couldn’t even type on his computer for the last week.

Besides Normandy and the upcoming race season, I’ve recently been thinking about my dad while I’m out riding, especially when I’m wheezing through an interval or about to crack my third or fourth or fifth time up Flagstaff. I think about how much my dad would love to be in my place, riding for hours on end in the mountains, not giving a damn about anything except daydreaming about races, sucking in the thin, cold air, suffering like a dog day in and day out, and occasionally taking in the awesome view of the Rockies. I feel that if you live your life through someone else’s eyes, you can accomplish more and push harder than alone.

I’ve been going through some rehab myself lately, though not from surgery. A long time ago, way back in 2009, you may remember that I took a terrible summersault through the air during a crash and landed on my back on the sidewalk curb during the crit at Murrieta. I could barely walk for days. I never went to the hospital, instead just forcing myself to forget about it and the possible broken vertebra over the next couple months while it recovered. That injury never fully went away, and this fall it began acting up worse than normal. I believe this happened because I spent too much time doing back exercises in the gym in an attempt to strengthen it. Typical. Try to fix something and you just end up breaking it even more. Kind of like that time my roommate Matt and I punched and kicked a six-foot-tall, three-foot-wide hole in someone’s living room at a house party in college. Wait no. That’s not similar at all.

Because going to the gym and jus workin’ on my fitness didn’t fix my back, I tried yoga instead. I went three times a week for a month and that didn’t help either. Then I tried forgetting about it again. This actually worked the best, but about two weeks ago, for no apparent reason other than the idea just occurring to me, I decided to seek some medical advice at Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. An X-ray showed that I had not broken anything back in 2009, which was a relief, though really what would they have done? It’s not like you can just magically fix a broken bone!

The injury was muscular (as in it was a ‘ripped’ injury, or ‘shredded’…get it?), so my doctor prescribed dry needling, which I’ve since done three times. A woman named Simone and sometimes another woman named Sue stick needles deep into your muscles, except not like acupuncture–these go deep and directly into the knotted muscle bundles–forcing the tight muscles to release from their knotted states. Sometimes they hook the needles up to a stimulator that shocks you. I like the feeling. I can’t say whether or not dry needling has helped for sure, though my back does seem to be acting up less.

I fly to Tucson tomorrow night for 10 days of riding in the desert. With all the snow we’ve been blessed with this winter, I’ve had plenty of time to look forward to training and racing down there in the sun for some final monster hours in the saddle, as well as the sort of high intensity that isn’t possible at elevation. Adelaide will meet me down there on Friday. Sometime after the 17th I fly to Europe. It’s getting close. I can practically taste the second breakfast pasta as we speak.