I’ve been saying since March ‘I’m going to write a blog’. Suddenly its nearly July and I’m only just getting round to it. The start of the season flew by so fast, but also at times has felt really tough. My winter consisted of three beautiful, sunny months in Australia, a few weeks in God’s county and a two week training camp in Limoux.
Since then it’s all been a bit of a blur, In late February we headed to Belgium to start the season and I’ve been racing most weekends since. Every race has been a massive challenge, which I enjoy, but it’s also been a very full on year so far. My first race, Omloop Het Neiuwsblad was a massive shock to the system. I thought that racing the Friend’s Life Women’s Tour last year had prepared me well for the step up to elite racing this year, I thought I knew what to expect. However, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the classics, they are brutal. As the weeks went by and I started to get stronger my attitude towards the races started to change, I actually really enjoy the cobbles, the unpredictable weather and craziness of the early season races. I’m looking forward to more of the same next year.
It was during these races I started to get a bit of pain in my hip, nothing drastic and nothing I couldn’t live with, especially with such a busy calendar it seemed the easiest thing was just to ignore the pain and crack on – it wasn’t convenient for me to have time off. However as the time went by the pain started to get worse. Not helped by a little get down at the Tour of Flanders and then at round one of the Matrix GP Tour series in England. After the crash in Redditch my attention was turning to the Aviva Women’s Tour and I knew this problem needed to be sorted before then, my performance had started to be affected and riding with pain everyday was not doing my head any good.
Once I arrived back in Belgium, with the help of Stef and Helen I was put in touch with an acupuncturist, a chiropractor and a physiotherapist. As you can imagine my lead up to the Women’s Tour was a bit different to a typical race, I had a lot of treatments, some shoulder related, another injury as a result of my crash in the UK. Even with all the treatment my hip didn’t feel fully fixed, it was definitely improved, but not 100%. My last race before the Women’s Tour was The Diamond Tour, part of the Lotto Cycling Cup and a UCI 1.1 race. I stayed out of trouble and managed the pain in my hip, finishing 14th. I was hoping that this meant I was pretty much cured.
When we got back to the UK ready for the Women’s Tour, the team set me up with a trip to Cyclefit in London, although it might not be normal procedure to change your position the day before a stage race I was willing to give it a go, I trust the guys at Cyclefit and if it could help the pain it was worth a try. The guys were great with me and worked all morning trying to tweak things slightly to help me as much as possible in the race.
Although the position helped me, and in the first stage the pain had eased off, theres only so much that can be done working around the issue without fixing the problem itself and the next stage the pain wasn’t good. I really wanted to get through the stage, to reassess on the evening, try to find some way of helping the pain and give myself the option to start on stage 3. Climbing off is never an easy option, but it had to be a head over heart decision and I knew there wasn’t much chance of finishing in the time limit or being in a fit state to start on stage 3, this injury had gone on long enough.
I am really lucky to have such a supportive and patient team and coach. After a really disappointing Women’s Tour I rang my physio in the UK and was advised to take some time off the bike to let my body recover. After speaking to both Stefan, my team manager and James, my coach we decided that this problem needed to be sorted, which would mean missing this year’s nationals. When you train so hard no one wants to miss a race, especially nationals but this was sensible. A few easy weeks working with my physio in England should get me back on track and pain free, ready for my targets later in the season.