Many of us who have been cycling for any length of time have received some sort of injury or illness we need to overcome. I believe the important thing to remember is not what frailties are holding you back, but what changes you can make to develop what you can do.
We have seen in the past stories of pros like Matt Hayman using Zwift post injury to go on and win one of the Classics, and I am sure there are many more, but what about us mere mortals that don’t always have such dizzy targets?
It’s been well documented that exercising can help with depression and improve mental well-being. I for one can vouch for the fact that if you have something to focus on you can really push yourself beyond limits you thought possible. So perhaps we should start with a little history.
I have been cycling for many years but really only got the bug when I moved to the Surrey Hills in the UK, 7.5 miles from Box Hill (the real one!) This area is well-known for its rolling hills and beautiful lanes. I joined a Facebook group of cyclists then joined my local cycle club, so my weekends were pretty full. I managed to complete a few charitable events, pushing myself harder and harder and finding even at the age of 49 I could do more and more.
A Sudden Change
Unfortunately this came to a sudden halt at the end of June 2017. I was involved in a bad road accident, hit by an oncoming car. My list of injuries included nine broken ribs, broken collarbone, broken shoulder blade, punctured lung, and of course head trauma. I can assure you it was not a pretty sight. Let’s just say I am lucky to be alive and currently I am still surprising the doctors.
The main issue holding me back from recovery is the nerve damage inflicted on the shoulder area, meaning that both deltoid and bicep muscles are no longer working, leaving me with limited use of my right arm. I had surgery on 6th October to transplant nerve tissue onto the muscles but this will be a waiting game as nerves are very slow to grow (1mm/day). It may seem strange, but all I kept asking was ‘when can I get back on the bike’ and even to this day I am looking forward to getting out on the road again but this is where Zwift comes in.
I have been Zwifting for two years now and although only at level 22 I really enjoy the group riding experience. We have some very good leaders and sweepers out there who do this because they enjoy it and I personally have made some firm friends despite never meeting them real life. Such is the world we live in today! I managed to get myself up to a pretty high standard prior to the accident, getting an FTP in the upper 200’s.
So what’s next?
As of 23rd November I have been given the all clear to get back onto Zwift and slowly get my fitness back. It’s not going to be easy and I will be starting all over again after almost 5 months off the bike, having lost a lot of fitness and muscle mass.
I plan to start again at the bottom with the focus on getting back to full fitness. Easy short sessions will be the first step but if you’re interested why not follow me on the ‘Road to Recovery’… and who knows, that Tron bike may be just around the corner!