CHARLIE Q UA RT E R M A N
The lifestyle of a cyclist can seem incredibly bizarre and changeable to an outsider. And to me too, sometimes. To sum up what I’ve been up to since my last fantastically entertaining column, I would say a lot but also not very much. My physical recovery went pretty quickly after the crash in the opening weekend in Belgium but just as I was able to ride without much pain or worry about forgetting where I am and what I’m doing, which was about nine days after the event, I was hit with the wave of mental effects. This turns out to be very normal with concussions, but it was so frustrating when I was still hoping for a return to Belgium for the classics.
This strong desire to get straight back into it is a very typical cyclist approach, but I wasn’t ready. I won’t go into too much detail, but basically symptoms in the direction of mood swings were holding me down and after a check in Belgium with the team doctor I was told to go home and reset. This is where the lifestyle once again became very changeable. From two long camps in the first months of the year to a quick stop at home and straight over to Belgium to race, to being told to do a mix of sports and do whatever makes me feel normal and happy. So, from living out of a suitcase and almost forgetting what it meant to cook dinner, I went to some cross-country ski adventures, mountain walks, social gatherings (as they are allowed here), and the odd relaxed ride with lots of chatting and only sometimes, randomly, having a big race up a climb because someone challenged my honour.
Some parts of this column may make it sound like these things haven’t been good, but it’s not the case. Okay, the concussion and aftermath were literally depressing, but I love the time on the road with my team-mates, which I’m used to, and equally I have had some of the most fantastic days in this ‘reset’ period. Don’t worry, all this has succeeded in making me count the days until I’m again on the start line with excitement, but I re-found a lot of happiness and love for what I do just by mixing things up a little bit and for a short period. Not forgetting to make the time for the ‘why not’ moments, even in the middle of the season when everything is full gas, will be a lesson
I take from this difficult period.
In the end, it’s the mind that tells the legs to turn, and to keep going when they’re about to explode with lactate. If we treat it like another person, keeping the mind happy by letting it do what it wants to do sometimes, it will encourage it and you to dig that bit deeper after five hours, when that extra handful of watts might just make the difference.