I hear my soup bubbling away in the kitchen as I peck away at this blog here. Mom sent me a recipe for pumpkin soup the other day. With that idea stewing in the back of my mind, en route home from my therapy today I walked to the market, saw a pretty spectacular pumpkin, and decided to whip up some soup. It’s still chilly here in Italy – albeit sunny and gorgeous today – but it’s still winter and I think cool temps, winter, and bike-ride-recovery all leads towards one thing: a hearty bowl of soup.
So here she is bubbling away, pre-being zapped and whirred into a fine, consistent slurry. Pumpkin, onion, carrot, apple, garlic, S’n’P, basil, red pepper flakes, curry, and some EVOO.
Wait wait wait, I hear you say. What therapy, Ted? you earnestly ask. Well pull up a chair and I’ll tell.
I don’t want to rehash what you might already know, so let’s just say I raced the Giro di Sardinia a week ago, we did pretty darn well, but somewhere in the process I hurt my knee. Defending young Sagan’s leader’s jersey is a team effort and my job typically takes places in the opening four hours of each day, give or take an hour. Specifically, I monitor early attempt breakaway attempts, yank them back as necessary, and eventually let the “correct” group go up the road. That’s followed by controlling of the bunch for the ensuing hundred-fifty-K or so. Ready, set, go!
On the final day of Sardinia, I completed my job and then rather than painfully pedaling the final 25km up to the summit finish, with more anxiety and angst than I typically contend with, I pulled the plug and got into the team car to the finish. And please don’t think that I was looking for an easy out; it’s been over two years since the last time I ducked into the team car rather than finishing a race. Suck McSuck Pants in full effect. Size XXL.
So let’s now jump to Monday, five days ago – rather than passively suffering the mental anguish of wondering what the heck is wrong with my knee, I went with a soigneur who lives nearby down to Pisa to a sports clinic to see what’s shakin’ in my knee. A quick exam with an awesome sports physiologist/therapist named Emanuele followed by a trip to the nearby hospital for an ultrasound revealed that a) I’m not pregnant and b) I have a decent amount of swelling around a critical tendon behind my left knee. Again, Suck McSuck Pants: on.
However, this thorough, exceedingly friendly, and outgoingly knowledgeable crew around me has been very optimistic about the entire situation. There is nothing torn, nothing ripped, and all the damage to my ginocchio (Italian for knee) appears to be reparable in a timely fashion… although patience is absolutely critical here. I was subbed out of Paris-Nice, which sucks of course because I would be going to help Peter Sagan tear that race apart. After seeing his form at Sardinia, I know he’s bound for great things in France this week. Heck, the whole team for that matter. Crap. But as it stands now, my next race isn’t until De Panne two full weeks after P’Nice is due to end. Therefore I have the time to let well… time, patience, therapy, prayers, and some good discipline do its thing. Heal Teddy! HEAAAAL!
Today was my fifth day of therapy down in Pisa. The world of R.I.C.E. is apparently a thing of yesteryear because I receive four different electric-type therapies from various machines that all appear to cost a lot more than, say, a toaster. Two electro-shock-type therapy, one ultrasound therapy I think, and a laser therapy. These all function to reduce the swelling and now five days later, we went back to get another ultrasound (I’m still not preggers!) and the knee has received the medical clearance nod to go for an eaaaaasy ride today. They limited me to just 90 minutes and told me to basically pedal as easy as I possibly could without toppling over. I’m not a number’s guy, but comparatively here are some digits I accumulated before pulling the plug on the final day of Sardinia:
145km of bike racin’
3:35 race time
286 watts average
1,350m of climbing
Today, I think I did 90 minutes at 160 watts average. No, I did not tip over at that pace. I then followed that up with proper R.I.C.E.
Back to things bigger than just riding a bicycle, I want to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who has sent me messages, prayers, warm and fuzzy vibes, thoughts, as well as endearing thanks to everyone who has helped me in one way or the other the past week. I imagine Michelli, my Italian massagatore who has been loyally driving me daily to Pisa, isn’t reading along, but Michelli you’re amazing. Thank you. Another thanks to the guys on SpiderTech who tossed me some kinesio-tape and for speaking some English on the boat ride home when I needed a little Americana decompression.
As a professional cyclist, to not be riding a bike with a lingering and somewhat cryptic injury like this is as mentally draining and anxiety provoking as seemingly anything. I’ve had some folks near me here in Italy tell me they’re impressed with how smoothly I’m taking this all, which is flattering in some regards… but that just means that I have a really good superficial wall, because I’m flipping out on the inside. Suddenly I’m allotted an abundance of extra time to think about it all. I try hard to maintain perspective – okay, it’s merely March; in the grand scheme of things the injury is not that bad; otherwise I have my health, etc – but man oh man, this is a toughie. But I needn’t shed that anxiety on you now.
So again, to everyone out there: thank you. It means more than you could possibly imagine.
And now it’s time to try the soup.