Like my wife said: "Only you would crash one week before the Ironman."
Looking for confidence going into the last week of training before Ironman Mont Tremblant, I recruited a friend to go riding in Gatineau Hills for one final loop. We suited up and at 7:30 we started the ride.
In the summer, Ottawa and Gatineau close many roads to vehicular traffic to allow for "Sunday Bike Days" and the roads in The Park are no different. You can ride 7-11am without worry of cars on the road. It's brilliant.
The roads in Gatineau Park are closed off with large barriers, and we came upon one just outside the parking lot. I had always got there before 7am, so this was new to me. We coasted very slowly looking for a way to get around the barrier. Just before we found that way, I realized I was stopped...and falling.
That's when I learned that my right pedal holds the cleat tighter than the left. My front tire was caught in a groove, so my attempt to hop out of the situation didn't work. Down I went.
(I bet the title of the post made you think it was a different kind of crash.) ;)
In all the years I've worn clipless pedals, in all the years of racing and riding, that was the first time I have ever gone down. Thankfully, I was only going 0.001kph.
I picked myself up, and checked over the bike. I thought maybe I had bent the rear derailleur but thankfully it was ok. I did nudge the right brake lever, and the front brakes needed to be realigned, but other than that, it was good to go. My right knee took the brunt of the impact - kept the bike safe, but pissed off the bursitis that was affecting me a few weeks back. The swelling has started again, but didn't get too bad, and this time didn't feel restrictive. I guess I got lucky.
That is when I noticed the blood.
I still don't know what I hit, but my left shin has two dents and a large goose-egg on it - it must have been the pedal. In any case, I hit it hard enough to break the skin and color the top of my sock all deep red. It looked far worse than it was, but I cleaned up a bit, and we headed out, leg still dripping slowly and the ache keeping itself known. One hell of a way to start a ride!
But I've gotta tell you - that was one of the BEST rides I have ever had in Gatineau Park. All week and all weekend I've been second guessing my training, where I'm at, what I'm facing. I know that you can never do enough hill training, but I really feel like I could have done more in the weeks leading to this. This ride made me realize that I'm in much better shape than I thought. I took 5min off the loop riding easy, and the hill climbs were much easier than they had been in the past. Even on the long hill climb up past Camp Fortune, my heart rate stayed at 145bpm. It was work, but nothing like it has been in the past.
The training is working. And now I've got the war wounds to prove it. :)