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The other week I did this...


Yesterday I got this text...


There is so much more to the phrase "time off the bike" than any non-rider can begin to imagine. This time I've bashed my foot and ribs up. I should be out again next week and that'll only be 3 weeks off the bike. But as the image above shows, it's not just the length of time that gets to you, it's all of the stuff you're missing out on. There's always a 'r8 gud ride" to miss out on, "we did the roadgap!", "We found a new trail somewhere that we're not likely to go to again for another 6 months!". No matter how long or short your period of convalesence you're going to miss out and possibly fall behind.

In every group of riders there's a 'crashist'. You know the situation, you see a cloud of crap fly into the air and one rider's face instantly comes to mind. That's me. Luckily, I bounce most of the time and any injuries are nothing I can't ride with. Every now and then, however, I have a proper "Faaaaaaaaahhhhhkkkkkkkk" moment and you know what they say, the bigger they are the harder they fall. I had another of those moments a couple of weekends ago. Flew out of a rollin that I wasn't supposed to fly out of and ended up landing the bike with my tits and twisting my leg up a goodun.

Now, I don't know about you but the first thing that goes through my head once the dust has settled is "how long will I be off?" and I normally spend the next few days giving everyone a running commentary on how I'm improving! My ankle is the size of a football and hot enough to fry an egg on and what have I got to say about it? "I can put a bit more pressure on it today so it's improving!" Improving it may be, sunshine, but the truth is it's proper mashed! When the bruising comes out, and my foot looks like a pearlescent paint job gone wrong, I'm telling people "This is good though, it shows it's healing!" Loser.

The reason I do this? Because I need my recovery to be a positive thing. Every step closer to healing is a step closer to being out on the bike again. Unlike some bloke who's fallen off a ladder, or some bird who's slipped on a wet office floor, I don't want to relish in how bad my injury looks or feels. I want to will it better, I want people to say "ooh, that's not too bad, you'll be out again in a week". And of course there's always a raft of people who don't ride who, even if they aren't saying it, are all thinking "Why hasn't it put him off this time?". I wish I knew myself.

Common sense would say it's time to reign it in, get an XC bike, ride fire roads, enjoy the view and, believe it or not, someday I plan to do this. Someday in the VERY distant future. You see there is an upside to crashing. You get taken out of the equation, you're temporarily disconnected from the part of you that's thinking about hitting that gap, doing that sketchy drop, where you're going to ride this weekend. Those aren't things you need to worry about anymore and this starts opening your mind up a little. I've been reading mags cover to cover, going though my bike and skate DVD's and I've finally finished that feckin championship on WRC4! This weekend I walked the dog in the woods near our flat, something I've been promising myself I'd do for ages, and it turns out there's some good stuff in there to ride. Not exactly challenging but I've got rideable trails 2 mins from my house. If I hadn't bust my foot I still wouldn't know about them. You see, coming off has recharged me a bit.

Maybe it's the "don't know what you've got 'till it's gone" mentality, but for me crashing seems to give me a bit of a mental cleanse, clears all of the noise and makes me appreciate just how fookin mint it is to ride bikes and all that goes with it, the friendships, the mental anguish and subsequent euphoria of taking something on and winning, getting so wet you can't get any wetter and laughing about it, bashing yourself up and coming back again, camping in the car and racking up the memories. So don't be put off by the shitty weather, the dark evenings or the low temperatures. Just grab you're bike, get out there and crash.

See you in A&E!

Fat Tony



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