Post by Catherine Vipond
With winter coming to an end, race season is fast approaching, and in some cases already begun. My only problem is: I’m not ready to race. In some ways I don’t want the snow to leave as I can finally skate ski, and with snow on the ground I don’t feel that I’m missing out on mountain biking; too much anyhow. The truth is I can’t ride off road for more than a minute without a headache, if I push through, the trees start moving on their own, the world spins and things become blurry. That doesn’t even require 5 minutes of riding and I’m left feeling wrecked for a couple hours and wondering when I will once again be able to ride. You often hear how every athlete needs a good comeback story, a recovery from injury that defines them. I’ve decided that isn’t necessary, I wouldn’t wish my last year on anyone, sport and competition in itself is enough of a story without having to overcome an injury.
Enjoying lots of time on my skate skis this Spring
I’ve been asked numerous times when’s your first race, what’s your schedule like for the year, what races are you doing, when’s your next training camp, when are you mountain biking, how are the trails? I wish I knew the answers, I live for schedules and plans, but right now I can’t plan anything. I don’t know when I’ll be mountain biking let alone racing. My team is heading down to Sea Otter this week, I know I won’t be going and that is about the extent of what I know for the season. All winter I’d planned on racing the Canada Cups in May, but I’m no longer holding my breath. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t but really there isn’t much I can do about it. I have great plans; races I want to do, road trips I want to go on, and trails I want to ride. When it comes down to it, I’d be happy just to be able to mountain bike because as hard as I try, I can’t find anything that I like as much as Mountain Biking.
Enjoying playing in the mud
People want to know if I’m doing anything to get better; trust me when I say I’m doing everything I can. I’ve seen more physios, doctors, and optometrists than ever. I’ve been stabbed, poked, xrayed, mri’d, twisted and turned but when it comes down to it everyone’s answer is the same; they don’t know what is still causing me problems. I’m told to be patient and with time things should get better. Balance was a real problem for a while so I’ve spent hours on balance boards, I have dots all over my walls for eye stabilization exercises and so it seems I spend hours staring at walls. Juggling apparently helps with eye tracking and so I juggle, I’m learning new tricks, and juggling while on a balance board. I’ve done more neck strengthening exercises than I knew existed. I spend hours with foam rollers, tennis balls, lacrosse balls and golf balls stuck in my back and neck. My balance seems solid, my staring is top notch, my juggling is really coming along, my neck is stronger than ever and I have better neck mobility than I’ve ever had; but still there is something not right and so I have to wait.
Juggling and balance, it’s harder than it looks, Matt is still working on the one ball juggle.
There are hours of entertainment right her
Luckily, I’ve built up from doing basically nothing to being able to do a lot of activities, just not everything yet. Once given the clear to exert myself the trainer gave me no issues and so I’ve crushed a lot of time and frustration on the trainer. There have been more than enough six times a week trainer riding weeks, but at least I was doing something. Rollers took a while to remember how to ride straight but I’ve surpassed my initial maximum of 2 minutes, I’m nowhere near my old four hour roller rides, but I’m okay with that!! Skiing is my main winter activity and that took a while to come. I did a lot of 10-15 minute skis and a lot of sitting on the trail side. Initially using poles added an extra level of difficulty so I gradually built up to skate skiing with no poles for 2 hours. Now as long as there is a hard packed track I can skate ski. Classic doesn’t agree with me so I’ve mostly avoided that one. Snow storms aren’t my favorite this year either as that extra visual stimulation is just too much. Unfortunately backcountry skiing has been out this year too, when you’re up top of a mountain and the mountain seems to start moving and you can’t see straight after 8 turns it makes getting back down tough. So unless I can find some way to reverse shuttle I’m skipping out on that for the rest of the year. I’ve realized just how much we take for granted in our day to day lives and how complex some of the things we do really are. The brain does an incredible job of comprehending difficult situations and allowing us to perform incredible skills, it just apparently takes a while to reteach the brain everything.
The extent of my downhilling
I won’t lie, there were days when all I wanted to do was lie down on the couch from physical pain and mental frustration except lying down made my head pound and the room spin so that wasn’t an option, I just had to keep going. And so I make the most of what I can do right now and hope that someday soon I’ll be back doing what I love; ripping the trails.