Return to Racing: A Post-Crash Training Plan—Part II

In Part I you met Ray, a cyclist that was off the bike for six weeks due to a crash. You saw the first six weeks of his training plan and learned that training went well for period of time.

In this column, you'll find out if Ray was able to ride in the two-day stage race or not. Was he able to recover from the injuries and race?

Health First, Performance Second

Originally, the doctor told Ray it would be four to six weeks of indoor training after being off the bike for six weeks. Because he was healing nicely, the doc gave him the okay to ride outdoors toward the end of week 5 training. This was great news because he could do the longer rides on the road rather than on an indoor trainer.

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More Than Fitness Was Lost

When any rider crashes, more than just fitness is shaken. Crash flashbacks can haunt a rider for quite some time, making it difficult to ride on the road and with groups again.

In addition to the fear of crashing again, most riders deal with a certain amount of anger or frustration. In short, they are upset about losing their fitness and great physical condition. 

Because I have dealt with a number of riders in a post-crash situation, when we met to lay out the training plan I asked Ray to use visualization to kick-start his process to road riding again.

While riding the indoor trainer, I asked him to visualize himself riding on the road again. He needed to visualize himself riding in a pack, with strong fitness and excellent pack skills. He needed to visualize situations of smooth riding and situations of trouble.

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For trouble situations, he was to imagine what he would do to be successful. For example, what could he do stay upright if someone quickly hit the brakes in front of him? What would he do if someone overlapped his rear wheel and their front tire rubbed against his back tire?

To build on the indoor process of healing confidence, Ray's initial outdoor rides were planned as solo rides. Interestingly, he was more nervous on the initial solo rides than he was on the group rides. This was mostly due to not knowing how stable his elbow would be.

After three solo rides, he did his first group ride and positioned himself at the back of the pack. As he gained confidence in the two groups of people he was riding with, he blended back into the total mix of the group ride. The majority of his on-the-road anxiety evaporated after about two weeks.

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