bottlesWell this weekend I finished off my eighth mountain bike race since we crossed the border last Fall. Add them up and it's approx 100 hours of mountain bike racing in some pretty interesting conditions and all of it new trail to me. It's been fun and I've met some cool racers along the way.

Texas has some super fast guys. On the shorter races like 2-6hrs long, these guys go off like a hand grenade. When it comes to the 12hrs I do fairly well, relying on my stubbornness to overcome the other fellas uber-fitness. At the longer distance (like a 24hr) I have a good advantage probably because by the time my stubbornness wears out I just fall into my routine of "mission has priority" and I simply start ignoring all the things that should make me stop. Unfortunately my stubbornness has a price attached to it. It seems I have developed an irritating problem that is affecting my racing and I'm finally going to get on with looking after it. I got the results of my MRI a few days ago and it turns out I have some (insert medical gobbledygook) herniated disc stuff going on. Protruding L4/L5 yadayada causes pressure on the Sciatic nerve which in turn starts robbing my right leg of power while simultaneously generating more and more pain into the leg/knee area. The longer I race the more it hurts and the slower I get. Uhmmm, that sucks. It's pretty frustrating having to dial back my racing speed just so I can manage the pain. This weekend's race I only got to go at about 75-90% of my potential speed, that produced a result of 5hrs and 43mins of racing and placed me 5th in my category. Not a great performance but I'm ok with that since I had the challenge of sucking up the Sciatic nerve thing and constantly adjusting my effort to keep things at close to the tipping point of race as hard as I could without blowing the pain up too much and not being able to finish. Probably nothing new for other racers who have tougher injuries to manage but since this is new to me I'm not a big fan of Sciatica at the moment.

In a couple of weeks I'm getting an epidural pain management injection to help with the symptoms and on a parallel path I'm going to start addressing the root cause of the protruding yadada. Phew, I have a plan. ;-)

So, to the race. It was Fat Chuck's Revenge a 60mile mainly singletrack course with lots of tight corners, tight trees and intensity efforts. It was a challenging 3 x 20mile route that had me fairly fatigued in the last lap. So much so that I wiped out a few times, more than I have done in all my US races combined. Imagine the scene in Star Wars where they are flying through the Ewok Forest with trees whizzing by mere inches on either side of them - well that was the course - except I was whizzing through trees and hitting them. The boys took great pleasure in shining flashlights on all my bruises and contusions when I got home "to make me feel better". Instead of my usual competent carving a sweet line, I was flying through the air bouncing off trees. On one notable wipeout I carved a tight sweeping right hand corner that only had a couple of inches clearance on either side, I normally nail that stuff at speed but instead I got a glancing blow off a tree with my helmet as I leaned in to slice the sweeper and the bike just sorta kicked out from me, that helmet tree bounce gave me enough bounce to the other side of the trail so I could hit a tree square on with my left shoulder effectively tearing me off the bike in a nice 180 degree dismount and a couple of rolls down the trail, luckily the bike came to a rest by landing on top of me. 10 seconds later I was on the bike and racing again wondering what the heck just happened. 5mins later I was still pulling it together and slamming it up a sketchy section out of the saddle, mashing a big gear, when the front wheel just kicked out and I got to do a superman, I hit the ground hard enough that I saw stars and was still trying to catch my breath as I jumped back on the bike and got at it again. It seems that impact was hard enough that my heart rate belt got tattooed into my chest in a big purple outline - sweet - a free tattoo. ;-)

Congrats to everyone who toed the line and a very big congrats to the local Texas guys who slammed out some wicked-fast times.


Anonymous said...

hey shaun, it's been a while. you've turned into a super-crazy-hard-core since arriving in texas. didn't think it was possible for you to get any crazier than when you were in cowtown. congrats on all your races and hope you fix that messy scatia stuff. things are going well here. the organic milk lattes sound worthy of a visit! artigianos opened in calgary finally, much to my happiness. anyway, just wanted to say hi to you and the family. bobbyk

Shaun Taylor said...

Bob, great to hear from you. Hey, you know there's always a place for you next to the espresso machine - screw Artigianos. ;-)

So how is it? As good as the Vancouver locations???

Guilty as charged, I am enjoying that whole racing-a-bike-for-extended-periods-of-time thing. Don't worry, I'll suck you into my bike riding vortex, haha.

Are you in the new house... yet? Hope your crew is doing well. Pass on our hi's to everyone we know. Stay in touch Bob.

Anonymous said...

would say artigianos calgary is very close to van. very good, but now anxious to taste one of your new specialties. yes we are finally in new house. we are happy with house but cardel sucks. post it to the world! you're always so fast with your responses. wouldn't be surprised if you did that from your iphone while riding around on the 59fwy!

Shaun Taylor said...

Haha, sorry this response took so long I was trying to hold onto my bike's handlebar while texting. ;-)

Cardel sucks.

Charley Rome said...

Good luck with treatment and recovery from your back injury. I've been lucky enough to avoid that problem so far.

I ordered my D40 and stuff yesterday. I should get it in a couple of days. Thanks for the help.

Shaun Taylor said...

You're gonna have fun with that camera, get ready to have a sore finger. ;-)

tackad said...

seriously, what ARE you going to do when you get old ?
not trying to be negative - just wondering. . . .

Shaun Taylor said...

Old as in age? I'm starting to feel my upcoming 45yr old b-day after those wipeouts, so I guess I should start thinking about learning a new sport - like skateboarding. ;-)

Seriously, I have no idea.

When I can't slam the trails anymore I'm sure I'll still be riding a road bike.

I do enjoy photography, wish I was better at it. Maybe some day I'll turn it into something more, who knows.

By the way, how did you stumble onto my little universe?