Karla McKinnon, the number cruncher from Ballarat, has recently returned to racing after an injury forced her off the bike for three months (a lifetime!). Here she shares her experiences in overcoming the injury which turned out to be a journey of ‘self discovery’. Enjoy…
I love to ride my bike. In recent years cycling has become part of my identity. So when I got a sore knee in January, a really sore knee, a pain that was sharp, persistent, and despite my best, most concerted efforts, impossible to train through – devastation doesn’t begin to describe it.
So dramatic, Karla! It’s not like I rely on my ability to ride to make a living or even for transport. Week after week races and goals came and went and it sucked to be sidelined. I didn’t feel myself without my bike and this feeling was compounded by me telling myself to ‘snap out of it’, ‘it’s not a big deal’, ‘what does it even matter’, ‘just give up on it,’ and I wasn’t even off the bike for that long, it was less than three months!
The internet is chock-a-block full of articles describing the profound effect cycling has had on various people’s lives and I’m proudly contributing to it with this scribble because this sport is special. Part of my coming to terms with the devastation of being without my bike was realising and accepting that riding is a major priority for me. Interestingly, I wasn’t aware of how much it meant to me and I was weirdly reluctant to admit it once I did cotton on. The process from diagnosis, misdiagnosis, re-diagnosis and subsequent management of this injury has been an interesting one and not just because biomechanics and the human body in general is fascinating. I’m reluctant to use such a cringe-inducing, cliché term as ‘self discovery’ but let’s just say I discovered a lot…about myself.
I don’t have to ride for results or a salary and I’m not bound to my bike by a performance contract, I ride for me because I love it and I want to do it and I want to get better at it and I’ll give up a lot in order to improve (although I never liked going out or staying up late anyway and I think 9pm cinema sessions are a crime against bedtime). I’ll never get paid to do it and, let’s face it, I’d probably be a great deal more effective at my day job if I wasn’t knackered from training or daydreaming about my next race constantly. It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever become a household name or get my mug on a Weet-Bix box but there’s no shame in giving it a bloody good go and there’s certainly no shame in not feeling myself because I can’t do it for a while.
This weekend I raced again after a decent block of training post injury and I was positively euphoric. The racing was brutal but that’s what we love about it. It was cold but being a Ballarat native I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t. I didn’t come close to contesting the podium but after the post-race hot lunch with some of the best people going around I felt like I’d won something.
Preparing for the world champs, local C grade club race or gran fondo, the message is the same: if it’s important to you, then it’s important. There’s a Roald Dahl quote kicking around #inspo that sums up my sentiments here really nicely: “If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”
Is bike riding even about riding bikes? #profound