About 6 weeks ago, I went for a ride – it was a gorgeous evening with perfect temperatures and lots of tacky dirt. I had been thinking about riding the Fitz-Barn, a 400 or so mile bike-packing ride scheduled for mid-August from Victor, Idaho to Hamilton, Montana along back roads, rail-trails and fire roads, so I needed to ride consistently to get ready. That evening I got on my bike and rode over to one of my favorite pieces of singletrack in southern Victor. I felt strong and was having a great ride – right up until my front tire washed out and, as I bailed off the bike, I heard that sickening pop. If you’ve broken a bone, you know exactly how that sounds…. it makes my stomach flip just thinking about it.
Yup, broken ankle. Fortunately I didn’t need to have surgery, but I was going to be in a boot for 6 weeks. Ugh!
Today is day 6 of being out of the boot and I have ridden each of those days. The first few rides were not so much fun….I have a tendency to let my head get squarely in the way of my riding. And of course, the injured ankle is the side that I dismount on. Who knew one could be so right footed? (Note to self – work on dismounting to the left.)
But I still want to ride the Fitz-Barn, so I have to keep getting out on the bike. I decided after that first very tentative mountain bike ride that I would ride with a flat pedal on my broken/healing side. It actually works – my second mountain bike ride was much better. On my road bike it doesn’t matter quite as much because we have great roads in Teton Valley and very few stop signs (not to mention the Idaho law that says, for cyclists, stops means yield!).
Today I went big….and let’s be honest, that is a very relative term. I want to see where I am fitness wise and how much work I have to do to ride the Fitz-Barn. I would like to do the ride in 4 days – that means I need to be able to ride 4 centuries back to back on gravel roads on my mountain bike with gear. Broken down like that it is still a big task, but I don’t think I am totally out of my gourd to attempt it.
So today I did a 30 mile loop. It’s a beautiful ride with only a few little rollers, great views, little traffic and good pavement. Teton Valley has a consistent wind from the southwest – which since I live in the southwest part of the valley means I will almost always be finishing my ride into the wind. And that was certainly the case today: I felt like I was climbing the last 15 miles. I finished not completely wrecked and not too slowly.
I have a lot of work to do to be fit enough to ride one century, none-the-less 4 in a row. So if you see someone out on the trails riding with one flat pedal and one clipless, that’s me getting back to the bike.
– Sarah Hamilton, works at Kate’s Real Food helping out with social media, lives and works in Teton Valley. Despite being extremely injury prone, she tries to get after it all on her mountain and road bikes in the summer and her snow bike in the winter.