2016 Summer Journal

Disappointment on the trail

The sun gets in my eyes as I sneak a glance of the wide valley laid out before me. The rocks in the trail are taking all of my concentration, but I’m fortunate that Will keeps reminding me to look up and take in the views. I’m glad I do, but I quickly turn my attention back to the task at hand as I narrowly miss a cactus on the left.

2016-04-20 10.30.27-min

Scorpion x Pyramid, Sedona

We’re riding Scorpion and Pyramid, a pair of “black diamond” rated trails in South Sedona that are so new that the guy at the bike shop had to draw them on our map. It’s a challenging ride, but I’m feeling good and and am successfully riding features that I might have skipped last season. After a bumpy traverse and a pretty turbo downhill section, it’s clear that we’re through the gnarly bits. I’m pumped – this was a hard ride, and I’m crushing it!

Hard stuff on the Pyramid Trail in Sedona.

Some of the hard stuff.

Hard stuff on the Pyramid Trail in Sedona.

Squeezy, technical downhill corners… yikes!

After a few minutes of rest we take off again and I relax a little bit, enjoying the views and taking my time. Will speeds away as I stop to watch a mama bird bring food to her babies, nestled in a depression in the rock above my head.

The birds were nesting in the cliff on the left. You can just make out the trail snaking below it.

The birds were nesting in the cliff on the left. You can just make out the trail snaking below it.

This section of the trail is mellower, but sometimes the exposure gives me the heebie jeebies. When it gets too sketchy I get off and walk, which slows the pace down enough that I can take a second to admire the cryptobiotic soil and cactus. One of these days I’ll get lucky and see a snake, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Eventually I feel the need to get a move on, and start trucking down the trail. I round a corner into the shade and start pedaling up a small rock bridge when my front wheel gets stuck in a hole.

Without enough momentum, bike wheels quickly lose their ability to roll over obstacles. Normally when this happens your bike will stop moving forward and fall to one side. Ideally you want to fall towards the uphill side (less distance to fall!) but I start to tip to the downhill side. I stick my downhill foot out and try to find my balance, but my foot gets stuck in another gap between the rocks!

I go over, hear a loud POP in my right ankle, and land upside down, legs tangled in my bike. It’s clear that something is wrong and a quick glance shows the top of my sock already filling up with swollen skin. Gross.

The offending feature.

The offending feature.

For 30 seconds I sit just downhill of the trail and let the tears come. It feels good for a second but I quickly realize how embarrassed I would be if someone found me like this – tears are ok but ridiculously loud, wailing cries of self pity are not. I gather my bike and hobble off down the trail towards our meeting spot, hot tears rolling down my cheeks and splashing on the rocks.

My ankle hurts, but that’s not why I’m crying. I’m crying because I was doing so well, and feeling so confident, and one silly mistake (on an easy section!) results in a sprained ankle. All I can think is how unfair this is, and what I would give to go back in time to do that section again.

When Will sees me walking my bike he starts riding towards me, knowing immediately that something is wrong. Together we walk down to the trail junction and start to check things out.

As I explain what happened, Will pulls off my shoe and starts feeling my ankle. It’s already pretty swollen but doesn’t feel broken, so I take some Ibuprofen and work on getting comfy while Will rides the few miles back to pick up the bus.

Day one (Left) before the swelling had expanded to my whole foot. Day two (right) after the swelling had picked up but before the bruising set in.

Day one (Left) before the swelling had expanded to my whole foot. Day two (right) after the swelling had picked up but before the bruising set in. Now (one week later) it’s both swollen and bruised, pretty much all over.

The Aftermath

It was clear almost immediately that this was a pretty serious injury as far as #buslife goes. The swelling and bruising continued to increase for the following two days, which made walking pretty painful. I went to Urgent Care for X-Rays on day 4. The doctor said he thought he might have seen a crack, but the radiologist disagreed and they sent me on my way. Later this week I’ll see a recommended Physical Therapist who should be able to give me a better idea of how bad the sprain is and what my recovery time will look like.

This past week has been trying for both Will and I. I’m in a good amount of physical pain, but it pales in comparison to the torture that is being confined to the bus, RICEing my ankle while Will explores the local trail systems. On top of that, life on the bus without access to activities is not all it’s cracked up to be – there are a lot of things that we deal with simply because the outdoor access is so great. When you take away the biking, running, and exploring, it’s not nearly as easy to overlook the other stuff.

I don’t mean to complain too much. Sedona is gorgeous and we’ve had a fun time visiting some of the art galleries and restaurants. I’m anxious to get healthy again, but am definitely wary about pushing things too hard and ending up with longer term problems. At this point R2R2R is definitely off the table and we’re planning on reevaluating the rest of our summer plans based on the doc’s opinion on Friday.  I’ll keep you updated!

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  • So sorry about your injury! That’s the worst. I broke my foot a few years back and it ruined our summer camping/hiking plans. Like you said, being in the outdoors is great until you can’t do anything. Hope everything goes well and you have a speedy recovery!

    • Alyssa

      Thank you, Andrea! Luckily I’ve gotten connected with a good PT up here in Flagstaff. It’s going to take a few weeks, but I should be good as new soon! 🙂

  • Martha Johnson

    What a bummer! I am so sorry to read about this. I know you guys will rally and have an awesome summer no matter what the news from the doc is. Stay positive!

    • Alyssa

      Thank you Martha! It is surely a bummer but it looks like I’m on the mend. I appreciate your kind words! 🙂

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