172 days until the event. My coach Simon is travelling to run a training camp in Lanzarote right now, and he’s writing me a training plan on the flight over. And I’m in day two of the 10 days at Northern Stage (for Title Pending 2014) for the first bit of research, making the show. Over these days I’ll be spending 5 days with Alex Kelly as dramaturg/designer generating stuff to go in the show, I’ll have 3 days with sport scientists at the University of Northumbria, spend a day with filmmaker Niall Coffey working out how we’re going to work together, and do two work in progress showings at the end of next week. Phew! (Plus also I’ll be swimming, running or cycling every day).
Here’s a bit of writing I did today.
Yesterday I crashed my bike.
I crashed my bike into a shrub.
Yesterday I got up at 7am and went out for what should have been a short 50km ride – 2 hours. I was late heading out because I was tired and because I was scared. Like it’s genuinely quite scary cycling on roads you have no clue about around rush hour – all of these roads seem to be huge 3 lane carriageways or bridges or roundabouts. London has its share of those too, but I learned London in bits, Newcastle/Gateshead was a bigger challenge, attempted in one go. The night before, I decided to take a cycle path out along the Tyne – it’s on all the maps – planned a route with my Garmin. Yesterday I attempted it. It takes me a while to get to that point – actually riding out – because I am tired and scared quite often on my bike.
I crashed my bike on the way back.
I managed all of the difficult bits, had gone up a slightly challenging climb near a place called Wylam
I’m calming down, back on the cycle path, know where I am, no cars around, nearly back.
The thing about these cycle paths is that (like all British cycle paths) they put in some really stupid bits; a lamppost directly in the middle of it, that kind of thing. This is why usually I don’t use cycle paths, just deal with roads, but I’m too scared of around here, so I’m on Hadrian’s Cycle Route 72. The stupid thing Hadrian’s Cycle Route 72 likes to do is right angles. Right angles next to a big old river. The Tyne, in fact.
It was a cold day yesterday – I think the coldest weather I’ve ridden in, colder than the snow in Lincolnshire over Christmas, I think maybe I didn’t quite notice how cold because scared was all I had room for. Cold enough that the gutters were frozen solid even a few hours after sunrise. Cold enough that some kind of coffee or tea dropped on the cycle path in-between me passing by on my way out, and coming back, had frozen solid. At the bottom of a small hill, just before a right angle turn, right in front of the river.
In that moment I’m not scared. I’m just dealing with it.
I know I can’t brake, I know that if I hold my front brake I won’t stop in time and I’ll go head first into the Tyne. I know that if I hold my front and back brake my rear wheel will likely slip from under me and I’ll shoot right, under the – it now occurs to me – frankly insubstantial railings and into the river. So I steer into a plant border and pitch, left side of my body first, into some squat hibernating shrubs.
The shrubs are short and sharp and 10 minutes later I’ll think of the Casualty episode where the tree goes through his neck and I’ll rub where a branch dug into mine. The shrubs did fine. I guess I’m thankful for them, they helped me out, but also they were sharp and stabby and as I unclip my still clipped in left foot in order to get up and pick my bike up I feel their imprint on my left hand and throat.
30 minutes later I’m home and I think I’m fine.
I text my boyfriend, apologise that I forgot about his job interview (forgot to say ‘good luck’ before he left, I’m terrible). Mention the crash hoping a little bit it will demonstrate my state of mind.
Shower, get ready to leave, and my left upper arm is beginning to feel sore.
It’s 2 hours later, I’m getting off the Metro, and the soreness is sort of concentrating. I hadn’t even noticed impact on my arm there, but it feels like I’ve been stabbed, bluntly, deeply, in my bicep.
It’s 3 hours after impact and I have been buying materials for making the show. Post its, big pieces of paper, scissors, tape, blu tac, and a track pump with a gauge because I forgot to pack one. If you look at me in Argos you will see me anxiously kneading my arm, it is uncomfortable to hold a carrier bag for very long.
It’s 5 hours after impact and I’m in Stage 2 at Northern Stage with Alex, who has hurt his back, and I joke that between us we make one person useful enough to get his suitcase and my bags home, because I can’t hold anything in my left hand without it giving out.
There’s a timeline when you get injured. Slightly different between a crash type injury and a strain, but in both cases, in the same way, the injury grows inside you.
Injuries blossom, they bloom inside you.
Last year I tore my right hamstring (it was a minor, level 3 tear) trying to beat my ex boyfriend’s time over a hill in South London. He’d unfollowed me on Strava by that point – I wasn’t doing it so he would see, it was more a thing for me, a way to climb out of the stuff that I was feeling. I equalled his time. I hurt my leg.
After that ride around Richmond Park I travelled to Sheffield and back for a meeting. It was only really by the time I was on the train to Sheffield that my muscles started to feel tight. It was only really on the bus back from St. Pancras 12 hours later that it began to hurt.
Injuries grow, they bloom in your body, and it’s after the first sleep that you know the measure of them.
Today, I woke up and moved my arm, and it was sore all over, but not to a point. It’s that point, that acuteness, the sharpness is how you know. Instead it was duller, I was all over sleepy relief and the second part of the crash-type injury – the ripple of the impact as it moves through your body. It takes a couple of days; fans out. As I type this my whole upper body aches, like it might before you get a cold, radiating from my left side through to my right. But it’s not that sharp hurt, it’s a shadow.
At the time I am writing this I have 3 recovering major injuries, 2 historical critical injuries, and one set of very recent ones.
Yesterday I crashed my bike.