By two o'clock all my parcels had arrived, so I quickly put my lycra on :) and got myself sorted out, water bottle etc. gps, heart rate monitor, pumped up bike tyres to about 90 psi, basic toolkit in pocket just in case, phone, keys, looked at the roads - a bit damp but looking OK - and, nervously, I went.
After one failed attempt to clip my right foot in (it's been a long time!) I was riding my bike down the road outside the house. It's like riding a bike, you never forget. I had thought carefully about this ride. Going right out of the house means there's a flat bit for a few hundred metres. All other directions are a hill. So I gave myself 30 seconds for something to go wrong and it still be flat. So far so good. Nothing went wrong. Felt very strange after all this time. I was worried something on my bike would snap or the tyre would burst or something else equally unlikely was going to happen. It didn't. After the few hundred metres the road goes down a bit so no pedalling required - again, good. At the bottom it's flat again for a bit, maybe 400m, then there's a hill. A molehill, not worth speaking about.
As soon as I started up it, I knew my plan wasn't going to work for this ride. This hill suddenly felt like a major climb. I never really noticed it much before, sort of a warm up before the ride starts properly after the first few miles. Oh dear. Are my legs really that weak? Is that really the lowest gear on my bike? It used to go lower than that! No, it didn't. Lots of things have changed, but the gear ratios on my bike are still the same.
After that hill, there's another downhill section and then another uphill, perhaps not as steep as the first, and certainly another that I'd never really noticed, but I did today! At the top of that, at Birch Vale, the road meets the Hayfield road, I turned left. This bit is flat until the junction with the Glossop - Chinley road. There I had planned to go right and go over the hill to Chinley. That was the hill I talked about last time. What actually happened was I had a rest. I'd known since the first uphill that this wasn't going to be a good idea. When I stopped and unclipped and put my feet down, my legs were feeling so weak like they might give way :(
I dismounted (also difficult as it happens), and walked back across the road. I decided to go back exactly the way I came. The Chinley loop, for which I have pre-accident data, will have to wait a bit yet. Tijl and everyone was right - it was too much for the first ride. I hate being wrong. I hate failing, not achieving what I set out to do.
I retraced my steps along the Hayfield road - I could've gone straight on and back to New Mills going up Union Road, but that's a climb too, and it's the town's main street so there would be people around to witness my pathetic struggle in the granny gear. So I went back the back way, to avoid being seen as much as possible.
It didn't seem quite as bad on the way back, possibly I had resigned myself to just going slowly and pacing myself up the 'climbs' like I would normally have done on something much more severe. It worked, but when I got to the front door I had to wait a few minutes before I dared swing my left leg over the saddle to get off. Courage needed. You won't fall. But it feels like I might. You won't. Just do it.
What have I learned? It's going to be hard mentally as well as physically. I know what I could do. I just can't do it now. Didn't I know it was going to be hard mentally? Yes I think so, but I honestly thought I'd set a realistic goal today. Now I see I hadn't. I never thought I my legs could feel so weak on a bike as that.
I was also quite nervous about being clipped in and generally handling the bike. I put this down to physical weakness as well as lack of even a shred of specific fitness. The more I get out on it now, the more that will return I'm sure.
Positives? Absolutely. 2012 will have bike miles! After 895 days, I did 5.6 miles.
Not much mechanical pain, at least not that I could notice next to all the pain from lack of muscle and fitness. Ankle not moving doesn't seem to cause much problem. I didn't try to stand up on the pedals going up the hills - I think that would've finished me off completely, my legs just didn't feel strong enough for that.
Will my strength for this recover. Of course it will. I just needed to get out the first time and set a benchmark for my mind and my body. On the way back I think my body was already starting to remember how to suffer and where to get the extra energy from. Or maybe I just think that because I've relaxed and recovered a bit now...
I also got to post a ride on Strava, which I've been dying to do - and I see there are some segments of even the short ride I did today which other people have times on. Amazingly, I haven't posted the lowest time on any of the three of them that are there! Almost in one case (78th out of 81) but look, I haven't ridden my bike for 29 months. Oh, and did I mention I almost lost my leg?
Look for yourself. The mechanical bone/tissue rebuild may be over, the rebuild of everything else starts here.