On June 4th at 8AM PDT 69 brave souls (57 in Astoria, OR and 12 in Yorktown, VA) put ‘kickstands up’ and headed out on an epic journey that is Trans Am Bike Race (TABR), a 4270 mile self-supported time trial along the highways and byways of 10 of these United States. I was one of those souls in Astoria. On June 29th at 2:58AM EDT I completed my race by reaching the Victory Monument in Yorktown, VA. That is 4270 miles in 24 days, 15 hours and 58 minutes, for an average of 173 miles per day. So now you know the end of the book. If that is all you wanted to know, X out of this window and farewell!
There is much more of a tale to tell, and be sure, I will tell it, but not today. That will be another time.
Today is August 22 and I am still recovering. Physically? Maybe some. The toll on my body was something quite unlike I had ever experienced before, but I think I am beyond the worst of it. My hands and feet were numb for over a month from nerve damage. I had difficulty with twist top lids and fine motor skills. Clipping the fingernails on my right hand was very tough. My left hand just couldn’t work the clippers. That is all gone and I am able to do everything I need to now. The palms of my hands were calloused and peeling. Big patches of skin would peel off repeatedly, leaving very tender skin underneath. I now have normal skin again. I had rashes on my legs and lower torso from days on end of wearing the same sweaty, dirty kit without washing. I also had saddle sores from the repeated motion and friction on the seat. All those are healed. I was truly exhausted and at first, couldn’t sleep for more than 3 or 4 hours. Then after a day or two, I slept for 10-12 hours per day for the next couple weeks. That has all went away and I am now back to a normal night of sleeping. The muscles in my legs, which not only were tired, but seemed to start wasting away a bit in the last week of the race, have mostly come around now. Occasionally it seems like I don’t have any power to climb the hills when I ask my legs to do it, but for the most part they now respond the way I expect them to. Physically I am now fine. My recovery issues to date seem to be more mental and emotional.
Days on end of chasing or being chased leaves the racer with a heavy price to pay. A price that you don’t truly understand until you have completed a race like this. I didn’t notice it at first, but after reflection I see it. When I first got home, I didn’t want to be around anyone at all. That is a strange thing for a big time extrovert to wrestle with. Then came the mood swings and what I can only describe as a type of depression. Lack of motivation or desire was my new norm. I hated where I was mentally and couldn’t figure out why I felt the way I did. I wasn’t productive with work or at home. I kept finding things wrong, whether with me, my wife or the kids. Sometimes I was just mad at the world and wanted to crawl off into the woods to be alone, but couldn’t find the time to do it. I couldn’t even find the motivation to tell the story of my race. I just wanted to forget it all and actually regretted taking part in the race.
I know I am painting a dark picture of how this race affected me, but I want to tell the real story, not just a portion of it that brings out all the glorious things about it. I also don’t want to be over dramatic. And maybe it is just me. Maybe the other racers came home energized and rearing to go. Maybe there is a broader scope of issues that I have to deal with in my mind, something more than simple exhaustion recovery. All I know is how the last two months have gone. It has certainly been a struggle.
Have no fear though. Things have gotten better. It was slow, but in the last 3 weeks or so, I have seen signs of light at the end of the tunnel of my emotions. Then in the last week, I have seen a marked improvement in my psyche. I’m finding the motivation to get work done, both on the job and at home and I feel more personable. I think I am finally coming around to my old self. It is nice to be back. 🙂
So without further ado, I think I am finally ready to tell my tale of TABR16. Keep tabs here for my story if you please. It was a wild ride and I can’t wait to share with you!