This year has hardly been optimal in terms of racing, but I’m not complaining. In truth it never was going to be, I knew that from the start of 2017. This year was all about ground zero, back to basics, a benchmarking season. And besides as another big race is about to unfold I count myself lucky to be in the situation I find myself in as the future looks very bright indeed.

Why am I fortunate?

Well no fewer than 4 weeks ago I was nursing the troublesome right knee which had ballooned big time due to a tendon in the back of the leg becoming inflamed. As per usual I tried to ignore it. I even managed a 85km ride on the road bike the day before I was due to take part in a 300km audax, but in my heart of hearts, I knew something wasn’t right. I was in denial, I was injured. Bugger. I hate being injured and it was so long since I last was, I’d forgotten about the ruptures, breaks, tears, chips, dislocations, fractures and surgery I’d experienced over the years, oddly all on my right side.

Ironically, on the Friday night, hours before the 6am audax start, I was making a house call with one of my clients who is himself recovering from multiple fractures of the femur and just happens to be my local GP, when I asked for his opinion. He didn’t seem too concerned, provided I skip the audax and opt for Ibuprofen (no not pills, dammit!), Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, which I prefixed to BRICE. The photo explains what the “B” stands for.

And so I spent Friday evening, deflated, dejected, disappointed and deluded – convinced I could do 300km the next day without issues and trying to talk myself into ignoring the right knee which was now resembling a small balloon.

That was until I got a message from another client who was also due to ride the audax. He had been in a minor car crash and had suffered whiplash and wanted my advice whether or not to ride. Of course not, I replied, crazy idea, there will always be other opportunities. It’s a long game, no prizes for trying to be a hero.

I could feel myself slowly holding up a mirror to myself…

Practice what you preach, Jon!

Of course, I was never going to do the ride in my injured state, but when you are injured or sub-optimal, you go through a series of iterations in your head trying to convince yourself it’s ok to go with your gut feel. No I wasn’t chickening out, and yes there will be another day when I can catch up with Emily and discuss the merits of doing a 12 hour TT (well done on your 258.2 miles Emily). It just wasn’t meant to be, I had bigger goals on the horizon and sometimes you just have to lick your wounds, or more accurately put a bag of frozen peas on it.

And besides I got to spend Saturday afternoon with Ashley in the Douglas Arm’s Grand Tour Café watching Chris Froome TT his way to his 4th Tour de France title. Our injuries were only temporary. Just need patience and time and before you know it, we’ll be back on the horse, or rather, bike.

And four weeks later we are both just about back on track. Far from perfect, but nothing is. For me I still have flexibility issues, but three races have taken place in that time, all on the podium, 2nd in a 30 mile TT, bronze in the Scottish national TTT and another win (just) in a local (Aberdeen Wheelers) 10 mile TT. Not bad considering. Next year will be (hopefully) substantially more optimal in more ways than one.

I guess there’s a time and place for everything. Can’t win everything – it’s not what it’s about (for me) anyway. But more importantly, it’s about learning to trust yourself and listen to the advice of others who know what they’re talking about.

Thanks Dr. C (a proper Doctor) – our brilliant Torphins GP!