So roughly 3 months ago, just after I ordered my full carbon/ultegra super light-weight road bike, I crashed hard. There was a plastic bag in my path, and I knew it was there and did everything to avoid it, but it hit it. The bag caught air and snagged into my rear derailer. I was thrown several feet, cracked my helmet, and badly hurt my hip. I was in the best shape of my adult life...
So now, instead of heading out for a fun 50, I go for 5 or 10. I went from 150 a week to about 20. I am losing my muscle and my confidence.
How have other people bounced back?
Accidents are inevitable and we hope we never have one, or at least a minor one at that. Your muscle loss should be minimal, especially if you are still riding but in limited capacity. As for your confidence, well that too suffered from the crash, but you will find it again. Accidents have a way of making you more aware and sharpen your instincts. You will find that you will become a better rider and just chalk it up to the fact that this is how we learn sometimes.
Continue to ride and if you begin to feel uncomfortable, back down a step or two and take it easy. Short, not real intense efforts when you are riding will give you a feel as to your progress. If for instance you go out for a ride and you feel okay, pickup the pace for a little bit, then back off and take it easy. You are in essence going to try "intervals" but at a very reduced output. This will help to strengthen your body in those areas that you think you might have lost muscle, etc. The fast twitch muscle fibers will be the ones that suffer since you won't be generating high output but they will be utilized and as time goes on while you increase the length of those intervals everything will start to fall back in place.
The most important thing to remember....your body will tell you what it doesn't like, just listen to it.
Happy riding! Oh and by the way, there are some very good people on this site and you will probably receive a ton of good advice. I'm sure you will find what you need here in the form of inspiration and motivation to succeed!!!!
Crashing sucks. I have "tipped over" a number of times with minimal damage but have had two bad crashes in the past 7 years. The first was hitting a good-sized stone in the road while in a pace line at 25mph. The lead rider didn't see it, just missed it, and I had the unlucky fortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Superman over the handlebars, sliding across on my hands (always wear gloves), right forearm and hip, chest, both knees and toes of shoes. Road rash central! Fortunately, I kept my head up (years of volleyball practice, I think) and didn't bang my chin. I did grind a hole into my elbow and my arm looked like raw hamburger but the cycling jersey I had on saved serious road rash on my chest. The bike was ok with only minor scratches and one spoke needing a truing tweak. I had an important 200-mile in six weeks that I had been training all summer for. The first week was sitting on my trainer indoors while healing up the arm and still maintaining fitness. After a bit, I was able to get back on the road and I did complete the race weeks later.
The second crash was coming down a narrow winding road and into a blind left turn. Fortunately, I was hitting the brakes pretty hard but as I started the turn I could feel the front wheel go squishy. A front wheel flat going downhill into a turn is the worst scenario. I knew I was going down, yelled "Crap!", and slid/rolled. Again torn up an arm, this time the left one and ground a hole in that elbow that needed a couple of stiches. Fixed the flat on the spot and rode home then drove to doctor.
Crashes are a part of cycling. I have been ridng since I was a teenager; racing, touring (including across USA), recreational, for 35 years. Those were the two worst I've had in tens of thousands of miles. Yes, it hurts but the body heals. The mental aspect is tougher. You get back on but you are a little hesitant. The confidence will come back. Part of it is knowing that there was nothing you could have done to prevent it. Another part and maybe the most important, is thinking about why you enjoy cycling. The getting out for a little 5, 10, 50 mile jaunt in the open air. Taxing your body with speed work or climbing and recovering. The feelings of exertion and exhilaration (got to love those endorphins!). Some of my most memorable times have been riding my bike. Those moments you treasure forever. The sunrises or sunsets that take your breathe away; the wind at your back as you sail down a country road; a horse or two galloping next you to in field by the road; friendships and journeys that are forged and last a lifetime.
You will recover and get back your fitness. You will enjoy cycling again for all the reasons that are important to you.
Hope this helps you out, I've been on the (come-back) for about 8 months now. I suffered a motocross accident that dislocated my hip and tore up my back. I could not ride at all. After a few months of not riding my road bike I sold it. Figured I would not be able to ride a bike again. Before I knew it two years had gone by and I was about 80 pounds heavier. I had an opportunity to go back to school and figured the gym would be a good place to start my rehab. I spent 3 months working on strength in my lower back and flexibility in my hip. I had lost around 25 pounds and figured it was time to try and ride again. Talk about pain! My hip would lock up so bad I would have to get off and stand upright to get the kinks worked out well enough to ride more. Slowly I started to see improvement (I mean slowly). It has been about 8 months so far and I'm down 70 pounds and just finished a 45 mile training ride at about an 18 mph avg. Dedication, support from good family and friends and a love for the sport has gotten me this far and I continue to see more and more improvement. All the time spent and the pain of rehab can't compair to the feeling of putting the peddles down and watching the miles go by......
Thanks so very much everyone.
Since I posted I set-up my old bike on rollers, and have been doing regular indoor training rides with strong resistance to build up my muscles.
Also I have done a lot of small road rides to get my confidence back up and to teach my body about the new geometry of my new lightweight bike. I started with small rides and built from there: 4, 5, 4, 7, 5, 9, 6, 4, 11, 5, 13, 4, 17, 7, 23, 6 and this weekend I crossed the threshold of 30. This weekend's longer rider was fine, my speed stayed around 15-16 without exertion or muscle fatigue. I did the 30 without needing to rest which is a huge improvement since last month. It's nowhere near my performance before, but I think I'm well on my way to getting there.
Assuming I can keep this going I'll be ready for a few upcoming centuries in February and March.