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By definition, a recovery ride is usually a light intensity ride following an extended effort, high intensity ride. Many racers practice this ritual to minimize the physiological effects of intense training and racing. Think of it like post exercise stretching, massages, or cool down routines. I, personally, find it speeds up the recovery time and limits the negative effects such as achy muscles.

However, for the purposes of this post, this is NOT the type of recovery ride I am referring to.

Just shy of a year ago, on a typical Tuesday night ride, I pedaled past a few ladies who were sizing up the top section of a trail we refer to as 'Rock Face'. As I passed by, I encouragingly said, "It's not as bad as it looks..."

Queen of the Mountain

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this specific section had claimed many riders, sending them over the bars if they took the wrong line. In a split second, with no warning, I went from rubber side down, to rubber side UP. It was so quick, I can only compare it to a mouse trap snapping. I claimed the QOM of OTBs and displayed what would have made for a perfect Scorpion clip on Ridiculousness if someone had been recording.

The girls behind me stood in horror asking if I was okay. Crawling out from under my bike, I immediately grabbed for my teeth to feel if there were any left. Thankfully, everything seemed in order, but I turned around to have the girls confirm, as I kneeled there shaking. Then I felt my nose, it too seemed unscathed. The girls again confirmed. The only immediate visible damage was a scraped up face and a touch of blood. Not even a bloody nose.

Rock vs. Face
I was able to ride out of the woods as the swelling set in. No pain, just jittery nerves from the massive impact.

That night, I slept with an ice pack on my face, but thought it strange the next morning when there was still NO pain. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. How could I have smacked the rock faced ground that hard and not have any pain? How could I be so bruised and swollen without pain?

I decided to go to the ER just for precautionary purposes, and on the way out noticed my tongue was black and swollen like that of the deer we used to skin and butcher in our barn when I was young. Seemed my teeth were spared by my now bruised and swollen tongue.

As for my face, it was not as fortunate. After a CAT scan, the doctor came in with the news. Multiple facial fractures and serious swelling in the sinus cavity area. They had me report immediately to a local ENT for evaluation of the swelling to determine if it was the cause of the numbness.

The ENT walked in the room and without even taking a moment to say hello or even sit down he said, "Yup, that'll need surgery."
I am not a battered woman.
I ride mountain bikes.


He went on to explain that the impact broke the orbital and cheek bone. With the impact being so intense the nerves were immediately severed causing the absence of any pain. He also explained that I may or may not get feeling back in my face, even after surgery.

By Friday of that week, I was on an operating table having a titanium plate screwed into my face to hold the bones in place. Today, most people can not even see the scar line under my eye, but you can feel one of the screws right in the corner.

Not to be discouraged, the very next day after the surgery, I was back out on the trails. There was plenty of hesitation, plenty of shakiness, but I refused to let the mishap win.

It took me a few months to build my confidence back, but on each steep, rocky decent I gained it back piece by piece. Still, almost a year later though, I had yet to reclaim the trail that claimed me. I needed to do a recovery ride.

Just a few months shy of the one year anniversary, on another Tuesday night ride, I was ready, and I made my intentions know. I would follow another rider down, and the girls who were behind me watching that fateful night were superstitiously not allowed in that same position. I needed set the stage to reclaim the section that broke my bones, but would ultimately, not break me. Rock Face would no longer hold my confidence captive.

The entire approach I was riddled with nervousness. Climbing up, my mind was reeling with playbacks, both successes and the disastrous fail. Winding through the trail up top I repeatedly told myself, "You ride stuff worse than this all the time. Relax. Just roll through it."

                       A little self therapy and coaching always helps.

The group gathered at the top, I chose the line up, and we began the approach. I knew the correct line. I knew it was easier than many other things I ride without a second thought. I knew I had the skills. I knew I just had to breath.

I clipped in, took one deep breath and I followed the lead rider into the first section, the section that had claimed me the year prior. In an instant we were through and I exhaled as we continued on through the rest of the sections to eliminate all embedded PTSD affiliate with the trail and I.

Confidence boost. No more fear!
Lincoln Woods, RI
The sections consisted of various rollers. One a spine-like roller, one off camber diagonal roller, and the last was a wedge roller that can also be dropped if one is so inclined. Each one was celebrated with another release of breath as I exhaled.

We paused for a moment, as I took a deep breath to calm my shaking  nerve riddled body. The trauma and PTSD were being released. We then continued on down the smooth section of the decent to the infamous rock garden below.

It was not just another recovery ride, it was the most important type of recovery ride. I reclaimed the final shattered piece of my confidence.

           It's your ride, own it!

So, my message to you is... If you ever have a trail take advantage of you and rob you of your confidence, take time to heal, take time to come to terms, take time to rebuild your confidence, then go back to that spot and reclaim your right to ride it without fear, without thinking, without the PTSD associated.

                 Get Out & Ride!!

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