Posts Tagged ‘pain


Brain VS guts


I get up this morning and all I can see is fog. Big thick fog. I know it’s usually followed by blue sky but I can’t see any blue just yet. I’ve completed day 3 off the bike. 3 long days. Feels like an eternity. Like when you first fall in love with someone and you don’t see your new love for 1 full day… Yep, an eternity. The only good thing about it is that by staying off the bike, I’ve got less laundry to do!

Repeating the key word in my mind: temporary.

The last few days have been pretty rough on me.  My sacro-iliac joint decided, again, that she’s had enough pedaling for the summer and has called for a break. I say again because she does that little trick of hers every 2 months or so. She had the decency to give me a few signs before quitting, but like any passionate cyclist, I pretended not to understand her words. You know what a good dose of endorphins do to you, right? Makes your brain dizzy. Makes the pain in your quads disappear. Makes you happy. And makes you crave for more!

So lately, I’ve added a few extra intervals on the big chain ring, preparing for my 24hour coming up in September. Well, it was one too many I guess. I was just having fun with my heart. I could hear my gluteus and back screaming but the fun I was having with my heart made me ignore the rest. And since my muscles, because of some other serious issue, can never fully recover, I’m now paying for that lack of self control.

My daily drill has been pretty boring: ice, rest, avoid walking, lay on back, no sitting at the computer for more than 30 minutes at a time, no lifting, and of course no biking. Repeat for 2 to 15 days (!!). That recommendation would make a couch potato joyful but makes me more on down side. Imagine:  no bike, no computer time. Makes any sane girl go nuts!

Now, after day 3, it’s time for me to get back on the bike and slowly turn the legs. No big chain ring. No resistance training. No intervals. No big fun. Just turn those legs. Easy spin. Gotta play smart if I want to come back strong. Pedaling with my brain, not with my guts. 30 to 45 minute spin, not more than that. Self control, for once.

Gotta stick by those rules for a couple of days. And in the best case scenario, at the end of this week, I’ll get to change those rather boring rules and have some fun again!



Cycling Camp: Part 2

 April 18th: Day 3

Sunday morning, my back felt ok. What’s complex is that my condition changes every hour. Not only do I have the back and hip to deal with (right side, cycling related), but also the left arm and leg and of course, the neck, which are totally different issues. A big, big puzzle not yet solved. Knowing that, I’ve got to have very few expectations…And lots of back up plans! Focusing on what I CAN do as my priority, trying not to think about what I miss or wish I could achieve. Easier said than done, especially when surrounded by so many cyclists here at the Massanutten resort.

Anyhow, Pat wanted to discover new potential cycling routes around the city of Luray, about 40 minutes from here. He knows tons of loops around the resort but he’s got a special gift for finding those quiet countryside roads. Unfortunately, we spent more time in the car than I thought we would and by the time we got to our starting destination, my back was hurting really bad. At that point, I decided not to focus on the pain and told myself that getting up and spinning the legs would feel much better than sitting in the car (to be honest, Pat told me so!)

(Pat is my human Garmin!!)

(Cold and very windy, a little bit like home!)

 Well, guess what: he was right! We did an hour long loop around Luray (which is well-known for its caverns). An ideal ride for a girl trying to adjust to a new position: flats, roller terrain, short steep hills, false flats. Awkward in the beginning, not used to being that low on my saddle, I felt like I couldn’t extend my legs at all. Did not feel right. In reality, it just did not feel like before, which was actually gonna be a good thing since before was linked to pain! Pat, as patient as ever (he’s a coach after all!), told me to give it a try.

At first, I was laughing at my position, goofing around, until I really gave it a chance. Focusing on one thing: getting my heels down, my way of finding my smooth pedaling stroke, my lethal weapon I would say! When I saw that steep hill coming up, my instincts took over;  I slightly slid forward on my saddle, kept my head and chest up so I could easily breathe, moved my hands on my handlebars, kept my elbows close to me (easier for the heart, my energy saving mode) and got those heels down.

Suddenly, it was all so easy, effortless, as only my quads were working, giving my back and gluteus a well-deserved break. In within a few seconds, I was able to reach Pat. Le petit lapin was back! So happy to have found my sensations again and that graceful power that I’ve been craving for.   

 So, even though it was cold (low 40), the setting was perfect. I don’t know why but somehow, the grass looks greener around here! Surrounded by those huge mountains, following the river, waving to dozens of horses, I felt fantastic! The old Mari-jo may be making a comeback. That short but intense ride gave me confidence and faith, two major concepts that I had forgotten about over the last few years.

 April 19th: Day 4

  1. Ice on sacrum for 10 minutes, lying flat on my back.
  2. Heated lower back brace for 1 hour.
  3. Walk as little as possible.
  4. Repeat.

That homemade treatment seems to be doing the trick this week!

When I got on my bike yesterday, it felt just right. I was me again. Even though the headwind was tough, I was able to find my efficient pedaling stroke, hiding behind Pat’s wheel (of course!) sitting a bit further back as usual on my saddle. What seemed to be awkward the day before was now more than comfy. Flying downhill like if I was driving a powerful race car. In and out of the saddle going uphill. Hands in the drops going down, which I can’t dare to do when my bone spurs in my neck are acting up.

3 words to describe my ride: fun, fun, fun! 

(We even got a taste of Provence with that old house!)

(Very hard for me to say no to a double fudge chocolate cookie! I think Pat is trying to slow me down any way he can!)

(Here he is, flying awayyyy)

Now, after 4 years of aches and pains with my Felt, I finally find the perfect fitting. Pretty amusing since I’m getting a new bike in 1 week! So you’re thinking, what about that new Italian bike you’ve been talking about? Well, my friends, we found out yesterday that my Wilier (or Izzy, if you prefer) has arrived in Montreal. Christian, from Le Yéti, will bring her to me here at Massanutten resort, next Saturday. Phew!

Hopefully, I won’t go through the same journey to gain that ideal fit. I think I’ve done my share of suffering on a bike, don’t you think?

Have a great day everyone,


( Quick’s new friends at the house: Benji and that cute Eskimo…that keeps crying all night long!)


B) No rush Bob!

Inside a massage therapist’s head.

My clients have expectations.

Statistics: 1 out of 2 says he doesn’t mind if it hurts. Let’s call that one client Bob.

I’ve know Bob for 2 minutes now. Already can’t stand him!

“I’m tough. I can deal with pain. Don’t be afraid, just go as hard as you can”.

Nice thinking Bob! What he really means is that he expects the massage not only to be painful but he wishes to feel that discomfort as early as possible during the massage.

When he comes to me, somehow, Bob thinks the experience has to be painful. Otherwise I’m no good. Again, nice!

I can read his mind: “Hurt me, I’ll then trust you and then will be able to relax”.  Hmm. Where does that come from? Oh yes, “no pain, no gain” that we’ve been hearing forever…

In my mind, it makes no sense. It’s also a very frustrating aspect of my job. Very disappointing in fact. Unfortunately, it’s the usual… Hey, what about subtlety?

What Bob is certainly not aware of is that a massage is like a bike ride.

Let’s say your coach is giving you a specific strength workout

  1. steep hills ( 8% or steeper)
  2. that take less than 3 minutes to climb
  3. in and out of the saddle
  4. maintaining at least 50 rpm.

You will obviously make sure to warm-up thoroughly, unless you really crave for injuries!

Same with the massage.

Even before applying oil :

  1. I need to consider the entire body
  2. palpate different muscle groups
  3. grab the skin to evaluate its elasticity and the restrictions
  4. rock the body at the waist to study the connection between lower back and hips

Only then I can decide what I’m going to focus on during our session.

Gradually, with different strokes, I’ll go from working general group muscles to more specific muscles, going deeper, entering different layers.

If I don’t follow such a logistic approach, Bob’s muscles will tighten instead of loosen. The opposite of what I’m trying to achieve. They’re the real judges. The muscles are. By their reaction, they’re telling how much they can take and when they have enough. When they become red and very warm, it’s time for me to move on.

At that point, I don’t care about how hard Bob wants me to go ’cause by now, the endorphins, Bob’s natural pain killers, have already kicked in.

If I continue on working, I can cause more damage, like micro tears for example. Bob doesn’t know that.

Instead of being ready for an intensive interval workout the next day, Bob will have to skip it and settle for a very mellow recovery ride. And, guess what, Bob doesn’t enjoy mellow rides!

I really wish he could understand that warming up the skin and the multiple layers of muscles is not a waste of time but rather a safe way to get a deeper massage.

See ya Bob!


Why do I ride?


Simple question. Not so simple answer! Sooo many reasons. So many emotions involved.

Lets try this.

Ok, the easy way out would be to say that I just need to ride.

But what does that really mean? How does riding become a necessity in someone’s life?

Well, for me, it’s the entire experience that I crave for:

Beforeduringafter the ride.

I love getting ready. Carefully choosing the right outfit, the perfect gear combination. Are arm or knee warmers needed this morning? Vest or jacket? Like a weather specialist, studying the wind and predicting the time when  rain will occur.

Then, there’s the fuel. Cliff bar, Jelly Beans, Team Garmin’s famous rice cakes? Filling up the back pockets. Don’t want to bonk.

All set and out the door I go, sitting on my pink San Marco saddle, deciding which route to take. Asking myself  what kind of workout I want to do.

Hills are my favourite. No doubt about that. I’m a climber.

The rhythm, the suffering, the pain, the inner strength needed to overcome the difficulties of a challenging terrain.

Putting my life on hold. My mind slowly getting numb. Energy saving mode. Nothing else matters. Legs are burning, heart’s gonna explode, lungs may burst out of my chest. I won’t make it. I can’t breath anymore. I feel nauseous. I see little white dots in front of me.

Suddenly, I see it: the top of the climb. A few more turns and I’m there. Overcoming  insecurities. Up the saddle, I can’t feel anything anymore. I’m flying away from the ground. Dancing above it all. Pain free. 195 bpm. Over excited! Living in the moment, like there were no tomorrow. Fearless.

Heading home with a fresh mind, no worries, problems long gone. Sometimes, I can’t even remember what day it is. I feel like a kid. Strong and light at the same time!

Getting food in my stomach is all that matters now. Refuelling, rest and recovery.


That’s what I love about riding; feeling alive when barely able to breath! And the clear path that comes out of it afterwards. Keeps me sane.




Flickr Photos

novembre 2018
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