Rider Diary: Sally Bigham
Interview with Sally Bigham
The Exceptional Realist - November 2009
Racing for just three years but already ranked number three in the world for marathon, Sally Bigham has had an extraordinary rise to fight against the World elite. Entering into her fourth season of racing and full-time employment, Sally looks to find a perfect balance between winning, work and perfect alpine singletrack. To find out all about Sally read her feature-length interview, and get the latest from her epic adventures right here.
July 7 2010
Racing, injury, recovery, racing
I've been lying low for a few months as a consequence of a knee injury (patella-femoral syndrome) that reared its ugly head at the end of February. It was badly timed - just two weeks before the Cape Epic. At the time not racing wasn't an option as far as I was concerned. I didn't really want to admit it (the injury) for a couple of months and I spent a long time denying it and trying to carry on as normal. This only made matters worse and eventually I was forced to stop riding. I found not riding really hard to cope with psychologically. Cycling has been such a huge part of my life for the last couple of years that without it I didn't know what to do with myself. I did over-time at the University where I work and spent my spare time in coffee shops drinking latte, eating cake, and generally sulking (silly I know but at the time I couldn't rationalise!)
With lots of support from an excellent Doctor and our Topeak-Ergon Team Physiotherapist, Werner Faust, I was able to manage the injury well enough to slowly and systematically build up my time in the saddle. When I got pain I had to reduce things back to the previous level. At the end of May I had successfully completed a three hour ride with almost no discomfort. Me being me, I took this as evidence to support my decision to stand on the start line of the Trans Germany four day stage race on June 2. I knew that this was not one of my wisest decisions but I just couldn't bear to miss another race and I reasoned that so long as I stopped when I got pain then things would be fine. My only goal was to try to finish each stage and use it as training. I had treatment from Werner everyday, including acupuncture and electrotherapy. This really helped and I could actually feel things start to improve. I finished the race and crossed the line in fifth place. I can't thank Werner and everyone else enough for all of their support and extensive phone calls!
A week after the Trans Germany I was due to race at the Rocky Mountain Bike marathon in Willingen, Germany. I wasn't fully recovered (the Trans Germany was the most riding I'd done for ages) but given that my knee was improving and that we were still in Germany the obvious decision was to at least give it a go. It was a success and I finished in second place, pain free. Returning from Germany I felt some confidence in knowing that I had been able to train hard for two weeks, without pain, and that my fitness would start to come back. However, I only had a week and a half back in the UK before the European Championships in Montebelluna, Italy.
I was in a quandary. Coach Matt Hart (Torq) suggested taking six weeks out of racing to train and get strong again. However, I really wanted to race not least because the World Marathon Champs are on the same course next year. I decided not to taper for the race and to use it as another training race.
I was eager to try and start interval training, but I was anxious about how my knee would respond. I managed to get two interval sessions completed before we set off for Italy. Hooray! It felt so good (afterwards).
I am so pleased that I made the decision to go. It was one of the most enjoyable races that I've ever done! I loved riding with just women - we had a group of six girls for the first 80km - and it was a fun course with a reasonable amount of singletrack. Weirdly, the outcome was identical to last year in Estonia - Laura Turpijn (Netherlands) finished in sixth place and one second ahead of me in a sprint finish. Damn, if only I had done more interval sessions ;0)
My knee is continuing to improve and it aches far less. I've also been able to do a shorter interval sessions since I got back from Italy. I'm off to Italy again next week for the Dolomiti Superbike 120km marathon. I'll then do some fun races before the World Marathon Champs in St Wendel, Germany on August 8th.
As everyone keeps telling me: the word ‘injury' is synonymous with sport. It doesn't make it any easier to deal with though. Sorry to everyone who's listened to me whinge (including Dave amongst others) and thanks to everyone who's given me advice and treatment.