A few weeks ago, I posted a post in which I detailed some of the most horrific mountain bike accidents that I’ve had and requested readers to share stories of their own. There was a nose case, some cartwheels, a big blast of wind, some road rash, and some hurt pride. Although the majority of the outcomes weren’t too bad, there was a nose case, some cartwheels, and some road rash. Any of the crashes could have caused serious injury had the rider made one wrong move too many. The mistake I made put me out of commission for nearly four months, but I’m anticipating that I’ll be back on my bike in the very near future, just before I’ll have been out of commission for four months in total. What have I been up to during my so-called “free time”?

Listen to the pros

In the sad event that you get a significant injury, the first piece of guidance I can provide is this: pay attention to the recommendations of those who have experience in the relevant field.

When it comes to assisting those who have suffered severe injuries, medical doctors, chiropractors, and therapists all get compensation for their services due to the fact that they are likely to have considerably more expertise than you have in this area. They are the ones who can teach you how to get well and explain why you have pain on the outside of your knee or stiffness in your lower back. They are also the ones who can tell you why you have these symptoms.

It is a lot simpler to know where you are in your recovery than it is to be second-guessing either yourself or the person who is helping you. When you are unclear about the state of your recovery, do not be hesitant to ask questions; it is much easier to know where you are than to be second-guessing. Do not be hesitant to obtain a second opinion if you are confronted with a significant choice, such as whether or not to have surgery. You will be thankful for this decision later on when you are dealing with the aftermath of the procedure.

It all boils down to this: as long as you feel at ease with the individuals you’re dealing with throughout your rehabilitation, the process will be straightforward: the health care professionals you’ve picked know how to get you back on the bike, so pay attention to what they have to say.

Be prepared to be bored silly

If you’re anything like me, you spend upwards of 20 hours a week riding your bike. If, for some reason (say, an injury), that outlet is taken away, you’ll find yourself with a whole lot of time to kill. If that happens to you, here are some things you can do. When I became unwell, I was unable to do much, and it was quite difficult for me to spend the first two weeks of my recovery just sitting about and being unable to do very much.

Because I am often one of those individuals who recovers fast from accidents, I must admit that I was quite taken aback when it took me far longer to get well than I had anticipated. I had been in a lot of pain for quite some time, and it was difficult for me to get off of the couch or out of bed, but little by little I began to feel better. It ached, but it wasn’t as awful as it had been, and I began to see minor changes in the way that I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong; the pain was still there.

Even if they are taken one step at a time, you will see consistent progress (and, on sometimes, some regression), which is what I’m trying to convey when I say that your rehabilitation is not caught in an unending cycle and that you will observe frequent gains (and, on occasion, some backsliding). My original diagnosis was for me to participate in rehabilitation for a couple of months before making a complete recovery. However, for whatever reason (see below), it has taken me a little longer to get back into the swing of things. Because it has been raining almost nonstop for the previous 45 days, I can’t say that I’m really missing my time spent in the saddle right now.

Don’t hurry back

If you’re a sports fan, you’ll notice that many pro athletes come back from injuries before they should and end up on the shelf with an aggravated injury. Believe it or not, this can happen to you and likely will if you come back before you should.

Personally, I’d much rather be at home enjoying myself with a beverage than starting over with my recovery because I couldn’t wait to get back on the bike for another couple of weeks. If you’re patient and listen to the people who are experts, you’ll be back sooner rather than later and, if your body isn’t ready to ride, take the time to recover fully.

You’ll also need to decide the path that you’ll take during your recovery. I chose to take a little longer to make it back to full health so I could do some active day hiking and trail work during the winter. Had I sat at home, I likely would have been cleared to ride just about the time that our 45 days of almost non-stop rain started. Whichever way you choose, stick to your plan and don’t start riding too early.

Don’t blame the people around you

In most cases, you crash because of something you did and you need to come to grips with that. You also need to remember it when you’re trying to get healthy, because you’ll probably be spending more time at home with your friends and family. In most cases, this type of home arrest isn’t a bad thing, but I found that I was more short-tempered than normal (arrrgh!) and everybody had to deal with their fair share of my sarcasm.

I also found that everyone at my house was in better spirits if I took off for a mellow hike or went for a walk around the block for a while. If you need time to yourself, you can go for a walk, take a drive, or go to a movie. If you can’t leave the house, plug in some music and tune out for an hour or so.

Summary: Back in the saddle

Be realistic during your convalescence because not everyone recovers overnight and is able to climb back onto their bikes a week after they crash. At the same time, you likely won’t be off your bike forever, and an extra month spent in therapy is way better than missing a season because you tore the ligament you had stretched earlier in the year. If you listen to the pros and take your time while coming back from injury and provided you (and those around you) can deal with the boredom that goes along with not biking, you should be back in the saddle quickly.

Anybody out there have any other thoughts? I’m fairly certain I didn’t cover every single facet of the recovery phase and some of you have different opinions. Call it as you see it.