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Things were going really well over the last few months of 2015, and I felt great. However in the last sportive of the year I developed a nasty patellofemoral pain. This was so much more than the muscle aches I was used to, and had the deep-seated persistence of something more sinister. Identifiable by a pain occurring in a flexed knee position, at approximately 45 degrees, I had the worry of an injury to the quadriceps tendon.

So an initial period of rest for 6 weeks, coupled with intensive stretching exercises, a sports massage, and some anti inflammatory drugs, and I had improved with the day to day activities. So a trial run up Box Hill – and ….. the pain was still there, but required more intense activity than everyday living to show it. More rest, and come mid-January I was ready to resume training. However as much as I wanted to just ‘get back into it’, I knew that a structured plan taking into account my lay off was important. So I looked to the literature.

So with advice I looked to restart my training program at approximately 80% of my summer targets for both power and time. If any niggle developed I would ease back, and I gave myself a rest day or two between training sessions. I recognised that I still had a good time period before the season commenced, and time to get fit again before the start of the Cape Rouleur. To begin with I just rode for enjoyment, without any electronic aids. I knew that if the Garmin was attached I would be trying to beat it and my times at the end of last season.

Wolff’s law states that the tissues of the body strengthen according to the stresses and the strains put upon them (think of the loss of bone strength endured by astronauts in weightlessness). So I knew that my tendons and ligaments needed to be handled gently in a step wise fashion. I spoke to a strength and conditioning coach and was diligent with my Pilates exercises and my stretching. Most importantly I think that I ‘got my head around’ the reality of my expectation in South Africa. Although in Annecy in 2014 I was timed for Group 3, I rode Group 4 with friends, and enjoyed it all the more. Now that I am really over 50 years old I think that I have to take some of my own advice, and be age appropriate with my skeleton. Being a ‘Type-A personality’ I tend to do everything with an element of competition, so another feature of my preparation was to avoid comparing myself with my colleagues on Strava, and Garmin Connect. I needed to focus on my own needs and performance.

A cold and laryngitis set me back just in advance of the final push, and although it only lasted a week, it left me as weak as a kitten. I restarted from that base without trying to catch up what I had lost – as I knew that this could possibly prove to be too much for my ageing frame.So here we are with one week to go, and I believe I am ready. I have mentally packed, the bike has had a full service (thank you to B-spoke) and it looks as though I am in the right place physically and mentally. There was a time in late January when I thought I would not make it. However with perseverance and a couple of Hot Chillee training rides out of Imber Court and I’m there.

Next stop Cape Town. Wish me luck!

Adrian Fairbank