Featured Post by Kari Studley PT

Early season cyclocross racing report – 2012

There’s nothing like being your own Physical Therapy case study. Nine weeks ago, in the spirit of cyclocross, I added step-through dismount technique practice into my bike/run intervals. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best idea to practice rusty skills at high speed. On the last interval, I stepped through, planted my right foot and proceeded to slam my Crankbrothers Eggbeater pedal and Redline Carbon Conquest Disc bike into the ‘funny bone’ spot on the outside ankle at close to full speed. Ouch doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’m thankful I didn’t completely take myself out.

Fortunately, I didn’t break anything according to xrays. It was “just” an essentially sprained ankle, with a couple of sprained fibular ligaments, peroneal muscles and fibular nerve strains, and a fibula (the outside ankle bone) bone bruise. I was glad my favorite Evergreen KneeFootAnkle orthopedic doctor, Matt Oseto, also races cyclocross and was able to understand exactly what I had done (and why) to injure myself.

Kari Studley displays her yellow and purple ankles

You can see all 4 of the Crankbrother Eggbeater sides imprinted on the side of my ankle! My foot was green, yellow and purple this week.

While most riders entered the cyclocross racing season ready and in solid form this year, I’m glad to be joining the race season as soon as I have been able to. The first few races were brutal, to say the least. On the third lap of the Ralpha Gran Prix (my first race – which naturally had an epic length sand run), I found myself questioning how I had forgotten how hard cross is.

Each race since has found better unity between legs and lungs on my carbon Redline Conquest Team bike, although my barrier technique is still very compensatory to protect my ankle. Despite my physical excuses, I was still able to consistently take second on the early season grass crit cross courses at the Ralpha Gran Prix, Seattle Cyclocross Series Arlington race, and Starcrossed. I continue to improve my ankle strength and coordination with every week and am finally at a point where I can honestly start practicing barriers!

With rain in the forecast and an almost fully functioning ankle, I was truly looking forward to the third Seattle Cyclocross Series Race at Silver Lake. Finally, a chance to race without excuses! Almost. I woke up sick on Friday morning, and could only ride as hard as I could tolerate the resulting splitting headache on Saturday. It was an ironic relief to be on the start line Sunday, thinking, “at least I can’t feel much worse.” And that’s the beauty of cyclocross – I actually started to feel better while distracting my body through the pain of racing.

The Silver Lake course is one of my favorite local courses due to its technical nature where you wind up and down switchbacks on a hillside three times and ride through three challenging sand sections. Although I struggled to get clipped in off the start, I was still able to take control of the race after the first barrier. From that point on, I focused on controlling my effort and executing the technical and sand sections fluidly to win the race. Despite being sick, it was the closest I’ve felt to my ‘normal’ racing self this year and I had a ton of fun enjoying riding my Redline Carbon Conquest Team bike. So much fun that local photographer, Dennis Crane, actually captured me smiling as I passed through the DBC Photo corner on the course!