It's been 10 weeks now since I started training with a purpose. After oscillating up and down for the past 5 seasons, both from a fitness/physical capability to race and a dedication to training perspective, I have put myself on a mission to return to past levels of performance.
From the incomplete function of my paroneal nerve, to the overwhelming amount of professional work I've had on my plate, there have been plenty of challenges over the past 5 years. Looking back on there have been a lot of changes.
From the physical perspective, my nerve is working better than ever. It still isn't close to 100%, but it's working pretty well. A month or so ago, Carol and I were up at the USACycling Track Championships in Carson, CA. The guys from Wattbike were there too, demo'ing there wares. I spent a little time riding one of their bikes. What I learned is that my left leg (bad leg) is actually putting out more power and pedaling better circles than my right leg these days. When I think about how I've riden the past 4 years, I've consciously gone easy with my right leg, and given my left a chance to work itself back to the level of my right. Along the way, I've probably fostered the lowest common denominator with respect to pedaling power. Simple thought tells me that if I can't stand and flex my left foot up off the ground (with my heel still placed on the floor) and if I'm only pedaling with my right as powerfully as my left, then I'm leaving a lot of power behind.
I remember quite well how my legs felt when I raced the year after my accident. At team training camp in January we started our Saturday ride with a hammerfest up Montezuma (an hour or so climb out of Borrego Springs, up to Ranchita). Take 25 racers with something to prove to each other and give them an hour climb and you're going to see people try to beat the snot out of each other. I came in to that camp feeling like I had something to prove to everyone on the team. Namely that I was back, and that I was someone who they should again feel comfortable to ride for. So when we hit Montezuma I hit the gas, finishing 3rd at the top of the climb. I even had time to stop and put my contact back in my eye after it fell out half way up the climb. I remember though that I didn't give a rats ass how even my pedaling was. My right leg was way more powerful and efficient than my left leg, I didn't care, I would get there with one leg and my fitness. As the season slowly blew up due to work commitments and lack of meaningful results, I transitioned in to trying to get my left leg working better. I rode lots of base miles, rode my rollers a lot, and consciously let my left leg do its fair share.
Fast forward to now and it's time to find the right mix. After the experience on the Wattbike, I'm trying to put my right leg back in charge. The good news is that my left leg is in much better shape to keep up. So far things seem to be going well. I don't have a power meter any more, so I can't say for sure; but empirical evidence in the hills tells me that I'm getting back to riding strongly with both legs.