Jack Haig’s Diary: recovering from injury and the road ahead

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For the past few weeks, Jayco-AIS WorldTour Academy rider Jack Haig has spent much of his time recovering from injuries sustained at the Tour de Bretagne. It’s been another frustrating period for the 21-year-old, but as Jack writes in this fourth instalment of his CyclingTips diary, he’s found other ways of keeping himself busy.


Since my last post I haven’t spent anywhere near as much time exploring the Italian hills by bike as I would have liked. Instead I’ve been spending a lot of time in the medical and physio rooms at the AIS’s European Training Centre (ETC) trying to get my wounds all healed up. In fact I’ve taken almost two weeks completely off cycling to let my body rest and heal.

Having time off the bike has meant I’ve had quite a bit of time to do other things, such as catching the train into Varese for lunch and exploring areas I don’t normally get to. I also did a bit of a hike in a national park just behind the train station in Gavirate.

I severely underestimated how hard it was going to be — it was basically a walking trail straight up the side of a mountain, made harder by the need to keep my balance on the slippery river rocks that were all over the trail. My legs were buckled for a couple days after that — as a cyclist I generally don’t do a whole lot of walking let alone hiking!

Injuries

When I crashed in the Tour de Bretagne, the adrenalin of sliding across a wet road at 60km/h+ meant I didn’t think I had done as much damage as I actually had. It’s definitely not the first time I have crashed, so I kinda thought I would just have some road rash on my hip and a bit of skin off my hand, as it was a bit sore. I definitely didn’t think the healing process would take this long (it’s been a month). Even after finishing the stage I thought I would be able to start the next day and finish the rest of the tour.

My knuckles healed up quite well and the stitches came out without a problem; there are just a couple small scabs left now. But my hip, on the other hand, is taking forever to heal. The wound was quite a lot deeper than any road rash I have had before.

You can see in the photo below how much carbon on my Bonts was scraped away in the crash. The carbon on my shoes is much harder than my skin so this should give you a good idea of what my hip looked like.

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Luckily at the ETC there is a physio on hand most of the time and there is a doctor there at certain times of the year. Luckily both were around in the weeks after my crash, which gave me the best help possible. Apparently my hip isn’t infected, but it’s “critically contaminated”. I am not too sure on the details I just know that it’s taking forever to heal and I wish it would hurry up and get better.

Training, starting races and being a cyclist

I was able to start doing some small rides and a little bit of gym work after my crash, and as my hand got better I was able to do more and more. But because we only have seven guys in the WorldTour Academy this year, and because Oscar Stevenson is badly injured with a broken elbow, it meant I didn’t really have time at home to rebuild my form and fitness.

Even though I wasn’t ready to race I had to do the five-hour drive to France and start the Rhone-Alpes Isere Tour, to make sure we had enough riders on the startline. But I couldn’t risk crashing on my hip and doing further damage, so I did a four-hour easy ride before the stage, met the team at sign on, stood on the podium for the photo, then did about 500 meters of the race before pulling out and making the five-hour drive back to Italy.

It was massively frustrating and bit of a pain having to make the trip, given it interrupted training and recovery. But I guess that’s just part of being a cyclist.

After coming back to Italy to get a couple more days’ training I was back off to France to start the Paris-Arras Tour. This time I was kinda hoping to race the whole tour, but my hip still hadn’t healed enough. I was still able to do the first stage; a team time trial where the team got third. I wasn’t much help given my time off the bike and lack of fitness.

The second half of the year

I am now back in Italy to start a big training block, including four weeks at altitude in Livigno. One of my goals for the second half of the year is to work closely with Louise the nutritionist at the ETC to get my weight down and keep it constant over the three or four weeks that we have some really hilly tours in.

In the past I haven’t really had any problems losing weight or having low body fat/skin folds, but I haven’t been able to get to 67kg for long periods of time. Sometimes I have lost weight too quickly and sometimes I’ve lost it too slowly; in each case my training has suffered because of it.

Having a contract with Orica-GreenEdge for 2016 allows me a bit of freedom to experiment with different diets and techniques to see what works, without the consequences of potentially not performing well and then not getting contract. I also want to take advantage of this with my training programs and try some different techniques/ideas that I might not have done if I didn’t already have a contract.

Another benefit of having a contract for next year is that it gives me the chance to find a place to live and have it all set up before coming back over next year. This saves the stress of having to try and sort everything out at the start of next season. After talking to some pros, that seemed to be the thing they struggled with most when they first turned pro. Instead of spending the first month or two training and preparing for the season, they were stressed out trying to find a place to live, setting it all up, finding new training roads and everything else that goes along with moving to a completely new place.

I have narrowed my options down to two: Nice or Girona. Hopefully in the next three weeks I will be able to spend a couple days in each place and decide which one I like best. Before I head back to Australia at the end of the season I plan to set everything up in either Nice or Girona, depending on which one I decide I like better.

Before I go, here’s something I promised in my last post. During my time off the bike I was quite bored so I thought I’d make a little video to show you what Rob Power and I generally keep in the kitchen of our apartment in Gavirate. Because the supermarket is quite close by I generally don’t keep too much food; I just get it fresh when I need it.

Thanks for reading.

Jack

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