The Plans, They Are A Changin’


Today I made a big decision. The Haute Route is not going to happen, at least not this year. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately the right decision.

As most of you know, I’ve been recovering from a stress fracture for the last several weeks, and had trained on it for a few months prior. The sports medicine doctor had told me that the potential recovery timeframe could work with an event of this scale, but at that point, the injury did not seem as bad as it was. The thought was that I would be relatively pain-free, not need crutches, and get to cross-training (swimming) fairly quickly. None of those wishes came true.

Although there has been minor improvement, and the crutches are no longer necessary, the healing has been slow. The crucial moment was just a few days ago when I swam for the first time. Everything went well during the swim, but soreness lingered for a couple days afterward. The doctor advised me that I could continue swimming, but only with a careful amount of rest in between.

With each week, I have been losing valuable training time. Since I’ll have to resume slowly and carefully, it will still be awhile before I can really push the intensity. The reality is, a lot of training is required to succeed at an event like this. It is not the considered the highest and toughest cyclosportive in the world without reason.

I will heal, and if I pushed, I could complete the Haute Route event this year. The only problem is, I would not do nearly as well as I would like. The experience would be more suffering than it would be otherwise, would take more time on the bike, and simply not be as fun. Not to mention, my team has been training this entire off-season, and most likely would be well beyond me come August.

Most everyone I have talked to agreed that this was the right move. As Coach Bobby put it, this injury is most likely a one-time thing that needs to heal. At some point I will bounce back and be strong again.

As of present, I am looking into my options, but most likely I will defer my registration to the 2014 Haute Route. This gives me the comfort zone to focus now on my recovery without worrying too much about the training I’m missing, while not ruling out this amazing event for the future.

As for the rest of 2013, I have no doubt that plenty of adventures are waiting for me. There are lots of cycling playgrounds in the world. We’ll definitely have another big vacation, possibly another sojourn to Colorado, maybe a trip to France, maybe California, or maybe somewhere else entirely. And of course, I will spend a lot of time in the Blue Ridge, hopefully exploring some new areas.

For now, I’m being smart.

23 responses to “The Plans, They Are A Changin’

  • James

    Hey Aaron – sorry to hear you’ve had to change your plans. I am sure it took a lot of self-negotiation, playing one side against the other before you finally came to this decision. Ultimately, as disappointing as this is, I am sure you’re doing the right thing. Glad to see you’ve already got your sights set on next year. All the best mate!

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, James. Self-negotiation is a good way of putting it. I was soldiering on, doing all the right things, but my body spoke for me. I have to be honest with myself. There’s a lot of time to think about next year, and a lot to do in the meantime.

  • John

    I know your disappointed. I was thinking of doing the haupte route. Not enough time to train and with two small kids difficult to arrange child care. But there’s always next year . Gi john

    • aaronwest

      John, knowing how much you have improved, I doubt you’d have a problem with Haute Route. That said, the logistics are difficult to work out, especially with a family. Maybe we can get another group for next year. I have a feeling a few remnants of this year’s team will want to do it again.

  • fizzhogg

    Smart is always good. And now you can spend more time focusing on what’s truly important: writing a post about your best descents!

  • Steve

    Discretion is the better part of valor. I think you’re right about 2013 – there are plenty of other adventures for you waiting to be discovered, and those stupid French mountains will still be there in 2014. πŸ™‚

  • suzecycling

    Hi Aaron,
    I know that must have been a terribly hard decision to make and extremely difficult. But the right decision, in the end. It is, to me, always smarter to go for the long-term result instead of the shorter term one, and you have a lot of years of cycling to look forward to!

    BTW, Steve is wildly, awesomely, crazily mistaken to call them “stupid French mountains”:-) (Hi Steve!!)

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Suze. And that was one aspect of the decision. I had made a short term decision to ride Six Gap with a bum hip, not knowing it was fractured. That was a mistake and has taught me to not make the same ones again.

      Maybe Steve should have opted for “silly French mountains.”

  • tuckamoredew

    Ah, that’s too bad, but you know better than anyone what your body is telling you. Good luck in 2014.

  • Chikashi

    A difficult but right decision, particularly if you are coming from afar to enter the event. Heal up well.

  • Mark Scheerer

    Now you can do Cycle Greater Yellowstone!

    • aaronwest

      You know, that’s not a bad idea. I need to make sure my training gets to a good start, but this one looks easier and gorgeous. Beartooth Pass and Beartooth Highway are on my bucket list.

  • Wayne W

    Having come back from a catastrophic car wreck back in February of this year which totally precluded my getting back on a bike until just recently, I would suggest that you don’t forget why most of us start and still ride.

    Most ride for the enjoyment of the local area at it travels by at a pace and closeness and a sense of connectedness that allows you to cover more ground than walking, but doesn’t divorce you from the environment like travelling in an auto does.

    I recently rode a small distance on Fort Jackson, the SMALLL section from Boyden Arbor Rd. to the intersection of Wildcat and Dixie and back. You could have wrapped my grin around both ears it was so big.

    Considering it was a trifling distance compared to the multiple circuits around the fort that I could make before my accident it seems like a small thing from the distance metric, but from an enjoyment perspective it stands really high right now.

    Be sure to smell the roses or wildflowers as they drift by on the side of the road. Be careful about always having your head down trying to muscle your way up ever bigger hills unless the race is what you seek.

    I like climbing the hills also, but I like stopping at the top of the hill to survey the world from the top of the hill where I’m standing. The scenery is usually pretty good, but it totally blows away the time to the finish. But for me it isn’t a race. It’s a way to enjoy the world around me.

    • aaronwest

      Wayne, of all the emails, comments, and notes that I’ve received, none have inspired me as much as this one. I am thrilled that you are back on the bike, however limited. Please keep me in the loop on your progress.

  • Jim Brennan

    Tough decision, but the right one. Think long-term.

  • gr8smokieszeke

    Hi Aaron, I’m sorry, along with all the others, to hear of your news but congratulate you on taking care of yourself properly. That opportunity will come again and you’ll be ready and eager to do it just as you were this time. My best wishes for an ongoing recovery!


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