Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Whats going on, David McLean?

-

It’s been a while since I posted, I intended to do something a little more regularly but unfortunately I’ve been preoccupied with health problems for much longer than expected.

Since around March my power values haven’t been increasing the way I was expecting them to.

I didn’t panic though, I knew I was behind and that my form might come a little later than usual because of an interrupted winter.

In the Tour of Greece however my legs were very empty and I was physically unable to push hard enough to get out of breath, my legs felt like jelly and it was time to admit to myself that something was wrong.

I saw the race doctor before the start of the fourth stage, he told me I was anaemic (low iron).

David McLean
My teammates, including Davide, centre, are a pleasure to work with.

I helped the team as much as I could and then abandoned after around 60k so I could begin my recovery there and then. The words from the doctor before the start made me feel relieved more than anything to be honest. It was also a relief to finally admit to myself that something was wrong after months of battle with my powermeter.

I went back to Italy after the race, promptly passed out at lunch and so went to the local GP later in the afternoon, he was unable to get a blood pressure reading as it was so low. A few days later I got a blood test which didn’t really flag up an awful lot except that my haematocrit and red blood cell count was much lower than it normally is. So that explains my reduction in performance these last couple of months then, the next question was why did it get so low?

Sherlock time…

My training and racing load hasn’t been an awful lot higher or different than other years, so it isn’t simple overtraining. My diet in Italy was probably better than in the UK. I eat a multivitamin with iron everyday anyway just to cover my bases so to speak, so it isn’t a dietary problem, i.e. not anaemia as the doctor suspected.

David McLean
It’s been an enjoyable and frustrating season.

I came back to the UK and had much more detailed blood tests which ruled out a whole load of other things. There are a few more things left to test for but it’s looking more and more likely that I have some sort of post viral fatigue (a fuzzy condition that’s quite hard to properly diagnose.

The cure? Rest.

How much rest? Until I’m better again; it varies dramatically from person to person, probably a number of months though at a guess.

Post viral fatigue would mean I must have caught a virus at some point. Since I haven’t felt ill yet this year it’s a bit of a mystery as to when it happened. It’s common to get PVF from viruses so minor that you don’t even notice it (a “subclinical” virus).

It’s also possible to not notice that you have had something as big a deal as glandular fever even. Apparently Glandular fever is rife in the amateur ranks in Italy, it gets spread from sharing drinking bottles, It isn’t unheard of to get it as a pro, too. All of my team mates in Italy have had it but many years ago. I’m currently waiting on a blood test result for this and a few other common PVF causing viruses.

I had a recovery plan involving lots of café rides for when I came back to the UK but since returning I’ve become too tired even to make it to a café.

Given my current state of health it’s unlikely I will be in a suitable state of fitness in time to finish out the season in Italy at least. Perhaps I’ll be good enough for a national B in the UK before the season is out.

Bugger. My first season as a pro looks like it has been a total failure.

I am deciding to stay relentlessly positive though, losing a season to PVF or Glandular fever is a rite of passage for a cyclist. It goes along with things like breaking your collarbone (and I’ve already done that twice), I’m a real cyclist now.

The only thing that worries me is that I won’t be given another real chance next year despite knowing now that I am more than capable of delivering on one.

If I could be a useful team mate to riders as classy as Davide Rebellin (with an FTP around 20-40% lower than it should be) in the mountains of Greece then surely that is one small positive I can take from this whole episode?

I just hope someone will give me another chance.

davidmcleancyclist.com
@DavidMcleanCycl
facebook.com/davidmcleancyclist

Related Articles

In the Event of a Bee Sting when Riding Your Bike

We cyclists have a fair amount of skin exposed so here's some things to consider if you suffer a bee sting when riding your bike.

At Random

Lincoln Grand Prix – University of Lincoln to be Main Sponsor

The University of Lincoln continues its support for the ever popular Lincoln Grand Prix Cycle Race by extending its previous year supporting sponsorship to become the event's main sponsor in 2012, for the 57th edition of the event on Sunday the 13th of May.

Tim Gudsell – Ventouro Owner and former FDJ Pro

Tim Gudsell was originally a track specialist but the Kiwi landed a contract with F des J for season 2007 after a 2006 stagiaire ride gained by winning the 2006 Tour du Haut Anjou - he stayed with the French equipe for four subsequent seasons. But it’s fair to say that the French squad never saw the best of him during a career which was compromised by injury but still saw him ride two Giros and a Vuelta.

Iain Macleod – 3:28:33; the fastest 100 mile time trial ever ridden on Scottish roads

It was 2019 when we last spoke to Iain Macleod - he was with Aberdeen Wheelers then but is now with Kelpie Racing - he’d just won the SC 50 mile championships and the man is making the headlines again; a couple of weeks ago he took the Scottish Cycling Olympic Time Trial title and before that recorded the fastest 100 mile time trial ever ridden on Scottish roads.

Ian Whitehead – Gone Native in Belgium

I knew that Ian Whitehead had finally gone native when I received the email to inform me that his mail address no longer ended in "dot uk" but in "dot be"-that was the last link with the 'old country' gone. However, English Christmas pudding was consumed on the 25th-so there are still links to the 'old ways,' despite what he says. Ian is one of the men behind Kingsnorth Wheelers, the Belgian Team with an English name that's been home to so many good Commonwealth riders over the years...

John Hughes – Top amateur in the ’90s; “winning the National Road Race was nice but it’s not like racing in Europe”

He was 1991 British Amateur Champion, won the Franco-Belge against top opposition and took the major French Classic, Paris-Chauny - but was out of the sport by the age of 25 with his best years yet to come. His name; John Hughes. We thought he’d have a good tale to tell...

CTT Team Time Trial Championships 2021

Defending champions and race favourites, Ribble Weldtite with strong men Dan Bigham, James Shaw and Simon Wilson took the CTT Team Time Trial Championships title on a cool, damp but still morning at Irvine on the west coast of Scotland, with a time of 54:01, averaging 55.9 kph to best their own ‘B’ team by 2:32, the line up there being Zeb Kyffin, Joe Wilson and Matt Gibson.