I would love to tell you that my hands are all better now, but alas, I'm really not sure if they have improved at all in the last week. I was able to do a couple of road rides during the week and use the shifters semi-normally, but it took a lot of concentration and effort. Regardless, I made some good steps towards getting back into my groove and accomplished a week that at least looked something like my routine prior to the Death March. Then I looked at my calendar and realized that, after a visit from my mom next weekend, I will have about five weekends off from racing for the rest of 2013. That is if I do all the remaining DINO races after the one I'll miss this weekend, which is the plan as of now. However, it seems that me and DINO never go without our share of mixed feelings, and this season may come with more than most. So I think the theme from here on out will be to stick to routine as much as I can, but also to continue to go with the flow as needed.
The biggest positive note of the week is that I was able to get out and do a 50-mile gravel ride with Dustin and Corinna, which was exciting because I hadn't ridden with them in nearly two months and hadn't been on gravel since Barry-Roubaix. I can't believe how much time slipped away without my noticing. We did the route that we attempted on our first ill-fated ride together, but this time we finished successfully, despite Dustin experiencing shifter problems and me crashing within the first five miles. After that it went smoothly.
It was a hard ride for 50 miles, with strong winds and lots of chunky gravel. I was glad to have the "weekly ass-kicking" sensation back after missing it for so many weeks, although I was a little disappointed that it only took 50 miles to induce. I managed to get through the whole thing despite my "handicap", and by the end of the ride, I was so used to my awkward shifting method that I barely even noticed it anymore. It probably helped that the route was pretty flat (flat does not mean easy in gravel-land) and a lot of the time I would just mash up the little risers to avoid shifting. Good singlespeed training, I guess.