Thursday, November 20, 2008

Surgery Scheduled...


... finally.  I guess one of the drawbacks of seeing a top rated orthopedic surgeon is that, well he's a top rated orthopedic surgeon and takes a while to get into his schedule.

So, on 12/11 I head into the hospital to have the meniscus in my left knee cleaned out.  It's an outpatient surgery, and recovery is 3 days bed rest then 1 to 4 weeks of light duty based on my swelling and pain tolerance.  Almost 6 and a half weeks after Barton I'll finally be on my road to recovery.  It was almost 7 and a half weeks...

I originally scheduled the surgery for 12/18.  You see, 12/11 also happens to be my wife's birthday.  Every year we've been married, we've taken her birthday off, gone to Noah's bagels for breakfast and then done a bunch of Christmas shopping.  It's a fun tradition, and I hesitated to break it or make her birthday crappy by being in a hospital.

When I told her I selected the 18th over the 11th, her reply was "get it done sooner."  I think she's tired of me being a gimp around the house. ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

I want to ride my bicycle...


Ha, ha!  Now you have that song stuck in your head.

Friday, I had a really bad day.  My knee was really achy all night so I didn't sleep very well.  As a result, I was grumpy and tired.  After running a quick errand before lunch, I went to Longbottoms to grab lunch and ran into the PV crew who was just returning from a glorious Friday morning ride.   I ate my lunch and listened to their banter.  I was mad at my knee.

The weather was more than you could ask for this time of year.  Sunny, crisp, cool, little to no breeze.  It's the type of weather that makes you don wool arm and leg warmers with your kit, and maybe pack a light wind vest.

It reminded me much of my youth and the cycling I did in the North East.

I grew up in Andover, Massachusetts.  The school system was such that upon entering your freshman year in High School, you knew half your graduating class for 2 years, a quarter of it for 8 and a good chuck of it since you were pre-school.  Add into it the mix of a huge youth soccer program and friendships were formed at a very early age.  One such friendship was formed with a pair whom I just recently got back in touch with through the magic of this new fangled "internets" and Facebook.

Jim and I became friends through soccer, which his dad and my dad co-coached youth teams together for years and formed a friendship.  Brian and Jim were classmates and friends from school, and eventually Brian and I became friends through Jim and a variety of other activities.  Through much of our grade school and middle school years, the three of us hung out frequently on weekends and in arranged after school get together's.  As we grew older, the introduction to one key thing added a whole new dimension to the adventures we could have.  Transportation!

The bike was the first mode of transportation the three of us would consistently have access too.  No longer would we need to wait for a parent to get home in order to go to one or another's house.  Many a autumn or spring afternoon or entire summer day would be spent on our bikes riding where ever our legs took us.  No hill was too steep, no road too busy for us to travel on, no distance was too far to ride (as long as it was in town limits).  We rode hard and fast, and traded nuggets of cycling wisdom learned from watching the TDF on Wide World of Sports during July.

Jim:  "Guys, we should ride in a peloton."

Brian and I:  "What's that?"

Jim:  "It's when you ride in a group and the people up front do the work and the rest don't have to!"

Brian and I: "Sweet! We can do that with the three of us!"

Ah, the naiveté of youth.

We'd watch American Flyer to the point where we'd recite dialog during our rides pretending to launch attacks too early or sprinting away from dogs, all of whom were named "Eddy".  I clearly remember my first experience with a "lead out train" ending in a narrowly avoided disaster.   I can still see Jim flying through the air after high siding his bike, walking away with nothing more than skinned hands and knees.   (We learned that day that when you corner at high speeds you want your inside pedal up.)

Brian and I undertook one of the most memorable events of my life together.  In the spring of 1990, we participated in the "Commonwealth Classic" which was a 2-day 150mile bike tour to benefit the American Diabetes Association (pretty ironic that 5 years later I was diagnosed with Type 1 eh?).  Brian and I were the two youngest participants and finished with the lead group of ten riders on the second day.  It was on that ride that I learned pace line skills, and how to point out debris in the road.  Simple lessons for skills that I take for granted these days.  The people we grouped up with were impressed with our strength and eagerness, but admonished us on our safety.  I remember being called out for pulling out of a pace line and not looking back to see if there was traffic coming from behind.  Again, the naiveté of youth.

It was many of these memories that drew me to cycling in my youth, and drew me back for good in the recent years.  It was with those fond memories that I geared up Saturday morning and tested the knee out.  I'm happy to report the knee was okay with letting me ride, and the body was happy to have the opportunity.  I went slow on the flats, and glacial up small rises in the road, but I felt better on the bike than off.  What mattered the most was I was riding my bike, the sun was warm, and the air crisp and cool.

I had a smile on my face the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Random Collection


MRI 11am tomorrow, with Orthoped follow-up next Wednesday.  So in roughly one week I should know the full extent of the injury, when I can get in for surgery, and when rehab can start.  My left quad and hamstring have visibly atrophied.

PIR had to be some of the most fun I've had in a long, long time.  Kudos to all of the SSWC riders, especially any of them who enjoyed our beer at the off camber run down / up at the far east side of the course.  I really missed being able to race.

The cold Traci and I had is going away.  Last night was the first non-NyQuil night in a few days.

This granny smith apple I'm eating is very good.

Sunset Cycles / CycleOne gets a big public thank you arranging use of the fitting I won back in August at the Sunset Crit.  I hope to be back next year!

I finally got my NAS speaking to my PS3. Go go streaming movies!  Now I just have to convince someone to come over to my house and help me run at CAT5E cable in the crawl space since I'm not that mobile.  I have beer!

Beer transition!  The '07 "Top Sail" Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter I cracked open at PIR  has to be one of the very best beers I've ever had.  The Abyss was also very good, but I don't know if its worth the supposed $40 it is currently selling for on eBay.  I also heard the 2006 Rogue Russian Imperial in its monolithic gray ceramic swing-top was also very good.  I think Sal, Amit, and Cuz drank the vast majority of it. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Medical update...


Few bits of news on the medical front.  Got back from the orthopedic surgeon.  No damage to the bones and he doesn't think there is any damage to my ACL or MCL in my knee, which is good.  He does however, feel there is a fairly significant tear in my medial meniscus due to decent amount of swelling I still have 5 days post injury. 

So, MRI is next on the docket... I wanted that to be first on the docket, but insurance being insurance I have to jump through hoops to get what I need.  Paperwork must be filed and fumbled over before I can get the MRI, then the follow-up appointment to find out what is wrong and figure out what to do about it.

bleh... I just want to start rehab now.  I miss being active and its only been 5 days.

On another note, about 10 minutes ago I connected my "Guardian Real-Time Continues Glucose Monitor".  As a number of you know, I'm a type 1 diabetic, which means my body can't produce insulin to turn food into glucose so my body can, well .. live.  I wear an insulin pump, which can often be witnessed when I'm on my bike. (It's the bulge on my lower back that people mistake for a radio.)

The insulin pump was the first major step for me in the control of my diabetes, as it allowed me to quickly and easily adjust my insulin intake based off of my activity load.  Before the pump, I'd almost always crash a few hours after a long ride.  Now, it can set back the background insulin levels during my ride and have no issues.

The best thing a diabetic can do is have control of their blood sugars.  For a normal person, their blood sugars run between 90 and 100.  A diabetics will range all over the place depending on their control what they've had to eat, how stressed they are, if they are sick, if they are being physically active... Hopefully you get the picture.  For the vast majority of diabetics, 4-6 times a day we stick our fingers and test our blood with these small devices.  We can't do anything without them... until recently.

The real time monitor I know wear tests my blood sugars every 5 minutes.  Two hundred and forty four times a day.  In addition, it wirelessly transmits the data to my insulin pump, tracks it, and alerts me if my blood sugar is below or above set thresholds or if its noticing a rapid upwards or downwards trend.

Bicycling Magazine last month had a great article on Team Type 1, which is a domestic cycling team.  Many of the guys on the team have Type 1 diabetes, and every member of the team rides with a CGM.  They've found that with the information on the body's blood sugar, they can accurate track and predict when riders need fuel and when they need to eat to maintain top performance.    The team doctor went on to say that he expects in the next 5-10 years a CGM will be the training tool for competitive cyclists.

I look forward to seeing the data, making adjustments to my training and diet, and flat out living better now that I have my CGM.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Barton, thy name is CARNAGE


I was excited for today's race.  I had heard mythical stories of the battleground known as Barton Park.  Legend states it was one of the most brutal courses of the season... fast and technically challenging due to its potential for soupy mud and loose packed gravel.

Loose packed gravel? MY KRYPTONITE! ...*gurgle*.

Truthfully, I was looking forward to the race.  The forecast called for rain to hit the area all weekend, and sure enough at 9pm last night it was raining so hard outside I thought the washing machine was running longer than normal.  The only other muddy race this season was Alpenrose, and I had scored my best result of the year there.

The car is packed and ready to go the night before.  We roll out and arrive at Barton Park just before 7:45 with Greg right behind us.  The heart and soul of PVCX, Sal and Heidi, are there already unloading their truck.

We make quick work of the 2 team tents and bike stands.  Our newest teammate Daryl sets up the changing tent, and my friend from college Nick shows up to participate in his very first bike race ever.  Yeah... I'm that type of friend.  "Dude, you should total come race Barton Park!  It's close to your house!"

We sign in and I get to see that my 2 weeks of back of the pack starting have paid off with a first line draw.  Things are lining up for a good race.

We pre-ride, and I talk with Nick about the different things to think about.  He's laughing and having a great time, excited for the race.  Traci shoots off in front of us and we see her minutes later off her bike.  She took a spill in the mogul section and bleeding from a few scrapes and scratches.  We give her a few moments to collect herself and we proceed on, waiting to see what Barton throws at us next.

We arrive near the finish before a crazy off camber descent followed by a massive run-up.  I have a spring in my step as crest the top and remount, noting the short distance before the finish.  Around the hairpin and... you've got to be kidding me.  The biggest drop I've seen in a cross race is staring me in the face.  I ride through it tentatively, overshooting the exit of the corner and riding up a small portion of the gravel bank.   I'll definitely have to figure that out to do well today. 

We arrive at the team tent and get Nick setup to go.  I want to go see him start, but I'm not yet dress for my race.  Traci heads up with him and I methodically begin my pre-race routine. 15 minutes later the first Beginner racers come down the off camber descent.  We cheer for Glen has he comes past, smiles and all.  A short bit later Nick comes through and shouts to us that he totally ate it at the bottom of the huge drop.  He proceeded to get up, take a bow and get back on his bike.  Nick in a nutshell.  The sky clears and the sun comes out.  We laugh as Heidi is grumpy, wanting it to pour.

Our race lines up, and I slide in next to Murray from TV and introduce myself to Matt from Team S&M about 3 rows deep on the right side.  Matt and I rode together for a good portion of the costume race, and he was the only person who accepted a fish stick from me willingly.

The whistle blows and I get a good jump, slotting myself in the top 5 right away.  The riders ahead of me are good bike handlers and strong riders. We quickly start putting distance into the field and by the time we get to the pavement section through the RV parking we've distanced a good portion of the field.  I stay in the top 5 through the first lap, finding good lines over the majority of the course. 

My strategy is simple since my fitness isn't where it needs to be in order to stay competitive... Hang on as long as you can and minimize mistakes.  Crush the run-up's.

Half way through lap 2 on rider has opened a gap on my group and a pair of riders has caught us from the back.  The group rides as a long chain through the back gravel track and over the pavement.  I use the time to recover.  The mogul section inevitably spreads the group out every lap as the first riders into the section slow the ones trailing them.  I try to make a move before we get to that section, but everyone seems to have the same idea.  I back off allowing the others to fight for lines and slow incase I have to dismount quickly.  The lack of aggression puts me at the back of the chasing group of 7 but keeps my heart rate in check.  I hope it pays dividends later.

Lap 3 and 4 play out mostly the same, and other than hitting every single yellow cone on the off camber descent on Lap 3, I'm riding well.  I'm caught by a few strong riders from behind, but make up some places from riders in front of me who are tiring.  Every pass by the team tent is met with a huge cheer.  Dave from Ironclad is keeping tabs on my place, calling it out as I pass their tent.

The race is going well coming into the bell lap.  I make a move during the run up and pass a pair of guys on the inside.  Disaster strikes as I try to remount.  I miss my saddle, the bike out of position as my leg swings over.  I try to catch my balance and just as my weight loads onto my foot, my knee buckles. 

I hear a crunch.

I feel a pop.

Pain shoots through my body.

I cry out. 

A spectator gasps to my right.

The crowd seems to grow quiet in my world.  I don't hear the announcer, the ringing of the final lap bell has gone mute.

I limp step a few times, and manage to get mounted.  I can barely bend my knee making it difficult to clip in.  I wobbly cross the finish line trying not to take out the two riders who I had just passed going wide through the corner.  I'm still not clipped in and the descent is coming up much quicker than my glacial speed should possibly allow.

I finally feel the cleat engage mere meters before the drop.  I barely make it down the hill upright.  I crawl past the team tent, another rider passes me.  The pedals don't want to turn over.  I ride the next sections slowly, happy for the gap I had worked for.  I'm dreading the incline section before the concrete barrier.

I approach it slow, another pair of riders pass me both muscling up over the hill out of the saddle.  I can barely twist my leg to unclip, limp-stepping up the hill.  I remount and ride the short distance to the concrete.

"You wreck?"  Murray rolls up next to me as we approach the wall.

"Twisted my knee..." I say as we hit the barrier together.  He gets over quickly and is off.  I step down cautiously making sure to land on my right leg and carefully remount.  I use the flat fast sections to minimize the damage. Keeping the others in site.  It works for a while until the first technical right hand corner.  Instinct has me trying to put weight on the outside pedal, my knee veto's the idea violently causing my rear wheel to fishtail.  Another rider passes me.

We hit the pavement section for the last time and a small group of riders are just in front of me. I latch on to the back of them and try to stay close through the camp grounds.  A quick glance back shows a huge gap before the next riders.  My race is now in front of me.

We hit the gravel before the moguls.  I downshift to the small ring for the first time all day hoping to be able to spin over the bumps.  "PAIN IS ONLY TEMPORARY" I hear Bob from Tireless Velo yell at me as I make my way through the trees.  I can only imagine the look on my face spurred the comment.  I hope he got a photo.

I exit the moguls having lost precious momentum and witness a large gap in front of me.  I can hear a rider behind me coming through the moguls.  I was much slower than I had hoped.

I try and power my way through the soup around the bridge with one leg, my front tire acting more like a plow than a wheel at times.  The off camber run up is horrifically painful.

The final ride on the ridge is in desperation.  I ride in the drops, right leg pulling and pushing with the grudgingly moving in useless circles.   I roll through the off camber descent and look towards the Beast in front of me.  The Beast has left me wounded and crippled, knowing that I have to challenge it once more to be done.  The crowd lining the hill is in a frenzy, urging rider after rider to slay the Beast of Barton.

I dismount and shoulder my bike, digging in for the last surge.  I look for solid footholds for my left foot, and drive hard off my right. Over and over I repeat the dance, gaining moment, gaining speed.  I hear friends and teammates urging me on.  With a final lunge I crest the hill and see a group of riders just in front of me.  I forgo the remount and half limp, half sprint to the right, twisting my body to avoid a swerving rider.

I catch every one of them and stumble across the line.  I barely making it to the sideline before I lean heavily on my bike.  My knee has seized up and I can't put any weight on it.

Murray and some other finishers are there.  I quickly explain what happened and ask for the medic.  Bonnie is at my side helping me to the ground a moment later.

The examination is quick and relatively painless.  Knee injuries are not new to me, having replaced ACL's in both knees.  I suspect I have re-injured a previous cartilage tear which made me give up volleyball in '06. 

Bonnie would get little rest on this day of carnage.  Our team would work with her to triage a rider who took a serious header on the off camber descent.  A bit later I hear Kenji went down with a broken collarbone.  Another of our teammates Sierra goes down on her first or second lap with what ends up being a broken collarbone.  Bonnie wasn't even able to complete her examination of her right away as she was summoned to the bottom of the huge hill due to another major crash.

Traci decided to forgo the race and I think he decision was a good one.  She will be able to do battle next week at PIR and the week after at Hillsboro.  My future is up in the air right now.  Rest, ice, compression, elevation, and Advil will be my mantra for the foreseeable future.