Monday, August 29, 2011

A Thank You Letter to Bell Sports...

It’s funny that in last week’s crash, I was immediately aware of the broken collarbone and the copius amounts of road rash that I had sustained. The interesting thing is, that until I was in the ER and the doctor looked at my head, I didn’t even realize that I had a pretty significant scrape and hefty little lump on the right side of my head just above and behind the eye socket.

Later as I looked at my helmet, it dawned on me that had I not been wearing it, the outcome of the incident could have been much different.  And for that I want to thank Bell Helmets.

For the past several years, I’ve worn a Bell Alchera helmet.  It’s a great combination of price and value.  My first one was a black, carbon fiber looking one that I got at Performance Bike for about 50 bucks.  It fit my head well and it has a really nice retntion system that allows you to loosen or tighten it with a knob on the back.

After a few years and several thousand miles, the foam pads on the inside began to fall out.  Pretty sure the amount of sweat I produce had something to do with this and seeing as even trying to glue them in with a hot melt glue gun failed to hold, I decided to replace it.  It just so happens I also had gotten a new bike and wanted a helmet to match the color scheme I had going.....

So, off to Performance again and this time home with the exact same helmet, but in blue and white and with all the foam pads intact.  Amazingly, after 2 1/2 years, the price was still the same at around $50 bucks.

As I sit here and type this, looking at the photos of my helmet post-crash, it dawns on me just how thankful I am to Bell Sports for the Alchera Helmet.  It's a product that not only fits my head well, but offers a secure and easy to adjust retention system, great venting to keep my head cool and is available at a price that won't break the bank.  Add to all tha, the fact that I can still eat solid food and remember my name after putting it to the test and Bell has a customer for life.

This thing does exactly what it's supposed to do and at a fair price.....I'm not sure if I'll replace it with another Alchera or upgrade to one of the new swoopier, fancy models, I do know though, that I will alway wear a Bell Helmet.

Thank you Bell Sports!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The ER….

After meeting me on Redwood Rd and loading both me and the bike into the back of Michelle’s car, we dropped Michelle off at the parking lot where I left the truck so that she could take that home while Deb took me over to the ER to have my shoulder looked at.

One of the things I hate most about cycling is the clothing that road cyclists wear.  I completely understand the reason and purpose of the spandex shorts with their built in chamois and I’m totally sold on wearing them when I ride.  I enjoy the comfort the lightweight nylon jerseys provide and appreciate the pockets in the back where I can stash my gels and snacks.  What I don’t like is wearing them when I’m more than 10 ft away from the bike.  I feel self conscious and somewhat silly.  The shorts and jerseys are tight and with my middle-aged physique the jersey ends up looking like I’ve shoved 10 pounds of pork into a 5 lb sausage sleeve.  As a matter of fact, I always wear baggy shorts over them if there’s any chance I’ll have to be seen in public off the bike.

Today, of course was an exception.  I left my house in my spandex.  I planned on doing the ride, getting back in my truck and going home.  No side trips, no going out in public and no reason for anyone to see me off the bike…..Obviously that plan went out the window as soon as I crashed and now here I am, standing in the ER in shredded spandex and a ruined bike jersey.

Luckily at 9:00 on a Saturday morning, the ER isn’t quite in full swing yet and they got me registered and in process pretty quickly.  I went to x-ray where they took pictures of my shoulder, my ribs and my collarbone.  Everything looked good except of the course the collarbone.

From x-ray, they took me in to a room where I met with the doctor who not only showed me the x-ray, but provided a print out that I could save for future bragging rights.  Unfortunately this is also where I met the nurse that was going to clean out the road rash on my knee.

She was young and cute and seemed like a nice enough person….right up until she grabbed the sponge and water bottle that she used in the dark art of torture that she practiced…oh sure, she kept apologizing and tried to appear sincere, but I could tell that for some reason she hated me and wanted to see me cry….I didn’t of course, because I’m tougher than that…..ok, it’s possible I whimpered a bit, but I did it in a very manly way.

After what seemed like a full day of the Spanish Inquisition but was probably less than 10 minutes, she covered the wounds, the doctor deemed me fit and sent me home to begin my rest and recuperation period.

For anyone that knows me, you’ll understand when I say this is going to be the toughest part of the whole process for me.  I’m not really good at sitting still.  As a matter of fact, if I’m not sleeping, I prefer to be in motion.  The whole idea of spending the weekend laying on the couch would be like a prison sentence…..a sentence I have a feeling I’m going to be enduring for at least a couple of weeks…..

Friday, August 26, 2011

uh oh....crap...ouch.....

I was in the beginning stages of what was looking like it was going to be a great ride....I left the house at 7:00, got to the parking lot, unloaded and was on my bike beginning my ride by 7:30. It was cool, but not cold and traffic heading up Redwood Rd at this time on a Saturday morning was light.

As I passed the golf course and began the climb, I felt great! I hadn't been on a long ride in a few weeks and it felt good to be back on the road bike and riding alone on a beautiful morning. The climb up Redwood can either be a joy or a suffer-fest depending on my mood and current level of fitness. This morning, it went by really quickly and although I pushed the pace, I never once felt like I might blow up. The backside down to Pinehurst is a nice reward for the effort spent climbing and as I made the turn, I know it was going to be a great day!  The climbs were pushing my heart rate to the redline, but the descents and flats left me feeling good and I seemed to be recovering quickly.

My goal had been to meet Jerry and his group at the Orinda BART station or if my pace was off, then to run onto them somewhere between there and the top of Pinehurst.  I hammered the first climb on Pinehurst as hard as I could without exploding and as I got to the top, I was still feeling really good. I sat up and crusied throught the short flat section, finished off my first water bottle and got ready for my reward.....the narrow, fast downhill section on Pinehurst....

The first few turns were everything I expected. No cars, copius amounts of sunshine and me tucking my shoulder into every corner....the bike disappeared beneath me as I railed from corner to corner....I looked down and saw my speed was just over 25 mph. Fast but not a ridiculous downhill pace....What a great ride this was....and then all of a sudden it wasn't.....

In the blink of an eye, I had gone from leaned over and enjoying the grip provided by my Pro Race 3's to sliding across the road on my side to tumbling in the dirt of the far shoulder. As I stood to begin the inspection of both my body and my bike, another cyclist rode up to see if I was ok. As he helped me assess the damage I realized that in addition to quite a bit of road rash my right shoulder and collar bone were both feeling a little out of whack. I was almost afraid to look inside my jersey for fear of seeing a bone sticking out.....luckily that wasn't the case, but I could definitely tell it was broken.

Thankfully, once I got up and got myself together, I checked to find that I had cell service. This was surprising actually since I was out in the middle of the hills between Oakland and Orinda and nprmally don't have great coverage in this area.  After calling Jerry to let him know I wouldn't be meeting up with him, I called my wife and asked her and my daughter to start out towards Redwood Rd to meet up and pick me up.

As I pedaled back up Pinehurst, down the other side, then up Redwood,  I had time to think about how quickly things went from great to not so great and exactly what had gone wrong. I had worn my helmet, my bike was in top working order, I had definitely been going fast downhill, but felt completely comfortable and within my abilities.....the only thing I couldn't and didn't plan on was the gravel in the corner.

Could I have been seriously injured? Sure. If someone had been driving up the road as I slid across or had I been further down the hill and slammed into one of the large redwoods lining the road, or I could have not been wearing my helmet... things could have definitely ended badly.

But to be perfectly honest, I don't think there's anything I could have done differently to prevent the crash. Sure I could have stayed home in bed and prevented the entire event, but I think that to avoid anything you enjoy because you're afraid of getting hurt is a sad way to go through life.
Living is risky, that's the just the nature of it.

One of my all time favorite quotes is by Helen Keller that says: Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Taste of Failure...

Today, I was entered in to the Howell Mountain Challenge Mt Bike race. Without making excuses, I haven't  been riding as much as I should have been for a 20+ mile mt bike race and to be perfectly honest, I probably took it too lightly....

Afterall, I did an almost 50 mile road bike ride last weekend with some decent climbing and felt great....the truth though is that mountain biking and road biking, other than both being done on bicycles, have absolutely nothing in common.

For today's race, I had entered the Sport Class Single Speed division which is the same group
I had entered in the Sea Otter Classic back in April.....unfortunately for me, that was also the last time I had ridden 20 miles on the mountain bike.

For anyone that has ridden both road and mountain bikes, you understand the difference between the two....I compare the road bike to running long distance and the mountain bike to running wind sprints. Neither one is easy, both take training, good cardio fitness and strong legs....the mountain bike though, in my opinion is harder.....much hard that todays ride left me cramping and sore and wondering what the heck I was doing out there....

All of my non-excuses are leading up to what you've probably already figured out...I didn't do well today in the race....not only did I not do well, I DNF'd....after 10 miles of some steep ups and downs, amazing single track and more than a couple walking my bike sections, I came to the decision point where I could either turn right and do the second lap or turn left and call it a day.....yep...I turned left....the direction back to the beginning....the direction of failure

I don't race competitively, I don't get paid for riding my bike and today was just supposed to be why does it leaves such a crappy taste in my mouth that I DNF'd? Is it because I should have taken it more seriously and trained harder? Is it because I quit before riding to the point of failure like a real racer would have? Is it because I had to explain to everyone we talked to afterwards that I didn't finish?

Actually, it's all of those things....but even more, its because I let my ego lead me directly to this failure... I seriously thought I had this in the bag. I felt like I was in good enough shape that I could roll out of bed, show up for a tough 20+ mile mountain bike race and fake it well enough to pull off a respectable finish....

Sure I could have entered in the Class 3 group and my time of 1:17 probably would have netted me 4th place....but I didn't. I didn't think I needed to do that....I thought I was much better than I am at this point in the season....

So, what does failure taste tastes a lot like humble pie....