Friday, January 27, 2012

A Degree in Medicine Leads to Great Advice....

Well, it’s not showing any sign of healing so obviously the ultrasonic bone stimulator isn’t working” These words were spoken by my orthopedic surgeon for this my 8th visit and after 28 weeks of “healing”

Evidently, as she explained it, the clavicle is a notoriously slow healer due to low blood flow in the area and as many as 15% of fractures end up as a non-union after 6 months. So, I’m in good company and completely normal (my wife may disagree with that)

My next question was, obviously “well, what now?” At which point she suggested we talk to the head orthopedic surgery guy and she went to get him. After talking to him, showing that I had full range of motion, wasn’t having any pain (which surprised him) and felt good, he basically said, it’s up to you… We can do surgery, which entails putting in a titanium plate and a bunch of screws. (I asked if it came in carbon fiber but he obviously isn’t a cyclist cuz he didn’t even crack a smile) or we can leave it be.

Now, since I’m kind of a bottom line guy and since he wasn’t really offering any suggestions, I really wanted to discuss both options with the hope of coming to a decision. Sort of like the upside/downside lists I tend to make when confronted with big decisions.

Me – so, lets explore both of these options - surgery?
Head Ortho Surgery Guy - Surgery would involve about 6-8 weeks off the bike while it healed and would result in the bones lining back up and being reinforced.
Me – What happens if I crash after surgery (I mean, it’s bound to happen right?)
Head Ortho Surgery Guy – Well, with the plate in there the break is reinforced but the bones on either side will most likely fracture
Me – Ok, what if I don’t do surgery?
Head Ortho Surgery Guy – if we leave it alone, you go on your merry way, there’s no downtime, but the bones would be out of line and not reinforced
Me – What happens if I crash?
Head Ortho Surgery Guy - Without the plate, the break isn’t reinforced and the bones on either side of the break will most likely fracture
Me – So, as I understand it, either way, another bad crash and something there will break, but if I have surgery I have to stay off the bike for 6-8 weeks?
Head Ortho Surgery Guy – yep
Me – what do you suggest?
Head Ortho Surgery Guy – I suggest you try not to crash....

And there you have it…’s simple really…..Just try not to crash….

The decision seems pretty simple. I'm not in pain, I can ride my bike and whether or not I have surgery, I should avoid crashing(which I do anyway), I'm skipping the surgery and riding my bike. Why would I want to go under the knife if the end result is going to be the same and all it will do is take me off the bike for 8 weeks?


With the exception of last week’s rain, this year’s winter weather has been mild to say the least. It seems more like Fall is 6 months long. Which should be a great thing for my fitness level since, were I so inclined, I could probably ride 7 days a week.

The reality though is that I think my body knows it’s winter and despite the clear skies, has decided it would be better off hibernating. My motivation level is at an all time low, my eating habits are at an all time high and my waistline and weight are at record levels….levels not seen in years.

Normally, this isn’t such a bad thing. During a normal winter, most of my riding friends are in the exact same boat and we all use the same “weather sucks too bad to ride” excuse. This year though, I fear it’s just me. Most of my friends are actually taking advantage of the mild weather and riding as much as they can.

I have gotten a couple of rides in though. Two weeks ago, my buddy Chris and I played hooky from work and took the mountain bikes down to Santa Cruz and rode Demo Forest. The last time I had been here was back in 2008 which is crazy since it’s an amazing place to ride and only an hour from home. This time though, the results were much better than the last time we rode it.

The nice part about mid-week rides (and mid-week ski days for that matter) is that the places you go are usually pretty empty. Thursday was no exception. There were two other cars in the parking lot with the people from both those cars pedaling off in the opposite direction as we pulled up.

Chris and I got set and headed out pedaling up the road and around the backside of the park to the top of the hill. The funny thing is this is supposed to be the easy way up and due to my “winter” fitness level, I was breathing hard pretty much right out of the gate.

Eventually my heart rate seemed to settle down and as we got to the top we got ready to enjoy the fruits of our labors with some nice singletrack downhill. The funny thing was the fire road just continued down and we didn’t see the singletrack trail that we were expecting to see.
Well after heading way further down the road than we planned, we realized our error and turned around to head back up the way we had come…..good thing I LOVE climbing….except in winter when I’m fat and slow and lazy….

Eventually though, we did reach the bottom of the downhill, which is actually about 3 miles and several hundred feet below the parking lot we started in…..funny I didn’t remember this part being ALL uphill last time….

At this point, it was about 1:30 and having had breakfast at 5:30 that morning, I could tell I was nearing the “completely outta gas” stage. I had a granola bar in my camelback, but didn’t want to stop to eat, I just wanted to get back to the truck….unfortunately, my body DID want to stop and since I ignored it, it decided to shut down on me. I continued riding and making circles with my legs, but there was nothing in the tank. Every incline reduced me to my granny gear and as Chris continued to pull ahead, I could do nothing to catch him.
Thankfully we eventually made it back and after chatting with the other 3 riders who also made it back around the same time, got on the road and headed home. 1 gatorade a banana and 2 granola bars later, I almost felt human. So human, that when I got home, I grabbed my lights, refilled my camelback and headed over to Chabot to meet the gang for the Thursday night ride.

It quickly became apparent though that I’m not nearly the macho, 2 ride per day stud that I thought I was. I barely survived Brandon, doing the whole thing in my granny and pulling up to the top well after the rest of the group. It was there that I actually made a good decision to take the short way back and let the group continue without me. (see mom, I do make good choices once in a while)

All in all I ended up with about 23 miles and almost 4000ft of climbing for the day….needless to say, after a shower and some grub, I slept like the dead…..

Monday, January 9, 2012

Whose idea was this???

It's 36 degrees, pitch dark and there's not another car in the parking lot.....what am I doing at Lake Chabot at 6:15 on a Saturday morning.....
Oh, that's right, I wanted to try out the new Contour helmet camera and get some sunrise shots from the top of Brandon....I'm literally shivering as I put on my helmet, turn on my handlebar light, clip and begin pedaling towards ten-hills...maybe I should have skipped the sunrise idea....

I make a point of reaching up and turning on the camera at the beginning of every downhill section. Satisfied to hear the beep indicating I actually did turn it on through my thick full fingered gloves....then turn it off as I begin the uphill portions.  No sense in letting everyone see just how slow I climb.

I'm huffing and puffing pretty quickly and after the first couple of short climbs I'm no longer worried about the cold.  Although my toes are still freezing, my baselayer, long sleeve jersey, shorts and knee-warmers have me pretty comfortable as I negotiate the trail in the darkness with my handlebar light illuminating the frost along the trails edge.

As I cut through the golf course parking lot, I receive some pretty weird looks from the golfers who, in my opinion are even more nuts for being out here in the cold to chase a little white ball around the frozen course. I mean, they won't even expend enough energy to get warm....I begin the climb up Brandon and I'm racing daylight......the barely discernible glow over the eastern hills pushing me beyond my comfort zone as I upshift and stand in an effort to make sure I'm at the turnout before the colors start to show in the sky.
I make it to the top just as the sky starts to catch fire from the coming sunrise....the colors exploding across the horizon as wisps of fog cling to the lower valleys.  I try to pull of my gloves, unzip the camera case and slow my breathing enough to get a stable shot all at the same time as I claim my victory in the race for daylight.....and am rewarded with maybe two nice shots and several that are blurry from my shaking hands and ragged breathing.

The sunrise warms things slightly although my toes have still failed to thaw as I begin pedaling up Redtail narrating in my head, the video I'll put together at the end of the ride and thinking of suitable soundtracks to capture the energy and the enthusiasm of this morning's ride.  I'm pretty slow going up so I make sure to stop the video before every climb and reach up to turn it back on at the beginning of the descents.

I push the envelope a bit on the downhills, knowing the video will be seen by people that ride these same trails both faster and better than I do, but hoping the blur of the scenery is enough to at least fool the viewers into thinking I have some semblence of skill.  At one point I come around a corner on Soaring Hawk mostly in control and scatter a rafter of turkeys.....(yes, a rafter, I looked it up, a group of turkeys is really called a rafter) I make a point of turning my head to watch them fly up into the trees knowing that this will be a very cool part of the video.

As I cut down through Bort Meadow and back to the stone bridge, I'm getting tired.  I stop, take the required "Bike Shot" and wolf down a clif bar. Its funny just how hard these things get when they're frozen.....

As I wind back around the lake and up the hill to the parking lot, I see that it's much busier now, almost half full and with several riders gearing up to head out. Its only as I take off my helmet and grab the video camera that I notice.....oh gotta be kidding's true....I just did the whole entire loop with the lense cap still on the video camera.....

Oh well, it gives me an excuse to do it again and at least I had the other camera with me for some still shots...