Injury is a part of Racing

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Yep, it is a fact, that if you race bikes long enough then you are going to be injured.  How injured depends on a long list of things.  On the top of that list I would say luck would have to reside. Having good luck when it comes to getting injured is key.  No question I have hurt myself in the sport, but by far, the most hurt I’ve been are situations out of my control, for the most part.

Both Bicycling and Outside have done articles that “feature” me with some relation to being hurt.  The Bicycling article was a photo pointing to places, mainly broken bones I’ve had, then trying to equalize the risk with the rewards, like a resting pulse rate of 35.  The Outside article was just a story about how I stitch myself up sometimes after falling MTB racing.   Both were okay, correct, but didn’t really address why riders get hurt.

I have been hurt a ton, but it comes in streaks.  I broke my collarbone at Superweek, the first year I left the state of Kansas to race, when I was 14.   I drove home, saw an orthopedic doctor and asked him if I could still race Nationals the next week.  He said yes, so we loaded back up and went back to race Nationals.  Man, doctoring has changed a bunch since then.

I have broken both my collarbones a few times.  All those breaks were before clipless pedals.  Since then, I haven’t broken one.  I’ve separated my shoulders, but no broken collarbones.

I think I was hurt a lot just because of the load of racing.  Nearly all the huge injuries I’ve had are in races.   I was doing over 100 races days a year, for a long time, and during that time is when I was hurt the most.  When I switched over to MTB racing in the 90’s, I had a long duration of relatively injury free competition.  Sure, a few big cuts that needed stitching, but no broken bones, etc.

That lasted a long time, until about 5 years ago.  Kind of since I started writing here.  Since then I’ve had 4 major injuries.  And all could have not happened without bad luck.

I don’t learn much from getting hurt racing.  I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not.  I take it as what it really is, just a part of the sport.  I accept this.  When you start weighing the risks involved in cycling, you don’t want to dwell on them too long or you might just scare yourself too much to enjoy it fully.

Anyway, I have a shoulder issue, that, I hope, isn’t going to turn into a major issue.  I did an MRI and have torn something like 1 cm or my rotator cuff.  On my “good arm”.  The orthopedic guy that Stacie found here at Scripps, is super.  He called me last night at close to 10 o’clock and talked to me for a while about his thoughts.  He is going to look at the MRI scan himself, not just the radiologists’ report and then call me later today.

I have no intention of doing surgery on this shoulder.  I did the other one a few years ago and it is a nightmare.  Plus, it really still doesn’t work that great.   I’m going to try to do rehab and see if I can live with the outcome.  If not, then I’ll address that later.

Here are a couple drawings Stacie made for me yesterday, trying to explain what was the matter.  I liked them, even though they seemed complicated.

My left shoulder has a 3’rd degree separation. That isn’t the problem.

Laying around, broken, in a small hospital in England after crashing into a car at the British Milk Race.

Missing Racing

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This weekend there are a couple races that I would normally be doing.  I’m missing it.  But I understand that it isn’t quite the right time to be doing them.

The first one is the Gravelluer’s Raid, a 100 mile gravel race in Lawrence Kansas.  I’ve done the race the past two years and ridden the whole day with my friend and team mate, Brian Jensen.  We’ve always had pretty tough conditions, either from storms with wind or just plain wind.  So it is an effort.

My highest wattage reading has been from this race.  Plus it has been good mileage.  After I finish, I eat a piece of pizza, drink a beer and do the 30 miles home on gravel.

The 2nd race, which is conflicting with Gravelluer’s is Joe Martin.  It is the 40th year for Joe Martin and I really enjoy that race.  I haven’t done the race every year, but I’ve ridden it a lot.   I did it maybe 38 years ago, when Joe was still around, so that kind of dates me.  Last year I rode just the 1/2 race, not making up my mind to go until last minute.  I really enjoyed that race.  It is much less controlled than the Pro race, thus more interesting.  At least to me.  Plus, it gives you a big boost in form early season.

Anyway, I knew I probably wouldn’t be racing much by now, even though I have already done one race.  I’ve been riding okay recently and feeling better day by day  Not necessarily feeling better riding, but feeling better in general.  The symptoms from this TBI are slowly, but surely going away, which is sort of a relief.  You never know how it is going to turn out.

My shoulder MRI could have been worse.  I have a tear, I think 6 mm, in my supraspinatus tendon.  At least it isn’t severed.  I have to go back to the doctor, here in California, after he sees the MRI himself.  He suggests I try to rehab it and if I can’t stand the pain sleeping or doing everyday activities, then get it fixed surgically in a few months.  I have no intention of doing that.

LIke I said originally, I’m going to miss being in Lawrence Saturday.  Brian is coming back from Colorado.  Bill is racing.  Even Catherine Walberg signed up for the 100 mile adventure.  She is apprehensive, but will be great.   I wish them all good luck.

 

Tour of Flanders Media

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I like to hear the rider’s views on their specific form and thoughts about upcoming races, but the new way that these guys talk seems a little weird to me.  There seems to be way more confidence exuded when maybe there should be a little more modesty during the interviews.  I don’t know exactly, but I do know only one guy wins the race and the other 199 guys lose.

I think it is fine for someone to feel confident.  But cycling isn’t the sport where the strongest guy wins the race.  There are so many things going on that saying that you are the outright favorite is a little naive.

Take Greg Van Avermaet’s interview about the Tour of Flanders.  He has had a pretty stellar early season, winning 3 very important races.   He is so happy that he says – “I don’t think I can say anymore that I’m not the favourite.”   At least he doesn’t exactly say that he is the favorite, but it is really the same thing.

Then there is the DS of Quick-Step talking about Peter Sagan and their tactics.He said, “We try to win… but if we don’t win then he loses,”     I get the tactic, but being public with that tactic is just wrong.  Sagan, in my opinion, is the “race favorite” and of course, a team would be remiss if they didn’t take him into consideration when it comes to tactics.  But to outright say that if we don’t win, then he doesn’t win, is bullshit.  They must be really scared of him way more than GvA.  Again, in my opinion.

Anyway, Flanders is a beautiful race.  Better than Paris-Roubaix because much of the bad luck doesn’t exist.  It should be a exciting race, since so many guys seem to think they are going well enough to win the race.  Even Phillipe Gilbert is coming onto form now.

Maybe some of the riders, and directors, can just tone it down a notch and act a little more modest or civil, considering?   And just let the race on Sunday decide who is the best on the day.

 

 

Big Gear Climbing

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I have been riding some and have pretty much had to stay seated nearly the whole ride because my left shoulder has been hurting.  That isn’t “my normal” climbing position.  I can climb seated, but tend to stand pretty often.  I think that is to relieve the pressure and to add more power.  It seems like the older I get, the longer I can stand, which seems counterintuitive.

Anyway, I haven’t been climbing all that much, but enough.  And my knees seem to hate me for it.  Both my knees have been a little achy recently and I am sure it is from riding too long seated. Yesterday I couldn’t stand it anymore and started riding some standing up.  I was mildly surprised that my shoulder was somewhat working.

Anyway, any injury worries me now as I age.  Things just take longer to heal.  So I try to be observant and fix the problems before they become chronic.   Cycling is a pretty great sport because it is easy to fix positional and minor issues that arise.

I was thinking about my knees and wondering why they might hurt and then I remembered riding with Eric Heiden when he took a bet to climb Loveland Pass in a 53 x 12.  I wrote a few paragraphs about it a few years ago.   Eric climbed Loveland Pass, doing like 25 rpms and then a couple days later, had to go to Denver, to see a doctor, because his knees hurt.  Eric has unbelievable power, so that doesn’t surprise me so much.  But, I figure if Eric Heiden’s knees can’t stand too much seated climbing, overgeared, then for sure, my knees won’t.

I did a MRI on my shoulder yesterday and the results weren’t a surprise.  I have a screwed up rotator cuff.  It isn’t as bad as the right one I destroyed at cyclocross Nationals in Madison a few years ago, but it isn’t good.  I’ve felt the problem for a few months, but exacerbated it in Moab. Maybe that was a good thing, time will tell.  I wouldn’t have addressed it without making it worse.

I’m going to get a cortisone shot tomorrow and try to do some personal rehab.  Time will tell whether I get it professionally fixed, ie surgery, or just live with it.  The last time I can’t say I was all that happy with how it turned out.  Maybe it would be a good time to swing by Park City and visit Eric?

Eric Heiden leading me at the Coor’s Classic. Alexi is behind me.

 

 

Little Short of Time

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Gotta make this short.  I have a MRI scheduled for 8:45 this morning.  Actually, more accurately, Stacie has a MRI scheduled for me at 8:45.  I was having some trouble doing it all on my own.  I left Moab and drove to California to do it.  I have a few things to do out here all ready, so it wasn’t out of the way, really.

I am pretty sure what the MRI is going to say about my shoulder.  It has been hurting since I hit my head 5 months ago.  Little movement, etc.  It isn’t a bone.  I think I tore my rotator cuff, which isn’t new.

I added to that in Moab, but that is probably a good thing.  I wasn’t going to address it without it being like it is now, which is sort of unusable.

Trudi is back in Belgium after doing a week long stage race with the BMC Development Team. Now she has a day or two, then is heading to Spain for a stage race with the BMC Pro Team. Then back to Belgium/France for Paris-Roubaix, I think.  It took her a while to get used to the time switch this year, but seems all good now.

Okay, like I said, I have to scoot.  It took a lot of phone call and maneuvering to get this scheduled.  I somewhere lost my driver’s license.  I have no idea where.  Guess I’m going to take my little plastic passport card to prove who I am.  I have my insurance card, which is kind of all they really care about usually.

I usually just fall asleep in these things.

 

 

Lovin’ Riding More

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I really like riding my bicycle.  I thought about this after I saw an article quoting Bradley Wiggins where he said, when asked if he missed cycling – No. As much as I love cycling, it’s come full circle and I hate the thing now. I haven’t been on the bike since the Six Days of Gent back in November.

I never was a big Bradley Wiggins fan and this just confirms my overall view of the guy.

I guess he looked at the sport as a job and not as a life choice.  I have thought of cycling as a job, a very few times, when I was suffering miserably and could only try to justify that by saying someone was paying to do it.  But, I can count those times on one hand.

Since I had a TBI last October, cycling has been the biggest part of “the cure”.  I was sleeping less than an hour a night until I started riding indoors after a month. Instantly I started sleeping over 4 hours, which was a game changer.

Since then, always the best I feel is when I’m riding.  I have no idea the reason why, but it somehow makes my body sync better to the current situation.

Plus, I just like riding my bike.  I like riding it with friends, meeting other riders,  or just alone, checking out the surroundings.  There is no better speed to absorb your surrounding than on a bicycle.  Walking is too slow and driving is way too fast normally.

I’m a little tweaked right now.  I’m trying to address the minor stuff that is left over from October.  My shoulders were screwed up from October, but I hurt my left one a bit more in Moab.  Maybe more than a little more, but I’ll find that out soon.

So I’m just sort of riding around, enjoying the scenery.  That is fine.  I’m not really on a agenda.  I’d like to be, but I don’t think I am in control of that currently.  It is a slow process, but at least I can still reap the rewards from the freedom that cycling gives.

Guess I’m gonna pass 3000 miles today for the year.

 

 

 

Making Space Climbing

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The first year I went to Europe, the first race I did on the US National Team was the Tour of Vaucluse.  It was a pretty big pro/am race, with some of the best pros in the world racing mainly again the best guys from the USSR.  I was just there to learn and spectate.

That year, maybe the third stage we were to ride over the Ventoux.  We weren’t finishing at the very top, but were riding up it and then descending and doing another 50 kms or so.

We could see the Ventoux from Avignon.  It was imposing.  Anyway, we started riding and the climb is long. There is a steady grade going up to it, then we did a left hand turn and the pitch got steep.  This is at the bottom.

The field was together, a huge group and we were all riding way too close together, for my liking.  I noticed that guys started standing up, for no apparent reason, and then a space would open around them.

I saw this happen a few times before I tried it.  It worked amazingly.  It wasn’t like anyone was trying to physically open a space, but the whole act of standing takes more room and the riders next to you have to adjust.  So, maybe they were physically trying to open a space.  And it is more a side to side space, not a front to back space.

I stayed in the big peloton for maybe a couple more kilometers until they started racing at the front.  Then I got shelled.  I lost a lot of time that day, along with Jeff Pierce, a US team mate.  Jeff eventually won the final stage of the Tour de France a few years later.

I always liked climbing better in Europe than here in the US.  The gradients are steeping and there are usually way more switchbacks.  It better suited my style.

Anyway,  I did learn an important thing for climbing that day.  Baby steps is what makes a good cyclist.

Not the Tour Vaucluse, but climbing up Mt. Diablo at the Coor’s Devil’s Cup outside Walnut Creek, CA.

Some old results from the Tour Vaucluse that year.