“Dude, You’re just Gnarly.”

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I saw a few guys walking around at the criterium Sunday in Lawrence with broken collarbones. I’m always interested listening to the story about exactly what happened, from the rider’s perspective, how they perceived the wreck occurred and how they thought they could have avoided it. It is sort of weird, but all they guys I talked to, it was their first broken collarbones and they didn’t seem too bummed out about it. I like that – “Just a part of racing and I’ll move on.”

Anyway, I was talking to this one guy and he asked me how my shoulder was doing. He looked at it and say something like how gnarly it looked. I told him his collarbone might not heal all that perfectly either. I was talking about some of my thoughts about surgery or not surgery. I did agree with him that it didn’t look that aesthetically great and maybe, if anything, surgery might help with that. He said something like, “Dude, You’re just gnarly anyway, don’t worry about your shoulder.” It wasn’t exactly it, but that was pretty close. He was a super nice guy and seemed to mean it in a complimentary way, but it was going through my mind while riding yesterday what he actually meant.

When he said it, I thought that I am pretty scarred and broken up in general, so if I was only fixing this one drooping shoulder for aesthetics, it would be like putting a bandage on a sucking chest wound. But, thinking about it, I doubt this guy has any idea about how many broken collarbones, legs, etc. I’ve had through the years.

So, I’m not actually sure what he meant. Now I’m thinking of just gnarly in general. I’m not sure what that means, but I know he meant it nicely.

Anyway, I looked up the definition of gnarly and saw a million different definitions. Not until I got to the UrbanDictionary.com did I find a few that I hope he meant.

I don’t really think that much about describing myself. I’d hate to have to do a questionnaire that you have to come up with adjectives that you think describe your personality. But, if I would, I know I never would have used the word gnarly. But, after talking to this guy, I like it; so, maybe I would now. The after race interactions are sometimes just as memorable as the in race experiences. The sport is very cool.

20 thoughts on ““Dude, You’re just Gnarly.”

  1. Greg

    Steve, I had a shoulder that looked like that. Got it fixed so I would have full strength and mobility of it. 10 years later, I am glad I did. Recovery wasn’t much. Was back racing 1 month later.

  2. P.

    I didn’t have mine fix. However, it does not as bad as your. It’s a level 1 separation. If mine look like that I would have it fixed.

  3. Brent

    Fell on right shoulder and the impact broke my left collarbone, very strange. No surgery and healed such that my left side is now about 1/2 inch shorter than right, but no lasting effects other than localized irritation during very long events over 4 hours

  4. Steve

    I have had the surgery twice. First time they put a screw in and reattached the ligament. Good as new. 20 years later tore the shoulder again. This time they used a cadaver tendon to repair. Good as new again.

  5. Mark Feher

    Get the thing fixed. Yes, it’s hard to fit it in the busy schedule, but shit you have nothing to prove on the bike and missing a couple of races won’t kill you. You’ll be back good as new and kicking ass before too long.

    You can even do a live video of the repair and stream it here on the blog. That would be GNARLY.

  6. Doug Punches

    Steve, I was bit by a car and broke mine in 5-places.
    I demanded surgery and felt 99% better literally an hour after surgery. I still have a plate and 8-screws, but it was definitely worth it. Besides, the scar is GNARLY!

  7. H Luce

    If you can still ride and win races, then don’t have the surgery. If the pain from it is so great that you can’t ride, then surgery is the option, but your healing time will be a lot longer at 52 than it would be at age 32, or 22. And if you can’t cool off the racing, you’ll screw up the surgery and have to get it fixed again… so that means if you get surgery, you’ll be out for at least 3 months, and then you’ll have to get back the lost conditioning, which will be the rest of the year. When and if you retire from racing, you might want to get it fixed, you just have to figure out how long you intend to continue to race.

  8. Doug Punches

    PS – I’m 54. I was 52 when I had my surgery. I was home 4-hours after I walked in the Surgery Center and off work for 3-days. The stitches were out in a week and I was off the bike for 1-month. Other than the car shoulder strap rubbing the incision, It really wasn’t that big of a deal.

  9. Roberto

    Mine looks exactly like yours, and i’m getting it fixed at the end of the year, or when I retire from racing. I’m planning on retiring after Worlds next year. I’m your age, and it’s just getting harder and harder to train right. I won’t race any farther than age 55. Still plan on riding though.

  10. Jeff M

    That’s your shoulder??? That guy was right. You are definitely one of the gnarliest riders there ever was and will be! Tough as nails til the end. You’re an Inspiration to all humankind Steve. Period!

  11. Ken

    My first thought looking at that was “How is that even functional?”
    Tommy D separated his shoulder today in the Tour. It will be interesting to see how bad and what they do. Maybe the two of you can get together and get a “group shoulder” photo.

  12. chris

    you’re obviously a tough and gnarly dude. i’ve separated both my shoulders, but nothing as gnarly as that. time to get the surgery. in 5-8 years you won’t be able to abduct about 90 degrees, and horizontal adduction/abduction will be a real bitch, as you’ve noticed currently with your sprinting.

  13. Mike Rodose

    Dont fix it. Join our club of 3rd/4th degree shoulders with natural healing (talked out of surgery).

    Put a parrot on the perch and say aaargh whenever you feel pain.

  14. Joey Mesa

    My left shoulder looks pretty much the same as yours. Ironically, I seperated mine on a ride that Wayne Stetina was on. It was a shimano wheel demo thing in Austin, and it was also the first time I ever rode on carbon tubular wheels. Long story short, the bars got knocked out of my hands when I hit one of those city titty lane divider things, and I went off the road into a ditch.
    Anyway, that was 7 years ago. I’ve never had any surgery or anything on that or the 3 broken collar bones. My seperated shoulder took around 6 months, I think, to feel ok to do a push up. I don’t really have any issues with it now, other than it still looks gross, and it hurts some after a hour+ on a TT bike. I can sprint fine as long as my lungs can keep up. In my case, I think my body/riding style just adapted over time. I’ll get it fixed if it becomes an issue, but I don’t see any reason to at this point.

  15. Dan

    Steve I would get it fixed . It will prevent tearing up the soft tissue if it is put back in position. Think of how much better you will feel a year from now after being fixed. Like Austin Powers with his MOJO Back

  16. paul

    Gnarly, take it as a compliment. It does work better in the third person, not as well in the second as he used it

  17. Thomas

    Steve i promise you this when you are 70 you will regret not having the surgery. On one of your adventures talk to someone who is old and ask them about not having an injury fixed years ago and all the issues they are NOW dealing with.


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