Little Rickety

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I’ve been going about my business and crossing my fingers that all this little issues I’ve had occur the past couple months will just take care of themselves.  They might be, but not quickly enough to appease me.

I’ve gotten pretty beaten up the past couple years.  Just beat up enough that I can still ride a bike, but doing daily tasks and normal life things is a struggle.  It is hard not to get frustrated on an hourly basis.

Right now the list of injuries that are still mending are as follows.  My right thumb and ring finger are still broken.  The thumb feels better than the ring finger, but that can change in a second if I hit a big bump in the road.  I tweaked my neck when I broke those fingers and it bothers me in the morning and then after I ride for more than a couple hours.  I had a x-ray done and it wasn’t broken, so I guess the diagnosis is something akin to whiplash.  This actually seems to be getting worse than better.  Plus, my right thumb is still achy.

The big injuries from the past couple years, right rotator cuff/surgery and then a left broken hip are just what they are.  The rotator cuff is never going to be back to normal, so it is what it is. The hip has been hurting more this year than last.  Mainly around where the incision scar is right over the IT band.  I’m just going to keep an eye on this and hopefully it is just a short team mending deal.

Last week, my left ankle hurt riding.  I couldn’t remember twisting it and sort of forgot about it over the weekend.  On Monday when I was riding, my ankle hurt pretty seriously.  So much that I couldn’t really stand up on it while riding.  I ate a bunch of ibuprofen and iced it.  Tuesday I rode and it felt pretty normal, maybe a little achy.  Then Wednesday morning, the first step, I could hardly walk.  It was seized up.  I iced it again and more ibruprofen.  Yesterday riding it was fine.  Then this morning it feels alright.

Cycling isn’t really an overuse type sport, it is very easy on your body.  You have to do something really dumb, like putting your cleats way, way off, or taking a challenge to ride huge gears up an mountain pass to injure yourself.  I didn’t do either of these things.  I’m not sure if this is just a passing problem or is going to become worse.  I’m thinking passing, but nowadays, I never know.

Man, after writing all this down, I’m not feeling all that great about my body and the prospects ahead.  I was hoping to be racing the Fatbike Birkie on Saturday, but can’t hold onto my MTB bars, thus I think it would be impossible to hold onto a fatbike’s handlebars.  It is strange that I can hold onto brake levers when my wrist is in that position, but if I rotate my hand flat, my thumb doesn’t work too well.

Okay, glad I got all that off my chest. Recently, I’ve felt like the little boy that had to put his finger into the hole in the dam, but there are too many holes and not enough fingers.

I had another prescription for an x-ray of my left hand.  I’ll probably do it after this weekend.  I guess I’m racing a local criterium here and then driving down to Tulsa for a 70 mile road race.  I need more race miles and this is the best I can do as of now.



Tucker is very playful in the morning.

Tucker is very playful in the morning.

34 thoughts on “Little Rickety

  1. Michael nyberg

    Welcome to aging. After 50 little things become issues and healing tales forevvvver! Throw some running, swimming and farming in there and you’ll really get frustrated.

  2. jeffc

    yep, aging sucks… someone needs to develop an anti-aging pill.
    I bike to/from work in the dead of winter, like today its -30oC up north today with lots of ice and sludge. My bike gears are completely blown to crap from the salt and sludge. Up here, the weather goes from +5oC one day with rain to -20oC the next with 20cm of snow. Just last week we had 50cm of snow followed by a day of rain (30mm). That created lots of ice. I took my get-to-work-ride over a sidewalk which had a snow pile ontop of it, came down hard on the pointy part of the seat. Heard a crack sound. Ouch, the pain just went up my rear end then up my spine. Now, I can hardly sit down and sleeping is painful. Then to compensate, I shift my weight to one side which pulls on the muscles on the right leg. One day I could hardly walk on that leg. Plus, I have a bad case of sciatic on my left leg (can’t feel my left foot) from years of riding hardtail mtb.
    Yah, getting old sucks. During my youth, I was indestructible. Things just get tougher as we age.
    I once knew a 4th degree black belt that once said – here I am beating the sht out of myself day by day hardly able to move anymore in my 50s then there is some lazy bugger that sat at home most of their life and ate Cheetos night and day, this guy gets up without any pain every day… wtf.
    Such is life I guess…

  3. barb

    Most of us can relate to the frustration and depression from not being able to function as we’d like. Mike Nyberg made the point of advancing age, which is a really good point. Another one is that many white papers and peer reviewed articles have concluded that endurance athletes’ immune systems are often compromised due to a lack of adequate recovery time. In reading your blog over a period of many months, it seems there is no formal provision for adequate recovery time, and you frequently seem write about being sick or worrying about getting sick and have minor respiratory issues etc. indicating your immune system may not be at it’s functioning best. This is just a shot in the dark based on observation, but could it be that your immune system is constantly overtaxed, so your injuries are not healing as they should, and may even be aggravated on an ongoing basis? Maybe it’s time to take a break from racing and riding 40-60-80 miles every day and allow your body to heal? I don’t know, it’s just an idea.

  4. Wildcat

    Anti-aging pill = strength training.

    Helps most with injury prevention, but generally makes all activities of daily living much easier – especially as we age.

    The sooner a regular routine is started the better.

  5. Johnnie Dotson

    I would suggest a visit to a Chiropractor. Regular visits have a big affect on my overall health. If I go more than a couple months without Chiropractic care it’s all I can do to get out of bed. My left ankle starts feeling like electricity is shooting through it with every step, but after I get adjusted it’s back to normal.

  6. ScottO

    I think it’s obvious to your readers that you prioritize high-level fitness (racing) and the experiences that it brings over healing and overall health. Probably some of why we read it.

    But it won’t last for long. You might enjoy the next several years more if you spend the next six months healing.

  7. Horse of Truth

    You can’t really tell an alcoholic to “take a few weeks off”. Steve, like many endurance athletes, is addicted to the endurance endorphin pill. Coupled with FOMO, this causes the endorphin junkie to abuse his body to no end. No amount of reasoning or scientific evidence can take away the pill. Day after day, shoot that drug into the veins. Broken fingers? Just keep riding…. Permanently damaged shoulder? Just keep riding….I won’t fall on it any more… Titanium hip? Please god don’t let me fall on it again….Just a few more 10,000 mile years….

    Sorry to break it to you, but Steve will ride a bike until he physically can’t turn over a pedal.

  8. Bolas Azules

    Peter Pan isn’t suppose to go out like this! HGH might be your best bet and maybe some of your contacts in the sport can set you up.

  9. AKBen

    Agreed! Cycling is such a specific and linear repetitive motion that if you don’t add some general strength and core work to your routine, little injuries start to crop up, causing your body to compensate, leading to bigger injuries or pain down the road. Strength training and core sucks when all you want to do is ride your bike, but if one wants to keep riding and not experience so many issues or significant declines in performance with age, it’s pretty essential.

  10. Spinner

    Aging does suck; ‘not for sissies’….Steve, your training looks like a shotgun blast against a wall. You are all over the place with volume, intensity, and frequency. This type of training has, obviously, worked fantastically for you in the past. Now ,in my opinion, you are at a crossroads; design and implement a progressive training program that includes the above mentioned strength and rehab/prehab work or slowly be driven from cycling due to injuries. I know it’s hard to listen to this type of advice because you have made it by doing your own thing. I am sure there are some elite coaches who would help you for free!!! Just sayin….I do enjoy your posts and may the cycling gods be kinder you.
    Who’s the other cutie with Tucker?

  11. chris f

    wait on the MRI until you’ve seen a qualified physical therapist first. MRIs are expensive and overused.

  12. James

    You’ll never be accused of having an unused body…ever.
    My 2 cents…take 10% of the time you spend riding your bike, say 2-3 hours a week, and do some sensible weight training/mobility/stretching. It will make a huge difference. It certainly has made a difference for myself.

  13. AKBen

    Yes, because that’s totally what I was trying to say! Thanks for boiling it down into such a neat little package. What would we do without sarcastic little wankers like you blessing us with your thoughtful little comments?

  14. euro

    True jeffc, but that fat guy who ate cheetos his whole life will keel over dead of a heart attack when he is 55. You’ll live to be 95!

  15. kmak

    Your hip hurting this year more than last may be a sign that your fascia/muscle has adhered to the hardware on your femur – I had similar hardware in my hip, and had it removed to relieve the residual pain. It took a little while to heal, but it was well worth the short recovery period. No issues now. You may wish to speak to your surgeon about the advantages/disadvantages of hardware removal.

  16. Dr Know

    Forget the Fat Bike Birkie. Go ski and try to reverse some of the decades of damage caused by the very specific but non-transferable motion and fitness cycling gives!

    Since you already know how to skate ski try adding rollerskiing to your training. You already know that skiing is like riding + lifting weights except uses the whole body. It is also weight-bearing and dynamic so helps get rid of and strengthen against “niggles” caused by cycling. Indeed, a lot of the motions and muscles used are complimentary to cycling ones. Also more time efficient as there is no better cardio workout.

    Cycling is great: there is no better way to explore the earth. But if you did 1 rollerski and 1 weight room/core a week instead of 2 rides you would be much, much better off. Of course the real thing on snow is preferable but now it’s March.

  17. paul

    I think all the advice here is solid for amateurs like myself going on 50. I’m not sure it really applies to Steve – a former world-level pro whose ability to stay motivated and competitive into his late 50’s is a bit freakish to say the least. Whatever the hell he’s been doing seems to be working pretty well.

  18. paul

    You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up. – Chuck Yeager

  19. dave

    Little rickety, Peter pan, scarecrow or whatever other nickname Steve could be labeled with, he does seem to show a durability few have. Considering all the crashes and injuries he’s had over more than 40 years, it’s impressive that he’s still this active. He reminds me of a couple of the old rockers(Steven Tyler and Keith Richards), they just keep on doing their thing. The Pennsylvania rider Daniel Chew is much similar, although Chew is riding for a lifetime goal of 1 million miles. At about age 54 he’s up to more than 760k miles. Special breed. For injuries maybe HGH for Steve? Wouldn’t that be ironic! Actually, what fuels these types of riders could be some level of ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

  20. mike crum

    steve, you post a post like this every year.. but you do nothing about it.. common sense.. you loose muscle mass after age 31, the year the male peaks. sure you’re a great bike rider, but i bet really weak in weight training.. what all men should be doing their whole life…some of your posts should say how you had a great power clean workout, or you’re improving in your military presses or hang cleans, but all your post are about you… or what race you did 10-20-30 years ago, or some racer, OTHER THAN A BMC PRO that cheats.. its your body pal. you’re 50 something and still dont weight train… nobodys fault but your own. and putting up a deck or working on a friends roof is kind of you, but that aint what you SHOULD be doing 4 days a week at you age for OVERALL health..

  21. barb

    Even alcoholics can change when what they’re doing is destroying their health. I’ve known many who have, and they haven’t become miserable. .And I agree with the suggestion for some strength training, especially since cyclists lose bone mass because cycling is not considered weight bearing exercise, and bone loss is exacerbated due to the aging process. Also, one of Steve’s consistent complaints is cramping, and there’s a theory out there that strength training helps in that area also.It couldn’t hurt.

  22. barb

    Been through the neck/MRI/PT deal myself. It’s unwise to go for physical therapy until you know what’s wrong. if there’s a herniated disc/disc bulge, manipulation not knowing which side it’s bulging out of (which a PT would not know without an MRI) can make the bulge worse. Also, if there is any cord compression from a disc bulge, PT is not recommended because there is risk of damage to the cord.

  23. jeffc

    I’ll agree to that – I have a broken rear end (tail bone either busted or bruised)… I keep riding no matter how much it hurts. Last night, my pawls started to stick for the weather was -25oC. I kept riding. The swearing factor was way way up, but my determination to continue just kept going… I know a lot of people like this though…

  24. Seth Smith

    I have had a few significant injuries from sports, but none so awful as a severe concussion sustained in a bizarre training accident. Brain injuries are so tricky . . . and some don’t respond to many of the normal treatments (which is generally rest, but that is even debated). I was always able to beat my way through injuries, but the head is something totally different. I would say to anyone–always wear a helmet (mine saved my life) and treat all head injuries with care and diligence. All are serious! I made my recovery far longer than it needed to be because of lack of education and misunderstanding the injury itself. Very common.


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