This afternoon I did something that I haven't done since Memorial Day: went for a bike ride.
It was awesome.
I was admittedly nervous about going to see the doctor this afternoon, concerned that he might tell me that I'm still not allowed to ride outside, but, that was not the case. Instead, he said that as long as I wear my brace and take it easy, I can ride my bike -- outside.
Of course, I wasted no time in getting kitted up, and meeting Matt and Erin to get out for a ride. It also happens to be Erin's birthday, so the ride was sort of a double celebration. We headed over to a local rail trail, which made for a relaxing ride full of lots of nice discussion.
After dropping Erin back at home and picking some raspberries, Matt and I rolled over Chestnut Hill, and I discovered that my legs did retain some of their fitness over the past month. I can't say that I'm entirely surprised, but I was nervous that I'd be sucking wind and struggling to turn over the pedals at a leisurely pace. Such was not the case.
Of course, I wasn't really thinking about fitness tonight. I was really thinking about how wonderful it was to be outside, rolling along area roads with good company. I don't think I realized how much I'd missed it, and what a great way it is to spend the afternoon. I can't wait for more rides, and I don't think I'll ever take a simple ride for granted again.
On a quick programming note, I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon for Cape Cod for the July Fourth holiday, so I'll be taking a break from the blog until Tuesday, July 5, when I'll return with regular updates.
Have a great holiday weekend, and enjoy your ride!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This afternoon I did something that I haven't done since Memorial Day: went for a bike ride.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I spent five hours of my day today at media training at Rodale's NYC office. Although I've had two TV appearances in my day (one on behalf of Bicycling, one on behalf of The Saratogian), I had not previously had any formal training, so it was a day well spent in my view.
I've often joked that I have a better face for Radio, or, when I was feeling particularly down on myself, a voice for print. While I still do believe that I have a voice for print, I do also see the fun in TV. Today's session was held in the even that myself, or any of the other editors who attended the session get the chance to appear on a morning TV news show, or something to that effect.
Among all the important lessons I learned today, the most significant for me is probably the need to make yourself bigger than you are in real life: bigger smile, bigger energy, bigger arm movements, etc. This is hard for me, because wearing an exaggerated smile doesn't come naturally to me, but in reviewing the video of our mock interviews, the difference was clear.
As I said to our PR manager on the way out of today's training, I just hope I get the chance to use my new-found skills sooner, rather than later.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Now that it's been nearly a month since I shattered my wrist on the streets of Somerville, I've finally been able to start parsing the experience. A lot of people have asked if it hurt, and the truth of that matter is that, while it was a very painful, I think it was less painful than other injuries I've suffered, especially any time I've injured my ribs.
In any event, I don't remember this crash for being particularly painful, as much as I remember it for the odd sensation of trying to pull on my handlebar, and not being able to tighten my grip at all. My fingers just wouldn't tighten around the right lever hood, as they have done so often. That was minutes after crashing -- fleeting moments in which I still thought the crash was little more than a momentary setback that would send me to the pit, and then back into the race.
Not being able to grip the bar, was what made me realize that I was done racing. The swelling that followed shortly was a hint that I'd managed to injure myself pretty badly.
I've been thinking about the crash more and more, as my wrist continues to heal, and I've remembered an entirely different sensation: The raw feeling of my palm on pavement.
Crashes are funny that way; I have no memory of another racer's chainring biting my ankle during the crash, even though the punctures bled for hours afterwards; and although I thought I'd hit my head on the ground, there's no evidence of that on my helmet. I know why I broke my wrist, though: The side of my right glove was shredded, completely pulverized by the asphalt. I'm glad I was wearing gloves, as the skin on my hand survived with only a minor abrasion.
When I was a kid, I remember skinning my knees from time to time. Some of those injuries were caused by a collision with the ground, in which a palm smacked against the road. The feeling of that collision is very specific, it's a combination of the sting caused by a baseball caught in a bare hand and rubbing your skin with fine grit sandpaper.
I always came away trying to shake the sting out my hand, amazed that a blood-less injury could be so painful -- even if the pain was fleeting.
This sensation, or the memory of it, came to me the other night when I was getting ready for bed. I'm not sure exactly why, as I can't remember hitting my hand in that manner any time recently. And yet, there it was, a real as the scar on my forearm -- the pain of which now feels much less real to me.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Until I realized it would be covered by bar tape
It's a good thing, it would have clashed with the organge
Since there's no way I'll be able to return to the road without having lost some fitness after four weeks inside, no matter how many hours I spend on the rollers, I'm taking other steps to ease my transition back to health.
Having done everything I can reasonably do to keep my own weight at a reasonable level, I've now looked to my bike to save some more -- as any good roadie would. So, for the foreseeable future, I'll be testing an EC90 SLX3 carbon handlebar and matching EC90 SL stem. (I also have an Easton EC90 SL seat post, to round out the suit.)
I just spent my evening installing the new bar and stem, replacing the 3T parts I had previously. I was surprised at how long it took, a side effect, I suppose, of not working at a bike shop any longer. Although my wrenching skills remain, they are somewhat diminished. Also, using my left hand for many right-handed tasks slowed the work about.
But looks surprisingly fine on the bike
The whole thing is pretty light
I was happy to discover, however, that although the bar tape was ruined in my crash at Somerville, the aluminum handlebar wasn't damaged, as can happen sometimes. I used to advocate against carbon bars, having once seen a friend's bar crack in half on a group ride after he hit a particularly large pot hole. (We were in a pace line, there was carnage.) But my own experience with broken handlebars is limited to aluminum, and I've had positive experiences with carbon bars on test bikes recently, so we'll give it a shot. I've also noticed, while gingerly riding to and from work with my broken wrist, that bumpy pavement is really painful for the injury. Perhaps the shock-absorbing traits of carbon will help smooth the ride for my wrist.
Incidentally, $265 does seem like a lot for a handlebar, but, maybe it will do some pedaling for me, or something.
Not content to only address the front end of the bike, I also replaced my Fizik Arione, which was also damaged in the crash (not to the point of being unusable, but certainly to the point of being unsightly) with an Airone CX, which as the same shape, but thinner padding and lighter weight. Some of my colleagues have called it an "ass hatchet," but others love it. I guess saddles are somewhat subjective -- we'll see what I think. I'm not super excited about the white leather (with black landing strip down the center), but I do have to admit that it looks pretty good on my bike. We'll see how it looks after the winter.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I was talking to my brother today about a post he had put up on a blog he just started. After our talk, he decided to take the post down for revision, but it served to get me thinking about a story I covered in the first six months of my time as a city reporter at The Saratogian.
Although I left the newspaper under less-than-ideal circumstances, I remain proud of a lot of the work I did while there, in both the News and Sports departments. One story, though, stands out.
My brother's post was inspired by an episode of To Catch a Predator, an NBC Dateline shoot off that uses hidden cameras to catch suspected child molesters in the act. Eric argued, in his post, that being on a registry of sex offenders was overly harsh punishment, and he pointed to low incidence of recidivism as evidence that sex offenders can be reformed. While I'm not sure if that's a fair or valid argument, I certainly don't feel that the registries are too harsh of a punishment. If anything, I feel it's important that institutions, particularly those serving children, do more to research existing registries and not hire known pedophiles.
Is this an issue? Let's get back to that story, from 2008. The story went that a city school bus driver named Douglas Conrad was arrested for "forcible touching," in February 2008 after abusing two boys in his apartment. It later turned out that the story of how those two boys came to be in the apartment was more a story about broken homes than anything else, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Conrad was in contact with dozens of children ever day on his bus route. Especially in light of the fact that he was flagged as a "person representing a danger to children," after allegedly molesting two six year old boys in 2002 in another upstate towns. He would have been charged then, had there been physical evidence. Since there wasn't, he was placed on a registry maintained by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Unfortunately, while the registry exists so that the public can make sure someone they might hire to take care of their children isn't a known pedophile, schools are barred from checking the registry by the same law that directs the state to maintain it, because they people on the list are not convicted of a crime. Of course, while schools were barred from checking the list religious groups were not, and Conrad shouldn't have been able to get involved in a youth group at our local Mormon tabernacle. Incidentally, Conrad's room mate was also charged in relation to the same victims.
It all made for lots of good stories, bold-faced headlines, and an AP award for spot news reporting for me, but profiting off the victims of pedophilia aside, it was a lesson in the power of the illness that drives this particular type of criminal activity and also a lesson in ineffectual state laws.
Most of all though, the lesson I learned from following that story, came toward the end of it all when I was finally able to interview the two victims and their mother. What I learned in that meeting, a lesson I shared with my brother today, is that pedophilia is not a crime of statistics like robbery, bank robbery or identity theft, it's a crime of emotion. I've never seen To Catch a Predator, but I imagine that it's a little over the top. It probably trumpets the evil of the men ensnared, without giving proper voice to the underlying disease. I agree with my brother insofar as the need for balance in discussing these kinds of hard issues, but, apparently it's a tough thing to achieve on either end of the spectrum.
Incidentally, not having to worry about child molesters on a daily basis is a fringe benefit of working at Bicycling.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Since getting my cast off last Wednesday, I've been back on the bike nearly every day. I spent the first two days using my trainer, thinking that would put the least strain on my still-healing wrist.
But, there was a flaw in the plan: a trainer is the closest thing I know to intolerable torture. I made it two days on the trainer, a grand total of four hours. Had I not had a better option, I probably would have called it a season and hung my bike up again until I was cleared to ride outside, sometime in July. Even when it's balls cold outside, in the dead of winter, the trainer is hardly tolerable. When it's warm out and light out after 8 o'clock, I just can't summon that level of will power.
The better option, of course, are my rollers. Even though the net result (a whole lot of pedaling without going anywhere) is the same between the two indoor training devices, the way the bike moves on the rollers feels much more natural, much more like being on the road. When I stand on the roller the bike swings from side to side, just like it would on the road, and the quiet bearings mean that most of what you hear is the sound of the drivetrain -- not a loud resistance unit.
I spent most of the winter riding my rollers, and getting back onto them over the past week hasn't felt so terrible. But I wasn't always so into the rollers. Back in college, I spent three winters in a row sweating it out on a trainer. At the time I remember thinking, when the season's first races were approaching and the roads in Saratoga were still bound with snow, "how is this going to translate to the road?"
Often, it didn't, and the bike didn't feel natural until I'd gotten some miles on pavement. Rollers help to solve that problem. It's not the same as riding outside, but it's much closer, and for that I'm grateful -- and I fully anticipate that when I am cleared to ride outside again, in a few weeks, the bike will feel just as natural as it did in the moments before I crashed on Memorial Day.
Monday, June 20, 2011
I apologize for not posting yesterday. I'd gone into the city to wish my Mom and Brett happy birthdays, and to spend Father's Day with my Dad. I wound up getting home around midnight, and just couldn't summon an enthusiasm to start writing. Fortunately, the late-night drive home and the preceding day left me with something different to write about tonight: sailing.
Sailing is something that I grew up with, almost to the same extent to which I grew up riding bikes. When I was 6 years old, my Dad bought an Oday Mariner, a 21-foot daysailer that he kept on Cape Cod. For most of my childhood, and, indeed nearly until I graduated from high school, we spent the month of August on Cape Cod, sailing the little boat up and down Wellfleet Harbor, and anchoring to swim and lunch at various beaches accessible only by boat. On a few memorable occasions, my Dad and brother and I even packed up a tent to camp (probably illegally) in the National Seashore.
Of course, we also spent requisite hours stranded by the tide and bickering about the usual matters that a family trapped in close quarters bickers about. Once, we sailed through the middle of a school of dolphins, and could hear their underwater snickers, squeals and barks as the boat became a giant, floating sounding board. Once, my Dad returned from a singlehanded jaunt claiming to have seen a whale. And once, my Mom fell overboard. Don't worry, once we'd stopped laughing, we fished her out -- she was wet, but also laughing.
There were lots of great memories, but beyond a few anecdotes I mostly remember the pleasure of sitting on the high side of the boat, skimming along the clear water as the hull gently lifted itself up over the swells then eased back down; hearing the gurgle of the water pushing against the bow and seeing it arc up against the smooth fiberglass gunwales before melting in a foamy rush back into the surface of the bay (I could still watch this never-ending cycle in a trance for hours); feeling the centerboard vibrating in its trunk when the wind increased and the speed picked up from an amble to a jog; and the sound of the wind whistling in the rigging, the bull whip snap when the sail luffed against a puff of wind, and the squeak of the rigging's salty bearings when Dad adjusted the sails.
Thinking about it now, what I love about sailing -- experiencing all of those those feelings and sounds as you rely on nature to move across the landscape -- is similar to some of what I love about cycling: The places you go and the experience of getting there. Of course, I also love the competitive nature of cycling, and my sailing experience was almost entirely absent of competitive elements -- while we entered a few casual races, we were not yacht club people venturing out to take the gun every weekend, and were never serious about racing Ariel -- as the boat was named, after Disney's The Little Mermaid.
Sailing is different for me now. Obviously, time is precious with bike racing sucking up most of what I don't spend working. But, more importantly, things changed in 2004: My parents were no longer supporting me and were nearly done supporting my brother. And my Dad was several years into a second, more lucrative career that allowed him to fulfill a long-held dream to buy a larger boat -- a much larger boat. The J/37 is, as you might have guessed, 37-feet long and designed to be an efficient boat equipped for, and capable of, longer cruises at a respectable clip. It's allowed my parents to take a few trips lasting up to several weeks around Long Island Sound and New England. One of these years, Dad's going to make good on his threat to sail down to the Caribbean. What's more, because the boat is moored on Long Island's North Shore, it's much more accessible than a boat that lives on Cape Cod, and it gets sailed regularly from spring to fall.
Much as you might buy a new bike while telling your old bike that, "it's OK, I'll still ride you in the rain," Ariel saw intermittent use for a few years, but mostly sat on a trailer. Last week, my Dad sold that boat to someone who will actually use it, which is good, though I couldn't help but feel that we'd just sent our dog to a farm upstate where it can run and bark and be free. 21 years after buying it, the old Mariner had depreciated only $250, a remarkable return on investment, considering the many happy hours we spent sailing it.
The sale made sense for my Dad, to whom the little boat represented a liability, and wasn't used anyway. For me, though, it was a little sad. While the bigger boat offers opportunities for grander adventures, it also removes you from the water. You can't dip your hand over the side and feel the cool saline slide past your fingers. Jumping overboard for a swim has to be done with greater care, lest you get run over by a passing barge, or be unable to clamber back aboard in the event that no one put the ladder down. The boat's diesels is noisy and smelly when it's operating and the VHF radio emits a constant constant chatter -- about where the party is, where the wind is, when the race is starting, and all manner of other matters -- that stands in the way of finding any peace in the aural experience of being on the water.
Of course, the boat still moves like a boat, but everything is somehow muted -- dulled by distance. The towering sails still snap in the breeze and the rigging hums when the boat reaches just the right tilt and you start cruising along. But the leather-wrapped steering wheel doesn't kick against your hand like the wood tiller would when an odd swell hit the rudder hanging off the transom. Digital displays and beep and blink take the guess work out of wind direction and speed, and the depth of the water. At times, an automatic helm will even steer for you -- requiring you just to keep a look out. All of these things, I'm told, are necessary for safely executing longer trips, but for a casual sailor like me, it makes the experience feel more remote, less connected to the nature of it.
One thing remains the same, of course: When I went sailing with my parents yesterday, we were still members of a family held in each other's company, on a boat in the middle of a wide body of water. With nothing else to do, save occasionally adjust a sail or tweak our course, we were left to talk. We talked about my recent injury and subsequent surgery, we talked about the Velodrome, we talked about my parent's plans for their house, we talked about my brother's job search, we talked about Anthony Weiner and we talked about all manner of other things. We talked so much that the missing sounds and feelings of being on the water mattered much less to me than the the feeling of being lucky to be in each one another's company by the time we made it back to the mooring.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
It's been a long time since I remember offering my own thoughts on the politics of professional bike racing here on the blog. In general, I don't think that I'm any great expert on cycling -- more of an average fan (OK, maybe I'm slightly more engaged than your average fan) than an expert commentator on the sport. That's why I'm more likely to stick to writing about things of which I have greater knowledge, namely amateur racing and my own cycling (and lately, orthopedics).
But tonight, I'm inclined to mention a press release issued by the UCI today, which encourages athletes and fans to treat Alberto Contador, "like every other rider who takes the start of the Tour de France."
To that, all I can add is a health, agnostic, "amen!"
Yes, I am a little squeamish about the thought of a guy who may have cheated (OK, he probably cheated) at the race in 2010 enter the race -- but, as the UCI astutely points out, he is innocent until proven guilty. So, unless he is proven guilty, he remains the defending champion and should be allowed the opportunity to defend his title.
Plus, even if I am an Andy Schleck fan from way back (like, 2009), I have to admit that Contador is a pretty impressive bike racer -- and that's what the Tour de France is all about, watching the best of the sport fight for the sport's most prestigious crown. Having Contador on the sidelines would deprive spectators of that spectacle.
I'm also of the mind that Contador has been unfairly treated by the media, at least in the US. Remember all those 2009 promos on Versus that pitched Lance as some kind of saint and Contador as some kind of demon? Yeah, that wasn't cool. It wasn't as though Contador came to the race solely to win in the name of loving cancer -- he came to win a race that he'd won before, while Lance was an interloper on an ill-fated attempt to recapture past glories while standing in the way of his own team mate.
So, while Contador is not my favorite racer, and, frankly, I found that his win at the Giro made for a boring race. BUT, he has every right -- maybe even a responsibility -- to be at the Tour, and as fans of the sport, it's our job to treat the athletes as sportsman. For making that plea, the UCI deserves commendation.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
This is what I found underneath
It isn't pretty, clearly
By far, the most trying aspect of my ongoing broken wrist saga was getting the stitches removed this afternoon. I don't know if it was because the wound revealed when Dr. Stansbury removed the splint I'd worn continuously since surgery was much larger than I'd anticipated, or if it was because the neatly sewn wound looked so alien there on the underside of my forearm, or if it was something else entirely.
Whatever it was, the procedure, which was only mildly painful, sent my heart racing, caused my face to flush, my breath to shudder in my lungs, and my whole body to start sweating. All that in the span of about three minutes. I know that people have different kinds of reactions to medical procedures, but given that I regularly donate blood, that I've become rather adept at treating the various wounds I've received in the course of racing, and that I went into surgery with a distinct calm on June 2, I wouldn't have bet on myself to all but pass out from something as simple as getting some sutures pulled.
And yet, there I was, with my knit-shut wrist laying atop a pillow on my lap when the room seemed set to start spinning. Fortunately, the physician's assistant noticed my distress and suggested I lay down while she removed the last couple stitches. Once on my back, I immediately started to feel better. But, I'm glad it's done with.
This was taken today, shows the healing is underway
The hardware will be staying with me
In better news, the doctor feels that the plate he installed is doing its job, and my wrist is healing. Of course, "healing" does not mean the same thing as "healed." Not only is my wrist still swollen, but it's still painful to grasp certain things or to put too much pressure on the joint. Even so, the splint I woke up with after surgery, which went up above my elbow, served its purpose and is no longer necessary.
In its place, I have a much smaller splint that stabilizes my wrist, but which I can take off to shower -- no more garbage bag showers for me! The upshot of showering, of course, is that I've finally been able to wash off the green antiseptic paint applied to my arm during the procedure, which pretty much everyone mistook for some kind of green-tinged bruising. I've also been able to unbend my elbow, which is very stiff after being immobilized for nearly two weeks. Not as stiff as my wrist, or course, but missing a few degrees of motion.
With the use of my elbow, I've finally been able to ride. Indeed, I spent two hours sweating on my trainer this evening. While I'm very happy to be able to exercise again, I can already tell that the next two weeks or month (whatever's needed for my wrist to finish healing) will be torturous. It was so nice today, and it just so happened that as I was leaving to go see the doctor, my co-workers were returning from what must have been a beautiful lunch ride.
As grateful as I am to be on my way to being healthy, and to be out of the restricting splint, envy doesn't begin to describe the feeling of seeing other cyclists enjoying our sport's high season while I'm stuck indoors.
Monday, June 13, 2011
As I write this, I have about 36 more hours of cast time, it's been two weeks since I broke my wrist. In that time I had surgery, enjoyed a visit with my Mom, engaged in some bad (for racing season) behavior, spent lots of time walking around on the local trails, and have lived in perpetual fear of the day I climb back on the scale and see how much weight of gained during this period of relative inactivity.
If everything goes to plan, the cast will come off on Wednesday, at which time I'll be able to reach my handlebars again, and can ride my trainer while my wrist continues to heal.
Not being able to ride during a really nice part of the year has certainly been frustrating, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that I enjoyed the extra free time I've had recently. If nothing else, it's left me thinking a lot about my injury, and other injuries I've had in the past.
This is the first that's significantly impacted my ability to do stuff, which makes it the most severe, I suppose, and I've also realized that it has also been the most debilitating. In order to take that title, it had to be worse than an injury I sustained in 2002, when I broke my right thumb while skiing at Killington.
Although it was a relatively minor break, it occurred nearly on the eve of my departure for the High Mountain Institute, in Leadville, CO, where I studied during the spring semester of my junior year in high school. The first two weeks of that semester were to be spent backpacking in Utah, so I was given a choice: Wear a relatively (to a cast) comfortable splint, skip the backpacking trip and start the semester late, or go for the cast and take it with me into the back country for two weeks.
Obviously, I chose the cast. At the time, I thought being in a cast was a pain in the ass, mostly because I couldn't use my right thumb, but it wasn't that big of a deal. I could still do everything that my peers could do -- pitch a tarp, light a Whisperlight, load and unload my pack and scramble up and down the walls of the canyons surrounding Jacob's Chair. I even figured out how to tie my boots with only one thumb. Plus, my peers were all impressed by my ability to do all that while wearing the cast.
Incidentally, I was pretty into my 35mm SLR back in those days, and I don't have any easily post-able photos of me and that cast, but I did find a photo taken on a windy day in the Adirondacks a year later, in which I am carrying said camera:
Anyhow, the key difference between the cast that I schlepped all over Utah and my current cast is the number of joints it immobilized: That first one immobilized my wrist, metacarpals and thumb. This one immobilizes my wrist and elbow. In 2002, I thought not being able to use my thumb was the worst thing imaginable, but I didn't have to do things like work at a computer, ride a bike, drive, wash dishes or shower. Maybe I would feel differently if I had needed to do those things.
With those tasks now set out before me each day, I have to say that this current cast is the more debilitating of the two, due to the relatively great impact on my ability to do things on a day-to-day basis. Even if takes the worst injury title, it still loses in one other area: Although I've sweat into this one over the past 10 days, there is nothing like the smell of a cast that was worm for two weeks of backpacking in the middle of a Utahan winter.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Since I can't race my bike (or even ride it), I spent my Sunday serving as a support crew for Matt, as he raced the Stoopid 50, a 50-mile trail race at Roth Rocks, near State College, PA. Although I have several friends (OK, just two) who regularly contest marathon-type mountain bike races, this was the first time I'd been to one.
It's been a long time since I was in charge of supporting a rider, so I took some time on Saturday to think about the most important aspects of the job. That seemed to be to make sure my rider got to the race on time. To that end, Matt and I joined several friends at The Fun House to see Start Making Sense, a Talking Heads cover band on Saturday evening. Matt left the bar a little after 1 a.m. while I stayed until close at 2 a.m. because the band was rockin' and because it was my turn on DD duty and my passengers were having too much fun to leave. So, I hit the sack around 3 a.m. To make the three hour drive in time to be ready for the 9 a.m. start, we needed to leave Matt's house by 5 a.m.
Clearly my support crew career was off to a good start.
Predictably, I slept through by alarm (which was set for 4:15 .m.), waking up only when Matt called me at 4:55 a.m. to politely say, "Where the fuck are you?" So, I hauled ass over to Allentown and we hit the road 30 minutes late.
The race started en masse, but broke up quickly
Apparently, 50 miles on dirt is harder than on a road bike
Fortunately, the drive didn't take quite as long as we thought, and we got to the race in plenty of time. Having fulfilled the day's first mission (on two hours of sleep, nonetheless!), I let the promoters know that I was happy to help with any tasks that needed doing -- provided it required only one arm. Once the race started, I hoped in a truck going to set up the feed station. We set up tables, water, food, and other supplies, then organized the 300 "drop bags" -- Ziplocks filled with whatever supplies the racers thought they might need to finish the 50-mile race.
Once the racers started coming through the feed station for the first time (at mile 14 -- they passed by again at mile 34) other volunteers and I stayed busy handing the bags to the racers, being sure to keep them all carefully organized by number. It was a busy assignment, and the five hours I spent in the feed station flew by, even when it rained and while getting chewed on by bugs.
Eventually, I caught a ride back to the finish, arriving just after Matt crossed the line in 6 hours, 30 minutes -- 30 minutes faster than he expected. Matt Morrison, another Emmaus resident, had an even faster ride, finishing in 5 hours flat.
I returned to my support role at the finish -- driving Matt to a fun-looking bar in State College (their Coke is not to be missed), and then getting us home safely.
The problem with being a supporter for a racer instead of being a racer is this: It makes you want to race. I don't even ride mountain bikes, but now I want to race the 50 next year. The trouble being, or course, I would be a beginner incapable of keeping up with the fast guys at the front of the race. That's not a real concern, though. Overall, I was happy to spend the day supporting my friend, and helping out the 300-odd other racers. It's fulfilling in a different way than racing, but still a day well spent. And how am I still awake?
Side note: My cast is getting more disgusting by the day.
Thursday, June 09, 2011
With my arm immobilized, I've been left to find ways to entertain myself without leaving the apartment, or, indeed, without leaving the couch.
Once I'm done with that, I've taken to getting more out of my Roku. Sadly, there is a limited quantity of television worth watching available through said device, especially now that TV shows worth watching have wrapped up for the year.
So, I've been watching a lot of Flashpoint. Ostensibly, it's a show about a SWAT team in Toronto, but these guys have got to be the worst SWAT team ever conceived of by the tastemakers who come up with this schlock. Instead of using the shiny guns, baton, and shields they carry around in their preposterous fleet of black SUVs, the team does its best to act as therapists for the bad guys they meet each week, counseling them to a peaceful resolution. Lame!
Is it so bad it's good? I don't know, it may just be bad. There are two seasons available on Netflix instant, and I assumed the show would have been canceled after that, but apparently it's still in production and has received good ratings -- or at least commercial success.
Some of the show's success, it seems, comes from an attempt to deal with the challenges of being in a high-stress job like being on a SWAT team. That's great, but I have a hard time swallowing any kind of realism attached to a SWAT team whose leader carries on to a man with a gun about letting a hostage "choose" to leave. That's just not how it works.
So why am I wasting my time? I was a big fan of Just Shoot Me! back in the day, and I was curious to see what old Elliot Dimauro was up to these days. It took me three episodes to figure out that the whole sensitive guy act worked better in a sitcom than on an action-drama. Still, once I was ten episodes in, I couldn't stop. (Incidentally, the fictional workplace that produced Blush Magazine turns out to be much closer to the reality of working at a magazine than I could possibly have imagined.)
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
One week from today I will be cast free. I'm really looking forward to that day.
You know what's worse than having to wear a cast? Having to wear a cast while walking home from work in 95-degree heat.
To add insult to injury, I developed a sweet blister on the pad of my left foot today. I'm not sure if it's from last night's secret training, or just from making a poor foot wear decision for this morning's walk in to work. Either way, I'm now in even more pain when I walk around, which is just sweet.
Hopefully the soreness will dissipate a little more tomorrow. For anyone wondering, Coach Scott was not pleased with my secret training plans. I guess I won't try that again.
Taking a different approach, today's secret training consisted of eating too much bad food at an Iron Pigs game. For someone who doesn't really like baseball, I've certainly been to a lot of games this season. In other words: God damn, I can't wait to get this damn cast off.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Thanks to my neighbor, I went out on a secret training mission after work tonight. I'm calling it secret training because some readers would not approve. Also, it's a gray area as to whether or not my doctor would approve. I called to ask about secret training on Monday, and haven't heard from him, so I assumed that it wasn't an urgent concern of his -- and I have to do something until I can ride again! Anyhow, I'm not at liberty to discuss the particulars, but thanks to said training, I've now given myself an injury that may prove more debilitating than my broken wrist.
No, I haven't broken any more bones. Instead, I strained my thighs so badly that I've been limping around town and stumbling like a drunk down the stairs in my building. The injury, in the words of Jean Girard, "is one of ignorance and pride!"
It's true, of course. There were others involved in this secret training, and I couldn't let them train harder or faster than me. But, because said training had nothing to do with bikes, my body really wasn't up to the task I asked of it, hence the new injury. So it goes, I'll feel better in a day or two, likely in time to hurt myself all over again. I just hope my sweaty cast dries out before then!
Unrelated note: For anyone keeping score, I've now convinced two (3) people that I broke my arm in a bar fight; a CVS pharmacist, a trivia DJ, and a barfly. Perhaps I look more menacing than I feel?
Monday, June 06, 2011
So, may arm is really sore from typing all day, while wearing a cast. It's so sore that it's nearly driven me to drink. I'm holding off that urge, though, in the interest of avoiding any unnecessary calories. Yes, this is what happens when a roadie can't ride for an extended period of time.
Fortunately, Ray Alba has come to my rescue by helping to launch a new, very entertaining blog. Check it out here.
This is what you you'll find over on Coachpuppet.com:
Yes, that is THE Ray Alba making his big (little) screen debut.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
When extolling the benefits of modern orthopedics Dr. Stansburry convince me, rather easily, that a plate was needed to repair the shattered bones in my wrist.
Having now been through surgery and a few days of recovery (first few of many), I can attest that the doctor was right as far as repairing the damage goes. I'm in a lot less pain than I was when I crashed my bike on Monday, or even when I went in for surgery on Thursday morning.
The most noticeable symptom of my injury, even more so than the swelling, was the pain I experienced when moving my hand or when trying to manipulate objects. I'm happy to report, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, that I can now, without pain, clip my finger nails, carry a bowl of cereal, and squeeze a tube of toothpaste. Minor achievements, I know, but it certainly makes me feel as though the surgical repair to my bone was successful. And I'm grateful for that.
Unfortunately, there were some things that the good doctor was less than forthcoming with, namely that following the surgery I'd not be in a "splint," but in a hard, restrictive dressing that immobilizes my hand, wrist, elbow, and everything in between (OK, technically speaking, it may be a splint, but it might as well be a cast for all intents and purposes -- and I had dreams of showering without a garbage bag!) Secondly, they don't tell you before surgery that when you wake up you hand will have been painted with some kind of pernicious green antiseptic that won't wash off. Yes, just thing the surgery patient wants to see as they began to shake off an anesthesia haze: An appendage that's apparently about to fall off from lack of oxygen.
Fortunately, there was a nurse on hand to explain that my hand was not going to fall off.
So far, I've spent more consecutive days off of my bike than I can ever remember spending off my bike since I went to Europe in 2006 and didn't ride at all for six weeks. Am I going crazy? Actually, I feel surprisingly calm about the whole thing. I did nothing for most of last week, but went for two nice, semi-vigorous walks on the South Mountain trails on Saturday and Sunday, which felt nice.
I've also been watching way more TV than is healthy for me, but it's been a long time since I've had to come up with something for myself to do that didn't involve two wheels, and I haven't quite got the hang of it yet. Hopefully I'll do better next weekend. As I said to Matt earlier today, I cannot wait to go back to work tomorrow.
I don't think I'll be able to ride at all for two weeks, until the elbow-bonding splint comes off. After that, assuming the healing is going well, I'll have a smaller splint that should allow me to ride a trainer. I'm hoping to back to riding outside in early July. In the mean time, I'm thinking of taking a summer training trip to somewhere really cold, in order to make the coming trainer rides more season-appropriate.
Watch this space to see me lose it over the next six weeks...
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Apparently, there were a bunch of questions that I was supposed to ask about the surgery, but I don't know what they are. Of course, my Mom, who's hear to help me out for a couple days, is chiefly concerned with how long the surgery will take.
That's certainly a justified question, I guess I should have asked. Oh well.
Think of me tomorrow morning; I'll be coming out of surgery (however it long it may take) with a plate in my wrist, and will setting off airport metal detectors for the foreseeable future.
I'm not taking pain killers at the moment, as the anesthesia nurse I met with this morning told me that I couldn't take ibuprofen any more, since it acts as a blood thinner. Instead, she recommended Vicodin, which is sitting on my kitchen counter. My arm hurts a lot, but I can't bring myself to take that level of medication for this level of pain.
Have I ever mentioned that I'm typically extremely averse to taking medications of any kind? Of course, I'll be singing a different tune tomorrow.
I think this goes without saying, but I won't be posting any thing to the blog tomorrow night. Hopefully I'll be back in business in time for a surgery recap on Sunday evening.