Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mooch Short Track Race Recap

The countdown to surgery continues but I refuse to sit and wait. I've finally been back on my bike without discomfort and the doc says it's great to keep my muscles strong before surgery. Perfect. So with the last couple of group rides I've been on I figured I'd try to put down some power to see how the knee felt. When it did it felt surprisingly good. Not perfect but I was really happy with the way it was performing. So why not try a race? ;)

This past Sunday was the MTBNJ short track. I signed up a few days before knowing I was completely unprepared for this - but what the hell. I have the fat, out-of-shape, and injured trifecta going on so at least I'd have a lot of excuses. So I packed up the bike rolled around and got to the starting line.

I came off the line slow towards the back of the starting field and began to ramp up to speed. I got out of the saddle and pedaled hard and the knee felt good so I went with it. I passed a few going into the first section of singletrack but definitely wasn't going to be towards the front of this group. I was riding pretty well but definitely with a lack of confidence. I got caught in traffic a few times and had to clip out once and I was very tentative jumping back on the course and lost a few spots. That left me to chase those riders that passed for the next few laps. I did finally work my way back up to and through them - completely out of breath and hoping for much more fitness that I should have at this point in the season.

The race continued and the knee felt good. So I kept on it feeling better and better and just aiming to catch whomever was in front of me. I saw a guy way in the distance and used him as my carrot for the remainder of the race as I had 3 laps to go. By the time I had 2 laps to go I was only 20 feet behind him. I figure I can get this guy. Ride up to his wheel and then when there is one lap to go then give it all I've got and I could open a gap in the singletrack and get past him. Plan worked like I'd hoped and rode his wheel to the turnaround where I would make my move. Only problem - we got passed by the leader so the turnaround was now the finish line. By the time I had realized the race was over I had no time to pass the rider in front of me which I could have easily. Ooops. Live and learn. I finished 22nd of 35 racers.

The best part about this day was that my knee felt awesome. I felt like I was my old self again. Not as fast or skilled with my forced time off but at least in the ballpark. Mentally it helped so much knowing that I basically came off the couch with a bum knee and did pretty well. It's not a result to boast about but the fact that I had no body or mechanical issues makes it a great day. So much so that I might have to do more of these before surgery. There are 3 more left that I could do...

Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Has Started Off with a Much Bigger Challenge

After the Fat 50 I was feeling good about the season and trying to ramp up the training miles and really start to get the engine going. As usual I was bouncing back and forth between my training and my job as the assistant ski team coach for my high school. A month and a half ago I started out practice by going for a warmup run before the kids were ready and slid on some ice and fell and got my ski caught underneath me feeling a sudden pop. I had a good idea of what it was but after some doctors visits and having a bunch of blood drained from my knee it was evident. I completely ruptured my ACL. Damn...

So after a few more visits and lots of ice and rest my knee is starting to feel better but in 3 weeks I am going in for surgery. This puts the season on hold big time. I am doing pre-surgery PT to make sure the knee is in good shape before surgery. I am still riding my bike but definitely unsure of it's ability and have to scale my riding back a bit for the sake of the joint. This is the last thing I want to do. So at this point I'm trying to get back riding consistently before surgery - as the doctor said it's really good for the knee.

The doctor said that I'll be back on the bike in 2 months, running in 3, training by 4, and back to full ability in 6 months. I am hopeful with this timetable but of course I"m also hoping that I'll be back to racing before 6 months. My rehab and time will tell.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

And...2016 has begun.

Yesterday I took a short drive from my home to give the fatbike a little workout. Or rather have the fatbike give me a workout. I know it's early in the season but I want to give this season a little more of an effort than last year. With a little luck I think it could be the best season I've had in the past few years. Last year's accident and moving are all behind me so I'll have less excuses as to why I haven't been pedaling that hard. So onto the race.

Yesterday was Marty's Fat 50 and what a good early season event. The turnout was amazing and very well organized. Beer and pizza at the end were key! That's what I was dreaming about the entire time I was racing. I was even asking people on course if they knew what beers there were waiting for us for a little encouragement. Now for the race.

Before we got to the line we were waiting at Marty's store and someone notices my tire was going flat. Great... I rode to the car to swap the tube. This morning in the garage I blew the same tire off the rim. Riding around at the venue I bunny hopped a puddle and blew it off the rim, and now it was flat - great. I was thinking my race was over before it even started. The tire just didn't want to stay mounted. The last time I put it on I let the wheel lie on the skewer in the hop that it would seat properly without any issue. Thankfully I got the new tube in, hoped it was seated and had five minutes left before the gun went off. Rushed back to the starting line to settle in and wait for us to go.

I lined up in the front with my teammates Steve, Mike and Greg. It was a controlled start for the first 2 miles or so over to the trailhead. The race was neutralized and then final race instructions were given, then we were off. I knew there was some good firepower out there and I wasn't looking to stay in the lead group. We all rolled together for a while but it was obvious the group was going to split. My thought for the day was to get a good workout in and maybe finish in a good position. I wasn't willing to dig too deep and burn all my matches this day. By the end of the first rail trail, the West Morris trail, it had split up a bit and I was in the second chase group. We chased over 206 and up the next pavement climb to the singletrack which was starting to get wet and greasy. I had to take it easy to not blow my tire off and thank goodness it survived! Knowing that the tire mad that decent made me a bit more confident but still weary that it may have an issue. As we got back to the next rail trail the group I was with earlier regrouped and we were off on the grind all the way to high bridge.

The group was pretty steady for the most part. I tried to stay consistent and ready for surges. The group would slow for a road crossing, hiker, sign post, or whatever and then surge hard to get back to speed. I tried not to get too excited and as the others were sprinting up to speed I would just push a little harder and let the gap in front of me close. It seemed to work as I felt pretty comfortable up to the half way point. The only problem with the rail trail itself was that there were metal posts at each of the road crossings. It was important to call out the posts so the others behind saw them coming. The group was rotating pretty well and at one point we cycled through and it ended up that I was at the front. I kept it steady and called out an upcoming post at a road crossing and then heard a loud bang. Behind me I looked back to see riders separating around two cyclists that went down. At least that's what it looked like to me. We neutralized the group to give them a chance to get back on. We put our heads down once again and kept on it. We made it unscathed for the remainder of the 25 miles to the turnaround point in High Bridge.

Coming back there was a bit of an uphill out of the gorge and the group shattered a little but was able to regroup and made it to the singletrack climb and I was cramping hard. I could tell it was coming as my legs were starting to fade in and out. The next climb would either be good or terrible. The cramps took me off balance a bit in the super slick uphill grind and I had to walk a section then jump on and ignore the cramps. I lost the group there and just hit the road and wanted to see the finish line. I got caught at the light crossing 206 so I unfortunately had to wait. A few racers caught me there and I was hoping we could work together to get tot he finish and maybe catch some others. My legs weren't great so I wasn't hoping for much. As we were approaching the last rail trail to the finish I started working together with Selene and Ben to try to get to the line. We pulled and rotated and caught a few getting to the line. Unfortunately as we passed people they jumped on our train. As I started pulling hard to get to the line I got swarmed by a few riders and 2 from my group finished ahead of me. I finished in 20 something place. Felt ok for racing 50 miles in January. I know what I need to work on to get the engine really firing. Good work to all the racers out there!

It was a fun event for a winter race with no snow but I'm longing for the big singletrack races and not so much gravel. The tire held on, my legs held on, and I was happy with a good solid effort on a day I would probably have ridden an hour+ on my local trails. Instead I got just over 3 hours of steady pedaling and some motivation to prep more and train harder for the upcoming season.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2016

As 2015 comes to a close it's the time of year to start filling up the calendar and start laying out a plan for the next year. At this point I've been perusing the NUE, H2H, MASS, and NJ Fatbike Calendars. The only thing certain at this point is that I want to have a better 2016 than 2015.

It seems more than likely I will be starting off with some Fatbike, some short track, then some 6 hours, then xc then NUE. Or something like that. There is something to be said about racing yourself into shape so that maybe part of the strategy. All I know is that I'm spending any downtime now prepping the bikes for next year and trying to lay out the next few months. I'm trying to throw a training camp in there and just lots of good miles and hours. Depending how this winter goes will dictate how my 2016 goes. Either way we are very close to daylight becoming longer and that's a good thing.

I'm registered for one race, waiting for registration to open on another race...and still waiting for my feet to thaw out from this weekend's riding.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wrapping up 2015

This was a crazy year for me. To not be too long's the jist.

After being hit by a car there was a ton of rehab and the shoulder finally feels good. I don't have to think about it for 95% of the tasks I do.

I did basically fall off the map as I moved from Bloomfield to Denville and that was an insane undertaking. Not only did I have to move all of my and my wife's belongings, but once we did make the move it was a few months of nonstop fixes, updates, and improvements to make life normal in the new house.

I did some racing here and there with the Wilderness 101 being the scariest race of my life. Since the move I rode close to 3 hours in the month during/after the move and left me woefully unprepared for the race. I got to the line and prepared to curl up into a ball on the first climb and weep for hours. Somehow I actually rode my bike, got up the big hills, broke my chain, converted it to a singlespeed, rode the last 30 miles wishing for gears and actually had a good time and decent result for what could have been a disaster.

The next notable race was the Shenandoah 100. This has been my nemesis and I was still unprepared for this one but at least I had a few weeks of solid rides under my belt for this. Unfortunately I knew I would need to take it easy to finish this one and it hit hard mid race. I remember going over the climb between aid 3 and 4 and just wanting to ride back to the start and end the misery. But I couldn't... I kept on - had an ok day - and finished up almost walking the final climb and being thankful that the last race of my mtb season was over.

Inconsistency was the name of this season.

I tried to get my mind wrapped around CX but I had more issues with this. My first practice I rolled a tubular. Tried a race and then rolled another. Tried the new Mariposa tape and that stuff is garbage. Gave up on tubulars. I used my backup bike for a bit with all kinds of shifting issues and got fed up with that. To tell the truth I was just having more fun riding my mountain bike then trying to get myself in shape to try and not throw up for an hour.

With the CX urge fading I did the next best thing. Get on my FAT BIKE! I have resisted the trend for a long time but I see what people are boasting about...somewhat. I still stand by the fact that snow riding sucks. Unless the trails are groomed. But for dirt riding the fat bike is a blast. With that I did some CX racing on my fat bike since it was much less of a headache and actually a lot of fun to race.

I competed in Hippo CX and Westwood CX on my fat bike and went 1st and 2nd respectively. What a great way to cap off the season.

For the off season I'm enjoying being fat. Weight wise - not bike choice. But with all this nice weather I'm starting to get a good game plan as to what is coming up for next season. Looks like a pretty diverse season with some fat bike, mtb, and cx races starting to fill up the calendar.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Accident/Racing/Life Update

March 26 was my accident with the Lexus and today is June 8th. 10.5 weeks later the shoulder is progressing but as I feared, the MRI I had 3 weeks ago affirmed that I have a tear in the rotator cuff. I've been working hard at PT and getting more range of motion out of it. I still have a reduced range of motion and some pain and I hope in time it's going to work itself out. My orthopedic surgeon said that in 3 more weeks he will evaluate it and then recommend surgery or not. I'm praying for not. I've heard the recovery is about 4 months or so of restricted movement and PT. That's not something that I want to go through if I don't have to. So for the time being I'm putting my effort forward to work the shoulder out through therapy and hoping for the best. The worst part is feeling that I'm behind in my training for the year because of the accident and it has changed what I expect from myself and what races I originally planned on competing in this year. I'm being optimistic but I'm hoping for some good times on the bike regardless if I can race to my potential for the year.

As far as racing, since my last update I have competed in a few races. The Allamuchy 4 hour race, the Tour de Lake road race, and the Mohican 100. For each I've gone in behind schedule and hoped that I could have a good time, gain some fitness and try to work the shoulder back in to normal function. With limited success, I completed each but hope to get better in the coming weeks. Here was the breakdown:

Allamuchy 4 hour: For this race I took off hard with the eventual race winner Leo. We hit the trail first and it was really just us for the first lap with a rider in 3rd trailing behind and no one else in sight. At the end of the first lap Leo took off strong and that was the last I saw of him. I hit the next few laps hard but towards the end of lap 4 I was feeling I was cooked. It was the first hard effort that I've really done at a race this year and I felt it. The legs were tired, the body was heavy and I just tried to preserve. On lap 6 of 7 I was passed by the racer who was trailing in 3rd and I had no response. I just had to get to the finish and end the race. I finished in 3rd place, happy but exhausted. The shoulder held up but it was definitely fatigued from the race. That and the rest of me. It was great to be out but a good marker to remind me how behind I was for the season. I'd usually have more top end and endurance than that, but it was just not happening. Maybe the next races would go better.

Tour de Lake: This race was 2 weeks after the Allamuchy race and after a fairly heavy workout week as I've been trying to play catchup of course. I headed in being happy if I stayed with the group to Edison road. We fired out of the lot pretty hot through the first few corners and the pace was pretty steady and fast around the lake. We got to 181 and made the left up the hill and I felt the legs starting to give way. I was trying to use as little energy as I could to stay with the group. I wasn't feeling fresh by a long shot and the pavement was sketchy at best after the hard winter we had. So I kept up the tempo and stayed with the group down the Glen, then over to Ogdensburg where the legs were burning and I knew Edison was over. I wouldn't be able to hang with the group. I told my teammates to go as I was cooked and wouldn't you know it, that's right when I got a flat tire. I nursed it up to the aid station by the lake that like just ahead. I chatted with the guys at the station, put in a new tube, a tire boot from a granola bar wrapper, saw a few guys pass and jumped back out to latch on. One of the guys who passed was my teammate - so my strategy was to catch his group and pull him away so we could work together and finish strong. It worked, I got him away and we used each other to finish the race. Unfortunately there were some confusing arrows and all the racers got lost so the ending order was jumbled a bit after a few hard efforts. I think I was still 16th or so for not feeling well and getting lost. It was a fun day on the road with great people.

Mohican 100 - is by far my favorite race of the year. I always like for this to be a peak of my season and from a training standpoint, it wasn't by far. For this race I didn't really prep well with so much going on in life. Buying a new house, a couple of funerals, and the craziness of life got in the way. So I headed out with 2 teammates and did my best. I completed the first 3 hours or so pretty well and was in the fight for a while. On the initial road climb I felt like a dog and barely got over the hill. I entered the singletrack in probably 60th position overall and just hoped to get by a bunch as the race went on. I rode the singletrack well with the eventual master's winner but he ran away literally on the first hike a bike. So on to the gravel roads I had been feeling well and staying on top of nutrition and hydration. For once I focused on this primarily hoping it would be the key to success in this race. It worked well but still wasn't enough for the heat and humidity. It was in the upper 80's all day with very high humidity. I started cramping around 4 hours in and that would continue most of the day. With the cramping the power dropped and made for some fun later. The new singletrack that was added was greasy too and added a few too many hike a bikes to be enjoyable. I could have done without that. The rest of the race was in conservation mode and just setting a steady pace when possible. I finished in 8:44, very happy with a sub 9 time with the given fitness I had. Under normal circumstances I would have finished in the low 8's for sure.

So all in all not too bad on the racing scene even though I've been doing less than expected. It's been great to get out and ride and compete and keep myself sane. I have a few more races coming up but nothing set in stone. More to come.

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to Total a Lexus

March 26th accident - at approximately 7:15pm with cool and damp conditions. I was traveling southbound on Broad Street passing the side street of Chittenden. As I was crossing the intersection, a driver traveling northbound on Broad Street turned into Chittenden and did not see me crossing the side street on my bicycle. I remember seeing the car coming at me knowing that I was going to be hit. He did not slow in any way - so I braced for the impact. I jumped up to avoid the bumper and remember crashing onto his hood and then going off of the driver side of the car onto the ground. It was unpleasant for sure but somehow I never lost consciousness.

I was rolling around in pain from the hit and was immediately checked on by some witnesses/bystanders. I was told not to move as they we afraid my neck and back were injured. They threw coats and blankets on me to stay warm as the road was cold and wet. Since they covered me up so quickly I did not get to see who hit me or what the damage was to the car, the bicycle, or myself. The one thing I noted was that the driver never even said sorry for hitting me. Nothing... I only remember the nice words of those helping me and those that were nice enough to call my wife.

I was then placed on a backboard as the police and paramedics arrived on the scene. They loaded me in the ambulance and we took off for St. Joseph's hospital. They informed me that my wife would meet us there and that I did some major damage to the car. The hood and windshield were smashed and the car had to be towed.

At the hospital they brought me in to be evaluated. I complained of widespread pain in my left wrist, left elbow, left hand, both knees, left shin, and right hip. They evaluated and x-rayed everything and I was released hours later with a few scrapes and bruises but nothing broken - that they could tell. I was told to follow up with an orthopedic as the hospital wanted to make sure my scaphoid bone(wrist) was not broken and that any other issues could be addressed.

At the time it wasn't too bad but I could tell from the soreness that the bruising would be huge. A few days later it looked like I had been hit by a car. My right hip had a huge eggplant colored bruise on it from landing on the pavement as well as the inside of my right thigh from the top tube of the bike. The blood pooling there in both places was setting the stage for some really nice colors in the weeks to follow. The gash in my shin was particularly pretty as well. They said it didn't need stitches but I bet that was a close call as it was pretty deep. For my hand/wrist as well had some good bruising as I'm not sure what it made the biggest impact with, the hood of the car or the pavement when I landed.

I followed up in Monday with my orthopedic doctor to look at my wrist and my shoulder. My shoulder was really hurting after the accident as I could not lift my arm. They were both looked at, and my wrist didn't seem to worry him but my shoulder needed to be addressed. He told me to seek physical therapy and try to heal it that way. If it didn't get better in a few weeks then it may be a torn rotator cuff and need an mri. At this point he suspects it is just a sprained rotator cuff.

After that appointment I kept self evaluating and felt my face, jaw, and side of my head were sore. Currently the face and head pain have gone away which leaves me with the nagging jaw pain. It's been coming and going but it seems to be getting better overall with time. At first it was hard to properly clench my jaw but now it seems to work better but with discomfort when I have to open my jaw wide.

7 days after the accident, on the following thursday, I was finally able to pick up my bicycle and police report from the Clifton police department. That was a whole other ordeal to just get that released. They said they were just holding it for me but since the report wasn't closed it took many extra days and 4 days of calls and visits to the police station to finally get it released. From both sides of the page with the report and the bicycle, the result of the accident was shocking.

The bike was smashed. It's a total loss. It's a wonder how both legs were not broken in this crash. My crank arm took the brunt of the hit as it is bent inside my frame. My front wheel was ripped off the bike from being smashed so hard and the frame is completely bent and broken in multiple places. My power wheel was smashed, my computer doesn't work, pedals broken, rear light broken, helmet smashed, and my clothing was destroyed. It's very sad to see that much damage and I'm glad I was able to walk away.

On the police report side there were a couple of things that stood out. The first was that the report indicates that the 74 year old man who hit me with his Lexus was inattentive and didn't see me in the intersection. The least he could have done was to come see if I was ok and apologize, but there was none of that. And secondly, that there were no tickets issued to the other driver? How is that even possible??? I guess in Clifton it's ok to mow down a cyclist with your car and just say oops...sorry. Oh yea that's right - he didn't even say sorry.

Currently it is three weeks after the accident and I'm feeling much better, but not 100%. My shoulder is still messed up. I had an orthopedic appointment today and although I'm regaining better range of motion, he still thinks it's partially torn or there is inflammation that may need treatment. An MRI is the next step to assess the damage and go forward. There is a possibility of a tear that requires surgery and that would be 6 months of surgery, rest, and physical therapy. I'm praying that is not the case...