Thursday, May 28, 2015


Yesterday was a beautiful day, at least weather-wise. Sun, low 70's, slight wind. I hadn't ridden my bike since last Friday, so I was eager to not only get out for a ride, but to get in a long ride. I started riding at about 10:30am, with the plan to ride for roughly 3 hours (a bit over 50 miles, most likely). I parked my truck in a local church parking lot and hit the roads heading east toward Liberty Lake. I made a loop around the town and met another solo cyclist at a stoplight as I was about 8 miles into my ride. We rode together on both the roads and the Centennial Trail for another 15 miles or so, where we went our own way (with the agreement to ride again in the near future, since our schedules are similar).

From the Argonne trailhead in Spokane (where we parted company), I made my way back to toward Post Falls, ID. There, I turned around and rode the trail back to Harvard Rd, where I had to get back onto the road as I headed south toward Liberty Lake again and, ultimately, west, to my truck. I came up to a roundabout, which was surprisingly crowded. I had to stop behind a couple of cars to wait for my turn. I was 49.7 miles into my ride at this point, with probably 6 miles to go. I was feeling good, but as soon as I stopped and unclipped my left shoe to put it down, my left calf began cramping. Once I pushed off to start riding again, the cramp hit full-force, making it very hard to clip in. My foot slipped forward and into the spokes of my front wheel. I was still in the roundabout and going fast enough at this point that the momentum caused me to flip completely over with my bike and land, hard, on both of my knees, my left wrist and my head. Dazed (and embarrassed), I got up quickly and grabbed my bike (and my ejected water bottles). An older couple stopped in their car. The man asked if I was okay. The woman said, "you should ride on the trail!" Thanks, m'am. I didn't tell her that I had just ridden 40+ miles on the trail and was on my way home. I did tell her that bikes are legal on the road, and tried to explain that my calf had cramped up. I decided to not get into an extended conversation and continued pushing my bike to the side of the road. I noticed that my front wheel wouldn't turn, so I rolled it on the back wheel.

Once on the curb, I started taking stock of my body.

Hematoma time!

You mean, one leg isn't supposed to have two knees?
A bump — a very large bump — started appearing above my right knee. It became difficult to bend the knee. As I lowered myself to the curb, I felt a very sharp pain in my left wrist. Once the adrenaline had worn off and I realized that I was pretty hurt, I decided I'd better call my wife to come get me. Once she arrived, we concluded that I should head to the clinic to get me checked out. Three hours and two X-rays later, it was determined that I hadn't broken any bones. I was given a wrist brace, a knee wrap and a crutch (plus a very small prescription for pain meds), with the instructions to ice the knee and wrist every few hours and to keep my right leg elevated.

"I'm a very good cyclist!"

Nearly a day later, the swelling has gone down significantly on my right knee and, although it's still sore, I can walk on it without the crutch. My left wrist, however, hurts quite a bit. I'm not 100% convinced that there's not a hairline fracture in there. I'll give it a few more days before getting it looked at it again, if it's still painful.

Kids, this is why we wear helmets

As for my bike, I definitely bent a spoke in the front wheel. Other than that, it might be okay. I'll take it to the shop next week to confirm.

I'm thankful, because it could have been much worse. No cars ran over me, and no broken bones (as far as I know). I lived to ride another day. This was my first real bike wreck, so I suppose I was due.

My fitness is improving and I'm starting to feel good on the bike, so I'm anxious to get back out there! It'll probably at least a week before that happens.

I wish I had a video of my self-imposed crash. I imagine I looked like an idiot! To the passerby, I was a cyclist who suddenly flipped over, like I had hit an invisible trip wire. Classic.

If I'm in that situation again, I'll definitely dismount my bike, walk to the side of the road, stretch and let the cramp go away before riding again (and bring a mustard packet with me). Lesson (hopefully) learned.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Speed Record

Last Friday, I had limited time to fit in a bike ride, so I decided that, if I was going to have to keep it short, I might as well try to make it a tempo ride. It ended up being more like a time trial.

The numbers:

Miles: 17.23
Time: 52:12
Avg MPH: 19.8

I've never averaged 19 mph on a ride before, let alone nearly 20! I think the key was staying down in my drops for about 95% of the ride (I had to get up on the hoods very briefly because my hands were falling asleep and it was getting difficult to change gears).

Granted, this wasn't a very long ride and I doubt I could sustain that pace for too much longer, but it was a nice change of pace, so to speak. Hopefully it's a sign that my fitness is improving and that my average pace for my less intense rides will start creeping upwards. I'm thinking of doing this ride as a fitness test every few weeks, just to see if there's any improvement.

That ride (my most recent) puts me at 548 outdoor miles so far this year (with another 53 on the indoor trainer). Still not the mileage I'd like by this point, but my plan is to start bumping up my weekly mileage now that running is temporarily out of the picture. Work has been very busy for me lately, so it's been tough to get out. As the weather continues to improve and get warmer, I may have to start doing early morning rides, even though I much prefer late morning riding.

Speaking of work, I better get back to it...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weight, Weights, Wheels & Whatever

One of my goals for the first half of this year was to shed the weight I accidentally-on-purpose gained last year ("The Year Of Fat Assening"). After several weeks of losing a pound followed by regaining that pound, it seems like my body has finally shifted into weight loss mode. I've now lost 10 pounds this year, and 18 since April of 2014. I'm closing in on where I want to level off. Maybe another 3-5 lbs. will do it. Now that the momentum has kicked in, I need to make sure I can pull up the nose of the plane before crashing. The semi-controlled diet plus being more active (mostly via cycling) is finally working. I may yet have some abs to show sometime this summer.

I've also been lifting weights a little more intensely. I've decided to keep the weight relatively light, while focusing on my form and reducing rest time between sets. I'm not doing a cardio workout with weights, but I'm trying to be as efficient as possible. I'm starting to see some results, which is always motivating, even though I'm only lifting 1-2 times per week.

The cycling seems to be going well, although I do get bored riding the same course, alone, over and over. I do plan on addressing both of those issues soon. I've got a couple of friends I can probably ride with on occasion, and I'll probably venture away from the Centennial Trail and onto the local roads more often. It's been quite windy here lately, so I've had some interesting rides. I rode 32 miles yesterday (16 out, 16 back). The first half was into a headwind. I averaged 16.7 mph for that portion. On the way back, I averaged 20.0 mph thanks to the tailwind.

Since my knee screamed at me last week, I haven't attempted any more running. As I mentioned before, I probably won't be getting it checked out anytime soon. Something I haven't decided yet is whether or not I want to achieve my 10,000 lifetime running miles this year, even with the bad knee. If I do, I'll have to do it with short, infrequent runs in order to avoid the excruciating pain that shuts me down every time I try to run more regularly. Not a very sexy way to achieve that goal, so I'm still undecided.

Spring is definitely here in the Inland Northwest! In fact, this week it's starting to feel like early summer. Upper 70's to low 80's. Very nice! Better keep those wheels rolling!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Vocally Gifted Woman of Size is Ready!

(Non-PC version: The Fat Lady is ready to Sing!)

I left the house not long ago, RockTape on my knee, ready for a short, slow run. The first three steps were pain-free. After that quick tease, some of the most intense knee pain I've felt so far kicked in every time my left foot landed. Even trying to land softly and with minimal impact doesn't alleviate any of the pain.


So, I guess my quest for 10,000 lifetime miles is once again sidelined. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I may not be able to see a doctor anytime soon thanks to my insurance situation, so I'll have to focus on cycling and strength training until that time.

Those of you who have been through serious injuries know how frustrating this is. I've been on an injury roller coaster for several years now, and I'm beyond motion sick now.

Fortunately, the bike doesn't cause any pain to the knee, so I have to be thankful of that, anyway.

Time to change from loose shorts to tight ones...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Borrowed Time

So, the good news is that the running I've been doing lately is starting to feel pretty good, like I'm actually becoming a runner again.

The bad news is that "starting to feel pretty good" refers to everything except my left knee.

A few runs ago, the knee would hurt for the first quarter mile or so, then feel pretty decent for the duration of the run. Then, it would hurt for the first half mile. Then, two days ago, it hurt for a mile and a half before settling down. Today, I ran an easy 4 miles and the knee hurt for 3.5 miles of it!

I'm no statistician, but that's not a good trend. So, at this point, I feel like I'm running on borrowed time.

Yes, I know I'm sort of in the process of focusing more on cycling, but as a longtime runner, I can't stay away. I'm now 68 miles shy of 10,000 lifetime running miles. That number is seducing me more every time I run. I'd like to get it behind me. That's why I've continued running through the ever-increasing pain. Dumb, I know.

Not to get too personal, but another reason I've put off a doctor's visit is because of my lousy insurance. I'm self-employed and pay 100% of my insurance out of pocket. In order to afford my premiums, I've had to choose terrible coverage — basically, a catastrophic plan. I would pay a $50 copay for office visits, but anything beyond that — treatment, imaging, medical procedures — would come out of my pocket, 100%, until I meet my insanely high deductible. So that, plus the fact that we're still paying off the therapy bill for my daughter's recent concussion, is the reason that no action has been taken.

Of course, that doesn't excuse me from running on an already damaged knee.

Like I said, I'm dumb.

Anyhoo...I may have a little more running in me before the knee says "NO MORE," or I may not. Like I said, today's run was pretty painful.

On a side note, I've realized that I'm a tough runner but a wimpy cyclist. When I say "tough," I don't mean I'm fast, or even impressive. I just mean that I can run through pain, wind, cold, snow, rain, hail, hills, etc. and have no problem with any of it (I've run through all of them at once on more than one occasion, actually) but as a cyclist, I hate wind, cold, hills and rain. So, humbly, I will claim to be a tough (and dumb) runner but a sissy cyclist. So far, anyway. Hopefully I can toughen up on two wheels before long.

I also hope I can celebrate my 10,000th running mile on this blog within the next couple of months. After today's run, I'm not so sure it'll be that soon.

But it WILL happen eventually.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finding a Groove

I feel like I may finally be settling into the beginnings of a groove. The cycling is feeling good and, surprisingly, the running is starting to feel pretty good.

After my (unintentionally) fastest-paced bike ride of the year yesterday (32 miles @ 18.5 mph avg), I ran an easy 4 miles today. My always cranky left knee whined again for the first 1/4 mile or so, but then it felt completely fine the rest of the run. I was pleasantly surprised and a bit perplexed. I'm not sure if that pattern will continue. Given my history, I'm cynical.

Moving forward, I'd like to continue alternating cycling and running days, hopefully fitting in three of each per week, along with one or two weightlifting sessions to maintain strength. My often unpredictable work schedule will dictate whether or not I can stick with that approach. But, regardless, a mixture of both seems to be the best approach for my injury-prone body.

Oh, and if you're keeping track at home, I'm now 82 miles shy of 10,000 lifetime running miles. That goal should be reached by sometime early this summer, knock on wood.

Once I hit that mark, you're all invited to my celebration party, with bouncy castles and creepy clowns...