I posted a while back about my knee problems and my hopes/goals going forward with regards to what activities I would be able to do. In short, I was diagnosed with chondromalacia after limping off the soccer field and being unable to walk without pain 3 summers ago. It sometimes hurt on the bike and always hurt when running. Slowing down, running downhill, cutting to my right or kicking a soccer ball were all pretty much not options. I had been a long time athlete who had taken a break after college and was trying to get back in shape/enjoy the outdoors more again. I felt like the care that I'd been given was poor and all options certainly weren't explored on a medical level, but didn't see a lot of options without incurring bills on top of other bills I couldn't pay so I just sort of did what I thought would be best. I double checked the fit of my bikes and avoided running. I did some specific exercises etc. etc..
It has now been about 34 months since the initial issues came up. What has been most interesting to me is that I've made steady progress thoughout that entire time period. It was slow at the beginning and has been slow throughout the whole process but now I find myself able to do things that would have hurt previously and without thinking about it. I'm still afraid to include running in any of my training- and I do really miss trail running. However, running to stay out of the rain, running a few blocks to get somewhere faster or the running necessary for cyclocross is no longer painful. It took until this spring before I could rollerblade without any pain. Rollerblading used to seem ok, but then the knee would hurt doing regular things the next day and sometimes on my bikes. I learned to skate ski two winters ago and really braced the knee up, but still had to endure some pain (and the worry that I was making things worse). This year it was a bit better, I could ski to exhaustion without any significant issues.
Downhill skiing is the biggest question mark for me. I'm sure it was the actual root of the damage and it's also something I really don't want to give up forever. Skiing has been a large part of my identity for most of my life. I've not gone to any 'real' ski areas since the first winter after the pain. I'm sort of clinging to the hope that over time as my strength increases, time passes etc. that I'll be able to aggressively ski again. I remember one trip to Welch three years ago where I was completely unable to ski whatsoever.
I've also lost 20-25 lbs since that summer (more on this in another post). I believe that much of the gains I've seen this past winter/spring are directly related to the weight loss. Weight loss and increased strength cannot hurt! That said, I don't want a recurring problem that requires me to always work my ass off or have pain. I felt like that was basically the direction my doctors wanted me to go with lots of physical therapy etc. and no other hope for the future. I am hoping that by resting it and strengthening it I am buying time before an appropriate medical solution can be found and paid for. I do have a new doctor who is much better with sports stuff now and I may bring it up again this year as well, although it was my provider's sports specialists previously who really left me with no hope.
Last year I posted that I had a long-term goal of being able to run the 6 miles or so each way to work and back. I did try running a few times last fall and found that I didn't feel "ready", or maybe didn't have just the right brace, or maybe was just too worried about setting myself back. I'm not sure when I'll get the motivation to get back at this. At the very least it might be fun to be able to run a pain-free 5k or two with my friends.
One night, late in cross season last fall, we went on a group ride that was just a big circle of the city. We rode a lot of bike paths, some ski trail and some singletrack. The grass and singletrack felt slow under my 32s. It was bumpy, uncomfortable, annoying, undesirable. I needed a break.
Last night on my commute... on the short section of dirt singletrack that I've worn the grass off of by the railroad tracks, the grassy climb past the trailer park, the off-camber section around the fence down by highway 63. My bike leapt forward, asking for more throttle, begging me to push it.
Shot of the repaired areas... this is the side I did, other side is Calfee prior to my getting the frame. No issues! Two years ago in this race I broke what was then my race frame while riding Rock Lake and without falling.
That's the bike with my regular wheels back on- I raced on my Stan's Races. It truly worked wonderfully. The only thing that could make this bike better would be a hollowgram double crankset up front with 28/42.
This is for my mom-
She wanted more color on my bike or my kit so it will be easier to pick me out in races. Hoping the red tires help! Also hoping some other upcoming changes will make me a bit more visible too...
Lastly, I got my new fork for the TT bike and made some positioning changes. I will be riding it once or twice a week here until the Synergy TT and hope to get my crap together enough to not embarass myself.
For what it's worth also I gave QR a quick email last week and they are sending me the seatpost clamp that I need for a very fair price. They were great to deal with and were happy to pull a used clamp off of a bike they had laying around in order to get me a part that is no longer available!
Had a quick turnaround this week. Two quick nights of work, some housework, bunch of laundry and back out the door at 9 am Friday. Trevor, Karlene and I managed to get everything stuffed into the Subaru and we were out of Rochester by 10:30 or so.
After a few stops, and maybe 100 oz worth of Arnold Palmer for me, we were at Lakewood. Time to get organized for the race, ride some and make the dinner/pre-race meeting. Rode the best part of the best trail, Rock Lake and Hildebrand Lake Loop then took the road back out. I had briefly considered riding the Caffeine for this race but then had come to my senses and only brought the Flash. If I wasn't going to ride it for this when would I race it? It's sad that this was to be only my second mountain bike race of the year and potentially one of only 3 or 4 total. I haven't ridden either of the mountain bikes as much as I would want either, especially recently with all the falling/soreness I've been going through. Regardless, I felt good on the bike and couldn't believe how well it tracked in the corners or how good it felt on the little climbs etc.. Trevor and I rode hard for some of the time and I felt slick and light going uphill.
We hung out with some friends and tried to eat enough pasta to justify the $12 cost and then heard some short words from the organizers-
It was a great time. Awesome to see so many of the same people I've gotten to know over the last couple years. Free racing!
Trevor's brother Eric had hooked us up with a bunkhouse at one of his co-workers lake homes.
Little bit tight for for adults, but still pretty awesome. Especially when you consider the view...
5 am was extremely too early. Managed to eat a couple of sandwiches and get to the start. The 100 mile riders would be starting 15 minutes before the 62 guys but we all rode over and sort of staged together. I was saddened to see Mr. Farrow break a spoke in that .3 miles. There was nothing anyone could really do at that point and he was forced to start the race sans spoke. The 15 minute gap felt like forever. I was happy to see some friendly faces on the front row with me.
Joe started us off by hopping on his bike and we were off! 62 miles is a long, long ways but I decided to put in some effort because I knew that we were likely to have a ton of passing to do in the singletrack and that would be best dealth with near the front. The group did close down my initial push but then no one really fought me at mile 3 when we were actually entering the singletrack. I settled into a pace that I could ride comfortably and minded my own business. It didn't take long before the incredible trail and reality of a day with no responsibility but to ride started to sink in. I could hear a couple guys riding behind me and glanced back to realize it was just two, Maury and Joe with no one else in sight. At that point I really settled things down and focused solely on riding smooth. The three of us chatted about camping, kids, family, jobs, life in general etc. and took turns at the front. It was great to have two strong, skilled riders to work with. We began to pass groups of riders from the 100 mile event. At one point there was a huge row of 15-20 riders that we got caught up in for quite a while. I felt a little bad passing so much, but there was nothing else we could do. By about mile 18 or 20 we were almost done with that anyways and I would only pass smaller groups or single riders the rest of the way.
The awesome trail just kept coming. Rock Lake is simply amazing and I know it well- it was really fun to ride in a 'race' type situation. I was surprised by the pace our trio continued to push- these guys were both riding great. Maury was definitely a question mark to me too- I had no idea how strong he would be later, just that he looked great now and that he was obviously a very skilled rider. I had trouble on some of the downhills keeping up with his pace (this would change later in the day as it rained- I didn't look at what tires he ran, but it was noticeable later that he was complaining about slick corners that my racing ralphs were handling just fine). In the Hildebrand Lake Loop Joe flatted and Maury and I pushed on together. We would ride together a lot more.
We caught Tim Ek and some dude from Freewheel at about mile 30 and we all worked together on a section of road. Nature called and I let them all go, but was then able to reel them each back in one by one during the next few miles. It was during that time period when I jumped a tree laying on the side of the trail, landed on a hidden branch and slide on my right side through a patch of raspberries... ouch! Maury was the last of that small group that I caught and I took the solo lead for a bit, but let him back on/got caught on the next road section. We again settled into a nice pace together and things were really enjoyable. The route was awesome, pace was what I wanted and the conditions were great. I, obviously, much prefer rain to crushing heat.
The birkie trail was huge puddles and hills, but it was nothing compared to what I had ridden last monday, see my gorge pictures/route info I posted Tuesday, and that somehow made me feel a lot better. Finally we hit the Ojibwe trail. I was sad to be nearing the end of the ride but also really happy to be back on singletrack. At that point I had already broken my chain once earlier due to chainsuck, didn't have any more quick links and was too afraid to shift from 32x17. The singletrack was sure to be more singlespeed friendly. I also knew that if I wanted to win the race that Ojibwe was where to do it and so I opened things up. With 7 miles to the finish I was clear and I rode a measured pace the rest of the way in to finish about 5 minutes ahead. Maury came in second followed by Deathrider (who has an unoffical podium shot that I'll probably steal later too).
River's Eatery is a great place to finish a ride. I spent the next 9 hours there going through 3 different rounds of pizza and beer and got to watch people finish.
Joe signing in with his finish time-
I don't really think this image of 3rd place finisher "DEATHRIDER" needs further explanation (what could make it better?)
This is the right vibe for the finish area of a free race
Revolutionizing bike cleaning, and did he notice I was taking his picture?
I was at the finish for a dead sprint between Karlene and another woman for first on the 62 mile women's side. Apparently they had really both thrown down over the last five miles and it may have come down to a slight navigational error on pavement that cost Karlene the race. Regardless, it was awesome to see them finish together and with FIRE. Too often in free races and any race with combined fields the women don't get to 'race' each other enough. Certainly on gravel they get more spread out due to the drafting effects of the various men's groups than they would if they had their own start times etc.. This was super cool.
I was drinking beer and eating, 2nd round this time, as the early 100 finishers came in. Trevor finished 6th right behind Randy W. and a couple spots in front of Mike C. - it was nice to see a lot of my friends do well! I think they all had fun too, although more than one person did say they wish they had done "what I did".
I guess, I may not get another shot to do that myself as during the awards Joe said I got an automatic 'upgrade' for next year...
Here is my prize-
Did I mention that River's Eatery was an incredible place to finish and that they have great food, treated us like kings and support the trail system in general?
Today we hit Hayward.
When the 1988 Corvette 'vert was announced that ended our parade watching. Trevor had simply had enough and so we hit the bar. Where we found this-
Wow! We also got to check out the record Musky before heading home.
This week will bring some rest days, a lot of random work around the house, a couple frame repairs and my C43 is running again! The larger m113 went in with no unexpected problems. Expect something like this but significantly faster, like +80 ft lbs faster. Also, let's all hope for reliability and enjoyment. It's got the roof racks already installed.
It was 58 and raining yesterday morning in Ironwood. The plan was to do some touristing and check out the sights while taking the northern route back through Bayfield etc. on my way to the State Fair Affair Crit. I knew I'd be tired for the race, but it was a Rider of the Year contest and so long as I'm going to be a '3' for the year I figure I may as well make those events. They tend to have the highest level of competition of the '3' races and the contest gives a bit of extra incentive. I think it's also really good to push myself 'too' hard and race as much as possible while I can. It's all miles toward being better in the future.
This is just north of Red Cliff/Bayfield-
I sort of wish my job were to drive one of these around!
If you've followed me for long you know I'm fascinated by gillnet tugs and the history of great lakes fishing etc.. I was very excited to find all of this-
and these two boats in active use!
After Duluth things started to change quickly. The temperature was rising about 1 degree per 4-5 miles driven south. Within about an hour it went from 61 to 92 degrees. I started to be thankful that I was only racing a "short" 40 minute criterium.
I wanted to race smart and maximize energy expenditures and told myself to stay out of breaks and games as much as possible. However, the masters guys were also racing with us and the Skarpol/Flanders duo were doing some things early and I recognized that I better pay attention and consider the huge advantage that might be available to someone who got away with one or both of them... I put in some relatively big efforts to try to position for that but wound up totally missing the real move of Skarpol and Montesano. At that point I was racing for 2nd in my race/3rd overall. Lots of medium paced laps where no one wanted to work hard. Spent more time on my hoods in this race than in any other crit I can remember! With two laps to go I was feeling good, with half a lap to go I was feeling good and in OK position, at the bottom of the sprint I was feeling good and in great position but when I stood to sprint my legs just hurt. I wound up fifth in the 3s. I think that was a very good result and I think it's a good sign that I was able to do it without my normal sprint as I hope that means I'm getting a feel for positioning etc. at the end of the races. I believe I am now tied for the rider of the year competition with a rider who has been in all 3 races to my just two. I'm not sure I'll make all the rest of the relevent races but I hope to. Next crit will be the State Championship which is looking like another double for me- this time with the 3 race coming earlier in the day than the 1/2/3.
I feel a bit rushed today trying to get everything cleaned up, switched over, cleaned up etc. in order to head up the Cheq 62 Friday morning, but I'm sure it will be well worth the effort!
It was about 3.5 miles upwind do the mouth of the river I was looking for. Initially a lot of it looked like this.
Of course whenever it got more exciting than that I wasn't exactly thinking about pictures! This is where I finally stopped- the water here was getting too shallow for me to pedal, er paddle, hard enough to maintain up-river movement.
It was awesome flying out of there with the current. Sort of like running Giant Slalom over rocks!
Next I wanted to give my CX bike a chance for redemption now that I'd raised the seatpost and that nice Ritchey logo was showing once again...
I rode a lot. At first it was gravel but later it wasn't anything we would consider gravel back in MN. The last 15 miles or so to my destination looked like this (and climbed about 600' 3 or 4 times over)-
Here it is! Absolutely worth it too! Maybe even so cool when combined with those roads that a 'gravel grinder' (wow do I ever hate that term- it's just a bike race) may be born out of this ride!
This is definitely a view to be shared! Sunset at the Gorge. This guy was soaking up the last rays.
When I say that I like tubulars and find them to be much more durable and higher performing than clinchers... well, I ride them to places like this. This is my Ben Witt built 2010 Zipp 303 laced to a DT Swiss built Reynolds hub with a Wolber tubular from 1996 or so
From there it's back down more of the stuff pictured above until you get here-