Tag Archives: Crash

Back to the scene

Last Friday I was reminded of one of my first crashes. It came to my mind as I got my heart rate down after a near wipe out. Thankfully, I rode away with a smile on my face.

There is no need to retell the story of that crash back in the mid-nineties on a Huffy brand bike. You can read about it in this archive of an archive: The Huffy. The pertinent piece of information is where the accident took place.

Today the Governor’s School overlooks Greenville’s beautiful Falls Park along the Reedy River. Back when I first started riding, the land there was nothing but scrubby plants and scraggly trees back behind the Greenville County government offices. There was also a small single track that ran along the ridge and then descended into a paved cul de sac.

The end of Howe Street

Where Howe St. ends and connects to the Swamp Rabbit Trail

It is the end of the line section of asphalt that factors into our story for today. While back in those days it was a somewhat scarey place to be, the cul de sac is now part of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It is one of the joints that connects Falls Park to Cleveland Park where the trail goes beneath Church Street. That means that I ride my bike through the area often as I am heading out of town or returning home.

Recently they did some work there that changed the angle of how the SRT joins the cul de sac. They have also altered the transition of the two surfaces. I guess it is to help with controlling run off, but there is now a sizable hump where the trail and the asphalt meet.

I’ve had fun hitting the hump with a little speed and picking up some air on my road bike. Well, last Friday I decided to really take flight. So, I approached the hump with a little more speed than usual.

Sure enough, I got some air — a lot more than I bargained for! Because of the angle at which I hit the hump, my trajectory sent me through the air so far that I came down off the trail. Suddenly, I was doing cyclo cross!

There was an initial fear, but that was  replaced with just reaction. I loosened my grip and my stance and weighted the rear of my bike allowing the front wheel to skip over some of the rough ground until I got better control. Thankfully, I had the bike where I needed it in time to avoid a pot hole. Then I was able to ease the bike back onto the trail before I ran out of space all together.

“That was stupid!” was my first thought once I was able to form one. Yet, a big grin popped on my face. At first it was a sheepish one. Then it grew into one of joy. I rode home with a little more zip in my pedal stroke.

Thanks, bicycle, for the memories and the smiles.

You don’t know what you didn’t have till you’re done

It is something that has been in the back of my mind for the last couple weeks. It was hard to put my finger on it, but it seems to have crystallized in my thoughts. It leaves me feeling nostalgic and hopeful.

It is hard to grasp what you are learning through an experience while you are in the midst of it. Often the lesson isn’t obvious until after you have the opportunity to look back. I find that is the case for me when I look back at this last season.

I think I fooled myself into thinking that I was over my June 2010 accident. The fact that I was so quickly able to get back on the bike and even complete the 2010 Ride for Mike only a month after ditching my neck brace gave me the illusion that I would quickly be back up the speed. Surely an off-season and some good spring training would get me right back up there.

It didn’t happen. It was a very frustrating racing season for me. There were multiple DNF’s and I didn’t race nearly as much as I did the previous year. I was mentally out of it and not positive at all. Sure, there were flashes of power and the data showed that I was physically close to where I was in early 2010 — the best months of my life on a bicycle.

First, there was the lingering issue of my hip. I rode through the entire season with hip pain. While my legs were putting out power, my right leg would fatigue. Over the last month, I have started to notice a significant decrease in the pain. My ability to hold an effort has also improved.

Not sure what has caused it. Perhaps it is the shift in focus from big power intervals to more tempo riding. Perhaps this has taken some of the strain off my leg and has allowed it to heal. Then again, maybe it is just that time has finally started having its affect. Whatever the case, I didn’t realize how much of an influence that pain had on me until it diminished.

Second, there is a difference between strength and power. Power is what you can apply to the pedals to make the bicycle go. Strength is the ability to sustain that effort. I was able to return to the same power numbers pretty quickly. However, I just didn’t have the strength to maintain it.

This year I would go out to do intervals and I could match the same intervals as the year before. The difference was what happened after the interval ended? In 2011 I was aiming for the end of the interval. My guess (looking back) is that the big difference between 2010 and 2011 was that in the earlier year, I could have done much more with the time following the interval than in 2011.

It is just a feeling. Fact is I feel stronger right now than ever before this year. I feel like going out and doing an FTP test just to see if the feeling matches reality. The questions that swirled in my mind during the season are settling down. I’m not questioning my strength anymore.

Last, I’m just feeling much more comfortable on the bike. I realize now just how stiff I was on the bike. Now I’m finally getting my hands out comfortably on the tips of my hoods with my back flat. I’m able to bend my neck without becoming so quickly fatigued. My legs have a feeling that it is a supple power I’m producing instead of a chunky kind.

Again, had you asked how I was doing during the season, I would have told you that I was back. Now I realize just how much I wasn’t. It is a good feeling.

I realize this might all just sound like crazy talk to you. However, to me it is so clear. I begin to understand how a major accident can have long-term ramifications. Even when you think you have gone beyond it, there are lingering affects that just require the passage of time to bring you healing.

So, going forward I realize that 1) I should not fool myself into thinking I’m in some place that I am not. Don’t oversell yourself to yourself. Be willing to accept that you aren’t what you once were – yet. 2) I should look for the improvements. The diminishing pain, the flexibility on the bike, the suppleness of the legs — these are all encouraging signs. Look for more of them and focus on the confidence they bring. 3) I should focus on those things that allow me to improve – emotionally, physically, and mentally.

For now, I need to put racing out of my mind. Rediscovering the joy of the long ride, the anticipation of exploring a new road, and just riding my bike have helped bring back something I was missing. The fact that I am looking forward to the pain and suffering of the 2011 Ride for Mike is definitely a good sign!

What will 2012 hold? I don’t know. I’ll pedal over that bridge when I get to it.

My trophy: my own skin

I think I now know why I was so nervous before the race last night. Sure, part of it was due to the fact that I hadn’t participated in racing for several weeks. However, memories of the technical aspects of the BMW course played a role as well. My nervousness was not unfounded.

In the parking lot I struck up a conversation with one of my teammates about his new Felt bicycle. “It is aluminum,” he informed me. “Well, that is the bike you would want for out here!” I replied as a joke. “That is why I have it,” he said — and I didn’t detect any humor in his voice.

The ladies were out racing the course and I connected with some other teammates to ride around the skid pad circle as we waited for the full course to open. This pad is where drivers will work on their drifting skills in the myriad of BMW’s parked around the track. The funny thing is you can get down right dizzy going around and around the circle on your bike.

Taking a break from the merry-go-round, I rode up an interior road to an area near the start line. There I found David Curran watching the current race. “So, what course do they have us doing tonight,” I asked. “Everything,” he replied. “We’re going all the way around the lower area and then through the chicane,” he paused for a second. “I think there will be a kitchen sink out there somewhere as well.”

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This meant we would be starting going left to right. There is a slight grade and a very shallow turn to the right. At that point you have to set up for a tighter turn to the left that then straightens for about 20 meters before you dive down into the lower portion of the course.  So far things are not so technical. However, that then brings you into a very tight left turn that immediately leads to another only slightly less tight turn to the left.

These are technical only in the sense that you must know the limits of how far you can lean. More than once I have seen riders — and have myself — clipped the ground with a pedal. The problem is that the turn is not so tight that you can’t pedal, but it is tight enough that if you don’t watch it you will find your rear wheel lifting off the ground. Other than that the tarmac is smooth and you can maintain quite a bit of speed.

My first two times through this section I was embarrassed. The speed of my entry made me lose my nerve and I didn’t trust my bike. I found myself washing wide in the turn. I’m sure the riders around me weren’t too happy with me. However, by the third lap, I just made up my mind to trust my tires. I weighted my right leg and pushed down on my left bar. The tires stuck and before long I was taking the turn as tight as anyone and riding on that edge that allowed me to turn as sharply as I could while still pedaling to avoid a gap forming.

After these two turns the course straightens for a bit. At the end of this straight section is the climb back onto the main test track. As you crest the rise the course narrows. More than once racers would bunch up in this section. It was a combination of the grade and the bottleneck that caused it. Thankfully, even though a couple of riders ended up taking to the dirt and a few words were spoken here or there, there were no “instances” in this spot.

Once back on the main track the group had a small straight section to get set up for the next technical section. This is the ONE. It is the tightest chicane of the course. Off of the short straight you take a 90 degree left turn. Almost immediately you have to bring your weight over the bike to go into an even tighter right hand turn.

The last time I raced on this course, it was in this section I ended up riding over a guy and off the tarmac. I don’t know if it is because sometimes riders don’t get their weight correctly proportioned after the shift from left turn to right or what, but it is in this spot where you will find bikes coming out from beneath their owners. This race was no exception.

I had struggled in the first part of the race getting back used to race speed. I also was trying to get comfortable with the turns. It was starting to come together and I determined I would start working my way back toward the front. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there at this point. I was in the last third of the pack.

As we entered this chicane I was comfortably on the wheel of the teammate with the aluminum Felt. I say comfortably because I trust these guys and their bike handling skills. I’m the least experienced of all of them. I always feel good about my safety around them.

So I was shocked as I watched my teammate lose traction with his rear wheel. All of a sudden everything went into slow motion. I immediately ceased pedaling and started to feather my brakes. He was unable to right the bike and I watched him slam into the ground. All the while I was trying to decide what to do.

My fear was that if I swerved to go around him I would go into the line of the riders behind me and cause a pile up. I could also continue into his bike with the hope that I could ride over his wheel — and not flip over it! Thankfully (for me), both he and his bike slid forward on the track and not across it. This allowed me enough time to brake and get out of my pedals. I got my feet on the ground just as my rear wheel was lifting due to my heavy breaking.

In the heat of the battle, I moved around the wreck, got back in my pedals, and then started to chase back on. “What am I doing?” I berated myself. The groans of my teammate had finally registered in my brain. I couldn’t just leave him there in the middle of the road! I went back to help him.

At this moment, I do not know the extent of his injuries. All I’ll say is that I hurt for him. His right shoulder was chewed up pretty badly. I hope that the pain isn’t more than skin deep.

I slowly rolled off and waited for the field to catch me. It gave me the chance to see my teammate Thomas continue his solo break (which was the winning one). Then the field came by and I worked my way back into the rear of it. I had not requested a free lap, so I wasn’t sure if I was considered to be a lapped rider or not. I figured it didn’t really matter because I wasn’t in contention for anything anyway. Our team was just trying to control so Thomas could stay away.

Back to the course… after the section where the first accident happened there is a fast left hand turn out of the chicane. It really isn’t that bad of a spot except that the cars cut the inside corner here and wash sand up on the track. I made it a point to take the middle of this turn to avoid the sand.

Once through that section you are pretty much home free as the course goes straight for a bit into two very fast, slightly banked, and shallow left turns as the main track follows the contour of the skid pad located within this area — think your classic two turns on an oval track. Coming out of those the course straightens a bit as you head to the finish.

My plan was to make it through the chicane and then turn up the wick through those final turns. You can easily move from the back to the front at that point. The turn is wide and most riders go inside. If you pedal fast you can come around their right. The only sketchy spot is you have to make sure you can slot back in once you come out of the turn since many riders then shift to the right to line up for the finish. I’ve gotten some good finishes in the past this way.

It wasn’t to be. As we entered the sandy section I began to prep to accelerate with the move I was sure would come once the field got on the straight. Suddenly, I found myself braking once again as I heard the sound of bikes going down and saw riders continuing straight off the course instead of making the left turn. I avoided a rider coming across my front wheel and went as wide as could to avoid braking too hard and having someone crash into the back of me.

Had I been two riders up I would have been right in the middle of it. I looked down and saw a 10 to 12 foot scrape on the ground where someone’s rear derailleur had slid across the pavement. As I moved away from the scene I saw riders disentangling themselves and checking their wounds. I slowly rode the final distance to come across the line 20th. Of course, I could care less about the placement — I was just glad I had survived!

Returning to the scene of the crime

Tuesday night I took Thing Two to his baseball team meeting. I’m looking forward to having him work with his coach. I think it is going to be a good fit. On the way home we took a slight detour down memory lane.

The meeting was near Mauldin High School on Butler Road. As we turned off of I-385 I could see the course we raced last year for the series put on by the DeMaine Cycling Team. It was also the spot of the accident that ended my season.

I’ve driven past that exit numerous times and often thought about going to see the spot. However, typically I would be in a hurry, but mostly I just didn’t want to see it. It isn’t a memory I like to bring up.

Still, it was right there and things have changed over the last 10 or so months. It was Monday that it struck me that during the race last Saturday I had zero neck pain! It is funny that it didn’t register until well after the race was over, but it is true. I really am at about 98% with my neck.

We turned off of Butler Road onto the entry road to the undeveloped office complex where the race was held. It was kind of eerie since the sun had set and the road was only being revealed to us by the headlamps of the car. We went around the first turn and there it was.

It is amazing that I hit that thing. All the curbing is a shallow lip except for the few spots where there are drainage holes. Had I gone off the course on most any other place I would have simply rode off into the grass.

At those four or five drainage holes around the course, the curbing is about 8 inches high at about 90 degrees. Over the holes set a foot or so from the road are the large cement blocks. In my fuzzy memory I thought it was the hole cover that I hit. However, reconstructing how it could have happened, I realize that what I hit was the curbing that guides the water to the hole. I really had not deviated that much from the road when I hit it.

I really liked the course. I’m sad that there doesn’t seem to be any plans for more races there. Would I like for them to put some hay bales or something at those drainage holes? Yes! However, I think it is a good spot for a fast critierum race.

Stopping to see it was good for me. It is just a road. There is nothing scary about it. The same thing could have happened in any number of places.

I survived it. I’m learning to put it behind me. Let’s go racin’ boys!

Crashes are chasing me

In Sunday’s post I wrote of the crash I witnessed on my Saturday morning ride. It seemed that crashes were chasing me all during that first group ride back. One of those crashes happened back in 2008.

I mentioned in that post a rider who was one of the stronger riders out on the Hour of Power that morning. He was a visitor from Pennsylvania participating in the ride for the first time. His name is Ben Fetterman and he is famous — or infamous — for his distinction of being one of only two riders to go over the wall during a crash at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center velodrome.

Ben Fetterman goes over the wall

Ben Fetterman goes over the wall - Photo © Anthony Skorochod

Ben, a promising track racer, was racing Pro-1-2 on the track at the time. Several riders brushed on the back stretch causing a collision which sent riders and their brake-less track bikes sliding across the ground. That is, all the riders but Ben. As you can see in the photo above, Ben went up on the railing — and then over.

He would have probably been okay except he landed at the base of the grandstands you see to the left of the picture. He slid on the concrete at the base and slammed into the support structure holding up the seats. The ground caused such a bad road rash that Ben said he spent more time in the burn center than he did with any other doctor. It must have been pretty bad rash because looking at his shin, it looks like he spent a good amount of time with the doctor on that one!

There was a huge scar running down the front of his leg. He said that he has very little feeling there. He also continues to battle back and neck pain. Still, it hasn’t kept him off the bike.

Fetterman currently races category 3 road and criterium races — no more track. He said it was a combination of physical limitations and nerves that keeps him off the track. He is currently trying to find his way back into competition. He looks good. He rides well. He is young.

We both agreed. It is just good to be able to go out and turn the pedals. The competitive urge isn’t gone, it just isn’t the most important thing about riding our bikes now days.

As for crashing? It actually isn’t something I dwell on while riding. Sure, after a near miss like Saturday it all comes washing back over me. A couple of times as I’ve found myself in a tight spot, I have felt the nerves grab hold. However, with each new hour on the bike the thoughts fade farther and farther from my mind.

I’m coming back. My top end power is back. My functional threshold is increasing. I’m building my endurance. Most of all, I am growing more and more mentally confident on two wheels. I’m outrunning the crash.

End of a road to start a new one

Today at 2:10 PM, I’ll go to visit my neurosurgeon, Dr. Johnson. I have every reason to believe that he will tell me that I no longer have to wear my neck brace. Since my hand cast came off a couple weeks ago, that would mean that today the visible reminders of my May 22 accident will be gone. For months I have looked forward to this day, but this morning I realize that while it is an end of one part of my recovery, it is the beginning of another.

I’ll confess. I have cheated. I didn’t wear my brace a whole lot while on vacation last week.

I knew that when the neck brace came off it would be pretty painful. While the bones have healed nicely, I still have had a bit of neck trauma from the accident coupled with weeks of immobility. The bottom line is the muscles in my neck are a wreck.

The hope was that by taking the brace off a bit more last week, I could get a head start on the recovery. I knew that the bones were healed because we had originally scheduled my appointment during that week. Had I not been on vacation I could have removed it then.

Whew, when I first went several hours without it, I realized that just getting the brace off didn’t mean I was healed! The tendons in my neck were like hard rubber. Used to be it was the brace keeping me from turning my head right and left. Without the brace, it was the muscles.

By the end of the time without the brace, I had a headache and I was physically tired from holding my head up. It is kind of a weird feeling. You typically don’t think about your head. It is just there. However, when you go through a neck injury like this, you get reintroduced to the weight of your noggin.

Now for the good news. I have seen progress. If I can keep reminding myself to relax, I have found I can go longer and longer without the brace. I think I have gotten a weeks head start on recovery. I need it… the 2010 Ride for Mike is less than two months away!

My ace in the hole is Dr. Mruz of Eastside Chiropractic. At the beginning of this season I had quite a few issues due to a pretty bad crash at the end of last season compounded by overdoing it on the Challenge to Conquer Cancer ride that October. Dave took me on as a special project and he is one of the reasons why I was able to see such success during the first part of this season.

He is determined to get me moving again. He is going to be an important team member for a successful event this September. It all starts today once I leave the neurosurgeon. I’ll then head over to Eastside Chiropractic and start the road to strength.

It is a road I’m ready to ride up!

Life catches up to you

Funny, life is often like a closet. You organize it to clear up some space and then before you know it you find that it is filled up with more stuff. Unfortunately, that has been happening to me and the bike.

My closet got cleaned when I had my accident that took me off the bike. It certainly wasn’t that I wanted to empty that part of the closet! Still, for a couple of weeks that space was a vacuum waiting to get filled.

I did get back on the trainer and the first week of the Tour De France put in about 7 hours of trainer time. Then LIFE hit me and the vacuum of the empty spaces started to pull in other fillers. The bike — my Tour De Basement — suffered because of it.

On a positive side, I needed to devote more time to some areas of my life. I’m in a time of transition at work. There are also changes taking place at The Worthwhile Company. Of course, there are always more opportunities to spend time with your family.

All those things have pulled me away from the bike. In some ways, it has been a reality check. When I step back and look at it honestly, I have to accept the fact that the bike was probably taking a little too much space in my closet. I realize that not only did it take away from the time I have to spend with other important things, it also saps the amount of energy and motivation I have to devote to those things.

Now, this isn’t an announcement that I am giving up the bike! Oh no. I miss the bike and I can’t wait to get back onto it. However, I do believe I am much wiser in how I’ll approach the bike when I get back on. The bike needs to enhance all aspects of my life — not take away from those areas.

Basically, what this means is that I am going to have to have more realistic goals concerning my competitive nature. To this point, I have been driven to always be at the front. That is why I was so pumped to be at the front in the Category 4 peloton. However, I also understand the devotion it took to get there!

As I have now moved up into the Category 3 field — and more than that, the 35+ Masters field — I understand what it will take to move up into the upper ranks of that group. Do I doubt that I could do it? Absolutely not. Do I think that it would be best for me to give that amount of devotion to the sport to get there? The answer is no.

My approach must be that I will be as competitive as I can be with the time I am able to give. That means I may end up being field fodder at times. It means I will be a worker bee and not a podium finisher. The competition will have to be within myself. More than that, the objective (at my age and status in life) needs to be focused more on having fun and staying in shape than on winning races and moving into a new, tougher category.

We’ll see how that works out. I’m a competitive person and I do love riding my bike. We’ll see how long my closet will keep the new arrangement!

The demon bike

Back when I started riding mountain bikes I used to be one of those people who named their bikes. Sometimes they got the name of the brand. For instance, there was “The Huffy“, but normally they got a descriptive name like “The Tank” or “The Green Monster“.  By the time I got my Pro Flex 755 I got past the habit of naming my machines. Well, today I’d like to resurrect that process and introduce to you… The Demon Bike.

2009 Giant TCR Advanced

The bike as I like to remember it

As with many things evil, The Demon Bike was a work of beauty and I had to sacrifice to get it. I sold my Specialized Tarmac Pro and my back up bike, a Specialized Allez. It gave every reason for me to believe it would be a great relationship. I used the bike nearly through the entire 2009 race season.

The first crack in the frame

The first crack in our relationship

Now as I think back, that year was a very rough one. I went down several times – not all of them on the black Giant (what I took to calling it later when I replaced it with a white Giant). The ultimate fall came at the 2009 SC State Road Racing Championship. I was taken out by another rider and ended up pretty beat up. The Giant was beat up more with the top tube cracked right through (see the above image).

I thought the bike was gone. I even replaced it with my current bike — a white 2010 Giant TCR Advanced. Perhaps it should have stayed that way. However, I learned that the frame could be repaired. Seeing how I missed having a back-up bike, I thought it might be a good idea to spend the several hundred dollars to get the bike back in my stable. I did and was impressed with the results.

That brings us to the end of the story. I used the bike for several events and for setting up a test of the iBike powermeter. Then I got some really fly Boyd wheels that just set the black frame off perfectly. I found myself drawn to ride the black Giant more and more.

So it was that loaded up the bike configured as you see it in the first photo above. I planned to race it for the first time since bringing it back on the road. Perhaps I never should have. Just several hours after the above picture was taken the bike looked like this.

The aftermath

The aftermath of the final crash

Notice the head tube and front fork. The bike broke above and below the head tube. That is a lot of force folks! Actually, since this incident, I’ve learned the regional Giant rep is taking a picture of the bike around with him. In his words, “That is pretty impressive!”

Closer shot of the damage

Notice the front fork and wheel

It is funny, I raced most of my 2010 season on the white Giant. I had some close calls as you always will in a Category 4 race, but I never went down. Life was good! Multiple podium finishes had me upgraded to Category 3 and the sky seemed to be the limit.

Then In my first race back on the black Giant — and my first as a Category 3 racer — I had the hardest crash of my life! I’m now out for the season. Wow, even if I could repair that bike frame (not only was the headset and front fork damaged, the head tube was also crushed), I don’t think I would do it! It is time to put The Demon Bike away!

Now, this post is tongue in cheek. I don’t really believe that a bike can contain some type of evil energy that would cause me to wreck. I would more prefer to think that God allowed me to wreck on the black frame so I wouldn’t ruin my white one!

It is just kind of funny how that when I first put the two bikes — a white one and black one — together I joked that they were like the two angels on your shoulders. The black one was the bad angel and the white one the good. I just find it ironic that the joke seemed to be true!

Turn around

Here is a short update on how things are going. I believe yesterday things began to turn around. I’m shifting into an easier gear with momentum behind me. It won’t belong before all of this will be a memory.

One of the hardest parts of all of this was wondering what my exact condition might be. My injuries could be anything between a slight crack with a quick time of healing to something that could possibly require surgery. I just didn’t know.

My visit with the neurologist took a load off my mind! Turns out it was the former. I nearly started laughing with relief when he said, “What we’ll do is have you come back here in three weeks. We’ll take some pictures and if things come out the way I expect, we’ll get you out of that collar.”

He showed me the CT scan images and there were certainly obvious fractures in my neck and skull. The key was that they happened on only one side. Actually, the skull fracture didn’t bother him at all. He cleared me to do what I wanted to within reason as long as I wore the brace.

The beautiful redhead asked him would there be any future limitations on what I could do and would that spot be a weakness that could bring about future injury. He said, “No, actually, the bone will be stronger there because there will be more mass from the healing.” In other words, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to ride again!

Three weeks! That is much better than the eight to ten weeks I was expecting. Looks like I’ll be getting out of the neck brace about the same time I get the cast off of my thumb.

Speaking of the thumb. I’m starting to be able to wiggle it within the cast. I can even grasp light objects with my fingers an thumb. The pain of the weekend in gone and other than the itching from the healing I’m not feeling anything when my hand is relaxed.

So, just the fact that the prognosis for both my neck and thumb is 100% recovery has made my healing take off. It is amazing how your mind and affect your healing. Definitely a positive approach helps! Yesterday, I took the time to rest my back and neck. By that evening, much of the tension that had been causing the majority of my pain was gone.

The one thing that does bring on the pain is working at a computer. Something about the angle at which I have to hold my head and the typing with a maimed hand causes the tension to really build up. After typing blog, I’m going to focus on projects that won’t require typing!

Next week, I will be on the trainer. I can’t wait to get back out there with you all! Yep, things are turning around!

When is a cyclist like a skier?

There may be several ways a cyclist is like a skier, but for me it is because I have what is called Skier’s Thumb. It used to be called Gamekeeper’s Thumb because it was primarily suffered by gamekeeper’s who repetitively wrung the necks of hares. I think I prefer the skier reference.

What is it? Skier’s Thumb is actually pretty broad. It involves any damage to the soft tissue between the thumb and the rest of the hand. In some cases it is the spraining of the ligaments, but is more severe cases it ranges from a tearing of the ligament to an actual separation from the bone.

In my case, there is a small portion of the bone of my thumb — the portion my ligament happens to be connected to — that has broken off from the thumb. This means the ligament is pretty much useless. I can tell this because I can’t pick up anything with any weight. Also, if I pick up something light and then try to manipulate it, I can’t. It pops right out of my hand.

So, this morning at 9:15 I’ll be going into the hospital as an outpatient. They’ll do all their prep work and by 11:15 I’ll be ready have my thumb cut open. Don’t worry, I’m not taking pictures this time. The doc will put a small plate called a suture anchor in there that will help hold the bone and ligament in place and within 30 minutes I’ll done.

They won’t put me under for the procedure. Actually, they are going numb half my arm. It is the Bier Block. It is pretty cool. They will put a device like a blood pressure band around my left arm. However, instead of letting off on the pressure, they will keep it engaged. This will “trap” the medicine in the arm and only half my arm will go numb.

The advantage to this is that once the operation is done, they can release the pressure and the medicine will then dissipate through the rest of my body and I’ll have use of my arm much faster than if they were to do a full regional nerve block on my arm.

I’m sure I’ll come out of there with some sort of cast. My guess is that it will be a removable one. John James told me to make sure that they molded it so that it would fit properly over the hood on my left handlebar. I’m not too worried about that right now.

I have a good feeling about the future use of the thumb. The doc said that we could attempt to heal it with immobilization, but that gave me a 70% chance of success. With the surgery, he gives me 95%. I guess I’m thinking positively. I think with the good work of Dr. Brown and proper physical therapy following, I’ll have my thumb issues straightened out before my neck brace comes off.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Oh, if you haven’t gone by CrankListed.com and voted for LowCadence.com, be sure to do it this weekend. Voting for the best blogs in each category ends on the 6th. It was an honor just to be nominated. Who knows if the blog might get the most votes.