Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Crash Data

People often ask me how fast I was going when I made a mess of myself.

One of the first things I did when I got moved back into my apartment last weekend, was plug my bike computer into my home PC and download the data from the day I crashed my bike. It turns out I was going 40 km/hr or around 25 mph when I hit the cement. At least I wasn't still doing the 55 km/hr I was doing down the hill prior to arriving at the corner. Here's a graph I put together from the last 40 seconds of the San Marcos Circuit Race (each data point represents about 1.26 seconds of time). Note that if you click on any of these images they'll open full size in another window:



These other two shots summarize the data from the ride. The first one shows the overall data detail. You can see how much my power (the yellow line) was consistently over 350 watts towards the end of the ride as I bridged up to the breakaway and powered my way down the hill. Back around July 15th, my anaerobic threshold power (the power level one can maintain for a 3 minute duration or so) was about 375 watts, so I was running pretty close to the redline as I powered up the hill to catch the break:



The summary view that's shown below gives some overall detail of the ride. It gives some info on where my power levels and heart rate were with regard to some pre-configured distribution ranges. What is often most telling about this summary page is the peak power values by time range. If you look at the top left of the image you can see that I was able to hold 483 watts for one minute during the ride. It's not the most I've held for a minute (closer to 600 is my best), but still pretty good when you consider that it came during a race and not during a 1 minute training interval like my max did.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Finally Back on the Bike

Thursday morning Carol and I drove down to Fiesta Island to go for a short ride.





On Monday I'd gotten down to B&L Bikes to get re-fitted to my bike and bring it home. They'd taken all my components off my old frame and moved them on to the new one, put some new handlebars on, rebuilt my damaged shifter, put some tape on the new bars, and trued my wheels. I was really surprised when it came time to pay. I was expecting to fork out at least $500. At the end of the day I walked away paying $48.

It was really special to see all the work that the guys at B&L were willing to do for me just to get me back on the road. From the time that I crutched my way into the shop two and a half months ago and they learned how badly I really was hurt, until I walked out with my bike they've been rooting for me the entire time. Randy Clark, an ex-pro rider, who does my bike fittings and is an all around great guy even invited me out to his bike team's Sunday ride. You can check out info on Randy's Big City Velo team here.

Getting back to the ride, we did a couple loops around Fiesta Island. Thirty minutes of riding or so. Being back on my bike felt great. It took me a few minutes to get to the point that I felt well balanced and was riding straight without having to concentrate on it. Back in my heyday I used to be able to average close to 26 mph out on Fiesta Island, this day 14 or 15 mph was about as fast as I got it going. All in all, the ride went about as well as could be expected. My left leg is still pretty weak, to the point that if I stand up on the pedals my leg isn't strong enough to bring the cranks through the dead spot at the top of the stroke (i.e. I can't pedal while standing up). Not being able to dorsiflex my left foot yet probably isn't helping much here either.

As far as my recovery goes, I'm starting to walk better and better. I can now walk/limp pretty well without my cane. I'm still using my cane to walk most of the time because Dr. Smith wants me to walk as smoothly as possible, but maybe in a couple more weeks I'll be able to walk well without anything other than my foot brace. I'm also starting to get a fair bit of tingling on the top of my foot again. Once I got off the pain medicine a couple months ago, the tingling in my foot (nerves coming back to life) was unbearable, to the point that I was taking medicine to dull the feeling a bit. A few weeks ago the tingling pretty much went away. Now I'm starting to get some tingling in areas that have to date been a little numb, which is pretty encouraging. It's not anywhere near as bad as before and hopefully it won't get to that point again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nearly back on the road

It turns out that my bike has been fixed and ready for pick-up for two weeks now. I guess I somehow missed the voicemail that the bike shop left for me. I've got an appointment set up for next Monday (Nov. 19) to get re-fitted to it. Hopefully my flexibility won't be so bad that I need a lot of new components (a new stem to raise up the handlebars for example) in order to get back on it. We'll see.

On the subject of bike fitting, if you do have any plans to begin making regular use of a bicycle, a bike fitting is money well spent. With the amount of repetitive motion that occurs on a bicycle, it's really easy to begin doing serious damage to your knees, back, ankles, hips, etc if you aren't properly fitted to your bike. This is even more critical if you're using any sort of clipless pedal system where your feet and ankles have a lot less freedom to move around when you ride.

Like I said in a previous post, getting back on my bike is going to be a giant milestone for me in my recovery. If I can get back on my bike and start riding again I'll be doing something that seemed like such an unlikelihood only a few months ago.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Recovery - Week 17

I finally got the chance to get away from work and make a trip up to Canada. I've been up visiting my parents since last Thursday. It's been really nice to be away from home for a while, especially since the weather is something other than San Diego's perpetual summer-like conditions. I've gotten to spend a lot of time with family and friends, which for me is what life's all about.

I've been making some progress with regard to walking. Two Saturdays ago I started walking with a cane. It was pretty tough at first. So much so that the day after I was too worn down to use anything other than my crutches to move around. At this point I'm starting to get around quite a bit better. I can walk without the cane, but not too smoothly. Dr. Smith wants to see me walking smoothly, even if that means going all the way back to my crutches, so I'm sticking with the cane for now.

In another important development, for the past couple days I've been able to put my left sock on without any assistance. Ever since I hurt myself I've been unable to pull my leg up/reach down far enough such that I could get my fingers to the end of my left toes. The past couple days I've found that if I sit in a chair, put my foot on the ground and lean over as much as I can, I can get my sock over my toes. I'm sure all my co-workers will be happy to know that I'll no longer be showing up at work looking for one of them to help me get my left sock on.

Once I get back home on Wednesday I'm going to get on top of getting my bike rebuilt. The parts are all down at the shop, they just need to be assembled. Because I'd put a few dents into my road frame frame over the season, I bought an identical, used Specialized E5 frameset off eBay a couple months ago. I'm going to get the Campagnolo Record components moved from my wrecked bike onto the new frame. The handlebars that were on my old bike are toast, so I'll also be buying a new set of those. I may also need to buy a new shifter, or at least pay to have my old one rebuilt as it got pretty trashed during the accident.

My hope is that I can think about going on a casual ride within a couple weeks. I've been riding the stationary bike a bit as part of my recovery, so I know I can ride, just not very strongly. Hopefully when my bike is fixed I'll be able to go down to the shop, get fitted to it and take it for a spin. Back when I was in the hospital I can two visions in my head that kept me going towards recovery:

1. Getting back on my repaired bike and riding it away from the bike shop
2. Being able to get strong enough on my bike so that I could do my 65 mile Saturday ride like I used to

Based upon how I'm feeling right now, I'm pretty close to being able to accomplish the first of these two visions. The second one is still a long, long way away from happening, but I'm still confident that I'll get there as long as I continue to work towards it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Recovery - Week 15

Well, I haven't quite gotten to the point of walking yet. I'm starting to get more and more weight onto my left leg, things just aren't progressing as quickly as I might have liked.

I had a visit with my hip surgeon on Monday this week and he thought things were healing well. He wanted me to work on getting my foot brace modified such that I had one that would fit in my shoes. I haven't been wearing a brace to hold up my foot while I've been walking, mainly because the small one that I have still doesn't fit in a shoe. It's just a hard piece of plastic, so it isn't really possible to walk on it very well either. However, because I haven't been using a brace for my foot, my hip and knee have had to compensate for my inability to lift my left foot. So my gait hasn't been the smoothest.

As a result, I've now gone back to the larger foot brace I got when I was in the hospital, the infamous bunny boot. It's rather shaggy looking, but it works pretty well. It's got a nice tread on the bottom and is flexible in the ankle, so one can walk in it pretty well. I've been wearing it for the past two days and it seems to have helped me get more weight on to my left leg. At this point I'm hoping that I'm only a couple days away from being comfortable with all my weight on my left leg. From there it'll simply be a matter of trying to walk with one crutch or a cane.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recovery - Week 12

It's now 12 weeks since my accident and 11 weeks since my hip surgery. Week 12 is a bit of magic mark as I'm now allowed to begin to place my foot on the ground when I walk in my crutches. The notion is as follows:

Week 12 - begin to place my foot on the ground as a I walk
Week 13 - start out applying 10 pounds of pressure as I walk. Each day increase 10 pounds up to a max of 50 pounds
Week 14 - keep increasing by 10 pounds per day, up to 100 pounds
Week 15 - give 'er!

Back when I had my hip surgery and Dr. Smith told me that I needed to wait 12 weeks before I'd be allowed to walk, I had a picture in my mind of week 12 coming to an end, me being stood up by a physiotherapist (without my crutches) and being pushed like a bird out of a nest. So I was more than a little disappointed the last time I visited Dr. Smith and he outlined his 4 week plan for me.

So, I continue to count down the weeks. When I got back to work four weeks ago I was telling myself it was "only" four weeks until I'd be able to walk. Now it's yet another 3 or so. I'll get there one day, it feels like forever though.

At this point I can understand why they want you to take 4 weeks to build up to walking. When I first started putting my foot on the ground, it felt incredibly good. All of a sudden nerves and muscles that had been doing nothing for the past 3 months were glad to have something to do. However, my gait is ridiculously bad. As my left leg tries to move through a stride, my hip ends up doing a ton of the work. The more I walk the better it gets though. Hopefully next week as I begin to put weight onto my left leg things will begin to get a little better.

Putting my foot down, even if it's with very little pressure does really make my hip feel better. My physiotherapist mentioned that beginning to apply weight would stimulate my hip bones to recover even more and it definitely seems to be helping. My hip is beginning to feel really solid these days. Now that the muscles in my lower back no longer have to hold up my dangling left leg, they're starting to feel a lot better as well.

One of the things that also complicates my ability to walk is the fact that I still can't really dorsiflex my left ankle. I'm able to lift my toes and half my foot pretty well; however, I still can't raise my entire foot. So when I walk I've gotta take it pretty slow to ensure that I don't trip over my foot. I am starting to feel more of the muscles in my left shin, so things seem to be moving in the right direction. I just need to continue to be patient and wait for my nerve damage to recover.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Recovery - Weeks 4 to 8

Once I got home, the next 4 weeks were painfully monotonous.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I have been going to physiotherapy sessions that go for 1.5 hours. The first half hour usually involves some massage, stretching and range of motion exercises, especially in my knee. The last hour involves light weights and lots of leg exercise. Over weeks 4 to 8 we were slowly able to get the range of motion in my knee up to around 110 degrees. There was a lot of painful pushing and bending required to get it done, but eventually it got there.

The first couple weeks home (recovery week 4 and 5), Carol was generous enough to take time off work to look after my needs. With no way to walk on my own, no way to drive and no real capability of carrying anything I was pretty much dependent on her to keep me alive.

The third week (recovery week 6) my Mom came down and took over the role of caregiver. Rich and Christy were also down during the week, so while I wasn't up for any sort of big outings, we did get to go out for dinner every now and then and play some cards in the evenings. With me out of commission, Christy and Rich were able to visit all the local attractions on their own.

Week 4 (recovery week 7), Christy extended her stay an additional week and took over the role as my personal assistant.

Once I got to the start of recovery week 8, I was allowed to increase my max hip angle from 60 to 90 degrees, i.e. I could finally attempt to sit up in a chair. From there on out I started driving myself to the physiotherapist. At that point the biggest goal shifted to increasing the flexibility in my hip. My left groin was incredibly tight, my left hamstring a little less so. So each time I went to the physiotherapist, the first 30 minutes was a ton of pain as I was pulled and stretched well past what was comfortable.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Recovery - Week 3

Week 3 was quite a bit different than my previous weeks in the hospital.

First, the rehab floor had a dining room. It was pretty common for folks to head down to the dining room for meals. Conveniently, the dining room was also right next door to my room, so I didn't have too far to go. I'm not the biggest morning person, so I didn't always make it down there for breakfast, but I was there for lunch and dinner most days. Getting up, into my wheelchair and out to eat meant that I spent a little more time sitting up and gave me the chance to be a little more active.

Second, as previously mentioned, the rehab floor has a dedicated staff of occupational and physio therapists.

In the beginning my sessions focussed mainly on trying to get some basic strength and motion back into my non-injured leg and upper body. Having been in bed for so long, I had a lot of stiff under-used muscles. As the days progressed, we began to focus a lot more on the range of motion in my knee. I had orders from my knee surgeon that would allow me to bend my knee up to 40 degrees.

When we first started working on range in my knee I was able to bend it about 10 degrees. Over the course of the week, we eventually got up to 40 degrees. If you haven't ever had a joint injury where you've had reduced range of motion, trying to get it back is pretty tough. In my knee, all my leg muscles were tight, tense and stopping my knee from bending. There was also a lot of scar tissue that had grabbed onto my knee cap, and that needed to be worked loose. One of the ways that I worked on getting motion back into my knee was via a CPM (continuous passive motion) machine. The machine I had in the rehab unit was mounted to my bed, so it was really easy to get on when I had time. I was supposed to put in 6 hours per day and go up by 5 degrees per day.

Basically you strap your leg in to the machine, set the speed and angle of motion, and it then slowly bends your knee up and down for you. If I did a good job of staying on task I could get 2 hours in before breakfast, 2 hours after lunch and 2 hours before bed. Pretty darn boring, but certainly no more boring that laying there like a lump as I'd done the first 2 weeks in the hospital.

Towards the middle of the week I began spending a lot more time taking walks on my crutches as opposed to my walker. At first it's a little intimidating going from the stability of the walker to crutches (especially when you're already a little tipsy from all the drugs you're on), but once I got going on the crutches I was able to quickly improve my balance.

By the end of the week I was able to make the entire loop of the 11th floor on my crutches (over 200 feet) and bend my knee up to 40 degrees. These were all conditions of me getting myself the hell out of the hospital, so things were looking up. The last thing I needed to work on with the physios was getting up stairs and into a car. Luckily for me, Carol has a pretty accessible Sante Fe. As long as I fixed my knee brace at 40 degrees, I was able to sit at the edge of the passenger seat, pull by hips inside, and swing my leg around into the interior. As for stairs, those were pretty easy to master. I learned that if I went up backwards with my crutches in my left hand and my right hand on a banister, I could make my way up and down stairs pretty safely.

Come Friday I was finally allowed to get the heck out of the hospital. I can't possibly express to you how good it felt to get out of the hospital, away from the crazy nurses, and into a nice comfortable home/bed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Recovery - Week 2

Going into the second week of my time in the hospital I figured that things were going to start looking up, mostly because Tuesday the 24th was the day my hip was finally going to get put back together. The traction was to be done and I figured things would be pretty calm after the surgery, just continue on the pain medicine and life would be good.

It didn't really turn out that way. Week two was one of the toughest weeks of my life.

The surgery went pretty well. Dr. Smith, my hip surgeon, felt like he was able to put my hip back together to about 90% of the way it was originally. He put a number of stainless steel plates and 13 screws into my hip in order to get it all back together. He was also able to carry out his surgery without damaging my knee cap, which was one of the real concerns going into the surgery. I guess they need to put a pretty good bend into your knee in order to do the hip surgery. The concern being that my knee might not be able to take the bend.

Following the surgery it was back up to my home on the fourth floor. I remained in my 0 degree bend knee brace, but at least I didn't have to suffer with the traction any more. The pain following the surgery was pretty excruciating. I was normally taking 10ml of Delotted every 4 hours in order to take the edge off the pain. The night after the surgery they gave me 50ml of Delotted because I was in so much pain and that didn't even help. The bottom line for this evening was that I had to bear the pain. Nothing was able to mask how bad it felt.

A couple days later, the goal was to get me up, out of bed and onto my feet. In reality I should say foot, as one of my hip restrictions is that I'm not allowed to bear weight on my left hip until 12 weeks after surgery. My other restriction was that I wasn't allowed to bend my hip more than 60 degrees.

On the fourth floor there was a rehab guy who would stop by your room once or twice a day and try to help you get on with whatever rehab you were supposed to be doing. When he did arrive you needed to be ready to roll as this was the only chance you might have to work with him for the day.

Day 1 of getting out of bed was very, very tough. Having been on my back for a couple weeks had caused my body to stop pumping blood aggressively enough to get blood up to my head too well. The first time I sat up at the edge of the bed I nearly spewed my breakfast. That first day I was able to work my way over to the edge of the bed, get myself sat up, and get started in a walker. I walked to the door of my room and back and I was spent. Being used to riding my bike for four hours at a time, not being able to walk more than 20 feet was a pretty big let down. After I went on this tiny walk I was covered in sweat, winded and very, very light headed. The physiotherapist sat me up in a chair for 15 minutes or so (that was about all I could take) and then helped me back into bed. That's all that I was able to get done the first day of rehab.

Day 2 was a little better, but not by much. I was able to more easily get myself to the edge of the bed and get to a sitting position. We then took my walker for a trip down the hall. I probably got 40 feet down the hall and nearly passed out. I was leaning against a wall to try to hold myself up while the physio ran to go grab a chair for me to sit on. By the time he returned my eyes were rolling back in my head and the lights were starting to dim. After a 5 minute recover in the chair I got back on my walker and made it all the way back to my room. More promising, but it still left a lot to be desired.

Day 3 was a completely different day. My insurance finally agreed to pay for me to spend a week on the acute rehab floor, floor 11. So, around noon time I was moved up to the 11th floor. I was really liking the fact that I was going to get away from some of the incompetent nurses on the fourth floor; when I got up to the 11th floor however, I found out that the move came at a cost. The rooms on the 11th floor were all doubles and I now had a roommate. Secondly, there were actually less nurses on the 11th floor, so at times things could actually be worse than on the 4th floor.

On Day 3 I was able to walk a little further, something like 60 feet, but things were still pretty slow going. I'd get light headed each time I went for a walk. It was also pretty tough to sit in my wheelchair and be comfortable. Because I had to keep my hip at less than 60 degrees, I couldn't ever sit up straight. Instead I always had my leg sticking out in front of me, pulling me down towards the ground. It's pretty darn tough to relax in a chair when you're constantly fighting being pulled down like this.

One of the really nice things about the 11th floor was that each day you got at least 1 hour of occupational therapy and 2 hours of physical therapy. Because I'd arrived on Friday afternoon I got some really limited therapy sessions in. During that time they were able to teach me how to use a grabber to get my shorts on by myself and how to use a lifter to pull my leg around. So I was starting to get a little more self sufficient.

A long week of physiotherapy awaited in week 3.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Recovery - Week 1

The day of the accident (July 15th) Dr. Cohen put my knee cap back together. Prior to the surgery his outlook was that I'd be lucky to walk again. When he went into my knee he expected to find my entire patella (knee cap) in tiny fragments. Instead, what he found was that the outside of my patella needed to be removed. There however were two pieces, about 1/3 the size of my entire patella each, that remained. So he pinned and wired them together and sewed me back up.

When I woke up from the surgery there was a traction pin sticking out each side of my knee; Dr. Cohen had drilled a hole through my knee and inserted the pin during the surgery. I was also equipped with a catheter, which I have to say is pretty darn handy. It's great not having to bother with urinating, with the catheter things just drain as necessary.

Once they moved me up to my home on the fourth floor an orthotech quickly arrived and attached a traction unit to my bed. Basically I had some metal rigging at the end of my bed that contained a pulley. Cables were then attached to each of my traction pins, threaded through the pulley, and 30 pounds of weight was attached to the other end of the cable. I was required to remain on my back, in traction until my hip surgery, which was scheduled for July 23rd. The goal here being to hold my hip relatively in place, allow things to calm down a bit in my leg, and prevent any further damage.

Here are some pictures that my mother took of my traction pins and traction weight during my second weekend in the hospital:




Being in traction like this is pretty darn difficult to take, especially when it's in place for 9 days. First of all, every muscle in my left leg was stretched continuously. It would start out where my hamstring was the muscle being stretched, then my groin, quadracept, etc., etc. This continued non-stop for 9 days. Secondly, the constant pull from the weight slowly pulled me towards the end of the bed. When combined with the fact that I was continually warm and pretty much always lying in the same position; I started to develop blisters on my butt.

When the blisters developed, my surgeons specified an air bed for me. Once it arrived, the air bed made a world of difference. Why it wasn't specified right from the start was always a mystery to me.

The other obvious issue during the first week in the hospital was pain. It took a while to get things dialed in as far as pain management went. In the end I found that a steady diet of Percocet, Oxycontin, and Deloted did the trick. The biggest challenge in the hospital however, is that they won't just give you a bottle of medicine and trust you to take it each four hours. Instead you need to page your nurse each time and then hope that she responds in a timely fashion. With each nurse managing 6 to 8 fairly high maintenance patients, it wasn't always possible to get my medicine exactly when I needed it. That got to be a little tough to take.

The good news for the first week was that the Tour de France was on every morning to keep me busy. I also had an incredible line-up of folks who stopped by to visit. People from work, friends, family and members of my bike racing team all stopped by and phoned numerous times. Having as much support as I did made a big difference. So, I again want to thank everyone who visited or called. It definitely kept me motivated to concentrate on my healing as much as possible.

The other big thing that happened during my first week was that I really came to grips with the fact that this injury was not going to be overcome in a steady progression of success, on a time table, or possibly even at all. All I could do was deal with what was going on with my recovery as it happened, day by day. Some days could be going very well, only for something like a blister, pain, fever, etc. to pop up out of no where. When these sorts of set backs occurred I learned that I had to simply deal with them as best I could and hang in there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

San Marcos - Down for the Count

As many are aware, the July 15 San Marcos Circuit race didn't end too well for me. I crashed, breaking my left hip, knee and toe. My entire left leg suffered an incredible amount of trauma.

Over the next week or so I'm going to try go get this blog up to date by adding some posts that'll take you through the crash, surgeries, and recovery.

So here we go with the San Marcos race report:

The monthly SDBC club meeting was held the Monday prior to this race. The guest speaker for the meeting was a sports psychologist who spent his time talking about having a plan and executing it during the event. One of his biggest points was that if you had a plan and were well trained, it was important to let your body do what it needed to do to achieve the goals; rather than trying to speak to it the whole way. In the past I can definitely say that I would spend most of races arguing with myself as to just how much more pain I could take and mentally telling my body what it needed to do, rather than letting my body physically take over and do what it could do to meet the pre-determined goals.

So I went into this race with a new approach; try to let my body, rather than mind execute the plan. Here's what I had in mind:

First 15 minutes – take it easy in the middle of the field.
Second 15 minutes – ride up near the front and try to make/get in a break
Last 15 minutes – If in a break, ride as hard as my body would let me and try to hold on for a good result. If in the peloton, make sure I took advantage of my ability to grind up moderate grades to sprint for a good finish. This course finishes with a drawn out 100 foot vertical climb (probably about a 3 or 4% grade), so I knew I had a bit of an advantage if I needed it.

At San Marcos, things started out well enough. I rode in the middle of the pack for the first 15 minutes, often slotting in right behind one of my teammates, Jeff Dingler, and keeping it smooth.

With a little over 15 minutes gone people’s desire to set the pace up the hill appeared to be waning. I found myself coming out of turn 3 with a couple guys already up the road. The pack was moving a little slowly, I was maybe 10th from the front and Troy Huerta, a strong rider from the Swamis team, was right in front of me. I didn’t even bother to think twice, I picked up the pace a bit, encouraged Troy to come with me and we started to grind our way up to the break. By the start/finish it was now Troy, Josh Gruenberg (another strong rider), me and a couple other guys out in front. We all quickly talked about working together and got on to trying to make some distance from the field.

As we came down the hill to turn 2, Josh pulled off the front, I scooted by and started to lean into the corner. Unfortunately I had totally blown it coming into the turn. I was going way too fast and was unable to get my bike turned into the corner. As I quickly headed towards the traffic cones on the outside of the turn I knew I was about to be in big trouble. I continued to slam on the breaks, went through the police tape and cones and was now one lane away from going over the median. I seriously thought about trying to bunny hop my way over the curb, but before I could react I was into one of the large cement dividers and launched off my bike. I guess I took the impact on my left knee and foot.

As I lay there on the ground assessing where I was messed up a couple things were obvious. Firstly, I could see that there was about a 3/4" diameter hole at the top of my knee which you could look into and see the inner workings of my knee. Secondly, my left hamstring, quadriceps and groin were amazingly tight. My leg felt like it needed a really good stretch. It didn't take too long for the ambulance to arrive. They scooped me up and carted me off to the hospital.

Net result:

1. Broken big toe - not the end of the world
2. Shattered knee cap. What’s left (2 pieces equal to about 2/3 of the total size of my knee cap) have been wired back together. At this point my knee seems to be functioning pretty well. At the time of the accident there was a lot of concern that my knee cap might need to be removed entirely and that simply being able to walk again would be a major challenge.
3. Dislocated and fractured hip. They "relocated" my hip when I got to the hospital (a couple guys pulled on my ankle to get this done), but with my joint still broken it wasn't really in place. I then spent the next 9 days in traction waiting for hip surgery. The traction was required to keep my hip relatively in place.
4. Possibly broken hand - it turned out to not be broken, just very swollen
5. Nerve damage. I am still unable to dorsiflex my left ankle (i.e. I can't raise my foot).
6. Extensive leg trauma. My entire left leg was like a giant sausage

I guess the bottom line here is that I’m a little lucky to be alive. I could have easily gone over the median and been run over by a car. It remains to be seen if I ever ride a bike again.

This accident has been very disappointing on a lot of levels:

1. Obviously it was incredibly painful, both from an impact and recovery perspective.
2. I was really starting to perform in races. After a year of hard training I was able to hang with just about anyone in the category 4 fields (with the exception of steep climbs). If I would have held it together in this race I really felt like I would have been on the podium.
3. I really miss riding my bike. More over, If I can't ever ride a bike again, that's going to be pretty tough to take.

More to follow tomorrow.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sunday Ride

I downloaded the latest version of GoogleEarth the other day. In the past I don't recall them allowing you to draw paths using the free version. This latest version however allows you to do so.

People often ask me where I ride on Sundays. Here's the answer . This route is about 65 miles. Depending upon how much wind is out there it normally takes me around 3.5 hours of riding time (not including the odd water stop) to complete this tour. There are a few really dandy climbs on this route; Del Dios Highway, Bandy Canyon, and Black Mountain Road. The one really nice thing about the ride is that there are a couple 15 to 20 mile stretches of road where you literally don't have to stop for a single light. It might not sound like a big deal, but it makes a big difference when you can ride uninterupted for and hour or so.

If you've got GoogleEarth on your machine you should be able to follow the link above, open the file with GoogleEarth, and play it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Something a Little More Relaxing


A few months ago the parental units were down in San Diego. Anyone who knows my mom knows that any time is a great time for gardening. Put these two things together and what do you get? A trip to the nursery and a new garden.

Both my parents really put their knowledge into this vegetable garden, and it's really kicking ass. I've got a ton of peppers and tomatoes on the way. As you can see below, the herbs are thriving. The biggest contributor to the success of this thing appears to be the soil mix (peat and planting soil) and multch that they specified when putting it together.

Here are some pictures of the tomatoes, peppers, herbs and flowers:







Sunday, July 1, 2007

Manhattan Beach - I'm still pissed off!

As mentioned previously, my team went into this race trying to work together to achieve the result of putting someone on the podium. Call me naive, but I actually went into this race believing that we would work together; and furthermore, would achieve a top 3 result. The plan was pretty simple, protect a few riders (make sure they didn't need to take pulls on the front), get the key people to the front when we were down to the final moments and let them do their thing.

In general the course wasn't as tough as I expected it to be. The course itself is shaped a little like a lower case "r". The race basically heads up and down both sides of a large boulevard/green space. See here. There's a small steep hill just before you reach the northeast corner (corners 1 and 2) and some rollers down the back side of the course. Other than that, the course was pretty simple.

My job was to get key people to the front on the last lap. With a 120 racer field and two tight corners, we knew that there was going to be a massive premium placed on positioning during this race. Throughout the race our team was doing quite well. We stayed out of trouble and were able to hang near the front. I was constantly talking with the guys on my team who we'd designated as the guys we wanted to put at the front at the end. One in particular continually communicated that he was doing well and didn't need any more help than what he was currently getting.

With one lap to go four Helen's riders took off about 300 meters before the hill. It's a big enough problem when one guy gets a jump on the field. When four guys who are all on the same team try to get away, there's a strong potential that they might never be caught. At the moment this happened I was on the outside in about 20th place. There were 3 other key guys on my team who were up near the front with me, one in particular was about 5 spots ahead of me and was one of the guys we wanted to make sure had a chance to contest the final sprint. With things unfolding before me I knew that now was the time when we needed to respond and get a guy up to the front. So I yelled out the guys name, he heard me (I could see him look back), I pulled out from the field and started to crank it up. I was fully expecting him to jump on my wheel as I went by. As I continued to accelerate towards the hill I looked down at my computer and I saw I was going at about a 33mph clip. Pretty good, this was exactly what we needed.

As I reached the hill I was pretty much up to the leaders. Knowing that getting our guy to the front was all that mattered, I was completely unconcerned about whether I blew up well before the finish. As I ground my way up the hill I began to start to really feel the burn. By the top of the hill I was pretty spent. As I began to slow I expected to see our guy roll right on by me, having successfully been delivered to the front. Nope, he was no where to be found.

Once again in a big race, the same guy had screwed over both me and the team. At Del Mar I got him to the front for a couple point primes, both times he didn't even come close to winning (he basically packed it in half way through the sprint even though I'd given him a 10 foot jump on the rest of the field). This time he completely disregarded the opportunity to execute the plan we'd laid out.

As the race went into turn 1 and 2 I was pretty much done. I was in something like 15th place and my legs felt like they were full of lead. As we went through the turn, some clown managed to crash in pretty glorious fashion right behind me. This broke up the field, leaving 25 or 30 guys clear to run to the finish. Apparently my team mate in question finished well, well back in the field. Whether this was due to the crash, or because he'd apparently broken a spoke and had problems with his wheel, I'm not sure. Even more infuriating however, was that after the race, it became clear that the spoke was in fact broken early on in the race and was now being used as an excuse.

Having repeatedly asked this guy how he was doing throughout the race and gotten a reply of "good, no issues", I was rather surprised to hear that he knew all along that he had a problem with his wheel:

1. He could have taken a free lap and gone to the wheelpit to get a new wheel.
2. One of the weaker riders on our team could have given him their wheel.
3. I wouldn't have burned myself up trying to help him if I knew he had a mechanical problem.

The bottom line here is that once again we didn't even come close to achieving our team goals. And even more so, one individual who the team does so much to help, sabotaged the effort. At this point I'm seriously considering trying to find a new team, or even just go about it on my own. I certainly am not going to be a part of another one of these SDBC "team efforts".

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Manhattan Beach GP live online

If you have any interest in watching tomorrow's MBGP, you can supposedly tune in to watch it here:

http://www.ibnsports.com/cycling.asp

I can't speak for what the quality of the feed might be like. The category 4 race starts bright an early at 7am, so if you want to watch it live you'll have get up and at 'em early.

I just checked out the site and it's a little confusing, but it looks like you will need to click on the iBN World Cycling Channel link at the bottom of the page. The race is supposed to be provided in recorded form for a while. So if you'd like to check out some road racing, check it out.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

San Pedro GP (Tour de Ghetto) - 20ish

Yikes! I've never been up to the Long Beach / San Pedro area before. It could just be that I didn't get introduced to the nicer areas of town, but based upon my one trip up to San Pedro I wouldn't recommend that anyone put it on their list of must visit attractions.

When I signed up for this race I was assuming that it would be a pretty flat course. The course itself was right down near the waterfront, which in southern California often means pretty flat land. When I was checking out the race flyer a couple days prior to the race, I noticed a little note on it that suggested the course had less than 100 feet of climbing. While 100 feet doesn't sound like a lot, for a less than 1 mile crit, it's reasonably substantial. The course was pretty much uphill the entire way. There was a short, steep downhill at the end of the back stretch, other than that, it was a one to two percent incline the rest of the way.

Because the race was right on the edge of downtown San Pedro, there wasn't too much free parking available. When I arrived I drove around the side of the course where the flyer had suggested to park, there however weren't really any free or flat spots (I need a flat spot so that I can warm up on my rollers). When I finally found a fairly flat spot, it was in a pretty rough looking area. My car was pretty much the only one that looked like it had been built in the last 10 or 15 years. As I got my bike assembled and prepared to ride down to the registration booth, some dude stopped me and told me that he just got an injection down at the psychiatric hospital and was wondering if I had a couple bucks so that he could buy something to "take the edge off". On my way back to the car I realized that I was parked next to a psychiatric hospital that in turn was surrounded by group homes and pretty low end housing. So I moved my car to a better spot and got down to the business of warming up.

As for the race, it was 45 minutes of really tough work. It always amazes me how effortlessly all the little toothpick climbers can ascend hills. This day was no exception. For me, each lap was an exercise in trying to stay as close to the front as possible. I'd start the lap near the front of the pack, slowly fall back as we climbed, and then pass as many people as I could on the descent and tight corner that followed. On the last lap, the climbers really turned it on. By the time we were to the top of the hill, I was at the back of the pack. From there on out all I could do was focus myself on trying to get past as many people as possible before the finish.

In the end I didn't end up doing as well as I would have liked to, but I did get a chance to get a race under my belt prior to next week's Manhattan Beach GP. I find it's especially important to race the week before a big race. Racing is the best way to get yourself ready for the power surges and accelerations that happen in big races.

One last note. In all the time I've spent participating in sports in my life (hockey, volleyball, track, etc.), cycling is on an entirely different plane when it comes to people who make excuses for their failures. After each race ends, no one lost because they weren't good enough, it's; "If I only had my good bike", "my coach isn't giving me the right workouts", "my teammates won't lead me out like I want", "I didn't get enough sleep last night", etc., etc. This last race, as we completed a warm down lap, there was a guy with a real classic:

Buffoon: "Man, my job is really interfering with my racing season. It's affecting my racing"
Cyclist beside him: "Where do you work?"
Buffoon: "I work at Starbucks"

When I heard that one I nearly fell off my bike, I was laughing so hard.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ready to Get Back Into Racing

If you follow this blog you will have noticed that it's been a little while since I've been out racing. The past 3 weeks and the next 5 are all part of my second build phase of the season. As I work my way through building my fitness back up towards another peak I'll again be participating in more and more races, eventually trying to get some better results as I hit my next peak/race phase.

For those not aware I have set my training plan up based upon Joe Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible (I highly recommend this book if you entertain any thoughts of taking your cycling more seriously). The basic phases of the season are:

Prep - unstructured exercise focussed on basic fitness (a couple weeks)
Base - focussed on building an aerobic base (12 weeks)
Build - focussed on beginning to build force, speed and anaerobic endurance (8 weeks)
Peak - focussed on power, anaerobic endurance and lots of recovery (4 weeks)
Race - get 'er done! (2 or 3 weeks)

After going through all these phases once already, my second build toward a peak began at the build phase. Having just completed my race phase and a week off I really found that I had lost some of my aerobic endurance; however, some long endurance rides over the past few weeks have begun to bring things back to where I am really feeling good.

This weekend I'll be up in San Pedro (Long Beach area) for a race. Next weekend is the Manhattan Beach GP, which is a key race in our team's season. We'll be pulling out all the stops to try to get one of our guys on the podium. So things are starting to heat up again.

Now that I again have the internet at home, look for lots of posts regarding future races and results.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Long Beach Crit - Don't Ask

Sorry I haven't been more on the ball with the blog posts of late.

Memorial Day I did indeed head up to Long Beach. There's not too much to say about the race. The course was very flat, four corners, and I found the pace to be pretty easy. For the most part I hung in the top 15 to 20 with little effort and waited for things to develop.

With 3 laps to go I was feeling pretty strong and riding on the front. As we crossed the line the announcer rang for a prime. Typically when the bell goes the people who care about the prime tend to make a move for the front. Because I was already on the front I was pretty oblivious to what was going on behind me. I just kept on with working at my pace. Coming into turn four I was still on the front and feeling really strong. For some stupid reason decided that I would try to jump the field coming out of turn 4 and sprint for the prime. I got a good jump, but unfortunately didn't have enough in my legs to win the prime.

At that point I was pretty much shot. I tucked into the pack to try and catch my breath, but found that I wasn't able to recover fast enough to respond to the surges that were now going on in front of me. With half a lap to go there was a small crash that I was able to avoid, but by that point I was so far back that I knew my day was done. Lesson learned, with less than 5 laps to go in a race don't get tempted by the primes, stick to keeping it steady and trying to stay near the front.

With the race done I had a couple hours of driving ahead of me. During that time I began to reflect on how things were going and where I was at with my cycling. The bottom line is that I was starting to feel like cycling was becoming more of a job than a hobby/passion. I had been doing lots of anaerobic/power training, which is painful to do (every cell in your body is screaming out in pain when you're doing these workouts), I was feeling tired, and really wasn't enjoying myself. So I resolved to take a week off from cycling and not even think about riding my bike.

Two weeks later I'm really enjoying things again. I've been working hard on my aerobic endurance, which is something I really enjoy. Getting out on some three to four hour rides; sweating my way up the hills; and seeing the country-side is what I really enjoy about cycling. Two and a half weeks from now our team will be trying to pull off a result at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix. I hope to be in good form for that race, such that I can help one of my teammates get to the front and bring home the win.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dana Point Crit - 8th Place

Hey I'm back!

The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy at work. My team has been working on deploying a project that allows contract manufacturers to program units that we'd normally build here on-site. Getting all the network and remote logistics worked out has been pretty time consuming.

As for racing, I wanted to get out to Ontario last Sunday (5/20), but that never happened due to me needing to be at work to migrate some code to production.

This weekend (Memorial Day long weekend here in the States), there are actually races going Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so there's going to be no shortage of action.

On Saturday I headed up to Dana Point (about 50 miles north of San Diego) for the inaugural Dana Point Crit. Wow, this was a very challenging race! The biggest challenges being the course (check it out here) and the field. The course was a figure eight, just like Bario Logan; however, it was a lot tougher for a number of reasons:

1. One of the streets used was actually an alley, so it was pretty narrow (
2. At the end of the alley you had to make a 90 degree right. No big deal there; however, when there's a storm curb at the entrance back onto the roadway, it makes things pretty tough. Basically as you shot out of the alley, you needed to immediately turn right while going through the dip of the curb.
3. The start/finish was basically immediately after turn 8. You came blasting down Santa Clara street, made an incredibly fast right turn onto Old Golden Lantern (yes there is a Green Lantern street in Dana Point) and the finish was right there.

It's been a few weeks since I've raced so I was a little uncertain as to how things were going to go. The field was pretty large, about 75 guys and there were some pretty strong riders in the field. In general I felt pretty good for most of the race. Having not raced for a little while, my pack riding skills weren't the best. I often found myself with large spaces in front of me, which was due to not being able to keep up with the surges and stay on people's wheels.

Because I was having a hard time staying with all the surges going on near the front/middle of the pack, I settled in near the rear where things were a lot smoother. In allowing this to happen I made a deal with myself that come the end of the race I was going to be willing to fight my way back to the front.

The race was 45 minutes in duration, so I tried to settle in, take things smooth and not burn too much energy. When the 5 laps to go card came out I was still near the back. With 3 laps to go I really started to crank things up and was able to push my way all the way to the front. With 1.5 laps to go I was in second, feeling pretty reasonable for having just done a couple minutes of hard work to get to the front. My legs were a little tired, but nothing too bad. Going into the last lap the guy I was behind started to tire. Unfortunately I did a poor job of being alert to this and getting around him. Before I could react, a few guys had shot up the inside of the course and jumped away from me. I fought hard to catch up, but from there it was simply a matter of trying to hold on as best I could. In the end I finished 8th.

I was pretty happy with the result on the day. I managed to ride a race based upon what I was capable of doing on the day. In the end I'd like to have finished top 5, but I'll take 8th.

On Monday I'll be headed up to Long Beach for a crit. Hopefully the hard work from Saturday will pay off with some better pack riding and a top 5.

Monday, May 7, 2007

And now for something completely different...

I thought I'd pass along a recent life experience that is somewhat related to cycling. Hopefully this will be as life changing for you all as it was for me.

Last night (Sunday night) I was sitting in bed thinking that I really needed to get out to Target and pick up a large plastic storage container, such that I would have something that I could fill with all the things I need to take with me to bike races. For example, bandages, first aid sprays, spare tires, tools, clothing, etc. The hope being that if I could keep the container permanently stocked with all the things I need, I wouldn't have to go through all the paranoia of forgetting something like I normally do when preparing for a race. As an example, one of the guys on my team forgot to bring his bike shoes with him to a race, so he did the whole thing in regular street shoes. I live in fear that something like this is going to happen to me.

Being the recycling do-gooder that I am, this morning on my way out to work I took the recycling with me. While in the "garbage center", there on the ground was a 31 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck storage container. As I did a double take, believing that this possibly might all be a trick being played on me by my tired eyes, I realized that the thing was real, and it actually looked like it was in great condition (see below). Too good to be true I told myself; surely when I take the lid off it's going to have a body or something inside. Nope, pristine! All well and good you might be telling yourself, surely no fool would be dumb enough to haul 31 gallons of cycling equipment off to a race, but it gets even better. Now that I've got this coffin I'll be able to move all my gardening supplies out of my 14 gallon container, into this baby, and use the 14 gallon for cycling!



So here we are at the life lesson. What have we learned from this episode? Clearly:

1. There is a God
2. God is in fact listening
3. God is partial to cyclists
4. God's got a surplus of 31 gallon Roughnecks on his hands right now and may in fact have one with your name on it

i.e. say your prayers, stick to your training plan, and you may find that you're on the road to being as organized as I am right now!

San Luis Rey Road Race - 32nd

After all the hard work of Saturday's Barrio Logan, it was off to the San Luis Rey road race for Sunday morning. This race is held up in the hills in Bonsall, northeast of San Diego.

The course is fairly hilly, but certainly not as tough as the Omnium road course was. It was 4 laps around an 11 mile loop. The course started out with a climb right off the start, followed by a steep descent, a few miles of rolling hills and then back to the climbing as you made your way back to the start finish. I was able to keep to the large chainring on my front gears for most of the hills, so it wasn't too bad.

It turns out that this is a pretty popular race, a full field of 100 riders showed up, so things were pretty hairy the first couple laps. It was also pretty toasty out there on Sunday. The temperatures were somewhere in the mid-80s (Bonsall is inland, so doesn't get the nice 70 degree weather we see in San Diego nearly every day). With 100 riders packed into one lane of traffic on country roads, you can imagine how tightly things were grouped for the first half of the race.

Not being a real strong climber, my plan for the day was to stick with the pack, avoid the accidents and hopefully be near the front such that I could use my power to scoot by the scrawny climbers at the finish. Regardless of how it turned out, a day after Barrio I was going to be happy to keep up with the pack the whole way, get a good workout and stay safe.

With 2 laps to go things finally started to speed up a bit. We dropped the pack down to something like 50 riders. For me it was fast, but not too uncomfortable. With 1 lap to go things really started to pick up. I was able to stick with the pack up the steep climb out of the start/finish, but when it really got cranked up I had a hard time sticking on the ascent to the finish.

One of the things that makes it really tough in these situations is that if you're 40th or something when the hard climbing starts you feel like like you're trying to run up a hill while portions of the hillside are falling down around you. Basically as the pace picks up, the weaker riders have a hard time keeping up. While you're working your ass off trying to catch the guys at the front you have guys more immediately in front of you that you're working to try to catch and follow forward. Unfortunately though, as you're catching them and starting to feel like "hey I'm back onto the end of this thing, I'm going to be able to relax a bit", you realize that in fact the guy you just caught is losing ground on the leaders and you have to storm by the guy and set your sights on the next guy up the road. Repeat this 12 or so times and you realize that it's basically just you and your pain trying to get up the road faster than the saps you're surrounded by. Maybe if the climb was 3 or 4 miles rather than 1 or 2 some consistent riding could have gotten me back to the leaders; however, that wasn't to happen this day.

I caught a few people heading up the final climb and willed myself to catch another 5 or 6 guys in the flat before the finish. I had to sprint pretty hard to the line in order to keep one of these guys behind me at the finish.

At the end of the race I felt pretty content. I never really expected to do too well in this race, I felt like I worked really, really hard, and I managed to beat a number of guys that got the better of me in the Omnium road race. So I'll take it.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Barrio Logan Grand Prix - 14th

My club (the SDBC) puts on the Barrio Logan Grand Prix each year. The race is held just south of downtown San Diego. It's a pretty challenging course for a couple of reasons:

1. The course is set up in a figure 8 configuration. One lap is only about 0.8 miles, so there are lots of turns compacted very close together (6 rights and 2 lefts).
2. There is a reasonably large change in altitude as you make your way around the course. The last 1/3rd of each lap has you mashing your way up a 2% grade or so. Obviously not real steep, but in a fast race like a criterium these hills can really start to catch up with you.

This race was the state championship criterium so there was a pretty large field (something like 75 or 80). Not only was it large, but it was talented.

As for the race, things were pretty fast. With the tight cornering, large field size, and unevenness of the "barrio" pavement a couple things were pretty clear:

1. There were going to be crashes
2. You needed to stay pretty close to the front. With the speed of the race so high, things strung out pretty quickly and it was tough to move up through the field. It was better to just get to the front and try to stay there.

During the race I was able to avoid some fairly nasty crashes. In one, a guys tubular rear tire (supposed to be well glued onto the rim) came off the rim. It's not fun to watch that unfold right in front of you. There were a couple crashes caused by people coming together in and out of corners. Bottom line is that I was able to navigate around them all.

With 3 laps to go I really thought I had things in pretty good shape. I was up near the front and feeling as good as could be expected after 50 minutes of racing with my HR up around 180. The bottom line on this race is that I was strong enough to finish top 5, I just didn't do a good enough job of continuing to push toward the front in the final few laps. I was completely spent at the end, but knew that a bit better positioning in the final lap would have given me a chance to do better.

When we crossed the line I saw 7 or 8 guys in front of me, so I thought I at least finished in the top 10, but even after an appeal to the officials they scored me in 14th. Regardless of what place I was given, I felt good about how hard I was able to race on the day and the fact that I was able to help two of my team-mates finish in the top 10. I however, really need to start doing a better job of getting right to the front for the finish of these races.

Monday, April 30, 2007

El Cajon Crit - 14th Place

Having done well at the Omnium and just completed my 10th mass start race (the minimum requirement for upgrade) I felt like it was time to move up to category 4. So about a week ago I applied for and received my upgrade. I'm now a category 4 racer! I don't really feel any different, but the tattoo they gave me makes me feel a lot more manly.

Sunday morning I headed out to El Cajon (about a 25 minute drive from my place) to ride in the world famous (just kidding) El Cajon Crit. As far as races go, it's one of your more unimaginative courses. Four 90 degree corners on wide downtown streets. You could pretty much pedal through all 4 corners, so it may as well have been a 40 minute drag race.

I headed into this race in the midst my two week Peak phase. The Barrio Logan Grand Prix is next Saturday. It's one of the races that I've targeted as an "A" race, so at this point of the season the goal is to ensure that everything builds towards next Saturday.

As such, I gave myself a personal goal for Sunday of seeing if I could break from the field and spend 15 minutes off the front. My reasoning being that anaerobic endurance is what I need most right now, I had a crit called out on my training plan for 4/29, and if so why not work like a dog and get something out of this thing.

The field wasn't too large, probably less than 50. While the course was scorchingly fast, it was also spiced up a bit with bot dots (small raised reflectors) all over the place. Basically any time you needed to cross a traffic lane or the center line you were going to need to cross a wall of bot dots. Yikes!

The race went pretty much the way most category 4 races do, no real breaks off the front and a few people going for the primes. For the first 10 minutes of the race I took things fairly easy, sitting back in about 25th and trying to keep things pretty smooth. About 20 minutes into the 40 minute race I was in second feeling pretty good. There had already been 2 or 3 primes to tire some of the stronger riders out. The guy who was in front of me clearly wasn't too strong and didn't really want to be there so I took off. We were just coming out of corner 3, so I got a good jump on the field. As I came down the front straight I had about 50 feet on the field, even better, the announcer called for a series point prime for the next lap winner (5 points in the CBR 10 race series), so I put my head down and got going on my intended 15 minutes of work.

I was able to build on my lead over the next half lap, to the point that the field gave up on trying to catch me for the prime. I crossed the line with about 100 feet on the field. From that point on it was simply a matter of trying to hold on for as long as possible. I got a little more than 1 more lap in before the field started to reel me in. It wasn't as long of a break as I'd hoped to pull off, but I was happy to get the series points and to spend 5 or so minutes off the front. Realistically, the speed of the course meant that you needed a couple other guys to work with if you were going to make a realistic break.

After my hard work at the front I settled into the pack and tried to get my breath back for the finish. The rest of the race was pretty uneventfull. I expected some other folks in my team to attack after I'd gotten caught but that didn't happen. I did have to avoid a crash in corner 3 that happened right in front of me. Coming into the last lap I was in 4th or 5th, I just wasn't able to hang on at the front all the way around. I crossed the line 14th.

The net on this race is that I didn't really show up even looking to finish in the top 5, I just wanted to build confidence that I could get away from the field and hold it. And even more so, I wanted to prove to myself that if the field caught me it wouldn't be the end of my day (i.e. that I'd be able to latch on to the end of the pack as they went by). All in all it was a fun day.

You can check out some photos here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

San Diego Omnium - 3rd Place Overall


This last week I competed in the San Diego Omnium. They call it an Omnium because the race is actually 3 different races that all build points towards an overall winner. Friday's event was a 8 mile time trial, Saturday's event was a 45 mile road race (with 3800 feet of climbing), and Sunday's event was a 40 minute criterium.

I’m happy to say that I was able to pull out 3rd overall in category 5.

Coming into this season I set 3 goals for myself:

1. Get promoted to category 4
2. Finish top 5 in at least 2 crits
3. Ride with the pack at the Omnium road race – last year’s road race was the first race I’d ever done. I got absolutely hammered, getting dropped at the start of the very first climb and having to work like a dog just to finish 2nd or 3rd to last.

This year I set my whole training program up to peak for the Omnium, such that I could do well in the road race. Unfortunately I’d set my schedule up according to last season’s race schedule. When the Omnium was moved forward, all of a sudden it was occurring in the last week of my 2nd build phase.

Regardless, I knew I’d done some hard days in the hills this spring (did the Omnium road race course on my own in March, spent a few Sundays going up Mount Palomar, etc.), I’m about 30 pounds lighter than last year, and at least 50% stronger. So I still felt like I could achieve my goal of riding with the pack.

Friday's time trial went fairly well. It was the first official time trial I'd done. I was able to average around 25 mph for the race (a little slower than I thought I could do), but was able to pick up 4th place in my category.

Saturday's road race was just as hard as I expected it to be. I worked my ass off and was able to stick with the pack up the hills. One of the lessons I learned last year during this race was that nutrition is just as important on this ride as fitness. So this time out I had lots of fluids (laced with some dextrose) and my trusty banana/honey sandwich. My parents came down for this weekend and so they manned the feed zone, handing me water bottles at the end of the first 22 mile lap.

I was able to take in somewhere around 1000 calories during the ride, so I knew I wasn’t going to bonk this time.

In the end I stuck with the fastest riders on the climbs and ended up finishing about 30 seconds behind the eventual winner, which was good for 11th place. This result left me 4th overall after two events.

During Sunday's race I really wanted to try to win the two point primes so that I could try to jump up to second overall. Unfortunately I did a poor job of trying to keep on the wheels of the two guys who were right around me in the points and they were able to beat me to the line for both the primes. I finished 5th in each prime, which gave me 2 more points; however, the guys I was competing with had a net gain of 4 or 5 points each.

This left me knowing that there was a guy who started the day 5 points behind me and now was probably 1 point back. I knew that I couldn’t let him finish in front of me again.

As we got down to 5 laps, things took off as they always do. The guy who was in second overall tried to break from the field. With 3 to go he had been caught. With 1 lap to go I had the two guys I was worried about right in front of me. This time I was committed to making sure I stayed right on their wheels. As we came around the final corner I was right at the front and started to hammer on it for the line. Unfortunately I didn’t have the legs to take the outright victory (I got 4th), but I was able to keep the two guys I was worried about behind me.

In the end I was able to move up one spot in the overall and get the 3rd spot on the podium.

I want to thank everyone who made this weekend’s success possible. My team-mates did a lot to help control the crit race. My parents coming down from Vancouver was a real nice treat (it was especially nice to give them something to cheer about).

Pictures from the weekend

Official results from the race.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Injury Update

It's now Wednesday and I'm slowly starting to feel better.

Tuesday night I wanted to get out on the bike and see how I felt. I didn't really have any expectations for the ride, I didn't even know if I'd be able to extend my right arm enough to get it up to the handlebars. I pretty quickly realized that I could indeed ride my bike fairly well. It hurt a fair bit if I ever needed to lift my right arm off the bars, pull on the bars or balance myself while out of the saddle. In the end I was able to complete the entire route of my 3 hour endurance ride pretty close to the time I normally do it in. So there was definitely a ray of sunshine with regard to my ability to race the Omnium.

This evening I headed down to Fiesta Island with my time trial bike to do some practicing for Friday's Omnium time trial. I felt pretty strong. I still can't pull too hard on the handlebars, but I'm definitely getting better. I was able to average close to 25 mph for 8 miles, so things seem to be in pretty good order.

I'd really like to be able to come close to 26 or 26.5 mph on Friday morning. 27 mph ought to be good enough for first in category 5 (I base this on past Fiesta Island TT results - race is typically run at 7am), 26.5 may even get it done. We'll see how it turns out. It was pretty windy this evening, it typically isn't too windy in the mornings around here. The difference in conditions should be good for at least .5 mph, maybe a little more. So if I can push myself even 5% harder than I did this evening I should be pretty close.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ontario Race 2 - Smash up Derby

Well, coming off the disappointing result of Del Mar on the previous day I was stoked to race hard and bring home a top 5 at Ontario.

I got to the race in plenty of time, got registered and got in a good warm-up. I was feeling really good going into this one. We had about 8 guys from our team in the 60ish man field, so we had a really good presence. This race was on the grand prix course, which is about a 1.5 mile lap or something (relatively long compared to other crit courses)

With about 10 minutes gone in the race there was a series point prime on the line for the winner of the lap. With about 1/3 of a lap to go, the pace was pretty slow, so I took off and tried to see if I could get a good jump on everyone. Unfortunately I came up about 75 yards short. Even still, it was nice to hammer it and see who the guys who had the legs were.

For the rest of the race I tried to take it fairly easy and ride in the middle of the pack.

With 2 or 3 laps to go our team was looking really good. We were all near the front. We were chasing down the breaks and keeping things in check. With about half a lap to go I was somewhere in the top 10 or 15, nicely placed on the outside of the peloton, and had my team in tow behind me. We were in a great position to lead someone out to victory. As soon as we came around the final corner we were ready to hammer it.

Unfortunately that corner never came. Just before we got there some jackass junior decided that he needed to get to the outside of the pack, so he veered to his right taking out me and everyone around me. We were going about 27 miles an hour at the time. Bikes and bodies were flying trough the air. It all happened so fast that I never even knew what happened to me. All I really knew for sure was that I was going to crash. Based upon my bruises I believe I went over my handlebars and somehow somersaulted up to my feet. As soon as I was up I had bikes crashing into the back of me and people were laid out all over the side of the road. As the pictures demonstrate, the number of people racing to the line for the final time was pretty small.

There were at least 20 people taken out by this one guy's stupidity. Because my team-mates were all behind me at the time, the crash took a particularly big toll on our group. Two of my team-mates were pretty seriously injured, both getting hauled out by ambulance. One broke his arm in two places and required surgery in order to set his arm back in place. The other was mostly shaken up. As for me, I sprained my shoulder really badly. It's now Tuesday and I'm finally able to use my right arm a bit. I still don't have anything close to my normal range of motion however.

As you can see in the final picture, my bike was just as big a victim as I was in this crash. It's needed a new rim for the front wheel, a truing of the rear wheel, new bar tape, re-alignment of shift/brake levers and a thorough inspection of the frame. A couple hundred bucks at least when you add all the labor into the picture.

I'm not too sure whether I'll be racing the Omnium this weekend or not. At this point I'm fairly optimistic; however, I won't know for sure until I get back on my bike again. I'm picking it up from B&L this afternoon so I may try to head out for a short ride and see how I feel.

Photos from Ontario Crit 2

Eric

Del Mar Crit 3 - 39th Place

Well, my fun with wheel issues continued on this day.

I came into this weekend's two races feeling like I was in prime form to get a top 5. It didn't really workout that way on this day.

Because this was the 3rd race in the Del Mar Crit series, and because one of our SDBC guys (Doug Krutil) was in the top 10 in series points; our goal for the day was to try to get Doug across the line first. Along the way we wanted to ensure that he didn't have to work any harder than necessary and even try to get him some of the series point primes if we could (a prime is a race within the race - the race director will ring a bell and announce what the leader on the next lap wins. The prize could be some series points, merchandise, etc.). So my personal goal for the race was to work really hard, get in a great workout, work for Doug and try to be right there at the end.

Today's race was a 50 minute affair, so it was a little longer than we normally go. It also had 3 very sharp corners and 2 long straight aways, so it was fairly technical.

I started out feeling quite strong and with about 15 minutes gone the call went out for a series point prime. I was near the front with Doug so he and I took off and I led him out for most of the lap. With about 3/4 of the home straight to go he pulled out from behind me and sprinted for the line. Unfortunately he wasn't strong enough to win it.

I spent most of the rest of the race working hard at the front of the field for a lap or two, then dropping back and catching my breath at the back for a few laps and then working back to the front. Repeating this for 50 minutes takes a lot out of you, that's for sure.

When it came down to the end of the race I wasn't too near the front. I at least thought that I would be able to power past some folks and get into the top 20, but no matter how hard I worked I only seemed to be going backwards. During the first quarter of the cool down lap I looked down at my rear tire and it was near flat. Further inspection revealed a slow leak that was likely the reason that I was so slow the last couple laps.

No worries though, I raced really hard, felt very strong, led some laps and we did lead one of our guys out for a prime win (just not Doug).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Del Mar Crit 2 - 15th Place

Yesterday, 3/28, was the second installment of the Del Mar Crit Series. It was 35 minutes of fast, intense racing.

Being that I was coming off a pretty rough week I wasn't expecting too much from this race. I felt pretty fresh and strong, but knew my anaerobic endurance left quite a bit to be desired.

I can't complain too much about 15th. I felt pretty dead towards the end of the race, yet still came in with a half decent result.

Amy, Helen, Carla and Carol came out to act as my cheering squad, so I had something to race for. Thanks to everyone for their support. If I get some pictures in from anyone I'll add them to this post.

Del Mar Crit2 images

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Redlands Crit Report - Mailing it In

I've been pretty busy lately, so I'm getting this one submitted a little late. Sunday morning, 3/25, I headed up to Redlands for the Redlands Classic Crit.

It's a long convoluted story, but last week I started getting worn down again and was feeling pretty sick. I skipped my team's Saturday morning crit clinic and instead slept in. Last week was a low volume week to begin with, the sickness only resulted in less training taking place. So I wasn't feeling my best or very confident in my fitness going into Sunday's race.

On the drive up I missed the turn off the 215, which ended up adding about 20 minutes to the drive, so all in all it was pretty helter skelter. We got the race about 30 minutes before the start (I normally like to arrive at least an hour before the race in order to ensure plenty of time for autograph signings, registration, bathroom stops, and warm-ups). When I arrived I raced over to the registration table to sign in and get my numbers. By the time I got back to the car it was about 15 minutes to start time. Normally I like to have a 30 minute warm up prior to a race, which means I need to get started on my rollers about 45 minutes before the scheduled start (I'll post something on warm-ups one day soon). Simply put, my warm-up was completely inadequate.

This was a category 5 only race, rather than the 4/5 combined fields you'll have at a lot of races. When coupled with the ridiculous start time, it made for a pretty small field. I think we had 40 guys at the start. When you consider that normally 10 to 15 guys don't really have the fitness or strength to hang in one of these races, you quickly realize that there were less than 20 guys to worry about.

The pace of the race was fairly slow (22 miles per hour for a good portion) with only about 5 people who were really willing to work at the front. It would have been a great race to try an attack and try leave the field in the dust. However, I just didn't have anything in the tank. Basically I just rode with the pack the whole way, had nothing for the sprint, finished a disappointing 12th and notched one more race up toward the ten that I need in order to move up to category 4.

Here are the results.

And here are some photos.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Training on Rollers

Many are aware that I bought a set of indoor rollers a few months ago. Often when I ride on them people look and wonder what the big deal is. I have to say that they're very beneficial to one's riding and fitness.

They get your balance and pedaling efficiency tuned to a level that you could never achieve on a regular road bike (a track bike maybe, but I can't really say as I've never ridden a fixed gear bike). Any sort of unevenness in one's pedaling is instantly exposed on the rollers. Until you get yourself to a point where your legs can work evenly together and you pedal in full cirles, you simply can't balance on the rollers.

The other really nice thing about the rollers is they eliminate the factors that make it really difficult to control your power output on the road. No more stop signs, traffic lights, hills, bad weather, darkness, etc. With the rollers if your workout calls for doing a bunch of intervals at 300 watts there's no excuse other than the inability of the rider for not getting them done right.

In an effort to give folks some idea of what it's like to both get going on rollers and be very good at them I thought I'd post some links to great videos I found on youtube:

Here's a guy learning to ride his rollers for the first time. This is exactly what it's like the first time out.

Here's the same guy nearly crashing.

Finally he's up and running but by now his wife has clearly lost interest.

Here's a guy who has now inspired me to kick it up a notch.

Lastly, here are some races where these guys are measuring who can put in the most revolutions.

More racing, this time crashes.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Images from Del Mar Crit Series Race 1

Here are some images from the first Del Mar Crit Series race. As you can see in the last one, there wasn't too much left of my rear tube.

Del Mar Crit1 images

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Up in Smoke - Del Mar Crit 1

This afternoon I raced in the first installment of the Del Mar Crit Series. It was a bit of an up and down race for me. I came into it feeling like I still had a bit of a lingering cold, so I wasn't feeling the strongest.

For the first third of the race I rode pretty close to the front and even got in a couple of break-aways, so I was doing pretty well.

The second third of the race was pretty tough, I was finding it hard to keep up with the pace and was barely holding on at the back of the field. Maybe I just needed a bit of time to recover from the effort of the first third.

The final third I was really starting to come on. I was back near the front, feeling pretty powerful. When the 5 laps to go call went out I was riding in the top 15 and promised myself that regardless of how painful it might get, I was going to do everything I could to stay there and win the race.

With half a lap to go I was in a perfect spot. I was in the top 10, very close to the front, and feeling more fresh than I expected to be. I went into the second to last corner pretty hard expecting to come out of it aggressively and start making a real strong run towards the last corner. While in the middle of the corner my rear wheel popped. There went my race down the drain as I coasted along on the rim (pictures to follow tomorrow morning). From there I had to walk it back to the finish.

Pretty tough to take, especially since this race was a category 4/5 combined field and I could have put some cat 4 points in the bank with a strong result. At this point all I can do is look forward to the second race two weeks from now and hope that things work out a lot better.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Over Training and Indicators

This past week I learned a valuable lesson; pay attention to your morning resting heart rate, it does indeed give you a very clear indication as to where your body is at.

Normally before I get out of bed in the morning I measure my heart rate while lying flat on my back. I then measure my heart rate while standing beside my bed. Typically my lying HR is between 42 and 45. On Thursday and Friday last week it was closer to 50, which should be a good indication that you're either getting sick and/or are over trained. At the time I wasn't too disturbed by the value and went on with my regular day.

I was actually half a day behind on my training on Thursday so I did my Wednesday endurance workout on Thursday morning, rather than Wednesday like I'd planned. I then had my anaerobic endurance ride to do Thursday night. Well, I only got about 20 minutes through the scheduled workout when I realized that I'd be best to stop as my heart rate wasn't getting as high as I would have expected (even though I was working very hard) and I was feeling incredibly fatigued.

From that moment until late Friday evening I felt absolutely spent. No energy, incredible urges for sugar, feeling sleepy while not able to sleep really well, etc. All are sure signs of over training. So I went to bed early on Thursday, took the day off (from riding) on Friday, and went to bed really early on Friday night.

Gladly by Saturday morning I was feeling pretty good and did take part in the SDBC "A" group ride. This was the first time I've ever done the "A" ride. Normally I do the "B" ride, which takes the same route as the A, but is a lot more structured and a little slower. The elite riders (category 1 and 2) in the club regularly ride the "A" ride so it's supposed to be pretty quick. Personally I didn't find it to be overwhelmingly fast and was able to ride near the front of the pack for most of it. So at this point I'm considering myself recovered.

From here on out I need to a better job of listening to my body, especially when you consider that the next 7 weeks of training are going to be really intense.

Cholesterol

At the end of October last year I got my cholesterol checked. It wasn't too bad:

Total cholesterol - 186 (goal of less than 200)
HDL (good) cholesterol - 50 (goal of greater than 40)
Triglycerides - 70 (goal of less than 150)
LDL (bad) cholesterol - 122 (goal of less than 130 or 100 with a history of coronary disease)

Based upon my very poor family history with regard to coronary disease, my cardiologist recommended that I try taking Red Yeast Rice a couple times per day and come back in 8 weeks to get tested again.

This time out my numbers were "ideal":

Total cholesterol - 127
HDL (good) cholesterol - 62
Triglycerides - 35
LDL (bad) cholesterol - 58

I'm hopeful that these sorts of numbers will get my mom off my back with regard to my heart. Or at least I can dream!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

9th Place - Ontario Dare to Race GP

This afternoon I rode in the first Ontario category 4/5 race of the year and finished 9th. Today's race was 45 minutes on a really flat course that included 7 turns. There were a few real positives in today's result:

1. Finishing 9th out of 75 riders is pretty darn good, especially when you're competing against a number of guys who are in a category higher.
2. I proved to myself that I can hang with the really fast riders in a crit.
3. I proved to myself that I can generate the power and leg speed required to be able to sprint with the big guns. I just need to do a much better job of getting to the front earlier on in the final lap.

Here are today's results

Just for kicks and giggles I've also posted the details and summary outputs from my PowerTap power meter for this race. You'll notice two big spikes in power during the race. The one in the middle of the race was me thinking I could jump the field to win a prime for some bonus series points. The second is from the finish. As you can see my max power was only about 937 Watts for the race, which is about 300 Watts less than I know I can do. i.e. I need to do a better job of putting out my best effort at the end of the race!



Saturday, February 17, 2007

Palomar Mountain

Today was my second trip up Palomar Mountain. The idea of today's F2 (force) workout was to climb some hills of up to 8% grades that take at least 6 minutes to climb. HR was supposed to be no higher than LTHR.

So this week I did four 15 minute intervals with 4 minutes of rest in between. Today I went all the way up to the top of the South Approach Road (basically the top of the mountain). It was about 11 miles of road and about 3700 feet of climbing from where I started (Rincon Ranch Road). If you work that out you get an average grade of 6.4%. My average speed on the way up was about 9 mph, note that this includes the four minute recoveries where my speed was more like 2.5.

I also set some new personal average wattage records:
TimeAverage Wattage
5 min363 Watts
10 min337 Watts
30 min297 Watts
60 min267 Watts

Here's a view from Google Earth of the route I took:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Aero Helmet

In an effort go get myself set up with an aerodynamic time trial package for my bike I purchased a new Rudy Project Syton SuperComp aero helmet last night (click the image to visit their site).



About 90% of the energy expended in pedaling a bicycle goes towards moving the body of the rider through the air. Futhermore, the drag that your body creates increases exponentially with speed, so as you go faster, aerodynamics become more and more important. At a basic level there are 3 things one can easily adjust that have a very large effect on drag:

1. Body position. Getting into a good position where your back is parallel to the ground and flat, elbows are in, chin is up, arms are preventing your chest from acting like an air damn, etc. makes a big difference. i.e. I need to buy a set of aero bars and work on my body position.
2. Head. Once you're doing well with your body position, your head is normally the next biggest source of drag. Hence the helmet.
3. Rolling resistance of wheels. Getting an aero set of wheels can make a difference. I don't see myself spending $1500 on a pair of wheels any time soon, so this one is probably going to have to wait. I might look into something used on Ebay if the right opportunity comes along.