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.