I can’t believe it, but it’s been one month since I went under the knife, drill, etc. and had my left ACL reconstructed. For a very invasive, somewhat traumatic surgery, things have gone very well. My pain hasn’t ben bad and the hardest part was that first week when I was learning to walk again. While I’m not sure I’ll break Adrian Petersons rehab record, I am ahead of schedule with everything. My Physical Therapist seems to always be impressed, so that’s encouraging.
I’m also still wrapping my brain around what a shit storm a seemingly little bobble back in November caused to my knee, but moving forward. This injury has given me eternal respect and sadness for athletes that go through similar injuries. It’s heartbreaking when you damage something beyond repair, but I’m looking forward to getting back to normal and thankful that modern medicine made that an option.
I’m working out daily, riding the trainer, doing my rehab religiously, icing, using a muscle stimulator, Kinesio tape, etc. Anything to help my mind and body recover! So far I’ve had some muscle atrophy, which is expected, but I’ve been able to keep the muscles alive and so far, it doesn’t look too bad.
I have quite the collection of scars already on my left leg from going down so many times on that side, so I’ll have another nice little one right down the front of my knee to add to the years of racing scars. Just another battle wound I guess.
Here are some highlights of my recovery so far:
• I made it out of surgery with success! I had great help from my family and friends and I was off pain meds within a few days.
• I slept through most nights with little pain and no agony, which was great! I’ve had some extremely painful injuries and was fearful this would top the list. Not even close to the peak of pain I’ve experienced with other injuries.
• Taking a showing for the first time after surgery was amazing! It was a huge baby step in the process.
• By 5 days in, I was starting to ditch the crutches and get on my bike and spin slow circles.
• By 7 days in, I was down to just a brace and no crutches, which was awesome!
• Roughly 10-11 days later I was spinning on the stationary bike with little pain.
• Within 3 weeks, I was spinning on the bike with a little resistence, walking without a limp and doing all kinds of excercises usually reserved for people a month in.
• I now have nearly 100% flexion and extension of my original baseline, which is a huge hurdle I’ve overcome! It seemed like 2 weeks in I would never break though to having full flexion of my knee, but with persistent stretching, I was able to get there!
All I’m really dealing with now is some minor swelling above the knee cap. Might be from overdoing it a little, but who knows. My doctors and PT don’t seem worried, so I am doing my best not to be.
Hopefully, it only gets better from here. I can’t wait for some warm weather and long easy rides to build back up to the rider I was before. For now, I’m just thankful everything has gone well so far.
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It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. The last time I checked in, I was chasing the Colorado Cross Cup title in the single speed division, nursing a minor (so I thought) knee injury and interviewing with a few companies in the cycling industry. That part wasn’t public back then, but there were some exciting things brewing.
In November and December, a lot happened. I accepted a job with QBP in Minneapolis to be an Art Director for Foundry Cycles, Whisky Parts Co., Lazer and Ridley. While I swore I’d never live outside the west again, as they say, never say never. The opportunity was just too good. It was a dream for me to mix my 10 years as a Creative with my years as a cycling fanatic and racer. Plus, Minneapolis is great and I’ve always liked their cycling, art and design culture. So Chryssi and I got some bigger jackets and headed North.
Around the same time I was entertaining moving North (November), I had a doctors visit for my knee to go over my MRI in Denver. I knew the day would come where I would do irreparable damage to something on my body and unfortunately, Sienna Lake was that day.
After a few weeks of holidays, my doctor being on vacation, etc I finally got the prognosis on my knee. Bad news. Real bad news. I torn ACL and a severely brused bone on knee joint (the white area in the bone in the MRI below). It’s bizarre, but I din’t feel much pain or instability. More general discomfort.
With little instability, I decided to do some rehab, get through the move to Minneapolis and go from there. For a few months, I got my range of motion back and rode my bike in the mornings on the trainer and did some ACL rehab excercises. On the weekends, we went on rides on frozen lakes and enjoyed getting to know the city on our mountain bikes. While I was ‘seriously’ injured, I still felt relatively good, so I stayed active.
Since I was fairly stable, I was thinking of just going without the surgery. The more I read, the more I learned that ACL’s don’t heal, you just learn to compensate. Many people don’t have issues, but when the knee does give out, often you rip up even more tendons and ligaments and even tear up cartilege that can’t be repaired. In other words, without surgery, I was putting myself at risk of walking like Travis Pastrana when I was 40 if I kept up the same level of activity without surgery.
I’ve always been really against surgery, but since I’m still relatively young, I decided after much deliberation to get my ACL reconstructed. So here I am, 2 days out of surgery. I opted for the Patellar tendon graft. I almost went with a cadavor, but wanted my own tissue and the strongest graft. I’m a bit scared at how far I still have to go. I’m currently working at lifting my leg repeatedly and just getting basic motion back. Other than getting really sick from some pain meds, the knee is great. I’ve already had my first rehab session and so far the swelling isn’t bad at all. I’m really thankful that I have such a supportive girl in my life and my parents, family and coworkers have been very supportive.
I’m looking at 6-9 months until I’m 100% and I’ve pulled the plug on this race season. It’s an odd feeling going from being on two teams and racing a ton to not racing at all, but I need the mental space to chill out, recover, take care of myself, enjoy this new city with my girl and really dig into my new dream job.
I’m not going to lie, I’m really missing Colorado, my friends, the teams I rode for and all the amazing things I had in my backyard. I’m sure my new backyard will be cool once this knee heals and I can explore a bit more!
Here’s to getting back on the saddle stronger than ever!
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Just before Thanksgiving, I received some great news. More to come, but I’ll leave you with this teaser …
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Last Saturday, the clouds finally rolled in and with it came temps in the 30′s, freezing rain, sleet, hail and snow. It was a brutal, brutal day, but it was also looking to be an epic day for a cyclocross race. If I were to finish in the top 3, I could likely take the lead in the Colorado Cross Cup, so I was pumped.
After doing a lap on the course, it became clear that it was going to be a tough one. Lots of grass with winding tight turns, a few off camber sections that were pretty slick, a little pavement and a some monster run up sections. The section of the course that was clearly going to be a decider was the drainage ditch. Just after the start stretch, a long dirt road section led into a sharp turn and then very steep drop in to a mud bogged drainage ditch. Many riders ran down the drop, then either ran or rode the ditch section and then ran/climbed back out of it. It was a knarly section for sure! I figured if I could ride down the drop, ride the ditch and then run out of it, that would be the best tactic.
On the line, it was FREEZING. Since it was raining, I opted or no leg warmers, just Mad Alchemy embrocation on my legs. They were beet red and stinging from the cold. The whistle blew and we were off. I took the hole shot, though Will Iaia came around me just as we got into the course taped single track section. On the long dirt road leading into the drainage ditch, his rear tire was spraying so much muddy water in my face that I could barely see. I stayed on him through the drainage ditch. On the very steep, muddy run up, he dropped me though. I didn’t think I’d need my shoe spikes before the race, which was a HUGE mistake. When I was fumbling in the mud, trying to get a foot hold on the soupy ground, he climbed right up and like that put 15-20 seconds in me. A shame since I was feeling great and confident I could stay with him.
Taking the holeshot off the line:
After that, my teammate Carlos caught up to me and we started a chase. I was in second place now with two chasers with me. On a grassy offcamber section, I slid out since it was covered in freezing hail. I popped up and grabbed onto the group again and was now in 3rd. Shortly after, my teammate Carlos slid out and now I was in 2nd again. With the wet, slick conditions, it was carnage out there. Lots of bobbles and little crashes. Traction was the worst I’ve seen all year.
Feeling strong in the chase:
As I settled into chase Will who had a huge gap on us now, I hit the gas and made it a point to distance myself from the other chasers and try and make it up to Will. As I came down steep hill that dropped into the drainage ditch, I picked up speed way faster than before. I was basically holding on and hoping to come down without going over the bars. I managed to stay upright, but picked up so much speed that by the time I got into the ditch, I was totally out of control. As I was about to hit the other side of the ditch, I put my leg out and pop! I heard my knee make an un settling noise, I then went over the bars, landed on my ass (I think). It was a total yard sale. As the chasers caught me, I didn’t pop up like usual. I was stunned.
Seconds before impact:
As I got up, my leg didn’t feel right, but there wasn’t much pain. I thought about dropping out right there. Instinctively, I knew I was done with a podium shot. I climbed back on my bike, but started having some technical problems. I had knocked my brakes out of whack, so I had to stop and fix them. Now even more people were catching me. By the time I got back on my bike, I was in 9th and my knee was in bad, bad shape.
For the remainder of the cold, brutal race, I basically just rode around gingerly to get a finish.
Freezing my way to the finish:
My knee is now busted up and I went from hopes and dreams of coming on strong late in the season to take the Colorado Cross Cup, so hoping my season isn’t over with a knee injury. Surprisingly, even after the crappy 9th place finish, I was sitting in 3rd overall behind Will Iaia and Colby Pearce in the Colorado Cross Cup still!
A week later, I’m riding, but not racing. I just missed big race weekend with 1 gold level race and one silver, so I just went from a strong 3rd overall in the Cross Cup to 10th. If I don’t start racing again next weekend, any shot of a top 5 will be out of the question.
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Awesome photo stream by the company that’s rewriting things in the cycling industry. Inspired shots that make you want to ride your bike.
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Oakley limited edition Rapha-Focus shades. Word on the street in only 10 of each will be made. I imagine that type of exclusivity doesn’t come cheap. #marketingbrilliance
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Despite a rough weekend for the Boulder Cup, I took an extra day off, hit the intervals and got back on track. Whatever virus I might have had was gone and my asthma was back in check. It was nice to train hard and feel good, so going into this race, I was feeling confident, good and ready for battle.
The course was a little slick in sections, very dry in others and had great traction. There were some awesome runup sections, two of which I was able to ride when others weren’t, so I gained valuable seconds each lap. That said, a new callup policy for the start put me at the back since I hadn’t pre registered, so I had to fight hard to get to the front and by the time I did, I needed to recover a bit. After a lap of sitting in, I hit the gas to try and crack the top 3. I felt like I got close, but my teammate Ryan McFarlin was riding super strong, so I never caught him.
In the end, I finished 4th (so I thought) in a pretty strong field. Turns out there was a guy in front of me I had mistaken for a Cat 3 rider who was in our field. He had gears and cogs on his bike, so I didn’t think he was a single speed racer, but the official tolk me he had his gears locked out, so I was actually 5th. Kind of a bummer since I could have closed him down easily had I known. Still a good result though and I was more happy that I was feeling back to myself again!
Jumping back on my bike after a long run up:
At the end of all that, I’m not sitting 2nd overall behind former Olympian Colby Pearce on the Colorado Cross Cup, which makes me pretty happy!
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Even though it’s been over a week, I thought I’d write a little report for arguably our biggest cross weekend in Colorado (next to the USGP in Fort Collins). The Colorado Cross Classic and Boulder Cup are classics. One takes place on the well known Boulder Reservoir course while the Boulder Cup takes place at the fairly new Valmont bike park, which features one of the only (and best) permanent cross courses in the US. It’s an awesome venue!
First was the Colorado Cross Classic.
The race was stacked with the fastest local guys as well as from around the US. Current US single speed king Craig Etheridge from Raleigh Clement was there as well as Olympian Colby Pearce and some supposed fast guys from Ritte. It was awesome how big the field was. The course was muddy, sandy and featured a LOT of running sections.
From the gun, it was bananas fast. I couldn’t hang with the top 3, so I settled in and tried to stop the bleeding (me going backwards) and stay in the top 5. In the end, I had some bobbles in the long sandpit that cost me big and I ended up 7th, which sucked, but was still decent. One upside was that in the cold morning, my asthma didn’t get to me and I was breathing well!
Sunday was Boulder Cup. Waking up, my legs were really sore. Turns out I fought harder than I had thought the day before, so I did a really nice warm up. The course was slightly different than in the past and I love the new changes, so I was pumped. I figured if I could make the top 5 group, I would be in a good shape for a result. Again, the field was stacked, so I had my work cut out for me. It’s always awesome when there are 50 guys in the single speed category and your team has the front line!
As the race got going, it was again insanely fast from the gun. I could tell I was in the red even on the first climb. I settled in the top 10, but then an unnamed rider from out of town opened up a gap to the group of 8 in front of us and I was too deep in the red to close it down.
From there, I was fighting for the top 10 and in between the break and the group. Fighting in no-mans land, my legs felt horrible and I kept going backwards. I clearly hadn’t recovered well from the day before and in hindsight, I think I was fighting a little virus or something. I just felt like crap.
After all that, I was still sitting in the top 5 of the Colorado Cross Cup Single Speed division, so it was nice to be in the mix still overall after a so-so weekend. The single speed category has gotten really competitive, which is awesome!
As a matter of fact, the second place finisher of Boulder Cup (behind winner Colby Pearce) was just 10th at a UCI pro race on his single speed this past weekend. That goes to show that our category is no joke anymore!
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