Monday, November 22, 2010

The Road Back, Cane Edition

It's been three weeks since the big crash. A painful three weeks. The good news is I'm up and about and can walk unaided for most of the day. After a long day though, I do tire more easily than before, and use a cane (no more walker!) if required.

Physical therapy is going well, generally consisting of
  • stationary bike
  • arm bike
  • treadmill, forward/backward/side to side
  • inclined platform (for the legs, resembles the 'Total Gym')
  • movements to get the elbow back to full extension
  • range of motion tests
  • specific lower abdominal exercises for pelvic stability
I've also been using my mountain bike at home on the trainer, however, for comfort, that usually requires a lean forward. At present, I'm not placing any weight on my left arm. Thus, time on the trainer is somewhat limited at this point.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sweatin' Burnt Orange Bike Tour 2010 - Broken Bones Edition

I like the SBOBT (GPS route) since it's a more intimate ride, not so many riders as other ones rides I participate in.  This year, the number seemed to be lower than usual, perhaps since the event was on Halloween and many people had already made other plans.  That also meant I could more or less stay with the leaders for a good distance (not that I treat it as a race, but I like the challenge of keeping up with the youngsters). A couple riders took off about 25 miles in on some of the first sets of the more severe hills. Still, I thought I'd have a good day at it and finish in a time comparable to the other times I've ridden this route, I was maintaining a good pace and only occasionally would another rider appear. Little did I know that would not be the case.

For the first part of the ride, there was nothing remarkable, other than an abundance of chip-seal roads, they tend to be rougher than normal. And when fresh, have an excess of gravel near the edge. Gravel and road bike tires do not go together. At all. Nada.

I stopped at the Sisterdale rest stop, the person manning it was still setting up, I didn't think we were that fast! After a short rest, I proceeded along, staying with the guy in the yellow kit for a while. Once we got into some steeper hills though, he lost touch.

This ride has one very memorable and steep climb up to the Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area. It starts about mile 40 and goes for about 1.5 miles. Some pitches are in excess of 10 degrees, which doesn't sound like much until you try it, then, trust me, it's steep.

I stopped at the top and took in the view, it's quite spectacular especially on a nice clear day.

I started down the backside of the climb and just after passing Grapetown Cemetery (a couple miles down the hill), crashed down hard.  I have no idea how it happened. I have no recollection of any car or other bike around me, or any other road hazard. One second, I'm fine, the next, I'm on the ground. According to the GPS data, I went down at about 30 MPH.  Yes, it hurt, a lot.

After the crash, I remember thinking I needed to pull my bike off the road, just in case a car came over the hill. I did that and just sat down next to the road to check how bad I was hurt. My elbow was bloody, but I thought from road rash, only later at the hospital did they tell me I had an open fracture, meaning bone was through the skin. Yea, that hurts even more. Perhaps the most fortunate occurrence was the first person to stop was a trauma neurosurgeon that happened to live in the area. When he was first talking to me, I could not understand him. Looking at my helmet afterwards, I hit very hard on my head. It's hard to see on the pictures, but the foam is cracked completely through below the impact site, and the obvious significant cosmetic damage. I never lost consciousness, but was definitely on the woozy side.  Thanks for helping Dr. Senelick!

After a few minutes, I was more attentive. The Doc flagged down the next car and sent it up the hill to the prior rest stop, a couple miles back. They sent down a pickup truck that eventually transported my bike back to Austin. My son retrieved the bike from Mellow Johnny's a few days later. There's minimal damage on the bike which I interpret as my body taking the brunt of the collision to the ground. Given the injuries, I believe it. I remember discussing with the young man handling my bike that he should just drive me back to Blanco, at that point, while I hurt, I did not realize the extent of the injuries. I'm glad no one listened to me!

The Doc had dialed 911 and they arrived about 30 minutes after the crash. They told me I did not have to go with them, but the Doc indicated I needed to, that I was not capable of a rational decision (now some of you would say that regardless!). Shortly thereafter I was on the backboard, with the cuff around my neck to immobilize me. Given the remoteness of the location, they called in a Life Flight helicopter to fly me to Austin. They discussed San Antonio, but Austin made more sense. That was my first helicopter ride, and, of course, all I could see was the ceiling of the helicopter. The paramedic helping me was nicely pointing out items of interest as we flew - I suggested adding some mirrors on the ceiling.

We landed at Brackenridge where they rolled me into the trauma unit to assess the injuries. After numerous portable X-rays and CT scans, the injury list is something like
  • Fracture of Olecranon Process of Ulna (that's your elbow bone).  There's a double row of stitches, one directly over the elbow where the repair was done. The other is where the bone broke the skin. The operation was done that evening (10/31) given the exposure of the bone.
  • Stable fracture of the pelvis (breaks in 2 different spots, the sacrum and pubic bone)
  • Stable fracture of the scapula (shoulder bone)
  • Slight dislocation of shoulder
  • Road rash, left shoulder, left arm, left hip, left foot
Glad I'm right-handed.

And while it probably helped, the two doses of morphine I received in the ER had little impact on the pain, or at least that's what I thought at the time. When they were transferring me from the gurney to the CT machine, they needed to roll me about and turn my pelvis. That was one of those 10 out of 10 pain moments. And it was done two different times. I'm trying to forget.

For those who care to look, here's the remainder of the pictures.  Some are a bit gruesome.

After 4 days in the hospital, I was able to go home where I've been resting since. The physical and occupational therapists in the hospital had to approve my release, showing them I was modestly mobile. A big shoutout to the nurses who took care of me, all were very pleasant and kind. They told me they didn't want to see me again - as a patient - I'll agree with them on that point.

I've started physical therapy, and expect it to take a while to get back to my former level of fitness. The first equipment they had me use was, you guessed it, a bike. Stationary though, and going really, really, slow.

My new best friend is to the left, I'd be hard pressed to get around much without it. As someone noted, it has 2 wheels, just like a bike! Only different. A lot different. A crutch after this.

Hopefully, since I was in good shape before the crash, that will help with the healing and recuperation.  I had my son bring his trainer, we setup my mountain bike so I can start using it when I build up some strength.

Note to self, do NOT do this again! Ever! Geez.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

LiveStrong Challenge 2010 - Day 3 (the 24th), the Ride

Up front I'd like to say THANK YOU to all my friends who donated to the cause this year. You are making a difference to someone, a person who needs that help. I made a little video, the sound is quite bad though given I was close to a loudspeaker. You can understand most of it though, I think, well, I can, sorta.

One minor disappointment I had is I thought my camera had used all its battery partway through the ride, thus I missed taking more pictures. However, once I got home, it was functional again. I'm wondering if some moisture caused the misbehavior as I was carrying the camera in my back jersey pocket. I think I need to go with a handlebar or helmet mount for a more reliable setup.

Here's the GPS trace for the ride (

As usual, there was a sea of spandex in every direction. Other than grouping the riders by distance (90 up front), there's no special ordering at the start line except for the top fundraisers who are placed at the front. Just before the ride, Patrick Dempsey and Lance talked a bit to the crowd.

One of the other Team Fatty started out next to me. I don't recall seeing him subsequently on the ride.

I did ride with another Fatty for a pretty good distance in the middle of the ride, he was faster than me on downhills and flats, but I could outclimb him, thus we stayed together for the most part. I believe I eventually pulled away on the later part of the course where it just seems hillier to me.

I was wearing the same dark Fatty jersey as the fellow to the left (with the exception of the pink sticker), instead of the LS jersey I received at checkin. I debated which one to wear but it seemed more proper to wear the team colors so to speak to help encourage the other Fatty riders out there.

About an hour in, Elden caught up and passed me, he was doing the 65 mile loop to get back earlier to meet other Team Fatty members as they finished.

Note the curve to the left, just after it are two cattle guards. I was unable to get the camera securely back into my pocket and hit the first one with just one hand on the bars, the result was a slide off the road to the right and eventually me sliding on my left side to halt just before the second cattle guard (and a fence).  The result? Nothing, nadda, not even dirt on my clothes. Even more reason to alter how I'll be taking pictures in the future.

A few more highlights, Rest stop 4 where the 90 mile route separates had a live band playing, not your typical rest stop entertainment.

The Rest stop just after Blanco was supported by the Texas4000 crew, a group of riders who ride from Texas to Alaska each year to raise money for cancer research. They were very energetic and greeted riders with whoops and hollers, they were definitely having a good time.

After Blanco, the sun started to break through for the long ride back, and it's about the time my camera began acting up, so I only have a couple pictures from this point on.

Once I finished, Fatty found me, we talked for a bit about the ride.  I put my bike in the 'corral' and headed over to the beer tent and then subsequently the food tent. While eating, Janeen showed up, we got to talk some more about her cross country ride.  This was the first time she rode since she had finished that. She's concluded she's built for endurance and not speed.  I'd most definitely agree.

After resting a bit more, I packed on up, headed back to the car for the drive home, another excellent LiveStrong weekend passed.  Here'a a writeup from the local paper.

I look forward to next year and hope I can count on my friend's support once again!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

LiveStrong Challenge 2010 - Day 2 (the 23th), Appreciation Dinner

The Dinner was held at the Convention Center this year. From what I can tell, there's not a permanent spot,

the location probably has more to do with what else is in town that weekend and what is available. I think I was the very first person (non-VIP) to arrive, I misjudged how much traffic there might be (UT had a home football game the same day). No matter, I was not all that early and I got the freshest food once they opened up the floor for the cheese & crackers & fruit & this & that layout.

I ran into some Team Fatty members, ones I had met earlier in the day at lunch.

We clean up good. As it turned out, I rode with them for a time the next day at the Ride. We had a good time talking about our experiences and why we are participating in the Challenge. The gal was from Canada, she was not with the group that rode here though, there's a group from Calgary that does that each year.

Once the doors were opened to the dining hall, I noticed a goodly number of people were already seated, perhaps, and most likely the VIPs and their guests. Somehow, I must become important. Or try. Or not.

We took at table to the left of the stage, still pretty much in the front though.  Team Fatty had a reserved table, but it was already fully occupied.  Elden stopped by during the dinner to greet us and thank us.

That particular placement worked out well, I believe we got served first with the food. A chicken/pasta dish, with a tomato based sauce. It was good, I enjoyed it.

After dinner, the emcee for the night, John Korioth took the stage. After a short speech, he invited Doug and Lance to the stage where they answered questions submitted from the audience. At some point, they invited up Patrick Dempsey (the actor, he was Team RadioShack's captain for the weekend) to discuss his relationship with cancer. He has his own foundation, founded for his mother who is fighting ovarian cancer.

Everyone at the dinner received the LiveStrong Guidebook and Journal.  They are a great resource for anyone diagnosed with cancer, helping to navigate and take charge of your care.

The evening wrapped up with the presentation of the various awards, Team Fatty won the 'Team Champion' award for the most dollars raised by a team. Elden also won the Individual Messenger award for having the most number of people donate -- 975!

Doug & Lance made some closing remarks. Their goal is we don't want to have these events anymore, that having them means we've not made sufficient progress.  All we can do is to keep trying though, and someday, that will be true.

LiveStrong Challenge 2010 - Day 2 (the 23th), The Lunch

After the walk and before the lunch, I headed back over to MJs, to mosey and look around.  I wasn't really expecting to get anything... and didn't.

The lunch was organized by Elden, to meet some of his team members. Given we are widely dispersed group, other than the signature Team Fatty jerseys to recognize each other, you never know when you'll encounter another team member.

MJs was running shuttles from the store to the Convention Center, since it was still raining off and on, I chose the chauffeured service, and ended up being the only one on the shuttle. With all the construction downtown, it's a rather non-direct route.

Once back at the Convention Center, both Levi Leiphiemer and Chris Carmichael were at the Nissan booth.  Again, being my usually star stuck self, I just had to get more autographs.  

While waiting in line for Levi, the man in front of me (in full biking regalia, including his $6K bike), had personal photos from the TdF and other races he attended this year of many of the pros. Now, how do I get this guys' job ?!?

No books from Chris on day 2. I occurred to me afterwards I should have had all of them sign my jersey bib number, it's made of the indestructible, fibrous paper and would last forever.  The downside is may happen to rain, and that would be that!

With that, I headed over to The Cedar Door for lunch, it's quite close to the Convention Center.  

A small but rambunctious group of Team Fatty members arrived and had a good time.  

Fatty and his wife Lisa. He discussed whether the team should concentrate on just one Challenge per year.   

If you want some chuckles, read his blogs at
This is Janeen, I encourage you to visit her web site ( (it's actually her bike's website - which tweeted - believe it or not) & blog (

She completed a trans-America ride just the week before to raise funds for LiveStrong. Quite the task.  Unsupported, making it doubly difficult. She has a lovely Australian accent, I think it's impossible for that accent to ever sound uncool.

After lunch we headed outside to the deck (the weather had cleared up by now) for some final small speechifying, and group pictures.  

I naturally had to ham it up with Fatty to prove I indeed was in the presence of the superstar, megablogger, if only for a fleeting moment:

 Too much yellow?  Or never enough?

LiveStrong Challenge 2010 - Day 2 (the 23th), The Run/Walk

This year I did not participate in the Walk, but I headed downtown to support and cheer on the sea of folks who  did. I got there before the sun came up, it was mostly cloudy and a little later, some small showers rolled through.

Since I was not participating, I was able to wander around a bit more aimlessly than I normally do, I ran into a friend from work who was running. It's great to see how many people, supporters and survivors, participate in the events.

Here's the scene by the coffee tables, they were doing a brisk business, no surprise. I needed the buzz from the java, it was quite early in the morning.

I then wandered back to the middle of the bridge to the Start/Finish line.  There were a several speakers, Ryan Dungey (of Supercross fame) and LS CEO Doug Ulman.

One part I always find which pulls at the heartstrings the most is the kids in the pedicabs. This year, the Team RadioShack guys went to each one to say Hi and hand out some do-dads to the kids.

They also were tossing items to the crowd, no fistfights broke out - that I saw....

With that, the Run/Walk started, can anyone see themselves is this mass of humanity?  Before the runners returned, we were able to get out and 'chalk up' the Start/Finish area. A couple samples

This gal came back first, by my estimation, about a 15:30 time for 5K.

The next guy did not come in for about 2 more minutes. Total Domination!

I stayed and watched a goodly number of folks finish, this was about the time the most rain fell, at it was rather sparse, not bad at all.

I headed on back to MJs after getting another cup of coffee for the trip. I enjoyed being at the event, definitely will attend regardless of whether I'm a participant.

Friday, October 22, 2010

LiveStrong Challenge 2010 - Day 1 (the 22rd), Registration

I headed downtown in the afternoon to retrieve my registration package as I've done in prior years.  I hoped to see Henrike, my friend from Germany, but I did not see her this year. I did look, really. I parked a good ways away and walked to the Convention Center via the hike & bike trail. I detest paying for parking, hence the real reason I parked so far away.  Ok, the truth is out...  Now don't tell me I'm cheap, it's just one of those things...

The weather worked out rather well this year with only a bit of rain Saturday morning.  I also wondered if I'd run into my team leader, the world famous, mega blogger, Elden Nelson, aka I didn't see him Friday but met him the next day at the Team Fatty Lunch.

At registration, I picked my ride packet, which most importantly has your bib number. Given the fundraising level I attained, I was also eligible to receive some added incentives.  Thanks everyone!

Just after registration, I went to Tribute Wall and added the names for the folks I rode for this year. Unfortunately, I had to ride In Memory of my father-in-law and a good friend from work. I carried a list of all the names with me during the ride. I thought of them alot knowing they would help me complete my Challenge.

After visiting the Tribute Wall, I wandered around a bit looking at the various booths.  I'd been eying the Cycles Gladiator cycling kit for several years, and decided to purchase one this year.  What can I say, I like their logo.

Again this year, at the Nissan booth, Chris Carmichael, Lance's coach, was signing autographs.  I did my duty, got in line and got his autograph.

He was signing his current book, the The Time Crunched Cyclist, I need to spend some time and read it, given the title is quite appropriate for most of us.  Not that I will rise to pro ranks once I do, but I can dream...

I spent a little more time looking around and then decided to head over to Mellow Johnny's. They had posted to their facebook wall that some of the RadioShack pro team would be available to sign autographs. The shop was more or less on the walk back to my car, so why not. The shop was very busy (I expect they get a whole lot of extra business this time of year).

The riders signed a single item, folks were moving thru the line at a pretty quick pace so no one waited too long. If I showed up about 15 minutes later, there was no line at all.  One of the local TV stations was present filming two gals about why they participate in the Challenge.

I looked around the shop some, didn't buy anything before heading out to get home for the evening.