Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Camper here I come!

Being on the road racing almost every weekend last year had me realize a couple things (well, a lot of things, but I will only a mention a couple things now). First, I love the racing scene in general and I really enjoy the places that racing takes a person to. Second, I was always bummed that after the race was over, I had to leave and go hole up in a hotel room on a perfectly good summer day. So after many hours of decision making I have decided on purchasing a camper. I'm starting kinda small at 23 foot with fold down beds on both ends, and chose a pull behind in case I would ever need to speed off in the Pathfinder. I'm going small for a couple reasons. One was because I don't want to run people over with a huge rv behind me, and also because I don't want the cost of pulling a huge rv all over the East unless I'm sure I will use it as much as I think I will. Plus, these hybrid campers are really cool. They have a great space to weight ratio and they have most of the luxuries of a hotel. I'm totally excited. Looks like Anne and I will get to travel down to BCSP this coming weekend and see just how good of a decision I made. I camped long term pretty much my whole childhood with my family and friends, but now I'm taking the show on the road some years later.
I have been loving the new ride, and feeling a little stronger everyday little by little. I knew the comeback would take some time, but I'm a little surprised how some people don't realize what it takes to come back. At 7 weeks out of the cast I have had lots of people ask if I'm back racing yet. Racing? Are they kidding me? I had large drill bits drilled through my fibula people. I laid on the couch for 9 days straight and only got up to go to the restroom. Then I logged another 5 weeks of minimal daily activity. That's it. Not much to brag about training wise. I guess the only way to make my fitness any worse would have been to suck down a few sodas and munch on fast food. Anyway, this is gonna take some time. Not only to continue to heal and get back to 100%, but also to gain back my racing fitness. There is no easy button.  Thankfully,  I am not falling to the temptation of desire to race. I think that has a lot to do with trusting Coach Don's judgement and knowing that if I follow his plan, good results will happen (like winning National Championship races). If you want to win and do well you have to suffer through a few immediate wants that you can't have. What's really the goal? 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back Home Again...

Well back in Indiana hasn't been all that bad. The weather has been okay, except for the storm I got caught in the other day and nearly got flushed into one of the many corn field lakes that we have with all the flooding. It has pretty much been knicker weather which is my favorite because we all know they look cool. Its because they remind us of cyclocross season. By the way, is that here yet?
I finally rolled out the new Specialized SL since it was just looking way to shiny and red. I am a very picky rider and almost insist on not riding a bike until Don G or David C. fits me on it, but I think I have it pretty okay until I have a chance to meet with one of them.  After a couple days on this bike I am really starting to dig it a lot. It has a great feel and is stiff and smooth in the same sentence.  It also is very fun to snap around tighter turns. I can't wait to actually get it up to higher speeds and feel it do its thing. 
I had a rare chance to ride with the Hammer Head Zimmer boys Thursday during their lunch ride. It is a great oppurtunity to hit a group that pretty much functions everyday of the week.  They had only 4 guys turn out, but that was way better than me fighting the wind by myself and they are great group riders so I felt nice and safe with them at this point in the recovery. It was a good, easy ride all and all and I am gonna try and make it a point to get out with them more often before I start dedicating more of my time to mtb later in the year. And they didn't even tell me to get to the back of the pack.
The ankle continues to improve. I had a great PT session Thursday and Tom tracked my progress at my 12 week mark. I had a lot of improvement in range of motion. Something like a 25-30 degree increase on flexion and extension. Still not normal, but getting there! He even started me doing side steps like I did in the old BBall days! That even felt like it did when I used to sprain the crap out of my ankle during basketball. Ouch! 
I'm looking forward to a good weekend and hope to ride with Anne Y. some if we can align the stars just right with our schedules.  I'm also going to go look into buying an RV or camper for the race season. I see the major benefit it can have by following Scott W. and The Don with theirs, so if I can work it all out and make some decisions in what I want I should be rolling with it. I just have to figure out how to back up! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Short ride, long drive, short sleep.

Florida just had  to come to an end. I took a long look off the deck of the condo before heading out on my recovery ride early in the morning. My plan was to get in about a 45 minute spin to get the crap out of my legs before getting more in my legs from driving. I took off along the island road and actually the legs and ankle were feeling surprisingly great from my long rides the previous days. That was super encouraging to see I am recovering from the efforts.  I just rode along the local houses and picked me out a few I would move into in my little dream world... then the dreams ended when I flatted at about 37 minutes. So I decided to call it a trip instead of change the tire since I was right by the condo and a little short on time to check out. Regardless, it is always fun to cruise along on a recovery ride in a new place.
                                   Picture of the ride in front of our condo before I flatted.

After the ride we packed the Pathfinder up and hung out at the beach for a few and watched the real spring breakers roll in. As much as I hated to leave, I don't think I would ever make Florida my home because it lacks any great mountain biking from  what I was finding. Even though many my mock me about mtb in IN, we still do pretty good here and always have good riding in a few hours drive. Anyway, the wind starting picking up and spitted the gulf mist up at us, so we decided to hit the road before we were drenched. 
                       Dad, Mom and me by the dunes at condo before hitting the road.

So then it was a lot of driving, and more driving. I really do think I slept drove through most of Alabama. Either it was boring or I was very sleepy. We finally hit Knoxville and called it a night.  We were back at it early on the rode again hoping to get to view the great smokey's beauty, but it was not to be. We found out why they are the Smokey's because it was totally foggy for a long, long time and pretty much stared into the fog most of the drive. Well, at least Mom and I did, Dad slept in the back seat almost the entire way. Lucky dog. 
After picking up Grandma in KY we were on the home stretch and I was getting totally stiff from being in the car. By the time we hit home my ankle was so swollen it could hardly move. The toes were fat as could be and I didn't even recognize my own foot! It felt like my belly after Christmas diner. 
                                                          This is a very fat foot for me!
        It was a great trip and all of us had a great time. In the end I was happy that I decided to not go to team camp in NC. I wasn't ready for it, but it was great to find out that I have a good base and can still train. It will be a later start for me this year, but all set backs have hidden treasure, and I hope to have found a start to my treasures on the beaches of Fort Walton.  Like they say, "it is what you make it." 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saved by tacos and Bayou grocery

Well, there has been so much going on here on my Team DRT Nicke solo training camp, but I will try and make it as short as possible.  Friday was more laying on the beach before heading off on a ride. I could have stayed there all day but I did come to ride. I headed down scenic route 30a along the Gulf the entire way. This route was straight up sweet! Gulf views the whole time while going in and out of fresh little coastal towns. As sweet as it was I was really not feeling the ride. My lack of recent saddle time had me hurting in many ways. Arms, shoulders, butt, and ankle were all screaming at me so I took several breaks and squeezed out around 56 miles. Not as much as I wanted, but still great time for me at the 10 week post-op point. The other problem was me starving the whole time. It didn't make it any better since every town had so many great looking eateries along the way. I wanted to stop at them all! I finally gave into the strong cyclist call for mexican and grabbed a seaside taco. I was ready to eat my Gu wrappers at that point, so the taco was like the best ever! It is unusual for me to eat that much on a ride, but I think I was a little under calorie from the day before.  I finished the day with my meal waiting for me from my take along chef (Mom) and then hit the hot tub under the stars by the seaside. 

Today was a planned group ride with a local bike shop. The plan was to ride an out and back with this group for their 30 miles then add about 60 more myself.  Let me just say that this was the strangest group ride I have ever been on. I started out with them about 5th wheel of the 30 some riders. I was told once by someone to peel off and fall back because the local riders all ride at the front. Okay, so I fell back a couple people. Then an older guy of about half my half of skill level told me to fall back again because I was riding in his place. I didn't know that a pace line had assigned spots??? So then the group leader pulled us all off the road and stopped to tell us that only local riders were allowed to ride at the front and guest at the rotten back. I don't think so (and you want to be my latex salesman). So I was pissed and followed their rules until the 15 mile mark and me and another "normal" cyclist took off for a great ride on our own. I guess I'm a bike snob, but they just didn't seem right to me. After my ride with Alabama fighter pilot minister man, I took off on my own for another 45 miles (of 90 total) and had a great time. Except where I about ran out of glycogen. I finally ran into Nick's Bayou cafe. It was a run down shack that smelled of oysters (but food none- the- less), and I was starving. I asked for a candy bar and the lady told me that they didn't have any, but if I bought one at the grocery 2 miles away I could bring it back and they could deep fry it for me. I don't think so. I headed to the Bayou grocery and ate a non-fried snickers and it saved my life. Now I'm toasted and a 1 hour easy spin in the morning will finish my great mini post- ankle reconstruction camp here in the flats. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Florida is finally here!

So we finally made it to lovely Fort Walton. It seems like it took us forever to drive here. We made a stop to drop off my grandmother at her family in London, KY and probably lost a few hours that way, but that's okay, I really wanted her to visit the fam since she really can't drive that far herself anymore. I think it took us around 18 hours total and I was sooo happy to get out of a car. My ankle was so huge and by the end it was kinda funny because I couldn't even slip it into my croc sandle. It took it a while before I felt it wasn't going to explode. Thursday just rocked all around. Mom, Dad and I sat on the beach all morning and got sunburned (that was rough). I am thinking that walking in the sand is really great therapy for my ankle. We collected some shells and I saw a washed up puffer fish. I was really excited about that being the nature nerd that I am.  In the afternoon I headed out on a sweet 66 mile, 4 hour ride. Even though Florida doesn't have much to look at aside from the coast, it was a great ride for me because it is so flat. I had some spectacular views along the way of various bays and of the Gulf. Florida also gets major props for their extensive bike lanes everywhere. That was so nice! It took me 4 hours ride time, so that's a slower ride for me, but I was pleased with my ability to make it that long in the saddle at this point in my comeback. A couple times I thought my foot was gonna pop, but I took a short break and it came around. After the ride I spent the evening with the parents and really enjoyed their company.
So I'm up and at it early today, sipping on some coffee and just listening to the waves hit the white sandy beaches.  I think I will go walk the beach in a little while my parents are still sleeping. Then head to the hot tub before departing on another day of riding. I hope to get in another 4-5 hours, depending on the ankle. Then make it back in time for the
 sunset on the beach and homemade food from Mom!
 I feel so blessed sometimes it blows me away!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Escape from Prison

Well, I can't wait to get out. As much as I have enjoyed watching the first season of Battle Star Galactica (thanks Dr. Howard), while riding the trainer, I am very anxious to get outside on my bike. I had one trial day of going outside prior to this week and that was halted by PT Tom as quickly as it started. We thought we would try clipping out for the first time and that has been the last time since. Turns out, my little chicken leg is still not strong enough to clip out. Actually, the repair is still not even close to being healed, so when I clipped out I felt like I was ripping apart the lateral portion of my ankle. Amazing how the things we do everyday as cyclist become second nature to us, but when we have something go wrong these acts seem very complex if you think about it.  Needless to say, the ankle swelled up like a ballon after that ride and I had a fun time pulling my foot out of the shoe while it was still clipped in at the end of the ride.
  That ride has been a while ago and there is hope on the horizon. which is good since I have been officially told by my therapist that I am not okay to ride with the team at camp next week. Aside from still not being able to stand and pedal, anything that would increase my chances of wrecking while clipped in could lead to bad stuff (like surgery). My foot attached to a wrecking bike would equal ripped ankle. Not good. 
The cool thing is that Spring made a little appearance here and I did get to go outside and test again. This time it was better, or good, or not as bad. Whichever, it will happen more often, but I still have to pull my foot out of the shoe instead of clipping out. I'll take it. The other thing on the horizon is that I'm off to Florida on Tuesday for a week where I can ride the flats solo. I was kinda bummed because I would rather go to team camp, but then I figured I should be thankful for a trip most people would only do once in their life.  Mom and Dad are heading down with me and they will hang out at the resort while I get some base miles back in the legs. I will be thankful to spend some time with them since I kinda neglect them during the busy racing season.  Not a bad deal! I can't wait to see the Gulf of Mexico- its been about 6 years for me and I always enjoy God's handy work.