Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Goes Round...

Well, I figured that I should be productive and write a little blog post before I spend the next couple weeks in la la land after my surgery tomorrow. I had all intentions to be sleeping at this point, but as it turns out, I'm more nervous for this surgery than those in the recent past. My last surgery (emergency appy) happened so fast I didn't have time to think much about it, and the last ankle ordeal had me anxious, but I was looking forward to it being my last procedure on it. So this surgery has just been stressful to think about because I don't even know what to think anymore.

I'm comparing my last few years to a merry go round. The ride looks really cool (bike racing), you wait in line (training), you pick out your favorite horse to get on (the bike), the ride starts and it's really fun for a while, then you figure out that the same circle just keeps going around and around (kinda like a crit), but it's still cool because you're hooked. The ride (or race) stops (injury/ surgery) and you spend all winter waiting to be able to stand back in line again and once you do; the whole process repeats. That's me: get injured, train to catch up, catch up, race, have fun, get injured, have surgery, wait to train....

You get the picture.

I know all will go well with surgery, I have a great support system, I honestly have one of the top 5 ranked ankle surgeons in the WORLD, and I'm in good health... but still I really want off the cycle of the merry go round...
it's not so merry.

Wow, so I'm already whining about surgery and it hasn't already happened yet, but I feel better now.
Seriously, I'll be happy to get this done with and fixed up. I was hoping to sneak in some xc skiing more before it, but it turns out that that really is not so cool to do with a broken foot so I had to stop that. I will have my work cut out for me once I can get back to training. Between 3 weeks off the bike for the meningitis in all of November and the limited riding from the foot pain this month, I can safely say I took a lot of time off the bike to recover. However, I did manage to work through the discomfort for 4 fun days of riding recently.
My sister asked me what the point was in riding so much for the past couple days since I was going to lose all that fitness with surgery anyway...

My reply?

"Because it's fun!"

I Fight The Good Fight,
I Will Finish The Race,
I Will Keep The Faith

Stayed tuned: I can't guarantee any sensible blogs in the near future, but I sure will try!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The "Journey" Continued

Whoa! So December has flared up as it's crazy self since I have returned from NC a couple weeks ago and I have been too busy with work, and prepping for my own surgery that I haven't been able to finish my blog thoughts from that trip. So let me jog my memory and not forget the journey I had...

As you can see from the pictures above that there is a fair amount of snow on the ground compared to the previous pictures we had in NC. If you might recall, one of the reasons I chose NC over a MI trip was to hit a little better riding weather. So Josh and I were quite surprised when we woke up Sunday with 6 inches of snow blanketing everything! I was bummed at first and really thought my eyes were foggy, but it was the real deal and the area was on lock down due to the strange weather for them. At first glance I figured we would just hit a snowy ride, but after more assessing, it became clear that there was no way that was possible given the amount of snow there was and the ruggedness of the area. We had in no way planned on snow, and even though being snowed in may be appealing to some people, Josh and I aren't the type to sit around and not get outside to explore the winter fun. I switched my mind off bikes to explore what other fun options we could have. We decided to get in some hiking and snowshoeing. That sounded really fun and I quit being bummed and started looking forward to the day. We all know the saying: life is 10% what happens to you and 80% how you react to it. I really try to put that phrase in to use on a daily basis and I've found it's very true. I've had things happen to me that some may consider grounds to be in a mental hospital, but I try to stay positive and keep the faith that God has it worked out, and react as such as much as I can, and I feel it helps me tremendously. I really believe that there are no situations in life that can't be worked out or fixed in some way. So off to town we went to try and find some gear...

After a long visit with all the guys at Sycamore Cycles, I scored a sweet pair of hiking shoes on sale and Josh was able to rent some snowshoes for the afternoon hike. The weather was fluctuating and constantly went from ominous to sunny making for some great views. We decided to hike up the Granite rock trail that we had rode the day before since it is a great view at the top and we knew where we would be going. While Josh had some hiking experience in AZ, I had never honestly been on a real hike that didn't involve hiking a bike. We set out on the trail along the river and were quickly treated to such beauty that no picture would even do it justice. It's always a rush and good feeling to ride your mountain bike in sweet places, but hiking in the stillness of snow covered paths in a pine forested mountain creates a feeling that is almost surreal. What a treat!

Not only was it a treat, it was a great workout. I regretted opting out of the snowshoes like Josh, since they would have made the 2 hour hike much easier, but I still did pretty good. Once we hit the summit around 3,500 ft, things were pretty windy and the weather was getting nasty again. We hung out for a few minutes and enjoyed the views then headed back down the rocky decent. The sun was on its way down and we didn't want to get stuck out there in the cold temps after dark, but we were treated to some great sights on the way down with the sun setting behind the mountains.

Some journeys take a different route than what we plan. As a matter of fact, they go in the direct direction that we had planned not to do. I went to avoid snow and ended up in some rare snow storm to that area. Maybe that was God's gift to let me do both things??? The point is: I would have never in a million years thought I would have enjoyed hiking, but during it I realized I really enjoyed it. That was only possible because I opened my mind and chose to react in a positive way to the change in the journey. The day we went for a hike actually turned out to be one of my favorite things I did all year. Who would have thought?

Don't let your attitude and fear close you mind to the opportunities that change can bring, you may actually like it.

...and by the way,
Merry Christmas everyone... while your busy opening gifts, don't forget that the day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Our Savior.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


(One of the many great views from atop a waterfall at Dupont State Forest in NC)

The Journey. Such a cliche right? Yeah, I know but its an important word or thought. So let me expand.

I had a long journey planned out this year as many of my fellow cyclist did. I fought hard to come back from ankle surgery with the goal of having a good cross season to be capped off by a trip to Bend for cyclocross national championships. As many of you know, I had a couple major obstacles get in the way that prevented me from getting there. The point is, however, I already set aside the vacation block to go to Bend from work and I had nothing planned as a result. So here I was, stuck with 6 days off in December with an out of shape body from having so much time off from being so sick, having a avulsion fracture in my foot, and facing another surgery in a few weeks. What to do? Hmm, well, I took a whole week to make a final decision, which was between northern Michigan for dh/ xc skiing, or drive 11 hours to North Carolina to hit up my most favorite trails of all time. I would change my mind every 2 hours. I really wanted to do both, but that wasn’t possible. I really wanted to go skiing, but I was afraid that my slap foot wouldn’t hold up for more than a day, and I really wanted to ride Dupont, but its such a big trip. I simply was not looking forward to the long drive, the packing, and the hassle. However, the ski trip would be a solo effort and if I chose NC, I would be joined by friends Josh J. and Scott W. Can you really beat riding trail with your friends? Not really, but I was unsure if the trip would be worth the effort. I made a last minute decision to head south.

North Carolina here I come!

(Enjoying a little break from our riding under a covered bridge to take in the beauty)

I love riding my bike, the feeling and the rush I can produce with my own effort is better than any drug out there. That rush is great, but the fact that I travel all over the country to seek out new rides is a bonus on top of that. Dupont State Forest is a great trail, it flows wonderfully, but the hidden treasures it holds is in the beauty of the land. The display of waterfalls and rock formations are stunning and if anyone can look at them and think they were created by accident is really giving the Creator a slap in the face. It’s some of God’s finest work!

(Nothing like riding a great flowing trail with good friends: Scott Wagner, Josh Johnson, and myself)
(Sitting at the base of Bridal Vail fall. A picture here doesn't even begin to capture the power)

We covered mile after mile on some long rides and I reminded myself how lucky I was to have a gift to be able to explore so many miles simply by riding my bike. I know some people who travel more hours than we did simply to see a few water falls in the park...but we were blessed to see so much more! I just wish everyone could enjoy the world in such ways as cyclist do at times.
(How many spectacular views can one place have?)

So the journey was worth it. Standing atop a 150 ft waterfall freezes time and the car trip down becomes a distant memory, all that matters is enjoying what you see in front of you and the greatness all around. I came down to NC to “ride” my bike. Sure, I wanted to get some miles back in the legs, regain some fitness before surgery, but not once have I viewed any of my rides as “training.” It’s a welcome change for a little bit.

(Josh and Scott climbing a connector fire road to the next singletrack)
I’m happy I made the trip down... the journey continues. Don’t let the thought of the journey overwhelm you and get in the way of you making it to your destination. Besides, we all have one FINAL destination, and everything we do now is the journey. Sometimes the thought of making the choices that God would expect from us are not the easy ones in our society today. The thought that the journey that He expects can leave us all a little overwhelmed. Deciding to go mtb was easy compared to some other moral decisions I make sometimes. That was a surface decision. Bigger ones are harder, but trust me, that journey is so worth anything more than what He has treated us to here on earth as mortals.

(This may have been my favorite destination. Summit of granite rick climb... such a great trail!)

We’ve had a great journey to NC so far.
But the question is?
What will be yours?

Our lives are a Christ- like fragrance rising up to God.... And who is adequate for such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Kind Feel Like Farve.

The drama that surrounds Brett Farve always drives me crazy. It's not that I don't like him, I just hate what the media does with him and because they overkill his life, I end up just not paying attention to him at all to get a break from it. I mean, really, I respect the guy a lot. Despite what any of us think. He doesn't have a lot of fluff, he goes out and does his job, he loves doing it, and he has played through injuries that most people would be stuck in bed with. And in those respects I kind of parallel him to me at times. In a much smaller scale of course! So now after he was hurt again this week, the frenzy of saying he is washed up and should retire gets blown up again. That's what many people think and I wander what Brett thinks? I could only imagine, but I think I could guess.

I feel like Brett Farve.

Except I don't wear Wranglers, and I don't play football.

I've spent the entire season either being injured, poked, cut, immobilized, recovering from surgeries, illness, or getting ready to have another surgery. I'll know I usually try to be as positive as possible, but it's been a crappy, crappy year in those respects, and has taken every ounce of drive and determination to fight back from. While it's not a media frenzy like Farve with me, in fact, most of the people in the ovcx and cyclocross family didn't have a clue of my events like another competitor of mine, it has me feeling a little better that most people won't think I'm washed up. Just MIA for now. Based on some reality checks from my Dr Porter visit last week, a company Christmas party this weekend, and the cold hard truth that I am still not even close to 100% after the meningitis; I decided to not race the Indy weekend.

(Group photo for my anesthesia group at the Christmas party Saturday.
Front row was the "little black dress" club)

As some of you know, I went to see my ankle surgeon in Indy last week to go over some issues. I try to hold off on posting any news about this stuff for a few days to let my attitude level out so I can post a result that isn't drenched in self sorrow... but I'm still bummed. I've actually known for the last 5 months that I was going to need a 4th operation on the ankle. I kept that in the back of my mind kinda pretending it was okay, plus, I didn't want to keep dreading it all cross season when I needed to stay focused on riding. The other thing I have kept kinda quite is that I have been dealing with some pain on the top of my foot since Sept too, have worked with PT on it, and have been trying to keep the pain at bay. Well, as I found out last week, I actually have a avulsion fracture of the navicular bone in my foot. No wander that hurt so bad! Great. So we go in and fix that in addition to the other stuff. Not really what I had in mind.

The part I knew about was the nerve excision. I've got some nasty nerve damage around my ankle bone that feels like an electric shock every time it is even lightly touched. That means even wearing a sock. So that's electric pain in my foot all the time. It's really, really getting old as this pain has been there for almost a year now. I honestly, look forward to not having to deal with it. So we go in and fix that up too.

The bummer part for me is that in all my craziness, or wishful thinking, I figured I would go for surgery, fix up the problem, get a little band-aid and ace wrap for a week or so and be back on my feet. Minor deal. I really, really was looking forward to doing some winter riding, xc and dh skiing and enjoying my first ever normal off -season. But now that isn't going to happen. Dr. P is now telling me I will need to be on crutches for around 2 weeks and in a cast for more. No skiing for 6 weeks. Blah! I can't believe this! It's so frustrating, and I really hate it. Really!

So how old are the injury reports getting? Pretty old, right? Trust me I know, you read about them for a few minutes here on the blog and I live with them every minute of my day. I just ask for all the prayers and thoughts from you guys that this surgery in late December can finally be the last bit of injury/ surgery/ illness I deal with for a while. I'm sure Brett thinks the same way, I'm sure he would like a fresh body as would I. I don't think he is anymore washed up then I am, because we both love our sports and I know that cycling has many benefits for me in addition to the injuries- so I'm not washed up or quitting.

That's the monthly injury report from camp here. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks before going under the knife again. I have a few days off here this week and will do a little riding in NC on the mtb, maybe hit up a low key cx race in Chi town, and get in as much XC skiing as my foot, weather, and time allows. Need to cross stuff off my bucket list as much as I can!

And I will!

Just don't say I need to retire- I won't listen anyway.

Live to ride, ride to live.