Thursday, November 29, 2018

Under the Wire, Under the Knife: Coffeeneuring 2018

When I scheduled my total hip replacement for late October, I was focused solely on creating enough recovery time to include both rehabilitation and training to finish strong at Paris Brest Paris in August 2019. The impact of this schedule on my Coffeeneuring Season did not occur to me until too late. Fortunately, Her Royal Highness of Coffeeneurlandia, has a big heart and allowed me to get an early start by logging some pre-season coffeeneuring in order to complete my 8th year (!!) of coffeeneuring just before getting my left hip replaced. My last day of coffeeneuring was on October 23rd and my surgery was scheduled for October 24th. I would have ridden to the hospital, but I couldn't get a clear confirmation that they would store my bike for the during the procedure.

Ride 1 (September 29)
Mudd Puddle - New Paltz, NY
8 miles
Black Coffee

On a beautiful fall afternoon, my wife Jessie and our friend Jasmine and I teamed up to discover the beauty of the new River to Ridge Trail linking the quaint village of New Paltz with the majestic Shawangunk Ridge.

Ride 2 (October 7)
Apple Bin - Ulster Park, NY
12 miles
Black Coffee

What can I say? Backyard ride. Had to get a quick one in on a day that involved a few other obligations.

Ride 3 (October 9)
Greca - Tribeca, NYC
22 miles
Cold Brew

Nothing quite like a cold brew on a warm day. I grabbed a quiet table on the streets of Tribeca on my way home to my in-law's apartment after a long day of school visits.

Ride 4 (October 14)
Cafe Dolce - Kingston, NY
24 miles
Double Espresso

I always enjoy a quick trip to Kingston's historic Rondout District. These few blocks sure pack a lot in with hip cafes, antique shops, 18th-century homes, old ships, and even the Hudson River Maritime Museum.

Ride 5 (October 16)
Rough Draft Bar and Books - Kingston, NY
4 miles
Black coffee

I arranged a quick loop through my other favorite neighborhood in historic Kingston on my way home from a conference in Albany. I threw my Brompton in the back of the car and enjoyed a short 4-mile jaunt from the Senate House to the new Rough Draft Bar and Books. Bar, Books, Coffee? What's not to like?

Ride 6 (October 22)
Coffeeshop Without Walls - Walkway Over the Hudson - Highland, NY
10 miles
Starbucks Frappuccino

As my time started to run thin, I threw my Brompton in the back of the car again and rode down to the lovely Walkway Over the Hudson where I enjoyed a cool frappuccino from Starbucks one evening at sunset.

Ride 7 (October 23)
FIKA - Tribeca, NYC
22 miles
Black coffee

I made sure to enjoy in some great urban miles on my last day of riding for at least six weeks until my hip is adequately healed from the total hip replacement the following day. After a lovely coffee and a tasty Swedish treat, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the top of my favorite bridge to see one of my favorite views in all NYC. It felt just like being home again.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Recovery: Week Two

Week Two was filled with milestones. My gains have been pretty dramatic and super encouraging so far. During this week, I:

  • Said goodbye to all painkillers stronger than Tylenol,
  • Had all of my staples removed,
  • Packed up and sent the dreaded leg pump device back to the hospital,
  • Graduated from in-home PT to out-patient PT,
  • Started driving,
  • Voted, 
  • Attended a conference and made presentations both with and without my leg pumps, and
  • Met with my surgeon and received some really great news.

My mobility has increased and my pain has decreased at roughly the same rate. The simple exercises I've been doing several times a day have helped to strengthen my hip and leg muscles and improve my range of motion. The swelling has dropped dramatically and I no longer need pain medication stronger than Tylenol. A nurse came by on Thursday to remove all 42 of my stapes which left me feeling much better.

Also on Thursday, I met with my surgeon who confirmed that my surgery was smooth, my progress has been impressive and that I'm well on my way to recovery. He also told me about some very interesting discoveries he made about my body during surgery. While he knew that my femur was deteriorating, apparently my hip and leg muscles were doing all sorts of weird things to compensate. Much of the pain and stiffness I've been feeling since my 2010 crash, he suggested, may simply have been the result of adaptations my body was making to compensate for the fractures and displacements. In other words, the progress I made with walking and riding may actually have created additional problems and pains that ultimately caught up with me.

The great news is that this should all be fixable. While the doctor told me that my muscles were going to be "pretty unhappy" with me for the next few months, ultimately my body should regain proper alignment and I should be stronger than ever. Perhaps the best news, though, to come out of Week Two is that there are times when my hip feels much, much better than it has in a long, long time. While I feel some occasional discomfort, especially in my hip flexor when I stretch in certain directions, there are some pains I had gotten quite used to that seem to be gone for good.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

My Long-Term Recovery Begins Anew

I used to write a blog about my love of randonneuring and the many joys it brings me as well as the challenges and obstacles I face as a parent and a professional maintaining a sense of balance and harmony in my busy life. Well, looking back at the past year, it seems like I've been losing the battle. Two posts in 2018 . . . ugh!

This has been a hard year for sure. Most dramatic and upsetting was the decline and then death of my dear father-in-law whose long fight with cancer was both an inspiration and a frequent distraction. With family in need far away in New England, my wife and I spent many weekends on the road this year and rarely with a bicycle. All things considered, I would not have spent my time differently, but trying to maintain a training and event schedule in the face of constantly changing needs left my head spinning more than usual and led to the cancelation of multiple riding plans with only short rides on Block Island on many a weekend.

While I rode more than I blogged in 2018, my riding declined rather dramatically as well, not only due to conflicting obligations but also as the result of gradual physical changes I've been facing in recent months that made riding more challenging and less enjoyable than in years past. As I have discussed before, I was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in 2015, a byproduct of the 2010 crash in which I originally broke my hip (and 24 other bones) while riding in the Endless Mountains 1000K.

This year I was not able even to muster a simple super randonneur (SR) result despite the best-laid plans . . . In fact, all I completed was the Atlanta 200K, the Bash Bish 300K, the Portland-Boston 400K, a few 100Ks, and a solo Catskill Climbfest 200K. I had sketched out such a lovely season, which was to be capped off by the epic Cascade 1200K I've been dreaming about for so long, but life, as they say, had other plans for me.

While my performance on the bike has declined in recent years, the issue that really got my attention was the increasing pain I felt in my left hip at first following and then during long rides. Randonneurs are remarkably adaptable and so it took some time for me to realize that I had been shortening, slowing and flattening my rides to avoid pain for some time. Finally, I determined that enough was enough and met with my surgeon to make plans. The only cure for avascular necrosis is to remove and replace the dead tissue so I consulted my calendar and scheduled a total hip replacement for a date this fall that would allow me enough time to recover and train for PBP 2019.

I'm pleased to report that the operation went very smoothly and ten days later I'm already well on the road to recovery. There are some significant differences this time around. I was shocked by how easy it was to stand on my new hip, for instance, the pain not nearly as dramatic as it was the last time I had to work through rehabilitation. I took a week off from work to focus on my recovery and can already see a light at the end of the (not too dark) tunnel.  

My surgeon tells me that I should be riding on a stationary bike within a few weeks and then back out on the roads within three months. This timeline seems perfect for a solid return to randonneuring in 2019 capped off with a strong finish at PBP, which is my concrete long-term goal. I've got spring rides reserved on the calendar and plans for plenty of winter base riding, strength training, and interval work.

It feels like a fresh start. More to come. Stay tuned!