Saturday, August 01, 2015

Etape du Tour and riding in France Part 1...

 It has been a very long time since I wrote a blog post, mostly been training for my latest adventure.

  A few years ago I heard about Rachael's sister Alex riding an event called the Etape du Tour. I kept saying that one of these days I would come over and do it with her. That day came this year. I registered for the event way back in November, then signed on with Alpine Cadence to handle the logistics. This was going to be a trip of a lifetime. I was going to ride the Hardest stage at this years Tour de France, then get to ride some of the most iconic climbs in the French Alpes.

 Training for something like this is tough, we have no big mountains around here, so I just tried to ride a lot. Long miles and as many hills as I could find. I worked pretty hard and on July 16, I was as ready as I was going to get.

 
 This was the first of several places we would stay on the trip. It was a Gite ran by a lovely Scottish couple. Despite not having A/C, there is no A/C in France, this was my favorite spot. They were great hosts and the food was out of this world.

 
 After arriving and assembling bikes, we kind of chilled out. On Saturday we did a little ride then headed to the Finishing Village to get our bib plates and goodies. They had a wall with every registered riders name on it, you can imagine the size of it with 15,000 names.

 
 They gave us this very handy cue sheet, it was nice to know where the water stops were and how far it was to the tops of the climbs.
  With 15,000 riders signed up, they started you in groups of 1,000, I was supposed to start in pen 10, I managed to get into pen 3 with Alex. Since the time cut offs started with the first wave of racers, being in the back put you in a pretty deep hole right from the start. 

 Finally our time came and we were off. It wasn't long before we hit the Col du Chaussy, 3km in, I tried to go easy knowing it was a long day ahead. I felt pretty good on the first climb, I just hoped I wasn't burning too many matches early. About half way down the first descent my front wheel started feeling weird while braking. I carried on through the only "flat" stretch of the race, and checked it at the stop before the climb up the Col du Glandon and realized it was warped and starting to crack from the heat build up while descending. I knew there was a Mavic neutral support at the top, so my only hope to finish was that they had a wheel I could use. By now it was starting to get quite hot. Despite drinking vast quantities of fluids I was struck with cramps. This was bad, I had a long way to climb and my legs were locking up. I would stop, get off, stretch, walk a little, then ride until the cramps came back, then repeat the process as necessary. 

 
 This was taken during a cramp session on the Glandon. It was a beautiful climb despite the difficulty. 

  I finally made it to the summit and found the Mavic support. They actually had 1 front wheel left. The problem was it was flat, and the guy could barely get the valve stem adapter on to put air in it. This process took about 30 minutes, I wasn't complaining since this was my only chance to finish. I finally was able to hit the descent. After about 10k into the 20k descent my back wheel started doing the same thing. It got so bad I had to stop about 6 k from the bottom and remove the brake pad and finish the descent on just a front brake. Knowing I wouldn't need it for the last climb up La Toussier. 

  The last climb was brutal. It started steep and it was very hot. I was battling cramps once again, but I knew I was close to the end so I  pushed through. Luckily the last 3k eased up a bit and i was able to finish strong.

    So seeing how there were 13,500 starters and only 9788 finishers, I was happy to cross the line in the top 4500. It took me 9:00 but I figure I lost 45 minutes with cramps and wheel issues. This was without a doubt the hardest thing I've ever done on a bike, and I still had 7 days of riding in the Alps ahead. How the hell was I going to recover and pull that off? What was I going to do for wheels?

 To be continued,
Cheers,
Buddy




 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lots Of Riding And A New Adventure On The Horizon...

 I am now just over 4 months post surgery and things are going well. I still have days where it doesn't feel great, but for the most part I'm feeling a bit more normal. I've been riding as much as I can, and I am really enjoying my new mountain bike.
 I like it so much I've decided to sell my Ti Lynskey. $3000.00 if you know anyone interested.

 My sister in law Alex started riding 5 or 6 years ago and has done several rides in the French Alps and Pyrenees. One such ride is the Etape du Tour.  This year I am joining here in France for the Etape, plus the tour package with Alpine Cadence. I am super excited about this trip, it should be an awesome adventure. To think we will be riding the most famous climbs of the Tour de France, come of them before the tour itself comes through.

 The only thing I need to do now is get in shape so I can enjoy the ride instead of just suffering through.


Cheers,
Buddy

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back Ridin and Back to Work, But Still a Ways to Go

  I am A Free Man. Well, not really, but I no longer have to go to PT and the doctor released me and I am back to work. But most important is, I am back on the bike, even the mountain bike. I still have a lot of work to do to get back to 100%, but I am able to do most of the things I love. Still no climbing, that is another 6 weeks away, but I will get there.

 I finally got to take my new mountain bike our for a ride. So far so good. I have to say Carbon is sweet, I haven't had something that stiff since I was 18. Looking forward to plenty of multi park rides as soon as my fitness shows itself again.

  Lauri and I have also been making progress on our Mason Dixon Trail project. We had one horrible stretch, poorly marked and over grown, but we got through it. Our last section was my favorite so far. It took us from Havre de Grace to the Coniwingo dam, and most of it was trail through the Susquehanna State Park. We are now 78.5 miles into the 196 mile long trail. Our hikes will be harder to come by with me back to work,  but we will make it happen. It is all new territory from here so it should be fun.

Cheers,
Buddy

Friday, September 12, 2014

Progress, And, A Little Project...

 I am now in my 11TH week after surgery. PT is going very well, so well, That I was cleared to start riding again. I've been on the bike a handful of times, and at the moment I have to keep it under 2 hours, otherwise my shoulder bothers me. I'll take it though. I am hoping to return to work before the end of the month. I will know that after my  next doctor visit, fingers crossed.

 While I was waiting to start riding, I decided to take on a little project. I even convinced Lauri to join me. The plan is to section hike the Mason Dixon Trail.
We started with A BANG, but it wasn't our best idea. We were a bit ambitious, and did 18 miles on day 1.
A lot of that was roads, and in an area we know. We both came away with sore feet, and blisters. After that we scaled things back, at least while we are still local. We've been doing 8-10 miles each time out.
We are now just over 40 miles into the 196 mile trail. We don't have a time line, but it would be nice to be done before winter. We have also found lots of nice trails neither of us knew about.
The Delaware PA, Arc corner
We are both looking forward to the next day out. It's going to be a longer day, 12ish miles, but most of that is trail through the Elk Neck State Forest.

 I will try to keep our journey updated.

Cheers,
Buddy

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Steady Progress...

 I am now 2 weeks into PT and almost 8 weeks post surgery. PT is hard, but going well. I have made significant progress so far, but my therapist warned me that I will hit a wall at some point that I will have to work through. He also told me I am in "the gray area" where my shoulder is moving and feeling better, and I my try and do and lift more, of course that would be a bad idea. I see what he means, and it is tough to hold back after so many weeks of doing nothing. I have also felt the bite of over doing it. I went into Friday's session feeling tired and in a bit more pain than I had been. Surprisingly, I still showed positive progress. He told me to take it easy the rest of the day, which I did, and I feel a lot better today.

 I am still a few weeks from being able to ride. I was told 10-12 weeks after surgery. I have spent some limited time on the trainer, but mostly have been sticking to hiking and walking. But, that has hit a snag as well. I was doing a nice hike with Lauri, when I tweaked my knee, yes that knee. I still went out the next couple of days and hiked, and it was after that that it started to bother me. I took a day off, then did an easy walk and still had pain. Later that day I tried to loosen it up by spinning on the trainer, and that didn't help either. I think my main problem is that I hadn't been able to stretch since I broke my collar bone, something I had been doing since my knee rehab started. So, I stretched as best I could, iced, and took it easy. Knee felt better, then I went for a nice hike with Lauri yesterday, and shortly into the hike the pain came pack. So I stretched, iced and will take a few days off hoping to get back to normal. I know it is just a mild strain,  not part of my ACL surgery. I just don't want to get cleared ride, and not be able to. So now my activity level is shoulder rehab and stretching, hopefully not for too long.

Cheers,
Buddy

Monday, August 11, 2014

Finally Feel Like I Am Moving Forward....

 So, it has been 6 weeks since shoulder surgery and I have been able to lose the sling, which, after 48 days, it was a big relief. I am also able to use my right arm,  but it is very limited. I still can't shave or reach up for stuff, but there has been progress. Today was the start of physical therapy, which was also my easiest session. Re-habbing  my knee was cake compared to what I am in for the next couple months, but I am ready for the challenge and to get back to doing the things I love. I still have to be very patient and not do too much, easier said than done.

 I am hoping to be able to ride outside in a couple weeks, but I will leave that decision up to the therapist. In the mean time I will continue hiking and walking, or, I might even hop on the trainer despite my aversion to it. I am even anxious to get back to work, the boredom of being home all the time really sucks. Although the dogs are quite happy to have me home.


 Cheers,
Buddy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Two Weeks Post Op...

 I am now just over two weeks post surgery. I had my first post surgery doctor visit and found out more details about my surgery. The first thing the doctor did was repair my fractured clavicle. He put the plate on the front but slightly under so it should not bother me in the future. He knows I do a lot of activities where I wear a back pack.

 He then went into my shoulder. I had 3 different procedures done. I had a severe Bankart Lesion, one of the worst he had seen. When my Labrum tore it took some bone fragments with it, this means that I have a slightly higher chance for a repeat dislocation than most people after this surgery. When he repaired my labrum he stretched a little farther than it was originally, this will give me more stability in the joint. Apparently I have strong ligaments so he is confident I will be fine once everything is healed.

 Next in the shoulder was a minor repair to my rotator cuff, which had a partial tear, this was pretty routine.

 Last but not least he had to repair my torn bicep tendon. This procedure is called bicep tendonesis. It was also routine. I did watch a video of this procedure, which was neat, and also showed me why this whole operation is so painful. Don't click on the video link if you get squeamish.

 The bottom line is, I am in a sling for 3 more weeks, then I will start physical therapy. It is my understanding that the first couple of weeks of PT are brutal, can't wait. I am also off work for at least 6 more weeks, maybe longer, depends on how PT goes. My plan is the same plan I followed with my knee, do what the doctor and therapist says and try to be patient. I recovered very quickly from knee surgery, so I am optimistic I will do the same with my shoulder.

 Cheers,
Buddy