Thursday, June 28, 2007

W@W # 2 - w/ pics from the 7pm race

Last night was another great time at Wakefield Park for W@W #2. The rain gods smiled on us and kept the park relatively dry and the event unaffected despite the threatening radars and thunder and clouds. A huge shout out to the Patomac Velo Club for all their hard work in putting this race on; as can be deduced from the number of riders coming out, the race is great and I believe I speak for all of the racers when I say thanks you guys are awesome!

I decided this week to try a different approach to getting out to the race, mostly just because I didn’t want to ride back to the metro after the race this week. I still took the metro out though just to West Falls Church where I got a Flexcar (Subaru Imprezza Wagon which was pretty sweet) and hopped down 495 a couple of exits to the park. All in all a pretty easy option and the air conditioning on the way to the race was a nice break from the days heat and humidity.

I had some high hopes and expectations for myself after last week and learned a good lesson here in my second race. The start is oh so important in mountain biking for the finish. Especially in a short two loop race. I ended up lined up in maybe the back of the front third, definitely somewhere mid-pack about four or five rows back. This changed everything for the beginning sprint and entry into the single track since in the climbing sprint you can only go as fast as the guy in front of you and it’s hard to pass too many people in such a mass sprint. This week we had 49 starters on the results!

Once I fell in line I think I rode a solid race and this time I was able to focus more on the upcoming trail and remembered all my trouble spots. My lap times from last week with the first lap right at about 21 minutes and the second closer to 20 and had no crashes/falls and only a couple of foot downs due to rider block ups. I tried hard to pass folks when I could and managed to make up a few spots along the way with highlight of my efforts being rewarded with a huge thorn bush to my whole left side that almost threw me off my bike. Not sure it was really worth it but in that section I passed about 5 or 6 riders.

The posted results have me in 6th place which I’m very happy with as my main goal was to break the top ten, though I did hope I could break into the top five. None the less I had a great time and can’t wait for the next race on the 11th!

Though it's hard to tell, this is a FatCyclist Jersey.

You can check out the rest of my shots from the 7pm race here; though don’t expect too much out of them. I need to learn how to focus better on the rider and not the folks behind... Maybe next time I'll get out to the section where the jumps were for some more exciting shots and see if I can turn out some better images.

I think this is a shot of Gwadzilla about to pass another rider, but unfortunately the next two attempts at pics came out poorly and I was too busy trying to work the camera.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A new family member

I got some great news the other day from my sister and her husband; I’m going to be an uncle! Ok, maybe not really but close enough for now. They’re getting a puppy from the rescue league where I volunteer. The other weekend I’d been talking up a sweet Weimaraner named Greta that is by far my favorite current dog there right now. The next thing I knew the two of them were talking about her and possibly getting her. When they came to see her they decided she was too big and fell for a little black lab mix puppy instead.

The puppies temperament reminds me a lot of my dog when I was a kid and I think she’ll turn out to be just as great a dog. Sunday I’m planning on riding my bike up to Laurel to visit the new pup in her new home. Can’t wait till they need me to dog sit.

In other news tonight is the second W@W race and I’ve decided to take a different approach to my transportation option. I’m still going to head out on the metro around 3:30 but this time I’ve got a flexcar reserved from 4 to 8 which I’ll get at the West Falls Church metro and I’ll drive the 10 miles down the turnpike to the park. It could end up being a really bad idea, but at least this time I’ll be able to have a beer after the race…

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The mental hill ride

Lately while riding with Chris and Bryan on for me somewhat longer rides I’ve come to the conclusion that what I’m lacking is good hard long miles and even more so hills. So, I decided that while I’ve got some time in between big races I’d like to get as much riding in as possible, both hilly and long. In that mindset I joined the lunch time hill ride out in Arlington; the post ride mindset is significantly different, though mostly because the current mindset is blank.

Scott told me earlier that he was planning on attacking early and often and doing as much damage to himself and others as he could and attack he did. I basically got shelled up the first hill and only managed to catch up after a couple of traffic lights stopped the group ahead. They let down a bit after that and I managed to hang on for a while until my chain fell off and I never saw them again. I did join up with two other guys for the majority of the rest of the ride, though I ended up going the wrong way and chasing them for a while and afterwards was dangling on and off the back of the remainder.

I’d wanted to head out Glebe to Chain Bridge so I could stop by my house and switch bikes so as not to have the Cannondale out with me for softball tonight on the mall, but I went the wrong way on Glebe and ended up catching 50 back through Clarendon. Probably for the best since I think the way to my house from Chain Bridge is a bit of a tough ride. All in all I think I got in a good 25 or 30 miles so I’m happy with that.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at it) while reviewing my heart rate data I noted that I was well below my max levels meaning I had a lot more I should have been able to give. I know that mentally when I first went off the back I got defeated, though when I got back in I started to feel a little better and rode a little harder. I can see now that I’ve got some work to do on the mental aspect of my riding as well as the physical.

Not saying I could have hung with those guys up front, but I think I can ride harder then I allow myself to believe during rides.

Monday, June 25, 2007

No Rest at Reston

I had every reason to be nervous before that damn race. It was by far the hardest and fastest race I’ve done yet with average speed of about 5 miles per hour faster then anything else I’ve done so far. Unfortunately there was a breakaway from the start line that survived the entire race and ruined any chances I had of a top ten finish since I missed it, watching people take off around the first corner as I waited for the guy in front of me to clip in. I doubt with the speed they were going I would have hung in there anyway though so I guess it’s all relative.

The work in the main pack was a bit frustrating since even with the group off the front people were riding like they were trying to conserve for the win or get positioning on the other riders. There was no communication along the lines of team work and about 3 or 4 guys were up front doing all of the pulling. A couple of laps in I got up in the front to take a turn pulling and after a few seconds when I looked back I had a 10 or 15 foot gap on the pack. I wasn’t trying to get a breakaway and certainly didn’t accelerate hard away from the group so I’m really not sure why no one grabbed my wheel. I thought about making a run for a guy just up the road from us if I was still away at the bottom of the hill but going through turn 4 I slammed my inside pedal into the ground and threw my back wheel a foot right before regaining control and wussed out of my breakaway.

I got back in the group around the mid-pack section to sit in for a bit a rest and basically for the rest of the race the pulling was done by just a couple of guys. Not sure if it was just that no one would pull through or if the guys weren’t giving anyone an opportunity to but whatever it was it didn’t help our cause. Back in the pack people kept jumping up and jockeying for position and then just sitting in and not getting up to do any work so it made it almost impossible to get a working rotation going in to try and catch the break. That all said, the breakaway eventually slowed down and we managed to basically match their pace for the remainder of the race thanks to the very strong work by the guys at the front that were pulling. There were a couple of guys who every time they took over the pace really picked up and you couldn’t help but notice.

With a handful of laps to go I heard a prime announcement and worked to move up the field to give it a go since sprinting for a win was pretty much out of the question. I got myself up to within about four or five guys of the front coming around the last corner before the line and then sprinted for second in the two place prime which felt pretty good. I was pretty crushed after that though I managed to hold onto to the back of the pack for the last couple of laps and finish a still respectable 19th. From what I heard, there were 8 guys in the finishing breakaway front group with a splintered group of 4 behind them. Our group probably finished with about 12 to 15 guys and there were a number of people that we lapped out on the course. It seems the attrition in that race was ridiculous and always is so looking back I guess I’m just happy I finished. Hopefully next time though I’ll be a little more prepared for the early moves.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Big race tomorrow and W@W results

Well it's late Saturday night and while most 24 year old single people in this city are probably out having a good time with friends I'm home writing this post. Tomorrow morning is the Reston Town Center Grand Prix and my race being at 8:45am I ought to already be in bed. Getting up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning is not exactly my idea of a great time though the race should be worth it. As long as the 8 turns don't kill me.

Driving a flexcar out tomorrow again and since I have it for the whole day I'm considering bringing the mountain bike along and hoping out on the Wakefield trails for a bit on the way home. We'll see how I'm feeling after the race but I'd really like to get a couple of run throughs of the course before Wednesday. The results are posted though they still aren't to linked from the official website so that leads me to believe they are not official.

They had me at 10th but tonight they say 11th; either way better then I thought I did and I'm definitely happy with it. I'm a little bit suprised my second lap was slower then my first since I crashed a few times on the first and stayed up for the second but the lower speed likely played a big roll in that. I was also stuck behind people a lot more during the second lap which would explain a bit as well.

Any way, now it's time to focus on Reston and more importantly get some rest before the early race. Oh and I finally picked up a new point and shoot camera this weekend so I'll try and get some pictures while I'm there, if I remember.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pics from W@W #1

I saw a few photogs while I was riding the race though I never got any sweet "poses" in for them. I was too focused on keeping the bike upright. Turns out those guys took some awesome pictures, and have been for a bunch of the local mountain bike races.

Lee had a cool shot right at the top of the hill at the very start of the race. The guy in the front of this shot was the eventual winner who I stuck with for about half of the first lap ripping through the course.

John was riding a strong race as well but ended up cracking his seat post and fearing for the future of his lineage dropped out.

Photo by Gary Ryan of Too Fat to Race posted at

Photo by Gary Ryan of Too Fat to Race posted at

Gotta love pictures; I'm working on finally getting a new point and shoot to replace the one that crapped out on me back in October. Hopefully soon!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some forgotten things

I just realized I forgot to mention that the Wednesday's at Wakefield series actually benefits the Trips for Kids organization I recently posted about. How cool is that? There seemed to be a bunch of them out there last night for the event too.

On another note I am happy to report that I spotted my first jersey before the race last night. It wasn't the pink version I'll soon be sporting but it was cool to actually see one out there.

Live like an amateur pro

I just read this awesome post over at Belgium Knee Warmers and had to share. While I'm still new to the cycling world in general, I completely agree with this sentiment and even in my limited cat 5 racing experience I can tell you my respect for the pros who go out and do this as a living is immense. Better yet though, the fact that I get the opportunity to get out there and have a go at it (even at such a low comparative level) is amazing and I will enjoy every minute of it.

Who sprints for 15th place in an mtb race?

Me, that's who... (dumbass)

Well, I think I only managed to piss one person off in my first mountain bike race last night. Otherwise I’d say the evening was a tremendous success! For whatever reason and it’s still not really clear to me now, I decided to sprint past a guy in the opening for the finish line… for probably 15th place. Hah, ah well next time I will have the presence of mind to not do that and hopefully the guy won’t hold any grudges against me on that one. What can I say, I’m a total noob.

The race itself was incredible and I had a blast. The course is amazing and completely different from anything I’ve ever ridden and the racing was by far the hardest I’ve ever ridden a mountain bike. The mass sprint let out to me sitting pretty in second place keeping the leader in sight before losing control around a 180 degree uphill turn and dropping back a few spots. I ended up having the hardest time with unexpected sharp turns, crashing about 4 or 5 times on them and losing all of the places I dropped due to them, though only in the first lap. The second lap I managed to ride a better lap mentally and remembered all my trouble areas and didn’t even drop a foot.

Not sure where I placed though I’m guessing somewhere in the upper top 20 or so, though it may have been closer to 10th. I do know I’m pretty pumped about the rest of the series and I think next time with a little more understanding of what to expect I should be able to put together a more solid effort out there. Oh, and hopefully next time I’ll manage not to lose a contact in the first quarter of the race as well. That was kind of a bitch.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Self Induced Suffering

I've been feeling a bit like I'm not getting nearly enough miles in on the bike lately and now with the new ride I've been even more anxious to get out and ride. Today I decided was the perfect time to log a few miles and get some good moderate and steady riding in. I think that may have been a bad idea.

Not really sure what the temp got up to today and I probably don't want to but with just under 70 miles at a good tempo for most of them I'm feeling more drained then I've felt in a while. What's worse is that my first mountain bike race is tomorrow so now I'll definitely suck it up. Oh well, as long as it doesn't kill me for Sunday's Reston Grand Prix.

The lunch time haines point ride was rerouted once again due to the sprinklers, though this time we went up to the Clara Barton Parkway and out a ways into MD and back. The majority of riders split off somewhere along the way and so it ended up being myself and Jose Nunez chasing a group of four further up the road for a while. It was a good moderately hard ride and was basically exactly what I was looking for today. The two hour lunch and 30 miles was a little more then I was thinking however.

After work I joined Chris and we rode out to meet Bryan for his commute out to Vienna. Bryan, who said he needed an easy ride took off like right away and I knew I was going to be in a bit of trouble. The ride was not fast but certainly not slow and I struggled to keep my legs turning over. I also made the mistake of not filling my bottles after the noon ride so by the time we got to Vienna I was just about bonked. Luckily when I really started to die out there Chris and Bryan slowed up for me and I was able to get some water out in Vienna.

The ride back was much better with some water in me and Chris and I cruised back through the city. I'll probably think twice the next time I want to try this kind of riding on a day like today; at least I'll make sure I have more water and food. I doubt the small chicken salad and small bag of trail mix was enough recovery food after the old heart rate monitor said I'd burned 1300+ calories during lunch.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Good news and a GREAT cause

A couple of things today; first, I got my new bike last night! I got the call around 2:30 yesterday that it was ready and headed out a little early to try and get it so I could race it at Greenbelt. Unfortunately Greenbelt was soon after canceled, though with the storms that rolled through last night I am grateful for that. Wouldn’t want to get the new bike all wet or anything now would I?

I spent some extra time picking out a replacement seat and fitting everything to my liking before heading to hains to break it in with Chris. It rides like a dream and is so stiff and responsive; I absolutely love it! I can’t wait to get out during lunch today for the noon ride.

Second in today’s topic is an excellent opportunity to get involved and help out the local community that someone passed along to me. The organization is called Trips for Kids: Metro DC and actually hosts mountain bike classes and rides for kids living in the city. From the website:

Kids Metro DC (TFK Metro DC) is a non-profit 501c(3) organization that helps
disadvantaged youth in the Metropolitan DC area. We provide important life
lessons through fun and educational mountain bike excursions into Virginia,
Maryland, and DC parks and nature areas.

This sounds like something I would definitely be able and interested in getting into so I’ll probably try and get out and volunteer for some of these events. Getting more people on bikes, whether mountain, road or hybrid is always good in my eyes and teaching inner city kids to love mountain biking seems like such a great idea. Got a hankering to get some time in volunteering but not sure what you want to do? Get outside and help some kids who may not have that many places to turn for positive encouragement. Got a passion for some mountain trails? Why not share that passion with folks who have never had the opportunity to experience the joy of ripping up some sweet single track and the accomplishment of cleaning that technical S.O.B. of a trail that that you’ve tried so hard on for so long.

Another great thing about this organization is the “earn-a-bike” program where kids with no bike to call their own can earn one through community service and participation in the organization’s events. If you ever have an old bike that you no longer need, please don’t throw it away. There are so many deserving causes that bikes can be donated to, both domestically and internationally and it would be such a waste for a bike to rot away in a dump. If you want to make sure your bike is put to good use and want to help out the local community all at once, send your old bikes this way and help get even more people on bikes.

Go HERE to volunteer for the next event!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday's at Wakefield starts in 1 week!

In the spirit of variety and adventure I’m going to be heading out to Wakefield Park next Wednesday for the first of the Wednesday’s at Wakefield mountain bike racing series. I wish I didn’t have to miss the Wednesday night training races at Greenbelt, but I think this will be completely worth it. For sure it is at least me, though Scott is planning on joining me for at least a few of these races. I signed up for the whole series so I will try and make it to all four of them.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time out on the mountain bike, though I’m hoping that if I get to the park early enough I can reacquaint myself with my mountain bike. After reading some of the weekend race reports from the Big Bear 12 hour race I am getting pretty excited about getting out and racing the trails. I know it will be completely different then road racing though I think I’ll probably love it just as much. It will be interesting to see how I react to the “pressure” (for lack of a better word) of racing on the mountain bike.

I’ll be in the beginner class so it will be a minimum of pressure, but I’ve never done much more then group rides or solo rides on the mountain bike so I have no idea what to expect. I’m guessing the experience will be more adrenaline along with the more physical excitement as opposed to the more observant and strategic mental aspects of road racing. I think more of balls to the wall riding when I think of mountain biking while with road racing it’s so much about conserving, watching, waiting and then of course being in the right place at the right time. Maybe that’s one problem with my road racing though in that I’m trying to use my head too much and conserve and not goings BttW enough for breakaways and hard drives.

Maybe I’m also underestimating the mental aspect of mountain racing as well, though the tactical stuff it would seem would be more picking the right line and sticking the jumps and stumps. There doesn’t appear to be a whole ton of drafting and attacking and conserving in mountain bike racing, but then I’m just an outside observer at this point. I’m sure the beginner races won’t offer me too much of an insight into the true elite racing tactics and strategies, but at least I’ll have a slightly better idea about. No matter what I’m going to have a blast and give it my best shot. DFL couldn’t be that bad could it?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tri-ing out my luck: Planning for my certain failure.

While thinking about the next month or tow and what kind of racing and training I’ll be doing, I’ve started to think I’m going to just go ahead and try and bust this triathlon out despite my lack of training. It’s doubtful that without the broken bone (no I am certainly not asking for one) I’ll be able to get a refund for the Pittsburgh Tri I signed up for a few months ago so instead of throwing away the $80 + entry fee I may as well go and at least try it. I mean the worst thing that could happen is they have to come pull me out of the water due to my suckness factor; either that I come in dfl. Either way I at least gave it a shot and paid to get my ass handed to me instead of nothing. Plus I could use a trip to Pittsburgh; it’s been almost a year and it’d be good to go see some friends. They have flexcars up there now and I can make the hour and five minute flight round trip via Southwest Airlines for $100 and have plenty of time for hanging out with friends.

The only part of the race that bothers me a little bit is the swim part, especially due to my lack of preparation lately for a .9 mile swim. On the other hand however I’m pretty sure that I could at least survive it by using only breast stroke or a combination of free and breast. I may not put out the fastest time and would probably get demolished there by the 10 other guys currently signed up in my age group, but I could probably still make up for it a bit in the bike and running part. I think I’ll call some people in Pittsburgh and see how willing and able they’ll be to get me to and from the airport and all of that good stuff.

In the mean time I better start hitting the pool again and at least make sure I can move through the water.

In other news, I’ve lied again; the bike is not yet in at the bike shop so I’ll likely be racing the Specialized once again at Greenbelt. I’m am getting tired of waiting; it is affecting my sleep and I’m dreaming about bikes more then anything these days. The past two nights I’ve woken up at 3:30am thinking about my bikes.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Sunday Afternoon Retirement Party

Sunday morning I woke up very slowly, and spent the cloudy morning drinking my coffee and watching some Sunday morning tv. I had nothing pressing to do all day so I was in no hurry to get moving. A friend who is just about to begin commuting by bike to work wanted to try and iron out her commute from Adams Morgan to Crystal City and so we planned to take the short bike ride in the afternoon.

I’ve been slacking a little bit on cleaning up the bike that has taken such great care of me for the past few months and so I decided the lazy pre-ride afternoon would be the perfect time to get her back into tip top shape. So, I soaked the chain and scrubbed up the cassette and chain rings. I wiped down the frame and spokes and rims and cleaned up the brake dust and road grime from the calipers. I also found out the rear wheel needs to be trued, though it’s nothing too serious. I’ll probably run it over to the Bike Rack or something and get some hands on instruction on truing once I get the new ride.

While I don’t plan on putting her out to pasture or anything, the real hard riding and racing on the Specialized is likely over. I’ll also probably spend a lot of time riding the new Cannondale so the Specialized will see a lot more time at the house. I just need to make sure she doesn’t start to feel neglected; that’s never good for anyone. I think I’ll probably want to ride her for the longer rides where the carbon frame will be much easier on the body then the stiff aluminum Cannondale and the bottom bracket flex won’t be a limiter.

Anyway, the Specialized is now nice and clean and shiny and still shifts like a dream; I actually think that bike shifts better then almost any other bike out there in my races as I’ve never even remotely had an issue with shifting it as everyone else pops and grinds through their gears around me. The smooth and quiet shifting of the Shimano 600 components on that bike have always amazed me; it is truly a thing of beauty. That alone is enough to keep me from ever wanting to upgrade that bike to a different set up with brifters and more modern components. It could never have the same crisp and effortless shifting and to waste the beauty of the classic original setup of such a beautiful and well maintained bike would be a tremendous waste.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Quick at Quicksilver

So yesterday was my second official race in the Quicksilver and I couldn't be (much) happier with the results. Despite feeling a bit crappy in the morning I managed to stay in the front of the pack and pick off a fourth place finish. Chris was right behind me as well in 7th giving the two Union a strong result with both Cat 5's in the top ten.

Unfortunately I was still on the down tubes since my new bike has not made it in to the bike shop yet, though I'm not saying I'd do better with a different bike. I do think I should have been able to pick off at least third in the race but I got a little distracted along with the rest of the pack after a couple of late crashes and didn't stick with the break away up the final hill like I should have. Live and learn.

The overall race had a very different feel then the C race over at Greenbelt, though at double the size it shouldn't have really surprised me. There seemed to be a little less in the brand new racer shakes area but more in the sketchy "race tactics" and bike handling areas as opposed to Greenbelt and the larger size of the pack certainly helped in making it feel a bit crazier. Racing Greenbelt though certainly has improved my race handling and understanding immensely. I will probably bump up to the B race soon and try and hang in there. Some of the other previously C racing guys have bumped up and seem to be doing well enough and say it's not too much harder, just less of the waiting around for someone to do something.

Great News

Well, I feel a bit dumb for this, but the good far outweighs the bad in this case. It turns out the split in my clavicle looks normal and that I've just been whining and crying like a baby about how I won't be able to ride for no reason. I didn't quite understand the whole ordeal with it but basically the doctor told me the ligaments are inflamed around what is a joint in the shoulder and there was a slight chip in the bone but no break.

I still get the impression it's misaligned since it pokes up a little bit but I think maybe the extra space between the bone is from the inflamation? It didn't hurt while the doctor moved my arm around and poked and prodded though so I think I'm good to go. This is very good actually because I still haven't gotten my new bike yet so if I were to have to go out of commision for a bit I wouldn't even get to ride the thing.

Also, I unfortunately am not the pain ignoring beast that I was hoping I was; though I'm happy to report that I still have never broken a bone (knocking right now). Chiped bones on the other hand are everywhere.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Some U St. Bike Commuter Morning Glory

After waking up this morning with a crick in my neck and a shoulder slightly more sore then usual I decided to change up my bike route in to work. Instead of riding 18th (which is full of bumps and potholes) down to the bike lane on Q, I cut over onto U St. to 14th. As I crossed 17th on U a girl stepped out into the street with her hand out, sort of like she was hailing a cab, but then not really. While biking I always see people trying to wave down cabs and am usually tempted to wave back as I ride by but rarely do; today though was different.

As I got closer I realized she was holding her hand out for a high five, not sure why, don’t think I knew her, not sure I’ve ever seen her before for that matter but she was cute, she was smiling and she wanted a high five. I of course obliged and made my way over and stole some morning glory. I was a champion on this morning and she knew it, or at least she liked that I was riding my bike or something.

It kind of made me think of that whole free hug campaign, just with high fives. Not sure what her motivation was (it's not national high five day or anything), but it worked like a nice smile from a stranger. On a morning that wasn’t starting off so well, on a day that has the definite possibility of ending up even worse, a little morning high five was the perfect way to brighten up my mood and my morning.

U St. high five girl, if you’re out there I just want you to know that you made my day! Thanks!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Greenbelt Part Quatro

My fourth Greenbelt training race went smoothly enough though not as well as it could have. I made a few gone headed moves that blew me up for the finish, though since it’s a training race and doesn’t really count for anything I’m not too worried about it. I made a lot of jumps that I shouldn’t have including one where I assisted in catching my own teammate’s break (very, very bad form on my part) and took some ill timed and ill advised attacks throughout the race.

In the final lap I was a little bit blocked in on the inside while the final breakaway was leading out on the left side. I saw it and watched it happen but in my position there wasn’t much I could do. I squeezed up the right side and tried to chase back onto the group when I could but ended up sitting in the no man’s land between the two groups and basically held my spot for the remainder of the race to finish in 7th. Not the greatest finish there but not too terrible; I think had I conserved some energy at few small points in the race I would have been better off at the finish.

Overall during the race my shoulder never really bothered me, though afterwards I needed some ibuprofen as it was pretty sore. I’m starting to feel a bit more optimistic about it though that I may just need to put it in a sling for a couple of weeks and get out without surgery or any serious time losses. Hopefully after I meet with the doctor tomorrow I’ll have a better idea about what I’ll be doing. For now though I’m not canceling any races other then the Pittsburgh Triathlon. I think the swimming part would just not be a good idea and I’m not too eager to jump in the pool to check it out.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The things I've learned

Things I’m learning while dealing with my shoulder:

1. Health insurance sucks. (I’ve known this for a long time though never quite to the extent I do now. Really in the past I haven’t done anything that a bag of ice and a little rest wouldn’t take care of so I never really dealt with these things much.) Basically though, I’ve gotten some recommendations of doctor’s to go see from some knowledgeable folks (they’re bike racers, they must know about injuries) and it turns out so far that my insurance does not allow me to go to them. They accept the PPO version but my HMO is basically useless there. I think I’ll be switching over on that one assuming the monthly rates don’t sky rocket.

2. Doctor’s (at least those dealing with the HMO world) suck. The way I’ve been treated seems a bit strange so far by the various doctor’s offices I’ve called. It feels like there is a lot of “money grubbing” involved (for a lack of a better description). When trying to set up an appointment I was told two weeks until I mentioned possible surgery and magically there was space the next day. That doesn’t really leave me with any warm and fuzzy feelings. Plus the general attitude received from my doctor’s office when attempting to get their help, even while trying to be as polite and courteous as possible since I know they can make this really rough on me if they wanted to. On Friday I’m going in for a consultation with a doctor who strikes me a bit sketchy though he doesn’t do surgery so we’ll see.

3. I’m extremely lucky. As much as the injury sucks, I’m lucky even within the fractured clavicle world that it didn’t fracture in multiple places or get shoved way out of line like a lot of the bones I’ve seen while researching the injury. I’m guessing that has led to a much less painful experience for me and who knows, maybe even the possibility of no further action besides immobilizing the shoulder/arm.

4. There are many different possibilities still out there. One guy said after looking at my x-rays that due to the space between my fracture I’ll likely need surgery and a possible plate screwed onto the bone to hold it together. Still yet others suggest that I may be able to just let it heal up the way it is since nothing is totally out of whack it seems assuming the space is not to wide between the two parts of the bone.

Alright, I think that’s going to be it for a little while on the shoulder topic. I’ll continue to post updates on the situation and write a little bit about it, but I need to focus on other stuff mostly for my own good. Tonight Roy and I are racing Greenbelt so hopefully that goes well. No word on the new bike either, so it looks like I’ll be risking the DT’s for one more race. Luckily this is the last race of my 4 pack that I bought so I won’t be losing a bunch of money on missed races.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The waiting game

Today has been quite the frustrating day. Like yesterday I’ve been waiting. Waiting for word on the shoulder, waiting for word on the bike, waiting to plan out exactly what the next few weeks are going to look like. Slow days at work and anxious waiting do not go together all that well. After calling my doctor’s office this afternoon I was told I needed to get in during business hours to get my referral to go to an orthopedic surgeon, so during lunch I grabbed my bike and jumped on the metro up to Columbia Heights to get it. Unfortunately they were closed for a 2 hour lunch, though they were nice enough after a quick lecture to take the 5 minutes to fill out my referral and send me on my way.

(Side note) On the way back I decided it was reasonable enough out to just cruise back to work despite being in my work clothes and while riding past the GAO office down the street a lady in an SUV slammed on her brakes to stop for a girl in the cross walk. A fellow biker I was riding next to slammed into the back of her car while jumped around the left side of her car having anticipated something of that nature after seeing the girl. He was alright, though his front wheel looked a bit roughed up. Last Friday when I left work mid-day to go to the doctor’s office there were a number of strange things that I wanted to write about as well. One was an old homeless looking guy on the metro talking about inventing the ball point pen and how much money it made him, toping off that story with him having so much that Bill Gates worked for him. Unfortunately I forgot the majority of the other stuff I wanted to write about after finding out about the broken bone.

Anyway, when I called the office I was referred to I was told the next appointment they had available was for June 14th, so now I’ve got to figure out where else I can go in my network to get this taken care of. Now I’m back to waiting for this other office to call me back to tell me if they can see me. Woohoo! Oh and I called CHB also to check on the status of my bike and it looks like it’s not even in yet; so much for racing on it tomorrow at Greenbelt and riding tonight at hains to break it in. I love waiting.

Of course the worst thing about all of this is that through all the waiting and wondering and worrying I’m getting more and more pessimistic about the near future of dealing with this shoulder crap. I’ve got to try and remember how minor this is in the grand scheme of things. What about my teammate Josh who has been under going chemo since the fall and is laid up for a week at a time ever other week by it. Then there is Fatty and his wife and all of the waiting and coping that the two of them have to go through day by day. A few weeks and a broken bone just don’t really stack up in comparison.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The new plan

This weekend was pretty nice, though it was definitely brought down by the slight depression about the shoulder. I think now that I officially know it’s broken it hurts more; or maybe it’s just the rainy day aches of the past two days. Either way it’s been sore this morning and the bumping potholes on the way in were that much more jarring then usual.

Since I haven’t spoken with my doctor yet since I got the x-rays done I’m not sure exactly what the course of action will be, though I’m pretty much set in how I’d like to handle it. I’ll race at Greenbelt this weekend and then Quicksilver on Saturday and then next week I’ll go in and get it all taken care of. I’ll probably have to drop out of the triathlon in July since I won’t be able to swim until this is healed and I have no idea how long that will take. I’m hoping that despite their no refund policy a somewhat substantial injury like this will allow for me to collect the $100 entry fee.

I’ll also have to back out of the Reston Town Center Grand Prix on June 24th since I’m assuming I won’t be healed that soon. My guess is that they will have to re-break the bone before resetting it correctly and putting me in a sling or some such sort of thing. Not sure how long the healing process will take since I’ve never broken a bone before though I hear it’s shorter then a sprain/ligament issue. I think I’ll probably go crazy not being able to ride my bike anywhere for that time though. I’m going to have to do my best to get all the riding in this week that I can. Especially on my new ride.

Friday night instead of sitting at home feeling sorry for myself after finding out about the break, joined some dcfixers for a little bike bar hopping and had a few drinks before heading home around midnight. Saturday I met Roy for an easy ride through Rock Creek Park before heading over to Clarenden to catch the second half of the CSC invitational. I got there as the Navigators rider Viktor Rapinski was about to lap the pack, though unfortunately he cracked just a bit after we arrived and was gobbled back up. The race was extremely exciting though and I am so glad I made it out there for it. The short loop made for a lot of watching opportunities and kept the excitement high.

Sunday I ran the Mutt Strut 5k with a personal best per mile time which surprised me a bit and took off before the majority of the rain came in and spent the rest of the day sitting on the couch watching tv and listening to the rain pounding the roof. Hopefully it clears up a bit this week so I can get out and spend some QT on the new bike after I get it tomorrow(?).

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ummm... This sucks...

Alright so my recent fears are now officially confirmed. I've had a broken clavical for the last two or so weeks now. Not really cool with that.

Here you can see the clean break a little bit there.

Here is the same shot altered so it stands out a little more.

Another look at it.

And altered.

The bigger picture.

So this is my first broken bone, and thinking about it I think I was joking the night this happened about how I hadn't bled during the games which was a first for me. Now I've got to firgure out how to deal with this. It looks to me like a clean break and not just a fracture so I don't know what the deal with leaving it alone would be.

I really don't want to/can't start taking a lot of time off riding and running right now. I've got
two big (for me) races in the Quicksilver race and the Reston Town Center Grand Prix. Plus a month and a half away I've got my triathlon. This is pretty piss poor timing. I guess I'll have to wait until I talk to the doctor again before I figure out where to go with this. Glad I didn't go back and play polo last night.

Duquesne at the IRA's!

The first ever Duquesne University Boat with be competing at the IRA National Championships today at 3pm!!! Good luck Women’s Lightweight 4!

Image courtesy of

Up until a couple of years ago the best a Duquesne Boat had ever done at a National Championship race was my lightweight 4 boat that took 6th in the finals at the Dad Vails. A couple of years later our Varsity Pair took second at Vails with a sophomore and a freshman (damn freshman went off to England and never rejoined the team after that, fool!). Up until very recently (this year?) our women had never even managed to get a boat into the finals of Vails.

Things are changing for the better with Duquesne Women’s rowing and it looks like Coach Joe is really doing a great job in his first season as head coach. Hopefully this will translate into even more exposure for the Duquesne program, both men and women and the next couple of years will see a growing and improving program. At least we should hope the officials at the race will know how to pronounce the name of the school and will stop calling us Doo-Kwehz-Knee.