None of the Above

09.12.2007 | 2:00 pm

Today’s Susan’s “scan” day — which means a week from now we’ll know whether the chemo’s continuing to do its job. I stayed home from work to take care of the twins while Susan did her CT scan and then came home and crashed. 

I’m an anxious ball of nerves, and I’m going to be like this ’til this time next week.

It occurs to me that there’s going to be a week like this every quarter for pretty much ever. I don’t like the thought of that.

Trying Something Different
A few weeks ago, I asked whether I ought to do the e100, Lotoja, or the 24 Hours of Grand Targhee. As many of you noticed, I was leaning heavily toward doing the 24 Hour Race.

Since then, I’ve been thinking, though. Here are the things I’ve been thinking about:

  1. The race is on September 15.
  2. Susan’s birthday is also on September 15.
  3. Birthdays mean nothing to me.
  4. Birthdays mean a lot to Susan.
  5. If I do this race, I’ll be gone on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — three of the days of the “anxious week” during which we’re wondering what the results of Susan’s scan are.

Thinking about all these things, a wild thought occurred to me: what if I stayed home on my wife’s birthday and made her a cake? Possibly, even, the best cake in the world? And furthermore, what if I wrapped her presents, instead of handing them to her in the boxes they arrived in (or at least wrapping the boxes up)?

And last of all, what if I stuck around and took Susan out to a dinner and movie on her birthday, to take both our minds off the Big Questions we otherwise can’t seem to get out of our heads?

It’s so crazy, it just might work!


Rush to Judgment

09.10.2007 | 9:05 pm

I’m going to let you in on a personal little secret. One I’ll bet you wouldn’t have guessed about me: I am not good at mixing and mingling with strangers. If I’m at a social gathering where I don’t know many people, I will hang out exactly long enough to make sure that the person / company that for some reason expects me to be there has noticed that I am in fact there, and then I’m gone.

You see, I’m lousy at small talk.

I know, that seems like a bizarre thing for a guy who, for about 2.5 years now, engages in what amounts to electronic small talk on a pretty much daily basis.

But that’s because we’re talking about bikes. I can talk about bikes all day, day after day, with anyone who’s also interested in bikes. Doesn’t matter if they’re interested in road bikes, mountain bikes, track bikes, BMX, downhill, endurance, cross-country, cyclocross, building bikes, restoring bikes, racing bikes, touring with bikes, or some other thing about bikes. If you’re interested in bikes, I’m genuinely interested in your story, and maybe have a story you’ll enjoy, too.

So, armed with that knowledge, I always look forward to meeting other cyclists when I’m riding. Almost certainly, we’ve got stuff to talk about, and we’re going to get along great.

There are, however, exceptions.

Hello, Rabbit
A few days ago, I was riding my bike to work — I had my Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack on, loaded up with my computer, lunch, and a change of clothes. This pack’s comfortable and holds everything I need, but loaded up this way, it’s certainly not light.

As many of you know, I’ve got a good-sized climb as part of my 20 mile commute to work: the South side of Suncrest — a four mile ascent with 1300 feet of altitude gained. I had planned on just kind of churning my way up in my granny — no special need to set a PR today.

And then I saw the guy up ahead.

You probably play the same game I play: “Close the Gap.” You know, make a note of a point the person ahead of you passes and note the time, then see how long it takes for you to reach that point. When you do, note another point the person passes and see how long it takes for you to reach that point.

The point of the game being, of course, to reduce the amount of time between each measurement.

The first time check showed he was 1:40 ahead of me. The next one, I brought it down to 1:35. Not much of a change.

So I started pushing myself a bit.

By the next time check, I had brought the gap down to 1:20. Then 1:00, then 0:45.

By the time I got to within half a minute, I decided I no longer needed to measure gaps and should just concentrate on catching him.

And, in the middle of the penultimate pitch, I got close enough that I knew I would catch him.

I slowed down for a few seconds, taking time to note that he had shaved legs and an extremely expensive — and clean — bike. Which is to say, this was a person who takes his riding seriously.

I, for one, hate it when people pass me and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” It just sounds so condescending. When you say, “Hey, how’s it going?” you clearly actually mean, “Hey, look at me! I’m faster than you!”

OK, If I’m going to be honest with myself I guess I have to admit that when you pass another rider, no matter what you say, you actually mean, “Hey, look at me! I’m faster than you!”

Don’t try to tell me otherwise. We both know better.

So I pulled alongside him and said, “Man, killer hill, isn’t it?”

“Oh, this is side is nothing,” he said, in a condescending voice. “I’ve actually already climbed the other side this morning — it’s a much harder climb.”

Character Assessment
It’s remarkable, really, how much you can learn from a simple exchange like this. Here’s what I learned from his response:

  • He was mortified that he had just been caught.
  • He was even more mortified that he had just been caught by a guy with a large, full backpack.
  • He needed me to know that the only reason I had caught him was because this was his second big climb of the day. If he had been fresh, I would never have gotten close.
  • I would not ever willingly ride with this person. If you can’t give props to someone who, while wearing a pack, just caught you on a hard climb, you’re a dork. Seriously.

He then continued, saying, “Not many people are as crazy as me, getting up this early and doing this kind of a ride!” Which made me wonder:

  • Had he not noticed the 40 or so other people on bicycles I had noticed as we each climbed the same road this morning?
  • It was 75 degrees and brightly lit outside — maybe 7:30 in the morning. My guess is that 80% of the people in Utah who planned to ride that day were currently on their bikes. This dude was definitely not an outlier or showing any wacky amount of dedication by being on his bike right then.
  • Climbing both sides of Suncrest is hard, but not crazily hard. It takes just over an hour. Climbing to the top of the Alpine Loop is harder.
  • Apart from any number of sarcastic remarks I could think of related to the three observations above, what kind of response could he possibly have expected from me? Abject admiration, perhaps?

So, following the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all . . . but blog about it later” rule, I just grunted — an aknowledgment that he could take however he liked.

The Winner!
Now we were at the beginning of the final pitch to the top of Suncrest. He stood up and took off, sprinting.

When you’ve got a twelve pound pack on your back, a standing climbing sprint just isn’t in the cards. So he gapped me, beating me to the top by about ten seconds.

Except he knows, deep in his heart of hearts, that some guy closed a nearly two minute gap on him in a twenty minute uphill, while wearing a big ol’ pack.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that this knowledge keeps him awake at nights.

News Flash! Floyd Landis Doping Charges Dismissed!

09.6.2007 | 9:31 pm

A Note from Fatty: I wrote this last night, but checking out the Trust but Verify (News, Research and Commentary about the Floyd Landis Doping Allegations) blog this morning, I see that I’m not the first person to do a futuristic piece of fake news on this topic. Pommi’s World had a nice piece of fake news a couple weeks ago along the same lines (I swear, I didn’t steal the idea from him).  Check it out.

Paris, September 7, 2035 (Fat Cyclist Future News Service) – Floyd Landis, winner of the 2006 Tour de France, is free to race his bike again, with the advent of all charges being dismissed today.

Strangely, however, the charges were not dropped due to a unanimous — or even majority — vote by the selected CAS-AAA arbitration panel, but simply because all three of the arbitrators have now reached retirement age.

USADA would normally have the right to select new panelists in this event, allowing the arbitration to continue into its 29th year. However, two circumstances have prevented this from happening:

  1. USADA has not existed for more than twenty years, since the momentous day in 2014 when they, along WADA and UCI, admitted they had no idea what they were doing and were going to close up shop, leaving Dr. Dan Richardson to handle all legal cycling matters from that point forward.
  2. Nobody else now wants to take up the arbitration. In fact, very few people even remember what the case was about.

Said Dr. Richardson, “I’m happy to welcome Mr. Landis back into the professional cycling peloton. Also, I should probably apologize to Floyd for not having dismissed his case sooner. The thing is, though, I’ve been really busy…um…for the last thirty years.”

Shortly after winning the Tour de France, Floyd Landis fell under suspicion for Testosterone doping. He immediately challenged this accusation, and the arbitration panel, having heard the evidence, retired in early 2007 to consider the evidence at hand.

They have been, evidently, considering it ever since.

Most people thought that a month or so would be enough time to sift through the testimonies and render a verdict. Practically everyone thought a quarter of a year would be plenty. Virtually nobody thought that the arbitration panel would make it their life’s work, and then retire without having yet come to a conclusion.

In 2009, suspecting the worst, Floyd Landis had himself cryogenically frozen, with the instructions that he was to be thawed “when and if those guys ever make up their minds.”

Wakened today, Mr. Landis was heard to remark, “Holy crap, my hip is cold!” Then, hearing the news, Landis wryly responded, “Well, that figures,” and then got on his bike, evidently preparing for what would certainly be a remarkable comeback.

New Challenges Await
Landis has his work cut out for him if he hopes to win the 2036 Tour de France. He will, of course, have to race against the 21 clones of President Lance Armstrong (teams are limited to 1 clone per team), not to mention the Trek Synthuman / Madone hybrids — the integrated bicycle / purpose-specific lifeforms engineered to spin a cadence of 480rpm at a wattage of 912. For three months straight. Without need for sleep or food.

“Whatever,” commented Landis.

The Cycling World Reacts
Noted cycling authority Al Trautwig remarked on this occasion, “Lance Armstrong! Lance! Seventeen time Tour de France champion! President of the United States and King of Texas!” This was not remarkable, because this is all Al Trautwig has said for eight years. In Trautwig’s defense, he does say it with enthusiasm and a deep, resonant voice.

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, each looking great considering how old they are, took the occasion to note that they knew Mr. Landis was innocent right from the beginning. Nobody dares contradict them, for fear of being called “youngster,” then being forced to listen to more than a combined 120-years worth of cycling stories and history.

Dave Zabriskie said something, but it was practically impossible to understand. One is tempted to put this down to old age, but the truth is, Zabriskie’s always been practically impossible to understand. 

Elden Nelson, most beloved cycling blogger in the world and four-time Grammy winner, commented, “This is extremely strange, because 28 years ago, I predicted this exact thing would happen.”

More About My Shoulder

09.5.2007 | 9:05 pm

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my shoulder is pretty messed up right now. What I didn’t really get into is the fact that my shoulder has been messed up, more or less, for about ten years. It has been injured in the middle of races. It has been injured as I have come down the teeter (anyone want a teeter? Free?). It has been injured dozens of times in Moab and at Gooseberry Mesa. It has been injured when I lifted a very heavy book.

I’ve been thinking about getting it (my shoulder, not the book) fixed.

In fact, about seven months ago, I went in and had a doctor take a look at my shoulder. He pulled on it, pushed on it, and then turned it a certain way that made me collapse and beg him to stop, please, for the love of all that’s good in the world, please just stop, I’ll tell you where the submarine is hiding, just please stop twisting my arm that way.

And then he sent me to get an MRI.

After the MRI came back, the doctor told me that my shoulder’s all messed up, and that I should have it fixed, surgically.

“Well, that sounds super!” I said, my voice full of enthusiasm, for I knew that, after the surgery, I’d have to take extra double specially good care of my shoulder for a few months.

I told him that I’d wait ’til after the end of this riding / racing season, then do the surgery so I could recover during the Winter.

New Reality
Back when I got this checkup, I had this fantasy going of me getting the surgery, coming home, and then lounging through Thanksgiving and Christmas, my wife taking care of me because I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than an Xbox controller.

Of course, since then, things have changed. Susan’s gone and upstaged me, injury-wise, having the nerve to go and get fractured hips and ribs as a result of the tumors in her bones. Which has not only seriously disrupted her career as a power lifter, but has made it kind of difficult for her to get around, or to lift something as heavy as a jug of milk.

Imagine, if you can, the grand comedy of neither of us being able to lift anything heavy for a month or two. After a while, I suspect that even our really great neighbors and family might find that a little tiresome.

So I had planned to pass on the shoulder surgery for now.

But then I had this wreck last Friday, and now my shoulder hurts all the time. It grinds and pops. It aches. It restricts my range of motion to pretty much nothing.

So, I figure I’d put the question to my genius readers, among which I seem to have an expert on practically everything: Take a look at my MRI report, below. Then tell me:

  1. What does this mean? My doctor told me, but I’m pretty sure he was speaking Estonian.
  2. Is it serious, Doc?
  3. What should I do?
  4. Is there any particular urgency?
  5. How long will it take for me to recover?
  6. Suppose I do whatever you say, then go mountain biking again and take another fall. Will I bung the whole works up again, undoing all the fancy stitches, duct tape, rubber bands and whatnot?
  7. Do you really have any expertise, or are you just channeling Dr. Noah Drake? Not that I mind self-proclaimed expertise, but I like to know whether you know how much you (really) know.

My MRI Report
EXAMINATION: MR Arthrogram right shoulder
HISTORY: Recurrent shoulder subluxations. History of a remote injury and chronic shoulder pain
TECHNIQUE: Multiplanar T1 and T2-weighted MR imaging following a gadolinium arthrogram procedure of the right glenohumeral joint.

FINDINGS: There is a dominant superior-inferior tear of the anterior glenoid labrum. There appears to be inolvement of the anterior articular cartilage of the glenoid labrum (a defect which appears to be either grade 4 or severe grade 3 chondromalacia involving the anterior 6 mm of the articular surface of the glenoid). There is a heterogeneous appearance of the mid-anterior portion of the glenoid labrum with some periosteal stripping anteriorly.

The posterior glenoid labrum is unremarkable. The superior extent of the tear appears to be at the 12 o’clock level. The inferior extent is approximately 4-5 o’clock anterior-inferior. The middle glenohumeral ligament is intact. The biceps tendon is intact. There is a very small full-thickness perforation of the mid-lateral supraspinatus tendon with a tiny amount of fluid extending into the subacromial-subdeltoid bursa. Otherwise, rotator cuff tendons are intact. Normal lateral downslope of the acromion. Very small subacomial enthesophyte. Mild-moderate AC joint osteoarthritis, but no inferiorly projecting osteophytes. Not mentioned above, there appears to be a second articular-sided erosion of the mid-lateral supraspinatus tendon measuring approximately 7 mm medial-lateral x approximately 8 mm anterior-posterior. This lesion involves approximately 30-40% of the tendon thickness.

1. Type 5 SLAP tear with tear from the superior to inferior labrum, anteriorly. There is involvement of the anterior glenoid articular cartilage, and periosteal stripping anteriorly.
2. A small articular-sided supraspinatus tendon tear and a small far anterolateral supraspinatus full-thickness tendon perforation.

PS: Help a Friend of Fatty Out. Sans Auto, one of the frequent commenters in this blog as well as the guy who set me on the right path to eating right with the “Intuitive Eating” technique, is conducting a research project on transportation preferences to find why people use the form of transportation they do. I’d consider it a big favor if you’d participate in the survey. Click here to get started. Caveats: you’ve got to be 18 or older, and you’ve got to work outside the home.

And once you’re done, be sure to type “Friend of Fatty” in the comments section. You know, so when all of Sans Auto’s classmates compare where all the entries come from, they’ll be able to see we totally dominated.


09.5.2007 | 6:30 am

By the time I get to the main event in today’s entry, you’ll already know what’s coming next. And if I were not a fool — if I had not scoffed at the power of the jinx — I would have seen it coming, too.

But I did scoff at the jinx. Thus, clearly, I am a fool.

I Have a Clever Idea
Last Friday after work, a bunch of us got together to go ride Hog Hollow. It was a perfect day for it. The weather was warm, but not unbearably hot like it has been most of this Summer. The trail was in great shape — I knew because I had been up on Hog Hollow just days before.

And in fact, when I had ridden the downhill chute a few days before, I had done a pretty cool little ledge drop that I would have previously thought above my ability. I had it in mind that maybe it would be cool to show off to my friends — casually, without announcing it. Just roll up the banked turn that leads to it and drop down. Ta da. “Hey, Fatty’s getting some good technical chops,” my friends would say, appreciatively.

Is it even possible for me to foreshadow more bluntly and obviously?

The answer to this question is, “Yes.” Yes, it is.

I Feel Fine. No, Waitasecond, I Feel Great
We began the climb, with the ride splitting into two groups — those of us who ride at our own pace, and those of us who have some weird need to either be the alpha male or at least try to match the alpha male’s pace.

Which is to say, Rick M and I rode off the front. We chatted as we carefully matched pace. Two good friends, looking for weakness in each other.

Before too long, Dug bridged, joining Rick and me. Weirdly, I took the fact that Dug had bridged as a challenge and picked up the pace. Dug rolled his eyes and continued going the speed he was going.

Realizing I was being a dork, I backed off.

Dug then caught me and we started talking about our shoulders. I guess it’s a certain sign of middle age when you and your friends can start contrasting your chronic conditions, but there we were.

Dug told me his doctor basically told him that he had a labral tear and a severely bruised shoulder socket, but that it didn’t warrant surgery.

I told Dug that my shoulder was a lot like his, but the tear had been compounded by so many recurrences that surgery is more of a “when” question than a “whether” question.

“But you know what?” I went on. “This has been a good season for my shoulder. I’ve only dislocated it one time, and that was early in the season. It doesn’t hurt to lift stuff anymore, and my range of motion’s getting much better. It’s been a long time since my shoulder’s felt this good.”

I then joked about how I was totally jinxing myself by saying that.

So, seriously, do I even need to finish writing this story?

OK, I will, but I guarantee you already know how it ends.

The Scream
So we got to the top of Hog Hollow, then began our descent down “The Chute.” The Chute is just a ravine that’s had some semblence of a line etched in through years of mountain bikers and motorcyclers picking their way down.

I have crashed going down The Chute at least ten times. Even my more-talented descender friends have all crashed on The Chute a number of times. There’s no shame in it.

But really, we were just at the top of The Chute. It hadn’t yet become Chute-y at all.

However, there is a short, banked detour off the side of the main trail. It ends with a loose dirt ledge, probably two feet high. This is the ledge I’ve successfully dropped a couple times in the past couple weeks.

Of course, Rick and Dan had already shot by, so they weren’t around to see me “casually” do this drop. Dug had stuck around, though. And one witness is good enough for me.

So I rolled up the bank, then — not wanting to crash into Dug after doing this drop — I tapped the brake.

Then I hit the drop.

At an angle.

The wrong angle.

I went over the handlebars, landing good and hard on my right elbow. somewhere in there, I must’ve made contact with my left elbow and right knee, too, because those are still both cut up and swollen.

But the important thing is, I took a good long verytical fall and took all my weight and momentum on that right arm.

My shoulder — yeah, the messed up one — exploded in pain. Not literally exploded, but from the way it felt, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see shoulder shrapnel flying every which way.

I screamed. I yelled. I hopped around and moaned. Strangely enough, even as I was doing this, part of me realized it must look kind of comical to Dug.

Dug, to his credit, didn’t laugh at all. At least, not on the outside. Dug, in fact, did the exact perfect thing to do when a friend crashes hard but is clearly not in mortal danger:

  • He checked my bike to see if it was OK (it was fine).
  • He started talking about the magnificence of the fall and how painful it must have been.

Really, those are the exact things you ought to do when a friend crashes and there’s nothing you can do about their injuries. Make sure their bike’s good, and then admire the crash as if it were a work of art. It takes the sting out of it.

So now, five days later, my right arm is practically useless. It grinds and pops constantly, and each pop is a sharp little moment of pain.

I can pick up light things, but nothing heavy.

Ironically (at least I’m pretty sure there’s some irony here) I can ride just fine. On Monday, Brad and I did a great four-hour mini epic mountain bike ride, and my shoulder gave me no trouble at all (more about that ride tomorrow).

But I can’t help but think about that crash. It was so totally preventable. I crashed because I was showing off. crashed because I went off-course. I crashed because I slowed down too much. I crashed because I went in at a dumb angle.

Of course, those are all contributing factors. They aren’t the real reasons I crashed, though.

I really crashed because I jinxed myself.

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