The winter of my discontent

“Oh c’mon. Work can wait an hour. Ride across me! You’ll love it!” — Golden Gate Bridge Siren Song

It has been a tough month. Well, tough couple of months. Many of the readers can understand the impact a lack of bike riding can have on an avid cyclist. When I should have been basking in my new bike glory, I’ve instead struggled against a series of both planned and unplanned events that seem like a sinister conspiracy to keep me off the bike.

It all started when the office of my day job moved.

The old commute was 10 miles one way, across beautiful scenery that encouraged me to add even more miles – just for fun. Without even “training” I was on the bike over 100 miles every week just in my commute. It made doing even more rides not only easier but also more enjoyable. Cycling can be funny that way – the more you do it the more you want to.

After relocating to the Financial District in San Francisco, my commute was essentially cut in half. There was a subtle change that came along with that that I didn’t expect. Somewhere between 5 and 10 miles is, for me, apparently about where I cross the

OK. So even the shorter commute had some nice views

threshold into the “exercise zone.” I don’t know what else to call it. It is where the heart rate gets up, and the endorphins start to flow. I simply didn’t seem to have the same emotional lift when I got off the bike for my 5 mile commute as I did when my commute was 10 miles.

It seemed to impact my health too – although I didn’t realize it at the time. Within 6 months or so of the commute I’d added about 10 lbs to my body weight. In retrospect I was not nearly as energetic overall, and my focus at work declined.

Then I went and really threw a monkey wrench into things…

I’ve had very wide feet my entire life. I’ve just accepted it. Even with the Sidi Genius Mega road shoe – possibly the widest mass-produced road cycling shoes on the market – I would still end up with an intense burning pain on the outside of my feet. I later learned I’ve been suffering all these years from a “Tailor’s Bunion” – on both feet. And it could be treated with surgery. But I was looking at a minimum of 5 weeks off the bike per foot. Given the fact that I’m a diabetic, I was advised to expect even longer to recover.

Bones modified – both feet.

I, of course, opted to do both feet at the same time.

The surgeon was initially against it. He felt it would be better to be reasonably mobile – on crutches. Doing both feet would put me in a wheelchair for weeks. But from my perspective I was looking at 5-8 weeks off the bike. I saw no reason to endure that twice. For me the biggest impact was being immobile at all – so there was very little difference between partial immobile and fully immobile.

 

After surgery I was stuck almost exclusively in a wheelchair for two weeks – which was actually less than I had expected. However, I had (errrr….. still have) big, clumsy recovery boots that were to be worn at all times I put weight on my feet. Obviously no bike.

At just over 5 weeks I was back in the doctor’s office fully expecting to get the all clear. Instead I heard 4 more weeks in the boots. 4 more weeks off the bike. Grrrrr…..

There was a silver lining however.I was told the critical part of healing is that the foot does not flex. And that brings us back around to those Sidi Genius Carbon Mega cycling shoes of mine. That rigid carbon sole actually serves basically the same function as my recovery boots – keeping my foot flat with the weight (or pressure) equally distributed across the bottom of the foot. I was given the go-ahead to ride in my cycling shoes on the indoor trainer. Still not on the road though – where a simple fall could dislodge the bone (I’m told) and put me back to the beginning.

So that brings up to now – today. I’m waiting patiently for my next appointment. I’m hoping to heal that the feet are healed and I can end a winter of what has been diminishing riding times. And as is usual with me, I seem to stop writing when I stop riding.

So until I’m back on the road I’ll be spinning away indoors. I’ve booked my hotel and flight to the North American Handmade Bike Show – in Salt Lake City this year – so you can watch for continued coverage of that event. Planning the trip to Sea Otter. Registration for Seattle to Portland starts Jan 17 – so I’ll be jumping on that. And I’m trying to figure out what other rides I plan to throw in this year as I try to get back in form after all these lazy months.

Life can be pretty good at throwing obstacles at us to keep us from doing what we love. Sometimes these are logistical, sometimes emotional, and sometimes physical. This isn’t the first time a need to recover has kept me off the bike. And I’m sure life will have even more to throw at me in the future.

 

Note: I talk about my own personal medical experiences. But remember I’m not a doctor, and nothing I say is intended to be advice on anything you may do in your own person life. My Standard Medical Legal Mumbo Jumbo applies here as well.

  • Fred

    So, you had to wait to spin on the trainer until the bones were confirmed to have healed? Or could you have been spinning on the trainer soon after the actual surgery?

    • Correct – the bones needed to heal more at that point. The trainer was not an option soon after surgery as no weight at all was supposed to be put on the feet.

      The risk there was a fall or suddenly putting my foot down resulting in a rebreaking of the bones. The stationary trainer mitigated those risks. That, coupled with the fact that cycling shoes have rigid soles without flex made it a reasonable activity.