Friday, March 27, 2009

The Vacuum

My bed has turned into a gigantic vacuum; a black hole of epic proportions. No matter how hard I try, every time I get near it, it sucks me in. I try, I really try, not to fall into the vortex, but to no avail. My friend Sasha, being young and exuberant, tries to pep me up by coaching me on all the things I could be doing, such as one leg exercise bike, one leg workouts, ect. Unfortunately, I am not an exerciser. I run, I ride, and I ski, not because I need to exercise, but because I have a need to ride, to run and to ski.

That is a hard concept to explain. I am in pretty good shape, and I have reaped the benefits of years of exercise. I have great cholesterol levels, excellent blood pressure, and a low resting heart rate, and I am not overweight (I'm not exactly skinny either). For me, however, these things are the secondary benefits of riding and running. Their main benefit is what they do for my soul. I know that sounds fairly corny, but I can think of no better way put it. I am happiest when I am on my bike, and it really doesn't matter if I am flying down a technical trail on my mountain bike, in the last few miles of a road century, or on my commuter heading for work on a Tuesday morning.

I see the doctor Wednesday to get the results of my MRI. I know that no matter what the results are, I have a lot of rehab in my future, which means a lot of exercise. It may mean time spent on an exercise bike, a treadmill and some weight machines. Not exactly my cup of tea, but they are represent a means to an end. That is, if I can stay out of that vacuum known as my bed.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Training Big

Last week I spent some time thinking about what I would train for this summer. I always like to have a goal, whether it's a big single event, such as a double century, or something like riding 30 days straight, ect. Now I have a new goal; not missing out on a whole season of riding. I still don't know what is wrong with my knee. My family doc (actually, his nurse) is setting up an MRI and an appointment with an ortho doc for me, but like most family practitioners, his office is way too busy. Of course, it really isn't that important that I get the MRI immediately; I won't get in to see the ortho doc for several more weeks, and my knee is unstable enough, and swollen enough, that I have to remain non-weightbearing until the swelling is gone. So for the next few weeks, I'm on crutches.

But it is frustrating. I need a plan. I want to know what is wrong with my knee, and if I need surgery, I want it soon. Then I can get to work. I envision myself starting out slow. Gentle rides, followed by slow stretches. Then in a few week, I'll be at the gym pumping iron, performing plyometrics, long hard rides, including climbing Fernan Saddle once a week. I'll rehab like no other has rehab'ed before. I will be the King of rehab!

But for now, I'm just lying on the bed, leg propped on pillows, reading a little Murakami. And trying to stay away from the fridge.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Yesterday started out pretty good. I slept in, and then headed up to the ski hill for an afternoon of turns in 3 day old powder. I skied alone for a run, and then hooked up with Rebecca and Banana for a run in the Sweet Cedars. The snow was heavy but soft. On our next run, we dropped into the trees next to Red Dog. The trees there are really tight, and my legs were a little dead to be skiing trees that tight in that heavy of snow, so I worked my way over to the groomer. As I came out of the trees, I had quite a bit of speed, and some slower skiers in front of me, so I hit the cut up powder on the side of the run to give them plenty of space. As I made my turn back to the right, My left ski hit a little pile of built up snow and stopped... Unfortunately, I didn't. As I came over the ski, I felt, and heard, a pop. I could feel my femur slide on my tibia, and then I was down. I lay there groaning in pain and fear. I knew what had happened, and I knew that my ski season was over. Either my ACL or my MCL is most likely gone.

The pain of an injury like this is initially associated with the abnormal movement in the knee joint, and then later with the swelling involved, so after the initial pain (and nausea) was gone, I was able to side slip on my right ski down to the chair lift. At the top I was met by the Ski Patrol, and got my first sled ride down the mountain as an actual patient. My friends, Mark, Anna, Rebecca and Banana banded together to get me , and my manual transmission truck, home. (don't get too teary eyed about my buds; Rebecca called this morning to let me know that there is 7 inches of fresh powder).

So, there it is. My blog about bicycle commuting, skiing and running will now, more than likely, be about rehab. I will try not to whine too much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I have several bicycles. My commuter is a 20 year old Trek mountain bike that I never liked as a mountain bike, but it has made a great commuter. I also have a sweet Kona cruiser with a red, white and blue paint job, a Kona full suspension mountain bike, another Trek, and an old, broken Paramount road frame. But the two bikes that mean the most to me, are a WTB steel Phoenix, built by Steve Potts, and a Fuso road bike built by Dave Moulton.

When I ride either of these bikes, I know that it was crafted by someone who understands that there is a bond between me, and the craftsman who welded the frame. I know that he also rides, and thus cares about the relationship between rider and machine. I enjoy riding my other bikes, but there is a difference that is hard to explain. It is simply a connection between me, the builder and the bike.

That feeling of connection can be found in other areas. During the summer months, we get what produce that we don't grow ourselves from Kilarney Farms. We know that not only is Paul's produce organic, but that it will always be great quality. When you sell to people that you may ride a ski lift with, or see at the local pub, you have to care about quality.

On Fridays, if I get off work in time, I try to stop by Doma Coffee Company on my ride home. It is not only a good group of people, but also a great cup of coffee. As soon as I walk in, someone always offers to fix me an americano. Trust me, the best cup of coffee you can get is in a roastary, made by someone who truly cares about how good that cup of coffee is. Nowhere is the coffee fresher, and nowhere is there a barista that has more invested in how good the coffee is. It is more than a product for these guys, it is a way of life.

I don't think that it is odd that the guys at Doma Coffee also appreciate hand built bikes, or that they also buy from Kilarney farms. We are part of a growing number of people that think that the demise of the craftsman, the small farmer, and so many cottage industries, is a sad loss for both the local community, but even more so, the global community.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eye of the Storm

It's been a tough time to listen to the news lately. Not that I'm a real news junkie, but I do wake up to NPR Morning Edition every morning. The headlines are pretty much all the same. Unemployment is rising, homes are being foreclosed on at a historic rate, banks are closing, and that Chevy truck in my driveway may be my last one. I have friends out of work, and even my industry, something that you might consider recession proof, is slow. A storm is blowing, and I just want to hunker down and let it blow over.

I couldn't get up enough motivation to get out of bed to go skiing this morning, so I hung out with the wife, watched some ebay bids, and read a few blogs. Someone had commented to Up in Alaska that frostbite seemed like such an old fashioned injury. I knew that they must have been from a temperate climate, because for those of us who live and play in a cold climate, cold related injuries are a very real danger. Sure enough, he was a blogger from Key West. I went to his blog, conchscooters common sense to flip him some shit. It is an insightful, well written, thoughtful blog. He writes of the economic and social concerns that the current economic crisis is creating, and hits the nail on the head in so many ways. Good stuff, but for me, pretty depressing. There just seems to be so little hope of surviving this storm.

So, I put on my running shoes, put a leash on the Heeler, and went for a run. It's a stormy day today in northern Idaho. Thirty degrees, winds steady at 20 mph with gust to 30, and, at times, snowing heavily. It was great. I love storms. I have been on Mt Hood when the wind was 60 mph on top. When I was a National Ski Patroller, if it was a stormy day, I would always volunteer to sweep the South of the Border traverse. To sweep SOB, you first had to traverse around Kellog Peak, which took you right into the wind blowing up from Pinecreek. Visibility would only be a few feet, and blowing snow on snow creates a feeling of vertigo that I have experienced in no other situation. You cannot tell if you are moving or not. Then, once you reached the SOB traverse, you headed out to the farthest boundary of the ski area. It was a feeling of being completely alone (except in the late season, when wildlife would start using the traverse line. You never feel alone when you see mountain lion tracks)

As I ran, the wind blew, the snow fell, and as is typical of northern Idaho, the sun would occasionally shine. All at the same time. I was listening to Bob Marley, a man who crafted his art to teach that everything would be alright, if we would sing, love and have hope. I got to thinking, I am a man of faith. One of the requirements of my faith is hope. This storm too will pass. I have no idea what the landscape will look like afterwords, but I do have hope.