Monthly Archives: October 2007

crawfordsville

It is in the books.  I am sure you know the results now, but if you do not.  David Knight is the overall champion.  Although it is American offroad racing, he sure figured it out.  But, he has to be the largest dude I have ever seen on a motorcycle.  I mean the guy is a giant.  His head is so big, he must need like a XXXL helmet size.  Wow. 

 You really have to see him ride a motorcycle to understand.  He absolutely towers over the bike.  It would scare the crap out of me to have him riding off my rear fender. 

Charlie Mullins is just as impressive as I thought he would be, but somehow he does not look superhuman compared to David. 

Anyway, I went down with Scott to the race.  Scott rode the 30+A class.  He did really well.  He finished up in 4th, although he was hoping to be in the top 3. I was sufficiently impressed with how he rode.  Congratulations.

We saw some interesting things there.  Confederate flags, mullets, huge pickup trucks with really loud diesel exhausts, mud (lots of it), quad culture…  But in the end, people are really great at the races.

The guys at Suzuki were really great.  Mike Webb, Shane Nally et al…  Thanks for spending time with us, and making us feel welcome.  See you next year. 

What a season it has been.  I had some great battles with Rob Houts in D16 racing.  We traded positions multiple times in every race we were in together.  In the end, he won the old guy class overall in the district again, and I really did not get in his way.  It might had been different without my knee injury, as he had some poor finishes at the end of the year.  But he deserved to win, as he was the most consistent for the season.  Oh well, congratulations Rob!

Scott won the overall overall for D16.  He had a great season.  We put a lot of miles on the van again.  We did a bunch of races all over the midwest.  I remember one race in the snow in February in Illinois that in hindsight is almost comical.  We hatched our GNCC plan while driving along in that van to a race somewhere up north.  Now, it is all coming together.  Bikes, van, trailer, gear, helmets, tires, parts etc…  I cannot wait for next season.

It is always this way at the end of the year.  For the last couple of races, you are dragging because it is late in the season.  You are not sure how many more tires you want to change, how many more times you want to wash the mud out of your gear.  How many more quarters you want to stuff in the carwash to get the bike clean…  But, the minute the last race is over, you already start counting the days till next season gets started.

There were 157 days from surgery till the first GNCC race 28 of those have passed today.  126 to go.

Now it is all up to me.  I just keep getting up at 5am, riding the bicycle, working out my knee, swimming, lifting weights, working out my knee, doing strength and conditioning workouts, doing the exercise ball workouts, working out my knee etc… Rinse and repeat.  It is all up to me. 

Joe

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3rd physical therapy visit

Today was my 3rd physical therapy appointment.  I am in the middle of week 4, post op.  It was a momentous day today.  Lots of really good news.  I am bending to about 110-115 degrees, and getting my knee all the way to 0 degrees or straight.  The swelling is going down nicely as well.

1.  I am cleared to ride the bike with a bit of resistance.  Not much, just enough to slow the spin down.  Still only for 10 minutes at a time, but I do that 3 times per day on most days. 

2.  I am cleared to swim.  I have to swim with a buoy in between my knees, and no kicking, but it is swimming non the less.

3.  They gave me a bunch of new exercises to begin to put some force in a straight line through my knee.  stepping up on a step, pushing my back up against a wall or a big ball against the wall and doing a small squat.  etc…  that is really good news.

4.  I am doing some balance things standing on the one fixed leg.  eyes closed, eyes open.  swinging my other leg around etc…  I am even supposed to do it on an exercise matte to make it harder. 

Yee ha!!!!!  I am so happy to be back at something that feels like real training. 

Tomorrow, Scott and I are heading down to Crawfordsville.  We have some meetings there with Suzuki, Cycra etc…   I cannot wait.  And, of course Scott is racing. 

We will have a few more stories after the weekend, I am sure.

Joe

week 3

So, I am late in week 3 – post surgery. This was a big week. A lot went on with work and with my knee.

At work, I had 5 full days. 2 days of meetings with all of our sales people from around the world, and then 3 days out of the office at our annual planning meeting. Normally that would just be my job, but with trying to do my rehab on my knee 3 times per day it was tough.

I also had my 2nd PT appointment this week, which was great because they set me up with a couple of goals. The first goal was to try and start using the bike to pump more of the swelling out of my knee. At my appointment I was only getting my knee to flex to 105 degrees, and the therapist said that I probably needed to be at about 115-120 degrees to get around the top of the pedal stroke. He suggested that I would just be using the pedals in a half moon arc to pump the knee. But, he said that if I could get over the top, I should.

So, I set up a mountain bike on a trainer with a 140mm crank from a kids bike. My friend Travis Brown told me that was a strategy he had used with a previous knee injury. The logic was that if I could start with a smaller circle, I might be able to get over the top sooner. And, it worked. In about 3 minutes, I managed to loosen up my knee enough to get all the way around.

I then progressed to a 157mm crank from a bigger kids bike, and also after a few minutes of working it around was able to get over the top of that crank. I was pretty stoked. I mean, there was zero resistance on the trainer and I had the bike set in the easiest gear, but I got my knee to move through the motion.

Then I had to go out of town to our meeting. The place I stayed had a gym in the basement with a recumbent exercise bike. The crank was full length though, so I was worried. I spent 3 days getting myself around the top of that crank, but by the time I left there I was able to get my knee all the way around the top.

As soon as I got home, I set my road bike up in the trainer here at the house with a standard set of flat pedals. I worked at it 3 times during the day on Saturday, and I can get all the way around the pedal stroke on that. I am so stoked. Granted, I am not clipped in, my foot is just with the pedal in the middle of my foot and it is 3-4 more weeks before I will really be using some resistance on the trainer, but I can spin it around for 5 minutes 3 times per day.

As a result of all of this knee range of motion stuff, the swelling in my knee is almost gone. It still swells up after I exercise it, and I have a clicking sound in it that I am told is normal (the clicking sound is a bit freaky though). But, after I exercise it I always ice it and that helps as well.

The 2nd goal of the week, was to loose the crutches. I woke up on Friday and just decided that was the day. I used them to get to the meeting in the morning and then left them against the wall for the rest of the day. I have not used them since. This may not sound like much to you, but having 2 free hands to carry something with you when you are moving around is huge.
So, I am almost at the end of week 3 and I am using the bike to rehab and I am completely off the crutches. I still have the knee brace for safety, but I don’t feel like I am actually using it much.

I am pretty proud for my teammate/riding partner Scott. He quietly went about winning the district championship this year. He did it in a similar way to how I won my overall last year. He was super consistent, he always raced in the top 3 of each race, and he made every race and every position in each race count. He also did it against guys a lot younger than him, which was the same for me. When I won my class overall last year, I was 45 and the other 2 guys in the top 3 overall were 25 and 20 respectively. That is similar to Scott, in that the other guys in the top 3 overall in his class are in their 20’s.

Soon we should be able to start posting stories about prepping the van, the trailer, the bikes, and gear for next years GNCC series. Before that though, we will be heading down to Crawfordsville next weekend for the last GNCC race of this year. Scott will be racing and I will be his pit bitch, goggles and gas in hand.

See you there.

Joe

First follow up doctor visit and physical therapy

Yesterday was 10 days after the knee rebuild. I visited the doctor, and went to my first PT appointment. I learned a lot about what is in store for me for the next few weeks.

The first thing we did was take out the stitches and clean up the site of the surgery. The stitches came out really cool. There was just one stitch in the middle that the nurse snipped, and then she grabbed the tail of the stitch that was hanging out of the skin first at the top, and pulled slowly. It pulled the entire string out all the way through the knee. Felt kind of cool.

The worst part of the entire visit was pulling the sterile tape strips off the wound. There was about 10 of them across the wound and each one pulled about 40 hairs out with it. That was fun. Of course after the stitches were out, she quickly stuck a similar number down across the wound again. That way, I can look forward to getting rid of all of the rest of the hair around the site again in about a week. I always figured they would shave around a surgery spot, but they actually do not do that any more. The medical world no longer thinks that is sanitary and leads to more infections.

Then I went across the hall to the Physical Therapy office. They worked with me on a new set of exercises (thank god, as I had mastered the original set and was bored with them). I learned how to walk all over again, and we took a lot of measurements on range of motion etc… Not much for the first visit, but I did come away with a set of cool rubber band type things to work on strength in the knee.

I was telling the doctor that I was feeling good, and wanted to go faster on this whole recover thing. He said “that is great! I am glad you are excited to get going. But, let me show you some pictures.” He showed me all the pictures from my surgery. Great shots of a completely spaghetti’d ACL, a piece of Patella tendon completely out of my body, one of my meniscus before it was cleaned up that was flipped over – inside out – yet still in my knee, a picture of a drill bit through my knee bones. In the end, he said “You do not want to have to go through this again. You need to take this slowly. We are not going to challenge your fitness for the next 6 weeks. We are going to go slowly, and allow all the work we did in there to heal itself, and for that new ACL/Patella Tendon to graft itself to the bone.” Sobering thoughts.

Apparently, it takes about 6-8 weeks for the tendon to graft into the bone. After that, you really will not hurt it. But, before then it needs to be given time to heal itself.

Here are some significant steps along the way over the next few weeks.

– In week 2-3, I should be able to get off the crutches. That is about Oct 18-19.

– Also in week 2-3, we will start using the bicycle to help the range of motion. Still no real pedaling though.

– In week 3-4, I should start to transition out of the knee brace. That is about Oct 25, or so. That means I can probably go to Crawfordsville with Scott to help him, but I am not 100% certain that I will not still be in a brace. That is probably ok.

– The focus for my rehab through week 7 or so, is range of motion. That is about Thanksgiving week. After that, we will start working on building strength.

– At about 12 weeks, I will be cleared for most everything. Not skiing, and probably only very light running, but cycling will be fine (although at that time it will be just on a trainer due to winter). That will be about Christmas time.

– In January I will be able to be truly training for the GNCC season.

I will be behind where I would normally be, but probably not in too bad of a situation. We can probably get down to Southern Illinois to ride in late Feb, and there is the indoor MX track in Joliet that we can get to in early Feb to start to work on bike set up etc…

I may not be super strong and confident for the first races, but I should be able to ride though. In the end, this season of GNCC racing is not about winning races, or championships. It is about seeing what a national series is like, and being on the same course with Barry Hawk, Charlie Mullins, Justin Williamson, David Knight et al…

I continue to be encouraged by Justin Williamson. He had similar surgery in January of next year. Rode the first races really conservatively, and then came on after the first 1/3 of the season. At the end, it looks like he will probably win the XC2 pro class. That guy is my hero.

Joe

D-Day plus 6

Ok, I have not written lately, as I have been singularly focused on what I have been doing over the past week. My schedule still has not evolved much:

6-7:30 – get up, make breakfast, do my leg exercises (yes it takes me that long)

7:30-8 – clean up

8-8:30 – recover/ice my knee

8:30/8:45-12 – pretty ok

12-1 – eat, do my leg exercises

1-1:30 – recover/ice my knee

1:30-4 – pretty ok

4-7 – sweat, shiver, nap, miserable, ice my knee

7-8 – eat, do my leg exercises

8-10 – shiver, sweat, try to get away from the pain, ice my knee

10-6am – lay there, sweat, try to sleep, get up to pee and find that my leg is completely swollen and cannot move, lay back down and try to get away from the pain, ice my knee]

repeat it all.

 

Remember, I said baby steps is what it is all about.

– today, my advancement was that I got dressed without using my crutches. That means that at some point in the process, I had to put all of my weight onto my fixed knee. that was today’s step.

– tomorrow, I am going to try to do my exercises without my knee brace (at least for the leg lifts and knee bends and quad sets).

Baby steps.

more to come.

Joe

d-day plus 2

Yesterday was actually not too bad of a day on the whole.  I measure my success in baby steps though.  On the surgery day, I almost could not imagine getting up off the couch to go the bathroom.  I could not imagine doing any kind of exercises with my leg, and of course the whole leg was just painful.

Yesterday I progressed to getting to the bathroom with ease, and able to get on and off the couch without anyones help.  I did 3 sets of exercises yesterday.  Silly little stuff like leg lifts, knee bends, ankle rotations and quad sets.  It went pretty well.  It hurt like hell to do them, but I was able to do them. 

I have a few more days of just doing that stuff, and then I should be able to add some core workouts like sitting on the ball and sit ups etc…  I cannot wait. 

One of the weird things is how the pain travels around the leg.  One time that I stand up, it hurts on the knee cap.  The next time it might hurt on the outside of the knee.  Another time, it will hurt halfway down my shin – which seems totally unrelated.  Yet another time it will hurt in my ankle.  Strange. 

Scott is taking the camper without me and going up to the National Harescrambles race in Rhinelander.  I wish I was going.  My focus right now is to get mobile enough that I can go to Crawfordsville with him.  That is our “local” GNCC race, and I still have not been able to do it.  Last year, I fell in the first turn, and freakishly broke my front brake hose.  That course has great big downhills that were impossible to ride without a front brake.  This year…  Oh well, I will certainly get to do it next year.

more to come.

Joe

D-Day plus one

It is 6am, the day after my knee surgery.  I am laying on the couch all juiced up on pain killers.   I am a bit loopy. 

Things went ok yesterday.  But, the 5 hours just after I woke up from surgery were murder.  I have never felt that kind of pain before.  I must be wimpy.  They were having a hard time getting my blood oxygen level to stay up, and the pain killers just were not getting ahead of the pain. 

The doctor said my knee was really really jacked.  He warned me, that he cannot fix it again.  The meniscus were pretty torn and there was no way to stitch them up, the bad parts just had to be trimmed away.  He said it should be fine, but there will not be much left there to repair if I damage it again. 

The good part about trimming instead of repair is that I am already starting to put some weight on it, and that will really speed my recovery. 

As long as I stay ahead of the pain with my pain medicine, it is not too bad here.  Today I start my first 3 sets of exercises.  Wish me luck! 

More to come.

Joe

Dyracuse and the day before D-Day

Yesterday I went to Dyracuse with Scott.  It was a weird day.  I have never been to a Harescrambles race and been a spectator.  I took over 250 photos (thanks Megan) and about 30 minutes of video.  But, I felt pretty lost.   I am used to being in the bunch and fighting with Rob and for my top 10 spot.

I got to see Scott clinch the local series.  That was really cool.  Congratulations Scott. 

The course looked fantastic.  Fast and flowy in spots, and super technical in other spots.  Tons of sand, and that was killing people.  But, damn did it look fun. 

I walked around too much on my knee.  It was stiff and throbing after the day.  But, I am going into the shop tomorrow to have it rebuilt, so I was not too worried about it.

 That is what I am referring to as D-Day.  Tuesday, Oct 2 – under the knife.  Wish me luck.  The next post will probably be pretty drug induced and may make even less sense than my normal posts. 

Joe