5 days, 600 miles. San Francisco to San Diego.
That’s the bait. Read all the way to the bottom and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
I heard Jens Voigt mention not long ago that he’d broken 22 bones. That sounds awfully painful. When you factor in ribs — which some people don’t count because they’re easily broken and there’s generally nothing to be done to heal them outside of trying your darnedest not to sneeze, cough, laugh, or roll over in bed — I’m probably reaching close to a dozen busted bones.
One enormous aspect of professional racing that’s glossed over by television coverage is how freaking dangerous it is. I’m ever so slightly entertained when people worry about what’ll happen with disc brakes in the peloton. I have an equally or greater interest in not visiting a spectating roadside tree at 40mph, sailing off a nail bitingly narrow road then careening off a 200 foot cliff, nor do I wish to have another bike come screaming into a multinational pileup — sharp chainrings first. We could race in bubble wrap on belt driven bikes around a padded track, but that’s not bike racing. So here in the real world, the very real dangers of road racing are something tonwhich I’ve happily bid farewell in retirement. My nerves thank me.
Ironic enought, I’m nursing a broken collarbone. Oops. We can go over the way it happened here, but life’s short and I’d rather live having fun than live in a vacuum. Plus I’d rather touch on the healing and what happens moving forward.
Believe it or not, nowhere even near my radar screen did I consider riding a bike just eight days after I hit the deck. Unlike a career’s past, I’m not hustling back like a lemur trying to produce results and chase a contract. Yet, lo and behold there by the Cannondale RV last Saturday at the King Challenge was a fleet of demo bikes, a plush yet speedy Slate among them. With fat 42c tires that can drop down to a vibration absorbing 25psi, plus the Lefty for an even more soothing ride, jeans, sneakers and all, I threw a leg over this steed.
Using my left hand clenched around my right wrist, I manually placed my right hand on the hoods. (And snapped this picture later upon removing my hand from the hoods.)
Whoa, I though, this isn’t horribly painful. I’m actually putting weight on it. I’m actually putting equal weight on it symmetrically. Hmm. Okay, I won’t stand, but I can pedal no problem. I can shift, brake, mash, spin… holy cow, I can ride!
Surprise surprise, I’m not a doctor. Through familial osmosis hanging out with my orthopedic surgeon dad, and having visited the ER enough, though, I know a thing or two about broken bones. I know that policing an injury by simply stayijg in tune with pain is a great way to monitor recovery.
Example: If the pain is low and dull and doesn’t change much with movement, that’s okay. If you do something that delivers a searing, sharp pain as if you just broke the bone in the first place, that’s because the raw bones are shearing across each other; that’s bad.
I also know that after a period of time, broken bones begin to get “sticky”. That is, there’s enough early healing that the bones tend to stick close together and are more resilient to movement as the new bone growth occurs. You don’t see much on an x-ray in the early stages, but the bones aren’t moving as they would more readily do closer to the time of the accident.*
So there I am riding maybe three miles out and back to help escort the King Challenge lead group onto the open roads last Saturday morning, then another three to help escort them back in the early afternoon, pedaling downright normally. In the subsequentstunning fall days, I rode an hour or two always taking extra special care not to crash again. Breaking a recent break is like cutting a fresh scab. It hurts wicked bad and you’re probably worse off than when you started. In summary: don’t.
So while embracing my time off the bike in early October, I had been plotting as sweet ass comeback ride! See, I think by now you realize that I love riding my bike. I love riding my bike long distances. I loved stage racing in my career and therefore going out for a multi-day adventure is totally my cup of tea. Moreover, I needed (okay, I wanted) a carrot to chase to drive motivation for when I’m back on my bike. (The fact that it comes so quickly is moot.) I’m back, baby!
In seemingly unrelated news, I just landed in California and I’m home in Marin. It just so happens that I need to be in San Diego on November 4 to do a two day home-build with Hope Sports in Mexico. I could fly, I could drive, I could hitchhike, but geeze, what better way to get down there than by bike? Back in January, I drove into California to call it home on a damp Thursday evening and literally the very next morning before sunrise I started the three day, 375 mile Coast Ride. That’s San Francisco to Santa Barbara, which is super fun in it’s own right, but why not make it longer and self supported?!
So here we go. I’m calling it 5 days and 600 miles. It seems a bit closer to 580, but who’s counting after 200, right? Right. It’s a mild work in progress because I’ve been meaning to do the Nosco Ride with my good friend and fantastic human being, Jack Nosco to honor his brother, Mike. That takes place November 3 every year in Thousand Oaks, which makes getting to San Diego by 1pm the following day tough, unless I ride to Thousand Oaks, do the 80 mile Nosco Ride, and then hitch a ride to San Diego sometime in the next twelve hours, and practice my hammering in Mexico. So that’s highly likely too.
Since the Slate was instrumental in my comeback, convincing me that I could ride a week ago, and since I’ve taken 200 miles across Kansas, I figure it will be the perfect bike for a 600 mile trip down memory lane and to clear the (ahem) Slate overcoming this injury.
Not so fine print:
Per #200NotOn100 rules of engagement, this is self supported. Bike riding is dangerous (so is racing, as previously discussed). We’ve got anywhere from 125-175 miles to cover ever day so we don’t dilly dally. I’ve got a sweet saddle bag and handlebar bag for all the daily essentials, a toothbrush, change of kit, and lots of UnTapped. I’ll be bunking up at friend’s houses here and maybe a motel there. Care to join for a mile for ten or 100? 600 perhaps? Bring a saddlebag and your A-game. Then please stay tuned to the internet with hashtag #600NotOn100 and I’ll plot out where and when I am on this journey south.
— HERE are the general details
— Potential detours aplenty, to such great places as Arcangeli’s Grocery and their artichoke bread
— Attendees for some or all of the route may include Marin comrade Tony “I have a mustache so I speak Italian” Little, plus 2017 team Los Conquistadors Gravel Squad teammate Laurens Ten Dam, and (insert your name here)
— October 30 – November 4
— Build home in Mexico (for other people, not for me), November 5-6
*Visit your doctor for actual medical advice. I’ve just been through this rodeo a dozen times and know decently well what to expect.