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Road to Recovery  //   Friday - October 20, 2006

On Wednesday I got good news, as good as it can get I suppose. I went to follow up with an orthopedic doctor about by dislocated elbow. Other than the normal trauma to the tendons and muscles that comes with this type of injury, everything looks good. No other hidden damage, things can move in all of the right places and I can do all of my rehab on my own. He told me to ditch the sling and start gradually stretching things out. I've still got a bunch of swelling but he said this is still normal at this stage and it's beginning to subside some, so that's good news too. No mountain biking for at least 2 more weeks when I have a follow up with him but I can give some easy road riding a try in a few days. I've been off of the bike over a week now and I'm going stir crazy because of it, but I know if I get back on too soon I'll only prolong the recovery so I'm trying to be a good patient. Fortunately for me, but not the local uninjured riders, we've been getting a bunch of rain this week so trail riding has been limited.

I'm going to have to miss the Monster Mash race I signed up for the day I injured myself but that's not really a big deal. The signed up since my wife was going down to do her first MTB race so I figured I race too since I'd be down there anyway. Plus it's for a good cause, getting kids on bikes. How can you argue with that? I'll just have to play photographer for the day and drink beer on the sidelines.

And speaking of beer, after my Dr. appointment I was feeling celebratory at the good news and hit the local beer emporium. In there I spotted a new beer from Magic Hat called ""Roxy Rolles". Since it was billed as a hoppy winter ale I figured I'd give it a try. Turned out to be really good, nice hop nose to it, pretty bitter and it goes down easy. Had a few more last night as I transferred the porter I recently brewed for the upcoming Bootlegger's Bliss ride. I'm hoping Magic Hat will go ahead and just put this into their regular line up.

On the music front, I caught this story:
Stooges Reunite, Mike Watt on bass
I know they've played some shows with Watt over the past year or so. I'm hoping this turns out to be a good recording.

Alright kids, go ride some miles for me since I can't.

Oh yeah, one more thing, trail work is on Sunday at Patapsco. I'll be there with my gimp arm.

- riderx

Good Times, Bad Times  //   Monday - October 16, 2006

No riding this weekend, but we'll get to that momentarily. Rewind to last weekend and there were some tasty new trails that my wheels touched down on. It was my wife's B-day and the day prior happened to be Ricky d's birthday too, so he grabbed his wife, I grabbed mine and we headed north for an MTB weekend in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. After a couple of wrong turns - the PA highway signs weren't very good (at least on our route) - we arrived in the little mountain town of Jim Thorpe, an old coal mining area that is rebuilding the once fading community with tourism. It's a small town surrounded by big mountains and offers just enough amenities to have a comfortable stay, but don't expect much in the way of high culture. In other words, just right for a bike weekend.

We took off Friday morning in the pouring rain but lucky for us it was staying well south of our final destination. While Maryland got hammered with rain all weekend, we were out of in less than one hour after hitting the highway and other than a few raindrops on Saturday, we never saw precip again the whole weekend.

Our destination was Mary's Guest House, an old townhouse on the main drag of Jim Thorpe. The house has a few rooms you can rent with a shared living room, dining room and kitchen. It's a pretty comfortable and casual way to crash, not expensive and the hosts Tom and Michelle, who are cyclists themselves, and friendly and laid-back.

Friday we headed out with Tom from the guest house who led us on a quick ride before dark. The temperatures had dropped 20 degrees or more since the day before and the air was cool and crisp but the initial climb heated us up quick. A steady, long road ride took us to a ridge top ride that was a mix of double track and rock singletrack, like back home, that had spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. As we were plugging along on the rocky singletrack a tree reached out and grabbed JoJo's handlebar and sent her to the ground. It was looking like trouble since she laid open a nice deep gash in her knee, but being the super trooper she is, she laughed it off. We patched her up with some bandages and a bandana and were back on our way. When things opened back up to double track we took off along the ridge top. We rode most of it as an out and back, but on the return trip we turned off and dropped in on a very steep, rock filled piece of singletrack that pointed straight down the side of the mountain. It was nice, it was technical, it was closer to vertical than horizontal and it may have been more than the ladies were prepared for. Of course, they dug in and gave it their best shot and did pretty well. Near the end JoJo tagged her knee again and had to slow down a bit, but she was still smiles and rode out with like a champ.

I couldn't believe my luck when earlier in the week Ricky had given me the heads up the Trexlertown Velo Swap was the Saturday we were going to Jim Thorpe. So, Saturday we drove 30 minutes to the Lehigh Valley Velodrome to look for good deals on bike swag. The temperature had continued to drop and it was cold and overcast, but that didn't keep the vendors or the buyers away. Hundreds of tables of new and used bike gear to dig through kept us busy all morning. We scored a few deals on some wool clothing, but no good finds on hardware. That's how it goes some days, the hunt is part of the fun.

After grabbing some food we dug up the warmest clothes we had (temps were colder than originally forecast) and headed out to ride. Luckily the sun peaked out and we headed up for another scenic ride that took us up to a different ridge top and sent back down another pile of rocks disguised as a trail. Lots of good fun and the ladies were really enjoying themselves.

Sunday saw us head with a map and directions from Tom to another set of mountains a few miles away. While Friday and Saturday's rides were able to be ridden right from the guest house, we had to hop in the car for a short ride to this area that we had skipped on the prior days due to hunting season. With a large series of unmarked trails we quickly began second guessing our decisions based on features we saw in the map but weren't matching the terrain we were seeing. After some wandering around we gave up on riding the loop we intended and just took what looked like some good trail that would eventually return us to the general area where we started. Which it did, but not before routing us on to some private property. We didn't see any signs but the guy sitting in the middle of the woods in his truck was quick to let us know. Fortunately he seemed pretty reasonable and pointed us to the direction of the road we were parked on. We apologized for being on private land and quickly made our way back. With the day getting late we started back from the cars to see if we could located where we made any of our wrong turns by doing an out and back ride. By late afternoon we headed back to town to grab our gear and a bite to eat before hitting the road. A return trip will be in order to get some more knowledge of the trails. I took a few pix while we were there, you can see them here.

Captain Stupid Strikes Again
With three days of riding under the belt and a reasonable weather forecast the following week appeared to be shaping up good for more biking. On Thursday a night ride was going on a few miles from work, so I decided to latch on to that for my mid-week ride. A cold front was predicted to move in late in the night but arrived early. Killing time in the parking lot waiting for the rest of the riders to finish suiting up, I began goofing off in an attempt to alleviate boredom and get some blood flowing to my cold body. Bunny hopping retaining walls, pulling wheelies, doing endos, things I do all of the time. Included in that mix was the old freestyle trick the rock walk, basically a 180 pivot on your front wheel followed by a 180 pivot on the rear wheel. Not exactly anything spectacular or even hard, but when the rear wheel touched down I was already well sideways and heading for the ground. I extended my arm to catch myself and POW!, in an instant my elbow was dislocated. My arm was fully extended but the forearm was shifted a couple of inches to the side and there was no hope of bending it. I had bounced back up right away but someone suggested I sit down. I initially I resisted but decided to heed their advice as a wave of pain came over me. I ran my good hand down the contour of my arm just to confirm what I already knew, things were not good. I made a quick attempt to force things back in place on my own, but nothing was budging. Being surrounded by some good people, I had a few people ready to bail on the ride and take my to the ER. Liz took we to get fixed up and Jason, loaded my bike to his car so I could retrieve it later. It's nice to know there are always other MTBers that have your back.

By the time we got to the ER the pain factor was increasing and it was difficult to find a way for my stiff arm to hang at any type of angle to keep pressure off of the joint. The whole thing was weird. Luckily I was admitted right away, but it still took a lot of time for an initial evaluation and x-rays. Option 1: mild pain killer and they'll try to wrench this thing back together and I can drive home afterwards. Option 2: Heavy narcotics, put me back together and get a ride home. Now I know what you are thinking, option 2 is a no brainer. But, being 30 minutes from home and having to have someone drive me home not to mention dealing with somehow getting my car in the morning left me requesting option 1. I was given a shot and then left there for it to kick in.

Well, let's just say this pain killer, when it finally started to kick in 40 minutes later, wasn't much better than Ibuprofen. At least that's what it seemed like from my perspective at the time. The doc and his assistant came in, one holding my upper arm to stabilize it, the other gradually turning, stretching, pulling and pressing down on my forearm like a big lever trying to get things back to normal. It felt like I had zero medication at this point and the arm still wasn't popping back in. Finally the doc said that had to go with the good stuff, so I was hooked up to an IV and a minute later was feeling comfortably numb. With my muscles sufficiently relaxed it was much easier for them to get things back in place. The sound things made when it popped back, well I hope I don't hear that again.

So, I'm off the bike for a bit, hopefully it will be a quick recovery. If I can ever get a hold of the ortho doc I'll find out exactly how long I'll be out of commission. Three and a half days after this all happened my arm looks like the picture below. Tasty, eh?

- riderx

 

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