Monday, February 23, 2009
I’ve raced the old Durango downhill course on a cross-country bike.
I’ve ridden the Arenberg Forest without a helmet.
I’ve raced in Cat 4 office park criteriums.
I’ve ridden on the Virginia Beach boardwalk in summer.
I say these things not to indicate that I am a daredevil (I am not), nor that I possess any special talents in riding a bicycle (I don’t). I state them only to illustrate that in my years of bicycling life, I have managed to do some things that carried a good possibility of injury, yet through luck and ignorance have managed to emerge unscathed.
Despite surviving intact these instances of questionable judgment, I’ve finally received my first serious cycling injury, and I’ve done it in the most embarrassing way possible – falling from my bicycle on my way to work. For the record, I was not wearing a neon windbreaker nor a pants-cuff retaining device, and I do not have a beard or panniers, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Even so, what hurts the most is that this landmark injury will not carry with it a story of swashbuckling competitive derring-do or hilarious drunken antics, but rather a tale of not paying attention while trying to get to a 10:00am conference call. I think the call was about acid rain, but that’s not important right now.
In medical terms, what I have is called a superior labrum anterior to posterior (or SLAP) tear. In human terms, that means I tore the ring of shoulder cartilage that forms most of the socket that the upper arm sits in, and which anchors the bicep. In personal terms, it comes down to “it hurts when I do this” and some serious loss of range of motion. The orthopedist figures I likely dislocated my shoulder and popped it back in while I was flailing my way to the tarmac, tearing the labrum in the process.
Just for fun, I did three more ‘cross races on it, then ignorantly hoped for another month that some rest would clear it up. It didn’t, so finally my nocturnal screams of agony forced my wife to force me to make a doctor’s appointment. Since that initial visit, though, I’ve gotten to spend an hour in the MRI tube, get a couple of cortisone shots, and do 16 pre-op physical therapy sessions to restore lost motion. This evening I get to have surgery, which may or may not involve some anchors in the bone. Then it’s drugs, lots of Tivo-ed Tour of California, 3 weeks in an immobilizer sling, and a few more months of physical therapy.
So, if things seem a bit slow here at the Service Course, that’s why. But if anyone asks you, tell them I did it descending the Kemmelberg. In the rain. Drunk.
Not to worry, though. The Service Course will not become one of those whiney, introspective blogs wherein my personal experiences are magnified, embellished, thoroughly dissected, and fortified with ersatz emotional angst and reflection. No, this little gig is about professional and/or competitive cycling -- and as we’ve already discussed, I’m neither a professional nor competitive.
So, we’ll just have to leave me out of it, and play a bit of catch-up on what’s been going on in cycling since that stale last edition of the Service Course. The recent release of Campagnolo Super Record has illuminated the fact that 10 is no longer enough of anything, so in honor of that group’s release, we present:
11 Things That Have Happened Since the Last Post
1. Niels Albert crashes during a pre-ride and ruptures his spleen; Sven Nys augers into a barrier and suffers a black eye. B category ‘cross racers worldwide feel better about themselves.
2. Belgian elite men’s team bucks years of tradition and works together to deliver the ‘cross world championship to Niels Albert. Holy shit.
3. The U.S. women’s elite ‘cross team puts in some fantastic rides at ‘cross worlds. Said rides go unnoticed as the world is distracted by the squad’s saggy, baggy legwarmers. USAC to retain crappy skinsuits, invest heavily in safety pins.
4. Frank Vandenbrouke announces comeback with new Cinelli team headed by Nico Mattan. Team fails to gain UCI license, delaying VDB’s comeback du jour. Nobody is remotely surprised. Mattan declares, “Frank will ride Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.” Nobody believes him.
5. Lance Armstrong returns to professional cycling at the Tour Down Under. Prices for yellow textiles, paint, and chalk soar as dormant fanboys drowsily reengage in a festival of yellow-hued man love. Hours later, the Service Course wakes up, scratches, and urinates yellow in a coincidental show of ambivalence and dehydration.
6. Floyd Landis returns to racing. Doping religious right takes to the message boards; Tyler Hamilton overheard emitting heavy sigh of relief.
7. Bjorn Leukemans also returns to racing, world fails to notice.
8. Die-hard Gerard Vroomen fans weep quietly as Fabian Cancellara wins Tour of California prologue on a Specialized; mindlessly mutter Carlos Sastre’s name through tears.
9. Columbia team adopts white shorts; Mark Cavendish debuts signature “look at my junk” victory salute at the Tour of California.
10. Alejandro Valverde finds himself re-embroiled in Operacion Puerto, courtesy of CONI and some DNA. Valverde rumored to be rumored to sign with Rock Racing in 2011; team owner Michael Ball planning to not sign contract, wear stupid hat.
11. Maynard Hershon longs for the good old days and asserts that anyone newer to cycling than he is just doesn’t get it – for the 50th time – on the back page of the new VeloNews. In honor of golden anniversary, adds new “you kids get off my lawn!” tag line.