Sunday, August 31, 2014

Macho Man beef'd up

Twitter keeps telling me that #cxiscoming.  Its also telling me #crossisdead.  WHICH ONE IS IRONIC?! Although I think my favorite is #crossisdad due to the fact that so many guys who race cross are middle aged fathers.

I'm officially reg'd for some races and I'm ready to get this experiment rolling but my bike was still in 'road mode' until yesterday.  Conversion to cx mode was incredibly easy and just reaffirmed my thoughts that this is the best build idea I've ever had.  So versatile and so orange.

Conversion really only consisted of new chainrings and tires and swapping pedals.  Thats it.  BOOM cross mode.  I also splurged on some bar tape.  Lizard Skins DSP 2.5mm, pricey but AMAZING.  Its a bit 'rubbery' for lack of a better term but the increase in shock absorption is awesome and its even got a bit of stickum to it.  If you can get over the price tag I Highly recommend it (with a capital H).

Swapped out the 50/34 compact road setup for a more cx friendly 46/36.  Its still an ok range of gears for general road riding so I probably could still put the 25c tires back on there if I wanted to do some longer road rides this fall.  Although I definitely missed the 34 on a couple of the steeper dirt roads back by the house on my test ride this morning.  I actually got away without needing to drop the FD a bit.  Shifting was fine on the stand and on the ride this morning but I'll probably drop it a bit before racing to make sure I'm not dropping the chain constantly.

For tires I went with the Clemente Crusade PDX.  Eric is all about the Clementes and they seem to make some great stuff.  Particularly in the gravel and cx arena.  They mounted up awesome.  Ever since #shittywrists became a thing I have a huge appreciation for tire manufacturers who size stuff correctly so you don't need to give yourself a hernia getting the tire on the rim.  Not going to run them tubeless this year.  I've had so many issues with tubeless on my MTB that I've just assumed that the Universe doesnt have that in the cards for me this year.  Plus I've heard some horror stories of tubeless setups not working well with cx at all but I guess we'll see.  They seem like a good all-round tire and traction was great on the jeep roads today.

I'll probably be modifying some of my lunch rides to have some cx practice mixed in.  Maybe ride Gyro and ride around in fields and run up embankments and the what not.  Maybe jump some barriers, who knows I don't know how this stuff works.

keep CX weird

We got a diagnosis or what?!

I'm kinda getting sick of talking about my #shittywrists but I figured one final(ish) update made sense.  I went back in to see my Ortho last week(?) week before maybe, I forget.  Mainly to touch base and bring him up to speed on the progress made during my first big block of PT.

He seemed to think that based on the progress I've made and the behavior of the pain / recovery that it is unlikely that it is anything really nasty like RA.  Which is good news.  But he did say that based on everything hes seen between X-ray, MRI, and his physical examination of my wrists etc. that in his opinion there is some sort of 'seronegative arthritis' present.

Seronegative is a very general term that is used to describe a whole bunch of different kinds of arthritis (caused by all different kinds of things) that don't have the rheumatoid factor and will not show up on blood tests.  These types of arthritis are commonly much less severe and can in some cases completely resolve themselves.  They can also be very cyclical and can come and go based on some trigger or other environmental factor.

Many seronegative forms can also target tendons not just joints which is why he is leaning in that direction because one thing we have learned through the course of PT is that the last remaining pain/mobility issue that I have and more than likely the root of my problems is an angry Extensor Carpi Ulnaris or ECU.  In a lot of ways you could probably call my issue chronic tendinitis.  We just don't 100% know what is causing the inflammation.  Could be arthritis or it could be I destroyed myself riding rigid started the repetitive stress train rolling and now I can't stop it.

The (sort of) good news is that either way; seronegative arthritis or epic repetitive stress the strategy going forward is the same.  Work any and all anti-inflammation techniques and supplement with PT to keep mobility and strength.  So thats whats I'm going to do.  Targeting the ECU has really gotten me to that next plateau.  I can ride my road/cx bike basically pain free on lighter terrain.   Diffuse pain during the day is far less and if I keep compression on the tendon itself that helps a lot.

As funny as this sounds there is an off chance there is some shoulder and back involvement as well that could be hampering my recovery which could have been introduced from ergonomics at work.  I've made some tweaks recently and I have an appointment to have some Graston done on some back and shoulder muscles to try and hit the reset button and loosen everything down through.

So there you have it.  For simplicity sake I think going forward I will refer to my wrist issues as chronic tendinitis possibly caused by seronegative arthritis. I'll keep battling and getting gnar as best I can. #POSITIVITY

Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Month Slips by...

You'd think by my silence here and with my continuing health issues that I'd be doing nothing and falling into a deep deep depression.  But you'd be wrong.  If anything I've been too busy to post and my wrists have been ping-ponging so much every time I think I have some progress worth reporting things relapse and I think I'm screwed once again.

But I'm happy to report that my wrists have trended well for long enough that I feel like updating on that front as well as all the other crap I've been up to.  Last really bad weekend I had was my bach'fest weekend.  I don't know if anyone noticed.  I've gotten pretty good at compartmentalizing the pain.  Not sure what I did but Saturday night into Sunday morning was less than awesome.  Luckily that weekend was 150% full blown awesome so it more than balanced things out.

Luckily I had a PT appointment shortly after that trip and we tried a new treatment called Graston Technique.  It's fairly brutal but I love it.  Basically involves a series of metal tools with different shapes / edges that get 'scraped' along muscles to break up adhesions.  Doc went to town on my right forearm and the next day was a complete 180 from that #shittywrist weekend.

There have been a few mini relapses since then but I've gotten a second Graston treatment and some new stretches to focus on the remaining aspects of my mobility that have improved the least since we started and they really seem to be helping.  Everyday I'm gaining more and more confidence that this isn't something nasty that is insurmountable.  I'm heading back in to see the Ortho in a week or so and I will be pressuring him hard to use his Doctor brain to posit some additional theories other than Rheumatoid.

In and among the ups and downs I've managed to stay pretty active this summer, albeit without any racing.  This ordeal has created a bit of a shake up in what I can and can't do for fun and fitness and some good has actually come from this.  Not only have I managed to stay fit but I think I'm probably climbing as well as I ever have on my road bike.  VAM numbers are consistently over 1,000 and I've even been flirting with road KOMs again.  Ideally I would love to be able to ride off road a bit more but road seems to work a bit better for me right now and being able to do gravel and dirt on the Macho Man has been awesome.  So many new loops and opportunities for really interesting rides.

For instance last week Eric and I rode out of the shop and in the span of 18mi got over 2,000ft of climbing taking in the access road up the back of Belknap Mountain.  Crazy steep dirt switchbacks, actually felt like a true alpine climb although it wasn't really all that long.  Then after the sketchy descent we cut through the woods on an old trial that was just a bit wider than singletrack.

My inability to get on a bike first thing in the morning due to wrist stiffness has also introduced the lunch ride into my arsenal.  I loved commuting but I think I might like consistent lunch rides better.  I think one of the big reasons my fitness is what it is right now has been these faster / harder 10mi loops on lunch.  Target a few segments and before you know it I've been accidentally training for CX for weeks.

Speaking of CX that should be hilarious.  I've got my USA Cycling license and I'm looking forward to showing up to my first Cat 5 race in a full on pink skinsuit.  I think CX could be my savior this year.  I can get my racing fix without a huge time commitment or as much risk for my wrists.

I'm interested to see what this will mean for me long term.  Assuming I get past this whole wrist thing I can't honestly say its likely I return to my full blown MTB race schedule of years past.  If CX works and I like it I see myself targeting 2-4 MTB races with the primary goal being the team and having fun then getting a few additional CX races in the Fall.  I know now I can get my fitness without racing a bike hard all the time.  Without the full race schedule this year I've gotten to spend more time with Gina which has been great.  Trips to the beach, getting up to Littleton.  I was able to snag a 4,000ft'er with Mike.  Racing is great, setting and reaching goals is great but ultimately meaningless when compared to the other stuff.  Don't forget to enjoy the view.

Who knows maybe I had spent too much time leaning in one direction and this whole year has been the Universe helping me to balance things back out.  I would have preferred a less drastic approach but if I'm being honest with myself nothing short of this would have worked.