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.