Mount Snow summit, 29 November 2014

bringing it all back home: #projectfemur hits the slopes

Well, it was bound to happen: last Saturday, I donned my trusty Lange boots, clicked into a well-worn pair of skis, and got on a chairlift.

Destination: to ski again, this time at Mount Snow, Vermont.

I happened to be up north for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, staying with sprite’s folks in north-central Connecticut. We drove up to Connecticut in a winter storm that produced much rain, freezing rain, sleet, graupel, and snow, arriving to a wet, 5-inch accumulation in Connecticut. But that same storm dumped 12-14 inches of fresh, fluffy snow on top of a very good man-made base at Mount Snow, so my choice of venue made sense. Also, it’s only 90-or-so minutes from sprite’s folks’ place, so the drive isn’t an all-day time suck.

I arrived at the resort about 20 minutes before the lifts started turning, and there was already a large queue at the Bluebird Express lift, the only chair serving the summit of the mountain. That was fine by me, as I wanted to start my day on something a bit less of a full commitment. So, after picking up my lift ticket (pro tip: buy online in advance, it saves a decent amount of money), I donned my skis, tightened the strap on my new Briko helmet, and proceeded to the Canyon Express lift, which serves the lower half of Mount Snow’s front face.

As I rode solo on the lift (all of the crowd – and I mean all of it – was heading toward the summit on Bluebird), I surveyed the open terrain: two rolling intermediate-level slopes, recently groomed, with excellent snow cover. I assessed my legs, and both seemed up to the task. I did have a little trepidation, as I wasn’t able to get a needed shim installed on my right boot to compensate for the loss of femoral length (1.5 cm) on #projectfemur. But this was going to be a low-key, low-speed day, so being a little bit out of balance wasn’t a big deal.

Most of all: I was elated to be back on skis!

As I promised myself and friends, I took it easy. The lack of shims on my right boot meant that turns involving said foot would be awkward, and that flat-footed gliding would be nigh-on-impossible. But, just like riding a bike, the feel came back. My back wasn’t in the best of shape (strained it a week prior), so I decided to mete out my runs in small chunks. Eventually, I waded into the crowd to catch a ride to the summit, where I snapped the panorama you see at the top of this post – it was a beautiful day, ideal for skiing and being outdoors.

After three runs of short-swing, slow GS turns, and stance drills, I retreated to the base lodge for coffee and some light stretching while I waited for the lunch spot to open. I figured that taking an early lunch would allow me to enjoy shorter queues as the crowds ate.

As you can see, the queue for Bluebird Express was quite large while I ate my chili and enjoyed a local microbrew (and Canyon Express was handling the overflow, and had a decently long queue, as well):

After lunch, I decided to explore more of the open terrain at the mountain, heading over to the Carinthia area. Yes, it’s technically a terrain park, but this early in the season most of the runs are groomed, without the rails, jumps, and other trappings of the park crowd. The snow was soft and easy on my legs and back, and I was able to enjoy a slow ride up one of the few old-school, fixed grip lifts remaining at Mount Snow.

I skied until 1:45pm or so, as my lower back started to ache and impede my skiing motions. I managed nine runs for the day, soaking in each one as I did my first outdoor bike rides back in August. There was a lot of smiling, laughing, and joyful yodeling easily traced back to me.

Yes, there’s work to be done – namely, getting my right boot shimmed and re-aligned to the new reality of #projectfemur. But it was skiing, it was brilliant, I was back in my element – home, again.

Julie and Sam on a raft

use the road safely (in memory of sam felder)

One year ago today, my friend, Sam Felder, was riding his bicycle to work, as he did most days. He said goodbye to his wife and daughter, then set off for his office at Facebook.

Only on November 18, 2013, he never arrived at work. Instead, he was struck by a car at a dangerous intersection. He suffered severe brain trauma, spent time in multiple hospitals and rehab centers, and eventually succumbed to his injuries on April 11, 2014.

Given I’m a year-round bicycle commuter, and given Sam was a big-time proponent of using a bicycle for everyday tasks (and for making the roads safe for everybody), here’s my plea to all users of the road:

If you drive a car/van/truck, please be mindful of your fellow road users, especially the most vulnerable: pedestrians and cyclists. Obey the posted speed limits. Stop at all stop signs and red lights. Check your blind spots. Use your turn signals. Give cyclists at least 3 feet (1 meter) of clearance when passing. Only pass cyclists and other motorists when absolutely safe. Never use your cell phone while driving. Never text while driving. And don’t get angry at slower road users, as they have every right to be on the road.

If you ride a bicycle, please be mindful of you fellow road users, including fellow cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. Make eye contact with drivers. Ride courteously, but visibly. Wear bright clothing, especially if you ride before sunrise or after sunset. Use lights when it’s dark or raining. Indicate what you plan to do with clear hand signals. Don’t run red lights or stop signs – ever. Ride predictably. Don’t talk on your phone or text while riding. Be kind to your fellow rider, and encourage your fellow cyclists to do the same. And don’t snap at motorists: you win more fans with kindness than anger.

If you are a pedestrian (including runners), please be mindful of your fellow road users. Be visible, especially at night, and wear bright clothing. Don’t tune out the entire world with your music, as hearing is a safety mechanism. Make eye contact with your fellow road users. Don’t jog in bike lanes – ever. Smile. Act predictably.

For any mode: be the best advocate you can be for complete streets.

Above all: be safe. It’s the least that Sam would want as his legacy. If you can, chip in a few bucks in Sam’s honor to The Alliance for Biking and Walking. Volunteer with your local cycling or pedestrian advocacy organization. If you drive, join an auto club that also supports cycling and walking.

And say “I love you” to your loved ones. Hold them close. Show them you care.

R.I.P., Sam Felder. And we love you, Julie and Sylvia.

(Cover photo by Sam Felder, covered by Creative Commons.)

Image courtesy og Getty Images.

ten on tuesday: the music died too young

The first of two (!) posts today, inspired by Carole’s typical prodding. Her topic: list ten musicians who you wish were still on this mortal coil.

  1. John Lennon. Need anything be said here?
  2. George Harrison. Again, need anything be said?
  3. Otis Redding. He finally had mainstream success the week he died. Such a voice…
  4. Buddy Holly. I think he would’ve given The Beatles a run for their money in the early 60s.
  5. Freddie Mercury. Even though his voice was damaged from smoking and his failing health, he brought the show. And now that homophobia isn’t a thing in rock, I think he would’ve flourished.
  6. Eva Cassidy. She was blessed with a wonderful voice, but was only hitting the big time when cancer struck her down.
  7. Keith Moon. I think he had a lot left in him, and The Who was never the same after his passing.
  8. Jon Entwistle. Same goes for “The Ox,” whose bass lines and licks were always stunning.
  9. Rick Wright. The quietest member of a quiet band. His keyboard sound was the glue of Pink Floyd, and his recent work with David Gilmour was most lovely.
  10. Janis Joplin. Oh, those blues. Oh, what a self-destructive life.

I could carry on: Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Dusty Springfield, Cass Elliot, and so many more deserve to be on this list. But that’s my ten.

Anybody you’d add to this list? Leave a comment!

(Cover image courtesy of Getty Images.)

pink-floyd-collage-i-taylan-soyturk

music review: “the endless river” by pink floyd (a bit of a #tbt moment)

I never thought I’d write a review of a new Pink Floyd studio album, given a few key facts:

  1. The band hadn’t recorded anything since the sessions for The Division Bell in 1993 and 1994.
  2. Rick Wright, the band’s keyboardist, died in 2008.
  3. The still-living members – David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and (even though he’s not legally part of the bad anymore) Roger Waters – seemed content with solo projects and sitting in on other artists’ recordings.
  4. The only recent activity from the band, as a whole, has been reissues and “best-of” compilations, due in no small part to their jump between record labels.

Hell, the last time a new Pink Floyd album was released (the live P.U.L.S.E. set with the fancy LED blinker), I was in college and looked like this (my #tbt moment for this post):

My mugshot from the Connecticut College Voice, 1995 - oh, the hair...

Yes, bits and bats of new stuff were released over the years, primarily in the form of bonus discs in the three “Immersion Edition” box sets for The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and The Wall. But these were still reissues and not entire albums of new material (yes, my purchase of the Dark Side set marked the 5th CD copy I’ve owned of the album – collectors, I tell ‘ya). Frankly, I thought the band was truly finished, and I was completely OK with that notion.

That said, this past Monday a package awaited at my door: the new Pink Floyd studio album, The Endless River.

The Endless River has arrived!

This album has been over 20 years in the making. In fact, one song – “August 68″ – features an organ track dating back to that very year, recorded on the sly at Royal Albert Hall. Most of the sessions date back to the era of The Division Bell in 1993-94, with the presumed best picks used for the aforementioned album.

However, this album was originally intended (depending on who you ask and when) to either be a two-disc set (one disc of ambient instrumentals, the other featuring lyrical songs), or the precursor to an instrumental collection called The Big Spliff.

Yet these sessions ended up mostly forgotten in the Pink Floyd vaults (likely in David Gilmour’s personal archive), while the members of the band went their separate ways after the huge Division Bell tour. Wright went on to record and release his excellent solo album, Broken China, in 1996. Gilmour retired to life as a husband (to author Polly Samson) and occasional session musician. Mason worked on an exhaustive biography of Pink Floyd, called Inside Out. In 2006, Wright worked with Gilmour on the latter’s On An Island, with both embarking on a short supporting tour for the album.

(And sure: in 2005, Waters joined the other three for a one-off reunion at Live 8 – but that’s neither here nor there, other than being an excellent performance.)

So when word leaked that, sometime in 2012, Gilmour and Mason dusted off the old Big Spliff tapes and were compiling a new album, I was intrigued. Would it be any good? Would it sound like Pink Floyd, and carry on the spirit of the band? Would Wright’s playing be buried under overdubs and loops?

The answer: it’s a fitting denouement to the group, a great listen, though not without its faults.

The album is laid out in four parts (which really only works when played back on vinyl – I only have the CD/BluRay version for reference). There is only one song – the album closer, “Louder Than Words” – with any true lyrics (written by Samson). And most of the playing is by Gilmour, Wright, and Mason, with most additional backing coming from musicians who worked with Pink Floyd for the 1994 tour or for Gilmour’s 2006 solo tour.

From the get-go, the album is full of tell-tale Floyd atmosphere: disjointed voices, keyboard textures, and fluid guitar, essentially picking up where “High Hopes” (closing track of The Division Bell) left off. The first two tracks are longer pieces, at 4:27 and 6:17 in length, and flow seamlessly into each other (as is the case with all four “movements”). The purely instrumental approach hearkens back to the various pieces on early Floyd albums, like A Saucerful of Secrets, Ummagumma, or Atom Heart Mother, and it works well on The Endless River.

Wright’s keyboards are featured prominently, mixed higher than they might have been had this project been completed in 1994 or 1995. And Gilmour’s guitar is its usual lyrical self, weaving through Wright’s keyboard textures. Indeed, the three principal musicians are in fine form throughout.

In particular, Mason’s drums have never been stronger. He eschewed drum machines and sequencers for almost all of his work on The Endless River, and even re-recorded most of the parts he laid down in 1993 – to the better, I’d say.

The weaknesses are in the brevity of some of the quality shorter pieces, which deserved a bit better. The album is only 53 minutes and change in length, so there was plenty of room to expand: even on a two-disc vinyl version, you can fit up to 30 minutes of audio per side without major compression issues. Indeed, some strong pieces are featured on the bonus DVD/BluRay editions, and while a couple would have been tougher to integrate into a seamless soundscape, they could have been incorporated into the whole with a few creative production touches.

My second gripe is with the closer, “Louder Than Words,” and its sometimes ham-fisted lyrics. Don’t get me wrong: Polly Samson is quite adept at writing excellent lyrics, as she did on many Division Bell tracks (e.g. “Keep Talking,” “High Hopes”). And the focus of this song – that, despite all of the infighting that happened within Pink Floyd, the band created musical magic when they simply played together – is clearly written.

But some of the couplets and word choices seem to strain a bit. The opening line:

“We bitch and we fight”

might come off a bit stronger as:

“We curse and we fight”

to these ears. And then there’s the line:

“Let’s go with the flow, wherever it goes”

It just sounds…. weird.

Frankly, while I know it would never happen, I would love to hear what Roger Waters would have done with this tune if given the simple “write a closing eulogy to Pink Floyd” directions that Samson followed. While I’m not sure Waters would have followed anybody else’s direction (especially Gilmour’s, given their historic animosity), I can envision a far stronger lyrical package.

Additionally, having Waters contribute to what is a tribute, in no small part, to Wright would have been a lovely gesture. Alas…

That said, The Endless River is a fine album, and begs to be listened to as a contiguous whole. In fact, it works really well when listened to in sequence with The Division Bell. I can also see somebody (not me, as I haven’t the patience) mixing the two works together to create a bit of an ur-album for the final iteration of Pink Floyd.

If this album is, as Gilmour and Mason have suggested, the true end of Pink Floyd as a band, I’m happy with that. No, it’s not in the same league as The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, or The Wall, but it’s no More, either.

Precinct 14: my polling place in DC.

getting locally (and not-so-locally) political: nov 2014 elections

As I did before the April 1 primary, I’m delving into local political endorsements. For my #projectfemur, cycling, skiing, coffeeneuring, and random post fans, I’ll post something a bit more to your liking later this week.

To carry on with the political stuff, go below the fold…

Continue reading

starting re-entry… slowly… (#projectfemur)

It’s less than a month until I’m back to riding full-time on the road. I’m keeping busy during that time.

The workouts continue, with increasing intensity and focus. My time in the gym is spent mostly either in the weight room, where I’m building leg and arm strength, or in the stretching area, where I can work on core strength and flexibility. The latter is something I’m working on a lot in PT, where Scott and Megan have been working diligently to make my repaired leg every bit as capable as its healthy neighbor.

Next challenge for that: rotational flexibility. To visualize what that is: I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor right now, as my right leg can’t rotate and lie flat just yet. Soon – just another goal in my sight.

This morning I started the next step in my bike training with Matt at District Cycle Works: morning workouts on a Wahoo Kickr. This is a major step up from the Star Trac eSpinner I’ve been using at the gym, as it allows me to use my own bike for the workouts. It also pairs with my Garmin Edge 500 and my iPhone to record my rides and the associated data, including power output. This opens a whole world of possibilities for my workouts as I head into the home stretch.

Most of all, though, it’s fun to be able to workout with friends who will actually converse with me.

Wahoo!!!

That’s something that’s sorely lacking at the gym, where folks tend to fold into the insular shells provided by the ever-present earbuds.

Just so you don’t think it’s all about the bike (do I owe that Armstrong guy a royalty for trotting out that phrase?), I’ve also spent some time on the beach, where I tested out my run.

Running!

It was awesome!

I’ve also been dipping my toe back into local government – very local, as in the Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee. Basically, this committee advises the ANC (which is a step below the District Council) in all matters walking, cycling, parking, and parks. While I was brought into the fold because of cycling, as a pedestrian during my convalescence, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge of mode share issues that affect this committee. I’ve already penned a letter to DDOT, asking for follow-through on motions passed by the ANC back in 2012, and look forward to doing – and learning – more as my tenure grows.

And I’ve been working with some of my fellow ski coaches to come up with a fitness plan for our junior racers. I’d like to see all of the athletes come into the ski season in peak physical shape, not only to allow them a great chance of meeting (and exceeding) their goals, but also to provide them more safety against injury. Hopefully this will get some traction within the team – I know similar plans helped me achieve my skiing goals when I was younger.

What else is there to say? Sometimes you need to look at the details to see where you need to go…

Shados in surf

Maybe Jimi Hendrix said it best, regarding the impending next steps of my #projectfemur recovery:

“And so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually.”

Sandcastle at Bethany Beach

six months and i am impatient (#projectfemur)

It’s been six months (and one day, as I started writing this on the 11th, and it’s now the 12th) since my injury – since #projectfemur began.

I am not, by nature, a patient person. My patience is wearing thin in terms of indoor workouts. I’m riding the spinning bike, lifting weights, stretching, and it’s tedious and boring. Sure, I see and feel positive results, but I’m not sure how gym rats do it all year long.

Yes, I can hike, but I haven’t since the Connecticut trip. I have the Rock Creek Park trails close to home, but I’ve been oblivious to their draw. Perhaps the spate of afternoon thunderstorms has me leery to go into darker, wooded areas. And the mud around here is slick, which isn’t conducive for sure-footed hiking.

And while I’ve discussed the idea of going to yoga classes with sprite, that hasn’t become a reality just yet. Perhaps this coming week, that can be fixed.

I’ll also finally start my indoor trainer workouts on the Wahoo Kickr this coming Tuesday (at *cough* six effing thirty in the morning – a time of my own choosing, I admit), which will mean riding my own bike. And I’ll be riding with friends, riding to some intense workout programs, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll be a better shot of my own version of “vitamin A.”

“Vitamin A” is the adrenaline thing I mentioned in my last post: I crave it, and I’m not getting it from my current high-intensity indoor training, at least not in amounts that register with my psyche.

So I celebrated my six month anniversary of #projectfemur by riding a bike to Friday Coffee Club.

It was on a Capital Bikeshare bike, rolling slowly on the lowest traffic roads between The Burrow and M.E. Swing’s.

It was liberating.

I smiled a lot.

I felt free.

And that’s likely it for outdoor rides until mid-August.

Y’see, I did it on the sly. I didn’t let anybody know until it was over – not even sprite.

It was, any way you look at it, a boneheaded, selfish, childish move.

I didn’t feel like I was in any danger at all. CaBi bikes handle very predictably, are fairly slow, and are perfect for an initial foray into outdoor riding. At least that was my approach to my 1.3 mile ride.

But I hadn’t told anybody I was riding, not even sprite – a big mistake, if you look at my current risk level. I didn’t have anything on my person explaining that I’m on anticoagulant medications, just in case I got into an accident and needed medical assistance.

As I admit: it was a very irresponsible thing to do. And while I enjoyed it at the time, as the day wore on, I knew I hadn’t gone about the ride in the proper way.

So I’m in the doghouse right now. sprite was right to be mad at me, and I don’t expect those feelings to subside soon. What I did was hurtful and insensitive. Given all she’s done for me during #projectfemur, it was a truly dumb move on my part. I am most sorry for that.

I think I’ll stick to the complete mental torture that is indoor workouts – and the occasional hike here and there, with friends – until I’m off these (now likely unneeded) meds. It will do my body good, if not my psyche. And while I can commute via bike, taking the precautions that I didn’t this morning, I can see myself forgetting to let sprite know I’ve made it to my destination. That would be a deal breaker.

We’ll see. All I know is that I caused a lot of grief that I do not wish to repeat.

Days since surgery: 181

these are days… (#projectfemur)

Somehow I managed to not publish any updates in June. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s not as if I was doing nothing.

The weekend after Memorial Day, sprite and I went to Bethany Beach, Delaware, to get away from things and enjoy the surf. The water was “New England warm” – i.e. 60°F/14°C – and the air temperature was mild (as has been the case with most weekends this summer). We managed to see the sunrise over the water, which was extremely beautiful and worth the pain of rising so early in the morning.

Sunrise over Bethany Beach

Leaving DC for the weekend was effective at getting my mind out of “I’m missing the bike” mode – at least for a little while.

The rest of the month had highs and lows: days where I’d feel like I’m moving forward, and others where I questioned whether there was any point in doing the work needed to get my leg back into shape. Indeed, the nice weekend weather, combined with the fact that my flexibility level and basic leg strength are good enough to get onto a bike, tore at me.

All. the. time.

Yet I soldiered on. I continued with my intensive PT regimen, with Scott and Megan working me, stretching me, poking and prodding me (i.e. dry needling), giving me new “homework” assignments every week. I work hard to “ace” these assignments, and tend to do quite well in exceeding expectations.

And there have been breakthroughs. I can balance on my bad leg:

Balance

And I’ve been working out on a Spinning® bike that I’ve setup to my road bike’s measurements:

Spinning

I do well on the spin bike, but I call it “going nowhere – really fast!” I’ve discovered that I like indoor cycling about as much as I like riding the bus: it’s OK for collecting my thoughts, it is a means to a (fitness) end, but it’s not overly enjoyable. I do workouts that mimic stuff I’d do on a normal bike – endurance riding, working on form, intervals, et al – but it’s not the same as real cycling.

There’s no change of scenery, save for whatever TV program is on the little screen. The tiny little fan on the control panel blows a feeble stream of wind across my brow (no way to setup a good box fan at the gym), and the eSpinning® bike doesn’t react like a real bike. To “shift gears” means turning a resistance knob where the top tube should be, and if I stand to “dance” on the pedals, the bike doesn’t rock under me like a real bike.

Hello, my name is Rudi, and I’m an adrenaline addict in serious withdrawal.

Granted, I’ll be working with a Wahoo indoor trainer starting this coming week (I hope), and that should get things moving in a better direction. I’ve cleaned the drivetrain of the Pedal Force to get it in shape for this next chapter:

Shiny chain

Still, these stationary bike workouts are not analogous to real cycling.

Trust me: I feel like I should be out there on the roads. I know I could be out there, riding safely, and enjoying the hell out of the ride. But it’s not in the cards just yet – thank you, anticoagulant meds. To say I’m displeased is an understatement.

I am finding ways to mix things up. For example, a couple weekends ago, I went on a nice morning hike in the hills of northern Connecticut:

(Click on the picture to see it in a bigger size – it’s a nice view from the top of Soapstone Mountain in Shenepsit State Forest!)

I also built a tiny Intel NUC for sprite’s dad. They are amazingly tiny – and very capable – computers for the money.

Intel NUC vs. CD

(Yes, it is smaller in width and depth than a CD case – very tiny, yet powered by a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM!)

And I repaired my 9-year-old (!) iPod, replacing its dying hard drive and dead battery. I also replaced the batteries on my old heart rate monitor (to use in the gym), and finally sent my old Garmin Edge 500 (with its blown-out screen) for a warranty repair (hey – GPS data in real time!).

I’ve also has some incredible, high quality time with sprite. Y’see, during a typical summer, I spend a great deal of weekend time away at long bike rides. As she’s not an endurance bike rider, she stays home, while I’m gone for huge chunks of daylight time.

This summer, we’re doing more things together on the weekends. From traveling to the beach, to walking around town, to exploring new places, to simply sitting in the park and reading in the sunshine, I am enjoying this time with her quite a bit.

sprite at the DQ

While it’s not the summer is typically experience and enjoy, it’s satisfying.

I hope that the rest of the summer contains more fun travels. Right now, there are a few variables that need to be nailed down before sprite and I can commit to doing anything more than a weekend jaunt to the beach or the mountains (and if it’s sprite, the beach always wins out).

There are many things left to do. I need to continue with the #projectfemur recovery (which is still on schedule, much as I’m still grousing about it a lot). I want to take advantage of the summer. I want to see my endurance cycling friends (hey guys, it’s me, Rudi – remember me?). I want to hang out more with my DC friends. I want to see movies, eat out, cook out, camp, hike the VA, MD, and WV mountains.

And I want to ride my bicycle.

So there is an upside, right?

Right?

34 more days… 34 more days…

Days since surgery: 175

now it’s getting really tough (#projectfemur)

The end of May has been very, very trying for me.

The weather has turned drop-dead gorgeous. Temperatures aren’t too high, the humidity hasn’t been too thick, and everybody is working out outdoors.

Except for me, that is.

And I’m really in a funk as a result.

It’s really gotten to me this weekend, as today was the Mountains of Misery century, something I’ve done almost every Memorial Day since 2007. It’s typically my first big event ride of the season, and this year it would’ve been the first long event of the year after a handful of road bike races.

But thanks to #projectfemur, I wasn’t there – and it’s crushing me.

I should’ve been out there, but I can’t.

There was a generous offer to head down with one of my friends and either volunteer or “coach” from the sidelines. But that wasn’t what I needed to do – it would’ve been just as tough, I think – perhaps even tougher.

I’ve been working really diligently with my PT to rebuild my strength and flexibility. But improvements are now very minute, less tangible, and less rewarding in the short run.

I realize I’m on my own path this summer, that I can’t gauge my performance against my cycling friends, and that I need to find the happiness where I can. But it’s proving far tougher than I expected.

As I fully expected, working out indoors is proving to be less than ideal. Sure, it is getting me back in shape, and helping to rebuild my flexibility. But I just don’t get the endorphin fix that I get from my outdoor bike rides. There’s a good reason that I steer clear of spin classes, and riding an indoor trainer is proving that, loud and clear.

To me, riding a bike indoors – whether on a spinning bike, an exercise bike, or a bike on a proper indoor trainer – is akin to substituting masturbation for sex (I know, graphic analogy, but as I’m being blunt…). It’s not the same, it provides little of the satisfaction or reward. I’ve not yet done any work on the Wahoo indoor trainer, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s still working out indoors. It’s having a fan blow on me while I physically go nowhere, instead of seeing actual distance pass under my tires, with the wind blowing through my hair, the birds chirping, and so forth.

That said, it’s my only option right now, so I need to suck up and deal.

Granted, the outdoor pools in DC have reopened (though only on weekends until mid-June – not overly useful for regular workouts just yet), and swimming laps will be something I can, and will, do. And I’ve had rowing recommended to me as a good way to keep in shape and address areas that cycling tends to miss (e.g. back and core muscles). So those things are in my future, for sure.

And there will be some hiking, once my leg is a little more stable and sure-footed. That’ll get me out with some of my cycling friends who also like to hike – a definite plus.

But that’s still a bit far off in the future. And I really, truly want to be on my bike, riding in the fresh air, getting the sun and the breeze, and being with my cycling friends in our “native territory,” so to speak.

And it’s not happening. It can’t right now, and there is no proper substitute.

I’m a bit angry with my hematologist for keeping me on the anticoagulant meds for a full, six-month course. If it wasn’t for that, I could commute by bike already. Even that would make life a lot better than it is now. I know it’s petty and a bit myopic, and that I’m being kept on the meds for a valid reason, but the voice that drives my motivation isn’t placated by that at all.

August can’t come soon enough.

And even then, will my riding be up to snuff? I know plenty of friends who I don’t ride with that often under normal circumstances (because my pace tends to be fast), and I’ll be able to ride with them. But when I ride with my normal crowd, I worry they will simply leave me in the dust, heaving for breath to catch up – or that they’ll spend half of the ride waiting for me to arrive.

That isn’t an appealing thought at all.

I know from past experience that I tend to bounce back well from injury, and tend to be stronger than I was before said injuries. But my femur break and surgery are far and away the worst injury I’ve ever experienced, so this is a great unknown. There is no precedent in my life experience for this kind of recovery, and I’m simply not sure what to expect.

Will I be stronger than I was pre-injury? Will I still be as capable of climbing the hills on my bike? Will I still ski with the same confidence and strength? I simply just don’t know.

And given I feel like I’m being left behind, like my improvement is going incredibly slowly, and my patience is razor-thin, having big unknowns in my life leaves me grasping at thin air to find some direction.

sprite has helped me as much as she can to try to keep my spirits up – she rocks. So have many of my friends, for which I’m grateful. But this is still a battle that is very much my own, and one that only I can tackle.

I need to find a way to right this ship and find something positive to go on. I need ideas, because I just don’t have any right now. The lows are outweighing the highs right now, and that needs to stop.

As I said: August can’t come soon enough.

Days since surgery: 134

disconnected (with a side of progress) #projectfemur

Right now I feel like a spectator.

I feel disconnected.

Disconnected from the world I know and love.

Disconnected from many friends.

Disconnected from “normal.”

Things have been going well with my healing. My leg grows stronger every day. I’m to the point where, as long as the surfaces I walk on are fairly smooth, I can walk without a crutch and without any major limp (this crutch-free walk is still very much a work-in-progress). The flexibility I depend on for my agility and power is coming back, bit by bit. I’m putting in the hours on a recumbent stationary trainer at the gym, and am very close to being able to sling a leg over a regular bike, which will open me up to the world of more proper bike trainer simulations. And my outpatient physical therapy is working wonders in getting all the various and sundry pieces of “normal leg function” into place.

Really, I’m happy about this – elated, even.

But it’s still not quite right.

I miss my friends.

They ground me. They entertain, provide a sounding board, provoke conversation, and so much more.

And right now, I feel disconnected from most of them.

I miss my cycling friends a lot. I can follow their exploits via Strava, emails, and whatnot, but it’s not the same.

I’m not hanging out with them like I usually do. And when they go out on an epic ride, or compete in a well-known local race, I hear about it after the fact – sometimes well after the fact.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know, as it simply makes me jealous and angry that I can’t be out there – rubbing salt in the proverbial wound. But there’s another part that wants to know simply to relate, as cycling is the root of these friendships, even those that have grown beyond the realm of the bike.

So I sit here, stuck. Sometimes, I simply want to throw my crutch across the room in frustration.

My cycling friends are neck deep in training for the big events of their seasons right now, and I don’t want to derail their efforts. All the same, I want to see them, hang out, socialize, even if it’s not on the bike. It could be anything: watching the Giro d’Italia stages in the evening, or going out to dinner or for post-work drinks, even a gym workout – anything would be an improvement.

And my non-cycling friends are similarly busy right now. Weekends are often the best times to hang out, but my close DC friends have a lot on their plates right now, some of them fun, others decidedly not. They were there for me (as were my cycling friends) when I was in hospital and needed the company. Since I’ve been out of hospital, I’m grateful for the times I do get to hang out with them, fleeting as they may be. Perhaps the month of May will settle things down a bit.

But, as I said in the opening of this post, I feel like a spectator to a life I miss. It gnaws at me and makes me feel like things are passing me by, even if they aren’t doing that at all. The feeling of an invisible wall between where I am and where I’d like to be is evident, even on the best of days.

Injury, you are cruel and cunning in your efficient wresting of normality.

Yes, I am more grateful than ever for every step I’m able to take on my right leg, for the fact that I will be back on the bike and back on skis, and that I am still, essentially, healthy. But injury still has me slightly by the scruff in terms of disconnecting me from the things that keep me sane.

I want to re-connect.

I need to reconnect.

I need the balance to return.

And I’m fairly sure I’m the one who needs to make the first move.

thoughtful. entertaining. random.