A lot of people have been asking me how I got hurt. It's sort of hard to explain, so I created this graphic reenactment.
Yes! I’m BACK IN THE GAME and will be continuing my goal to bicycle from Canada to Mexico on September 7th. Having missed one day from my schedule (South Bend, WA to Astoria, OR) due to my knee injury, I’m heading back early to make up that missed day, and then I will be back on schedule, cycling Oregon in the People’s Coast Classic starting September 8th. If everything goes right, I’ll be cycling 14 out of 15 days, arriving in San Francisco on September 21st. At that point, I have a 6-day break before I am scheduled to resume for the balance of my journey from San Francisco to Mexico.
Everyone knows I like to tell stories and mix a little humor and drama into my daily updates and blog. But when I have REAL drama, it’s no fun; it's just embarrassing. Two visits to the hospital in four days? Finding out I have a torn meniscus and having to pull out of the ride five days after I started? Ugh! Then, finding out when I get back home that my knee problem was not the result of a torn meniscus after all, and I have an opportunity to pick up where I left off!?! Jeesh, now we’re talking reality TV! But that’s exactly where I am today.
A day after I got back home, I was examined by the highly-recommended orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Grady Jeter. Prepared to hear that I needed meniscus surgery, I was thrilled when Dr. Jeter informed me that my (possibly slightly torn) meniscus was in no way responsible for my knee pain. Instead, I had an infrapatellar fat pad contusion − a bruise on the fat pad beneath my kneecap. That bruise became more and more inflamed with each day of riding until I could no longer bend my knee.
The best news was that Dr. Jeter told me I could return to the ride as scheduled. It's not likely that I'll be 100% (I feel about 90% now, but that's without putting stress on the knee), but I won't be risking further injury either. If the knee becomes inflamed again, the resulting lack of mobility will stop me in my tracks, as it did before.
Our hope is that with physical therapy, adjustments to my bike fitting, anti-inflammatory medication, a more cautious riding style, and ice, ice, ice, that I can get through this thing without the knee acting up again. But we won’t know for sure until I seriously test it back on the ride. For now, Dr. Jeter is not giving me a cortisone shot, and he says it's because I am doing so well.
Stay tuned for coming attractions because more drama is sure to follow! In the meantime, I have updated my blog with more photos and some editing (the pda web site editor is prone to error). I will restart my daily updates to my supporters when I return to the Pacific Northwest. I hope you’ll continue to follow me and post comments to the blog when I’m back on the road.
Finally, thank you all for the tremendous support. I have now raised a little more than $25,000.00 for arthritis programs and research! Lindsey is still flaring but she is much better than she was three or four weeks ago. Just in time, too: she has been accepted into San Jose Ballet, and starts classes next week.!
Today I got on my old Specialized (feels like a tank compared to my Wilier) and rode maybe a half-mile. I had hoped it world go better, but I still have 13 recuperation days left, so I'm not discouraged. I had no problem spinning in a low gear, but I could tell that I wasn't ready to stand and put added pressure on my right knee. When I tried to stand, I definitely favored my left leg, putting minimal pressure on my right. Some of that was psychological, out of fear that I might cause further damage. But it's definitely weakened and a little sore.
One step (or should I say spin?) at a time. I think I'll wait until after my doctor's appointment on Wednesday before I email my supporters and let them know I'm coming back. But that's still the plan. On September 7, I will make up the South Bend to Astoria Ride that I missed, and then I will be back on schedule, at least temporarily, beginning September 8th..
My appointment with Dr. Jeter this afternoon could not have gone any better. After about 70% of my knee mobility returned in the last 48 hours, I had a glimmer of hope that I might be able to try to finish what I started. Dr. Jeter opened that door wide for me when he told me that a meniscus tear was not my problem. He did say I may have a small tear but that tear (if it even exits) is minor and not in the location associated with my pain.
Dr. Jeter believes I sustained a bruise on the fat pad under my kneecap and that I have "infrapatellar fat pad contusion inflammation." Essentially that means I have a bruise under my kneecap and that the motion of cycling was making it worse (like repeatedly biting the inside of your cheek after an initial bite causes swelling). The fat pad in the knee has a lot of nerve cells, so any injury to it is extremely painful. That was certainly the case for me.
I'm not quite ready to send out an email to my supporters yet but I wanted to get this posted on the blog for anyone who might be following closely enough to be checking in. The plan is to start two weeks of physical therapy tomorrow, with regular icing of the knee. I will then return to South Bend, Washington on September 6th, and ride the last 55 miles to Astoria, Oregon on September 7th. At that point, I will be back on schedule, joining the Pacific Coast Classic on September 8th for the ride down the Oregon coast.
This sort of bruise does not heal overnight, so it is possible that it will return when I start riding again. I will do everything I need to do to mitigate the problem, but I also need to be prepared for another setback. The good news is that I'll be closer to Mexico no matter how far I get, and I am not going to do any permanent to my knee. You're essentially precluded from doing any real damage because the pain becomes so intense, you literally cannot spin, and if you cannot spin, you sure aren't going to get very far.
I'm going to see how the next 48 hours go and if everything continues to progress, I will send out an announcement.
In an hour, I see the highly-respected Orthopedic Surgeon. Dr. Grady Jeter. While prepared for the worst, I cannot help but get my hopes up a little. In the last 48 hours, about 75% of my range of motion has returned to my right knee. By tomorrow, I think I might actually have enough range of motion back to do some easy spinning. As it stands, I have missed just one day (55 miles) of my scheduled Canada-to-Mexico trip. I am not scheduled to start my next leg until September 8th, which means I have 2-1/2 weeks to mend before I would need to make up the day I missed and get back on schedule in Oregon. Maybe...just maybe....with a brace, a cortisone shot, ibuprofen, ice, different spinning style, etc., I can get the green light to at least give it a try.
Having said that, I'm anticipating that Dr. Jeter will tell me that by continuing, I will risk more serious injury to the knee and if that is the case, I'll do whatever I need to do to get the knee fixed and BikeTheCoast13 rescheduled.
As I write this, I'm on the bus from Astoria to Portland. Not a cloud in the sky and I'm aching to be on a bike and not a bus. Given everything I've heard so far, I'm optimistic that I'll be cycling again soon, picking up where I left off. In the meantime, I thought I'd leave you with few more lessons from the road and a couple more images of things I saw and people I met. You'll see that my sense of humor has been left unscarred.
I didn't catch this guy's name but he was from Escondido. He asked me if I knew how to get to Portland. Looks like he is riding one of those old Schwinn Stingrays with the banana seat, except in his case he had two small banana seats. I asked him what the other one was for and he slid up onto it and said "hills." Sorry I missed his face - took this while riding.
I didn't realize there were any video stores left but here's one that thrives on selling videos in the possessive.
This is Chris. Very nice man who served our Country in WW II. Since he had that Blue Angels hat on, I asked him if he flew for them. He hadn't, but he did fly for the Thunderbirds and then had a career with Alaska Airlines. Chris was going to move back to Alaska to be with his daughter, since he had pretty much lost his eyesight. He told me, "I can see that you're there but I can't really see what you look like". I told him to watch out for the highway right behind me.
Random Ramblings & Lessons:
I'd like to start with this. This sucks and I'm bummed. But that's the end of looking backwards for me and I hope you will all join me in looking ahead too. I don't receive sympathy well, but trust that I know that each and every one of you cares about me. If you can join me and look ahead, you will have done everything you can do to empathize.
I have a "partial medial meniscus tear in my right knee, starting in the body to the posterior horn". I won't know exactly what that means until I see a specialist and Kelley is already working on that. I don't expect to be on a bike anytime soon; that's about all I can say for sure right now. If I had to guess (and it's only a guess), I'd say I generated a small tear in my right knee during my Port Townsend ferry fall, and that I tore it further over the balance of that day and the next three days of riding. Assuming it's treatable, which I have to assume it is, I plan to pick up where I left off, here in South Bend, WA.
Look, I am fine and I have everything I could ever ask for in friends, family and co-workers. While this ride is still an adventure that I plan to complete, what it is REALLY about is my commitment to my daughter Lindsey and her disease, juvenile arthritis. I'll get over what I have. Her future is more questionable, but your support gives her cause a fighting chance for a cure.
And with that said, let the jokes and the encouragement for BikeTheCoast13.5 begin. And no, you won't have to donate again!
Seriously? Am I a drama queen or what? Yes I'm back in the hospital and fortunately this time, there was a hospital in the town where I'm staying, South Bend, WA. Why am I here? My "non-injured" right knee continued to get worse last night, and this morning I could barely bend it. I went for a half-hour walk, in hopes that it would loosen up. Then, I tried to see if I could ride, hopeful that it would feel better on the bike. But I was unable to complete a single revolution.
I'm not sure why this happened, but I have a couple of theories. The knee is meant to pivot in a rotational direction only. These types of injuries are from repetitive motion (I complete about 5,000 rotations per hour while cycling), and when that motion is askew even slightly, you compound the problem with every stroke.
I trained for long rides so it's not as simple as over-extending my mileage. However, I have been stopping and starting dozens of times per day, and I think the injury is associated with that, combined with the fact that every time I re-start, I'm needing to get an additional 15 pounds of baggage rolling. Maybe I'm not gearing down enough, and putting undue pressure on the knee I favor from a standstill.
Another possibility, I suppose, is associated with my other trip to the hospital. Maybe I overcompensated for my injured left knee? Only problem with that theory is that my left knee never did hurt. Another thought is that I tweaked something in my right knee when I fell, and it didn't manifest itself until I complicated matters with three more days of riding. Finally, maybe my bike position is off (highly unlikely) or maybe I over-trained and this injury is happening because that "training" has elevated yet another notch (decent possibility).
Let me finish (for now) with this. BikeTheCoast13 is happening. I may not be able to get to Astoria today but I'll hang here a day or two if I need to, and then I have two-and-a-half weeks before I hook up with the People's Coast Classic in Oregon. That is where I plan to be. If for some reason that's not possible, I will still get back on track and get to Mexico. You can book it.
11:20 AM POST MRI UPDATE: First off, thank you for the comments, texts, and emails. Your thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated! My only request is to stay upbeat and don't refrain from letting me have it with humor just like Kelley did - she knows me well! In the grand scheme of things, this is no big deal. I don't want to feel sorry for myself, so don't feel sorry for me. Keep me laughing. This isn't a heart attack, for Christ sakes! As I was thinking while I was getting that MRI, it's my first MRI ever. Lindsey has already had four.
I was fortunate that they have a mobile MRI unit here and it's only at this hospital Monday and Thursday. At least they should be able to tell me what's going on today. Results could take an hour or two. Stay tuned. Oh ya, blog comments are still best. I want to stay off of email entirely until evening. If you want to send me a private message, text me at 408.605.1521.
Day 4 was a short day and I needed it after the 87.4 miles I rode the day before. Road conditions were decent, the route was flat, traffic was light, and the weather was much the same as the day before - overcast with off & on drizzle. I still haven't used my windbreaker or my emergency poncho It's warm enough to not need the windbreaker, and to be fair, it hasn't rained all that hard even once yet. Just the typical Washington drizzle where it rains for 30 minutes but you're mysteriously still not wet.
I took several photos, which you can see on my Day 4, Westport to South Bend blog. There wasn't much to see in the couple of towns I went through - Grayland (aptly named) and Raymond (the rust art capitol of the world). Still, the route was filled with more awesome scenery and my first views of the Pacific Ocean. The (relatively few) miles just melted away, and South Bend is a cool, little town with the charm I'm looking for (and getting) at all my stops.
Only problem with South Bend is the new "hot spot" in town closed early because they ran out of food. And well, it's also pretty much the ONLY place in town open past 6:00. The grocery store owner must be the mayor because that's where everyone goes to dinner..
My right knee (not the one I injured) stiffened up after the long ride the day before and it was very sore before I started off on this ride. I typically do not have knee problems, but I did experience the same thing in my first CCC. The good news is that (like many cycling injuries), it seems to hurt least while riding. I'll ice it and hopefully it will run its course.
The Seaview Motel is another ideal overnight spot. Heather runs the place; it's clean, has nice flowers in front of every room, and I can walk to town. There are a couple of other cyclists staying here tonight too. One guy is from Santa Clara on a week-long trip and another couple who are cycling from Seattle to San Francisco.
Day 4 Recap: Westport to South Bend, WA
Actual Miles: 39.0
Cumulative Miles: 259.7
Elevation Gain: 240'
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 7,761'
% Distance to Mexico: 13.8%
With the Pacific finally on my right, I'll pass through Grayland, then wrap around Willapa Bay to South Bend, known for its oysters & scenery. I may take a side trip to Tokeland, at the tip of the peninsula, but we'll see how I feel about adding those few extras miles. Since smoking weed is in fact legal in the State of Washington, I've got a feeling I know what Tokeland is all about. It's a scheduled shortie, only 37 miles today.
I'm feeling good this morning, although my knee is hurting. And no, not the one I injured. The other knee is sore from riding. Knee soreness was unexpected. I haven't had that since the first CCC. Can't have it now!
Well, forget about that Tokeland stop for munchies. Richard and Tracy from the Westport Bayside B&B served us an incredible breakfast! Since it's wet outside anyway and the forecast looks better later, I decided to have breakfast here, and it was a very good move!
On the road now, passing through Grayland, the sort of funky coastal town that I'll be seeing a lot of from here through northern California.
Okay, I'm posting several photos now of the day's ride. It was a good, easy one. I needed it! I hadn't been able to post because I had no data connection most of the way. I suspect GPS location wasn't getting posted either. Had to find a spot in South Bend with wifi.
On August 14, 2013, I'm flying to Vancouver, British Columbia and beginning a 29-day, 1,880-mile bike ride from Canada to Mexico.