Thursday, March 08, 2007

Adventures of Unipedal

Date: March 8
Mileage: 5.1 (Made it further than last week)
March mileage: 6.2
Temperature upon departure: 34

This is the second time this week I've become self-aware of my own ridiculous behavior, and felt compelled to photograph it. Since I obviously set this picture up, I probably didn't look quite this ridiculous for the better part of three miles. But the truth can't be that far off.

I think my doctor is right about the resistance of outdoor cycling. It's just too much, too fast. But I made good on my promise to myself to try, and mostly good on my promise to stop once it hurt. Juneau received a massive amount of snow early in the week, and that's been followed up by a warm spell and a steady stream of sleet and rain. The snow pack funnels all of the melt-off into the streets, which means shin-deep slush, snow dams and flooding that can reach knee level. You don't pedal in this stuff. You ooze through it.

I noticed the strange feeling return almost immediately, and by mile 1, there was definite pain. By mile 1.5, I was mindlessly pulling my leg off the pedal. At mile 2, I just left it there, rigid and sticking straight out like a splintered board.

You'd think that pedalling with one leg would be either twice as hard or twice as slow. In reality, it's both. Since three weeks of rest and relaxation haven't exactly done wonders for my muscle strength, my left leg became tired pretty quickly. I made it another half mile that way, grinding through the slush at 8 mph. Cars streamed by and launched slush geysers far over my head. I wiped the cold goo out of my eyes and thought, "I must look like an absolute idiot." Out came the camera.

I feel a little frustrated about another defeat, but not that much. I can't expect whatever injury I have to become instantly healed just because I went to see a doctor. I thought a little more about my doctor's advice to wait another 10 days to get an MRI (I already have an appointment set up to do so, should I decide at that point that it's needed.) I think it's sound advice. I have considered the possibility that he's just waiting for my insurance check to clear before he welcomes me back in for tests. I mean - truthfully - young, single people who show up at a clinic driving cars like mine don't have the best reputation for paying their medical bills. But there's also the fact that ... however slowly ... my knee is getting better every day. If that stops happening, I'll start waving my Visa card around. I'm sure somebody out there will hook my leg up to a scanner. Until then, maybe there will be more Misadventures of Unipedal.


  1. Jill,
    I admire your tenacity in riding and repairing the knee. (Nice way of saying I think you might be crazy! lol) But seriously, have you tried just one legged spinning on the evil trainer? I did some one legged spinning on my recumbent over the winter, working on pedal skills.
    Perhaps some light one legged spinning on the bad leg would help. More effort, without as much impact.

    Just an idea. I read your blog daily. Keep fighting!

    Jim in Utah

  2. Jill: You're young. You can get back in shape in two weeks -- easy! You want something that looks strange? We're doing our regular morning training ride on the levee yesterday in New Orleans and we're stopped on the side of the road fixing a flat. A rider comes rolling past us on the bike path and suddenly all conversation stops. He's on a mountain bike with 4-inch wide snow tires, wearing ski goggles, and dressed like he's halfway through the Sustina. The temperature is 65F. Any of your riding buddies vacationing down here this week??

  3. Be careful with the one legged biking. It's pretty common for people to damage their uninjured limb compensating for the weak one.

    Randy: There's no way that guy was from Alaska or any other place it gets really cold. At 65F, anyone who spent the winter up north has shucked down to show an indecent amount of skin. Dude was a local.

  4. It would not take much of a fall to really injure yourself worse. It sounds to me like you're just being hard headed. You paid for professional advise (something that you had to convince yourself to do) and the advise was great. Yet you went out and rode anyway, completely ignoring the advise.

    You might have to wait 3 weeks to ride, but if you hurt it again now with a fall, you could be out months or more.

  5. I don't post often to blogs but take your doctors advice and rest that knee. I know from experience what can happen when you don't. If you want to be able to walk and function without pain when you get older rest that knee. If you have to do something get on the trainer and spin without any resistance at all don't try for a workout just try to move the knee through the motions. Quite frankly I would be bugging the Dr. to move the MRI up sooner so you can find out what's going on.

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  7. Jill, I really think you should give your knee a chance to heal up. I know it can be hard and I used to do too much when I was injured too. You also don't want to lose any more muscle strength than you need to. Keeping your muscles strong will help keep your knee stable. I'd stick with the trainer so you can control the resistence and not jolt your knee.

    I have also found that taking glucosamine and chondroitin does make a difference. It's subtle but I still feel I heal faster. Hammer makes Tissue Rejuvenator which has them and some other good stuff. I don't know how easy it is for you to get their stuff up there but you should be able to get something that has glucosamine and chondroitin at a health food store.

  8. Jill,

    It seems like you are getting a lot of feedback, and hope it's not frustrating you. That's the problem with blogs - you open it up to the peanut gallery.

    When I was 22 or 23 I broke my patella (knee cap). It was a partial break, but it hurt like hell. I was coaching a ski team at the time, and kind of had to do dryland with the kids. I rode with one leg. It wasn't fast, but it worked. Clipless pedals might actually help you get a more efficient pedal stroke.

    Do you have any races coming up soon? The injury sucks, but it seems like it happened at a good time, all things considered. It didn't prevent you from doing well in Susitna, and the races of the summer are quite a ways off. Hell, Soggy Bottom is in September - even if you can't ride till April or May you'll be fine. In fact, your body might be thanking you by then for this time of rest.

    Didn't you write you had a gym membership? Even if you don't I'd take an hour a day and do some stretching and core work. The aerobic fitness isn't that big of a deal...that will come back quick. But muscle strength is a bigger deal. Keep you core strong, upper body, and do what you can with the lower body. Therabands work pretty well too. And use that ride time to stretch! Relax, put on some good music, stretch and zen out.

    Check out the book "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind." It has some awesome sports psychology, including visualization exercises to heal injuries quicker. It's really excellent.

    You mentioned your weaknesses in athletics are balance and coordination. Perhaps this is the perfect time to work on those. I'll bet you could try a yoga class - any instructor worth his or her salt will ask what injuries you have and accomodate your schedule for it.

    This will seem like a blip in the long run. The bottom line - be an athlete, but maybe use this as a chance to diversify your athletic ability, and, in the big picture, improve overall.


Feedback is always appreciated!