Friday, November 26, 2010

We're Racing Bicycles!

Yup! Tomorrow is the day: my first race back after the amputation. Come out and join the fun, and ride your bike in the "Cross out Cancer" fundraiser. I know, it's been stinking cold, but the weather is supposed to warm up quite a bit tomorrow, so get your mountain bike out, bring the kids, the cousins, the college buddies, your significant other, your mother, and do a lap to help fight cancer!!

My fitness is still pretty lousy, but i can clip in and out of my pedal with some level of confidence now, thanks in part to the new mtb foot that the good guys at Emotis put together for me.

New CX and MTB foot, custom made from the Emotis Ibex.

They took the tread off one of my MTB shoes, removed it from the shoe, glued it on the carbon foot plate, then also recessed the foot plate to add an adjustable cleat. I gave it a little go yesterday at Wheeler and found it's a lot easier to clip in and out of, and has a nice overall feel, especially when jumping out of the saddle.

Big thanks to Joe at Peak Prosthetics as well, for fitting the new MTB foot to my socket. Joe also put together a new road cycling foot for me. Since i don't really need to run or walk while road cycling, he went straight from the pylon to the cleat, a speedplay in this case, without a foot.

This obviously eliminates all the extra slop of the plastic foot cover and shoe that i have if i put a road cycling shoe over the carbon foot, and thus increases power. I'm still experimenting with cleat placement a little, but overall it feels great. It gives me a much smoother pedal stroke, especially over TDC when i'm out of the saddle.

As is customary of this time of year, i've given some thought to what i'm thankful for. I have a long list, but, given the events of this past summer, solidly at the top of the list right now is LIFE!!

There are a lot of other things as well, but suffice it to say on this crisp, sunny November morning that i'm extremely grateful to be alive, to look out my kitchen window and see the dogs wresting in the snow and the chickens and turkey strutting around the backyard looking for scraps of food (i'll bet that turkey is pretty grateful to have made it past Thanksgiving as well).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

silver linings

Thanks to some advice from Sam K., i've figured out how to unclip by turning my heel in, rather than trying to turn it out. This doesn't work because of the positioning of the crank arm on the forward stroke of the pedal, but once i hit the bottom of the stroke, i can turn my heel in and unclip without too much problem. Thanks also to the Revolution crew who have helped me with some minor adjustments to my cleat and shoe that have also helped. So with the major obstacle of getting out of my cleat solved, time to race!!

Looks like slowmo, but i'm really just going that slow. It's a lot harder to get your foot over the barrier when you don't have any flex in your ankle, but i'll get the hang of it with some practice.

I've been getting in practice laps here and there between announcing races and though i'm still not in great shape, and don't have much of a run yet, i'm excited to race this weekend, especially considering it's also the "Cross out Cancer" fundraiser for the Livestrong Foundation at Wheeler Farm.

Bring the family, bring the bikes, wear yellow, have some fun while racing bikes (or just taking an easy lap), and support the fight against cancer. There will also be a silent auction in the barn at Wheeler Farm. After the "cross out cancer" ceremonial lap, i'm going to race the Men's 35+C group. This is a shorter race, with guys who are theoretically slower, so i'm hoping to be able to hang in there and put in a good effort. Hopefully next year, after i've been able to develop some better fitness i'll be able to compete back in the 35+B group again.

This past week I also had my first post-amputation follow up screening. Doc Jones did CT scans of my lungs to check for any tumors or irregular growths, and the scans came back clean! So far, so good! I go back again in March for some more comprehensive scans, x-rays, and MRIs of my lungs and leg, and that's the way it will go for the next few years, scans every 3-6 months to make sure nothing that shouldn't be there starts growing again. In the meantime, "We're racing Bicycles!!"

Monday, November 8, 2010


I'm coming up on three months since the amputation this week. Things generally get a little easier and i'm a little more mobile each day. I shrunk out of my first socket (the part of the prosthesis that my residual leg sits in) in about three weeks, so Joe fit me for a new one last week. You can see in the pic below how much extra sock padding i had to wear to keep the socket fitting snug.

So now i'm on my second socket, and i got a new foot which is a little more heavy duty. It's a bit better for walking, but actually not as good for cycling. The design of this foot is a little different, which causes the cleat on the cycling shoe to be positioned further forward in relation to the juncture of the foot and the socket, and this creates a bad angle for maintaining a good, circular pedal stroke. It's most evident when i get out of the saddle to pedal and really have to get over the top of the pedals, even forward a little, to avoid having an awkward transition over TDC. I'm hopefully meeting with some guys from emotis this week, however, to work on some custom road and mountain bike feet. That will hopefully also help with the clipping in/clipping out situation, as i still can't unclip at all with my road shoe, and have just now managed to clip out on the go with my mtb shoe, but only if i really concentrate and crank down on the foot.

Yesterday i rode Emigration Canyon to the top of Little Mountain from my house. This was my longest ride so far since the amputation (3 hrs.) and i was beat by the time i got home. This was probably also due to the 30 mph headwinds i had from the mouth of the canyon back to my house. It was also the first climbing of any sort of done since the amputation (although Emigration is a pretty moderate climb). I decided to try to TT from the bottom to the top just to give myself a benchmark, though it wasn't really a TT since my HR wasn't pegged at my LT, but it was the best effort i could muster given my current state of conditioning. The ride took me 39:50. Not that great, but i guess not too bad for losing my leg three months ago.

Next week i got back to see Doc Jones for my first post-surgery CT scans. Actually he took some CT scans of my leg before i got the prosthesis to make sure the bone graft was healing up correctly, but this will be the first CT scans specifically to check for any more signs of tumors in my lungs and lymphatic system. Although i'm hopeful that we got everything when we cut my foot off, i'm still a bit apprehensive, as i'm sure you can imagine, but here's hoping for the best.

I've also set a specific date for my goal to do a cyclocross race before the end of the season: Nov. 27. This is Thanksgiving weekend, but, to add to the significance, will also coincide with the "Cross out Cancer" Cyclocross weekend. Cross out Cancer is being organized by David O'Leary and Matt Ohran. Matt is the Utah Cyclocross series promoter and David O'Leary is the father of Connor O'Leary, a young and talented cyclist now fighting testicular cancer. This story is a little dated, but you can read about Connor here. After David approached Matt about putting together a fundraiser, Matt asked me if i was interested as well, and of course i said yes. Regardless of whether Lance doped or not (and i'm not saying he did, just saying "even if"), he beat cancer and the LAF has grown to be one of the biggest fundraisers and advocacy groups in the fight against cancer.

My family has faced cancer twice. Just over ten years ago my sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She's had two major surgeries to remove the tumor, and underwent chemotherapy as well. She is doing well now, but the danger that it could grow back is always present. And now i've also faced the DB and SDB trying to take over my body, but hopefully we routed their efforts before they could get much of a hold. I'm amazed, as others have shared their stories with me, how many lives cancer touches. Like David O'Leary said to me the other day, if cancer hasn't touched the life of someone very close to you, it will. Often we only hear the tragic stories of those who are diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that quickly takes a life. But i've been consistently impressed with the stories of so many cancer survivors who i've met in the last few months, my sister included, who have prevailed. Cancer is a piece of shit disease, it kills and maims, but i am grateful for the community of cancer survivors and those continuing their battle with whom i am becoming acquainted. These are truly amazing and courageous people making the best of their lives despite cancer's best plans to sabotage them. And i'm truly grateful for the amazing medical personnel at the Huntsman Center who continue to serve me and so many others with professionalism, humanity, and a depth of knowledge and experience.

But i digress, as i was saying, Nov. 27 at Wheeler Farm will be the Cross out Cancer fundraiser to benefit the LAF Livestrong Foundation. The event will include a silent auction in the barn at Wheeler, and then at 12:20, an abbreviated CX bike race with a suggested donation of $15. So bring the family, wear yellow, and come ride your bike to help fight cancer. If you haven't ever tried Cyclocross, this will be a great, non-race, easy ride opportunity to give it a try, as well. If you don't have a bike, well, come out and cheer. Mama Glenn even has a megaphone she'll probably let you borrow, as long as she's not yelling at "Rocky Sweet Pea" to pick up the pace.

And after the fundraiser ride, i hope to race the men's 35+C division for my first race back from cancer. Hope to see you there!!