Saturday, March 9, 2013

So a triathlete walks into a triathlon shop...

And get this... I just happen to work there.

So he walks up to the counter, purchases an item for his tri-bike, and asks if I'm Chris. A bit surprised, I say yes. He them goes on to mention that he read my blog and knows about my crash from last year. I was kind of freaked out, thinking that out of the millions of people in Los Angeles, someone who read this freakin' thing would walk into the place I work at (I started Monday!) and ask if I'm the guy.

Anyway, I figure if someone out there who isn't a close personal friend or family member is reading this, then I may as well dust it off and try again. After all, third time's the charm, right?


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ouch. (Alternative title: Typing with one had sucks)


Saturday was probably one of the scariest days in my life, for both me and my parents and family.

Some backstory:

Saturday morning, I woke up like any other morning. I weighed myself and saw that I had lost another 3 pounds. Yay me! Afterwards, I kitted up, inflated my tires to the proper PSI, and rolled off to meet with my friends for a group ride.

The ride was pretty uneventful. We rode from CSUN to a market on Mulholland Dr, enjoying (suffering) up a few hills on the way there. I say suffering because there were a lot of faster climbers than me on the ride, and I was trying my damnedest to keep up. We rest at the market for a bit, then head out for the rest of the ride.

Everything was fine until we got to Wells Dr. We all climbed, but somehow I made it to the top off the hill first. At the top of the hill, I got into the drops and started my descent. As always, the wind felt amazing, and it was one of the best feelings in the world. Further along, I saw a few cars stopped at a stop sign. I started to slow down.

From here I don't remember much, or rather, anything.

I woke up on my back, staring at the sky, surrounded by other members of the SFVBC.

"Don't move, wait for the paramedics to arrive!"
"Is there anyone you want me to call?"

I woke up in a daze, thinking I was still dreaming. As my vision cleared, I realized this wasn't a dream. I was in a bike crash. I had been unconscious.

I felt blood dripping down my face. I couldn't breathe. Every breath hurt. I couldn't control my breathing, taking shallower and shallower breaths. I tried to sit up, but the enormous pain coming from my shoulder made me rethink that. I asked them to call Alannah first, but she didn't answer. Then I had them call my father, who also didn't answer.

Then the paramedics showed up.

They cut up my Fat Cyclist kit. They had to. I understand that. But damn, I loved that kit. It had so much sentimental value.

They asked me a lot of questions. I was able to answer all of them.

They stabilized my back and my neck, then hoisted me onto a gurney and into the ambulance. They told me where my bike would be stored, and off they took me to the nearest ER.

After numerous x-rays and cat scans, they rolled me into a room, and shortly after, my parents walked in.

With my neck in a brace, I didn't see them walk in, but I certainly heard them. Or rather, I heard them crying upon seeing me. Let's face it, I'm an ugly beast as is, and covered in blood, I'm probably much worse.

Hearing them cry, I started to. Which is a bad thing, because breathing was still painful. Crying just made it worse. I was able to supress it, and we chatted for a while before they switched with my grandparents. Later, I was wheeled off for more x-rays.

They took me back to my room, where Alannah and my mother were waiting for me. The doctor came in and told me that my ankle was fine, just sprained. I either had bruised or broken ribs, but the treatment for either was the same. Rest and pain meds. There was no swelling or bleeding in my brain. And finally, my shoulder was fine.

I didn't believe them with the shoulder thing for a second. When I tried to lift my arm at the accident site, I felt clicking in my shoulder, and it felt like the bone was moving rather than the arm. I told them that they were wrong, and there was something wrong with my shoulder. They brushed it off, and realizing that I was still in immense pain, despite all the morphine they had given me, they said I could either be discharged and go home, or I could be admitted and transferred to Kaiser. They gave me some time to decide.

Here are a few pictures from the ER.




After cleaning me up, they tried to have me walk around. I barely made it to the other side of the room before collapsing from the pain and nausea. Hell, I could barely sit up without being in tremendous pain.

After discussing it with my family, I decided to go to Kaiser. Once I was transferred by ambulance, they had me do more x-rays in different positions. The ER doctor told me that once my pain was manageable, I would be released from the ER. Since I wasn't looking forward to the hospital bills, I didn't mind so much. Eventually, the Er nurse handed me a stack of papers, saying I was free to go. Among the stacks of papers was my prescription for percocet, a note for my employer explaining I could be out from the office for a week, and explanations of what was going on in my body. They found that I had a separation of my AC joint, also known as a complete tear of some ligaments in my shoulder. That explained why my shoulder was in so much pain.

I went home, ate some chinese food, and went to bed.

I had spent almost 10 hours in the ER, and over that time and through the past few days, I realized a few things:

My family is amazing.
My fiancee is amazing.
I am amazingly lucky.

And most importantly, if I wasn't wearing a helmet, I would be dead. I would have never woken up from being unconscious. I would have left more than blood and skin at the bottom of that hill.

For the love of God, wear your f***ing helmets.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crashing is Fun

Of course, it really depends on what kind of crashing you are talking about.

Going downhill and your pedal hits a wall and you go over the side of the mountain? No, certainly not that one. Rest in peace, Wouter (One year anniversary of his tragic accident was yesterday).

Going uphill and your bike gets caught on some kid's musette bag? Definitely not talking about that.

Sprinting to the finish line and you crash into the barriers because you were looking down instead of looking where you were going? Ouch. No.

Crashing a party? YES. Crashing a marathon?

First, some backstory.

I had first gotten wind of a "crash the marathon" event on twitter. Someone I follow mentioned that they were training for dog tags at the marathon race. I didn't know what they were talking about, but dog tags instead of a medal sounds pretty cool. So I investigated some more. I later found wolfpackhustle.com and saw that they do a yearly "Crash the LA Marathon" bike race and some ungodly hour the morning of the Marathon, when the roads are closed to cars so that the marathon course can be set up. I thought it was a cool idea, followed @wolfpackhustle on twitter and left it at that.

As the days drew closer and closer to that fateful Sunday, I started seeing more and more twitter posts about the race. I started getting excited about it, but I didn't think I could afford an entrance fee for a bike race like this. Then I checked the website.

Entrance was free.

The Friday before the race, I signed up.

The next day, I went on the usual Saturday morning ride discussing with my fellow riders my plans for the following day. That evening, Alannah and I went to pick up my race packet. Once we got home, she went to sleep, because after dropping me off at the meeting point she would go straight to work. On a Sunday. Yeah, it sucked for her, but they needed her to go in, because she is the best hardware technician they have (Hi, Alannah!). Anyway, while she slept, I prepped and inspected my bike, and charged my bike lights.

On March 18th, Alannah and I woke up at 2:45 AM, got dressed, loaded her car with my gear, and we set off for Tang's Donuts.

That was a very cold morning. Thinking it would rain, I purchased full-fingered gloves the day before, since it was raining at the time of said purchase. It didn't rain, but I was still happy at my investment of full-fingered gloves because it was FREAKING COLD. I had a vest, arm warmers, and gloves. The only cold-weather gear I brought with me. They didn't help much to protect from the cold, but I figured it would be OK once we started rolling.

Around 3:30, one of the organizers called out asking for some volunteers to ride ahead with him and block off some of the intersections to prevent any cheating. Knowing that I had no chance of winning the thing, I volunteered. A few others joined me, and we rode on ahead.

A few minutes later, as we rolled on, a large group of cyclists passed us. We then heard someone yell out, "The race is on!"

Needless to say, we all took off.

I was feeling pretty good. I was with a strong group, I was avoiding stupid kids on fixies who only knew how to slow down by skidding.

Remember, kids! Brakes are for smart people!

Anyway, we kept on riding, and then all of a sudden, we were back where we had started. Apparently, there was a false start. And so, everyone regrouped and got ready to start all over again.

This time I was somewhere near the back, so I made no effort to get good positioning. And then, the race started again. For reals, this time.

Braking at higher speeds (and with slicker roads) than I was used to, it was certainly a scary experience. If anything, it improved my bike handling. As the faster riders built their significant lead over the peons (such as myself) I started riding with a group of people going a super cruise-y 12 MPH. I stuck with them because one of the cyclists had a giant speaker, and was bumping music. It was awesome. Cruising through downtown LA, music blaring, and not a car in sight. A cyclist's dream. Rodeo Drive was abandoned. No people, no cars.

Eventually, I remembered that we had to clear off the route within a certain time frame so that the Marathon could start, so I sped away from them. I eventually came upon 2 cyclists who had a flat, but no air. Having brought my frame pump, I lent it to them, and they were able to get sufficient air in their tire to allow them to finish the ride. Yay karma! I would need it, too.

As we got closer to the Veteran's hospital, there was a left turn going into it that is a bit of a climb. As I was turning left, I had sufficient momentum to pass the riders ahead of me. I called out "On your right!" because that was the path I had available to me, and proceeded to go between a cyclist and sidewalk.

Then the cyclist swerved into me. So I bumped him with my shoulder. He was able to correct himself, and we both rolled on. Later, I apologized to him, and he removed an earbud from his ear and said, "What?"

HE HAD NO IDEA I HAD CALLED OUT ON YOUR RIGHT BECAUSE HE WAS AN IDIOT WHO BROUGHT HIS IPOD.

If you are in a bike race, don't be that guy. Please. Something really bad could have happened, and it could have been avoided.

Anyway.

We chatted for a while, and then I rolled off ahead of him.

Before the sun started coming up, I reached the finish line, and a crowd of at least 500 cyclists was already there. I wasn't first, but I wasn't last, either. At the finish line, I heard about some horrible things that did happen during the ride, like a stupid kid on a fixie skidded into another cyclist mid-turn and ended the race for both of them.

Or how a cyclist dropped his water bottle, bent down to pick it up, and was then struck on the head by another cyclist.

Or how someone crashed their head through a van's rear window.

A bicycle is a vehicle, kids. Be careful when riding one and obey all traffic signals and laws. They exist for a reason. You wear a seatbelt when you are in a car, so wear a helmet when you ride. It's that simple.

Anyway, my phone was dying as I called Alannah from the Santa Monica Pier. She was still at work, and unable to come pick me up, so I proceeded to ride to her office building after asking a police officer how to get to a specific street. That was a neat ride, too. Very few cars on the road as I rolled into her building's courtyard. She had just about finished up her work, and we proceeded to load up her car with my gear as we headed to breakfast.

All in all, a great day, and we were able to catch the winner of the LA Marathon crossing the finish line back at her house on TV.

Questions, comments, cheap shots? Lemme know.





Monday, April 30, 2012

The Ride That Wasn't

Another post?! GASP!

Yeah.

So, Saturday morning I woke up and found that my rear tire was a bit deflated. I didn't think too much of it, and after inflating both tires to proper PSI, I headed off for a 50 mile ride with the SFVBC. I was going to be meeting Manny during the ride.

The weather was perfect for a ride, and once we met up with Manny, we were chatting and having a good time.

And then we got to Burbank St. Burbank is a miserable POS of a street, filled with cracks and potholes and pure evil. Before we got to the park on Balboa/Burbank, Manny proceeded to tell me that he hated taking this street. I would soon learn why.

Going eastbound on Burbank, we passed Balboa St and reached a very ruined stretch of road. After taking too many hard hits, my rear tire flatted and I rolled to a stop on the shoulder, trying to keep my bike under control. I had tried calling to the group, but alas, they couldn't/didn't hear me, and they sped off. After changing my tire and inflating the new tube with a co2 cartridge, I was off, trying to chase them down as quickly as I could. I stayed on Burbank, as I hadn't reached Victory Blvd yet (or at least I thought I hadn't reached Victory Blvd).

And then I flatted again. The rear wheel. I changed the tube (I had a 2nd in my saddlebag) and tried to inflate it. I had run out of co2 and only had the one cartridge. Woe is me.

Stranded, I called Alannah to come pick me up. 2 flats within an hour of riding. Damn. To top it off, the rear wheel is now wobbly. Going to be taking my bike into the shop this week for a repair, which I hope won't be too costly. Oh well. This just means I have more time to train in the other 2 sports I'm not very good at: Running and swimming.

The Redondo Beach Triathlon is coming up on June 10th, and I seriously hope to beat my previous time of 1 hour 39 minutes. My cycling has significantly improved from last year's tri, as has my running. My swimming still leaves much to be desired. So, I'm going to be putting in some major hours at the pool this month, and trying to drop some weight. I won't be at the same weight I was at last year, but I am still aiming to beat a 90 minute triathlon.

2 weeks after that is the LiveStrong Challenge Davis in beautiful, bike friendly, Davis, CA. If you can, I'd really appreciate a donation, as time is running out. Any amount would be great!

I'll write about the bike race where we crashed the LA Marathon course later this week.

Questions? Comments? Cheap shots? Let me know.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's try this again, shall we? Recap of an October ride.

OK. It's been a while since I've been here, and a lot has happened. I'm sorry if people were reading and then the posts just suddenly stopped (yeah right). Gonna try this again.

OK.

Here we go.

Since the last post of my catastrophic climbing, I went to Las Vegas to do my first century ride. And I did it. I completed the whole damn thing.

In 12 hours.

Shut up.

I'm no good at hills. Things were going great! I was in a comfortable place in the pack (or peloton, depending on your knowledge of cycling terms) until the 2nd aid station at Red Rock National Park, where the cat. 2 climb began. I refilled my bidons (water bottles), had some orange wedges and bananas (because I thought the potassium would help with the cramping that actually didn't occur until after the final aid station, thanks bananas!), took some pictures (because I think I look awesome in kit) and I took off. As the hill began, the fat guy in the Fat Cyclist jersey got into the granny gear and started pumping his fat legs as fa(s)t as he could go (Spoiler Alert: It wasn't very fast).

By the time I got to the 3rd aid station, I was the one of the last 3-4 people on the century route.

Which, of course, did wonders for my self-esteem.

And so, I passed the Nevada wild donkey preserve (yes, really) and headed off to finish the ride. The ride was pretty uneventful (Thanks, God!) until I realized the broom wagons (called thusly since they sweep people up) were a'comin'. The ride started at 5:30, and we had to finish by 5:00 or else the organizers would have the riders still on course be picked up and taken to the finish line.

Needless to say, I didn't want my first attempt at a century ride to end like that. And so, once my cyclo-computer read 4:30, I panicked, and did a little math. If I could maintain 15mph for half an hour, I could make it before 5:00! I continued with my ride, and felt an oh so familiar twinge in my calves. They hurt. So bad. I stretched them as best as I could while still riding, but my mph was seriously decreasing. I started asking the spirit of a deceased family member to help me (A close member of the family passed away 2 weeks before the event) and kept going as best as I could.

And then I saw it! The 100 Mile Marker! I'd done it! I'd completed a century!

Oh wait. this ride was 103 miles.

F**k.

I was so close. So frickin' close. And then my cyclocomputer read 5:00. I pulled over to the side of the road, finished what little water I had left, and felt very very sorry for myself. And then I realized the broom wagon hadn't come for me yet. And THEN I realized where I was. No more turns. Just a straightaway to the finish. Feeling re-energized (or as energized as you could feel after cycling for about 12 hours) I rode on.

As I got to the last stoplight, it turned red. And the truck in front of me was one of the organizing group's trucks, picking up the turn markers left on the road. The driver stuck his head out the window, and asked how I was feeling. Rather than telling him that I was exhausted and my calves were cramping and I was thirsty and drained and hungry, I simply replied, "I want to finish."

He smiled, and pointed out the finish line was just a short climb and a U-turn up ahead. I thanked him as the light turned green, and off I went.

As I rode into the parking lot, I saw my fiancee waiting for me. I unclipped my shoes, straddled my bike, slumped onto my handlebars and started crying.

I had done it. My first century ride. In about 12 hours. A rush of emotions had come from nowhere, and I would not be moving from that spot for a while.

Alannah came over to me, trying to console me. A volunteer came over to me and gave me my finisher's medal. Some guy from team in training came over and massaged my calves, then gave me pizza and ice cream (yes, really). And so, I got off my bike, pulled up a chair, and ate my pizza and ice cream. A few minutes later, the broom wagon came in, and some sad looking riders hopped out of those SUVs. I'm so glad I kept going.

Alannah and I finished the day by spending dinner with her uncle and his family.

It was a lovely experience, and I certainly learned a lot about myself and my limitations. Will I do it again?

My next century ride will be the Livestrong Challenge: Davis. Alannah and I will fly out to Davis, CA for the weekend of June 24th, where I will join with the other members of Team Fatty: Fighting Like Susan as we ride our bikes in support of a great organization. We are raising money for Livestrong, and if you can, please donate.

http://laf.livestrong.org/site/TR/Challenge/Challenge?px=1007294&pg=personal&fr_id=1181

And right before that, on June 10th, is the Redondo Beach Triathlon. Yup, doing that again.

It has already been a crazy year. I did my first bike race (different story for next time), CicLAvia happened again (different story, blah blah blah), and I just love riding my bike. Hopefully this time around I can stick with it and share these experiences.

Questions? Comments? Cheap shots? Lemme know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The hills are alive with the sound of screaming

Oh my god. Hardest ride ever. Legs were hurting so bad. I ran out of food, I almost ran out of water, and I only have an added 35 miles to my cyclo-computer, and a reduced average speed to show for it.

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Everything started on Friday. I received my Fat Cyclist jersey and bib shorts in the mail, and I was excited to ride with them and show everyone, but I'd have to wait for the group ride. Later in the day, I got a call from Manny about Saturday morning's bike ride. Considering that I had 3 weeks of training until my century ride in Las Vegas on October 15th, I asked him what ride I should do.

Long story short, he convinced me to do a number 3 ride.

Ride grading works like this: 1 is easiest, 5 is not the easiest. In fact, some would go so far to say that it is difficult. Very difficult, even.

Anyway, a 3 ride is right in the middle. I figured I could easily get it done in 4 hours, and get home in time for lunch with the Mrs. I agreed. And I don't know if I regret that decision.

Saturday morning rolls around, and after inspecting my bike and putting on my new kit, I head out. And I'm late. I never caught up to them, but I just kept riding.

Manny was running late too, but unlike me, he is fast. He caught up to me pretty easily. We rode together, Manny pushing the speed and me trying to stay upright. And round. I succeeded on both counts. Hooray fat jokes!

Anyway.

Once we started climbing, I REALLY started falling behind. Manny had to stop a couple of times going up Little Tujunga Canyon to allow me to catch up. He'd straddle his bike, have some water and maybe an energy gel, take a quick nap, learn a new language, and invent 3 new uses for old tire tubes by the time I caught up to him.

Ok, maybe he didn't take a nap. But the rest is true.

Maybe.

Anyway.

The point I am trying to make here is that either the hills were very steep, he is really fast, I am really slow, or a sad, sad mixture of all three.

After climbing, and climbing, and climbing some more, it was 10:00 and Manny had to turn around and go home so he could go to work. By this point in time, I didn't think I was going to finish the ride, and Manny encouraged me (under penalty of death) to finish the ride. Not wanting to miss out on the great things life has to offer, I continued on.

And climbed. And climbed. And climbed.

I took an occasional break, you know, every now and then.

Alright, who am I kidding, it was more than occasional. I still have trouble eating/drinking while riding on flats, let alone uphill, so I would stop for water and food. Along the way, other cyclists would pass me and have a chat, then they would happily continue on their way after complimenting my kit.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of climbing, I made it to the first descent. OH HAPPY DAY!!!!

Oh hell. Like the climbs, the descents were steep. Meaning, rather than risking FALLING OFF THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, I was clenching my brakes, trying desperately to get below 30 MPH before the next switchback.

After being thoroughly scared out of my wits enjoying the descent, the road suddenly turned up. And then it went upside down. And through croc-infested waters. Yup, I wasn't finished.

And so, I reluctantly continued, punishing my legs by turning the cranks over and over, their only respite being the granny gear that was still part of my bike.

I still stopped every now and then, to give my legs a break and have some water and food.

Then I ran out of food.

Then I got really low on water.

Then I couldn't move my legs.

And for a while, there was nothing. Just me in the shade, alone with my thoughts.

I tried to get my feet back in the pedals to turn the cranks, but I couldn't.

I stood there, then made the decision to call for a ride.

But I was in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by rocks and hills. No reception.

What choice did I have? I pressed on.

I pushed myself up to Bear Divide (I think thats the name), where the ranger's station was. A couple was picnicking and enjoying the view. I asked if they had any water to spare. They didn't.

But there was a water fountain.

But then I found the water fountain wasn't working.

I pressed on. Another descent.

The turns seemed easier than the first time, so I eased up on the brakes and enjoyed the cool wind in my face. It certainly helped to cool me down after all the climbing.

I made it to Placerita Canyon, and turned left. Then had more climbing.

I met a couple of cyclists who complimented me on my kit, and we chatted for a bit. When they found out I was low on water, they gave me some of theirs. I never got their names, but whoever they were: Thanks.

Placerita Canyon eventually met up with Sierra Highway, and I made another left turn. And then had more climbing.

And then another descent! And, it descended all the way to the rest stop, a Carl's Jr. on Newhall.

I had no idea how I was able to make it that far. My legs were cooked. I parked my bike in the shade, called for a ride, and waited.

While I waited, I was alone with my thoughts. How did I make it?

I don't know exactly where or what the mileage was, but I know I hit the wall. I bonked. No food and low on water, I almost gave up. But I didn't.

Somehow, I found it within me to keep going. Maybe it was a sense of survival, that I would be stuck there as food for whatever wild animals wandered the hilly roads I rode unless I went somewhere else. Maybe it was a sense of pride, knowing that I would hate myself if I didn't go any further. I don't know.

I can't forget that. If I hit the wall in Las Vegas, I can't quit. Even though it would be easier to quit, I can't. I have to push through.

I rode 35 miles on September 24th, 2011. I plan to ride at least 60 miles on October 1st. Then 100 miles on October 15th.

After that, who knows?

Questions? Comments? Cheap shots? Lemme know.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm so ronery....

With October 15th a month and a half away, I really need to start upping my miles. And so, I did.

Normally, during the weekdays, I ride an 8 mile loop with the second half being pure climbing. Since 8 miles is 92 less than my goal, I upped it. I rode 16 today, and while it was quite uneventful (other than a car honking and throttling his engine from behind me while we waited for a red light to turn green) it allowed me time to think.

I have great ideas.

I thought up a t-shirt design with "WWJD?" but the "J" would stand for Jens. As in Jens Voigt. I'm sure the idea's been done before, but still: Ideas!

That's the kind of guy I am. Lots of ideas. Lots of thoughts, too.

I started to wonder why road cycling was such a lonely sport.

I know that the Tour De France and other major tours have teams, but I'm talking about your average, run of the mill cyclist trying to lose a few (or hundred) pounds. Other than the occasional "wave" or "head nod" as someone rides the opposite direction, we are pretty much always riding alone. Other than the weekend (when the cycling clubs come out to play) I never see groups of riders together. We are always riding alone.

Forever alone.

And it doesn't have to be that way. I treasure my rides with the San Fernando Valley Bike Club, partly due to the camaraderie, partly due to the fact that it helps me gauge my abilities, partly due to that it is fun talking to other people while riding your bike. I ride with my friends as often as I can. And with them, I don't ride to train, I ride just to ride. For the sheer joy of cycling. It's hard to do that when you are by yourself. Don't get me wrong, I still have fun, but not as much as I could be having. I think I could probably put in more miles if I was doing training rides with my friends during the week.

Riding alone all the time also makes me think of who would be the perfect training partner. Would it be a pro like Cadel Evans or Jens Voigt? Probably not. They would just drop you immediately. What about a retired pro like Lance Armstrong? Nope, still a great cyclist (he won the Leadville 100, an epic mountain bike race, a few years ago, AFTER he retired).

Then, you may ask, who would be the perfect training partner for your average, run of the mill cyclist?

Easy answer. Someone slightly better than you.

Think about it: The carrot is always dangling in front of you, showing you what you could be if you trained a little harder, lost a little more weight, were just a little faster. And that is what the effect would be, because you would want to be able to keep up. As he/she improved, you would improve. Constantly competing with each other.

I'd like to meet a carrot.

PS: My buddy Manny is not a carrot. He is levels, echelons, above me. He placed 7th in his age group at the Hansen Dam Tri. I placed last. That speaks volumes.

PPS: But still, I do strive to reach that level of athleticism someday.

PPPS: Ok, maybe he is a carrot.