recovery | a practice in patience | longing for dirt time

Ten years ago, I tore my right ACL.
I got a replacement ACL right away.
One year after that, I re-tore it .. and never had it refixed
I've been playing hard without an ACL for about 9 years now.

Over the last 2 years, the knee has started giving me troubles -- namely, "going out" often, being generally unstable, and causing my normal play-time activities to be less than pain free. With the growing instability comes a risk for damaging the remaining working parts of my knee -- something I don't feel I'd like to sacrifice.

The plan to get this issue addressed is 2 fold:
a.) Remove the old hardware, the re-torn tendon, and fill all of the remaining holes. Basically, start fresh.
b.) Have another ACL replacement. Joy.

So, 3 weeks ago, on August 3rd, I came home and started sitting in my little Nest -- to heal.
Surgery A in the books.

I'm heavily on drugs in this picture. Can't you tell? I could not feel my leg at this point in the game -- but obviously I felt good enough to wander around FaceBookLand... hope I didn't say anything I might regret. If so, I'm very sorry.

These are the two screws that were removed (with a nail-file for reference):

Yes, that is gnarly. Yes, there are still bone fragments stuck in the one on the right. Yes, they are Ti. Yes, they seem to make people queasy when I show them. Yes, you can see the damage done to them by the surgeon when he tried to remove them. Apparently he swore many times during the procedure.

Once the screws came out (which apparently took an hour longer than the Surgeon expected (the surg lasted about 3 hours)), he set to filling the holes (from the screw placements and from previous ACL surgery) with bio bone stuff.

One week after surgery, I was still relegated to my Nest. Recovering. Icing. Working from home and working from my Nest. Have I mentioned how much I like my Nest?

Two-ish weeks afterwards, the swelling had gone done a lot.

Currently, 3 weeks post surgery:

As far as I can tell, recovery seems to be going "quickly". And by quickly I mean: at least I can walk around, and at least my leg does not look like chewed up meat (like I had expected).
I can walk up the stairs just like normal!
I can almost walk down a set of stairs like normal -- but not quite.
I'm slower. But I'm healing.

Deep thoughts during this whole process?
YES. Namely, my husband has taken care of me EVERY SINGLE SECOND during surgery and recovery. How he is not annoyed, bored or simply 'over it', I do not know. He has taken outstandingly phenomenal care of me these last 3 weeks.... Honey, thank you with my whole heart and soul. 

Notes on just how well he takes care of me:
  • He has gotten me every last bit of food, water, drink, drugs, and objects that I could need, had asked for, etc. 
  • He keeps my Nest room filled with absolutely stunning music to keep me groovin' and otherwise chilled out. mmmmm... thank you!
  • He keeps my eyes on the prize: 100% back to powerlyperfect by next spring, reminding me not to damage myself between now and surgery #2.
  • He has kept me motivated, focused, and completely AT EASE.
  • He makes me feel better (and OK) about sitting on my ass so much.
  • He continues to make sure I'm eating well. I would eat pizza every meal if I were left to myself.
  • The absolute HARDEST thing I had to do: SHOWER. Thank you, honey, for making sure I didn't fall over, pass out, or otherwise kill myself while trying to shower that first week.
  • He keeps me smiling, happy, at peace.
Honey, you are magical. And I love you.

The remaining plan is this:
Continue to listen to Ed.
Continue to listen to LW.
Continue to listen to Michelle.
PT, 2x/week with Rockin' PT people.
PT, at home, every day.
I will hopefully get to start walking on DIRT here TODAY!? This week!?
Surgeon says still no riding bikes for another 3 weeks. I had dreams about riding last night -- I might have to just spinn around on something flat here really, really soon.

There is, after all, still a new pony awaiting my attention -- and a whole FALL of RIDING to be done -- before December hits, and with it surgery #2.

Ok, off to PT land!



Colorado Trail Day 4: Notes on Humility, Honor and Heart

Day 4: Bolam Pass to Durango

Our 4th day was our final day, but it was not intended to be our last day on the trail for this trip. Our intention was to ride from Bolam Pass, get ourselves over Indian Ridge, and have a final evening of camping and a big-starry-sky night at Taylor Lake.

(Forewarning: Ed captured 1 picture before Indian Ridge -- and ALL of the remaining pictures are from Indian Ridge.)

We started the day knowing that this was a 'big' day by our trip standards (not big by all the crack head standards). We knew that we would have one stretch of 'dry' trail where water re-supply was minimal. And we knew we'd have to really scoot in order to time our crossing of Indian Ridge to miss the potential afternoon storms.

I kept thinking of my girls racing this route; Ez and Cat (and LW even tho she's not raced it yet)... their pace and their PUSH kept me as in AWE as I was the views I was flying through. How DO they do, what they do, with the grace in which they do it?

True to form, the day started off like a Frieght Train for Ed, a spinny light crack-ramp-up for LW, and a grunty but over-excited push for me. And, true to form, I had a major mechanical within the first hour.

Ed and LW off the front, I started having serious issues with the drive train. Most of you, I'm sure, are not surprised. What do I get for turning my SS into a 1x9 the day before the ride? Just what I deserve, of course!

Pedaling became impossible. My chain would not stay on the front chainring AT ALL. It would not withstand a single full pedal rotation. JOY.

I yelled out loud in complete frustration and LW must have heard me, because around the next corner I found her waiting for me.

I'd bet money that my race girls would and have yelled out loud. But they also would have been prepared ;)

We stopped and inspected the Pony. Turns out, I twisted my chain somehow, and I bent one of the front chainring teeth. Fun stuff!

So I quickly ripped out the chaintool, and took out the affected twisted chain pieces. I put it back together, and fiddled with the chainring. Lucky little me, LW handed over her trusty Leatherman Multitool, and I gently bent that bent chainring tooth back closer to 'normal'.

Without her and her gracious offer of a tool, I would have been hosed... and likely would have resorted to trying to pound the thing back into shape with a rock.

I fixed it. However, shifting into granny was no longer an option. I was OK with this. All the gears were too tall for me anyway, and so I just kept my mind centered and accepted "PUSH FFING HARD" as the standard pedal stroke.

What was more frustrating was that any time I leaned the bike to the right for a bit of sweet-turn, the chain would fall off. And, if I took a messy bit of trail fast (because that is what I do), the chain would fall off. And, if I tried to spinn too fast on the down/flats, the chain would fall off. And, if the bike could tell that I was thinking about it too much, the chain would fall off.

Do what the race girls would do: ride on and just be happy about it. And so I did. I was SO FFING happy. Truly, deeply, all through my soul. (My legs not so much).

So it was 'mash-mash/gentle-pedal... mash-mash/gentle-pedal' for the day. I sucked it up. And rode on. Yet MORE behind the crack head (LW) and the freight train (ED).

Ed was off the front -- soaring his way through true high-country bliss on his loaded down rigid SS. How DOES the man do it? Ed was giddy. And sick of waiting on me ;)

Once into the grove of pedal-pedal-pedal, fix the chain, pedal-pedal-pedal, fix the chain, we just powered our way along the magical trail. Ed or LW off the front, and me and the other hanging in the back. LW and I got into a nice game where I'd be forced to power-pedal ahead. Stop and rest. And she'd just come spinning up along side me, whereupon I'd have to giddy up and go to power-pedal ahead and then stop and rest again.

Until I just blew to pieces before Indian Ridge -- at which point, I just slowed to a crawl (walk) and let them both fly along ahead.

Indian Ridge blew my mind. Plain and simple. I put the GoPro on the head and walked/power-pedaled and just kept moving.

The girls do this at night!!?? After race-pace riding for DAYS? On how few calories and HOW little SLEEP?

I KNEW that all I had to do was get over this beautiful long ridge line, and I'd be able to break into dinner foods, comfy sleeping bags, and my hat. I knew that I could stretch out and feel entirely satisfied with my effort for the day, and grateful for the lessons being handed to me. I knew that I could sit still and REST. I knew this so deeply, that I just put it all out there to get over/along this ridge. I may have been slow as molasses in January, but I was still trying very hard ;)

Turns out that you can know something in your bones, and be absolutely wrong.

Two high-peaks from the end of Indian Ridge, the sky turned black. The clouds came in from a different direction (never a good sign in and of itself), and it got downright freaky.

Ed got serious and tried his hardest to make sure we all got off the ridgeline in time, safely. Thank you, Starling.

Ed and LW blasted off the front. I did what I could. I could see LW far ahead on the next climb, stopped to put on her bullet-proof wetwear. I saw Ed zip up his wooly shirt (huge effort for him;)), and then they both continued to blast along.

It was scary on the ridge. The lightning and thunder were present. The sky was black. And we were in the absolute WRONG place.

Go Team!

I threw on my rain jacket -- and put my head town.

And then the hail started fall. Like tiny lead pellets. It hailed on us, drilling us with marble-sized ice balls and pourrrrring freezing rain.

It was so much fun!

And I was scared scared shitless and totally over excited and happy to be RIGHT in the midst of totally getting Epic'd.

Lucky for us, we reached the final corner up on the ridge, and looked down below us right at Taylor Lake. HUGE relief for me, as I thought we had one more massive drop and climb ahead of us.

We started down the long drop -- but were unable (unwilling) to ride the trail as it had become a river of ice and water, and the ground was moving below our feet and tires. I had no hands left and started shaking pretty solidly. LW was in front -- and soon jumped under a thicket of bushes. Ed and I followed suit. I'm not sure it did us much good. But it was nice to even try to take cover.

We made it to Taylor Lake.
And there was no way in hell that it would be a safe place for us to camp for the night.
The ground was flooded in standing water and an inch of floating ice balls.
We were all soaked.
Decisions had to be made.

The ONLY call we could make was to continue on. And so we did.

Ed and LW shot ahead while I fiddled enough to at least get some knee warmers on. I shot off to catch up with them and had THE fastest, strongest mile of riding (for me) for the whole trip. My legs were so frozen there was no longer any pain and suffering feel in the legs. So the pedals turned over with power and strength and I quickly caught up with them.

There was a moment here, watching the other two take off that it hit me...
I couldn't stay out here in this state even if I wanted to. What do I DO -- if I were here, alone.
I hit me that I didn't know. It would take me more than the 5 minutes it took LW and Ed to come up with a plan, that is for certain.

It was so much fun. I just had to laugh.

As we passed a large group of people who were taking shelter in large tents (below Kennebeck), LW yelled back to Ed and I: "we have GOT to get lower and get warmer and dryer, come with me!!!!".

So we continued on the Colorado Trail, up and over Kennebeck Pass (not nearly as big as I thought it was going to be), and we dropped down the other side.

LW's brakes were singing a wild song the entire way down the hill.

Ed lost use of his brakes entirely. That was horrifying to watch while riding behind him.

I just huddled into my own private little inner-fire world, and begged the universe for to keep us safe.

I had also thought: well hell, we're so close to the finish, let's just get this thing done and go find a nice hotel, a nice long shower, and some hot ffin' food.

Up and over Kennebec, we dropped onto the road that cuts the CT right at the base. LW stopped and started piling on her clothes. She said her brakes disappeared somewhere down the trail. Ed was relieved because her brakes were no longer singing. Ed stood there and watched while LW and I put on every stitch of clothing we had. (The man does not get COLD!!!)

We all decided, unfortunately, that we were cold enough, blown enough and ready to be in town enough to skip the last 21 miles of the CT, and take the roads back down into town.

And I was a little sad to see that I was so willing to just take the easier way 'home'. But it was smart. And I knew what decisions Ez and Cat would have made in the same situation... and I was proud of them.

I started to bonk the second we started rolling. I started eating whole candy bars in a matter of seconds. And I'm pretty sure they didn't do me an ounce of good.

We rolled and rolled and rolled on the dirt roads. With all of the mud and ice and dirt on my drive train, the chain actually STOPPED falling off. Of course. And, I could finally shift into gears that would allow me to keep up on the downhills! WOOHOO! Had I known that more trail junk would have made the drive train behave better, I would have happily given her a mudbath hours and ours earlier.

We dropped into town.

I felt disappointed, relieved, proud, defeated, hot (ha!), and really, really weird.
LW started off for Cat's place.
Ed and I started off for the Strater, hoping that they'd have a nice room for us downtown Durango.

In the 2 miles between when we left LW, and the front door of the hotel, my vision had pulled me into some sort of tunnel. I stopped being able to speak clearly and efficiently. I could not keep my mind straight enough to put words to anything. And I just had that far-away, almost out-of-body feeling. I actually thought that I was just going to pass out and disappear and I would no longer exist. Yeah, that is what it felt like, I felt like I was just going to cease BEING, right then and there on the steps of the Strater. Poof-buh-bye!

But Ed got a nice room. The bell man took our absolutely MUDDY and naughty ponies and packed them away somewhere safe and warm. I practically fell into the hot shower. And that was the end of me.

We found food, and I could not eat. Ed found his way through 2 appetizers, a salad the size of texas, a burger and a massive plate of french fries. Go Team!

Ez and Cat ride the whole CT in HOW few days?
Crack Bunnies! 

I slept HARD.

The following day, we did the car shuttle between Durango and Spring Creek Pass.  And we returned to Durango for a few more days of Heaven.

And I found my appetite.

And I thought about LW, Cat and Ez, and just the magical depth of power, strength, courage, and raw ENEGRY that they all posses.

And lucky for me, I got to ride with all 3 of them before we left Durango.

See how lucky we all are. Talk about the fly girls. Thank you, girls, for all of your inspiration and motivation -- in all realms of life.

The CT portion of our trip complete -- and the re-orientation process underway -- Ed and I enjoyed our last few days of vacation. More on that in a bit!

Thank you, Ed and LW -- for the magical trip! You both fill my heart up with so much love!!



Colorado Trail Day 3: Notes on riding into foreverland

Day 3: Silverton to Bolam Pass.

I did NOT get up early to start day 3. I lounged in bed ... counting calories, and recalling maps, contour lines, and the CT line running through it all.
I was also thinking about my girls, LW, EZ, and Cat... I just could not get their awesomeness out of my psyche. I was glad for their company ;)

The 6ish mile section of road out of Silverton and to Molas Pass was a nice way to warm up. The trucks were terrifying, and I actually got off the road and off my bike to watch a few of the big rigs fly by. It made me shudder every time.

Once onto the CT again, all of our spirits got spritely -- and we enjoyed our sweet morning singletrack dose. I was SOOOO happy to be back on dirt.

True to form, Ed took off like a bat out of hell. I could feel his flow and SS-bikepacking Mojo even from WAY behind him.

LW and I had just settled into a continuing of a warm up... when I realized that I had a solid flat tire. UGH!
So I unpacked ALL my gear.
I cleaned the Stans Snot Goop out of my tire. I booted it up, put in a tube, and got back to the business of blissing out on high country single track. 45 minutes. Dang.

Of course, Ed didn't know that I had a little mechanical. While LW and I tended to the tire, Ed was lured by the singletrack siren's song... and he just kept flying along.

If it hadn't taken me 45 minutes to fix the ffin' tire, we would not have been so far behind. But alas....

We finally caught up with Ed because he turned around to come back to look for us. Such a Sweetie.

After a few explanations, we all just kept rollin'...

and I had to take a lot of view breaks to compose my rather chaotic self;)

LW took a turn at the front, and spunn her way up into the heavens. Ed and I leap-frogged and caught a few pictures.

And then we caught back up to LW who had a smile the size of the sky beaming across her face.

We  made it to Bolam Pass... and set up camp.

I crashed early this night. I was tired. I put on some tunes and zoned out and completely disappeared from the planet.

Once again the day found me having to push hard just to barely keep up - but still so happy to be right where we were, doing what we were doing. Eat Drink Eat Drink. Ride Ride Ride. Ed and LW pulled strong turns off the front, and kept the motivation on a HIGH. There was nothing to do but ride and smile and know the trail ... the trail that seemed to just lead on and on and on into foreverland.



Colorado Trail Day 2: Notes on Happiness

We woke up from our rain sleep to an overwhelmingly FRESH morning at Cataract Lake.
The ponies were patiently awaiting the sunshine to crest the ridge and warm them up.
Lynda's Leaf Tarp had a fresh coat of ice all over it. Personally, I was glad she was cozied in with us for the night.

Cataract Lake. Source of Fresh Water and a Fresh Mind.
Fresh Legs? Not so much. Not for me, anyway.
But my spirit was soaring, wings spread wide, spearing through the fresh morning light.

Leaf Tarp Frosting!

The trail from Cataract Lake is nothing short of mind-blowing and Stellar. (These words pale so sadly!!!) Which means it's just like the rest of the trail: STUNNING in a SOUL-SENSE. One would think that it'd be easy to "get used to" such views, such True Grandeur -- such, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring views and space-sense!

\ Not so. All it makes you do is WANT to BE in the space and time roll bliss of that beyond-comprehension physical, spiritual state; that dirt and tundra and rock and sky and cloud .. and ohmyGAWDness.

\ Truly, all you can do is... roll with it. IN it.

And Be Happy. Happier than you thought possible.
Because it's BIG out there. Bigger than you can possibly fit in your little brain;)

Day 2 found me tired, but over excited, as usual.
Ed was ON CRACK.
And so was LW. (duh).

MMmmmmm..... yyuuuummmmyyyyygggooodddnnneesssssss.

LW's spirit was high. She did her normal morning spinn-up. She was grinning every inch of the way.

Ed took off.

See - he's THAT far ahead -- without even trying.
If you ask me: I think bikepacking suits ed SO well ;) I dare say we've converted him.

Ed, on the ridgeline, looking back at his companions, thinking: 'wth is taking them so long!!??'

This day caught me in an emotional ... riddle.
I was blissfully happy.
And struggling greatly.
Physical and Emotional.

I was HONORED as could be to be riding with LW, and EDE. I thought often: how the hell did I get so lucky? These people blow my mind as much as these views and this route. I am constantly stunned at how much Love I have for both of them. It as a fitting place for such friendship and honor.

I had one flat on Day 2. Big tear in the wall -- for some reason, we just aired it up and kept rolling... OOPS. It held for the day!!!!!

In this picture below (can you spot LW and I?), I am crying from happiness. I was so intensely happy and grateful -- so satisfied at finally being able to roll through a place I'd only watched my cracked-out-friends roll through (via blue dots).

I cried, thinking about Eszter rolling through here 2 times in he CTR race ... and I cried thinking about CAT rolling through here on her SS -- freaking BADASS.

LW pulled over in this field. The trail was dropping along the last bit of trail for the day -- the last piece that contours some big wall of a mountain to the West. She pulled over, and promptly laid down in the flowers to take them all in at a better level. I love my LW ;)

I found a little bit of "more" energy on that last bit of trail. Then we hit Stony pass, we climbed up, and flew down the other side. That is one hell of a long, descent. I was pretty sure I was going through the break pads a little TOO fast....

We landed in Silverton mid-day. High-tourist hours. yeesh! Ed and I checked into the hotel, and LW checked herself into her hotel. We showered -- and I put on my robe and promptly laid down in the big bed and thought: "there is no way in hell I'm getting an early morning start tomorrow" ;)

We unpacked, dried out, and completely stunk up our beautiful room. We ate, and we retired.

And I went to bed with a feeling of satisfaction, happiness, and as always: a little bit of fear of being able to "make it" the next day.

I fell asleep thinking about how truly unbelievably talented and strong Ez, Cat, LW,Ede are (and of course others)... but these 4 were at the tip of my mind.

And my heart opened more.