A Fat Man's Journey (Working my way back…)

An Attempt to Journey from Fat to Fit in a Lifetime. Eat right, Eat less, Move more


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That didn’t go as Planned (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT)


 

Friday, February 24, 2017

What a beautiful day it was going to be! The weather forecasts for the New York City area promised a late spring day in February: Seventy-two degrees, clear blue skies and nearly no wind. To a cyclist that is as perfect as it gets.

I decided on Thursday that Friday would be a vacation day. I would do a little work on the house in the morning and go on a 25-30 mile bike ride at midday. The temperature would be perfect, the roads less heavily traveled.

I was excited. I would take my brand new bike on its maiden voyage. A Cannondale Synapse Black Inc.  Like a Porsche for the cycling world.   The local bike shop had built it up over the winter and it stayed in my living room until the weather and road conditions were favorable. Friday was the day.

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Cannondale Synapse Black Inc Edition

At 11:30 AM I changed into my cycling gear, put the GPS and video camera on the handlebars, filled my water bottles, pumped up the tires, kissed The missus and my older boy and at 11:50 I turned on the GPS and rode out down the street.

 

Less than 5 minutes later my first ride of the year was over.

1.34 miles from my front door I was lying semi-conscious on the roadway. I could hear people running towards me and I heard them yelling to me not to move. I was face down but my face was not touching the road surface. I remember taking inventory. I could feel my toes. They wiggled when I told them too. I knew I was in pain. A great deal of pain. People were now at my side and I felt hands on me. Very gentle hands. I remember someone asking me if I could hear him. I remember mumbling yes. He asked if I could feel everything and again I said yes. I heard sirens and very soon I recognized that EMTs were at my side. I could hear people talking about me. Someone said I was hit by an SUV, another said I went flying. My brain was starting to assemble disconnected fragments.

As my wits came back to me I started to remember what happened. I remembered the red Chevy SUV passing me on my left, slowing and then turning right directly in front of me. I remembered the realization that I was about to crash. The next thing I remember is people running towards me and telling me not to move.

A police officer on routine patrol was already near the collision scene when it occurred. He later told me he saw my bike flipping in the air though he did not see the actual impact. As soon as he saw the bike flipping he turned on his lights and accelerated to the scene. It was his gentle touch I felt on my back and his was the voice I heard asking if I could hear him and feel his touch.

Soon I was on a gurney and in an ambulance. My bike was in the back of the police car. I was on my way to the hospital. My sense of humor was still there. Video after the crash picks up my laughter and me cracking jokes with the EMTs and the police. From the ambulance I called Missus and told her as gently as I could what happened and asked her to please come to the hospital.

Once at the hospital my wounds were cleaned and examined and bandaged.

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Let Leg Road Rash

I was a bloody mess. Both hands were bleeding; my left leg was raw from my lower shin/calf to my knee. My right leg was also bleeding, as were both elbows. I suffered a head concussion and a strained neck. It hurt to swallow. My left shoulder ached. My right shoulder was agony.

 

I was given a cat scan of my shoulders, neck and head and x-rays from my ankles to my shoulders. The left shoulder was only bruised. The right shoulder was separated.

By the grace of genetics, luck, and a great deal of milk as a kid, I had no broken bones.

By 4:30 PM I was back at home, trying to rest, my right arm in a sling, my head feeling like thousands of tiny bubbles were floating around inside.

DATA

I ride with a Garmin Edge 810 Cycling GPS unit on my bike. It records all sorts of information about the ride. It records every inch of the ride, speed, altitude, distance and so forth. I have a surprising amount of data from this four minute and thirty-four second ride. I know I traveled 1.34 miles and my moving time was 4 minutes and 34 seconds and my average speed since leaving my home was 18.2 miles per hour.

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The blue graph shows the sudden stop

I know I went from 22.9 miles per hour to zero in less than 3 seconds. It is that last bit that tells me how violent the stop was.

 

How do I feel today?

Compared to Friday after the collision I feel much better. Compared to Friday before the collision I feel like hell. The good new is the right shoulder is feeling a little better with not nearly as much pain. It is still very messed up, it feels weak and disconnected and I can feel all sorts of pops and snaps when I move it. I can lift my right arm higher than shoulder height now. Saturday I could barely lift it at all. The bruises and the road rash are painful and raw and stinging.

My head still feels “not right” and it will take days, maybe even weeks for that to resolve. Concentrating on a task is difficult. It is taking me forever to write this post! This is my fourth or fifth concussion over the course of my near 56 years. I know the drill at this point. I really shouldn’t even be working at a computer screen…

What’s Next

I am not working. I cannot drive. I hope to return to work by Wednesday if I am feeling head clear and able to function.

I have to get the police report and file claims with insurance. To make sure I am not missing anything, I am contacting a lawyer we have worked with. I want to make certain I cross all T’s and dot all I’s.

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Closeup of the cracked seat tube

The bike is wrecked. First ride on the bike. It lived all of 1.34 miles. I will work with insurance to replace the bike. Mostly I am focused on getting healthy. This was quite a shock to the system, proof that it is the sudden stop that gets ya.

 

Helmets

As a cyclist and as someone who works at a local bike shop on weekends I get to hear a great number of comments about helmets.

  • “I never wore one as a kid, I’m fine”
  • “Helmets are just marketing to get you to spend money”
  • “I hear they are more dangerous than not wearing one”
  • “My friend wore one and he got hurt because of the helmet”

My helmet died a hero.

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The road surface imprinted on the front of the helmet

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Some of the cracks from the impact

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My head tattooed with the pattern of the ribs inside the helmet

The front of the helmet clearly shows the imprint of the road surface when my head hit. The inside of the helmet is cracked from absorbing the impact. The top of my head showed the imprint of the ribs inside the helmet where they pressed into my head on impact. I have no doubt that without a helmet my injuries would have been severe, even life threatening. It would have been my face that impacted the road, not the helmet. It would have been my skull that cracked, not the helmet.

Remember in the first part of this post I mentioned I was face down but my face wasn’t touching the road? My helmet was toughing the road. It was my helmet keeping my face off the road surface.

The helmet didn’t prevent the concussion. It did prevent much worse.

I implore you: wear a helmet if you ride.

AFTERMATH.

I have received well over two hundred good wishes from friends, family and people in the cycling community. So many people imploring me to take the time I need to heal properly, not push it and to count my blessing. Many people reminded me how much worse it could have been and to look at my family and realize that I am at least still here for them. I could not agree more.

As a cyclist I know how risky this sport can be. I know that when a 20-pound bike and 200-pound rider meet a 5000-pound SUV the results are always worse for the rider than the driver. I know that, considering the violence of the collision, I came away in pretty good shape. I’m walking, talking and laughing and crying. I am hugging my children and kissing my wife. I am texting and talking to friends.

At 2:00 AM on Saturday, I awoke with a start. Sleep was fitful at best but I must have finally dozed. My eyes popped open and I realized I was shaking. I had the clear realization that I was lucky to be alive. It was suddenly clear to me in the dark bedroom at 2:00 in the morning that I could have been killed. I knew it intellectually. I knew it when it happened. At 2:00 in the morning on Saturday, 14 hours or so after the collision, I understood it at an emotional level. The adrenaline had worn off. Now I was just lying in bed with my aches and pains and the certain knowledge that I could have died. Not the intellectual knowledge that tells you “it could have been worse”. This was the emotional knowledge, the sudden gripping, gut wrenching, wide eyed, suddenly ill to my stomach knowledge that hits when you don’t expect it.

In a few weeks I expect I will be healed enough to get on a bike.

I will wheel my All-City Mr. Pink (my other road bike) out of the living room and on to the street out front of my house. I will throw a leg over the bike and I will snap into the pedals and I will start down the road. I have no idea how I will feel. I don’t know if I will feel the exhilaration I have always felt getting on a bike or if I will feel a new found trepidation.

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Mr. Pink becomes the primary bike for a bit

I know I will ride. I have to ride. It’s in my DNA. It is who I am. I can’t let this change that.

 

 

Peace and Stay Safe


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Sorry I was Missing in Action….


Life is Busy

HI, sorry I have been missing in action. Life suddenly got busy. Working around the house, working on projects at work and so forth.

Ready to Ride

The weather this month has been kinda crazy. We had our first real snow fall of the season, about 10 inches, and then we had days in the 60’s and 70’s. Riding weather. I didn’t ride.   Head cold and knee issues…

I am over the head cold and I am taking anti-inflammatory meds for the knee. I will ride this Friday. Weather is forecast to be in the high 50’s and sunny and I am taking a vacation day. Mostly I am taking the day to work on some projects in the house but I will get in an hour or so on the bike just to say I finally rode. I am not concerned about the knee so much…

This isn’t any easier…

My weight is fighting me. I find myself eating a cookie, having a second serving… BAD. The weight is coming down. I am 16 pounds down from my recent peak, but I want it to come down FASTER. It is bothering me. I am angry with myself for allowing the weight to come back and I am angry with myself for not getting back to the plan properly and sticking to it…

I am human. I hate that.

More later

 

Peace


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February? ALREADY?


 

febHow Did That Happen?

I am trying to wrap my little brain around the idea that it is already February. January went by so quickly and I feel like I have done NOTHING. No hikes, no long walks, haven’t been on the trainer… The only thing I have done is a walk at lunchtime two of the last three days. Nothing to brag about. 20-minutes each.

As soon as I am done writing this I am getting the bike mounted on the trainer. That’s step one. Actually getting on it is the rough part…

The year goes by too quickly.

Falling in Love Again

I work at a local bike shop on Sundays. At one time I worked both Saturday and Sunday but that was too hard on me with a full time job the rest of the week. It was taking too much time from family and from actually riding a bike…

Working at the shop has always been enjoyable for me. Talking bikes all day with people who want to talk about bikes. It was great.

Then about a month ago something strange happened. Instead of waking up on Sunday morning and thinking “OH BOY, OFF TO THE SHOP!” I was waking up on Sundays and thinking “Oh damn, off to the shop”.

It reached a point that I was considering talking to the owner and, in essence, resigning from the shop, maybe just staying available if he was really shorthanded. I even discussed it with a co-worker.

I don’t really know why this happened and I really struggled with it. I discussed it with Missus, a friend or two, and really was ready to have that talk with the owners of the shop. Maybe I was burned out from too much work and not enough play? Maybe I had simply run my course there and it was time to step away?

I worked last Sunday and really entered it with sort of a fatalistic feeling. If I didn’t enjoy work that day I would speak to the owners that week. They deserve better than a salesperson whose heart is not in it.

The day started slowly. Winter is quiet time in the bike world and it is expected that it will be a slow day.

Mid-day things picked up and I sold a bike to a nine year-old just a day or two from his tenth birthday. He was a tall youngster, ready for his first Adult sized bike. Discussing options with the young fellow and his dad we soon came to a narrow selection and the boy picked out the bike he wanted. The smile. The enormous smile.

About an hour later a young man of about twenty-two or so came in with a friend. He was looking for his first “good” mountain bike.   I showed him a few options, discussed what the various features on the bikes added to the experience, what justified the price on bike A versus bike B. His friend was doing a good job of egging his buddy into buying a bike and pretty soon that selection was made and a young man was ready to go flying through the woods on the local trails.

As the day began to wind down a father and son came in. It was the son’s birthday, turning 14. Time for his first adult sized bike. Again we discussed options and choices and dad encouraged his son to consider this versus that. Soon decisions were made and another young man had his dream bike.

Three sales in the cold of winter, three young men, ages 9 through 22, leaving with big grins and good bikes.

I now remembered why I used to wake up on a Sunday morning excited to go to the shop.

Suddenly I felt the passion again. I remembered what it felt like in May of 2013 when I sold my very first bike on my very first day at the shop. IT is an interesting thing. Yes, you are happy that you closed a sale. That is a part of our jobs after all. There is more to it I think, at least there is for me. Selling bikes is selling passion. We are all there, at least in part, because we have a passion for the sport. When we have sold a bike it is tangible evidence that we have shared that passion.

Maybe it was just the winter doldrums. Maybe it is just being tired. I’m not sure. I am sure that this past Sunday I rediscovered that part of the passion, the passion for sharing this sport. It felt like falling in love again.

Weight Loss

I have hit a small plateau. The weight has stabilized briefly at 12 pounds down. Up a pound down a pound but averaging the 12 pounds down. I expected this and I am ok with it. All the more reason to get the bike on the trainer and kick up the activity a little bit. Or a lot.

I am down a waist size and that makes me grin. Shirts are starting to hang a little more. More smiles.

I like being thin. On my way back there.

 

Peace