Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The C7 Factor. From wreck to recovery. The bike is ok!

My first day back at the shop. I was home again. Feeling great and back to loving what I do.

Taken by my friend Ryan Korsgard who stopped my to say hi with Chau. I have not shaved my legs in a week here and its really bothering me. Also notice the Smart Water...yet I can't wait to race again...I need to drink more...

Evidence of getting back to normal. First day out of the hospital and I find myself at Crave Cupcakes. Great time to have the sweets when I can't ride or run outside. I better start to love the trainer or I am in trouble...

The CAT Scan of a plate put on the front of my neck holding my C6 and fractured C7 together.
Yes its titanium and no there is not a Shama Cycles logo on it. haha

A couple of Wednesday nights ago I started my day like any other Wednesday morning during the summer while Wednesday Night Worlds is on, our local weekly crit series. Getting my Shama Team kit in my bag, shoe covers too. Got to the shop and actually worked on my Kirklee early so I could not rush it an hour before the race like usual. Tonight I had a goal different than most nights. I have a new team mate Bill Krause who is a Cat 5 and very strong. I had noticed him riding his first couple of crits in the back with me and I just thought he is too strong for this. What am I doing in the back? Am I not strong enough to be in the front of a 4/5 crit? Isn't it harder in the back being yo yo'd? I have wrecked at Memorial Park several times, once cracking a helmet. One wreck a while back separated my shoulder which made it hard to take care of my daughter who needed me to have both arms to carry her and help her as she was not quite two. Since all of this I kinda decided that its not worth fighting in the front of some of these races and take these risks just to barely be strong enough to move up to the next level. If I am gonna make it, it will be because I am strong enough to go in a break in a road race or crit. Other wise for get it. So I spend my races in two places...off the front trying to get a break going or stay in one or on the back with a 2 second rule. You know...like when driving you give yourself 2 seconds from the car in front to have ample time to react. I believe in defensive riding. Plus I just can't take the mental work to watch wheels and fight for wheels...it just burns me mentally. I do sit in the back of the crit at times this year and find myself slowing to 19 into a turn only to sprint to 30 to get back on and am in no real struggle to do so...so why not just sit on the front? I can't out ride the whole pack the whole race so I try with attacks. I sit in through the race and wait for that moment to attack or find a break to bridge up to. Its been great in road races this year. I have had tons of fun and still finished with the lead group and in the crits well, all of my attacks have been brought back. Once this year right at the start finish area I went from the back to the front in one shot on the left and I heard a bell ring to the right, so I thought it was the final lap. I drilled it and didn't look back and when I did half way through the lap I saw I had a huge gap and just kept drilling it...last look back I saw no one and thought I finally won! I came up on the finish line solo with my girlfriend and friends there and as I looked at the line and the officials I saw the official flip the lap card to 2. Two to go! ARG! Are you freaking kidding me? Still I looked back and saw no one...I should have kept going but I was so mad that I still had two to go when I thought I won when some one out there thought it would be cool to ring a bell at the finish line to cheer us on. I just pulled out and watched the finish. I was done...and would have been embarrassed if anyone knew what really happened. Wait...ah crap everyone knows now. haha
So here we are current race. I told Bill to get to the front and attack or jump into a break. I better lead by example so I was ready to start it my attacks early instead of waiting till later. The race started off with a rain delay. Yet when the race started it was cooler (as in it wasn't 104)and the pave was dry. PERFECT!!!! The pace was kinda fast but smooth for a race with only 50 guys in it tonight. Easier to move around. A couple laps in and I was already having to chase around guys getting dropped but feeling really good. What comes next happened in 6 seconds or less.
6 laps in I see the pack slowing down and after a right turn I know there might be a gap on the right. So I begin to sprint and mash those pedals to make it around the whole group in one shot and keep it going. I get right up on the back of the group and look up at the noise ahead...a wreck and a couple guys are down. The pack brakes and spreads out across the tarmac...right into my line and I grab my brakes and scream. I knew it wasn't good because I was going too fast to stop in time. And BAM!!!! I ran right into the back of another rider while in my drops gripping both brakes with all my might. I thought I would hit his back and he would break my fall but no...I think my fork front wheel hit his rear wheel or triangle...my bike stopped moving forward and while still on the brakes flipped forward right onto my head....then rolled onto my back. There I lay in shock moaning for air. I felt my left arm twinge and this pain shot up my forearm and elbow and I thought I broke it. I moved over to the side to be sure not to be ran over when they came through again. I held my arm up a fellow racer/EMT came to my rescue. He was off the back and figured I gave him a noble excuse to pull out. We looked me over and after a couple laps I got up and eventually walked out of the race and to my car. Another friend took my bike and he was kinda looking it over and it seemed fine. Good news there. I was pretty dizzy and my neck was super sore and I couldn't really move it too well. I waited for my girlfriend to come (since it was raining I told her not to bother coming since its no fun to watch in the rain and I don't start raced in the rain) and take me to the ER. Of course I had some help to the car and to the ER from others as well. You know who you are and THANKS!
I get to a stand alone quick care ER and walk in in my sweaty cycling shorts and top. I am looking around and don't see any road rash though I can't see everything yet. The doctor checks me out...everything works, I can move my arm and my neck is sore. No road rash AT ALL! Nothing hurts to the touch and except for a stiff neck I can move everything under its own muscles. Doc thinks its a case of whiplash and I am good with some pain killers and muscle relaxers. WHAT? I can race again next week??? I am out of this joint!
The next day I took off. I was pretty sore but kinda felt ok for wrecking as bad as I did. Then Friday I went into work at 9am, closed a husband and wife custom bike sale (that's two bikes in one day!) and then worked on some more. I left early...around 8pm to go home and rest. Saturday morning came and I was still sore so I thought it best not to ride a morning ride so I slept in and got into work around noon. My head was hurting and as I greeted my noon appt at the front of the shop I was sweating from the pain and pressure in my neck. I guess it gets worse before its better? I was on my drugs and trying to work. My customers even thought I didn't look good and mentioned we could reschedule. But of course that was just silly talk to me. I blurred through my refit (which was actually a good one post race results) and another bike sale. My final fitting of the day and I was actually feeling good! I worked through it and maybe I can spin tomorrow if I feel ok??? Sunday I woke up in a daze of pain. I couldn't focus to do anything productive but pop pills that weren't working and try to eat something while watching whatever on TV in between naps that helped me forget about the pain. But the evening my eyes hurt from the pressure, I was sweating in pain and if felt like a gorilla was holding me off the ground by the back of my neck. Still it took a crying girlfriend to let her take me to the ER. Finally at Memorial Herman Sugarland I got a Cat Scan that showed I had a fractured C7. This was about at 1 am. They threw a plastic neck brace on me and threatened me with a catheter. HELL NO! I said on that thing. I will hold it. I convinced them to let me pee on my own and I did...once the nurse left the room. But now here I am thinking...how much longer is this going to take??? I want to get some rest before I go back to work and I have a 4 o'clock fitting. Plus my gf is tired and has work in the morning too. Next thing you know they are wanting to transfer me to the Med Center in Houston to get an MRI done and looked at by the neurologist there. WHAT??? I have work? I drove here I don't need an ambulance I have a car I came in! (I was not getting it) Then we get to Memorial Herman med center and get a room in their ER. I can sleep but Joy(my gf) can't since she just has a plastic blue chair. They come in and mention they might need to operate but need to see the MRI first. WAIT A MINUTE? WHAT? OPERATE? I have a business to run!
Still not getting it I took the neck brace off right before they put me in to the MRI because it was uncomfortable. The doctor who came to help me off the bed to slide me onto the MRI bed looked at me like I was crazy when I told him I undid it cause it hurt. I get back from the MRI, it was noon on Monday. I wondered if I could still make it to my 4pm fitting. Then the doctor tells me the news. He draws it out for me since I do better with pictures I guess and explains how the fracture caused at gap between my C6 and C7. This created an unstable neck and if uncorrected could heal...but most likely will cause the C6 to slide in front of the C7 and could cause a stroke by hitting the artery that feeds my brain or paralysis. I laid there in pain and a tear rolled out of my eye and past my ear. Have you seen the movie Fight Club? Towards the end Edward Norton's character asked Marla to say his name. After her response he hangs up the phone and plops down in the chair say " we have just lost cabin pressure". That right there is how I felt right then. My world just kinda fell apart for a brief moment. I was just told that these four days I was up, driving, working, and living I could have damaged my body beyond repair. Not to mention that now I have to have surgery. I sit there and think of the time off from the shop and the business. I am a one man show. If I don't do it no one else will or can. Mine and Joy's cell phones were both dead. We knew no numbers cause they are in our phones. The doctor says that I can recover fully and ride again. The surgery is optional but if I don't my chances are not too good. I elect to get operated on at 7am the next morning. All I can do at this point is trust in God to take care of my and my business. Joy and I comfort each other (she has had no sleep in 36 hours and is on my emotional roller coaster with me) and she takes off to make calls and get some rest. I wake up from a nap and who do I see. Laura Meichan, aka LOWDA! She came to Joy's call to watch me for a while till she got back to me later that night. I get to my room that evening and its a nice huge room with one bed. NICE! Immediately I start getting phone calls....for Mrs Jones who just checked out I guess. haha! Now they are finally giving me some pain meds...that still are not helping. Lowda kept me good till Joy came back that night with my phone charged (so I could at least FaceBook through my cell) and ready to get me through. I didn't sleep since they kept coming in the room every 30 minuted to "prep" me for surgery. Joy couldn't sleep cause she the chair/bed folded too far over and she could not sleep at all. The morning came and I think to myself, they say no work for two weeks? I still have not been able to contact people for this week to cancel and reschedule. CRAP! But at least when they hear I have a pretty good reason as to why they might not have heard from me. Not to mention they say they are going through the front of my neck, moving my Carotid Artery and esophagus to the side to get to my neck to put in this plate. I mean that sounds pretty crazy. Oh man.
Joy walks with me down to the pre op room and then heads to work. I roll in, say the same thing to about 4 different people and then roll into "THEE OR" some one looked at my IV and that is all she wrote....
I wake up and I am being wheeled back to my room, I feel something in my hand...its a morphine pump trigger. I hit that thing like I was setting off the fireworks at the Capital on the 4th of July. But something was different...there was no pain. I felt really good. It kinda hurt to swallow but I was better than when I went in. I get back into my room and who do I see? LOWDA and my mom who just flew in from Maryland. They told me they had to keep pumping me with the muscle relaxers cause my metabolism kept using it up too quick. That's right, I'm bad! They got ahold of Joy fos me to let her know I was out and Lowda took off to get me a Jamba Juice. Joy had posted on FB that I was out and ok. Lowda came back super fast with a large Peanut Butter Moo'd and OMG it was like heaven in my mouth. The cold felt good on my sore throat and the taste was amazing. After that the jokes came and my mom knew I was feeling better. But wait...I have to pee....whats this? A catheter? AH CRAP! Oh wait....ahhhhh. Ok...I don't have to pee any more and know one even knows. ;-) Joy gets back in and I check my phone. My voicemail is full, my text is full and I check my email on it and there are over 100 emails....mostly Facebook responses. I start to go through it all and I am holding back tears at all the well wishes and concern so many people had for me. I kill myself with late hours and long weeks trying to make my customers as happy as possible, not to mention just with friends in general and my teams I sponsor. Suddenly I am overwhelmed by this wave of care and concern for me. I am so grateful I don't know what to say. But then my battery dies again. So enough of that. Now I want this catheter out. Of course its a young cute nurse who is going to do it. I start cracking jokes to keep it from being a silent awkward moment. She laughs some and then probably thinks about getting transferred to a different floor. But then she does it...she pulls it out. MUTHER FUDGER!!!!!! That hurt worse than my wreck! I winced like a little girl! What the heck was that???? Was that catheter barbed? I finish the night and Joy stays again (on a better chair/bed this time) and we get ready for sleep. But then my evening nurse is coming in asking me if I have peed every 30 minutes. I DON't HAVE TO GO! Its so hot in this bed I am sweating so much I will never pee cause I will have sweat'd it all out. But I reminded that if I don't pee before midnight I get the catheter again. No way is that thing going back in...only to come out again. I chugged a 32oz water and waited. Ok...here it is...its time. I am ready...here it comes.....OMG! IS THAT FIRE! Do I stop, drop and roll???? It burned so bad it took me 3o minutes standing there to relax enough to fight through the pain to pee so that Urine Nazi would leave me alone. Again...my wreck was not this bad! But hey....12 hours out of surgery and I was standing for 3o minutes with no pain. Of course I lost that burning feeling by the next day and things were ok. I spent my days with visitors to the hospital, phone calls, texts, mobile FB'n, and smoke signals. My highlights were walks to the Herman Cafe only to be tempted by food I could not eat. I am so used to eating so much I had to cut back or when I could ride again none of my spandex would be able to stretch far enough to fit me. I laid in the room, reflecting, thinking, talking. My spirits high and only getting higher with each visit from a friend.
Friday afternoon they let me out! By this time I had friends that put together a two week feeding plan where I will have food dropped off each night. Guys offering to work at the shop for me to help keep me going with what ever I can't do. Not to mention 4 emails amongst the 400 that came in while I was out, wanting to set up times to talk about getting a custom bike. A-FREAKING-MAZING! Everyone I had to call or email to reset their appointments or postpone a bike pick up totally understood. Again...I was so grateful. Saturday came around and I spent my morning napping and getting calls and texts about how well Shama Cycles athletes, clients, and friends did at the tri that morning. What a great way to start my day! Then I had my first big adventure...a trip to Central Market with my mom and Joy. I ran into Diann and Ron there. Of course I heard Ron had a problem with his knee that week that I asked about but of course I win cause I am walking around with this really cool neck brace. haha! We finish off with some Crave Cupcakes (pic above) and then home. Then Joy wanted to take me on a date. Where do we go? Little Big's, a place where you can pay $6 for 3 mini burgers. They do have great fries though. Then we hit the movies to see The Ugly Truth. A movie Joy thinks I should have gotten royalties on. HAHAHA Then home. I felt great! Sunday...Church, then back to a local ER clinic cause Joy's sister had 104 fever so we spent our afternoon there. Then back to the house in time for Andrew and Trent to come by to drop off more food than I can eat and take me to the shop for the first time to get their bike box for Ironman Canada. I walked in...looked at all the bikes that need work and just walked out in a cold sweat and shaking. Had I touched one bike I would have been there all night. But again...a busy day and I felt great. I really only took the meds as said...but never felt I needed them. Now Monday. I am so excited cause I am going back to work. I get in around 11am. It feels great. I begin to work on a bike, birds are chirping, the sun is out, there is a cool breeze tickeling my hair, and all is right in the world. Then I get the mail and I see my electric bill....the record skips to a stop and send out some emails setting up fits and consultations to pay this dang bill! hahaha I AM BACK! Well not all the way.
I have three months in this wonderful (note the heavy sarcasm) neckbrace and can only ride a trainer till then and if you have read any thing on here you know I HATE the trainer. I can't lift anything over 20lbs over my head to which my mom interperets that I can't carry anything but my cell phone. Also driving will be a mess cause I have a blind spot in this thing. Thank God the shop is only 3 turns and one mile from my house. After that...I can ride...I can have 95% of my neck movement back and I can resume racing and running and swimming and really just being able to play with my daughter as much as she wants me to....

They say everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for everyone. I feel like I have a new lease on life. This has struck me in a way I would not have thought and inspired me to start something new. What that is...will have to wait to be known later. But for now I am a changed man with a new respect for how fragile we really are...and a supreme appreciation for people who know me and call me thier friend...
I love you all and see you on the road...in 2 months and 3 weeks!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another very small time trial bike!

Prepping the frame for build is common place in these builds. Care is always taken with each component to ensure a perfect work or rolling art!

Yes, those are purple chain ring bolts there holding that Aero QRing onto the 165 Ultegra SL crank arm spinning on a Rotor SABB ceramic bottom bracket.

HED Classic aero bars, Nokon cables, Sram Force brakes.

Just a nice clean shot of where she will be spending her time...in the aero bars.

Just a nice shot race ready. Let the fun begin!

Special care is always taken with each bike to make sure each custom frame that comes in for each client is done perfectly...unlike bikes found at your big box stores. This is always the obvious case when you have a customer who is just too tall or too short to fit anything out there any kind of way. I often find myself taking care of the women out there who have battled their bikes and their love to ride with a hatred for their bike and how bad it hurts to ride. Custom frames to the rescue...
This Guru Merus actually weighs less with the 1380 gram Velocity training wheels on it than the Zipps. Though at speed the Zipps have that aero advantage. What does it weigh with the race wheels??? 15lbs 10oz

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

THEE Funniest Cycling You Tube Video EVER!!!!!

Bridgeland Triathlon

Unfortunately no pics yet. But what a great race. Very well run for a first time event. Congrats to the OnURLeft crew!
Shama Cycles athletes/clients/friends had a great day that day! The funniest story of the day by far was that of Laura Meichan. You might know her from the blog or out on the road as a Cat 2 road racer, former State Crit and Time Trial Champion as well. Over the past couple of years she has done a couple of duathlons which she loved and decided it was time to try a tri. Bridgeland was perfect cause it was close to home and a sprint. With the help of Trent Stephen's (www.CoachTrent.com) open water swim clinics she got her swimming in gear and kept up the running...the bike...well that is good if ya know what I mean. She had a time trial bike but sold it recently as her new Guru Magis is being made as I type. But since its not in yet she had to Merckx the bike and ride it on her Guru Geneo, a road bike. I let her borrow my HED Jet 6s and Lazer Tardiz helmet and she was ready to go. Race day! The swim started off well for her, actually getting in the front half of her wave until she felt her timing strap start to come loose. So she just took it off and put it in her Shama Cycles tri top pocket (notice the plug haha) and kept swimming for that T1 to get to her bike. She looks to check her swim time on her watch and its out...totally blank...of course it is. On the bike and pedaling away with no real data just feel she is passing girls and boys as she should until she hears this noise from the front wheel...maybe a flat. Arse! So she sees the parking lot where she parked and pulls into it since she knows she has a flat kit in her car. She pulls up, stops, and realizes that she does not have her keys on her like normal...Double Arse! So she gets off and started looking at the front tire and it seems fine, she looks closer and realizes that there is some one's helmet number stuck in her brake rubbing on the wheel. That was the noise...TRIPLE ARSE! In a fit of rage Laura mounts her Geneo and starts turning those pedals in anger. (thank you Phil Liggett) Having to re pass everyone she just passed before her 3-4 minute blunder she makes it to T2 and rushes to her shoes. Also she stops to put her timing strap back on her ankle. The run seems to be normal for her but after all the mishaps she finishes and is just beside herself. Not thinking that she will even be scored or ranked in the results due to the timing chip issue and for being one of the last waves off she called it a day and put her first tri behind her as most of us do. The drive home was one of reflection and a phone call to me to tell me her story. We both laughed and I gave her the pep talk any friend/sponsor should give. "you did great, I am proud of ya, next time you will do better" But there is more...keep reading.
After talking to Laura it was time to hit up my list of athletes racing and get their race reports. So I called Melanie Sun who was racing her new Guru Magis for the first time so I had to know how she did since I promised her she would be faster (standard sales pitch hehe) on a new bike from me. Of course she was faster...she tied for fastest female bike split of the day. OH YEAH! She told me about her race and how she loved the bike and she got 2nd in her Age Group but just could not run down 1st place who was just 50 yards ahead. Arg! But her big one is ClearLake coming up so she was happy. Then came the interesting news. She asked if I heard from Laura cause they were calling her name at the awards. What were they calling it for? 3rd in her Age Group???? Nope...Female Masters Overall. A-FREAKING-MAZING! Now I know there are some over 40 females who have been racing for years and never gotten Masters are maybe not as excited or happy for Laura as I am more like cursing her for beginners luck and not happy that there is yet one more girl out there making it harder for everyone else. Its all in good spirit right? hahaha So of course I had to call Laura with the news. NO FREAKING WAY was her response as well. We laughed and she quickly realized that maybe she will do more triathlons and next time on her new Guru Magis and hopefully not make any more mistakes.
Also out there was
Collen West, first tri on her new Praemio in prep for her first ironman next year.
Brett Cole clinched 3rd in his AG on his Guru Crono
Greg Witherow got back into the sprint spirit after Ironman CDA on his Guru Merus
Greg Bauer did not drown (swam 3 times and is a Cat 2 road racer) finished his first tri!!!
Greg Colvin who also did IMCDA hit the tri in his new position and had 2nd fastest bike split of the day.
Graham Schooley raced a Guru Crono (mine) for the first time since his bike was recently stolen and now has a Guru in his future.
John Theim rocked in a good race on his new position
Ryan Owens had his fastest bike split on his new rig...

For all it seemed to be a great race for a first time race and we will look forward to this one again next year.