Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving Thanks

Whitmore's Super Cross Cup 2009, 6th both days (wow!)

This Thanksgiving weekend I raced three cyclocross races.

This time last year, that would have seemed an impossibility.

My first race back in over a year - Cat and Kitten Cross, November 1 2009 (Photo: David Wilson)

During the 2007 cyclocross season I sustained a mystery injury to my left leg and hip that turned into a chronic, and often debilitating, problem. After nearly two years of shuffling between specialists, PTs, and chiropractors, my amazing doctor finally identified the problem and developed a course of action to try to help fix it.

In short, I have neurovascular entrapment in my left quadriceps; it's about 2 inches deep in the quad and adjacent to my femoral artery. When I try to pedal hard, it produces incredible pain and weakness in the leg due to reduction in blood flow and nerve function. At times, it felt like my left leg wouldn't work at all. The pain was awful and the frustration of a body that wouldn't work was great.

After a few months of trying to ride and race through it, I ended up with secondary injuries to the other muscles of my leg, hip, and back.

As athletes, it's difficult to deal with injury that prevents us from training and competing. For most of us, it structures and gives meaning to our lives. Losing that, perhaps for forever, is difficult.

I'm steadily on the road to recovery. I've had two procedures to help break up the entrapment in the quad and hope to have a few more. After missing a season of cyclocross, and two seasons of road racing, I'm thrilled to be back racing, even at a lower level, and hope some day to return to where I was before the injury.

And so, following the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to give thanks to everyone who helped and supported me, and continue to support me, as I begin my return to cycling.

First, I need to thank my teammates, without their love, support, and friendship, I couldn't have gotten through the past two years. They pushed me when my leg failed during rides, they motivated me to focus on figuring out the problem, and they accepted me when I couldn't perform as I used to.

I also need to give endless thanks for my incredible doctor at Rutgers, Dr. Cohen. Despite the difficulty of the diagnosis and the myriad of symptoms, his patience and compassion, not to mention his persistence, have made this recovery process possible. When every other doctor became frustrated and gave up, Dr. Cohen was there. I am so lucky to have met him and continue to work with him. Thank you.

I want to thank the friends, fans, supporters, and alumni who cared enough to check in on my progress throughout the long duration of the injury. It's striking how many people noticed my absence from racing and celebrated my return.

A huge thank you to my Active Release Techniques practitioner, Mark Strzeminski, DC. His continued musculoskeletal work has worked miracles on holding me together and promoting healing.

Thank you to Adam Myerson and Wade Hess, both of whom have worked with me throughout the process to dial in my bike fit and accommodate my physical limitations. I'm not an easy guy to fit on a bike, and both these guys have been amazingly generous with their time and expertise.

Thank you so much to my personal and team sponsors who stuck by me and the team even while I could not race. Also, thank you to the sponsors we have brought on because of my injury, like kinesiology tape sponsor, RockTape. If you've seen me compete and wondered about the tape on my left leg, that's what it is. Without it, I can't pedal. It's that good.

And finally, thank you to J. It wasn't easy to live with me through the frustration and disappointment of the injury. I know that, and I'm sorry.

Next weekend, I'll finish out my cyclocross season at the NBX Grand Prix in Warwick, RI. I'm not headed to cyclocross Nationals for the first time in four years. I'll take a week off and then start again to build toward what I hope will be my return to road racing in the spring.

Thank you all,


Monday, November 09, 2009

Follow Rutgers Cycling on Twitter!

Can't get enough info about Rutgers Cycling? You can now get it in 140 character bits and pieces.

Follow the team as they go for their fourth consecutive ECCC Cyclocross Title and travel around the Northeast racing bikes and giving out high fives.

British Cyclocross National Champion Helen Wyman follows us, you should too!