Saturday, 28 May 2011

Windy today init!!

I'm really looking forward to Saturdays North Cheshire Clarions club run after last weeks successful jaunt but I'm being plagued by knee pain from Mondays physio and whilst I didn't think it would have a major impact there is a bit of a blustery wind knocking about and that combined with my dodgy knee plants a seed of doubt in my mind. Saturday morning comes along and I look out of my bedroom window to see my tree windometer indicating very windy - I dive back into bed.

A couple of hours later I'm up and itching to get out. My backup plan was simply to play out on my lonesome where I wouldn't hold anyone up and if anything plays up I can about turn and head for home without inconveniencing anyone. I also want to test myself on hills and whilst my meander hasn't any steep hills I figured that using my single speed will be a challenge in itself into those 24 mph headwinds and especially on the moderate inclines on my vague route. So off I go with just an idea for a route in my mind, all I wanted was 90 minutes worth of road, but as soon as I turn the first corner and onto that first small hill just around the corner from my house the wind hits me head on and I'm down to a crawl cursing myself thinking that I made a big mistake coming out on my single speed in these conditions. I'm heading into Weston Village now, up towards Runcorn hill and down to a grinding crawl of 7 mph but turn the corner out of the wind and it's up into the 20's on the flat, great fun. The best thing is that my hip isn't complaining too much and as the ride goes on I start to enjoy that tailwind often spinning out at times.

I head out towards Aston but stop short of doing my little loop around Preston on the hill because of that resurfaced road and even though it was resurfaced weeks ago with loose chippings and probably ok now I'm still a wimp scared of falling off and instead head back into Runcorn aimlessly wandering around to get the time in. And what about that wind!!! some descents normally good for coasting down at 25 mph had me coasting down at 15 mph into that flippin wind, going up hill and into the wind often had me out of the seat grinding away. My stats for the day, my average speed in particular of 14mph is a reflection of the windy condition's and I'm also glad to say that today being a hard days grind, yes, I could feel the effort in my hip but it was more of a niggling ache than an ouche ouche ouche mustn't do that again so I'm happy with my progress so far, today was a very telling day, moderate hills and hard efforts are now achievable.

In 5 days I will be 5 months post breaks and I never envisioned doing what I did today so soon...

My Langster

Gratuitous photo's of my Langster with Frodsham Hill as a back drop

The Specialized Langster Steel has no bottle bosses and that's ok if you use this bike on the track or for short journeys but where do I put a bottle when I need to go for a longer ride? I had a browse and found what looks like the solution, a Tacx behind the seat bottle holder and after extensive testing today I can say it works quite well but in solving one problem of where to stick a bottle I've created another - where to put my spare innertube, levers, 15mm spanner and pump? Atm they are in my back pockets but I'm thinking of adding another bottle cage as the Tacx bottle holder is drilled out for two cages and buying a wide necked bottle to put my tools in, that should sort it...

My Stats 
21 miles, 1hr 30 mins, Av/Max speed  14/23, Av Hr 148 (77 % max), 890 ft climbing (Garmin)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

No Pain, No Gain...

It's Thursday today and I'm stiff in my left leg. On Monday I had my physio 'knee' class that I've already written about a few blog posts back. I made mention of how one particular exercise, the one legged knee over toe thing had my left leg shaking like I had been thrown naked into a freezer resulting in my hip continually hurting for a couple of days after. Well on Monday I'm sat on the warm up bike and the chart on the wall tells me that prolonged pains after exercise is not desirable so when it came time to perform this one legged knee over toe balancing thing I point this out to my physio thinking she'd just tell me to skip it but noo. She tells me that to have this pain indicates a weakness (no s*it Sherlock) and I need to continue with it which does make sense but she relents a little telling me to do alternate legs every 10 seconds.

As a result my gammy leg still gets the shakes however there is less pain compared to last week so I'm happy. Then I'm on the leg press and am moved up to the next level of torture, up from the two legged press to the one legged (the gammy leg) press. I don't think anything of it and proceed to perform the exercise but it feels weird, as I'm pressing probably because my stabiliser muscles must be weak, my body bends slightly in the middle and I can feel the effort in my left arse cheek and quad. I've succeeded in isolating those particular muscles which can only be good, however extracting myself from that machine was not graceful at all as all strength was zapped from that leg resulting in me having to pull myself out like a chimp on monkey bars and then lurching across the room to the next machine.

The last exercise is done with and my left leg is a quivering wreck, I get changed and hobble to my car which was easier said than done I can tell you. I walked into that class and an hour and ten exercises later lurched out of it like Quasimodo with Esmerelder on his back...

As I said today is Thursday, three days later and I'm still suffering, my leg particularly my knee and left bum cheek are really stiff and sore and I've got to do it again next Monday but ha it's a bank holiday and no class however despite the pain I know it's doing me a world of good so I'm going to make use of my Fitness First membership card and head to the gym to deliberately put myself through it all over again...

Oh the fun of it...

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

North Cheshire Clarion - The Early Days Photographed...

I have hundreds of photo's that I've taken over the first eighteen months of the clubs history so I thought I'd share. Here are some taken from the clubs inaugural ride on the 4th October 2009 up to December 2009 and the Christmas run, all pre club kit days. (click on pics to enlarge)

4th Oct 2009 - Inaugural run & 1st p*nc*** Dr Tim, Antnee, Giles, Sarah, young indecipherable scot's lad, Phil J & Phil M

8th Nov 2009 - Group shot Summertrees - Gaz, Sarah, helmet of Andy M, Antnee, Andy W, Dave W, Giles, Pablo, Matt, Phil M, Jonathan W

18 Oct 2009 - Delamere - 'Nitrous oxide press the button' Dave & Gaz

18th Oct 2009 - Cotebrook - Phil M, Dave, Andy W & Mr ugly

25th Oct 2009 - Elvis Transport cafe - Antnee doing what he does best and loving it..

25th Oct 2009 - Atop Alvanley Hill - Giles with an Antnee on his shoulder, Sarah, Dave

8th Nov 2009 - Delamere - Andy M giving Antnee a blow whilst Gaz looks on...

15th Nov 2009 - Lavender farm - Phil J, sarah, Giles, Jonathan W, Phil M, Antnee
6 Dec 2009 - Some mucky road in Cheshire somewhere, Phil M & yours truly

13 Dec 2009 - Allostock - Phil J, Sarah, Jonathan W, Andy W, Matt, Me, Gaz

27 Dec 2009 Xmas Bimble - Mrs & Mr Andy W, Jim, Phil J, Me, Martin H

Saturday, 21 May 2011

139 Days...

January 2nd to 21st May 2011 = 139 days or 4 months 2 weeks and 6 days, this is the period of time that has elapsed since I broke a few bones on black ice during the first club run of 2011 to the day of my North Cheshire Clarion club run return. I have been awaiting a club run that was billed as flat or nearly flat and up to 30 miles for a few weeks and today was one such ride. Sunday rides are out for now as they are too long or hilly so the Saturday club ride is ideal. These rides are designed for the new rider or perhaps the experienced rider joining a club for the first time in order to obtain the experience of safely and efficiently riding in a group before they progress to the longer hillier Sunday rides. Saturday rides also have another unadvertised function - they are ideal for the rider returning from long term illness or injury.

So Saturday morning comes along and I'm up early looking out of the window for anything that may put me off such as rain clouds accumulating on the horizon just waiting for me to step out the door or perhaps frost or ice or snow and there's nothing, so I get all my stuff together and set off for Winwick. Arriving, there are 22 riders so we are set off in small groups and I join up with John Rigby, Steve Ellis amongst others and nervously start the ride, initially I'm slightly pre-occupied looking for anything that may cause me to trip up, anything that will make me hit the deck again. Corners are bad, I take them wide, the sight of a single piece of gravel had me tensing up waiting waiting, on mini roundabouts I'm looking for diesel but two good things are going through my mind firstly something I read in the signature of a club forum member, words from Lance "If you're worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on it" which I am but I can't live my life wondering if I'm going to fall off so I just need to get out and ride. The other thought is a simple fact, the fact that I've only fallen off three times in the last three years and two of those falls have been on black ice - I have never fallen due to debris on the road, today there was gravel on some corners but no black ice, I will be fine just fine.

As time went on I relaxed somewhat and started to enjoy the ride, it was windy on occasion but dry and warm which was nice. So here we all are tootling along and I'm talking to John, we come to a slight hill, we put some power down, I've moved slightly ahead of John, I hear a metallic snapping noise and out of the corner of my eye I see Johns front wheel at an odd angle and then a sickening thud as John hits the tarmac, I stop and turn expecting the worst but John's already in a sitting position and examining the bottom of his shoe - made out of stern stuff that fella. His cleat still has a pedal attached to it, his pedal has snapped at the axle but John's thankfully OK, a big mark on his right shoulder and probably a banged up elbow and bruises but hopefully nothing more.

After a little thought about how John is to get home we carry on with John one legged pedalling to the next junction where we leave him to the assistance of a fellow club member and we carry on with the rest of the ride which was thankfully uneventful.

So Johns fall aside it was a good ride, there was still a few idiot car drivers around to remind you that you need to have your eyes everywhere. I managed 25 miles without any problems, my legs were good as were my lungs with no real pains, just an ache at times in my hip and my SportTracks training load plugin awarded me a further 3 CTL (chronic training load) points from today's modest efforts and showed on a nice big chart that I'm approaching 'medium' fitness...

My Stats
25 Miles, 1hr 33min, Av Speed 16.1, Av Hr 144 (75% of Max) 630 ft climbing (Garmin)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Things are starting to look up!

Yes they are at last starting to look up. Last week I started a 6 week one day a week 'knee class' generously provided by the NHS, this class is basic but is helping me to get strength back in my leg(s). As I said It's basic in that it's simply circuit training through 10 different exercises and it all starts with a quick warm up on a stationary bike then it's 2 minutes on each exercise and the only rest is the time it takes to move to your next bit of equipment.

Some of the exercises are harder than others such as the leg press, leg extensions, leg curls, standing calf raises, lunges and the easer exercises; the 'bridge', rowing machine, balance board and the sit to stand exercise however the one that I find the mother of all badass exercises is standing on one leg, my affected leg with leg slightly bent at the knee for two minutes. This exercise kills me it really does - trying to balance on my bad leg isn't too bad but bending at my knee so that my knee is over my big toe has my leg shaking within 20 seconds with my quad and hip muscles screaming in agony but the result of this session was sore muscles over the next couple of days and I've not had that nice 'soreness' for absolute yonks, it's great to know I'm hitting all those muscles that have been taking it easy for the last few months.

This week was my 2nd session and I found it just as hard but I discovered very quickly that these sessions are greatly benefiting me and well worthwhile; I'm walking better and my legs don't have that 'heavy' feeling any more and I'm only 2 weeks in! The sessions have also benefited me in that I've learnt that just 2 minutes each of the right exercises done correctly can reap rewards very quickly and free-standing exercises like the lunge, calf raises and balancing on one leg knees bent can be done anywhere but better in privacy as I would imagine you'd get funny looks performing them at the station...

My arm is also improving, although I'm not receiving any physio for my arm I have used my brains and started on my own set of exercises - behind the neck triceps extensions with light weights, my version of bent over rowing, upright overhead press and 100 press ups, not the full blown on the floor press ups but a rather easier version using a table so my body is at a 45' angle. In time I will progress to the normal version and perhaps step up a level to the bench press - gotta make use of my Fitness First card at some time!

Lastly I've been on my turbo 4 or 5 times a week and have seen improvements in my average speed and heart rate per session. With my arm getting stronger, today was a real turning point - for the first time since my fall I could use my good arm to drink from my water bottle using my bad arm to hold my weight through the bars, before this time my bad arm would not hold my weight for more than a couple of seconds so with everything finally heading in the right direction I'm a happy chappie and really looking forward to getting out on the road when the sun's out...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Hello fellow sufferee..

In my previous blog entry I received a comment and a couple of questions from Gordon who in answering him is worthy of the main page and not a line or two in that little reply box so here goes.

Gordon's comment: 

Hi Mark
Just found your blog today. I broke my hip 8 weeks ago today on my bike and our stories are similiar although I am 49.
Back wheel went out on some diesel? at 25 mph and I came down hard on right hip. No other damage thankfully.
DHS and no weight bearing for first 6 weeks. So now allowed back on turbo and 25% weight bearing building up to full weight by 10 weeks post op.
Your story is heartening and it sounds like you are making a good recovery. I am getting a lot of aches and pains in leg now I am using it again - did you go through that? Knee seems a little unhappy about working again too. No one mentioned anything to me about prospect of ball of femur 'dying' from lack of blood flow - how do you tell?
All the best

Hi Gordon, firstly so sorry you've joined the broken hip gang, it's an exclusive club with few members but more than you'd think! You say you are 49, well I'm only a year younger and the only reason I mention age is that in my case age combined with the side affect of the immunosuppressant drugs I take for my kidney transplant (along with the fall of course) are responsible for my weakened bones. Since my fall I've read a lot and have come to understand that cyclists are prone to 'thinning of the bones' as my doc puts it and once we get past forty it can become a real concern. Calcium & vitamin D supplementation is recommended as a precaution but in our cases that recommendation comes too late - I'm mostly mentioning this for the older riders that may be reading this...

You are already on the turbo and soon to be fully weight bearing, that's really good going and slightly better than my own progress but all the same very similar. I like you also had pains but in places you wouldn't associate with a broken hip, my pains initially were in my thigh, hip, knee and strangely my feet - both feet. As soon as I was allowed to partially bear weight I was out on my crutch 'walking' my dog and walking as much as possible in the house. Every day I upped the distance until the time came when I was allowed to fully weight bear and then I would walk up to 2 miles, yes there was pain but I was determined that I would get back to my old self so 'walked' through the pain trying to walk as normal as I possibly could.

My pains have diminished or completely gone now at 4 months. My knee pain has gone but does occasionally flare up, pain killers takes care of that if I'm off out somewhere. Both of my feet hurt from the time I was partially weight bearing and for a few weeks after fully weight bearing with the good legs foot stopping aching first then a couple of weeks later the bad leg stopped. I also had hip pain at first particularly when walking up a slope and especially when riding my bike up any sort of incline but this rarely troubles me now although I can't say I've pushed myself on the bike as I've deliberately avoided any of the hillier hills around my locale but normal walking doesn't hurt my hip any more.I still get pains in my thigh during and more so after exercise or physio. I also suffered some muscle wastage particularly in my calf and in my lower quad just above the knee - some of it is back now but I still have a lot of work to do to get those muscles back...

This death of the head thing is called avascular necrosis, I was told it can be caused by a lack of blood to the head of the femur at the time of the accident or thereafter. If the break is on the neck or higher nearer the socket there is a greater risk of this happening than if it's lower like mine was. I have a follow up in 6 months time to see if I'm suffering from this but my consultant isn't concerned about it so I'm not.

As I said I'm 4 months post break, I'm back on my turbo and the road and my fitness is getting close to where I was before the break, I'm getting better every week. My limp is slight when I'm having an occasional bad day but nearly undetectable otherwise. I do get tired easily when out walking, my legs feel heavy most times but I hope that over time I will get back to where I was when walking was like 'floating on air'.

I hope the above is of some encouragement to you and that things will get better for you as I'm sure they will, just takes time and patience. There is a thread over on BikeRadar forums that may be of interest to you link why not grab a cuppa and have a read, lots of riders in our boat on

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Week ending 8th May...

Sunday, today, was a good day for me on the bike, It's been a couple of weeks since I've dared venture out onto the roads and today was a good day for me to do just that. Yes it's windy but at least it's warm so I pumped the tyres up on my Scott, stuck my water bottle in it's holder, switched on my Garmin and set on my usual training loop around Aston and Preston on the hill. The last time I rode this route was a month ago and I suffered, I was knackered after just 10 miles and was in pain. This time I rode a similar route and was able to maintain a 15.3 mph average and no stops except for junctions. None of this is phenomenal but for me to manage the distance without problems is good going and fills me with hope that I am just a few weeks away from the club runs and getting back to cycling normality.

During the week prior to my Sunday solo effort I have stepped up my turbo workouts, I have managed to maintain a workout ratio of two consecutive days to one day of rest and have seen my fitness increase by a small measure. A few more weeks of the turbo combined with a few road rides to rebuild my confidence on the road and I'm sure I will be fit enough to keep up with the boys - fingers crossed...

I still have a few hangups I need to get past, I came across quite a few areas on the cycle path I use where cherry blossoms had inconsiderately shed their blossom right across the path to make a pretty looking white thick blanket of the stuff and this put the hebegebes up me I can tell you. Gravel or twigs on a bend also has the same affect and I don't know why it should as in the 4 years and all the miles I have ridden I have only fallen off three times, none of them on twigs or blossom or gravel but once when I was pushed over when I was used as a cushion by a fellow club member (who will remain nameless) when he unclipped the wrong foot coming to a junction only to fall the wrong way and onto me and the other two times on black ice, once before last Christmas and the next and last was the big one in January where I momentarily became Samuel L. Jackson in 'Unbreakable' - he fell down the stairs breaking bones as if made of glass but in my case black ice causing me to break my glass like bones on the rock hard asphalt of a Cheshire country lane...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

SportTracks Plugin :Training Load

I've had this plugin installed in my copy of SportTracks for quite a while now but have only recently realised it's worth. This plugin uses data from your Garmin to give you a record of not only your workout but also how hard you've worked over the short term (ATL), long term (CTL) and how these workout affects your fitness.

Heres a chart of my recent cycling activities to illustrate;

Ok now to explain to the best of my knowledge.

TRIMP (Training Impulse), this is the vertical bars on the chart and correspond to your individual workouts which give a 'score' for your workouts based on time in various heart rate zones. As you get fitter two exact same workouts will have different scores. In the chart above the last two vertical bars are exact same workout based on speed over 1 hour but in my 2nd workout my heart rate had adapted from the previous workout and therefore slightly lower resulting in a lower score indicating an increase in fitness.

Red line is my ATL (Acute Training load). This is a measure of your fatigue and load over a period of the previous 10 days.

The blue area is my CTL (Chronic Training Load). This is an indicator of your fitness and takes into account all of your workouts over the last 45 days or so.

What that means

From the above chart you can see the effects my training had on my fitness starting 7th November when I started the first 3 week Base period of training ending 21st November. The chart shows that my CTL (blue, fitness) moved up 6 points, my ATL (red line) moved up towards 'epic' and then came week 3, a weeks rest where I recovered from the previous 2 weeks and my fitness in the remaining base periods from thereon remained fairly level (a slight dip over Christmas week). However just as I was about to take my training to the next level, I fell over and bust a few bones, This can be seen in the huge dip in my CTL (fitness, blue area) which corresponds with my hip fracture and lack of exercise in the weeks thereafter. Some more little raises as I attempt to get some fitness back, some gaps where I did nothing due to either despondency or after aggravating my hip. You can also see my ATL (red line) increasing as my workouts have increased in firstly length and lately intensity after my fractures. My very recent  ATL (red line) tells me that my workouts are increasing in intensity (but not nearly as much as pre fractures workouts) and as result my fitness (CTL, blue) is also increasing in small steps. If I was to stop training this plugin also predicts how quickly fitness will be lost and can be seen in the pale blue area to the right of my last workout.

There's tons more stuff to learn from this plugin, I've just covered the basics. I can see this being of great use not only in viewing how my workouts affect my overall fitness but also I can see if my very recent workouts (ATL, red line) is leading me towards over training or getting close to it so I can back off to avoid illness. Everyone is different in how their bodies tolerate training loads but as most of us do at some point we over train without realising it until it's too late. If that should happen it would be easy to look at your ATL (red line) to see what load we have put on our bodies and take steps to ensure that we do not replicate that training load to avoid over training and possible illness.

I've not gone into the depths of what this plugin is capable of demonstrating, there's tons more but I have explained the basics as I understand it (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) and how we can tailor our workouts to avoid over training.

A more detailed and dare I say a better blog on this plugin here