Getting a Tune-Up

Regular readers of may have noticed that there have been far fewer postings lately. I suppose an explanation is warranted, because I don’t want you to think that I have lost interest in cycling, as this is not the case. I haven’t been riding my bike though, and it’s awfully hard to write about something I’m not actively engaged in.  After years of tuning-up my bike, it was time to tune-up my body.

Calcific Tendinitis of the Shoulder
Repairing my rotator cuff

For years I had calcific tendinitis, deposits of hydroxyapatite (a crystalline calcium phosphate) in the tendons of my rotator cuff (right shoulder), which caused pain and inflammation. Although I’ve crashed and landed on this shoulder more than once, it’s still not clear why these things develop.  I met with a doctor in the spring of this year, and he recommended I get it fixed right away to prevent further damage to the tendon. With all the plans I had already made for summer though, I decided to put it off until the Fall.

As the summer progressed, mountain biking became uncomfortable. Even the simple act of doing a wheelie off a curb was starting to hurt. Because of the shape of the handlebars, road biking was even less comfortable. And so I became mostly an urban biker, using my bicycles for commuting and errands around town.

Sidewalk Jungle
Exploring the Sidewalk Jungles

But even urban biking started to become uncomfortable in the end, and I became primarily a pedestrian. Some days I’d split the trips between bike and foot, but I’m certain I logged many more miles on foot than I did by bike in 2012. On the bright side, I developed a new appreciation for walking, and started to see the city in a whole new way, becoming acutely aware of even the smallest details wherever I went. Shortcuts and scenic detours abound when you’re on foot. And with the aging and overgrown sidewalks around town, walking has become an all new adventure. More walking also led to the exploration of other sports like hiking and backpacking. I really diversified my activities this last year compared to year’s past.

Conversely, though, I gained a new appreciation for the bicycle. Walking 3-6 miles every day can start to wear you out as the week goes on. These same trips by bicycle are easier on the body, especially when you often get to coast going one direction. Walking also shrinks the domain of where you can get in a timely manner. I’ve found that one-way trips of a mile or less are very practical on foot, even on a busy work day. Especially when you factor in the extra time of locking a bike and putting on safety gear when you ride. As the mileage increases beyond a mile though, the bicycle definitely becomes my preferred method of travel when getting around the city when time is an issue.

Deer squat too.  In case you didn't know.
Just a small sample of the exciting things I see on my walks

I finally scheduled my shoulder surgery at the beginning of November, a time when the summer activities started to wind down, but when the winter sports hadn’t quite started yet. The surgery went well, removing the deposits from my tendon, and repairing a small tear in my rotator cuff. I was on the couch for a couple weeks (thank goodness for a caring family, the library, and Netflix!), and then started physical therapy. Things are progressing well, but I’m still just working on range of motion. It’s probably a few more weeks before I work on strengthening my shoulder, and maybe a couple months before I’m back on the bicycle. It is true, though, that absence makes the heart grow fonder. A recent walk around my garage felt like a trip to the bike shop. I admired all the shiny bikes, and thought about how cool it would be to ride them some day.

In addition to the surgery, another significant milestone passed in November, my 5th anniversary of not using a car to get to work! Five years later, riding and walking to and from work is still one of my favorite parts of the day. Each season poses a new challenge and change of scenery, and I embrace it all. It all seems pretty routine now, but it’s fun to go back and read some of my earlier experiences and challenges of trying to function without a car. It was anything but routine back in 2007 when I first started this streak.

Snow Commute
A particularly snowy commute back in December of 2009

I’m really looking forward to returning to cycling in 2013. I will still continue to enjoy a more diversified set of hobbies, but also plan to bring some of my new skills back to biking. With all my newly acquired knowledge and gear for backpacking, bicycle touring seems far less mysterious and like something I could take to quite easily. So until I have more cycling photos and adventures to share with you, I’ll just do my best to let you know what’s happening locally. And if you have any photos or stories you’d like to share with the community, I’d be happy to post them here as well!

2 thoughts on “Getting a Tune-Up

  1. Glad your on the mend. Get well soon. Is that doe about to take a dump? Is this your way of saying you’ve been a hot mess. Ha Ha

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