Archive for the ‘2015 recovery’ Category

On the 19th of January it will be one year since my life was changed for the better. For anyone that was browsing the web looking for acdf recovery or cervical spine fusion, they may have read one of my posts. It was practically a year ago to the day that I was contemplating my future without competitive cycling let alone any cycling.  I was looking at selling off my bikes, informing my sponsor Hammer Nutrition that I was out, etc.  The neck pain, the images (x-ray and MRI), and finally the talk with a neurosurgeon that led to a multi-level C4-5-6 3 days later.  My recovery has been nothing but stellar based on the data that I browsed endlessly during my 45 day post op recovery.  Was it my high protein low carb diet combined with Hammer Nutrition supplements or some other factor?  I only know that, for a year that I figured to be spending off a bike was anything but that.  Commencing with riding on a trainer one week post-op to riding outside 2 weeks later.  My participation in racing came after a trip to Moab in which, if I wasn’t hurting then as long as I stayed upright I felt I was going to be ok.  My doctor agreed and gave me the green light to do whatever. He was definitely a “I’m not here to hold your hand and tell you what you can and can’t do” Doctor.  Call it increased awareness or some kind of Jedi mind trick but where I should have been practicing caution, I was instead riding fast over technical terrain. Faster and better than I ever have before.  Much of the increase confidence came from the purchase of a proper full suspension trail bike, a Specialized Stumpjumper.  My fit on my Spearfish was ok, but lacked the plushness and more uprightness I was looking for while I healed up completely. The extra weight didn’t hurt for training on either. 

This year I was lucky enough to be featured in 2 Hammer Nutrition Endurance News articles, one on my use of EMS (electro muscle stimulation) as a recovery tool between laps during a 24 hour Duo race and another on recovery after an accident (or surgery in my case).  I can’t thank them enough for standing beside me during this trying year.  I’m looking forward to another year of support in 2016.  

Here is my Strava year in review, mind you these are almost entirely off-road miles which makes it even more impressive, IMO.  Strava 2015

And another info graphic from @veloviewer that I really like because it includes running


So winter is upon me and for those that know, it doesn’t slow me down. This year I’m riding a fantastic Specialized carbon Fatboy. It has been nothing short of extraordinary in handling and low weight. 

 It’ll work great on dirt and snow trails
Stay upright my friends and Hammer On


I’m a hardcore athlete.  I get really bored sitting around waiting to heal. I started out post ACDF surgery walking my dogs… A lot. Then I started back on the bike on an indoor trainer.  Boring but when it’s snowing and cold out you do what you can. Then there were these two really warm weeks in February, and I was like, hmmm I wonder if I can ride my bike to the mailbox a mile away?  5 miles later I knew I could. So I continued to ride outside building up time in the saddle. Stretching out rides up to 2 hours and throwing some gravel roads into the mix. Nothing to bumpy even though I was on a full suspension mtn bike I still knew my limits. 

On my 2 month post-op follow-up appointment my doctor, who knew my level of fitness pre-op. Told me “I should go ride”.  It was raining outside and he probably meant to add “but take it easy”.  Well I will claim that all I heard was Go Ride.  I’ve been riding like I’m training for racing ever since. 

Let me explain before someone reads this and calls me names for not wearing a neck brace 24 hours a day for the first 4 months or some other Restrictions that they were told they need to abide to. I rode with a brace on the first couple months, and I did my best to not have to lift anything >XX lbs. just to be clear, I had a multi-level fusion of C5-6. The focus was on maintaining fitness of my cardio and lower body strength while healing.  Maybe you happened upon this post to see what other people do after surgery and what the recovery is like.  Everyone heals at different rates.  Nutrition and overall health play a big roll in recovery.  There are positive studies out there on increased protein intake aiding in the formation of bone growth (magnesium too).  My X-rays at 2 and 3 months post op showed signs of fusion. A good sign as full recovery was forecasted for 12 months.  

Fast forward to 4 months post-op.  I’ve been riding off road on singletrack as much as I can. I’m an expert rider and I’m overly cautious and run techy rock sections at times where things “could” go wrong.  For the most part I have been riding at a very high level, both physically and technically.  

Memorial Day weekend… MOAB. My first time there. Holy crap this is the most sustained technical riding trip I have ever been to. Step up ledges by the dozen, rough slick rock, exposure, AMAZING!  

I rode like I was fully healed.  I think it was because I was so relaxed and having fun pushing the limits that I knew I was in control. That I wasn’t going to be carted off to a hospital.  Oh there were trail sections that I walked.  Many spots on the Portal Trail come to mind. 

But after each day my neck was sore.  I found the simple cure, an ice bag.  To say that this 20 minute post ride ritual was an eye opener would  downplay it a bit.  It was the antidote for post ride pain.  I would literally wake up the next day with no residual pain/soreness in my neck from the previous day. It was purely muscle, tendon, and ligament discomfort. Hallelujah, I can deal with this.  It’s only temporary while everything gets used to their new roles. 

In a week I see my Dr for my 5 month post-op visit. I think I’ll show him this photo of me without BASE jumping gear


Hang in there, 



It’s been 4 weeks since I’ve had my surgery. Honestly I can’t believe how good I feel. The pain that has dogged me these last few months has gone away. I’ve been cleared to ride outside, on the road, with a brace.  It was nice because we have had awesome weather in the 60s last week. My doctor says unless I fall or get hit by a car I’m fine. I’m listening to my doctors and staying within the confines of the orders.  Others that do not know me other than through the internet have told me that it is too much too soon. To them I say go somewhere else, it’s my life. I’m a responsible adult and know my limitations as set forth by my care givers. My main goal is to stay in shape. My second goal is to not lose sight of who I am. with a year of recovery in front of me these goals will test me.  As an athlete, I believe that my fitness and good nutrition will aid in a quicker recovery.   it doesn’t hurt that I represent Hammer Nutrition, the best sports and nutrition supplement company around.  Bone growth is a slow process. but can be even slower for those with poor health and eating habits.  My one year goal is to have obtained total fusion of the 3 vertebrae and to be standing on the podium at the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo with my duo partner. A lofty goal but but so far away. That would put me at 13 months post-op. It would be an incredible feat but not the most incredible in my life.

Back in ’91 I was involved in one of the worst accidents in U.S. Cycling history when a vehicle drove through the front of the cat 3 peloton in the Tour de Moore road race. 18 riders ended up in the county hospital that day, many more were lucky that only their bikes were broken.


I was the worst of the injured, I almost lost my left leg and doctors said I would never compete at a high level again. I proved the doctors wrong when I went on to be one of the best cyclists in northern Italy a few years later.


I beat dopers and cheats. Now I’m up against myself. It takes time to heal properly.  I have to reign in my desire to do anything more than just maintain fitness.  The older I get the more set in my ways  I become. I’ll need to change up my routine for a year.  I am a survivor, I will return again. Competition is in my DNA. Wether it be against others or myself.

Follow me this year as I make progress towards my return. Time is on my side.

I’m 11 days post-op, I honestly feel good. There is a plate holding 3 vertebrae with material for bone to grow through in place of 2 disks. Pain has been near non existent and I started walking and riding a stationary bike 2 days after, as allowed by my neurosurgeon (NS). I’m wearing a brace for everything except showering. I can’t drive or go back to work yet and no lifting more than 8 pounds. That I hope will change after my 1st follow up with the NS in 12 more days. Till then it’s more of the same, indoor cycling, outdoor walking with my dogs, proper nutrition to aid in healing, and lots of rest.