After an incredible winter of snow biking, a 24 hour race where my duo partner and I placed 5th, and my first go at the Togwotee Winter classic where I finished 3rd in a 3 way battle for 2nd, I got hit with the flu. Now a month later and 5 rides under my belt I’m heading down to New Mexico for a 12 hour race in Ruidoso. I have friends that tell me even off the couch with no riding I’m still a machine. While I appreciate it, I’m not getting younger and 30 years of Wiley experience can only go so far. Age group over Open categories is starting to look pretty good. 50+ look out 

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

  

Dakota Five-O

Posted: October 4, 2015 in Cycling, Endurance racing

Dakota 50
I have always wanted to do this race but my season usually hits the rest zone in September. the course is very challenging, with little to no passing opportunities when the singletrack section is reached after the fast road section. I was told that a time under 4:30 is an excellent time and was also told good luck at getting that your first time out. So that was my goal, sub 4:30. I started my race day as usual, nothing to eat, Anti-Fatigue, Endurance Aminos, and Race Caps prior to and an Espresso Hammer Gel at the start. Not wanting to go out too fast and blow up on the +7000′ climbing that I would face over 50 miles, I settled into a pace that I could maintain. Once I hit the singletrack I wished I had had more power to be further up in the queue. Riders in front of me may have had faster legs up the climb to the trail, had nothing in the way of technical skills on tight singletrack climbing and were slowing me down (maybe for the good?). Eventually the path widened and I easily passed everyone on an gradual uphill only to have my spare tube/tools/CO2 strapped to my top tube come flying off on a bump. Stopping to retrieve my stuff I was passed again by everyone but the “slow” rider thank goodness. I was warned by friends that the course has sharp rocks that cause many flats. My eyes got wide a few miles later when I counted no less than 5 riders over 3 miles on the side of the trail changing flats. I paid a little more attention to the trail after that. The course is unrelenting with climb after climb. It was about mile 30 where I started to worry about my goal of finishing. I decided to empty the tanks and upped my pace significantly trying to keep up with a faster rider from wave 2. Eventually the last aid station was reached with Beer and Bacon being available. I declined and opened it up all out on the descents to the finish. The other rider and I were crushing the descent, passing rider after rider before he fumbled on a technical section allowing me to continue on solo passing riders. Looking at my time I knew it was going to be close and held nothing back. I had played my race out perfectly, my Camelbak filled with ~60oz of Strawberry Heed and Perpetuem was nearly empty with 4 miles to go as I hammered my way to the finish. I finished in 4:29:37. Goal accomplished. 20th in age group and 84th out of 575 finishers
Looking forward to next time as the race is so fun and the location Top Notch

Dakota Five-O

Pierre’s Hole 100 (km)

Posted: October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

PH100
My lack of early season base miles due to my surgery really did me in on this one. No amount of shorter speedwork can prepare you for the suffering that is found in Grand Targhee resort at the Pierre’s Hole 100. Initially I had chosen to foolishly enter the 100 mile race. My thoughts were that I had done plenty of 100s in the past so why quit now. A week out I realized that those times were on healthier years. Fact was my longest race this year was a 70 mile race I did 2 weeks ago and it didn’t go as planned. So I downgraded my race to the 100KM, still hard but not as hard as the 100M. Most riders that race this race actually start big but usually end up in the 32M race eventually because even that race is hard enough but yet easy enough that they still enjoy themselves. Let’s say I enjoyed myself for ~45 miles of a 62 mile race, there was a ~20 mile stretch that I was just hanging on by a thread. Thank goodness nobody offered me a couch and a beer or I might never have finished. The one thing that I do when I race ~5 hours is to not utilize aid stations. I prefer to load up my 70oz Camelbak bladder with Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem and Heed. This method is best used when I have no direct support otherwise I would opt for a lighter pack and swap it out mid race. For those unfamiliar with the PH100 it starts on a steep climb up a dirt service road and continues onto singletrack for approximately 30 minutes before you even see a drop in elevation. And drop you do. The initial descent is filled with a few bermed switchbacks that set you up for the test to come. after a bit of descending, you do a small climb on 2 track that leads to “38 Special”. It helps to have good brakes and top notch descending skills to make the most of the ~50 switchbacks as you drop down the mountain. After the fun there is a short bit of up and down before hitting Aid 1 where you could get your chain oiled by JayP himself while you indulge in some Hammer Nutrition HEED, Endurolytes, and an assortment of fruit, chips, and soda. There is a pavement climb after this that lasts for awhile before you head back onto dirt. The fun singletrack continues again until you exit by the horse corrals and pass the self aid station. Then you ride up a dirt road that gets steep to the point of absolutely no fun before rejoining fun singletrack. There is a whole area of singletrack up and down, all I remember is the “North Woods” trail and how much I couldn’t wait to get off of it and back to the start/finish. The next time up the starting climb was VERY different. It lasted about 1 hour. 1 hour of climbing before the fun descending started again. This next time around I was dead tired, and backed off the pace significantly to recover. This “recovery” lasted for the next 10 miles before the power switched back on. I can only relate it to running out of juice and getting refilled with Hi-Octane. I came back alive firing with all cylinders for the last 5 miles. In the end the result wasn’t too bad, 13th in age group and 48th overall in the 100km race. Looking forward to next time and doing better when I’m at 100%
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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, 

Wyo

  

Last year I raced what many endurance mountain bikers call the hardest category to race in a 24 hour format, Duo or 2 Person.  There are many reasons but mainly because it involves riding at a high race pace for each lap followed by a short recovery and then back on the bike again.  As a team, you rely on each other, for motivation, support , keeping spare batteries charged, and above all being ready to lay down another fast lap when it’s his/hers turn.  Recovery is at a premium and there is more to do than just ride a bike and wait to go out on your next lap.  My example: A respectable fast lap in 24 The Hours in the Old Pueblo is under 70 minutes.  After the baton is handed off to your teammate and you have made your way to your camp (~5 min), you park your bike in the workstand, sit down and grab some food and take off your jersey (~10 min).  If you are a Duo team with no support, it is up to you to go over your bike and make sure everything is functioning well before you put your feet up and make sure batteries are plugged in and charging (~5 min).  Mind you, problems do happen and you may find yourself changing a tire, wheel, or worse if you crashed on your lap.  Stay calm, refuel, and take care of what is needed.

What is needed after you have ensured your steed is ready to roll is your recovery.  The time between your post ride checks and the 10 minutes prior to your teammate arriving at the transition zone, the hopefully 40 minutes you have to lay down, put your legs up and fuel some more.  During this time I suggest grabbing your personal soignier, masseuse, your Compex EMS unit and hooking up for an Active Recovery session.  My personal experience is with the Compex units and I travel with 2 and spare batteries to speed recovery sessions.  This works out great when your teammate doesn’t have one also.  The 24 minute workout combined with stripping down, hooking up electrodes, disconnecting everything and getting re-dressed to head back to the transition tent leaves you with little else to do but will pay huge dividends on that next lap when you feel like it’s your first.  if you are in a 4 person team, you have even more tim to relax and flush out the legs before kicking back the next 3 hours.  When using Active Recovery, it is best utilized from a setting of 50 to a max of 100.  And set your alarm when using in the late hours of the race, you may find yourself drifting off to sleep and your partner won’t appreciate not seeing you in the exchange tent on time.
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There are many aspects of 24 hour racing, I find EMS to be a integral part of it.  My duo teammate Tony summed up the experience utilizing EMS during the perfectly when he described it as our secret weapon”.  We went on to a 5th place finish in Mens Duo in 2014.  Although we were unable to compete this year, we are looking forward to the top step for 2016.  Hammer On!

For more information on Active Recovery download the pdf @ http://www.hammernutrition.com/downloads/active_recovery.pdf

While there are many “white papers” out there on the subject of EMS for sport, I have not come across any that addressed the use during 24 hour racing.  I hope this has been helpful.  Any thoughts or questions please feel free to share/ask.

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.

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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.

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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.