Friday, February 29, 2008

Day 4: Street Clothes

Today I got to dangle my arm, squeeze a rubber ball, and put on a regular shirt instead of wearing an oversized sweatshirt Quasimodo style. Woohoo...

At least now I know how PTs get such quick results: they NICE you to death. Jessica, my PTA, was so sincere in wanting my arm to feel better, and NOT wanting to hurt me while moving my arm around, that when she did move it to the point where my stomach flipped over and my eyes went dim, I kept quiet so as not to disappoint her. Can't wait until Monday's appointment.

Until then, you history buffs might want to chime in about Ken Burns' film "The War". Soulmate & I have been riveted to it whilst I plod along on the Arc trainer. I loved "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers", but this is both bigger and more intimate. I ration it out an hour at a time, like K-rations.

DOC'S ADVICE: watch it on reruns or buy it from PBS, and you'll never doubt this was "the greatest generation."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Day 3: And Now For Something Completely Different

You must be sick of hearing all about me, so, something different.

Yes, I have the entire Monty Python & the Flying Circus on DVD, as well as The Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and today's title movie. A while ago I posted the "Bicycle Repairman" sketch on this blog. Here it is again:

In addition, my Seattle bro' has sent me some time-wasters while I'm recuperating:

Here are some cool sites that I enjoy and might give you some cool, fun and even some useful info along the way:

Lifehacker – cool site with a lot of great how-to’s, tips, downloads, etc for the techie and not-so-techie lifestyle

Make Magazine – cool projects and videos (I found a video on building a Trebuchet and others being very cool to view)

Book Finder – if you can’t find it, then it was never printed (or something like that)

How Stuff Works – as the name describes…cool learning site.

Anybody got any other cool sites for me to check out? PG rated, max. This is a family-friendly blog.

Next time...????

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Day 2: Eeeeuw!

This post is not for the faint of heart.

Herein you find the gritty details of my left shoulder pathology.

This is an arthroscopic view of the head of the humerus (upper arm) bone, with the torn stump of the biceps long head looking fairly ratty. This was one of several things that went "clunk" in the night--and the day. There's no good way to re-attach the long head tendon all the way into the joint, so Bones just sanded it completely off.

Here we have the freshly sanded articular surface of the humeral head (the "ball" of the ball & socket). Looks to me like it will rotate around in there with a lot less clunking & locking up.

The remaining biceps tendon was then fished out of its retracted position near my elbow, pulled up to the bicipital groove just below the articular portion of the humeral head, and screwed into the bone to re-attach it. It's not exactly back where it was, but it will function just fine where it is, keeping me from looking even more noodle-armed than I already did.

Soulmate didn't marry me for my pipes, but she disapproved of any further shrinkage. She is now officially un-freaked.

This is harder to see, but represents a large tear through the supraspinatus and the subscapularis muscles, the upper and front muscles of the rotator cuff. The lower (infraspinatus) and back (teres minor) muscles of my rotator cuff were not injured. The acromion, a hook of bone over the rotator cuff, was trimmed of some sharp calcium deposits, and I think the bursa was smoothed out as well.

This is the finished product after screwing disolvable anchors into the head of the humerus and using permanent wire suture to pull the torn muscles back together so they can re-attach to the bone & hold the joint tightly together. This is the part that takes forever to heal.

The tragic hero himself suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Actually, only the slings are left; the "arrow" (a pain pump catheter that poked through my skin into the joint) was removed this afternoon by Chad, my physical therapist.
The black sling is my immobilizer; the blue one is a Cryo-Cuff (as opposed to a Crying Cuff), which is a high-tech ice pack. The white tip of the tube attaches to a similar tube connected to a Thermos jug full of ice water, which can be drained out when it's no longer cold. Much easier than constantly re-freezing cold packs. Thanks, Todd & Sarah, it works great!
Friday is my first real PT session; let the suffering begin.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Day 1: the Saga Begins

Actually, yesterday was Day 1, but since I don't remember anything after about noon, I don't have much to report. Soulmate & I got to the Surgical Center at 11:00, and a flurry of activity ensued: I got to put on one those swell backless gowns (sans boxers), nurse Kari stuck me with an IV, and Marilyn shaved my armpit & shoulder (there's a new one, even for a bike racer!).

My Pastors came to pray for a successful surgery & rapid recovery just before I got shipped off to the "block room". Before I forget, I want take a minute to thank all of you who extended prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes to me. I feel so blessed to have so many friends around.

Dr. J (the anesthesiologist, not the basketball player who's about twice as tall) gave me some IV Versed & Fentanyl and I began to fade to black. He then shot my shoulder full of Marcaine, a very long acting Novocaine (the feeling is only just coming back now, 24 hours later). I woke up just before they took me into the O.R. for surgery, where Kevin, my anesthetist and good buddy, promptly shot some more good stuff into my IV, and I slid off to Dreamland.

Surgery consisted of: arthroscopic repair of a complete tear of the supraspinatus muscle with dissolvable bone anchors (4 screws that will dissolve in a year or two), acromioplasty, debridement of the intra-articular stump of my biceps long head tendon, and open (as in a 3" long incision) tenodesis of my biceps long head, where Bones stapled the torn tendon to the humerus bone near where the biceps short head attaches.

I discovered afterwards that Doc is a cheap high: I was out of surgery by 3:30 or so, but didn't wake up sufficiently to be discharged home until 10 pm. Then I slept all night long in 2 hour intervals so Soulmate--the world's greatest Florence Nightingale--could change the ice water in my high-tech Cryo-Cuff ice pack.

It took most of the morning to get dressed, washed, shaved, and fed, and since then I've been blogging and answering emails one-handed. Now it's nap time.

Tomorrow: graphic photos of the event!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough...

Well, it's come to this: I've downloaded Karen Carpenter's "Rainy Days and Mondays" (along with all 40 songs from their "Carpenters Gold" re-release) to help me through the long days ahead. That song really does describe my mood right now, as well as my dread of this particular Monday and what it holds for my long-held sense of self-reliance and rugged independence.

Unfortunately, the very next song on the album is "Top of the World" which isn't exactly a fitting follow-up, since it will probably be April or May before I even begin to have that sense again. I was reminded by Kevin that there are some silver linings in this black cloud: this shoulder surgery has come about because I fell doing something I love, rather than during hard manual labor like a lot of people have.

I learned quickly doing construction work during High School that I wasn't cut out for a life of hard manual labor, which certainly spurred me on to study hard in college so I could get in to Med School. Fortunately, that all worked out well, since they let me in and I finished and got through residency and now I'm livin' the life o' Reilly. All of which helps me to feel better about whatever tomorrow brings.

Which brings up another topic: what this blog will bring. I can't really say right now, but I will pledge to try to put something down every day or two to keep everyone apprised of my progress or lack thereof. The first few days will probably be the most interesting, since my veins will be coursing with a cocktail of Vicodin and Ambien. Doc on drugs--now there's something new.

Confession time: no, I've never taken drugs of any kind, except geezer drugs like Prilosec for acid indigestion. Why would I drop acid when I already have more than I need? I do need to confess that I'm not a fan of anesthesia. Don't get me wrong, I've probably done more than 5,000 operations on patients in the last 16 years, and every one of them went to sleep and woke up without incident. It's not the act of going to sleep that bothers me, it's giving up control of my faculties that bothers me.

I'm deathly afraid of running my mouth off and saying a bunch of stupid (or worse) things. If you were being mean you'd say that sort of thing happens to me without the benefit of any consciousness-altering drugs, and you might have a point. Still, I work at the Surgical Center every week, so these folk know me pretty well, and may find any unexpected outbursts especially entertaining.

I don't fear the surgery, since Bones has done a ton of these cases (we've worked at the same Surgical Center for 15 years or so). I'm not enamored with the whole PT/rehab thing, but I've been pretty compliant with bike training programs over the years, so I'm just going to see it as a workout assignment I need to check off every day and hope to see progress over time.

So there it is. Doc has no advice at this point, being that I'm the patient this time around. Don't pity me, I'll be fine. Maybe you should pity Soulmate, since she'll be putting up with me at home a lot more than usual, and probably in a more foul mood than usual (me, not Soulmate). You know you are truly loved when you don't have to try to put your socks on by yourself one-handed.

Talk to you later in the week.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bummed out

I have exactly zero motivation for exercise right now. Despite the fact that I still have fairly good left arm and shoulder function, I have not spent one minute sweating or breathing hard since my LOTR 12 hour trainer marathon last weekend. I'm depressed about having rotator cuff surgery and then a long rehab.

Starting Monday, I won't be able to lay my left hand on a handlebar for 3 long months, although Bones says I can start aerobic exercise 72 hours after my surgery. We went with Big Jim to St. Aug's fish fry tonight, and he offered to take me around his 4 hour climbfest tomorrow, but I just don't have the heart. I never much liked Soulmate's Arc trainer, but I think I'll be seeing alot of it for a few months.

Soulmate has promised to help me pull on my socks and tie my shoes so we can go walking every day. Now there's a pleasant thought, especially with nicer weather coming. It'll keep my mind off of missing the GrandStay training rides. Maybe not.

Bagley swears he kept his fitness up last year after his horrific crash by walking every night with his wife, so if it's good enough for my buddy, it's good enough for me. Any ideas on how to keep the weight off while I can't put in the bike hours? Don't say Jenny Craig--that ain't gonna happen for Doc.

Guess I'll fire up the arc trainer in the morning and see how long I can work it until rigor mortis sets in. At least I've got a stash of pretty good movies banked. Just got to get a better sound system for my workout room...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunatic Video

I turn to astronomy for a diversion from anatomy. I'm tired of blabbing about my stupid shoulder, and you, gentle reader, are equally sick of my whining.

Instead, I present to you a video I took tonight; actually 2 videos separated by about 90 minutes. The first is during the Lunar Eclipse, about half-way through the event, and then toward the end of the eclipse, to demonstrate the difference between the full eclipse (with the moon entirely in the earth's shadow) and a later phase when it looks as if it's a "new moon" (when the moon is partially shadowed by the earth). The second video is an hour later, showing that it is, in fact, a full moon tonight. Cool, huh? At least it is for us science nerds.

The moon doesn't black out during a lunar eclipse like the sun does during a full solar eclipse because the earth's atmosphere "glows" with the sun's rays behind it, and the glow is reflected back from the moon. The second video shows how much brighter the moon is when the sun is reflected directly, like we usually see it.

[Semantics Alert] BTW, "lunatic" comes from Old French "lunatique" from latin "luna"meaning "the moon." Ancient folk believed that changes of the moon caused intermittent insanity. Most emergency room doctors and nurses are still convinced of this. Glad I'm not on call tonight (though I am tomorrow).

This may also be why Lunatic Biker's most incoherent babblings are often posted at night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Payin' the Piper

To all my GrandStay teammates: sorry to inform you that I am officially on the Injured Reserved list. What I hope that means is that I won't be kicked off the team even though I'll be off the bike for 6-12 weeks after surgery on my left rotator cuff and bicep next Monday.

Since I received the major injury (last winter) and several minor injuries (this year) to that shoulder while riding in the GrandStay kit, I am entitled to stay on the team at least as a mascot for the remainder of my contract. Actually, I've probably been the mascot all along.

I'm toying with selling my brand-new Giant Anthem Advanced while it's still unscathed, since I've taken all my hard falls on MTBs (except that one at the 2004 LSC training camp). Or maybe I can keep it, but ride it a little more sedately, rather than trying to keep up with Matt and Big Jim on glare ice SMB trails.

Anyway, I had my consultation with Bones, and got the reading on my MRI as well. In doctor-speak, I have sustained a complete avulsive separation of my supraspinatus tendon and a near-total avulsion of the tendon of the biceps long head, along with minor arthritic changes in the acromioclavicular joint, fluid in the subacromial/subdeltoid bursa, and fraying of the bursal surface of the supraspinatus tendon with questionable impingement, due to a downwardly angulated acromion. Fortunately, no definite labral injury, acute osseous injury, or scapular notch abnormality is noted.

In layman-speak: I screwed up my rotator cuff and ripped off the tendon of half of my bicep.

It looks like Bones can tidy up this mess with the magic of television, or at least the rotator cuff part. He says the bicep tendon can be left as is, and I'll regain 90% of my strength even without it. He claims he only repairs the biceps tendon for professional weight lifters and professional block layers (is that what the former become after they grow up?). I'm trying to tell him that, as a sprinter (hey, I'm faster than some of you), I need all the pull strength I can get when it's finally my turn.

Soulmate is pretty freaked about the dent where half my bicep used to be. Being an artist, she's quite visual, and I think she fears the loss of my perfect Adonis body. OK, maybe she's not as visual as that, but the concept of leaving a muscle unattached to just languish at the bottom of my upper arm seems to bother her terribly. She will probably win out over Bones since she's a force of nature when she gets her hackles raised.

Good news: everything will be back to 100% by Memorial Day.

Bad news: I may not be back on the bike before Ken Woods.

OK news: I don't really like the Ken Woods course anyway.

Bad news: I'll be out of work for a week, and then I'll be one-handed for 2 months, so I won't be doing any surgery during that time.

Good news: I just finished a weekend of call duty, and I don't have any coming up for 6 weeks.

OK news: Soulmate has promised to help me put my socks on in the morning.

I go under the knife next Monday afternoon. If you're the praying type, send one up there for the Gipper. Seriously.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fun With Magnets!

Here's my little electromagnetic cocoon. I had to divest myself of almost all things metal, though my MRI tech, Mike, allowed me to keep my belt on. He said it might twist a little while I was in the machine. I had notions of hanging from the ceiling by my belt buckle, but no belt-tightening actually commenced.

This is from the control room through the magnet-safe mesh embedded in the window. I had to fill out a form attesting that I had no pacemakers, defibrillators, bionic parts or shrapnel inside my body, and I dutifully answered no to all 60 items.

Mike then clamped some headphones to my ears and cranked up some sweet tunes (Opera arias, actually--really). I took a 25 minute snooze which was a little other-worldly: while a soprano belted out Puccini, the machine alternately hummed, vibrated, rattled, and shook, sort of like a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Here are some screen shots from my MRI. First one to correctly guess my pathology based solely on these images gets a prize AND my undying admiration. Radiologists and Orthopedists must identify themselves as such.

I think this one is an axial cut.

This one might be a coronal cut. Or a sagittal one.

That leaves these two to be sagittal cuts (probably). Or maybe they're coronal. I really can't remember. I specialize in the head and neck, not the shoulder, as my teammates well know.

All 4 cuts were selected semi-randomly from my study, although I tried to get a shot in each plane where the humeral head had its greatest dimention.

Our extremity MRI specialist will read the films in the morning, and then I'll see my orthopedist in the afternoon (while both of us are between surgical cases, of course).

I'm hoping to get on the O.R. table in the next week or so, to get this thing fixed and get on with what is shaping up to be a busy late winter. Based on some AAOS reading, I'll be in a sling for 3-4 weeks, and hopefully back into hard training in 6 weeks, so I don't think my road racing season is completely scrubbed; in fact, I may peak during crit season (which I seem to be better at) rather than during the early RR season (which seems to be shaping up to be a climbfest).

With my new bionic shoulder, I should be able to shove my way into the front of all those crit sprints. How rude of me!

Physician Heal Thyself

DOC'S ADVICE: don't ignore your body when it's telling you stuff.

I took a bad fall on a MTB in December of 2006, and spent 3 months nursing a very sore shoulder. Of course it didn't keep me off the bike--do I look like a whiner? As any self-respecting doctor would do, I grabbed my orthopedic buddy for a curb-side consult in between surgical cases. He said it didn't look too bad, probably just a bursitis. So then I did what any self-respecting bike racer would do: I ignored the pain and loss of range-of-motion, and kept riding.

I fell a couple more times (all on MTBs) over the past 14 months, including my Chequamegon crash. Most of these were to the left, landing me on the bad shoulder all but once (whereupon I injured my right shoulder, but not badly--at least not so far). None of these crashes hurt for more than a week, and the shoulder went back to its baseline (funny cracks and clunks when I put on a suit jacket, pain when I sleep on it, and the occasional seizing up where it feels like someone stabbed it with a dull blade).

Yesterday, I was minding my own business, finishing the Lord of the Rings extended edition while on the trainer. 2 hours Friday night, and 5 hours each Saturday and Sunday. Everything went like clockwork (OK, a very slow clock since trainer time is different than regular time), and the only thing that hurt afterward was my butt. This despite our new GrandStay kit with the new and improved diaper (it really is better than last year's).

I took off my jersey and turned on the shower, glancing at my left arm in the process (no, I do not flex in front of the mirror, at least not very often). Dang it if I didn't have a hollow where my left bicep should be, and a bulge just above the elbow where it shouldn't be. I realize that my pipes aren't particularly buff, even at their best, but this was freaky. I got that nauseated feeling like you get when they keep showing the NFL lineman's leg bending 90 degrees where it shouldn't.

Apparently, rupturing your bicep long tendon (which I've done) is often related to having previously sustained a rotator cuff injury or shoulder separation (which I didn't know I had but maybe should have known). So, I'm off to the MRI machine in 10 minutes to find out what I should have gotten checked out last winter. Videos at 11.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Badly Beaten

Big Jim convinced me to go out on the road for a couple hours yesterday. It was sunny and 16 degrees with a brisk southerly wind. I had the late afternoon off, and it looked like a beautiful day to be on the bike. Boy was I mistaken. I got my butt kicked by the weather, of all things.

30 minutes into that wind and I realized that I didn't have adequate coverage on my feet (despite my awesome Lake boots), my hands (despite my best downhill skiing gloves), and my head (despite a balaclava). 60 minutes into a 2 hour ride I was cryin' Uncle and begging Big Jim to take me home. Much to my surprise, he didn't put up any resistance to cutting our ride short.

Maybe he was almost a frozen as me.

"Once burned, twice shy" is how it's supposed to work, but I'm already working on upgrading my cold weather technology to accomodate what this winter is throwing at us. I have enough hand and foot warmers to keep every GrandStay rider warm for the rest of the winter, so maybe I'll try actually using one.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sun Dogs, Baby!

Did anyone else see the fabulous sun dogs on Saturday evening and Sunday morning? I didn't even know they existed until I saw 3 bright lights to the northwest in the thin cloud cover at sunset on Saturday night. In all my years of cold-weather living, having seen northern lights many times, I've never seen sun dogs.

Ya learn something new every day, if ya pay attention.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Look Ma, No Hands!

OK, so you won't think it's such a big deal, but this afternoon I tried (and succeeded) to ride no-handed on my rollers. For those of you who know what rollers are, you've probably been going no-handed forever; for those of you who don't, you couldn't give a rip.

Not to be a bore, but this is a pretty big deal for me. The last time I rode the rollers next to Big Jim, I was pretty wobbly and almost took him out. He threatened to stop riding, which is a big threat if you know Big Jim; he NEVER stops riding.

So, for me to develop mad no-handed skills in such a short time, I can only attribute it to one thing: two weeks in a row of riding MTB on icy snowmobile trails. My balance and positional awareness is all dialed in now. Uh oh, I think I just gave away a sweet training secret.

BTW, Big Jim just couldn't wait to get on the bike today, so he messaged me that he was starting without me. He watched "The Assasination of Jesse James" which he described as "2 hours and 47 minutes of crap." I rode the rollers for 2 hours and watched Cate Blanchett play "Elizabeth", which was actually quite good. I think I'll dig into the actual history a bit, since I really don't trust Hollywood when it comes to historical accuracy, and the story of England's "virgin queen" (pictured above) is compelling.

Off to dreamland now--I have an early morning start at my office in Alexandria tomorrow.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


It's not that I have an ethical problem with snowmobiles, even if they leave a big carbon footprint; it's mostly that I'm basically lazy. I would rather spend my little bit of leisure time actually doing recreation, rather than loading sleds onto a trailer, driving for an hour or whatever, unloading, and then finally having some fun.

All that to say that my title is a little bit misleading: I didn't technically go snowmobiling, since that would require the use of a snowmobile. Instead, Jim Bell, Matt Williams, Ben Nemeth, and I went MTBing on snowmobile trails this morning, resulting in a truly epic ride. Skibby is a little miserly in his use of the word epic, and for the most part, I agree. Riding through a little bit of mud or a rainstorm or getting lost isn't really epic in my book.

No, to be considered epic, a ride needs to result in some level of morbidity, bodily harm, serious risk of death or disability, or at least a significant amount of blood loss. Today's ride qualifies in several categories, since I fell several times, risking at least a fractured clavacle; had near-death high speed brushes with trees numerous times; and endured 30 minutes of blizzard conditions with headwinds of 30mph, white-out zero visibility, and drift-busting up to the axles while on glare ice. We had a great time.

Sorry there's no actual video documentation to this blog today, but the spy camera froze immediately upon departure, and with -40 degree wind chills, I wasn't about to pull a glove off to try to warm it up or operate it anyway. Blizzards mostly look the same, so if you've ever been in one, you know what it looked like, and if you haven't, a white picture with some vague shadows in it wouldn't help you understand it any better anyway. The photo is from NOAA, but our conditions were basically the same, except we saw the sun once in a while.

I can say that my bike handling talents are improving quite rapidly; 6 inch drifts over glare ice can do that for you in a hurry. Having to drill it over sketchy trails to try to catch up to "friends" who don't wait when you fall is good for training as well. (To their credit, if I dropped out of sight behind them, they would probably come back looking for me). My average heart rate was 140bpm, and our average speed (including the tailwind section) was 9mph. Not too efficient, but a great workout on an otherwise unrideable day.

BTW, despite the recent snowfall that covered all the bare trails with nice snow, we didn't see a single snowmobile today. I guess it's just too cold for that.

Tomorrow I guess I'll try to spin on the trainer while watching the Pro Bowl, but I doubt that will last 5 minutes. If Randy Moss is skipping it, it's obviously a lame game. Oh, wait, didn't he skip the first half of the Superbowl? Maybe he's not the best lead to follow, since he can't stay interested in most games that he's actually playing in. Anyway, Big Jim has a backup plan: "The Assasination of Jesse James", 2 hours and 47 minutes of Brad Pitt and guns. That should keep us in the saddle for the prescribed time.

And if not, Big Jim's got a really comfy couch...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

No 12-step Program for Mr. and Mrs. Incredible

Borrowed from the Star Trib today, thanks to Matt's eagle eye. Our very own S1 and Ghost, at their humble best. You guys are amazing!

Couple set for their 1,178-step program


For Minneapolis firefighters Daniel Casper and Linda Sone , racing in the Empire State Building Run-Up on Tuesday was more than a chance to compete in the unofficial world championships of stair climbing.It was also a day for the Northfield, Minn., couple, who were on the front lines after the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed on Aug. 1, to remember the firefighters who died in the stairwells of the World Trade Center. "To go to New York and climb an iconic skyscraper out there ... You can't help but do that in the shadow of what happened in 2001," said Casper, who climbed the 86 floors between Fifth Avenue and the Observation Deck in 12 minutes flat, a time good for ninth place overall.As they walked to the Empire State Building on Tuesday morning, "It really made my heart race, thinking that we were going to run up it, and thinking about all the firefighters" who died on 9/11, said Sone, who finished in 16:08 in the invitation-only field of 215 racers. After the race, they went to Ground Zero to pay their respects.The married couple, both elite athletes with long cycling and running résumés, began tackling stairs three years ago when Minneapolis police asked firefighters to get a team together for a public safety face-off in the 50-floor Climb for the Cure, an annual ascent of the IDS Tower in Minneapolis. The event, which benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, is expected to draw more than 1,000 participants on Saturday.Casper, 41, and Sone, 35, have cleaned up the awards ever since: They hold the men's and women's records for the public safety race, and their teams have won three years in a row.The Minneapolis Fire Department team dominates, Casper suggested, because climbing stairwells quickly during a blaze, when elevators are shut down, is integral to a firefighter's job."The police like to give us a lot of grief, and I'm like, 'Listen, guys, if you were to beat us in the stair climbing, that would be like us beating you at a shooting range,'" he said.And the couple, who raced in about 70 cycling events last year, may have an even better cross-training edge than competitors who run on flat ground the rest of the year."Cycling translates pretty directly in that it focuses so much energy on your quadriceps," Casper said.Still, novice stair-climbers nearly always have some hard lessons to learn: Take the stairs backwards when you're walking down during training, or you'll be sorry the next day. And forget about "running" upstairs, because nobody can take 50 floors at a sprint. "If you pace the entire thing properly, it's like mercury going up in a thermometer," Casper said. "You don't hit that sense of absolutely unendurable exertion until right at the top."Casper and Sone decided to become firefighters around the same time, but they met as public school teachers ; he taught English to at-risk kids, while she worked with special-education students.The change feels good, Casper said. Firefighters see the difference they make in the world a lot more quickly than teachers generally do, and the job puts a premium on athletic fitness.But there are traumatic days, among them Aug. 1 of last year; both of them were on duty when the I-35W bridge collapsed. As Sone tried to put out the flames that engulfed a semi-trailer truck on the south side of the river, Casper helped recover bodies on the north side, including a woman whose face he sadly recognized on television the next day as her family frantically searched for her.But for Casper, that day helped answer a question that many firefighters ask themselves when they think about 9/11: "If I had been called down to the World Trade Center, would I have gone down there, and would I have gone up those stairs?"Rescue workers at the bridge were so focused on the task at hand, he realized, that the answer is easy. "Yeah, of course I would."Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016

Matt, Get This Sponsorship!

I'm sick of Accelerade, but I think I found my 2008 sports drink.

Unless it makes me look like him. I have a weight problem as it is.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


This time of year is usually a little depressing for me, with the exception of Superbowl Sunday. Unlike Jeffro, I'm done skinny skiing for the year, and there's been just enough thaw to lure me out on the winter bike, but the temps are too cold for really inspired riding.

Unless you're with Big Bell, when every ride is an epic ride. Last Saturday, after way too many hours on the spin bike staring at the TV, Bell and I did the Tour de Stearns County, or as I call it, Big Jim's Climbfest: 4 hours at 20 degrees, with periodic warm-ups to climb the 4 hills worthy of the name in an otherwise flat county. We went up the Alp from the east (opposite direction from the Gluek RR course) as fast as I've ever done it, and it was all I could do to stay on Big Jim's wheel. Later that day Big Jim's text message said: "Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww." That's not exactly how I felt, which was more like: "Bleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa." Like the Family Guy when he feeds everyone Syrup of Ipecac.

Superbowl Sunday (after church and before the kickoff), Big Jim and I were joined by Matt and Lanny who had the cockamamie idea that it would be fun to ride our MTBs on snowmobile trails for 4 hours. Funny thing is, it WAS fun. A lot of fun. I broke in my Giant Anthem Advanced by crashing hard on an icy downhill and then sliding out when Big Jim went down in front of me on an off-camber right turn. The Anthem has nary a scratch, but I can't say the same for the rider (although they're just flesh wounds). My bike handling skills just went up a notch. By Chequamegon, I'll either have awsome talents or multiple fractures. Right now, it's a toss-up. Let's see now, when did I have fun?

From now on, I've decided to skip the Vikings and watch the Giants. Especially when they play the Patriots. Both games (week 17, won by New England, and Superbowl 42, won by Strahan, Tuck, and Umenyiora) were the best games I watched all year, and maybe in the last 5 years. If the Vikings front office had any chutzpah at all, they would fire Childress and his whole staff, and hire either Tom Coghlin or Bill Belichick. Both of these coaches would find the gold in the Vikings' dross. Anyway, I'm still feeling the love.

BTW, I was the 1972 Miami Dolphins' biggest fan at age 11. There's never been a team like that one, and the 2007 New England Posers proved it. The Giants found the chink during the week 17 game (which NY won except for a really bad call in the final 5 minutes), and they stuck the sword in it last Sunday. I've always been a Manning fan (even old Archie, the NFL's top sacking dummy for years in the 70s), and with little brother Eli coming of age in the last 2 minutes of this Superbowl, the die is cast: Eli and Peyton are going to have to meet in a future Superbowl.

This one was the triumph of Goofy over Prince Charming, and you couldn't find a more deserving or grateful guy than Eli ("Boo him") Manning. He wasn't really the MVP (the pass rushers were), but nobody will forget his Houdini completion to David ("Who?") Tyree, who looked like he was trying to attach the ball to his helmet. The NYG fans may have to find another poor sucker to take out their New Yorker frustrations on now. Probably Lawrence Tynes the rookie kicker who boffed a couple in the near disaster at Lambeau.

OK, football is officially over (the Pro Bowl ranks lower than the Blue-Grey Bowl in my list of TV shows never to watch). That's why I'm in the doldrums right now. It's supposed to snow on and off all week. Can't wait to take my MTB back on the snowmobile trails this weekend.

Guess I'm not the only one who's a little bored: Chia Chi hasn't updated in 2 months, despite living in China; Doug-o is either sitting around in chairs or working on them; Ian is posting about the Vuelta (September is a long way off, dude); Jeffro is groovin' on all his power numbers; Kyia is just plain sick (not a value judgment, girl, just the facts); Mean Dawg is dreaming of summer glory and a certain brunette; Linda and Daniel--well, OK, they're in NYC to run up the Empire State Building stairs for fun, but at least they claim they're not bored (good job getting 16th and 9th!); and Dan-o is obsessing about a Blue House.

DOC'S ADVICE: the cure for seasonal affective disorder is 2 wheelin' it on SMB trails or Min. Maintenance Roads. Watch that black ice, it's waiting to crack your clavicle!