The MRI results showed some minor damage left over from my original shoulder injury six or seven years ago, but other than some muscle scar tissue and a small growth on a bone, there's not too much wrong with my joint. The rotator cuff is more or less fine. Apparently the problem was a significant strain of an already weak muscle.
The orthopedist recommended some reduced intensity workouts (duh) and a gradual return to heavy weights. Considering that the only thing I can't do with my shoulder right now is the bench press and push-up (and on-the-bike power climbing), I'd say that's a pretty reassuring diagnosis. No surgery needed, no cortisone shots needed. What a relief!
The shoulder actually feels much better lately, as I've wisely stayed away from efforts that hurt the weak muscle to blame for all of my recent pain. Now I'm just trying to rebuild and strengthen it to avoid future problems. My shoulder is always going to grind and click, but I've got full range of motion and hopefully in the future I can avoid further pain.
In other news, my gym workouts have gotten really intense. My entire body is responding well to heavier weights and more intense sets, and I'm starting to regain some size I've lost over the past couple of years. The added strength and muscle mass will hopefully pay off next season, as I focus my bike training on sprinting and time trialing and away from climbing. I mean, who am I kidding? I live in the Ohio River Valley. It's almost impossible to find a hill taller than 900 feet anywhere in the immediate area, and hilly races are few and far between. Screw climbing. I want to kill guys at the line. My flamingo legs will hopefully be a thing of the past, and ultimately I'll become a powerful sprinter. Maybe.
I've managed to re-injure my bad rotator cuff, which may or may not need surgery to fully repair. I have an MRI scheduled for Monday, at which point my doctor will decide which direction to take. At this point I can't ride the bike very long without significant aching and fatigue in my shoulder and arm, so training is pretty much out.
In the meantime, I'll still be crushing my legs in the gym no matter what happens. With any luck I'll once again get to use them. Whatever happens, I hope my shoulder gets better and I can return to full athletic performance by next season (see: March).
Andy Rihs, the owner of the now-infamous Phonak team, has decided to disband the squad after this season. Without a title sponsor for next year (iShares pulled out), he's decided that running a team of past, present and future suspended dopers is probably not the best career move.
Since the end of the Tour de France and the subsequent Floyd Landis ClusterF-ck™, I've posted hardly anything about the pro racing scene. To be honest, I've only barely been following the European peloton. I'm pretty tired of reading about all the stupid doping drama: the accusations, the suspensions, the denials, the counter-accusations...
I just wish everybody would get on their bikes and ride, and quit screwing around. European pro cycling is in major trouble these days. I'm afraid I'm starting to lose interest as the stupidity continues. Until I see a major change of direction on the part of the riders, the organizers, the sponsors and the team managers, all I'm going to do is get frustrated by scandals and screw-ups.
I will say this, though: congrats to my boy Jens Voigt for winning the Tour of Germany. Now I just hope he passes the drug tests...
Let me tell you a funny story. About three years ago I was still an aspiring body builder. Well, maybe not a full-on, 'roid-filled beefcake body builder, but I was pretty serious about increasing my muscle mass. I was doing heavy weight lifting six times a week at a local gym. Despite being naturally lanky, I had increased my strength enough to bench press over 200 pounds (at a weight of 175) and leg press nearly 450.
Three years ago, my arms looked like this:
Let's just say they don't look like that anymore. Long story short, I quit lifting weights and started racing bikes. Overall I think it was a good choice for me, since I'm a competitive person and I could never hope to be truly competitive at body building. That and body builders are creepy assholes. So I started racing bikes and lost a lot of weight, especially in my upper body. My weight dropped from 175 to 155 in just a year and a half, mostly from the loss of mass in my arms and chest.
Long story shorter, after a full season of racing, I've realized I'm weak in some areas, especially in sprinting and hard solo efforts. The remedy? Gym work! I rejoined a gym, have restarted my old workout routine (modified slightly for the needs of cycling) and already feel the burn in my muscles. To be honest, I really missed it, and being back makes me feel at home. Maybe in a couple of years if this racing thing doesn't work out I'll go back to full-on body building. Who knows?
All I do know is that next season I'll be faster, stronger and waaaaay more attractive. 'Cause that's really all that matters.
Cyclingnews.com has posted an interesting article on cheating during the early years of the Tour de France. Maybe taking a train to the finish line of a stage instead of riding the bike is less scientific than pumping yourself full of testosterone, but it's still cheating.
Somehow I've managed to hurt my left hamstring. Not sure how, but for the past few days the back of my leg has been pretty tender and uncomfortable, like I just did squats in the gym for the first time in long time---except that I haven't.
I woke up on Wednesday with my leg hurting, so I did some light stretching and tried to stay off of it, which helped some. Then yesterday it wasn't quite as bad and I did an hour and a half on the bike at a pretty light pace, which didn't hurt it at all, it seemed. Today, though, it's still bugging me. Not any worse, but not any better.
I'd love to know what I did to my poor hammy. Maybe now is the time to invest in that personal masseuse I've always wanted.
Missingsaddle.com weighs in on the whole Floyd Landis clusterf-ck:
I raced against Floyd in 1999 and 2000 when he first switched from mountain bike to road racing, and I can assure you he was ripping guy’s legs off from the beginning. He caused the power house team at the time, Mercury, so much grief that spring they decided to hire him rather than fight him. A year later, in only his second season of road racing, he placed 4th in the Tour de L’Avenir –the amateur Tour de France. Success in road racing is nothing new for Floyd and it’s no surprise to see him winning the Tour.
It's a good article.
One of Missingsaddle.com's founders is local Cat 1 racer Skiles Keith, who periodically races with American pros and is quite a formidable member of Louisville's premier top amateur racing team, Texas Roadhouse. Be sure to check out the video interviews while you're there.
"Road racing requires stamina, strength, mental focus and fortitude. But the rewards are huge and grow the more effort you put into it.
More and more men are discovering that riding a road bike can be the perfect counterpoint to our cosseted and quick-fix modern lives. We’ve become so used to instant gratification and sanitised pleasure that we have forgotten that the greatest highs come from the deepest lows, that there is a unique satisfaction from applying yourself totally, then seeing the results. From pain comes pleasure."