Sunday, June 26, 2011

DVD's and books: Life Cycles

What to do, what to do. The other day I decided to torture myself by watching a bike movie, Life Cycles. The first time I watched it was back in the winter, and at that time, I had no idea what to expect. The cover has a weird artsy-fartsy picture and the description on the back cover states "it tells a spectacular story of the bike, from its creation to its eventual demise."  Hmmm, sounds a little pretentious to me. Well, lets pop it in and have a look. The opening scenes are shot in the Devinci factory and give a first hand visual account of a bike being built. It then segways to scenes of downtown Vancouver, and then the action eventually makes its way to some trail riding. Now the riding is pretty cool to watch, but it's the cinematography that makes this a must see movie. It's hard to do this movie any justice in a little written blurb, and since I don't consider myself to be a movie reviewer in any capacity, anything I say won't shed light on how amazing this movie is.
You really do have to see it to believe it. The camera angles, the time lapses used, everything in this movie makes you say "Wow". The riding covers the trail to freeriding end of the mountain bike spectrum, but even skinny shaved leg dude (like myself) can appreciate the balls it takes to pull of the airs, tricks and speed of the riding in the movie.
The only downside of the movie is the length, about 45 minutes...I wanted to see more riding. But the bonus features, which show how the movie was made make up for the short length.

Also, as I've been bumming around the house, and killing time online, I was checking out Competitive Cyclist, and I ended up ordering some books. They were all on sale, so I decided why the hell not. It was such a good deal that I couldn't pass it up. They are Le Metier by Michael Barry, The Rouleur 2010 photo annual, and The Peloton by Timm Kolln.

I'm most eager to check out the book by Timm Kolln. The premise behind the book is pretty cool. Over the course of three years, Kolln took portraits of pro riders immediately following races. As you can imagine (and see on The Rouleur website), there are some pretty ragged looking pros after racing hundreds of kilometres. After the pics were taken, Kolln presented them to the riders (usually months later), and then had them write a narrative to accompany the photo. Reviews will eventually come once I have the books in my hands.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fun times at the hospital

The title of the post is supposed to be read with a bit of sarcasm. Hospitals are never fun, unless you enjoy waiting around in a room plastered with "aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated" signs and being greeted by overworked/overstressed nurses who are on the brink of aggressive behaviour themselves. The last time I was in a hospital was when Lil' D was born. Labour is not fun, and Sonia will tell you that childbirth was not fun (more specifically, she described as "being ripped in half", definitely not MY idea of fun). But the end result was positive. experience that is not fun, or enjoyable, but has a positive outcome. Anyhow, I digress.

The injury saga continues. I went to work on Monday, and despite having crutches to keep weight off my leg, it was still effin' sore, and the swelling got worse. The swelling was pooling around my ankle, to the point that it looked about twice the size of the right. I finished my day at work, got my leg up, and then started to feel like crap. Swelling was worse, and I was feeling feverish...not good. Sooooo, off to the hospital again to go hang out in the emergency ward. I was equipped with a water bottle, snacks and the bike snob book to keep me going for the long haul. When I was finally seen by a doctor, blood tests and x-rays were ordered up. X-ray came back negative, good. Blood tests however, showed an elevated white blood cell count AND positive for blood clot. SHIT. NOT. GOOD. The doc did go on to say that a blood test positive for clots does not necessarily mean that there IS a blood clot, but they have to do an ultrasound to rule it out. Another test they ran was poking my knee with a needle and extracting fluid to rule out an infection. After drawing out the fluid, he noted that it wasn't "pus-y and septic looking", (love the diagnoses), so that was a good thing.

 Monday night. Check out the difference in size between the left and right ankles.

 The left knee is just "a little" swollen compared to the right. The band-aid is covering the site where the doc extracted fluid from the joint cavity.

Tuesday morning, back to the hospital for the ultrasound. After getting my whole left leg lubed up with gel, the tech started the ultrasound. After 15 to 20 minutes of investigating, another tech and then the radiologist, there was no sign of a blood clot (thank god), but there was definite trauma to the medial gastrocnemius (inner part of the calf). They decided I had a calf strain (what I figured out on my own Saturday), and ordered more rest, ice, elevation and advil.

So here I am at home, bored out of my skull, and I start my summer holidays this Friday. Good news is I have time off for rehab. Bad news is I'm spending my holidays doing rehab.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


For the second time this year, I'm injured. And for the second time this year, I'm missing out on racing because I'm injured. Here's how things went down.

Last Tuesday, I met up with my team for Summer Solstice for a ride at Kanata Lakes. Temps were good and it was a little muddy on account of the previous day's rain. Riding was otherwise no different than it normally is...a few dabs here and there, but no real crazy spills that I can recall.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning, and my left knee has swollen up like an orange (well, maybe not that bad, but my knee lacked the bony cadaver like appearance it normally has). As the day went on, the pain in my knee, under the kneecap and behind my knee, got worse. At home, ice, elevation and Advil were the name of the game.

Thursday. Knee is still swollen and sore, had to skip my usual Thursday morning bike ride. As the day went on, swelling and stiffness, especially behind the knee, got worse. At home, ice, elevation and Advil...again.

Friday. All of a sudden now, my calf is now really sore and tender and swollen like a grapefruit. I'd say my right calf is about orange-ish size, so in comparison my left calf was like a grapefruit, a weird oblong oval grapefruit. Not good.

Saturday. Swelling has not gone down, and I'm worried. A trip to hospital indicates no infection in the joint and no sign of a blood clot. The doctor tells me I have an "angry knee" and to rest it up.
Once home, I started thinking....maybe I have a calf strain on account of the pain in my calf and the tightness in the back of my knee. Lets see, can I do a heel raise on my left leg...nope! Can I push forcefully with my left foot...nope. Can I even contract my calf...not really. That gets me thinking that I have a grade 2 calf strain, which isn't quite a full rupture, but will probably have me out of action for 5 to 8 weeks....shitty. As it is right now, I'm limping around and can't put a lot of weight on my left leg.

So, as for the races I'm missing. I was registered for the 50km Ultimate XC race up at Tremblant (today), so that's out, and Summer Solstice is out for next weekend. The cycling gods don't want me racing, but would rather have me gimping around and sitting in front of the computer lusting after stuff I can't afford.

So tomorrow, I'm gonna start some physio and get on the mend as quickly as I can. In the meantime, I'll probably have time to do some beer reviews!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peloton bike mag

Some time ago, actually a looooong time ago, back in December, I posted about Paved bike magazine, saying how much I liked it. I came across a newer issue not too long ago, but after a quick flip through it, it didn't look interesting enough to warrant a purchase....lots of pictures and ads, and not a lot of words. On the other hand, I have just picked up my third issue in a row of Peloton magazine, and I am absolutely digging this magazine. I've been thoroughly impressed with every issue to date (except issue #1, which I missed). The latest issue, (June-July, issue number 4) has an Italian theme to it, no doubt to coincide with the Giro (yes, I know it's now over). The legendary Fausto Coppi graces the cover, and articles range from Italian food and drink, to well known companies and the names behind those companies.

Issue #4

The Hotel Gran San Bernardo, an Italian hotel that caters to cyclists. From daily group rides, bike storage, a tailored restaurant menu and even babysitting! I think I know where I want to go for my next vacation...

I've never heard of John Eustice or the Gianni Motta squad, but they were the first American team to race the Giro d'Italia. Gotta love the pose and the 'stache.

An up close look at Sidi shoes.

Stunning pics.This picture accompanies an article about how Tulio Campagnolo was inspired to invent the quick release lever back in 1924 (and later patented it in 1930).

Issues #2 and #3.

Who doesn't love cross pics?

Issue #2. Profiling the greatest season ever in cycling. Eddy Merckx. 1972. 51 wins in 139 races. 'nuff said.

Issue #3. A whole article devoted to the Nevegal time trial stage of the 2011 Giro. I like how they take a single stage of the Giro and devote as much print to it as some publications would for the entire Giro.

Northwest Knee Warmers. A little company out of Oregon producing some fine embrocation. 

Although it is a magazine devoted to road biking (I usually prefer mountain bike magazines), I've been so impressed that I've gone ahead and ordered a subscription. I'm sure that future issues will be equally impressive.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Exploding wheel

Ok, there aren't any exploding wheels in this post (as in KABOOM!!!!), more like disintegrating wheel, but exploding wheel just sounds more dramatic. A while ago, my commuter bike developed some play in the front wheel. I fiddled with the cone nuts, couldn't get it adjusted quite right, but rode it anyway. Not one to be content with something not being quite right, I fiddled again a couple of weeks ago, and the play was gone, but the wheel wasn't spinning freely....there was definitely some resistance. THEN, a couple days ago, I fiddled AGAIN, and again, there was some play, but now the wheel was spinning freely. That leads up to yesterday. On my commute home, my front wheel started to develop A LOT of play, which was followed by some creaking and grinding, and then some MORE creaking and grinding, which eventually stopped, but then it felt like I was biking against resistance the rest of the way home. I was praying that I'd make it home because I had plans to go for a ride after work and had to be home by a certain time.  I made it home, and inspection of my wheel revealed.....

The good side of the hub...notice how the bearing (red seal) looks. Essentially, it's intact.

The "exploded side", the seal has come off.

Close up. Where have the ball bearings gone?!?!?!? This is a sealed bearing, exploded and rusted (there's rust on the one ball). I guess that's what continuous commuting, including two winters in a row, will do to a bike. Before each winter, I slap a generous amount of grease on top of the bearings to keep salt, sand and water out, but I guess it wasn't enough. Looks like I'll be commuting on my cross bike until I get this sorted out.