Friday, March 25, 2011

My Hip is Square

So, Monday I was telling you all about how my hip was kind of clunking towards the end Saturday's 400K in Florida. It's been doing this on long rides ever since my "unintended dismount" in January. At the 200K in Memphis two weeks after, it started hurting about mile 80. At the 300K we rode the last weekend in February, it held off until mile 150.

But Monday I noticed that when I put my hand on that hip and walked, something was slipping in there with every step. I'm no doctor, but I remember enough high school anatomy to know that it ain't supposed to do that.

So, I went to see my doctor. He agreed -- I'm not a doctor. But he also sent me to get an MRI.

It turns out that, when my hip smacked the ice, it did not break any bones. That was the good news. Unfortunately, when you hit something as solid as a thick layer of ice over an asphalt base -- particularly with about 220 pounds of force (that's not just me ... I'm including the bike and my laptop and stuff ... so it's probably more like 230 pounds ... jeez, I'm fat) -- something's got to give. In my case, what gave was apparently a bit of tendon.

Again, there's good news: It doesn't seem to be really "torn," or even pulled loose from the bone. It just seems  a little frayed in one spot. The doctor said that if I take it easy with it, there should be no long-term debilitating damage. He even said that I can still ride a bicycle ... I just have to stop when it begins to hurt.

Most cyclists would call this common sense. But randonneurs have a term for stopping a ride before the finish. We call that a DNF. As in "Did Not Finish." In other words, "Failed."

I've DNF'd on rides before. You second-guess it for years after. "Why did I give up so easily? I should have stuck it out and finished."

My first DNF was on the Georgia 600K. It was 100 degrees and I was suffering from sunstroke after about 250 miles. My second DNF was on a cold 300K here in Tennessee, where I stopped after 100 miles. I'd had stomach flu for the past three days before and still couldn't eat or drink anything ...but who needs food or drink on a 190-mile ride?

Those DNFs still hurt. You rode all that way for nothing?!

So, here's my choices:

  1. Keep going on my qualifying rides for Paris-Brest-Paris and ignore my doctor's advice. When the hip starts to hurt, ignore it and hope that the tendon doesn't shred the rest of the way.
  2. Keep going on my qualifying rides for Paris-Brest-Paris and follow my doctor's advice. When the hip starts to hurt, stop riding and get somebody to carry me and my bike back to the start.
  3. Forget Paris-Brest-Paris and just ride my bicycle the way normal people ride. Do only short brevets for the rest of the season and hope that everything heals up for next year.
OK, so obviously I've really only got option 3. I'm too young to cripple myself and too proud to DNF any more. I'll skip PBP this year, and maybe do a tour with RandoGirl instead. There's always 2015, you know. Live to fight another day.

I still feel like a failure.


  1. Good choice, RandoBoy. You only get one hip. Well actually you get two, but you need 'em both. Think of option 3 as delayed gratification, something randonneurs are quite accustomed to. My only DNF involved 25 broken bones and a car last August, but it still pisses me off. I decided to reluctantly pass on PBP this year myself and then even downgraded to not trying to complete an SR series, all because I want to ride well in 5+ years and not just this year. Today will be my first day back on the open roads after 7 months. See you at PBP in 2015!

  2. RB, ouch, that hurts in so many ways. I hate to hear of your misfortune. I certainly respect your decision, and hope I am as wise as you if I am ever in the same predicament. Is RG going to make you return your cute little folding pump? Pink, isn't it? Here's to your glorious finishes for many years to come.

  3. Thanks, guys! Good luck to both of you on your long rides this year. I hope to still see you both on the shorter longer rides.

  4. I'm with George... you only get one hip, and it's important to think about the long run. However, I know these are such tough decisions.