Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Diagnosis & Prognosis...

Its hard being a cyclist when you can't ride your bike.  Missing the beautiful summer months has been very difficult - both mentally and physically.  So what exactly was the injury that has kept me off the bike so long...??

Obviously, as previously posted, I came a gutser on the last lap of a criterium in early December.

The emergency doctors were a bit surprised at the amount of damage I'd done, and were saying that the injury was presenting more like a motorbike accident! I did point out that I'd been racing though, which probably accounted for some of that.

The main concern on the night of the injury was that my shoulder was, well, growing! It noticeably swelled, even while in Emergency.  The doctors were a little concerned, and so they kept me in overnight to make sure I was ok.

I went home the next day, with an appointment slip for surgery in my hand. They'd be plating the distal fracture in my left clavicle.


Two weeks later, surgery day came along at Royal Brisbane Hospital (RBH).  I must have been pretty out of it during the consults in Emergency, as it was only now I discovered the extent of the injury.

I got wheeled into the pre-theatre waiting area, and one of the surgeons came out to see me for a chat:

Surgeon: So you understand the plan for today?
Me: Yep - plate up the collarbone...
Surgeon: Well, that's not entirely right...
Me: Uh, what??

So as it turns out, the broken clavicle was only of secondary, minor concern to the doctors.  The main issue (by far) was that I'd pretty much shredded some of my shoulder ligaments, which meant the bones had 'popped up' and needed to be drawn back into place.

To do this, they basically needed to use what they call 'tight-rope', wind it around the bones, and tighten them back up under tension.  The clavicle would only be plated if they could do this first, main part successfully.

I was caught a little off-guard by all this - but no point dwelling on it, the surgery needed to be done!  After a chat with the anaesthetists ("wow, another cyclist - I think every patient today is a cyclist...!!"), I was wheeled in, knocked out, and rebuilt...


My only point of comparison was my first shoulder break a few years ago.  The recovery post-surgery this time - even though the injury and surgery was much more serious - has been appreciably better and quicker.  I had much more movement in my shoulder, and the pain (after the first few days) was much less.

I was on Endone (oxycodone) for the pain, but managed to ditch that after a week or so.  It was fantastic stuff, but I don't like using pain meds so was happy to be able to get off it relatively quickly.

Post-surgery follow-up

I headed back into the RBH at two weeks & six weeks post-op.  All the dressings and staples were removed at the two week mark, which was a relief to get done (and surprisingly painless too!).  Unfortunately, I was instructed to keep using my sling until the next visit.

At the second visit 4 weeks later, I had x-rays done. The surgeon was extremely happy with how the bones were healing, and with the free movement I had in the shoulder.  I was then handed over to the physio for a brief chat about some initial exercises to do for a couple of weeks - I needed to take it easy, particularly while the muscles were a bit wasted.

What's next?

Next steps now involve physiotherapy.  I do have another follow-up visit with the surgeon in a month or so, but that's more just a precautionary check-up to ensure nothing has gone wrong.

The physio (from the last post-op visit) has said I can start back on a stationary windtrainer again once we tick over into February. Although she did say that was only if I managed to not fall off that too...  ;-)

I'm not a huge fan of using trainers.  I have a magtrainer I bought second-hand when I was injured last time, but I only used it a few times.  Since then though, the Sufferfest videos have emerged - so I might buy a couple of those and give it another whirl...

I'm desperate to get back on the bike again, but am committed to making sure I follow the advice from the surgeons and physiotherapists to get the best long-term outcome.  But hopefully that will mean sooner rather than later!!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Tour Down Under 2014 - preview & predictions

The Tour Down Under (TDU) is far from the most prestigious event on the international cycling calendar, despite its status as one of the top tier World Tour events.  But for Australian cycling fans, it is held dear as our own little Tour de France.

Being in the 'wrong hemisphere' means as cycling fans we are used to viewing the professionals while trying not to fall asleep on our couches. We have to try and not cheer too loudly either, as the rest of the house is fast asleep...

As a result, and due to its placement during the summer school holidays, the TDU is hugely popular here. Many fans make a pilgrimage to Adelaide, the capital of the state of South Australia, while others enjoy watching the racing with the sun still up.

The Race Itself

The TDU is a 6 stage race in South Australia.  That doesn't include the People's Choice Classic - a pre-race criterium held two days before stage 1 that all competitors participate in.

In recent years, the race has been a sprinters' paradise.  German powerhouse Andre Greipel has feasted on the many flat stages, racking up stage wins and plenty of World Tour points.  This year, however, the stages are little bumpier.  Certainly not mountainous - far from it - but enough to level the playing field a little and give the roulers a chance to win.

The Battles to Watch

Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) vs Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)

Two of the very best sprinters in the world, both hailing from Germany.  The result from the People's Choice Classic (Kittel first, Greipel second) shows that they came to Adelaide to win.  Will be fascinating to see who can dominate and take early season bragging rights.

Greipel & Kittel sprint to the line during the People's Choice Classic

Cadel Evans (BMC) vs Richie Porte (Sky)

Two Aussies at opposite ends of their careers - Cadel having achieved so much already, and Porte on the cusp of stepping up as a Grand Tour contender.  Both riders are targeting the Giro d'Italia this year, and the TDU provides us with a tasty entree to this battle.

In reality, neither are probably particularly worried about each other this week.  But as a spectator you can't help but feel that this race will be the first shot in a long 2014 battle between these two great competitors.

Caleb Ewan (UniSA) vs Public Expectation & Potential

Still a teenager, and set to join Orica-Greenedge late in season 2014, Ewan has bucketloads of potential.  Many are expecting, probably unfairly, that he'll be able to match the World Tour sprinters in Adelaide.

I'm a huge fan (already!) of Ewan, and am looking forward to seeing how he goes against the big boys.  But let's let the young fella enjoy the experience, rather than suffocating him with any more expectation...

Team Drapac vs The Race Organiser

Stepping up to the Pro-Continental level in 2014, Drapac Cycling Team have had a long running battle to win a spot (as a Continental team) in the TDU.  They have finally gotten their coveted spot, and will be looking to justify it with a showy performance over the 6-day event.

Who Will Win?

The obvious choice is Simon Gerrans (Orica-Greenedge), who showed with his strong win in the Australian Road Nationals last week that he is in terrific early season form.  He will be tested though by the likes of Cadel Evans and Richie Porte, who will be looking to rack up some early season victories to bolster their own confidence leading in to the northern hemisphere spring.

Was the Aussie Road Nationals podium a preview of the TDU podium?

For the other big names, like Frank Schleck (Trek), Robert Gesink (Belkin), and Jurgen Roelandts (amongst others) - well, we'll have to wait and see if they are treating the TDU as a week-long training camp, or as an early season target race.


Australia's chance to briefly be the focus of the world cycling community.  Home viewers can watch all stages live on the Nine Network's free-to-air digital channel 'Gem' - check your guide's for details.

Don't miss this chance to watch fantastic cycling at a civilised hour - I'll be glued to the set watching as much as I can. I'll be cheering loudly for Cadel for the overall, and young Caleb Ewan for a couple of confidence-boosting performances in the sprints.  Enjoy!!