Sunday, January 31, 2010


I eluded to 'surgery' in my previous post. What surgery? Well, I finally decided that I wanted to do something about my sinus problem. I haven't been able to breathe through my nose fully in many years; more than I can remember. I've been congested just about every single day regardless of the seasons. I have also frequently gotten severe sinus headaches. All this and I still ride my bike as much as I do.

This past autumn I finally decided to see an ear, nose and throat doctor. Turns out my problem stems from a deviated septum. One nostril was almost fully closed down and the other was blocked to some degree as well. I have no idea how this happened. Perhaps someone hit me when I did not know it? Perhaps I damaged my nose when I was hit by that car on my road bike back in 2003? I have the slightest clue. All I know is something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

January 4th. That was the day I had my 'procedure' as everyone calls it. I call it 'surgery'. My doctor went in and straightened out my septum and also did a few other things to help open my airways so I can breathe.

I was in and out of the ambulatory surgery center in about five hours. I left with two sets of 'packing' up each nostril to help keep the septum straight and allow things to heal. The packing also made it difficult to breathe so I was still a mouth breather. This went on for a week and the doctor saw me seven days post-op to remove the packing and check things over.

The first evening post-op consisted of a lot of nose bleeds and I had to sleep sitting up. In other words, I did not get much sleep. The next day I started feeling better but the anti-biotics the doctor prescribed me were pretty strong and did a number on me. I spent the whole day on the couch watching movies. I would also get a severe sinus headache mid-day which I contributed due to the packing in my nose. Still breathing out of my mouth for my nasal cavities were pretty much blocked 100%. Pain killers did not do anything to me so I just dealt with the discomfort.

Second day post-op: I attempted to go to work. Not sure why I thought I could go to work but it lasted about four hours. The anti-biotics made me all loopy and I probably made no sense to people in the office. By lunchtime my sinus headache was back so I went home and spent the afternoon taking a nap on the couch with an ice pack on my head.

The rest of the week was pretty much the same as day two post-up. I'd go to work for a few hours and then have to go home. Should have just stayed home now that I am looking back at this whole ordeal. That weekend was spent watching all six Star Wars episodes from start to finish, including the behind-the-scenes footage and other stuff that was on the DVDs.

Monday, seven days post-up, the packing came out. The doctor removed the sutures (which was quite painful, I was not numbed up or anything). Then he removed the packing from my left nostril. One quick movement and it was out and I'm holding a tissue on my nose to collect the blood. Took one inhale. Oh my gosh! Between my nose being extra sensitive and the massive amount of air coming in I could not believe what was going on. It was amazing. I went from 100% blockage with the packing to 0% blockage in a few seconds. I asked to see the packing but the doctor refused to show me. "If I show you, you will not let me take the other one out."

Next packing came out and the doctor showed me. "No way!" Now I knew exactly why I was getting crazy sinus headaches the previous week. The packing must have been a good three to four inches long (stuffed in my head!). Doctor wants to see me 90days post-op.

The rest of that day I was in amazement. My nose was also super sensitive and it was cold out. The office at work has pretty lousy ventilation so that also did not help much. However, I was able to breathe out of my nose! For the next few weeks I kept a box of tissues near me and a container of saline spray. Saline spray up the nose many times a day to help keep things flushed. Tissues for the clean-up.

Two weeks post-op I went for a bike ride to try out the 1x9 on my Cannondale. It was difficult to breathe because the air was cold (nose was still sensitive). I rode a little bit but did not really push myself. I merely just wanted to pedal for a bit since I felt like a lump on a log from sitting around doing nothing for a shade over two weeks.

I am now close to a month post-up and feel great. Pretty much fully recovered. My nose is still sensitive a little (I sneeze a bit) but otherwise things are great. I'm back taking my power yoga classes two times a week and can not believe how much easier it is now that I can breathe out of my nose. I have been riding a little bit but not much. This coming week will be a change though as I plan to ride more (inside and out). I need some base mileage. I felt a good lack of fitness on my ride last Wednesday night.

I can't wait for the this season now that I can breathe a lot better than ever before.

If you have any issues with your ears nose or throat and are in the Hartford area I highly recommend Dr. Krebsbach. I could not have asked for a better doctor to help me through this.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

chain slap

You hear of people riding singlespeeds in the winter for 'training'. I hung my singlespeed up for a little bit and am now riding gears. That is right, multiple gears for me. Blasphemy! Not quite. I haven't ridden a 29er with gears before and was curious to try it out for myself.

Guess I also wanted to try something different.

Picked up some Shimano XT paraphernalia (thanks Robb & Sean) and converted the Ghostship 1FG to a 1x9 set-up.

Drivetrain consists of:
~ XT 9spd shifter
~ XT 11-34 cassette
~ XT M772-GS medium cage derailleur
~ Salsa 36T chainring
~ Salsa Ring-Dinger chainring guide
~ N-Gear Jump Stop chain keeper

Went out for a slow 2hr ride in the West Hartford reservoir the other weekend to see what this was all about. Slow was the name of the game for I was still fresh off surgery on my sinuses (about 2 weeks out... yeah, started 2010 with a doctor's visit, but it was planned). Temperatures finally rose above freezing (got to maybe 40*F that day) so I figured my sinuses wouldn't be that sensitive. I was wrong. The air hurt as I would breathe.

Anyway, I wound up riding in only three of the nine gear ratios that day. Middle of the cassette. The biggest hurdle was shifting gears on the trail. This was something I haven't done in a very long time so my brain was not smart enough to tell my hand to shift gears. I just pedaled through things like I normally do on my singlespeed.

I do have to say the gear ratios with the 36T front chainring are nice. A few times I purposely was shifting to different ratios to see how it would feel. On one steep incline, which I have never been able to ride on the singlespeed (typically 34x20 ratio), I climbed no problem with the 1x9 in the 36x34 ratio. That was pretty cool.

Then there is that dreaded thing referred to as 'chain slap'. While I have the chain fairly tight to prevent popping off the front chainring, on some very rocky sections of trail I heard the chain hitting the chainstay. AKA: "chain slap". This was annoying as it disturbed my zen-like moment of riding the trails. That is one thing I have always loved about my singlespeeds. They are super quiet on the trail and you sort of become 'one' with the terrain you are riding. No obnoxious noises to distract your mind from enjoying the outdoors and the trail.

Hoping to get out for a ride tomorrow and this weekend. Thanks to Monday's rain I don't anticipate getting on the trails anytime soon. My 1x9 ride the other weekend was just about at my limit for trail riding now-a-days: most of the trail was frozen but there were significant portions that were very wet and muddy where the bike would make a mess. I think tomorrow we'll be riding forest service roads and paved roads on our mountain bikes (ride #2 on the 1x9). Saturday I'll probably take the road bike out for 4-5hrs doing a big loop that takes me west.