Just when you think you are invincible, life slaps you across the face to tell you otherwise. On Christmas Eve, I was on a ride by myself and while riding in aero position at 25 mph, I hit something in the road and the next thing I know I’m sliding on asphalt. Fortunately, a few cars saw me go down and stopped to make sure I was ok. Mostly in shock, I picked myself off the ground holding my shoulder and I could only think “not again”.
Last time I wrecked (2014), it caused a slew of chain reactions which basically forced me to sit on the sidelines in 2014 and 2015 which included a total of 4 surgeries. I went over 2 years without racing and had very minimal training during that time frame. In those two years, I lost count how many times I thought I would never be able to race again. With a lot of determination and an awesome support system surrounding me, I was able to get my body healthy and back to doing what I love to do. Since then I have been very diligent on keeping my body healthy. So much that I forgot what it’s like (read: miserable) to be forced to sit on the sidelines.
Back my recent wreck…. I was transported to the hospital where Mandy was waiting for me, got x-rays on my shoulder/hip and a CT scan. Unbeknownst to me, Mandy was texting my orthopedic who operated on my hip, Dr Harris. Apparently he was logged in to the hospital system watching my x-rays come in. Sure enough, the x-rays confirmed what we already knew (it hurt like hell), broken clavicle. Mandy got a text asking “when was the last time Steve anything to eat or drink?”. I knew right then and there, I was going into surgery. I ended up getting the longest titanium plate made for a clavicle and 9 screws fastened to my collarbone. I can’t thank Dr. Harris (and his wife) for taking time out of his day on Christmas Eve to fix me. Seriously… what Dr volunteers to do surgery on his day off nonetheless on Christmas Eve?
I was told that recovery would take 8 weeks and that’s when I could get back to swimming and biking outside. I was allowed to run and bike inside (no aero position) as long as I wasn’t in pain and the body could handle it. It took about a week after surgery when I felt like I could manage riding on the trainer. There was no way I could run as my ribs were in more pain than my shoulder. I likely bruised/cracked a rib when I crashed but I never felt any pain in my ribs immediately after the crash because of the immense pain in my shoulder. So I started logging miles and miles on the computrainer and zwift. I got a couple weeks of over 200 miles on zwift including one Sunday morning where I logged a little over 100 miles on zwift (and ~9k ft of climbing) with EMJ teammate Brendan Loehr. One of the benefits I found riding on zwift with a smart trainer was that I could “simulate” hills. I don’t have any real hills here in south Florida and with a few races on this year’s schedule with a bunch of climbing, I saw this as a benefit. I honestly believe I gained bike fitness over the last several weeks.
Tomorrow (Sunday) marks the 8 week mark and after my recent visit with Dr Harris a few days ago, I was fully cleared to swim and bike outside. With Team EMJ camp in Vegas less than 2 weeks away and Oceanside 70.3 7 weeks away, panic training has officially started. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and into a my normal routine.
I do want to thank those folks that stopped during their ride as they saw me sitting on the side of the road right after the crash (Erica Lazarus, Brian & Lisa Smith, Rick Mongeau, Alicia Schultz). I can’t thank them enough. I said it already but I will be forever grateful to Dr Harris (and especially his wife) for taking time out of their Christmas Eve plans to do surgery. He’s already fixed my hip a few years ago and now he did my shoulder. The hospital was going to discharge me and I likely wouldn’t have been able to see a Dr until after the new year. He saved me at least a week, if not more, of recovery and time off training. Big thanks to Mario Burbano, my massage therapist. I have been working with Mario since 2015 and he has kept me healthy and found lingering issues before I found them myself. Just after one visit with him after my wreck, I noticed a huge improvement in my shoulder mobility. Lastly, thank you to my wife for dealing with another bike crash, another ER visit and another surgery. I don’t know how she puts up with this and me.
Thanks for reading!