I got a new Schwinn Suburban 7-speed bicycle for Father’s Day in June, and I’ve been spending a lot of time on it in recent weeks. It doesn’t give me the physical workout or feeling of accomplishment that running did, but it’s been great fun to ride and it doesn’t ravage my ankle (like running did).
And tomorrow, I’m doing my first organized bike ride. It’s the annual Tour de Peaks ride through the Snoqualmie Valley east of Seattle. There are 25-, 50-, and 100-mile rides in this event, and I chose the 25-mile intermediate ride because … I need to do one of these to see what my limits are. I was seriously leaning toward the 50-miler until I thought more about it. The 100-miler is for after I’ve gotten a few rides like this under my belt.
I’ve been riding about 8-12 miles on weeknights and 15-25 on weekends, depending on how much time I have. I’ve been learning a lot about how to take hills, how to use my bike gears, and how to avoid cars and pedestrians. I am still cautious speeding down hills, but am getting more and more comfortable using the bike lanes instead of riding on sidewalks.
One issue for me has been finding interesting places to ride. I have established about eight different routes from my house on Woodridge Hill in Bellevue, but keep looking for new ones to keep things interesting. I’ve ridden to Seattle, Mercer Island, Renton, Redmond, Issaquah, and around Bellevue. Unlike running, I tire of doing the same loops and routes over and over again.
However, all of this riding is going to be on hold for a few months beginning Friday. I seriously need surgery to repair damage to my left ankle, caused years ago by a fracture in a terrible car accident and more recently by excessive pounding from 20 marathons, 29 half-marathons, and 137 road races overall.
Truth is, I need ankle replacement surgery, which I talked about in a previous blog post. But I am holding off on that until more of these types of surgeries are done and there is less risk of infection or failure involved. That could be three to five years from now.
So on Friday, I will be undergoing simple “scoping” or clean-up surgery. The podiatrist, Dr. Anthony Lo, will remove bone spurs, scar tissue, and other junk building up and causing swelling in my left ankle. This outpatient surgery will last less than 30 minutes. But I will be in a cast for several weeks and on crutches for up to three months (yes, during football season). There will be rehab sessions and much healing up ahead.
But this surgery needs to happen. Not only have I stopped running, but my walking has become more difficult and painful. Anyone who sees me walk to the cafeteria at work knows how much slower I walk these days. I walked a half-marathon in late June; I certainly wouldn’t sign up for one now.
After this surgery, I will be as interested as anyone to see how my mobility has improved. Will I be able to run another marathon? I doubt it. Will I be able to run at all? Maybe 5Ks. If I could run 10-12 miles a week and do an occasional 5K — and maybe walk another marathon — I could be happy.
The doctor has said that the more I wear down the ankle post-surgery, the sooner I will need ankle replacement surgery. “It may be two years, it may be five,” he said. So I will be careful about trying to do a lot of running. We’ll see if he lets me run at all.
Bicycling will certainly continue to be a primary form of exercise and recreation for me. Which reminds me, I’ve got to go get my bike rack set up on my car.
I will write again about how the bicycle ride went and how the surgery goes. The ride should be fun. The surgery … well, it will be nice to get it behind me. Stay tuned.
Till next time.