Friday, May 28, 2010

My Experiences with the Dark Side

After my epiphany about the nature of the dark side of mountain biking, I concluded that it would be best to just keep biking in order to keep the undesirable side effects at bay.  However, as we all know, it is not always possible to "just keep riding."

It seems like I am constantly breaking something on my bike.  If I go a month without something going to bits, I begin to wonder what's wrong, or if my frame is going to suddenly deconstruct itself. Hopefully soon I will be the proud owner of a second mountain bike, with one to fall back on when my main ride breaks down.

I have waged a vicious war against broken parts and repair costs, and right now I'm loosing as my Jamis is out of commission.  I am supposed to be getting a brand new Airborne bike any day, and when that arrives, I will be on top of the battle yet again!

Injuries have taken me off the bike more times than I'd like.  Sometimes it's been little thing like stitches in the wrong place, a nasty crash leaving me seriously banged up and bruised, and others.

The most significant time was when I crashed jumping my mountain bike, earning myself an ambulance trip to the E.R., an MRI, and a massive concussion.  That took me off the bike for two precious weeks out of my summer in Colorado, and cost me the ability to lead one of the wilderness trips I was scheduled for at the camp I was working at.

Injuries happen, and I hate being held back by them!

My Current Malady
"Malady" may not be the right word, but what has drawn me to the dark side of the sport recently has been my back.  I have been fighting back pain for the last two months, and save for one week when it let up for some odd reason, it has only gotten worse.  About two weeks ago I decided I had had enough, and saw a chiropractor several times.  He informed me that it was a muscular issue resulting from overuse.  He was right, but the chiropractic care wasn't helping.

I saw a real doctor at the beginning of the week, and now I'm on muscle relaxants and prescription pain pills.  Too bad the pills aren't strong enough to mask all of the pain I'm in.

As a result of the bike issues and the back issues, I have not ridden a mountain bike in over two weeks.  I have been experiencing the full power of the dark side of mountain biking. I am there. Exactly what I wrote about the other day--that's me.

I have found it difficult to write daily about a sport which I have not participated in in some time.  I mean hey, two weeks off the bike, it happens, right?  Well this is what I've been doing for the past two weeks:

This, and work.

Yes I've been depressed, wondering how much longer I'm going to be off for.  I will do my best to keep a steady stream of blog content, but I have to confess, I'm losing inspiration.  I do still have a lot of footage to sift through from my riding exploits in Wisconsin.  Some of that may pop up here soon.

Your Turn: A little sympathy and encouragement would be much appreciated.

PS After proofreading that post, I realized that that's a horrible picture of me in the morning right after I woke up.  Should be good for a laugh though, so it's going live!

PPS Don't forget to VOTE for GregRidesTrails!


Jeremy (Goldengoose),  May 28, 2010 at 11:38 AM  

Greg, I'm thinking that your back pains might have something to do with that GIGANTIC laptop you have. Let me guess, leg numbness as well? 100lbs of computer resting on your lap will do that.

Greg Heil May 28, 2010 at 5:33 PM  

Haha, lol that's funny man! I wish that was the sole reason.

Anonymous,  June 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

Hey Greg -

Have you ever checked into getting the high density foam roller? I used to struggle with low back pain ... been good since using the foam roller to roll out my IT bands after running/riding. Look at YouTube for video on using a foam roller ... can't hurt!


Greg Heil June 1, 2010 at 5:33 PM  

I haven't yet. I'll definitely check it out on youtube tonight! My low back has been good lately, it's my mid-upper back that's the problem. I'm on prescription muscle relaxants and pain pills... but sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm making any progress.


Constantin Gabor June 13, 2010 at 1:37 PM  

Hello Greg!

I guess being unable to cycle for a while does nothing more than make you appreciate more the times that you do ride the bike. "This shall pass to" as the book says. :-)

I also get frustrated when it goes a noticeable amount of time without riding the bike. I try to ride a few times each week.

Please add a contact tab to your blog. Or a Facebook link to your personal profile.

What's your YouTube account?

Greg Heil June 13, 2010 at 8:22 PM  

Yes, I sincerely hope it passes! I went for a ride today at a new place, and it seriously stunk as far as MTB rides go. Yet since I haven't ridden in a week, it felt oh-so-good to get out!

Greg Heil June 13, 2010 at 8:34 PM  

Contact page added. I may update it more later on.

Anonymous,  July 7, 2010 at 11:55 PM  

Early last year, I hurt my back while riding (no crash, just pushing too hard on the climbs), resulting in a herniated disc. Didn't ride for nearly 5 months. Talk about the dark side! I have been working my way slowly "back" (pun intended). I don't want that to happen again so I often walk climbs to avoid back stress/pain but it is hard - I want to bust up the climbs! Good luck with your back and keep on riding!


Greg Heil July 8, 2010 at 10:07 AM  

Hey Walter, Thanks for the comment and encouragement! I've been seeing a physical therapist for a few weeks now, and it really seems to be helping. Apparently the vertebra in my spine were all out of wack: pointing to the left or right, up or down, etc. The therapist started at the bottom and has been working her way up, correcting all the messed up ones as she goes. The pain has been lessening, which is good because I was reaching a stage of real depression.

All I can say is "praise the Lord!"

Ride on,

Anonymous,  December 29, 2011 at 9:11 AM  

Boo on the back pain! Riders are prone to this pain because we are bent over most of the time. Strengthening your core as well as your "biker back" is extremely important for cyclist, as well as stretching slowly after riding
remember, if your hips are wagging from side to side as you ride your most likely charging thru the lateral leg and loosing out on core power
best biker exercises and stretches are
pull ups
downward dog
pigeon toe
hope you feel better and ride stronger soon this year!
Tricia Cockfield C.M.T.

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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