Losing the ability to ride

In Ride Report by Hawkens

Reposting from Got Singletrack! Community Forums

Nov 3rd 2010 

It has been a tough 10 days on the roller coaster ride of life, time for a short non ride report.

Last week I did some serious damage to my knee or more like the final straw after a string of injuries this summer. Meeting with the Ortho that I was told was very good figuring the it would be no different than my previous repair on my other knee. Football and Baseball players blow out a knee and are back to playing in no time at all it seems. I just want to continue hiking, biking and walking.

The Ortho I met with told me it could not be fixed with the only solution offered accelerating the need for complete knee replacement. I have multiple complex tears and my new future would leave me walking with a great deal of pain nor have the ability to ride a bike again. Surgery would not occur for another two weeks....


That is one heck of a sucker punch to take when you thoroughly enjoy riding bikes and have been doing so without training wheels since 3yrs old. I have fun riding with my kids and all of you too, along with sharing my annual Mountain Biking group trips and many Father\Son trip reports. Heck, Got Singletrack! was created because I love riding Mountain Bikes.

The full weight of this news hasn't entirely sunk in yet mainly because I am in a great deal of pain and work has kept my mind occupied.
My wife was sure that there was someone out there that could fix my damaged knee we live near Seattle for crying out loud. There is someone that can fix this knee.

We both received lots of advice of what to do along with recommended Ortho's. We appreciate the recommendations and well wishes for a quick recovery. Our plan was to start researching these Ortho’s and making the rounds this week.

Everybody's injury situation is different and sometimes require specific skills making giving or receiving a recommendation difficult at times. I figured we would need to work with someone that has seen the worse and had the skills of an artist to repair the damage.

I received a phone call from a good friend and riding buddy that had the same idea. They offered a recommendation of someone that worked on their knee not once, but twice when they reinjured it again. Then backed up the recommendation that they Trusted the skills of this Doctor and felt they had the hands of an artist. That is one heck of a recommendation and exactly what we were looking for.

Researching Dr Santoro of Orthopedics International found that he also teaches. No doubt he has seen the worst.
Called on Monday and saw the doctor on Tuesday to review my MRI and go over options. Talking about some injuries I had this summer I had really popped my knee early this summer at Middle Fork. It was while climbing down one of the wash outs, the pop was super loud with no pain. That is the point the doctor feels is when I first tore my meniscus. I had seen my regular doctor after that incident, but as I had no pain and only fluid on the knee there was no cause for alarm to have an MRI done.

My summer of Hiking and Biking continued to tear the meniscus all without my knowledge because I had no pain or symptoms. Then last Monday while running up the hill in front of my house. I jumped on to the stairs while turning like we all do when you want to change direction. When I had a tremendous flood of immense of pain in knee that I could feel flying up my backbone. Some how I kept myself upright and felt for sure I was going to crash hard into the ground. I hobbled into the house and scheduled an appt with my doctor at Swedish, followed by an MRI and meeting with an Ortho. The pain increased ten fold later in the week when a piece of the meniscus folded over. That is when I was put on crutches to get around and given pain killers. The pain killers have done nothing for my pain, the knee is always throbbing and if I bump or put any weight on the knee the pain goes well beyond 11.

After going over all that Dr Santoro pulled out a model and demonstrated where my damage was and how he would go about fixing it. A far cry from the solution offered last week.... There are still some what if’s that they won’t know for sure about until they go in. We do have a plan for each of those that we went over and I am happy with.
All the solutions have me walking pain free and riding a bike in about 10 weeks. As another buddy said recently 10 weeks is not so bad when you were looking down the barrel of forever.

I go in for surgery either Friday or Monday will know more later today. Even if there are some surprises found I have confidence my doctor can address them.

I appreciate all the comments and in 10 weeks I’ll be looking to sweep on a very easy with no hills ride. In the mean time I'll be looking out the window at these great sunny days wishing I was out there riding. Glad that I will have that option again.



PS: Maybe throw me a bone and post a little report of your night rides, weekend ride or cross race.

Nov 5th 2010

Thanks and hope for a smooth recovery too.
We were expecting to have surgery today or Monday, instead it will be Nov 15th....Another week of pain 🙁

Nov 16th 2010

Home Sweet Home had the surgery yesterday. Doc says to take it easy this week, that won't be a problem it hurts to  put any weight on the knee. Knee is very stiff and with no weight on  the knee he pain is the throbbing type. Have good pills for the pain that are knocking me out. I was looking forward to running the Polar Care http://www.breg.com/cold-therapy/polar-care-300.html on the knee to  keep the swelling down. The lack of power messed up those plans could
only use my frozen gel packs. They don't work nearly as well at least  the pills knocked me out and I got ok sleep.  That is it for the updates the pillows are calling my name.

Nov 30th 2010

Met with the doc for my two week follow up. Still a good bit of pain when I twist the leg left or right and unable to straighten or bend the knee very far. I am able to walk on it now and no longer use crutches. I had take home PT that started teh day after surgery. I did twice a day now moving to official PT person tomorrow morning. My personal Goal is to  be back on the bike by the end of December. I meet with my Doc again in  4 weeks for another evaluation. I had asked about using the trainer, while I can the doc recommended I waited another four weeks. I am not in  a rush, the weather is not the best yet I am going a bit stir crazy staying indoors.

Dec 3rd 2010

I am in PT twice a week with a good bit of take home PT that I do 3 times a day.
Today we stretched for a bit then walked over to a stationary bike. I was pumped and could not wait to spin the pedals. Did have some issues getting on to the bike then started to pedal. My right foot was at the bottom of the stroke as it came up near the top of the storke. I found I could not bend the knee enough to make it to the top and over.  Not the experience I was expecting it is a start none the less. The PT asked me to then back pedal to the bottom then pedal forward and repeat. The PT set a timer then walked off.
After several forward and back pedals I gave it another go to reach the top of the stroke. I got near the top the knee was still very  stiff with no pain I kept pushing. It was a very slow process as I pushed to get that knee to  bend and let me foot reach the top. After a good bit of time I finally reached the top and over the other other side. The foot came around the full rotation and we reached the top. Having done one rotation completed  I knew this could be done again. The right foot reached the top and with some effort I was successful again.
Not sure how long I was on the bike as all my concentration was put into getting that knee to bend and allow my foot to complete the rotation. I was glad to be spinning some pedals and know that I am not ready to ride the trainer in my pain cave yet.
After the stationary bike time it was time for some real work. They hooked me up to this rubber tubing that I had to do four different exercises 20 reps for each one. Then do the same with my other leg. From there we did some stuff that reminded me of football practice followed by 10 minutes of ice on the knee. Then I changed clothes and off to work. I am expecting to wake up tomorrow with some sore knee and leg muscles.
My personal goal is to be able to be riding a bike by the end of December. Really don’t know what that is going to look like in a month just glad the little spinning I did today was pain  free. There is still some sharp pain when I twist the knee and have had  some random pain shoot up from what feels like behind the knee cap from  time to time. My stride continues to improve every day and less zombie like. Still limited to short distances as the knee and leg tire easily.

Dec 11th 2010


A week later there is progress with a bit more speed on the pedals. Last  Friday I could not spin the pedals fast enough for the screen to light up. Yesterday the screen lit up and spun the pedals between 70 - 80 RPM.
The knee is still tight and only have another 10 degrees to go before I can full bend my knee. Twisting the knee left to right hurts less, if I squat too low there is a lot of pain across the top of the knee yet.

Dec 18th 2010

Over did it last weekend and paid for it most of the week with pain around the knee. By Thursday evening I was feeling better and had a great PT session on Friday. Finally have the go ahead for some lite CompuTrainer time and NO "Tour De France" Efforts. I have full movement of the leg now and if the swelling would come down and the knee less still I would be able to walk without a limp. Twisting left or right causes a little bit of pain and sometimes a
great deal of pain, but overall less and less each week.
Looking at another four weeks before I can think about Mountain Biking. I'll need that Bungiee System around that time.  🙂

Dec 21st 2010

Met with the Doc that performed the surgery on my knee. Everything looks  good no follow up vists required. Then I met with my PT for what has been the hardest session yet. Probably because the holidays are coming up and cramming in as much as we could or the high number of questions I asked. We have a plan for when I can start working out with weights again. On the trainer given the go ahead and ride  it every other day with lite effort now and over time can increase the
effort depending on swelling around the knee is. We put some time on the  elliptical and felt great, now have the go ahead to throw in some of that into the mix over the next few months.
No singletrack riding until March, so I am going to throw up Erik's belated Big Tolt ride on the Trail Calendar for the end of March. That will be a nice goal to work towards and maybe a few of ya will come out and let me sweep the ride.  🙂

I still have a slight limp that will slowly go away.

Jan 28th 2011

After my last update I flew out to the Great Freezer of the North for several weeks. Now that I am back the PT follow up sessions are every two weeks, in between I have take home PT.
Right leg is still weak with some discomofort in the knee yet. I am 1 degree away from having full movement and given the go ahead to ride Rail Trail. I need to avoid hills easier said then done where we live. Going down stairs there is a good bit of discomfort less when going up. Swapping out my SPD for Flats on the bike with a plan on Sunday to  see how far I can get. Expectation is that my knee will balloon up the first few times out. My son is excited that we will be getting out soon to ride. Time for me to start planning our annual father\son trip to Bend over the Memorial Weekend.

Jan 30th 2011

I picked up a pair of eclat Surge CNC Pedals prior to my injury and finally installed them today. The plan was to move from SPDs to Flats anyways. With twisting motion still smarting around the knee, this was a good time to make the swap.
While it was super cold this evening it felt good to go for a short and very slow ride.

Feb 9th 2011

Completed my last PT Session on Tuesday and boy did they work me over too. Suppose they wanted to make double sure my knee was ready for the next steps. Every muscle in both legs and some back muscles are still sore today. I still have
swelling around the knee that requires daily icing. That will remain the  case for the next 6 to 8 months I am told.
The next steps for me are to keep up with the take home PT. I've actually integrated them in to the James Wilson's MTB Strength Program that started a while ago. It feels good to have sore muscles again as that means progress.
The first weekend of March we will test the waters with some Singletrack. Nothing with any real climbing for a while though. The short spins on the bike have re-energized me and can’t wait to be out riding with everyone again.

Feb 21st 2011

Lake Samm IMG_6844 IMG_6849 IMG_6857_a

3 Months 25 Days ago I was hobbling around on crutches, in the larger scheme of things is such a short time ago. 13 weeks ago I had surgery to repair my knee and yesterday finally able to get in a long ride, something that 16 weeks did not appear to be in my future again.

Yes,  I am slow as molasses the plus side is no knee pain and the legs never tired. All that strength work for my knee in PT and at home helped there, the endurance side is very lacking these days. There are some annoying issues that I am still dealing with when walking and found that trying to stand and pedal is difficult. I understand that after surgery the joint won’t flow as nicely as it used to and will need to work through that. That aside I was all smiles on the ride yesterday and two weeks away from riding singletrack again. Here are a few photos from yesterdays ride from Issaquah to RedHook in Woodinville.

May 10th 2011

Really?? it has only been 78 days since my first ride back on the Mountain Bike. I am still slow as molasses with some improvment. I've gone from having to walk nearly any climb at Soaring Eagle or Duthie to  riding non stop up all the climbs at Tokul West \ East. Heck we tackled Sage Hills a couple weekends back with 2k elevation gain.
78 days later and I don't really notice a difference between the knees while pedaling as I had when I first started riding again.  Until I stand that  is, Standing to pedal still feels a little weird around the knee, again no pain just not quite back to how it was before.
For  the last four weeks I've been spinning on the CompuTrainer 3 days a week with no knee pain. Clipped in on the Road Bike has been a non issue. I am sticking with the flats on the Mountain Bike, pain or no pain super nervous on that knee. I haven't dared try to  do any running other then on the Elliptical. Doc and PT have told me it's fine, but still have the memory of all that pain when I finished off the knee in Oct.
The knee continues to swells up after each ride and will be that way for another six months. Overall at least I can ride a bike painfree and on the trails I enjoy, with that I can close this chapter and hope to never ever return there again.