Fall finally hit the Mid-Atlantic October 26th-28th. A mild-ish ‘noreaster blew in bringing an inch+ of rain while dropping temperatures significantly. I started riding a bike again post Leadville, sometime early- September. It’s been nice.
We have bad roads (too much traffic, too few shoulders, too many bridges) to ride but we have an endless supply of trails (hundreds of total miles) leading in three-ish directions. Plus I found a couple shop rides that safely cover some miles on the roads a couple days a week. It’s a nice break from the impact of running.
Monday morning the 29th began almost like any other Monday. I say almost as normal Mondays are a run-day with one or both of our dogs. I’d been having a fair amount of discomfort under my right kneecap so I’d not been running much for two-three weeks after completing a 50k trail race in a beautiful NPS park a mere forty-five minutes down the road the first weekend of October. Difficult race, small group of entrants, somewhat technical with 2600 feet of climb.
I had some time to get in a few miles on the bike before starting work so I headed south down a trail I’d run, walked or ridden dozens of times. The Mt. Vernon trail runs 17 miles point-to-point from the estate of former president George Washington north to the Key Bridgein Rosslyn at the D.C. border. It’s an asphalt trail that winds through what were several acres of Washington’s land, multiple marinas, swamps and the Potomac riverfront area of Alexandria. Some of the northern miles wrap around and hug Washington National Airport as well as Arlington National Cemetery with much of the length of it within meters of the Potomac River and the GW Parkway, also known as part of Virginia State Highway 400. Sections of it remind me of the old Clive Greenbelt before it was widened and straightened.
Mt. Vernon Trail is anything but wide and straight. Hills and curves dominate miles zero through eight (running south to north). We live one mile west of a trailhead, a little south of mile marker seven. I headed south on the trail with a 120 minute ride on my mind. I hopped off a little south of marker three to do a couple laps through Fort Hunt Park, land that was once part of George Washington’s sprawling Estate. It has a one way, 1.3 mile loop road that’s well used on the weekends and relatively empty during the week days. A nice couple-plus miles to lower your head and air it out. I hopped back on the trail continuing south with the plan being to circle the drive in front of Washington’s Mt. Vernon a couple times before heading back to figure how to chew up what would be my remaining 65-70 minutes from mile marker zero heading north.
This trail is known for its many water crossings: runs (we refer to them as streams or creeks in the Midwest), swamps and drainage ditches. Many crossings are traversed via old wooden bridges. The trail is 100% on National Park Service land—-which puts it among the many NPS assets that have been significantly underfunded and understaffed. In fact the current administration proposed cutting 6.4% of NPS staffas part of the overall 2018 Department of The Interior cuts of 12% followed by the administration’s2019 budget of cutting an additional 15% off 2018 levels. Funding for this part of the Department of The Interior comes from Congress during it’s annual budgeting process. Deferred maintenance is said to be approaching an underfunded level of around $11B (that’s a B) for all of NPS. The National Park Service is clearly not considered a funding priority unfortunately and this 17 mile trail is testament to that. Worn down bridges, limited and unclean restrooms, rotting picnic tables, fallen trees that are not fully pulled away from the trail, constant flooding and standing water, potholes, buckles, several degrees off-camber caving sides, poorly marked and almost nowhere is the trail wider than eight feet. Yet it’s a popular trail because of 1) the high local population 2) the high tourist population and 3) the beauty of the land upon which it was originally constructed in 1972. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on it solo during high-traffic; I intentionally avoid it or am with a bike or run group during busy times. It’s simply too unsafe and a shame it’s not considered a higher priority.
I’m familiar with most, if not all the flaws along the 17 miles. Particularly the hilly, curvy, bumpy three miles leading to Mt. Vernon. I’d just passed the one mile mark and relaxed a bit, most of the junk behind me, just a few minutes, a couple climbs and bridges till the estate. I was anticipating the final climb ahead while heading around some tight corners on a downhill to the final bridge.
This particular bridge is different from all the rest; it’s older, narrower and painted. I’m several meters into a thick forest and peer ahead to verify no-one is approaching while lining up a decent angle and doing a couple final feathers. I truly don’t have clear memory of specifically what next happened. My front tire touched the edge of the wet, lightly leaf coated old bridge and I was immediately down. The left rail broke my skid, keeping me from dumping into a creek. My right hip, elbow and head (in that order) took the hits. Concerned about oncoming traffic and followers I quickly popped up to pull my bike (Jelly Belly) and myself across the bridge and stood leaning on a pole. Looking back (moving forward from here) my timings and details are foggy.
For a few seconds as I was reaching for my phone to unplug my headphones I considered calling Uber to haul me to a close hospital for a quick look. By the time I had my phone in hand and the keyboard opened I immediately dialed 911. That call was placed at 9:18 a.m. Knowing the trail made it easy to explain where I was. Knowing the trail made it difficult to explain how first responders were going to get to me. Increasingly stabbing pain made me right on the edge of not really caring. Several uncontrolled gasps later I acknowledged to the operator I could hear the sirens in the background. I somewhat recall telling her I was going to pass out so needed to hang up. She raised her voice, pleading with me to hang on while I laid down. Somehow I grabbed something and fell again onto the wet, cold bridge. I had gone mostly silent as she was communicating with the drivers. I told her I was beginning to shake uncontrollably and needed to hang up. She again pleaded that I hang on until responders made contact. I heard the sirens stop and the saplings on the hill above me rustle then voices. I attempted to yell; surely it came out as little more than a normal outdoor voice. “Down here, down here. Down on the bridge. Wet, cold. Very cold”. I heard voices close in and hung up the phone, twelve minutes after placing the 911 call.
Maybe 2-3 responders were hovering over me, talking both to me and the drivers back up the hill. I remember being so cold. Shivering uncontrollably. No, I did not lose consciousness (at least I’m as sure as I can be I did not). No, nothing else seems to hurt other than the right side. No I cannot move (I’m laying mostly on my left side with my right leg pulled/bent up a bit, the right foot angled outward, unable to roll it in or roll flat). Yes: year, place, date, name, age, etc. Check. I hear conversation about getting a stretcher through the woods and down the hill to the trail. Next I’m being told I would need strapped flat to an immobilizer. Let’s repeat. Strapped flat and immobilized. I’m unable to move and cannot process how I will be able to be made flat. Continue……..I would then be lifted up a few inches to the stretcher, stretcher would be raised and I’d be rolled back up the hill, through a few meters of thick saplings, then lifted into the ambulance. All before pain meds could be delivered. I think I can recall attempting to animate the situation as they were calling for more blankets but my speech was choppy from shaking. Something about a good weekend, little ride before work, great that Fall finally hit. I told them about the two types of cyclists and which I’d just become.
I felt the seatbelts, several, being draped over me indicating they were ready to tighten, straighten and roll. And lift. Tighten, straighten, roll and lift. A couple of them provided something of a warning. When I thought the pain could not get any worse they started. Each individual action likely only took a few seconds yet it was rolled into one long exercise in delivering a variety of new types of pain. I’m told the final big bumps would be over soon as they attempted to gently get me through the trees to the waiting ambulance. Transferred into the truck I was again as close to passing out as I would be. I’m sure what keep me hanging on was the speed with which they were again verifying my medical history as they were setting up an IV. A team of folks trying to get me some relief kept me alert. Somewhere here a second conversation took place about my clothes and the eventual need to get them off to do a more visible physical assessment. Again I repeated the number of layers, what each item was (bibs, arm warmers, buckled shoes, etc…) and explained I really needed folks to try and take them off individually as they are rather expensive and they’re not something I can easily purchase. Within a few minutes of being rolled into the truck I had an IV in me and the first of multiple injections of Fentanyl. Off we went to our local ER. Shivering gone, pain stabilized, yet at a searingly high level accompanied by something of a fog. I was moved into a room I think around 45 minutes after the crash.
The next eight-nine hours are a mix of films, shots, toe-wiggles, vitals, questionnaires, IV changes, room and bed transfers and most frustratingly a lack of information. Within minutes the final conversation about my clothes would take place. I insisted having me attempt to help them remove as much of the remaining items as possible, repeating the part about the expense of cycling clothing. One of the staff reinforced that part of the conversation but not my insistence on delaying their removal because of cost. In the end they had to fully cut off only one item, a couple others were snipped a bit—it was my favorite black long-sleeve tight, base-layer shirt as they needed to get the dozen electrode leads on me quickly to conduct ECGs.
A couple hours later films indicated I’d suffered a significant break to the femur, up by the hip. That prompted a barrage of calls to find an orthopedic surgical team available who could handle it. At some point early afternoon I was told a team was lined up at a different hospital. A Level 1 Trauma hospital about 30 minutes away. Calls were being made to verify if surgery could take place yet Monday or if it would be Tuesday and line up transport. At 4:58pm Amy reached me for the first time. I let her know where I was being transferred. Shortly thereafter I was yet again transferred to another bed, taken outside and put in an ambulance for the thirty minute drive to the Fairfax Hospital Complex. By this time I’d worn out the creativity angle for whispering, blurting and yellow out f-bombs and other such naughty words so this multi-bed, vehicle and facility transfer was conducted in relatively mild R-Rated fashion.
Care and treatment could not be more different at the two facilities. Both good–but our small, local hospital was akin to having your family take care of you. They may annoy you but it’s evident by their approach they truly care and pay attention to every detail. A trauma center is a trauma center. Tragedy and volume. Plus volume and tragedy. I’m over-the-top thankful I had one relatively close. Around 90 minutes after arriving at the new facility I met with one of the surgeons. He was the first to explain the break and repair in extreme detail, images included. A closed displaced fracture of the right femoral neck will need to be repaired. Two repair options were explained to me Monday evening as well as when I was being processed in pre-op Tuesday morning. Option #1: Internal Fixation. Option #2: Prosthetic replacement.
It took me some questioning and time to process as I was now thirteen hours since my last meal, eleven hours since the injury and over ten hours of a cocktail of narcotics flowing through me. Fortunately Amy was with me to present level headed questions and assessments and we landed on pursuing Option #1 if the injury would allow/permit it once they were inside to fully assess the damage. Option #2 would be exercised only if #1 could not be. That resolved I was wheeled up to my excellent suite where I would spend the next 72 hours minus time in surgery. My final experience with pain achieving a 10-of-10 was the transfer from ER bed to room bed. Up to this point each bed transfer had either four people or three with one being a visably strong male. I believe this transfer was completed by two average size/build female technicians. I ordered Amy out of the room when I realized they were not calling additional help. In spite of general fatigue, exhaustion and pain I managed to unload a final obscenity-laced scream. Hurt so good. Amy checked out and went home after another hour or so when we knew surgery timing. Throughout the night my body failed to succumb to the conditions; staying awake all but about one hour the entire night. Between nurses, pre-op prep and nurse assistants (excellent Technicians) I was questioned, poked, prodded, cleaned, redressed, and generally engaged by staff or my bladder about every hour until the transfer folks came into the room around 6:15-6:30 Tuesday morning.
Early morning surgery is best–at least that’s been the case from my prior four (three knee and one nasal). Aroma of coffee and bagels filled the hallways and elevators, staff were chatty and alert. Several staff hovered around me, a couple with needles, others with what felt to be my 20th round of paperwork to sign. I wonder if anyone has ever contested their signed paperwork using the argument they were clearly under the influence of rounds and rounds of chemicals when essentially being assertively harassed to sign them. It’s taken me hours and hours spread over a few days to recreate as much of this as I’ve been able. Providers and their administrative staff gave me seconds to read and comprehend pages upon pages of small-print information fully drugged and with neither my contacts nor my glasses. Several components of our healthcare system are truly fu*ked up.
I met Alireza Stephen Malekzadeh, MD, the surgical team leader, shortly after being parked into my bay. Dr Malekzadeh, Steve, is all business yet compassionate and thorough. Post-op I was happy he was leading the team. I met Bimal Gandhi, my anesthesiologist, shortly after being wheeled into my pre-op bay. He leads a couple programs related to certain types of injury anesthesiology delivery. Currently he is promoting a spinal delivery solution for my situation which is different from the traditional general (face mask). Either method I would also have a long needle stuck into my thigh with a local numbing agent directly delivered. Double the pleasure. I had a choice and I chose to follow his preferred method of the spinal, different from each of my other times. Within five minutes another lady appeared with information about a survey and a study related to anesthesiology delivery. Her team had received an alert that I was a candidate for a University of Pennsylvania medical study. Unfortunately by the time she gathered her paperwork and got to me Bimal had already made his pitch and I’d accepted. She said I could still change my mind and enter the study.
Entering the study meant I would be assigned a number and enter their randomizer which would determine the method of anesthesiology delivery for me. I had no time to weigh my choice or consult again with Bimal or his staff. She needed to know immediately. Multiple times I expressed my disappointment in her timing—-arriving after I had already made a choice. I felt guilt knowing I had a 50% shot I would not follow the recommendation I’d already agreed to. Decide. I’m a believer in the importance of science, research and all things that could improve the overall healthcare system so I opted to be a part of the twelve month study. A couple more minutes and my number came back: the decision had been reversed for me; I would receive general anesthesia. I apologized to the staff, (quite voluntarily) signed the forms for the study and within a couple more minutes was headed out the big prep room, down the hall and into surgery. A final word with a couple of the surgical team staff and I woke up in recovery after 2.5+ hours of surgery (on the longer end of Dr. M’s estimation) plus time to come out of sleep. By now it was around 2:00pm Tuesday and I believe for the first time my pain level dropped below a five. Somewhat surprising considered I now had a bunch of foreign bodies in me in the way of rods, screws and plates. I enjoyed the moment knowing blockers would soon start to wear off and I’d be back to depending on room nurses for pain.
For the first time in about 32 hours I would have solid food. Hospital food never tasted so good even though I have no memory of what I had. I also have limited to no memory of a few conversations in recovery and my room right after surgery. Moving forward I would be looking to check off the normal post-op list: start up antibiotics, remove a catheter, learn how to walk via crutches and walker (I’m what’s considered a ‘toe-touch’ patient on my broken leg), begin talking about PT/OT required for discharge, begin the parade of the surgical team, begin conversations about home transport and home-care arrangements and wound care. I was still facing 1-3 more nights of inpatient interruptions resulting in continually unhealthy losses of sleep. Much of the time post-op up to discharge is a blur of forgettable repetition. Two of the surgeons made appearances in my room; Steven M. and I cannot recall the name of the other. They confirmed what they suspected ahead of time with a few more details, none particularly encouraging. Of the three possible ways I could break the bone I broke it in the worst. They had to deal with bone fragments in the ball joint meaning it was not a clean break. Best news was my general conditioning/fitness/health was helpful for my age meaning it was unnecessary to consider the option to put in an artificial hip. Bottom line: the surgical component went as well as could be expected and provided me……..’with the best possible chance for recovery’. It was explained to me I had a 75-80% chance of recovery success. That is; a number of components in the healing process need to occur and past cases point to a 75-80% chance I will heal properly. While that left me emotional and momentarily speechless and breathless in a not-good way, I quickly, solidly voiced my appreciation and put an end to my pity-party.
Discharge was a C/F of incomplete information, confusion, conflicting information, delays and lack of comprehensive oversight. Six-thirty Thursday morning November 1 I was notified during rounds by a member of the orthopedic team I was cleared to go. After a myriad of dropped balls and general lack of case management oversight I was wheeled out to Amy eleven hours later. Were it not for the terrific help of my day-nurse it might have been a couple more hours. That being the case it would have resulted in another overnight as our driveway does not have enough bright light for me to ambulate as necessary to get into the house. What a poor spend of insurance reimbursement that could have been. I anxiously await the multiple standard post-care patient surveys I will receive. Amy was terrific every day up to and including getting me home and into our home. Neither of us is in a dependent position very often so plenty of adjustments for both of us.
Getting close to three days at home and it’s been something of a blur of a manageable routine. Again being newish to the area we have yet to build up a support network so we’ve run and practiced several scenarios and circumstances with and by each other as Amy returns to work Monday. She’s been even more of a champ. I’ll be mostly house-bound for a few more days. I’ll be swollen, in minimal to moderate pain for several more days. In other words I still hurt all the time there is no pain free time. It waxes and wanes according to the timing and volume of medication. It’s beautiful out; leaves are changing colors and I have a good view during the daytime hours. We have a system around taking care of the dogs both while I’m here alone and when Amy’s with me. I have a normal diet although I’m generally not very hungry. I have a kitchenette and coffee-bar set up within reach. That was Amy’s highlight as she’s not a coffee drinker so wasn’t fully aware what it all involves every day.
I’ll get my staples out (hopefully) in about 2.5 weeks. I’ll be on crutches and a walker for up to six weeks. Fully unassisted walking, spinning, walking briskly, cycling and running will occur many weeks and months down the road. All of these things are provided my body falls in the 75-80% bucket of successful healing. Many things will be necessary for me to hit that 75-80%. Some within my span of control, many not. I’ll be working hard on the components within my span of control.
Standing up to pee (for a guy) shouldn’t necessarily be a thing. Nor, for that matter, should talking about peeing standing up. Yet it is. A thing. It’s a thing to the hundreds of thousands of male patients (apologies—unable to comment on any of this from the view of the gals) each year who undergo one of a variety of surgical procedures sending them back to their diaper days of bodily functions. Including this latest episode I’ve had a total of five surgeries going back almost 35 years and dragging myself to the can had never before been an issue. Sit, stand, shake, squeeze, flush, repeat. All things we rarely give a thought. Not this time. Right now to my left in a storage bin is a clean (unused) portable pee-bucket I swiped from the hospital on my way out. I’m reminded of a scene from the classic Mel Brooks: History of the World . I became a master in my hospital bed at jiggling and sliding that thing around, as well as my thing around, to hit the proverbial hole in the bucket.
Around 24 hours before release I was cleared to have someone walk (with a walker) me to my bathroom and sit on a crazy-raised toilet to do the thing. Oh boy I felt like a king, or at least some sort of royal now that I no longer needed to rely on the bed-bucket. Wait for the shake!Early evening, middle of the night, early morning—given the volume of fluids (and lack of solid foods) pumped into me it seemed I was peeing every few hours. Amazingly someone was mostly around to lend an arm. A couple of times not so much; back to the bucket. Measuring the time between bowel movements in calendar days vs. hours is rife for it’s own conversation. Suffice it to say it’s agonizing to keep counting and keep counting………then having your own little party when the gate finally opens.
Ordering DMEs (durable medical equipment) is something you hear about this time of year when heading to the Grandparents (or parents for an increasing number of us) for holiday visits. Not something your awesome 40-something spouse researches for you while you’re fully medicated and about to be discharged from the hospital. Reachers, grabbers, giant shoe and sock-horns, shorts hooks, shower chairs and walkers?!?!?! All foreign. Yet now I’m the owner of and proficient with all of them.
No-one prior to discharge takes the time to talk through the emotional and mental toll on a middle-age(+) active male being forced to reach for his shorts with a long hook, pull them up with a claw/hook, grab the walker to slide to the can now outfitted with a bedside commode that’s a necessity to permit him to safely pull himself up after a tinkle
Nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists are great—-within the narrow lanes drawn for them in the tightly controlled hospital environment. None of them is charged with fully explaining how all this fits together both mechanically and emotionally. Sitting home alone repeating the process can be a real drag on a guys ego, spirit and motivation. Graduating from the walker to the crutches and from sponge baths to shower-on-a-chair become milestones in basic ADLs. Being able to lift myself out of a shower chair and put on a pair of shorts without a hook are a couple more. I still have a few more to go.
I took the pee-bucket from the hospital in case of emergencies. Or in case I became lazy or depressed and didn’t want to drag myself across the room. Or in case I couldn’t lift myself from the couch in time. Fortunately it’s still a clean bucket as I quickly graduated to self-sufficiency in the stand-up mode thus avoiding any of the following pee-emergencies. Few like to talk about the dirty business of major surgery recovery; yet as our healthcare system keeps people alive longer and as we become more active heading into our later years more of us will be subject to all these taboo topics. It’s healthy to talk about them and share experiences; perhaps even one more person will be willing to share their experiences or feel less awkward asking about what to expect. Or perhaps even one more beginner or amateur caregiver will better understand all the emotions their patient goes through on a daily basis. Conversation is king. Consider starting one with one of the Grands (or even parents) during this holiday season.
***Of note—-most pity-parties days are long over; this is strictly reflect and review time. I remain an unbelievably fortunate guy in many aspects. Easily tossing out a little self-deprecation is one aspect.
Two weeks on and I’m a few days into fully realizing the extent of the injury to my femur. Still unable to lift my right leg (from horizontal) more than about three inches, unable to bend it more than around 10-15 degrees and certainly unable to put more than a couple pounds of force on it standing (technically I’m still toe-touch so I should stop trying). On the upside I’ve graduated from a walker to crutches, I’ve been able to pee standing up for over a week and I’m ambidextrous in using all my reachers to dress myself and pick up the assortment of toys Samantha keeps dropping in my path. And lest I forget I can almost bathe (shower) myself (while sitting in an awesome chair) and can fully prepare my meals as long as all the supplies are laid out on my prep table. Much progress in the face of a much longer road ahead than I previously wanted to understand or believe it would be. I wonder how many who suffer a similar injury deeply self-reflect as much as I have and continue to do.
Daily activities, or activities of daily living (ADLs) as they’re known, are generally ignored by most of us. We mindlessly slink out of bed, slide across the floor with the lights out, maybe grab a shirt and let out the dogs before completely waking up. Firing up the home coffee-cafe is a series of near mindless motions and finally it’s time to wake up when jumping into the shower. What I’d trade for any of that. I carefully slide to the end of the L section of the couch-doubling as a bed-couch-office, carefully slip my right (injured) leg onto the floor, reach for my crutches and gradually lift up my unrested body. A few crutch-swings over to the door to let out Samantha and reverse to swing over to the bath using a nightlight to guide my path. The bath is small so the final few swings are baby-hops to fit sideways in the door and assume the position. By now Sam is about to start banging on the door to be let in. I’m up several minutes, have moved a total of 30-35 feet and have yet to fire up the coffee.
Once Samantha is back in I continue swinging to the single table containing everything I need to be self-sufficient throughout the day. Coffee fixins’, pitchers of water (once Amy brings them downstairs), dry cereal and fruit, bread, packets of tuna, paper picnic supplies, and the big score was Amy pulling down the awesome toaster-oven from the kitchen. By now my left (good) leg is fatigued from providing most of the support and my arms are beginning to tire from picking up the remaining. I grab the bag of dry cereal and fruit, loop the lidded coffee mug under a couple fingers and swing my way over to the office section of the couch; irritated that soon Amy will arrive with my daily shot in the stomach. Thirty-five to forty minutes to accomplish coffee, a bowl of cereal, one dog out and a quick trip to the bath. Finally time to eat and start on the coffee. Thus begins each day.
Five days after arriving home my youngest brother was in town visiting and agreed to take me on an outing. We had a few errands (ok, he drove and ran most the errands while I sat in the car) with the most importing being heading to the polls. While it was a rainy day the ambient temperature was well above freezing allowing for no issue with slipping on the crutches. I would not be denied my opportunity to cast a ballot.
This was both my first outing as well as my first stroll on crutches of more than a few feet in my protected domain. Aaron did a top-notch job aiding me in and out of the car and a few buildings a few times. We did quick-hit errands to a couple retailers and a couple other businesses in addition to my local polling place. I felt mostly good most of the time. Getting in and out of the car was the most challenging and I was confident enough with the system we worked out I proposed we make a longer day of it the next day. Likely a mistake.
With an awful lot of sitting time, medicated time and drowsy time I’ve mastered the art of the short read. Naturally several articles related to my injury and recovery have been consumed. I’ve picked a few highlights as a refresher. In summary:
I underwent an ORIF (open reduction internal fixation); something that’s been performed for nearly fifty years. In most cases, the rods and pins that are placed to repair the bone do not need to be removed after the bone heals. Here’s hoping to be a ‘most-case’! With almost 2.5M occurrences annually in the U.S. we can feel confident with the buckets of information available about both the procedure as well as the recovery. It’s the recovery I fear the most. So far I’ve bypassed many of the surgical and immediate post-operative complications such as:
Fat embolism and
Complications from anesthesia
Ongoing complications I need to be aware of include:
Blood clots (ongoing)
Healing of the fractured bone in an abnormal alignment
Irritation of the overlying tissue from the hardware
As a repeat of the improper healing there is also a risk that the fracture doesn’t heal properly and that I’ll need repeat surgery. Geeesuzzz help me if that’s my fate. I probably overdid a few things in the six-seven day period after returning home so I’ve attempted to (mostly) take a (somewhat) more cautionary path since. Mostly. Somewhat.
It’s nearly a week now since I penned a somewhat, semi-formal letter to multiple local municipal mayors as well as a representative for the local/regional streets and roads maintenance program. I’ll attach. It was, what I thought to be, a rather simple request to an annoying if not outright dangerous problem. Heavily traveled local roads result in an unbelievable amount of trash deposited in the shoulder areas; or in many cases the designated bicycle lanes.
Given the emphasis the state, and particularly my county, Broward, put on outdoors recreation, including cycling, I am disappointed, yet not shocked, to not receive a single reply to my request. In fact, I’ve not even received an acknowledgment. Disappointing. At any rate, here’s the plea:
One of the things I was looking forward to upon my recent move to South Florida was the ability to bicycle the many miles of smooth roads, bike lanes and even paved trails. As a middle-age male I was excited about the opportunity to continue focusing on my health year-round in my soon-to-be new state. After several months what I’ve found has been a decidedly mixed bag of enjoyment, sheer terror, exasperation and unexpected expense.
Multiple State of Florida websites, as well as local/regional bicycle advocacy sites, tout the benefits of cycling in Florida; and in some cases specifically South Florida. In fact, Governor Scott is given credit for proclaiming March as Bike Month in Florida. http://www.broward.org/Parks/ThingsToDo/Documents/Florida%20Bicycle%20Month-%20Governor%20Rick%20Scott.pdf . Of note, several of the sites discuss the importance of bike safety both from the perspective of cyclists as well as motorists as follows: http://www.alerttodayflorida.com Given the many avenues of publicly available State and Local support for cycling I’ve been frustrated with the on-the-ground reality of cycling in South Florida. Uninformed, careless and simply rude drivers have led to multiple rounds of terror but that’s an entirely different branch of discussion. For now I want to focus solely on the source of my frustration: trash.
That’s right, trash. It seems something of an accomplishment to cover a couple city blocks worth of bike lanes without finding an assortment of hazards lurking, waiting for the opportunity to strike and pop yet another tube and in some cases even tear through tires. Every couple of miles the lane-devils up their game and throw branches, car parts, big chunks of sod and the occasional piece of furniture at us. In the seven states in which I’ve lived I’ve never seen roadways littered with so many obstacles for cyclists. I’ve had more tubes pop in the months I’ve lived in South Florida than in all my previous 5-6 years of riding combined.
Initially I attempted to navigate the wonderful horse trails but quickly gave up. Beautiful parks and crazy big homes were a draw to cover every block of the asphalt multi-use trails. Those clear positives melted away as I learned almost no sections are wide enough for an emergency vehicle (standard width per a state with world class trails per state codes: http://www.iowadot.gov/iowabikes/trails/chpt04-3.html). As such they’re not wide enough for two skinny-tire bikes so they’re of no value for a social ride with my spouse let alone a small group of my newly found cycling buddies for a workout. In addition, after riding most of the trails I determined I could never again ride them with a standard skinny tire bicycle. The heaving cracks, holes and sometimes tree-sized roots were jarring for me and unhealthy for the bike. The trails will remain a tremendous resource for running my dog and the times I want to drag out a fatter-tire bike but they’re clearly not of the rails-to-trails standards needed for road bikes. Which brings me back to the roadway bike lanes……..
I said the sheer-terror part of my bike-lane emotions would be reserved for another space and it will. Mostly. Since the (awesome) horse trails are not an option we turn to the wonderful miles of bike lanes here in Broward to chase our dreams of dropping that final three pounds and establishing social connections that we hope will lead to long-term friendships. Except when the trash in the lanes is so obnoxious (see above) we’re forced out into the auto traffic lanes full of vehicles that seem oblivious to any sense of speed limits. While off road/trail riders may grin at the sight of a six foot branch, porch door, car tire or office chair in their path, we skinny tire riders have little choice but to swerve and take our chances with traffic. My guess is few members of the road maintenance teams, politicians or other proponents of the benefits of road cycling in South Florida actually ride a bike either on the trails or the bike-lane equipped roadways. If they did my comments would be obsolete. Where I grew up it was common to say the local Council members were always the first to have their roads cleared of snow after every snowfall; regardless of conditions or cost; they had clean streets in their immediate neighborhoods.
My ask is how to go about filling a form or making a request to the appropriate resources who have the ability to clear out our bike lanes in Broward. My newfound cycling pals have stated they have contacted multiple agencies over time—-towns and County—clearly to no avail. I’m happy to comply with whatever medium is necessary to make the requests. Even if it means separate requests for each jurisdiction. Thank you for your time and understanding and perhaps someday we’ll see you out in the lanes!
I attempted to be somewhat casual yet explanatory. Direct yet not offensive. Concise yet complete. Clearly I missed on several fronts. I plan to give it three-four more days before chasing down some sort of followup, whatever that might be. I just want to ride my bike safely.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Schweizer, Mike <MSchweizer
This was in the Columbia Tribune this morning… appropriate for the SCRC Turkey Trifecta… Going to get her a SCRC Shirt for the next roadrace!!!
From: Elsbernd, Ryan [mailto:
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 9:29 AM
Subject: Gravy Training: SCRC Turkey Trifecta 2016 – Day Two
Day Two will go on as planned, rain or shine. If you need some motivation, think of that third ladle of gravy over mashed potatoes and the strength and power it’ll give so you too can finish strong like NCAA XC Champion Karissa Schweizer.
Depart at 11:30 for Park Loop. Be careful crossing Fleur. Don’t just blindly follow like a turkey with its head cut off.
Important: everyone who finishes the entire Trifecta really is awarded an authentic, beautifully handcrafted and individually signed Certificate Suitable for FramingTM. So after tomorrow, if you’ve earned an authentic, beautifully handcrafted and individually signed Certificate Suitable for FramingTM, please respond to this email. One person from your group is welcome to email multiple finishers. Just be sure to include each finisher’s email address please.
…so you can enjoy that guilt-free second and third helping Thanksgiving Day®
Monday, November 21st: Loop of Coin (7.1 miles) – depart at 11:40.
Tuesday, November 22nd: Park Loop (8 miles) – depart at 11:30.
Wednesday, November 23rd: Loop de Loop (10 miles) – depart at 11:30.
All official departures will take place from the northwest corner of 9th & High. Note the departure times as they differ each day due to the length of the course.
Things to keep in mind:
· Safety first…and second…and third. The Trifecta is run on open roads. Please use common sense and courtesy when dealing with traffic. And watch for deer.
· These are intended to be social runs. Everyone is expected to attempt to stay together.* And everyone is welcome to run.
· Each participant who completes all three routes of the Turkey Trifecta will be awarded an authentic, beautifully handcrafted and individually signed Certificate Suitable for FramingTM.
· Again this year! Anyone who completes the entire Trifecta within one 24 hour period will be awarded, in addition to an authentic, beautifully handcrafted and individually signed Certificate Suitable for FramingTM, a frozen Swanson turkey TV dinner.
If you’re not in Des Moines next week, satellite Turkey Trifectas are available in West Des Moines, St. Louis, South Florida, Lee’s Summit, Denver, Stockholm and Hong Kong. Contact your local SCRC rep for more details.
Please share this email with others who might be interested. Hope to see you there,
*the exception to this rule is Wednesday when, optionally, you may attempt to demonstrate your running superiority
**** This message was sent securely via TLS encryption. ****
I’ve felt compelled to vent and rant about the current National (and sometimes local) political cycle and simply have been too lazy to follow through. As is the case with almost all the topics of late. The too lazy to follow through thing. I’ll take about anything to give a jumpstart to kicking my laziness to the curb.
Current national Republican Party leadership has hinted, indicated and flat out stated, ‘……it should be the will of the people who the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice will be……..’ therefore no hearings or votes will be taken as is specifically stated in the U.S. Constitution. Nearly unanimous support across the Republican leadership as well as general support amongst rank and file. The will of the people. That’s a quote.
Yet during the same news cycle these same Republican leaders refute, rebuke, denounce and degrade Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Even as clearly it’s the will of the people (to date) that he lead the party. Defy the U.S. Constitution and defer to ‘the will of the people’ out of one side of the mouth at the beginning of the news cycle and before the end of the news cycle denounce the will of the people in the selection of the (probable) Republican Presidential Nominee. Which is it? We the people get to have a will or we don’t? Sure wish they’d make up their minds so I know when my will matters. Washington elite–neh Washington ‘cartel’ (nod to Senator Cruz). I’m right their with ‘the people’ and think I may have found my candidate.