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Bloody, Banged-up and Bruised

Friday, June 18, 2010

I need a few days off from running or exercise. I clobbered myself on Monday while running on a steep and rocky trail. I hiked the same trail on Tuesday so I could snap a few photos for my “Ouch” blog. Wednesday I did cardio on my elliptical and lifted weights. Today, Thursday, I went for a run at noon near Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is at a "low" elevation of 5,500 feet.

I ran up a rutted and uneven trail. The temperature was a blazing 90 degree F. I forgot what I was doing and lost my concentration. I tripped over a rock and did additional damage to my hands and left knee. This tumble was on top of the face plant I did on Monday on the Ben Tyler trail.

Damage inventory, includes:

Multiple cuts and scrapes on left hand
Bruised and swollen right hand
Cuts on left knee
Bruised right calf (This happened when I fell down on Monday - how it happened is a mystery!)
Sprained right ankle
Bruised left elbow
IT Band Friction Syndrome

I don't know how much more of this I can take! I think I may be over-training. Even though my clumsiness is a family legend, I am taking a lot more of a beating than usual. I may need to heal before I go running again.

I think I am a good runner, albeit a clumsy one.

I am a good skier also. I can ski bumps, steep and deep - you name it. Over the years I have had a few skiing injuries. I broke my right wrist. I took out my right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). I destroyed my left posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

My biggest skiing crash was at Breckenridge. I smacked the ground really hard. I got a quadruple concussion; tore my neck muscles and ligaments; broke three ribs; and had internal bleeding. I did three more runs before I started hurting too much to ski. I got to ride in ambulance. Ambulances are loud. I learned some medical terms including, anaphylactic shock and intubation. I also found out what happens when an EMT calls for paddles! I spent 10 days in the hospital on a morphine drip. I was in rehab for 6 months. I am much better now.

I may live a bit too close to the edge. Tripping over a few rocks while running seems like small potatoes.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAWSCOVEL1 7/26/2010 6:42PM

  Sorry to hear you got messed up.
I have just started running/Walking & I am a accident waiting to happen LOL. I fall going up my stairs. I just did my first 5k Mud Run on July 17th, That was a blast. I made it with out injury. You need to take it easy for a while & slowly get back into the running. Take care! emoticon

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HARRINGTON5 6/28/2010 1:49PM

    Well, Bruce, I'm not laughing at this blog. It sounds like you really got hurt. I haven't been around because I hurt my back and couldn't sit at the computer. The weird thing is, I hurt it pulling out bushes. It didn't seem too difficult, but I must have twisted the wrong way. My BF keeps telling me to remember my age and stop trying to be wonder woman working out in the sun and humidity. Well, to heck with remembering my age, I'm going to keep active until I die and then I still might give a few more kicks. Anyway, I am much better, but I did take almost two weeks off. I have a race Saturday and feel I need to train hard to get ready. You take care, my friend. You are too special to be down for long. Beside, I love hearing about your runs, so you gotta get better soon. Cynthia

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DANSTOUT 6/18/2010 5:34PM

    If you are living close to the edge, try not to trip :)

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AOGOAE 6/18/2010 3:50PM

    lol, broke some ribs then did 3 runs before getting the ambulance? too funny. good luck healing up!

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LASARRE 6/18/2010 2:26PM

    Heal quickly!

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ROOT4HOME 6/18/2010 2:20PM

    Take care & heal quickly so you can go out and do it all over again!! emoticon Seriously...take care!! emoticon

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NWFL59 6/18/2010 12:01PM

    Well you obviously know that I'm shaking my head in disbelief about how you continue to beat yourself up and then get up and do it again! Hope you recovery is quick and smooth and that you're able to get back to doing the thing you so greatly enjoy. I would suggest riding your expensive bike for a while but I've done that before and you've not listened so why would I expect you to do so now. Take better care of yourself Bruce.

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ELYMWX 6/18/2010 11:32AM

    {read blog}
{shake head in disbelief}
{re-read blog}
{re-shake head in disbelief}
{re-re-read blog}
{try to think of something witty to say}
{give up}

Take care of yourself, Bruce, and heal up. No pressure here...


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TRIGRAMPS 6/18/2010 10:39AM

    I hate to think what riding off-road with you on your Stumpjumper is like! No wonder DW won't run with you! Rest & heal completely: you don't want this shoulder ache that I've got!

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LKEITHO 6/18/2010 9:55AM

    Sounds like you have had entirely too many adventures in your day! I gave up downhill skiing after 3 (very minor compared to yours) injuries in a row. Stuck with cross country after that. Take care of yourself and enjoy your weekend!

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PRINCESSNURSE 6/18/2010 5:54AM

    All that and you just THINK you might be overtraining? LOL


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NAVYNURSE 6/18/2010 5:03AM

    wow....talk about a bad day...and you keep getting up!!

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MARCYNA 6/18/2010 2:07AM

    Even the best athlete sometimes may fall, so take your time to rest and heal and then you'll get back to your normal activities...congrats on your being such a good runner & skier!!!! emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/18/2010 2:08:23 AM

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Ouch - that hurt!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I need to find a race to run. I have been holding off registering for a race because of a slightly sprained ankle and a hurt Iliotibial band. I read someplace that inadequate warm-up and hill running can cause Iliotibial band injuries. Inadequate warm-up and excessive hill running pretty much describes my training strategy!

I want to find a nice little out-in-the-boonies race with excessive hill running. I know this may sound crazy. I am just very good at running hilly courses.

I went for a run Monday, June 14th, on the Ben Tyler trail near my house in Colorado. This trail is not an easy run. Just to prove I am not making this stuff up - here is a description of the trail from the Mountain Travel Guide:

"Ben Tyler Trail #606

Rated Most Difficult, the 11.4 mile Ben Tyler Trail begins at an elevation of 8,260' and reaches its highest point at 11,650'.

Beginning at the North Ben Tyler Trailhead, Ben Tyler Trail climbs steeply via a series of switchbacks. The trail becomes less steep after the switchbacks up to a crossing of Ben Tyler Creek, after which the trail gradient increases and the valley tightens."

Another review calls the trail, "extremely rocky and rough"

I didn't run 11.4 miles up the trail. In fact I only ran 1.6 miles up the trail to Ben Tyler Creek. My total distance was 3.2 miles. I was not happy with my time for the 3.2 miles. Here are the specifics:

Total Distance: 3.2 miles
Maximum Grade: 46% (That is what the Mountain Travel Guide means by "climbs steeply")
Average Grade: 25%
Average Pace on Ascent: 13:46 min/mile (I know that is slow but this trail is really steep!)
Average Pace on Descent: 9:58 min/mile (I know this is slow but I was trying to dodge rocks, roots and fallen trees so I wouldn't do a face plant! I was not entirely successful!)
Starting Elevation: 8,260 feet
Highest Elevation: 9,575 feet
Total Time: 37:24
Average Pace: 11:41 min/mile

I started running up the trail at 5:00pm. The temperature was 47 degrees F. This trail climbs up through a series of really nasty switchbacks. The Forest Service put in some nice guardrails made of native trees so you won't tumble off the trail and hurt somebody below you.

This trail is rocky steep and treacherous. I had a blast!

I stopped to hydrate at Ben Tyler Creek. The water is pure and crystal clear. I turned around at the creek. I was going down the steep trail skillfully dancing over rocks and tree roots. I was completely please with my grace and skill. I kept going faster and faster. According to my Garmin I was blazing down the trail at a 7:24 min/mile pace. I slipped on some loose gravel, caught my foot on a tree root and did a spectacular face plant! As I was falling down, I thought, "Oh no - not again!" and "How am I going to stop!" I banged my left knee really hard! Yes, my left side has the bad IT band. My sprained ankle was caught on the tree root. I got some gravel in my left hand. I got scraped-up quite a bit.

I didn’t fall while I was running in Iowa last week. I really am not that clumsy.

Here is what I am thinking – I might as well run a few races even though I am not 100%. A race course is likely to be less hazardous that some of these trail. I may be able to find a good mountain race on July 4th. For training, I am planning on running Burning Bear trail and Slaughter House trail.

Not much of a sign on the highway. Very easy to miss.

Here is the trail head. Doesn't this look inviting!

Lots of information on this sign.

This is really steep. The surface is rough. I did not find this easy to run.

Some trail sections have very loose gravel - very slippery.

I really think that a 13:46 pace up this trail at 9,000 feet elevation is not all that bad.

Here is Ben Tyler Creek The water is cold and pure. Please note the high-tech bridge.

This would be a bad place to trip. The trail is narrow and cut into the side of a hill. A tumble off the side would really hurt.

My left hand is taking a beating. I had already dug the rocks out of my hand when I took this photo. I think only one face plant on this trail was doing pretty good.

There is my car! I am almost done. A total time 37:24 for 3.2 miles is not spectacular. I did survive and hardly lost any blood.

Hmmm - was I wilderness wise? I will let you be the judge.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LKEITHO 6/16/2010 10:16PM

    Beautiful area! I used to hike some trails like this in the Canadian Rockies when I was a kid. I can't imagine trying to run them! I hope all the scrapes and bruises heal quickly. A race has got to be easier and safer than this!

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HUSBANDANDDAD 6/16/2010 9:33PM

  Great Pix though :)

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JUST_DEBORAH 6/16/2010 2:32PM

    Ouch...beautiful trail. Hope you are on the mend.

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NWFL59 6/16/2010 11:38AM

    So Bruce I see you had a challenging run and only a minor spill. You must be in pretty good shape not to have been more severely injured in your spill. Glad you enjoyed it. I would like to read about your biking adventures while you give you battered body a change and allow full recovery for a change.

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IRONGRANNIE 6/16/2010 5:09AM

    I think ELYMWX has summed this up nicely! BTW I don't think I'd even walk up that trail! It looks very steep and dangerous.

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HURDLE4LIFE 6/16/2010 1:00AM

    Great photos! They say a picture is worth a thousand words...I only need one to describe your shots UNBELIEVABLE! The hills alone would make me shake in my boots.

I'm not sure where you live, but runners world has a race finder;

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USFBULL 6/16/2010 12:45AM

    Nice shots, wicked place to run, yes face plant is not a recommended event. very distracting scenery in a very complex trail. Way to go and you truly do need that break. Deserved emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ELYMWX 6/16/2010 12:37AM

    OK, I haven't read the blog yet, but the first thing that went through my mind is "Now what has Bruce has gone and done????" Now I'm gonna read the blog!


Now I've read the blog. It sounds like fun, but this also sounds somewhat familiar (I'm referring to your last blog and IIRC a couple you wrote last summer/fall). And all I will say, this: you've been at this for a while, and you (probably????) know better, so take care of yourself!


Comment edited on: 6/16/2010 12:42:58 AM

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The High and The Mighty

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I am in Des Moines, Iowa right now (Wednesday, June 9th). Almost a week ago I started writing a blog about a run in the Rocky Mountains on Kenosha pass. I found it difficult to capture the essence of the experience of running at an elevation of 11,500 feet. I didn’t want to sound like a braggart or a fool. I only wanted to share my unique running experience.

This week I have been running in the lush green countryside of Iowa on the Saylorville-Des Moines River Trail. The trail is paved and immaculately maintained. On my first run in Iowa I tooled along having a lot of fun. My Garmin showed I ran 5k in 26:32 at a pace 8:30 min/mile. I did 10k in 53:32 at about the same 8:30 min/mile pace.

As I ran along this great Iowa trail, I thought about my high-altitude run on Kenosha pass. As I ran through a tunnel of green leafy Iowa trees, my run on Kenosha pass took on a remote and surreal quality. I started thinking some of my fellow Spark runners might not easily relate to running at extreme altitude. Now that I am in Iowa for a week, I am having trouble relating to my own high altitude running experience. For better or worse here is my story of my run on Kenosha Pass.

The High and the Mighty

I once gave blood in college many moons ago. After taking a couple of gallons of my blood, the nurse told me to avoid alcohol and strenuous exercise. What did I do? I hit the bar and drained two beers down my gullet. I then went on a long run as fast as I could go.

I was pretty toasted after only two beers. I got really light-headed during the run. I just wanted to see what would happen if I ignored the nurse's stern warning. I had fun. I don't recommend such foolishness. Heck, I was 20 years-old, 10 feet tall and bullet proof!

Unfortunately, I still act the same way.

On Thursday June 3rd, I went for a run. Not any old run. I went on a really hard run. If you follow my blogs, you know I was struck down with a blown left IT band some weeks ago. I was not a happy camper. I tried to rehabilitate my IT band with physical therapy and a hiatus from running. I was trying to be good. I can be good for only so long!

I have been wanting to test myself. I promised myself when the snow was gone from the Colorado high country, I would run the Colorado trail from the top of Kenosha pass. Here are the details of my run:

Date: Thursday, June 3rd 2010, 5:00pm
Distance: 10K (6.22 miles)
Starting Elevation: 10,049 feet (That is pretty high!)
Maximum Elevation: 11,583 feet (That is even higher!)
Maximum Grade: 40% (That is really steep!)
Surface: Rocky with fallen trees. (That maybe a bit dangerous!)

I knew this would be a hard run. I knew this run was the worst thing I could do to my IT band. I did not care one wit! I had been itching to run the Colorado Trail for months.

As previously noted, this trail is high and steep. At high-altitude the air pressure is much lower. Less oxygen is absorbed by lungs. Blood oxygen saturation drops. Another phenomenon is that arterial pressure is reduced, which means less oxygen is exchanged between the blood and the cells. At 11,000 feet these effects are severe. A runner at 11,000 feet is getting 40% to 50% less oxygen than at sea level.

I am pretty well acclimated to high altitude. Part of this acclimation is a reduced heart rate. My heart rate during my high-altitude runs is about 102 beats per minute. The slow heart rate is a response to less plasma in the blood.

I started up the steep trail, or rather, I collided with the trail. The trail climbed at a 30% to 40% grade. I pushed up the trail and I ran as hard as I could. I struggled for every breath. Each step was a victory. Nothing mattered except one more step! I didn’t even notice any pain in my left IT band. My legs and lungs hurt so bad that any pain in my hip did not register. As I neared 11,000 feet the trail flattened. I was 2 miles into the run. All of a sudden my lungs and throat caught fire. I started hacking up white frothy stuff. My old friend, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), had decided to visit me.

I got this definition from a medical website:

HAPE Definition : “Acronym for High Altitude pulmonary edema, the accumulation in the lungs of extravascular fluid (fluid outside of blood vessels) at high altitude, a consequence of rapid altitude ascent, especially when that ascent is accompanied by significant exercise.”

An accent from 10,000 feet to 11,500 feet in 24 minutes probably qualifies as “rapid”. I wimped-out and decided to turn around and head for lower altitude. I fell going downhill only once, which is a miracle.

My time for my high altitude 10K was:
1 Hour;
12 minutes; and
58 seconds.

(That is another way to say “SLOW”!)

Average Pace: 11:44 min/mile
Fastest Pace: 6:12 min/mile (downhill)

When I got finished with my run, I felt physically terrible but mentally elated. Runners understand these feelings. How do you know your limits unless you try to push past them? For every runner, anywhere, each step is a victory!


At 11,500 feet there are not many trees. Trees struggle to survive at extreme altitude. The trees that are up there are scrubby and stunted. The massive green deciduous trees of Iowa just amaze me!

There it is! This is the trail sign. If you want a bit of a challenge, I can give you directions.

I think they don't want bikes to damage the fragile ecosystem at extreme altitudes. The forest service is not too concerned about one winded runner will do much damage!

This is the start of the trail and about the only part that is flat. I feel this is a bait-and-switch tactic.

At least the area is scenic. Harsh perhaps, but pretty.

Here is the last evidence of civilization on the whole trail. Kind of a pretty little bridge.

My pretty new shoes are a mess now. I read in Runner's World magazine that a runner has to generate 10 to 20 percent more energy when going up an incline. Is that all? Seems like it takes more.

I fell. I tripped over a big rock on the way down. I am much better now.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LKEITHO 6/11/2010 10:33PM

    Wow! What a workout! I had a friend who died of HAPE while climbing K2. As fate would have it, she had been named after another peak in the region, Nanda Devi. Definitely not a problem to be taken lightly. I'm glad you got down OK. Be good to yourself!

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GAZELK 6/10/2010 10:11PM

    Great story. After losing weight, I enjoying running up hills, but nothing like your experience.

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ROOT4HOME 6/10/2010 9:16PM

    Wow!! You really like to push the limits!! But as a runner myself, I get it! WTG!!

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NWFL59 6/10/2010 12:37PM

    Gee with that blog title I expected to read about Lancaster and WWII British airfields and the stress of command and the flack etc. I still obvious remember watching the old B&W movie by that title.

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NWFL59 6/10/2010 12:26PM

    Glad you're enjoying your runs in Iowa. Interesting reading about your high altitude run, glad you didn't do yourself some serious damage. Hope your IT band is healed or at least continuing to improve.

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ELYMWX 6/10/2010 12:02PM

    I'm glad you survived to tell the tale!

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DAWNDMOORE40 6/10/2010 9:29AM

    Wow you are an inspiration to us all! Keep up the good work and happy running! emoticon emoticon

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AQUAPOWERS 6/10/2010 9:24AM

    Speedydog, you are a rebel. I just finished reading my first running book. I think you broke all the rules I just read about. emoticon I'm happy you survived to run another day!

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Too Far - Too Fast - Too Soon

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I took my running clothes and shoes to work yesterday. Near my office is an open-space area that contains many miles of nicely maintained trails. Except for one big hill, the area is relatively flat. The elevation is a piddling 5,700 feet. I work in Boulder, Colorado. Boulder takes running seriously and maintains a vast network of trails.

I have been working hard to rehab my left IT band and felt I could do a gentle run. I wanted to run a two or three easy miles, I thought I would run a bit then walk a bit. Given that the trail was smooth, I felt the conditions were ideal.

I started running and felt pretty good. I then saw an narrow unmarked trail that looked inviting. This narrow trail that was not maintained. I turned down the narrow trail.

Big mistake!

I got lost! To make a long story short. I ran 6 miles before I found my way back to the office. This is not what I wanted to do! I also ran too fast and completed the 6 miles in 57 minutes. Not blazing fast, but faster than I should go.

Tonight I will ride my bike. I think my own personal Boulder-Boulder set my IT band rehab efforts back a couple of weeks. But it was fun!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STEPHANON 6/8/2010 2:30PM

    That is just the type of thing that would happen to me - mostly because I have the world's worst sense of direction. I get the feeling you aren't really too sorry for the "accidental" 6 mile run, so glad you had fun. Hope you don't suffer any ill effects with the IT band!

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LKEITHO 6/2/2010 11:00PM

    It sounds like a nice run, but I hope the IT band doesn't act up too much from it!

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CRZYRUNRGRL 6/2/2010 10:10AM

    Well that doesn't sound too bad, it actually sounds like fun! I wish we had trails around where I live!

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ANNASBF 6/2/2010 9:33AM

    Admit it, you enjoyed your adventure and the "oops" nature of it! The "I didn't mean to do it"...snicker snicker... makes is all the more wickedly nifty. However, I am glad you got a little taste of running again without injury so you don't feel as deprived and now you need to grab that fancy schmancy bike and make like the wicked witch of the west! I'm a little bit curious how you can't run but biking doesn't give you trouble. Interesting. Have fun. I liked the part where you want to keep up with your wife on the bike trail. She must be a great Colorado outdoor gal! Good luck to your son in college... Toga Toga Toga....


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NWFL59 6/2/2010 9:08AM

    Congratulations on getting better but a slap against the back of the head for over-doing! You could have really injured yourself and set you progress back to day one! After telling us about your marvelous new bike and how you planned ot use it, maybe you ought to take it to work instead of your running gear and get your need for speed fix using it! Enough of that, so glad to read you're doing and feeling better and I do hope your IT gets restored quickly.

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ELYMWX 6/2/2010 9:08AM

    Beware of unmarked trails! Where I am most of the trails are big loops, and even if you take a side path you end up back where you started...

I'm learning what you mean about it being fun (I get told to be careful all the time) so I won't give you a lot of grief, and all I'll say is I hope you heal soon, and enjoy your bike!


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My New Bike

Monday, May 31, 2010

I have had to cut way back on my running. My IT band is still in the process of healing.

Here is the rub - the weather here is magnificent. The trees have leaves. The sun is warm and inviting. Birds are singing. Wild flowers are blooming. Springtime in the Rockies is finally here. I want to run and run and run. I can't. I can jog a bit. I am good for a mile of two but that is it.

I may not be able to run but I can ride a bike, I have a pretty good mountain bike - a 21-speed Giant Boulder SE.

The bike has an aluminum alloy frame; aluminum hubs and rims, alloy direct-pull cantilever rim brakes, and 100mm travel adjustable front forks. The Boulder SE is a hardtail, which is perfect for the condition we have around here. For $410 the Boulder SE is a lot of bike for the money.

However, my son out grew his Specialized Hardrock. He is starting college is the fall and needs a bike for tooling around campus. Sayonara Boulder SE!

I needed a replacement for the Boulder SE. Maybe it was frustration over not being able to run hard. I like speed and there is a mountain bike that has speed. The name of the bike is even cool. I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp.

This bike is light. The Stumpjumper has 27 speeds and top of the line components. This bike is fast and needs disk brakes to stop. The coolest feature is lock-out forks that makes the forks rigid so the bike doesn't bounce when you stand-up and really crank. List price is $1,950 and you have to purchase the pedals separately. I got the bike for $1,650.

I now enjoy going for a fast ride and coming home to do my physical therapy. Biking allows me to stay in some semblance of shape. I can also run a bit. I have to run slowly. In the meantime, I can get a speed rush on my new bike. The best part of biking is that my wife will ride with me. She won't run with me. She sees biking as a family togetherness thing.

She has a Specialized Myka HT Expert. Her bike cost $1,000 so she didn't mind my extravagant purchase. The geometry of a women's bike is different than a men's bike. My wife was happy when she got her Myka. She had been riding a men's bike. My daughter has a Giant Boulder SE that she likes.

My wife is planning a 44 mile bike ride over Guanella Pass. I really needed a fast bike to keep up. Guanella Pass climbs to 11,700 feet and is very scenic.

That little white line in the photo is Guanella Pass.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GAZELK 6/8/2010 11:08PM

    I'm having foot problems and only run once a week, so I am now enjoying bicycling for my exercise. I love your Stumpjumper. I have a Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bicycle right now, but I'd like to get a mountain bike for some different kind of fun.

I hope you have fun with your new wheels.

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DAVEW175 6/1/2010 10:09PM

    Have fun on your bike!

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    I am so glad to hear that you have come up with a way to stay active even though you cannot do the thing that you love the most which is running. You may even learn to love biking. Who knows, it sure is better than not being able to do anything at all. Enjoy the new bike and your new way of exercising and being with your wife. I am glad for all the new things that are coming your way and you will love it. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon You are a winner and nothing can ever stop you from attaining what you have set your heart and mind to do.

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SNERK14 6/1/2010 10:03AM

  Biking is great for you! Runners who cross train with other sports actually improve their running. I am trying to fit some biking/swimming into my schedule. Who knows- you might actually end up improving your running time with all your biking. Good luck and have fun!

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NWFL59 6/1/2010 9:26AM

    Your alternative to running sounds like a lot of fun and give you time to heal properly while still getting a good energy burn. Y'all have lots of fun this summer!

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LKEITHO 5/31/2010 10:42PM

    Sounds like a great bike! And getting to do some trips with your wife will be great, I'm sure. I often wish my wife was able to do some of my events with me. Enjoy it!

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IRONGRANNIE 5/31/2010 10:32PM

    Oh we do enjoy a bit of "bike porn". I am soo envious! I only have an old, heavy bike handed down from SIL! I hardly ever ride it but I used to ride a lot.

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_HOLLY 5/31/2010 8:40PM

    Nice bikes! My husband hates running with me but will bike whenever I want, too. We have been biking a lot more this summer. :)

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CRZYRUNRGRL 5/31/2010 8:31PM

    Awesome bikes! I want a new bike too.
I have been dealing with ITB issues too so I feel your pain, do you have a foam roller to help work it out? That and the stick have been helping a lot.
Enjoy the bike!

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ELYMWX 5/31/2010 8:26PM

    Sounds like a great time to be had by all! Glad to hear you've found a solution to not being able to run (much) while your IT band heals. Enjoy the sound of the wind (and branches) whipping by your ears!

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