150,000-199,999 SparkPoints 154,313

Physical Therapy and Mean Little Stumpy

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

PART 1: Six Casts in Five Weeks

I had reconstructive surgery on my right ankle on January 29th. On March 3rd I went into the orthopedic office to get refitted for a cast. My 6th cast had cracked.

I slyly brought along my support boot. Once the tech had removed my pink cast, the doctor examined my right foot and told me it was OK to wear the support boot.

I am now going through physical therapy. I am doing range of motion exercises for three weeks. I got to ride a stationary bike at zero resistance for 20 minutes. I sat on a low treatment table a rocked and rotated a wobble board.

This was really difficult. I then did some very easy leg presses on a spring-loaded table. The idea was to lower the my body until my right heal almost lifted. Then I had to hold that position for 3 seconds. I did about 45 repetitions.

These seemingly easy exercises were painful. Here is a shot of my foot the day I got my cast removed.

My injured right ankle is going take at least two months of intense physical therapy before I can walk without support. My doctor told me that I could still tear the ligaments and tendons if I fall down.

PART 2: Nightmare test drive on Little Stumpy by son's fiancée, Erin.

My son's bride-to-be wants a new bike. She currently rides an ancient hand-me-down 10-speed that weighs as much as a cement truck. Her bike is also worn out.

For some reason my son thought that Little Stumpy would be an ideal bike for Erin.

I had my doubts. Little Stumpy is not the best bike for a relative novice rider. Little Stumpy is quite fast. Little Stumpy is responsive and fun. Evidently there is a fine line between "responsive and fun" and "uncontrollable and twitchy".

Poor Erin got on Little Stumpy and immediately had trouble with the shifters. Little Stumpy has three chainrings on the crank, and nine cogs on the rear wheel. In the biking world Little Stumpy's gearing is generally written "3x9", which means the bike has 27 speeds. Unfortunately, 27 speeds is 17 more than Erin was used to.

PART 2a: Index Shifters

Little Stumpy has "index shifters". Index shifters move the deraillieurs precisely every time the shifters are activated. Vintage 10-speeds have friction lever shifters that have to be manually moved to a certain spot until the derailleurs move enough to grind to a new gear. Friction shifters are found on vintage bikes because the old derailleurs were not that precise and had to be fiddled with a lot.

Little Stumpy was built in 2007 but is a thoroughly modern mountain bike and is as sophisticated as any mountain bike sold today. The Stumpjumper has always been the top-of-the-line mountain bike for Specialized.

PART 2b: Shifting a Mountain Bike

So why is a high-end mountain bike such a challenge to shift?

By convention, the shifter that controls the front derailleur is on the left side of the handlebar. The shifter that controls the rear derailleur is on the right side of the handlebar. The really tricky part is front and rear shifters work opposite of each other.

Each shifter has two levers. Since Little Stumps has Shimano XT shifters, one lever is operated by reaching your index finger over the front of the hand grip and "clicking" a lever. This "click" always moves the derailleur to a smaller gear.

This picture shows a typical Shimano mountain bike shifter. There is a little red indicator to let you know the relative position of the derailleur.

PART 2c: Click Lever versus Thumb Lever

The confusing part is that if you click the left shifter, the bike becomes easier to pedal. However, if you click the right shifter the bike gets harder to pedal. The same shifter activation movement on opposite sides gives you totally opposite results.

Derailleurs are spring loaded. The click lever releases the spring. The spring on has only enough energy to move the derailiuer to a smaller gear.

This photo shows "clicking" the shifter with the rider's index finger. To make this even more confusing, the "click" lever can also be operated underneath the handgrip with your thumb. The good news is the "click" lever changes only one gear at a time.

The other lever on the shifter has to be operated by your thumb. The "thumb" lever has multiple "clicks" and can change one or two gears at a time. The thumb lever always moves the derailleur to a bigger gear. Your thumb has enough strength to overcome the derailiuer spring. Going to a bigger gear takes more force. This force is supplied by your thumb.

If you push the thumb lever on the left shifter, you move the front derailleur to a bigger chainring and it gets a lot harder to pedal.

If you push the left shifter too far, the bike may bog down since you accidently shifted from the smallest, and therefore, easiest chainring, past the middle chainring and right into the biggest and hardest chainring!

I hope you are following me.

If you push the thumb lever on the right shifter, you move the rear derailleur to a bigger cog and it gets easier to pedal. If you push two "clicks" on the right shifter your rear derailleur jumps two cogs and it gets a lot easier to pedal.

Although this sounds downright confusing, once you master shifting with high-end shifters, you can simultaneously shift the front and rear derailleurs to instantly pick the exact right gear for any situation.

Amazingly enough, the lower-end shifters are a lot more rider-friendly. Shimano Acera shifters have pointers that clearly show the rider both front and back gears. These shifters move only one gear at a time with a loud "CLICK".

Acera shifters come with a built-in brake handles and can control cable rim brakes or cable disk brakes. A set of these Acera shifters go for $36. A pair of XT shifters will set you back about $150. The XT shifters are lighter, quicker and are more precise. But there is nothing wrong with the Acera shifters, which work very well and come with a full warrantee.

You get to pay for the privilege of being confused!

When my son Ben and Erin came over I was in one of my many casts. Erin should have been taken to a nice flat parking lot and familiarized with Little Stumpy's quirky shifters, powerful hydraulic disk brakes, remotely adjustable front suspension and lightning quick handling.

For you techno-weenies, Little Stumpy has a 100mm Rockshox Recon Gold front suspension fork, Avid Juicy hydraulic disc brakes, 26" Mavic Wheels with XT hubs, 26" x 2.1" dual compound Maxxis Aspen Exception Series racing tires and a complete Shimano XT drivetrain. Little Stumpy was the first really good bike I bought.

PART 2d: Little Stumpy is Armed and Dangerous

Unfortunately, Erin's first few moments on Little Stumpy was down a pretty steep hill. Little Stumpy took off like he was shot out of a cannon. Erin jammed on the brakes. Fortunately, Little Stumpy decided to skid rather than throwing Erin over the handlebars.

Benny grabbed my fat bike and took off after Erin. I was chagrined to see Benny had no respect for "The Beast". My fat bike is quite light and has so much traction the bike can pull some serious "G's". At low speeds the fat bike goes left when you turn left. As you pick up speed, the bike tends to turn right when you turn left. This is called "counter steering". The 9:Zero:7 is a great machine but takes a little getting used to.

Although he would never admit it, Benny is riding a bike that is over his head. Poor Erin had never been on a mountain bike before, and now she is on romping and stomping Little Stumpy!

OH MY! Not good!

I couldn't watch. I hobbled inside and unloaded the dishwasher. After about 30 minutes Benny and Erin came back. I told Erin that I was glad Little Stumpy didn't kill her! She smiled. I was pretty sure that Little Stumpy was way too much bike for her. She really wanted a commuter bike. A lot of people around here commute on mountain bikes. Some mountain bikes are pleasant and forgiving. Little Stumpy is not really one of those.

Benny called me later and told me he could turn Little Stumpy into a commuter bike by adding a rigid from fork, raising the handlebars, and putting taller urban-style tires on the bike. I told him that Little Stumpy is an excellent trail bike and to turn the little blue bike into a urban commuter would be a waste.

I located a new hybrid Fuji commuter at Performance Bike. I suggested Benny and Erin take a look. The bike was on half price clearance for $349 and came with solid mid-range Shimano Alivo components. The Fuji was bright silver and looked nice.

Erin looked at the bike and wants Benny to check it out.

I think a nice mannerly bike like this Fuji would work well for Erin. The bike also accepts fenders and various bike racks.

Thanks for Reading my Blog.

Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I can't handle a Huffy so I can relate to the poor girl. Only difference is my "maturity" would not have even allowed me to attempt a ride on Little Stumpy.

    Hoping PT is still going well. I was discharged last week. Doing well and getting ready to slowly add running back soon.

    1830 days ago
    Best wishes with your physical therapy!
    1831 days ago
    Nice little runaway bike story :)

    Sounds like you're definitely on the mend. Can understand that patience can be extremely hard here. Especially when your head says 'get up and go'...

    Oh, I ended up buying the Giant Rove 2. Haven't gotten a chance to really ride it yet (just around town doesn't count). Hopefully there will be time this weekend.

    1832 days ago
    I know how hard some of those exercises that seem so easy can be! I've gone through some of them too for balance and other things. What used to be easy isn't anymore. Hang in there. It's going to get better!
    Sound like Little Stumpy was way too much bike for Erin unless totally remodified to lose all the good things. Glad you found her a good deal on a bike she can use without so many changes. And Benny was over his head too! Hope they get what they really need.
    1833 days ago
    Wow! Some story. Glad you didn't do the riding!
    1833 days ago
    It sounds like you are on the mend. You'll be walking without support in no time.
    Yikes...that does sound like a scary ride. Little Stumpy would be waaaaaaaaay too much bike for me, too!!
    1834 days ago
    great story on all fronts : )
    Best wishes for successful healing!
    emoticon emoticon
    1834 days ago
    You certainly know your bikes. Do you run a shop!
    I am good friends with James McDonnah, a bike whisperer at EMS in Peterborough, NH
    1834 days ago
    Haha... when I saw your title I thought, "oh tell me he's not riding already!" My bike is ancient too, and I have no idea how the newer bikes work. I would have started out in a nice flat empty parking lot too. I'm glad nobody got hurt! Good luck with the physical therapy! Sounds like you'll be back in riding shape in no time.
    1834 days ago
    AHAHAHAHAHAHA! I mean... I'm glad she's ok, and that your son also didn't hurt himself... *snicker*

    Of course, get me on one of those and I'd topple sideways...
    1834 days ago
    I'm not a biker in any sense. I still ride my 30 year old 12 speed racer. But I find your blogs strangely fascinating reading.

    I hope your rehab goes well and you are back on Stumpy (and the other guys) very soon.

    Take care
    1834 days ago
    Wow! You are an encyclopedia of knowledge on bikes! When you retire you'll have everything to go into a bike business if you want to.

    Me, I'd like a 3 speed thank you very much! LOL Pink of course with a cat flag!
    1834 days ago
    emoticon I think LIttle Stumpy misses you.
    1834 days ago
    More information than I need on mountain bikes, but I know now I don't want more than 3 gears. I have enough trouble with my balance. No brain power left over for shifting.
    1834 days ago
    Good luck with physio. Really interested in your foot operation. Going back to read all your blogs.
    1834 days ago
  • RENATA144
    What an amazing journey !!!
    May your healing continue so that you are restore & improved.
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1834 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.