With the start of the NUE season just around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to let you know what I've been up to. First off, I had a blast in the off season working through a couple of Lynda Wallenfels training plans. I managed to stay extremely motivated which in turn has led to some great fitness gains. Unfortunately, the back problems that I experienced around Fools Gold last September have been hanging on all winter long. This has limited my training to almost all road and even with the lack of singletrack, I still am having some issues while riding pavement. I have spent countless hours searching for possible triggers and have worked with some great people in the process.
My first visit was with Dr. Greg Combs of Velosmart Performance Labs. While working with Greg, we discovered that I had some pelvic asymmetry issues going on. This asymmetry presented itself as a raised anterior rotated right hip. This also resulted in a 0.5" functional leg length discrepancy. It appears that these asymmetry issues may have led to me dropping my right hip during the pedal stroke resulting in compressive stresses be applied to the lumbar segment as well as possible muscle imbalance.
After showing me a method of "resetting" my pelvis, Greg showed me some movements to work on that would help my glutes, which may have been inhibited, fire again. We made some major changes to my bike setup which opened up the hips to allow a more effective movement of the hip flexors. Greg also referred me to Dr. Staker. Dr. Staker is a chiropractor who has worked with many cyclists and athletes in general. He specializes in the Active Release Technique (ART) which is something that I had read about and wanted to look into.
My first visit with Dr. Staker was an eye opener. The x-rays of my spine revealed that I had a severely compressed L5 vertebrae (almost bone on bone at one point) as well as a tilt to the left starting at my L4. No wonder why I am in pain when I ride.
I continue to actively work with Dr. Combs and Dr. Staker as well as a PT and have already seen some difference in how I feel day to day. I am spending a fair amount of time in the gym trying to strengthen my posterior chain as well as working on hip mobility.
The million dollar question is how did my body get this messed up? My latest theory is that I had some sort of injury to my iliacus muscle/tendon on the right side. This may have led to a dysfunctional movement while on the bike which in turn led compressive forces being applied to the spine and muscular imbalances.
What does this mean for my season?
We are about to find out! Cohutta is this weekend, followed by PMBAR, Wildcat Epic, P111K and the P55k. That is 5 races in four weeks. For now, my focus has shifted from being competitive to seeing if I can even finish Cohutta. My back is so hit or miss that I'll have to take things day by day and week to week. I have registered for 8 NUE series events this year and I am really hoping that I can make it to all of them. If things don't end up working out with the hundies this year, I do have a backup plan that involves shorter distances and all gravel.
With all of that said, I have move to a new team this year as well as a new bike. I am excited to be joining a great group of guys with the Specialized/Dumonde Tech team. With everything that has been going on, I have decided to hang the singlespeed up for now in favor of racing a Specialized S-works Epic, with gears and everything. It appears that my new ride is being held hostage somewhere so it will not be making the trip to Cohutta. You will instead see me on something shiny and non-Specialized. I am hoping to have the new whip built up for PMBAR.
No matter what happens good or bad this season, I am going to try to not take time on my bike for granted. I will be focusing on the positives and I sure as heck will be enjoying the ride!