I’ve Got Some Nerve

Given my (increasingly distant) past of pedaling 6,000 miles-plus a year, IĀ  had a totally doable resolution for 2015 last January: bike 2,015 miles. As of today I’ve logged… 38.39 miles. To put that in perspective, the last time I placed ass to saddle was January 6.

That few number of miles and that amount of time between rides is essentially criminal to me. To call it embarrassing is an understatement, but it’s not without a reason.

Fast-backward with me to December 2012. I was hip deep in my academy training Rio Hondo College. Lean and mean. Under 200 pounds. Going on four mile runs like they were walks around the block. At the same time the Glendale Trail Patrol for which I’d volunteered was about to have its official debut so I added in mountain biking to the physical activity equation via a series of practice rides in the Verdugos. I was thrilling myself making it all the way up the Brand Motorway from Brand Park without stopping.

SciaticaIt was at some point then that I tweaked my sciatic nerve, and I’m guessing it was from the sudden uptick of hard trail riding I was doing on a bike I hadn’t been on in awhile and whose geometry was far different from my street bike — and maybe aided by all the running, too. At least that’s the best explanation I could come up with.

Here’s the thing though, I didn’t notice the tweak until returning to the academy after a holiday break and getting back into physical training. There wasn’t actual pain so much as a deadness to my left leg. Running around the track it was like the foot was asleep and it took a concerted effort to minimize the amount of flopping around the foot would do as I’d run.

Quite disconcerting, to say the least.

I remember breaking off from a run and reporting the weird sensation to my training officer and he very gruffly thought I was using it as an excuse. “You either get it examined by a doctor and bring a medical diagnosis or you get your ass back on the track,” was the gist of his response.

Sir, yes sir. I got my ass back on the track.

Long story short, it got worse before it got better, leaving me fearing for a brief spell that I might have to withdraw from the academy. Not that such a thing was going to happen even if my leg fell off, but thankfully the numbness plateaued and was manageable going forward (and yes, that’s my excuse as to why I’ve never sought actual treatment for it from on o’ them medical perfeshunalz).

But a side effect was that I reeeeeeally minimized the mountain biking — and the road riding, too, to the point of quitting by attrition the Glendale Trail Patrol. I did jumpstart things by embarking on a “50 rides in 50 Days” crusade in the summer of 2014, but roughly six rides in that horrid dead-foot/leg sensation returned and I jumped off the bikes as quickly as I jumped on them. It didn’t help that I was no longer sub-200 pounds and/or not in the best condition of my life.

Then at the close of 2014, itching to ride and my leg feeling better I decided I could no longer stay away from my favorite way of commuting and exploring the city, and made that resolution.

Two commutes in, 38.39 total miles, it came back. Ultimately manageable as ever, but also as maddening as hell.

This past weekend I decided that maybe my 15-year-old 24-speed road bike might be the solution. Perhaps it was time to quit single-speed biking all over town as I’d proudly done these last nine years and instead retire to enjoy the luxury of being able to downshift on uphills rather than just grrrrrrrind it out and thus potentially anger the nerve. So Sunday I pulled my dust-coveredĀ  Giant OCR-3 roadster off the garage rack where it’s hung untouched for at least three years thinking I’d dust her off, tune her up and ride her to work Monday… only to find the front derailleur hanger that attaches to the seat tube had inexplicably cracked in half leaving the derailleur dangling and the bike unrideable.

Fortunately I found a bike website that sells replacement hangers and it’s been ordered, hopefully to arrive this weekend wherein I can install it and go for a test run around the neighborhood making sure everything is in working order — both bike and nerve. Fingers crossed.