Monday, August 31, 2009

Equipment - Rim Or Fairing?

So you're like me, watching the Vuelta on Universal Sports, and you see all the pros packing the flat, narrow Dutch roads, flying along, pedaling umpteen thousand dollar bikes. If you're like me, you'll ooh and aah and gasp in the final few minutes of the race. But even if you're not me, you're bound to notice something - gobs and gobs of those "carbon fiber wheels".

Why do they ride them? What's the big deal with the wheels?

Ultimately, the wheels are light, but with pros' bikes regularly dipping below the UCI mandated minimum weight, they can afford to put some heavier parts on their bike, if the additional weight gets them some other function. You'll regularly find aluminum bars, stems, and cranks on pros' bikes, because of their increased reliability and the ability to ride a bent aluminum piece (versus a broken carbon fiber one). Many pros have powermeters on their bikes, whether cranks or hubs, and such devices inevitably add weight to the bike.

And finally, many pros use tall profile wheels, aero wheels if you will. They're a bit heavier than the lightest non-aero wheels but they offer some functional advantages to the featherweight wheels.

They reduce the air resistance of the fastest moving part on the bike, the wheels. Okay, the tires move the fastest (the top of your tire moves twice as fast as your ground speed), but there seems to be limited gains made with "aero" tires. Rims, though, make more of a difference, based on the aerodynamic drag they do or don't have.

Although not necessarily aerodynamically correct, I stand by my layman's way of explaining one way how tall profile rims help deal with wind.

Regardless of how the actual aerodynamics work, many studies have found that aerodynamics trumps weight in all but the hilliest of races. And, honestly, if I were that concerned about weight, I could stand to lose, oh, say, 4,540 - 9,080 grams off my own body, much more than the 500 or 800 grams separating my wheels from the lightest wheels available.


So what's the deal with this "carbon fiber" stuff?

Carbon fiber is a mix of epoxy resin (plastic if you will) reinforced with carbon fiber. Both are extremely brittle in their native state, but together they form a very strong material. The resin helps distribute the load across the carbon fiber threads, and the threads keep the resin from breaking too easily by spreading the load to more than one or two CF threads.

I should point out that carbon fiber is still brittle at point of failure. It doesn't fail by bending, it fails by shattering. Although there are ways to help prevent the pieces from scattering all over the place (using aramid, or its trademarked name Kevlar, doesn't make a difference since only DuPont makes the stuff), such things are safety features and don't allow the broken piece to do much of anything. You may have a aramid-lined carbon fiber handlebar, but when one side breaks off, it'll just dangle on some aramid threads. Not much use to me or you.

Is it a fairing or a rim?

There are two kinds of "aero" carbon fiber wheels, and this has nothing to do with tire type. There is the "faired" rim and the "structural" rim (my terms).

Faired Rim

The Jet 6, a fairing wheel from HED. Note that the spokes come out from the sides of the fairing, not the tip. Note too the elongated spoke holes. (If you click on the picture, you'll get a bigger version of it, and it's easier to see there.)
Image from HED Cycling

The fairing wheels are typically aluminum rimmed wheels with a carbon fiber (or just plain plastic) fairing on it. You can tell a fairing wheel because the holes for the spokes are big, huge actually, relative to the spokes. This is to allow the spokes to move laterally in the fairing - they do so because the spokes are not anchored in the fairing, they're anchored up at the rim, and the rim naturally flexes relative to the hub. It's a fairing, right, so it's not structural.

Big companies that make fairing wheels are HED, Bontrager, and the aforementioned Mavics (I think their Cosmic Carbone were the first fairing wheel with a structural fairing). HED's fairing wheels are labeled Jets, including the Jet Disc.

A fairing wheel have certain "default" characteristics. They are typically more comfortable because they use full length spokes, longer than structural tall profile rim spokes by at least 2-7 cm. They are typically weak for a given weight since the fairing is not really structural. Usually they have a higher spoke count or a heavier rim, to make up for the fact that the voluminous fairing has no structural function. They tend to be more flexible laterally for a given weight, again because of the full length spokes and the need to either increase rim mass or increase spoke count.

I haven't had the opportunity to cut up a faired wheel, but my understanding is some of the wheels are made with fairing specific rims, with a cross-section optimized for strength, not for appearance or aerodynamics. A rim could be manufactured with the fairing in mind, with specific adhesion areas to anchor the fairing. All this is a good thing and could actually justify the official reason for faired wheels.

Which leads me to how a fairing could be legal in the bike racing world, at least at the UCI level.
I never understood how fairing wheels could be legal because aerodynamic fairings are not allowed by the UCI. Well, I read how. Basically manufacturers claim the fairings are "rim stiffeners" to increase rim performance. This is official mumbo-jumbo to get around the actual benefit of the fairings, namely the aerodynamics.

Although I'd say that a true carbon fiber fairing may stiffen the wheel a bit, the Mavic initially used a vacuum-formed black plastic fairing in their first generation Cosmic Carbone, one so flimsy you could squeeze the halves together. Try doing that with a structural carbon rim - you can't squeeze them at all.

I was initially disappointed in those first generation Cosmic Carbones when I realized the fairings were just fairings, as compared to my various other structurally rimmed wheels. However, the rims were designed to be faired, and so that kind of eased my disappointment. Nowadays, with a true carbon fiber fairing, and over a decade of optimizing rigidity, I'm sure the wheels work better than the first generation of wheel.

A faired wheel has one significant disadvantage - in almost all circumstances (the exception below) you must remove the tire to true the wheel. This is because the fairing hides the spoke nipple. This also discounts such wheels from being fully tubeless clincher compatible, because ideally a tubless tire rim will have no spoke holes in it. A fairing wheel with no spoke holes under the tire would be impossible to true.

The only exception to the above would be a wheelset which had the spoke nipples were in the hub.

I'd consider a faired wheel for myself just as readily as a structural one, especially for a training clincher wheelset. In fact, given the opportunity, I'd use Jet 6 wheelset, a front/rear pair of the rear wheel pictured above. The typically heavier weight of a faired wheel is fine for training, and the clincher rim makes removing the tire easy for any necessary truing.

Finally, using tall profile wheels in training, especially front ones, is critical in developing a honed feel for the bike's handling characteristics with such wheels. Reserve a tall profile set of wheels just for race day and you'll be either asking for problems or find yourself a bit uncomfortable in gusty or unpredictable windy conditions. Both are not good when you're in the middle of a tightly packed field with a mile to go before the sprint.

Structural Rims

A structural rim, the Stinger 6, sister to the Jet 6 shown above. Note the spoke nipples poking out of the rim.
Image from HED Cycling

The Zipps, Reynolds, and HED Stinger wheels are made with structural carbon fiber rims. The spoke nipples are anchored in the "v" of the rim, whether hidden (Reynolds) or not (Zipp, HED). HED3s and other 3-4-5 spoke wheels are structural simply because if you remove the carbon spokes (or "wings", since they're typically 7 or 8 cm wide), there are no spokes left. Anyway, a structural carbon rim, a tall one (I'm skipping the climbing specific non-aero ones) will have a taller rim and correspondingly shorter spokes.

These wheels, if the rim is constructed properly, are stiffer laterally. The shorter spokes and hopefully laterally stiff rim contribute to this rigidity. To be fair the initial structural carbon fiber wheels were not very stiff laterally. Structural carbon fiber rims are usually lighter too, mainly because you can use carbon for the rim material since the rim/fairing is one integrated piece.

Having stated my willingness to train on Jet 6s (oh, if life were only so rough), one of my ideal set of race wheels would be the Stinger 6s. Or a Stinger 9 rear, since a taller rear wheel has almost no disadvantages.

Tire Type?

It's much easier to make a clincher wheel using the fairing method. Just get a normal clincher rim, glue a fairing onto it. The aluminum rim is plenty strong for the job, efficient, reasonably light, and very cost effective.

Making a carbon clincher, on the other hand, is tough. Carbon fiber works best in tension, when the threads are in line with forces pulling on both ends. Clincher bead walls don't exhibit that kind of stress so they do not allow a manufacturer to use carbon fiber in an ideal fashion.

This is all relevant because clinchers rely on the rim to hold in air pressure, a substantial force at 100-150 psi (typical range, although it can go higher). There may be 70 or 80 square inches on a rim, so a total of 700-1200 pounds of force trying to blow the two sides of the rim off.

It's relatively easy to make all-carbon tubular rims because the tires themselves hold all the air pressure. Initially that's all you saw, tubular carbon wheels, and Zipp still refuses to make carbon clincher rims.

Some manufacturers have figured out how to make strong carbon clinchers. Reynolds is the one that comes to mind, I think others include Lightweight and LEW, the latter being closely tied to Reynolds. They use heat and pressure, keys to controlling carbon fiber quality in the curing process. They also skip any cosmetic top coat, resulting in a sort of smudgy looking grey finish. Surprisingly, the familiar carbon fiber weave is not necessarily the best structural material for specific purposes. More and more manufacturers acknowledge this, with bikes and rims and everything else starting to lose the familiar woven pattern initially associated with carbon fiber.

Campy, or as someone pointed out, Corima for Campy, make carbon rims but due to poor design or construction, the rims are limited to 118 psi for 700x22 tires, lower for wider ones (according to page 5 in their manual). In contrast, Reynolds recommends a maximum pressure of 150 psi for their carbon clinchers on their FAQ page.

That may be fine and all, but the unofficial info I've learned is even better. I had the opportunity to talk with a (now-former) Reynolds engineer that gleefully recalled inflating tires to insane pressures until either the tires blew off or the rims exploded. They were repeatedly blowing tires off the Reynolds clincher rims before the rims blew apart, and at pressures well into the upper 200 psi range. No other carbon rims withstood that abuse, and yes, that meant that they blew apart a very expensive Campy wheel.

And yes, those experiments were done for work, not as a drunken Friday night "Hey, I wonder if..." kind of experiment.

Note: Such experiments were carried out under controlled circumstances, with proper safety gear. If you try the same experiment with your clinchers, carbon or not, I take no responsibility for whatever happens. At best you'll end up with something similar to what's pictured below.

Picture of an aluminum clincher rim after a 150 psi tire blew the rim apart.
From Bethel Cycle, sponsor of the Bethel Spring Series.


It's clear that the market has two types of tall profile wheels - the fairing wheels and the structural tall wheels. Each has their place, their strengths, their weaknesses. If and when you go looking for a set of aero wheels, keep the two types in mind.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Life - How To Buy A Diamond

Forgive the smudgy fingerprints but I was too amped to take my time. This was two days after I proposed to the missus. I struggled to get the ring away from her for even a minute. Okay, just kidding on that one. Note how sparkly it is, even in the shadow of the lid?

We're not jewelry folks in general - in fact, we only have our wedding bands and her engagement ring. But after that funny comment on the "rock" in the bandaging post, I realized I have a strong opinion on how to buy a diamond, just like I do on bike set up, equipment, and racing tactics and etiquette.

So, for a nice Sunday post, I'll describe what I'd recommend, based on my limited experience and some knowledge passed on by some folks in the biz. For those of you in a diamond buying part of your life, it's pretty straightforward, just seriously expensive. I hope this helps.

FIRST: Figure out a budget for a ring. Then add a bunch to it, because they're expensive. If you're fortunate, you may be able to pass on a family heirloom diamond. That's a great way of paying homage to your family while saving money for other things.

If there is less than $1000 holding you from your ideal stone (in 2006 anyway), get a white gold engagement and wedding bands, not platinum ones, that'll save you a bunch of that $1000. At some point though $1000 does not buy you that much more diamond, and you can go with the platinum ring (and wedding bands) because it won't make a difference in the diamond.

There is a relatively standard way of pricing diamonds - you get the diamond's characteristics and price it by the carat. It's based on size as well, so a 2-2.99 carat diamond is more expensive per carat for the same characteristics as a 1.00-1.99 carat diamond. Come to think of it, I think the increments are in quarter carats. I forget, it's been a while. Whatever. You get the point - going up to the "next size" costs a bucketload of money.The national diamond association folks (I don't know who they are, but they have a trade magazine) publish the average $/carat in the US. This sets a typical retail price.

A lot of folks, and I mean a lot, go online to buy diamonds. If you know what you want, it's a good way to do it. After learning that pretty much all my close friends that got married went there, I went to Blue Nile. I wish I could get commission on that link but I'm not.

SECOND: Decide how big or small you want. Luckily I chose someone with dainty fingers :) So even a 1.5 or 2 carat stone looked simply ostentatious on her finger. However, choose a minimum acceptable size, because that's where you'll probably end up, once you start looking at the features I set out below. I ended up looking to buy something above .85 and dreamed about 1.25. I can't remember the exact spec but I was looking for as close to 1.00 as possible, but in the .9s (like 0.97 or something). If a 1.xx stone popped up in my radar, I'd look at it.

Hint on size: going a touch below a full decimal (.9 vs 1.0, or 1.4 vs 1.5, or 1.9 vs 2.0, etc) saves a ton of money because you are one step down in the $/carat chart mentioned above. And no one will know - who can tell if you're missing 1-5% of 1 or 2 carats? Use that difference to buy the following diamond properties I lay out below. Therefore subtract 0.01 from the numbers above for my real goals. I recommend you do the same.

Hint (yet another): A GIA/AGSL certified diamond, although more expensive, will allow you to prove without a doubt exactly what you have. The certificate will describe the color, clarity, and mention a burble on the cut. If the diamond is etched with a serial number, that is noted. And, of course, your diamond now falls immediately into the VVS1 grade because it has a flaw - the etched serial number. Okay, I don't know if that's true, but the serial number is definitely an external flaw visible under a loupe.

However, one of the important things it does is it will map out the flaws in the diamond on a map. Since your diamond is unique, that is a help identifying your diamond. This will help if you have to file a claim or something. It'll also assure you that you really did get a D color diamond (like how can you tell if it's not detectable to the human eye?). Or at least reassure you that, "Well, I think I got the wrong diamond because look, there's a black speck there, and we bought a VVS1." A VVS1 would be one that is flawless to the naked eye and little things are barely visible only under a magnifying glass. This is good if you ever need the diamond serviced and someone pulls a stunt on you and swaps diamonds (extremely rare, but when it happens, it's good to know what you're supposed to have).

Another Hint: Diamonds are not mass produced. You can't say "Oh, I want a 0.99 diamond". You can't say, "Yeah, remember that diamond you had here last week but you sold it? I want one just like it." It doesn't work that way. They're unique stones, all different. Even within the same grades you'll see differences. I spent time comparing the spec sheets on two diamonds and chose the one with the (extremely slight) flaws that I felt were "less 'flawfull'."

What's that mean? If you are good with budget and what you want and you see a diamond that you like, GET IT. I had to put off my proposal for a while because I didn't grab the first one that fit my world. I had to wait for weeks for another one to show up. It wasn't bad though - at least I knew I was getting what I wanted.

Finally, the diamond specs you should focus on, after setting budget and minimum size:

1. Color (how colorless it is). That means more light gets reflected back with no filtering. If you have a lot of color, the light returning is filtered and not as bright. Because I'm a sucker, I wanted to get a colorless diamond, a D. E would be fine.

2. Cut (how bright it is). An ideal cut reflects virtually all light back out the top. A poorer cut diamond will look darker in the middle because a significant portion of light is directed out the bottom or the sides, into the ring. I believe cut is determined by the diamond's "grain", so you cannot cut a diamond better than it was created in the first place. Hers is extremely well cut (ideal or very good, I forget which), and it makes it very nice. I like saying "sparkly". I would not recommend a diamond below "good", and try and get "very good" or "ideal".

This was the worst characteristic for me because it's the least objective thing when grading a diamond. There is no measure of % of light reflected up for example, instead they rate the diamond on stuff like "scintillation" - like how the heck do you objectively grade that? Blue Nile uses the height of the diamond, also called "depth", and the width of the top flat part of the diamond, also called "table", because geometry should predict, sort of, how much light will pop out the top. Cut affects how the diamond looks as much or more than anything else. It also costs a lot of money to get a better cut diamond.

Cut is NOT a standard grade thing. In fact, even certified diamonds were usually not rated for cut prior to 2006. Most folks ignore it because they focus on size and clarity. However, without cut, the diamond looks dead and dull. Ask to see a few different grades of cut diamonds (from fair to ideal). To the naked eye this is the most obvious feature of the diamond, and to me, much more critical than the attention it (doesn't) get. Because of that, remember: Cut is critical!

3. Then you get as good a grade (Clarity) as you can get. This counts how few flaws there are, and a hint - you don't want flaws visible to the naked eye or even under minor magnification. The ideal diamonds are insanely expensive (IF, or Internally Flawless) and usually reserved for news stories about what necklace a particular model is wearing. Most good diamonds are VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2. VV=very,very, V=very, S=slightly included, 1 is less so than 2. Once you go to SI (slightly included) it's possible to see flaws with the naked eye. You can guess which end I aimed for.

And yes, I obsessed over what diamond to get just as much as a bike part. Heck, look at what I just wrote off the top of my head. Unlike bike parts I had to learn all that stuff above before I went and committed to a diamond. Obviously there was a huge wait between the time where I decided I wanted to ask her to marry me and when I actually did. I figure I did 3-4 months of somewhat obsessive research, then another couple building funds, then part of another because I missed that one diamond. If you figure out when I'd have time to do all that research, you'll realize why I proposed to the missus towards the end of the Spring Series - I did my research in the Fall/Winter season.

The missus ended up with a very nice sparkly diamond. I am really proud of my choice and she really likes it too.

Oh, and it photographs well too.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dateline 20:45, 17 June 2009, Illustrated

With a lot of time to browse online recently, I've been... browsing online.

One of the things I've been looking for are pictures of the track racing I've done, partly to show the missus, partly because I'm curious about what the races look like from a slightly further "not on the bike" view.

In particular, I don't look around enough to see what's happening in the big picture. I don't feel comfortable doing that just yet - if I look around in the turns, I lose my composure, start going off line. I look on the straights a bit, but there aren't a lot of "straight" at a track. Ultimately I'd do some massive efforts unnecessarily - if I looked around a bit, I'd have realized I had a gap, and I could have eased a bit.

So when I finally found pictures on the web, I hoped that there'd be some of me. And, walla, there were!

Thanks to Craig Roth of the Boston-ish area for use of these pics. For the complete set of pics of the day, as well as tons of other pics, you can go to his Picasa album here. He spent a bit of time snapping shots during the evening, and I'm glad I got to see some of his work.

As a bonus, the pictures were of my one and only helmet cam race on the track so far. I haven't posted the clip yet, and I'm glad I didn't because I'll be incorporating the pictures in it. I meant to film a Keirin or two in August but unfortunately I was off the bike before I could get them.

So here, without any further ado, is a visual capture of the night-opening B-riders Scratch Race. It's like a crit - so many laps, first across the line wins.

I'm at the end of the railing, getting the helmet cam together. I stash my cooler there too, with electrolytes, a Coke, and water, along with some reusable ice-packs from our freezer at home. Brooke is on the right, talking to some teammates.

Brian set a steady tempo for a few laps early on. He accelerated relatively hard a little bit in, with no warning. When he saw the gaps he accelerated even harder. This was during that second acceleration. There are some decent gaps there.

It's hard to realize how critical even small gaps are on the track - unlike a road bike, you can't just shift up and roll the gap closed. You have to work hard to close gaps. I'm closing the gap to Brian here.

My token pull after Brian pulled off. I was tired after following Brian for so long, and having to close a couple gaps.

Two to go - a big effort by the guy at the front. I'm floundering a bit, but confident that things will open up.

Just about bell lap, and sure enough, things have opened up. I'm sitting second wheel on the sprint line, with a father/son pair making a move on the outside.

The move was pretty substantial and could have potentially swamped me on the back stretch. I glanced up track and realized this in time.

In order to protect my position, I move up a touch on the track in the first turn. With no brakes and no coasting, racers tend to be a bit more conservative in close quarters. This is almost as close as it gets for the track Cat 3s and 4s.

Note: the rider in blue, at the top of the banking, is an A rider watching the race. Racing on the track, at least at NEV, is informal enough on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings that you can roll around above the blue line during races. In the A races I'd roll around, watching the moves, taking in rider set-up and positions.

It's a huge disadvantage to ride further up than, say, about where the guy in orange is riding. The blue line is so far up it's pretty much impossible to make a pass without expending tons of reserves. Based on my expression, it seems I'm about to jump.

Jump successful. If I knew I had a gap like this, I would have eased on the way to the line. Instead I made an extremely hard effort to finish off the sprint. A huge waste of energy.

I tend to focus on the goal so I only saw the line. I have to learn to be more aware of what's going on around me. Right now, on the track, it takes a lot of mental energy to stay down in the sprinter's lane, so I don't look around much.

Since track races tend to be short, a typical track day will encompass multiple races. Although you may not need long term endurance to finish, say, a 5k bike race, it does require significant amounts of training to be able to race well towards the end of a day of track racing. One of the tricks to being successful on the track is to meter your efforts, doing as much work as you can to earn good finishes, but not use more than necessary. It's a tricky balance and something I still don't get.

Related to that is the importance to reacting to the "critical" parts of a race. When riders make 100% committed moves, the group usually fragments. It's imperative to follow moves, because if you get gapped off, you're dead. If such moves are made in the middle of the race, it usually means that a number of racers will be watching the finish from the sidelines. I've fallen victim to this several times. If the move happens at the end (i.e. if I'm around at the finish and have something left), then the group will fragment as it races for the finish. You must be able to react to mid-race attacks while still keeping a reserve for the final two to five laps.

The only time this isn't true is in the Keirin, since we only go 1.5 laps on our own. It's basically a fast neutralized race until 1.5 laps to go, and then everyone goes bananas. In 1.5 laps it's hard to totally shatter the other racers' legs.

Later that evening we did a pursuit.

I finished second last or so, about 20% slower than the winner. Here I look like I have an idea of what I'm doing, but it was just the start. Halfway in I just wanted to quit.

If I'd taken a lot off the top in the Scratch race, I'd have been a bit better here. Not much, admittedly, but a little. Also, if I had an idea of pace, it would have helped. You can see the cyclometer on the bars but on that week I didn't have the magnet nor the sensor for the magnet. The cyclometer sat there for show.

The moto for the Keirin.

The roller on the back allows a track racer (especially) to bump the bike without falling. I find it extremely difficult to overcome my natural instinct to get close to it. I did manage to warm up behind it, but never got within a foot of the roller. I watched one of the As, the Human Derny (Kurt) keep tapping it over and over.

The Keirin that night went poorly for me too. Since we had a combined As and Bs Keirin, the moto went a bit faster than I've ever been on the track. I could barely keep the bike down low and sat up, unsure of my ability to control my bike at higher speeds.

On the following Keirin day, a few weeks later, I bumped the roller in the warm up and won both the heat and the final in pretty tight finishes.

You give some, you take some. That's bike racing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

How To - Road Rash Care, Illustrated

A while back I did some pictures on road rash care with no pictures. To make things a bit clearer, here is a slightly abbreviated version with pictures.

Note: pictures taken August 25th. Crash occurred August 11th. Foot swelling has gone down some by August 27th.

Second Note: How the heck do pros keep going after they crash? And going and going and going? I am 100% wimp compared to them.

Back on topic...

Wound that needs redressing.

I don't bleed upwards, but I had my foot elevated for much of the time I had that Tegaderm patch on my foot. You can kind of ignore the fact that my foot is swollen up like a grapefruit - that's why I elevated it - it was so swollen before that I could barely feel my toes, and raising the foot well over my heart made it shrink to almost normal.

However, if you do crash, and your foot does look like this, go see your doctor. Mine had an ultrasound done on my leg to check for clots, and guess what?


Boo! Very bad! Clots bad. No clots good!

So I'm taking aspirin to thin my blood. If the clots were higher, I'd be writing this from a hospital bed. No kidding. Or not at all, if I couldn't use a laptop in there.

Anyway, the point of the first picture is that I have a dirty wound, and it needs dressing.

Using the first aid spray, we cleaned it up. Looks fake, right, like a movie set? I guess movie sets aren't that fake, it's just that we don't see that kind of stuff in real life too much.

Note it's clean, no dirt, no nothing. We don't go crazy, but we don't skimp with the first aid spray stuff either. You can see the Tegaderm ready for action. They are the 4" x 4.5" size, or $4 per piece.

Some antiseptic stuff on the wound. Bacitracin or something like that.

A 4" x 4.5" doesn't go far, does it.

The Tegaderm is like a bit sticker. You peel off the full backing. The Tegaderm has a window on it, with more backing surrounding it, so you put the window over the wound and put the Tegaderm on the person. Then you peel away the "window frame", the rectangular bit of white paper visible on the Tegaderm.

Make sure the area around the wound is dry. Tegaderm has adhesive on the skin side so stick it on the wound first (it won't stick to the actual wound because it's wet) and then press down around it.

In the background you can see the first aid spray, a generic CVS version in this case (they didn't have a brand version, and this is fine). It says "antiseptic wash", but it also claims to reduce pain. That's the numbing stuff, and you want the numbing stuff.

The missus starts to peel away the "window sill". The other Tegaderm patch is for my elbow.

More of it. The clear Tegaderm stays stuck to me.

Almost done.

Some padding for protection, held on by waterproof tape. We went vertical so pulling a sock on doesn't rip it off.

The Tegaderm is great because it sticks to the skin around the wound. It allows the wound to heal without drying it out so it prevents a scab from forming - the Tegaderm replaces the scab's function. The only problem with it is that Tegaderm has no cushioning properties - it's about as thick as a piece of plastic wrap.

Therefore you want to cover the Tegaderm with something a little more substantial, like gauze. This pads your wound, or, in the case of my ankle, makes it possible to put shoes on my feet without bringing me to my knees in agony. Gauze pads are especially useful for regular impact or rub areas - ankles, knees, elbows, hands or feet.

When the wound is almost healed, I skip the gauze. My elbow, even though it's a bit distant from healing completely, sits with just a layer of Tegaderm on it. Since it doesn't hurt much, it's okay.

To hold the gauze in place you can use ACE bandages, cling wrap (like ACE but more disposable), or the netting like the pros use.

Although I hope that no one has to use these tips, the reality is that if you race bicycles, you'll be dealing with road rash. When you do, proper treatment makes a huge difference in comfort during recovery as well as the time it takes to recovery completely.

Also, it really helps if you have a supportive and understanding spouse who can not only dress your wounds but does it in such a way that minimizes the pain level while doing so. Make sure you thank your spouse (or whoever is helping dress your wounds). I forget a lot because I get involved with the sensations of pain, but I have to remember to thank the missus more often. No matter how much I wince, how many times I catch my breath, ultimately I know that the procedure will result in a relatively comfortable, protected feeling.

So, to the missus, thank you for your help.

(And no, we didn't get into a fight or anything, but she's been doing this for two weeks, and without a single complaint or "I told you so" or all those other things that folks may imagine she could say. Instead she wants me to get better so that next year she can come out to the races to help and watch.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Racing - 8 Miles?

Ever since the missus was selected to be on the Slipstream team in the 2008 Tour de France knit-a-long (Tour de France KAL, the 2009 version here), I've been a slightly more interested follower of Jonathan Vaughter's ProTour team.

Okay, I admit that when TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund) initially sponsored the team, I took notice, because not only does TIAA-CREF have one of the largest err... "tons and tons of money invested in them", they were created to benefit education folks like teachers and professors. I figure that's a good thing.

Plus they were clients of one of my former employers, the first company I worked for after the shop closed. I've visited TIAA-CREF's offices for onsite work, one of the first times I was "in the field". And a friend of mine worked for them for a long time, ultimately convincing me to invest with them.

Oh, I should put a disclaimer out. I invested some of my savings with TIAA-CREF.

Okay, that should do it.

One of Vaughter's main stances has to do with doping. Or, in his case, not doping. I always thought that if Slipstream (eventually evolving to its current team Garmin-Slipstream) raced clean, they'd race at a disadvantage because, frankly, I figured there were too many dopers out there. Initially Vaughter's team didn't seem very strong. I mean, yeah, they were strong in the US, but they struggled with any bigger races. We didn't see, for example, a TIAA-CREF racer standing on the podium at Philly.

But as more and more (non-Garmin) riders got caught doping, Vaughter's team seemed to be doing better and better.

In 2008 they made a huge breakthrough with Christian Vande Velde's 5th in the Tour. Later that year, at Interbike, he actually held the missus's KnitALong project and smiled puzzledly for the camera with the missus, so he really made the news here at our household. In 2009 they surprised the masses with the epitome of the anti-doper, Bradley Wiggins, and his 4th in the Tour, along with Vande Velde's 8th place.

I should point out that I also like Garmin because they signed Danny Pate, who I've always admired. I've wished for him to take some big win but it hasn't happened yet.

Anyway, recently, in August 2009, the team's been making headlines with their sprinter Tyler Farrar. Until now, Farrar's been known for being second all the time. Now, to be fair, he won a field sprint ahead of the year's best known sprinter, Mark Cavendish, earlier in the year, but other than that, he's been just a touch back from the win.

So I felt happy for them when I read about Farrar's big win in Germany. Then he started winning stage after stage after stage in ENECO, a flat (to pros) stage race. (Mind you, some of those climbs considered "flat" are really hard, so although there are no mountains, it's not necessarily "easy").

After the second last stage, Farrar had 2nd in the points competition locked up, he sat 2nd overall, and with a 14 kilometer (8.2 mile) time trial left...

He abandoned the race.

When I saw the headline, I thought maybe he hurt something earlier and it got to the point where he was going bad. He'd gotten third in the last sprint, and although that's really good, it wasn't another win. And once you win, folks (like me) expect a win, especially in the same race against the same guys.

Anyway, Farrar pulled out of the race, but neither he nor the team gave any signs of why, except "to prepare for the Vuelta".


Not only that, but Wiggins, after setting best time at the first check point, sat up hard as soon as it started to rain, and actually DNF'ed the race, pulling off the course before crossing the finishline.


As a Cat 3 and a "never been a director", I don't have any experience in the ProTour scene. Nor can I claim to know any of the riders or team personnel involved.

But pulling out before or during an 8.2 mile time trial, a flat one, seems a bit excessive, even for a conservative team like Garmin.

If I were looking to save my guys for the Vuelta (which starts at the end of this week), and we had just a short time trial left, I'd approach it a bit differently. I'd acknowledge the fact that Farrar and any Vuelta team member would need a break, so they wouldn't be riding too hard.

I'd understand not starting the stage if it were a 200 km road stage, or a 30 km TT stage. But it's a 14 km TT, through city streets, and Farrar at least was sitting way up on GC.

In fact, Farrar had 2nd place totally sewn up in the points competition. I'm making an assumption that there was some prize money and UCI points there (maybe not?). If he made the TT time cut, he'd have been on the points podium for the overall and collected some money (for the team if not himself) and whatever else you get for 2nd in the points..

If he finished 3 minutes down on the winner, he'd place 36th overall. Not great compared to 2nd, but not bad for an "easy" time trial. Oddly enough, if he finished 2 minutes down, he'd finish in the same spot, because there's a huge gap between 35th and 36th place. Whatever, the point is that he could ride a relatively slow TT and still finish inside the top 40.

As an illustration after the fact, Cozza, his teammate, finished 5:50 down in last place, but inside the time cut. According to my brief calculations, he averaged 22.5 mph for the race. Even for the most technical flat course, that is a slower ride. Had Farrar done a similar ride, he'd have gotten 2nd in the points and stood on the podium.

Now, in the past, when riders doing reasonably well suddenly pull out of a stage race, it's because some stuff happened behind the scenes. The biggie would be that maybe the rider got a letter from the doping authorities. I really hope this wasn't the case, as I actually believe Garmin is racing clean. I may be innocent and naive in saying that, but that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Being sick is a huge possibility. Maybe Farrar's coming down with something, and they want to get him better before the Vuelta. This seems most likely because a team will be hush hush about sickness, especially when it affects a team leader. You may argue that Farrar isn't the team leader, but until the races start climbing big hills, they're working for him.

(This would not explain Wiggin's DNF though.)

A racer may pull out if, say, he's experiencing some conflict with the team. This is the height of the "silly season", the time before racers and teams announce transfers for next year. Is Farrar trying to make a point? Or maybe the director? I don't know.

Maybe they disagreed with the race organizers over something. But if they did, they could pull all their riders out, not just their good ones.

On their site, they claim that they pulled out for safety first.

But to me that doesn't do it. Unless something freaky happened, I have to believe that a 22.5 mph time trial would be relatively safe. They could have done it on regular road bikes, even fat tired Paris Roubaix wheels. Maybe they'd look a bit odd, but they could explain it as, "Well, it was this or pull out of the race."

In the Tour of Pennsylvania, the organizers had to stop the last stage of the race due to a local tornado watch/warning. After some confusion, for safety's sake, the organizers neutralized the race for GC (so it wouldn't change), they nixed the prize list (it would be donated to a charity), and they stated that if anyone got lapped, they'd be considered a finisher.

Only a few teams soldiered on - Kelly Benefits, the Felt team (Garmin's feeder squad), Waste Management (Jelly Belly's feeder squad), a few others. They were professional in their attitude, doing a good race, really going for it. There were multiple crashes towards the end of the race, taking out guys outside of the top GC.

The guys kept going.


TV coverage for one thing. It was the first time Versus covered a bike race live. Afterwards, a TV viewer said he didn't realize that 2/3 of the field had dropped out after the restart.

I suppose another was doing a race for the folks that had showed up to watch.

They wanted the prizes. ToPA paid a lot of money for the overall and the teams could use that nice budget infusion.

And finally, at some level, this gave back to the promoter. The main sponsor's headquarters were just down the road (well, across the bridge) and there were a bunch of VIPs around. A few directors made sure that the VIPS had a race to watch.

Now, I'm not saying that Garmin should have driven their boys hard, or that they should try and win the TT. I'm saying that if you have a few riders going to the TT, that means you have some team vehicles and such going there anyway. Bring along Farrar, stick him on his road bike, and have him do a pathetically slow TT. Collect 2nd for the points jersey. At least have Wiggins finish the TT. What will happen in the Vuelta if it rains in the TT there? Here he could give it a little gas and see how the bike works on wet city streets.

Whatever the reason, it'll be interesting to see if any new stories come out from the end of ENECO. It's a pity Farrar didn't contest the overall, and failing that, at least ride the few miles necessary to take 2nd in the points.

Hopefully all this caution makes sense in the Vuelta. We'll see after a month how things turn out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Racing - Racer's Kit After The Crash

So now we know how the rider and the bike fared in the spill. What about the kit? You know, the shorts, jersey, helmet, shoes? Keep in mind that I fell on pavement at about 28 mph - that's when the SRM said the bike suddenly went to zero mph.

We'll go from toes to head.

Shoes are hit or miss in a crash.

In my case my shoes made it through unscathed. A few scratches on the buckle, a slight rub on a toe, but otherwise fine. Since it's the most expensive part of my kit I'm glad they're okay. Incidentally, I hadn't touched them since the EMT removed them in the ambulance. Or at the race, I forget which.

Nothing happened to my socks as far as I know. I was wearing some DeFeet Jelly Belly socks, an older version (when they wore red kits). I have a few pairs and I haven't tracked them down yet.

Next up, the shorts, made by Verge.

The shorts had minor damage. Check the first "E".

So minor that you can't really see it unless you turn it inside out.

Based on the minor damage and the minor amount of bleeding, it's no wonder that no one bothered to check my hip. Even I didn't think it was a big deal sitting on a gurney in the hospital. I chalked up my inability to walk properly that night to my cramped and tired legs, although the pain did seem a bit excessive.

I thought I was being a bit over-dramatic because a few mosquito bites on the front walk really motivated me to get moving. I mean, come on, if mosquitoes motivate me, it can't be that bad.

I just didn't realize how much I hate mosquitoes.

The pain felt pretty real, regardless of how I thought I should be acting. The day after the crash I totally broke down just trying to get into bed. That was when the missus decided that I should get my hip checked out.

I can't say enough about the Verge shorts. When I first started using the shorts, over 10 years ago, they were the best ones around, hands down. The Carpe Diem Racing team used them back in those days. We even had a similar incident to mine - one of the guys on the team fell on a twisty descent, sliding across a gravel driveway. He didn't look particularly hurt, but a gravel rock managed to dig its way into the guy's thigh. The shorts were untouched.

The team I'm on uses Verge gear, and I'm very happy with it. I actually have problems sitting on the trainer for too long in almost anything else, and I can't use any other bib shorts due to discomfort (I think I have 6 pairs of non-Verge bibs).

The shorts from the crash look good enough that I plan on keeping these shorts in my "outdoor" circulation, i.e. I'll wear them for outdoor riding.

The jersey. Made by Hincapie, it withstood the ravages of crashing relatively well.

The left shoulder, which got the brunt of my upper torso damage. Not bad, right?

The back. You can see where I had the nine (yes, nine!) pins on my number. All pinned the same direction. Looks like someone shot me with a shotgun.

Interestingly enough, I read on Joe Parkin's blog about the pre-Kermese rituals. Actually, I didn't really read all of it, because I realized that if I read it, I'd have to do it. And when he noted that all the pins have to be facing in the same direction... Well, I stopped reading.

Since I had the hardest ever crash after the one and only time I pinned my number on with all the pins facing in the same direction, I figure that my normal rituals work fine. One of the first things I did after the crash was to read Joe's post, this time to see what NOT to do.

Luckily there was nothing there for me.

This jersey, unfortunately, is now a trainer jersey. It's a bit too beat up for outdoor use, except maybe as a base layer.

I should mention that many racing publications recommend wearing a base layer, partially to offer two friction surfaces (base layer and jersey) that don't use human flesh. The alternative, and the two friction surfaces that I had, is having the jersey rub against the rider's skin. Although I am not a base layer kind of person, this fall has at least put the thought back in my head. We'll see if I do anything different next year.

I wore my trusty Mechanix gloves. They're long finger gloves meant for auto mechanics, but they work well for abrasion resistance in other venues. They came out fine, and my hands did too. I had one minor cut on top of a finger but that was it. I can't find them around here so no pictures, but there is no visible damage to them.

The helmet. I have only wrecked a half dozen helmets in my long and illustrious bike racing life (heh). The last one was back in 1992 or so, when I took a tumble in a now-extinct crit in Scotch Plains, NJ. It's been a while since I've felt foam dig into pavement, but I have to admit, it sounded way too familiar when I heard it two Tuesdays ago. Everything seemed familiar, the scraping, the impact, but with no extreme pain.

I am sorry to admit that I've fallen a few times without a helmet on, including some doozys. When I've impacted my head, the pain is just immense, overwhelming, something I'd never wish on anyone. Once safer helmets became the norm, I've only ridden twice without a helmet.

I just cannot imagine hitting the pavement with my skull. Just cannot.

When I fell I'd been wearing a helmet the missus gave me for my birthday, a Specialized S-Works helmet.

The back of the helmet.

It looks somewhat evenly crushed, no sharp impact point like a spear. Roads are broad, flat surfaces, and bike helmets are designed for them. Falling into a pointy sculpture or something would have much worse consequences.

The cracks include the right vertical brace, just above the strap.

Incredibly I did not impact the front or side of the helmet. Apparently I tucked enough to hit just the back. Or I flipped over or something. Whatever, I'll take it.

On the left you can see some slide marks. Sliding is good, snagging is bad.

I'm guessing my left shoulder's road rash was worse than my right because I impacted the right, slid on the left. Again, sliding is better. My left shoulder is completely healed. I can barely move my right arm, two weeks later.

Inside, you can see the cracks going all the way through the shell.

I've seen a number of pro helmets up close. One of the things that they do (or used to do) is hollow out the foam so that the helmet breathes better. Since pros can't choose their helmets (because the sponsor gives them a particular model), they make do by "customizing" helmets themselves. Some helmets are so violated by a pocket knife that it's amazing there's a helmet left at all.

Based on my experience with this and other helmets, I would strongly recommend NOT imitating the pros on that habit. Any reduction in foam material would reduce the helmet's effectiveness.

To Specialized's credit, I did not even get a bruise on my head. I plan on buying a replacement helmet, but I'll wait until the new models come out (check out colors and such). I won't be riding outside for a while, and I still have my Specialized Decibel. Next summer I should be wearing a new, well-ventilated lid.

So that's it. I did wear a cut up cap as a headband, but that's gone MIA.

As a bonus, I took a picture of my new piece of equipment. It's actually on loan from a friend of ours. Light aluminum, adjustable height, soft rubber tip, anodized gold, comfy grip, and even a wrist strap so if I drop it, it doesn't go anywhere.

No swords built into it, not even a blowgun, but it's anodized bling bling gold and it's adjustable.

I've played with the height (of course) and have decided on one that works well for me. Tall enough to work when going downstairs, short enough that I can hang it on the bathroom counter.

I looked briefly at it to see if I could get a blowgun out of it, or a pocket knife, but nothing really popped out at me.

However, I think there'd be room in it for a stack of AA batteries, and with a contact button in the rubber tip, I could put LEDs all up the shaft. It'd be a good safety feature, kind of like kid's blinkie shoes.

And, if you wanted, you could have a Down Low Glow shaft. Now that would be cool!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Racing - "Flesh Heals, Campy Doesn't"

A long, long time ago... (I was going to link to Star Wars there, but been there, done that)

Someone told me the saying, "Flesh heals, Campy doesn't."

(A corollary - if the racer, within 60 seconds of crashing, doesn't ask about his bike, it means he got really banged up. Get ready for an ambulance call.)

This is a mantra one is to repeat over and over again if one ever crashes a Campy bike. Sorry, as one crashes a Campy bike.

The logic?

Well, if your precious Campy bike gets wrecked in a crash, it'll cost you a lot of money to fix or replace it, especially if your bike has Campy parts hanging on it. On the other hand, from a "poor bike racer's" perspective, if you have a lot of road rash, it costs mainly physical pain to fix things. The idea is that if the rider takes the brunt of the fall, it'll save money in the long run.

Nowadays, though, the mantra has its flaws.

For example, although I have yet to get the bills for any of my "Mother Of A Crash"-related medical expenses, I'm guessing that I'll be responsible for a little more than $3,000 in medical costs. This due to a high deductible ($3,000) to cover a long ambulance ride, 3 sets of x-rays so far, 1 MRI, 1 ultra-sound (more to come), a bunch of doctor's visits, some drugs, and then physical therapy (yet to start).

Although that may not seem like much to someone that owns a $10k bike, that would pay for about 70% of my sub-$5000 bike. That's a lot of Campy parts.

I know I detailed, somewhat graphically, what happened to me in the crash. I did that mainly to illustrate the extreme effectiveness of using Tegaderm (or similar products) because I want to convince everyone out there that the stuff works. Although Tegaderm is expensive (and incidentally not covered by my health insurance), it really, really helps heal quicker.


However, if you've never bought First Aid stuff before, the sticker shock is shocking, to say the least. For a typical bike crash you'll need to get the big pieces of Tegaderm, and that normally goes for $120 for a box of 30. It's easy, even if you skimp, to hit $100 at the 24 hour drugstore on the way home from the hospital or the race or the ride or wherever you crashed.

Yowsers, right?

The small stuff, barely enough for a tiny bit of road rash, runs $10 for 8 pieces, or something like that.

(I just noticed they sell Tegaderm in a 6 inch wide roll, 33 feet long. That would be the schnizzle for a bike racing first aid kit, but I bet it'll cost as much as a Zipp wheel or something. Okay, I just looked it up - $320 online. That should be in the promoter's kit for Bethel for 2010.)

I didn't consciously try and protect my bike during that fall since it happened quicker than I could think. I probably did have some long-ago Judo training kick in since I didn't hit the front or sides of my helmet, just the back.

And who knows, maybe that "Flesh heals, Campy doesn't" thing did kick in, because you know what happened to me. Now take a look at the bike:

The left hood, which took a pretty good whack. The shift lever seems to move and click like normal.

The right side, which I think hit the ground first. It's hard to tell that there's any damage.

Incidentally both brifters were pointed inwards after the crash. This was intentional. Let me explain.

I try and tighten the brifters enough so that they don't move under my hands, but in the event of a crash they move instead of shattering (the same goes for the seatpost). Although you'll sometimes see me "realigning" a brifter before a race (i.e. hitting it with my hand) because they were a touch loose and moved a bit, they were definitely loose enough to turn on the bar when they hit the ground.

Think of the brifter clamp pressure as a fuse. If you tighten it too much, the brifter won't move even under extreme impacts, causing the brifter itself to break. This is like putting a high capacity fuse in a low capacity circuit. Put a 40 amp fuse in a 1 amp circuit and it'll allow 40 amps of juice to hit the 1 amp wiring. You'll melt wiring. Bad.

On the other hand, if you don't tighten the brifters enough, they will move when you don't want them to move, like while you're climbing on the hoods. This is like putting a 1 amp fuse on a 40 amp motor - since the fuse only lets 1 amp go by, the motor won't be very happy.

The correct brifter tightness is like having the right fuse. 20 amp for a 15 amp device, allows for the amperage burst on start up (kind of like when you need to accelerate hard on the hoods), and it also allows for normal operation. But when something weird happens (lightning strikes the circuit or you crash your bike), the fuses go.

I tend to be on the conservative side, so the brifters may move a bit under non-crashing duress. For example, every month or so I need to shove both brifters in a touch. I guess I pull them out when I climb on the hoods, out of the saddle. I don't have to do this when I'm doing a lot of trainer work, and I have to adjust the brifters a bit more when I ride outside a lot.

Note: the same idea on tightness applies to the seatpost. With carbon steerers, you have to be careful tightening the stem, and you should be careful with the bars as well.

A little seat scuff. It looks like the seat edge was angled like that for a reason. I'm amazed there isn't more damage to the saddle. The metal rails seems fine.

Which brings me to another equipment selection point.

You may have noticed that I have aluminum bars, stem, and seatpost on my main bike, the Cannondale. This is not a coincidence. In fact, the bike came with carbon versions of all of them . I switched them out to the sturdy aluminum counterparts in the pictures.

Part of it is my conservative, risk averse personality. "Risk averse? And you do crits?" you may wonder. Yes, I consider myself risk averse. I back out of a situation if I feel uncomfortable, whether it's on the bike or in real life.

Anyway, I use what I know works well. I want reliable, dependable producs on my bike. I don't want to wonder if my wheels will hold up until the end of the race. I've been there, done that (and usually the wheels held up, but sometimes - like at Fitchburg, or Tour of Michigan - they didn't).

I have Thomson posts (standard ones, not the Masterpiece) on my road bikes and my track bike. I use the Ritchey stems on my threadless headset road bikes (I just noticed now that they have a 13 cm 73 degree stem... I may have to check it out). And I have the Mavic crit-bend bars on my two main road bikes (I took the bars for the Cannondale from my third bike, which currently hangs forlorn, barless).

I switched out from carbon because of carbon fiber's properties. As essentially fiber reinforced plastic (or "FRP" as my dad would say), with rigid and basically inflexible fibers (carbon), carbon fiber doesn't bend, it shatters. I'd much rather bend a post or a bar than shatter one, especially if it means I can continue on the ride or race. Imagine dumping the bike on a training ride and breaking your bars? You'd have no choice but to call for a ride. But a slightly bent aluminum bar, although not optimal, will let you trudge back home.

Anyway, suffice it to say that I believe whole-heartedly in aluminum's practicality for the hard pieces of a bike (I call non-moving things like the stem, bars, post "hard pieces").

If you look closely, you can see some scrapes. Again, I'm amazed at the minimal amount of damage.

The arc-shaped smudge above the "o" is actually a minor gouge in the paint. The strap things are computer wire organizing hook-and-loop straps. I use them for the SRM wires.

The carbon is clearly exposed on the downtube. This is the bit that worries me most because if the frame is damaged... well, you can't get SystemSix frames anymore. I'll keep a careful eye on it. And at some point I'll remember to put some clear nail polish on the scar, to keep it from the elements.

To be fair, I haven't ridden the bike yet. The cranks may be bent. A pedal axle too, perhaps, and maybe one of the wheels is tweaked (one is minorly off, but it was already tweaked, so I'll be retruing it). I'm pretty confident that things are okay though because the bendy stuff is made with carbon fiber (rims, downtube). Since, as I just exhaustively pointed out, that stuff usually breaks if it gets hit too hard, if it ain't broke, it ain't bad.

Since I won't be riding it for a while, and when I finally do it'll be on the trainer for some time, I feel comfortable with the bike as it is now. If I hear some odd creaking when I start pedaling the thing, then I'll know that I need to look more closely.

What's all this tell you?

- I did, in fact, take the brunt of the punishment.
- I didn't do it intentionally.
- Given the choice, I'd have sacrificed the bike to avoid a couple months of inactivity, loss of pay, and stuff like that.

Therefore, I propose that the saying "Flesh heals, Campy doesn't" be updated to something a little more accurate. Like "In this day and age of health care costs and long term consequences of even relatively minor injuries, do whatever it takes to minimize damage to the rider. Campy costs just money. Your body costs more."

Okay, that's a little drawn out and hard to repeat even once before you hit the deck. Let's shorten it a bit.

Body > Money


Next up: the rider's gear.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life - Visuals Of A Recovery

As a reminder, I pretty much followed my own recommendations on dressing road rash here. At that time I wrote the tutorial, I didn't have pictures of wounds and such, but it's pretty amazing how well the whole procedure works.

The key is to keep the wound moist and flexible. By not allowing the wound to form a scab, you avoid the pain that you feel when the scab rips from your skin. Instead of a natural scab, use Tegaderm to form a synthetic, flexible scab.

I've been tracking the progress of the wounds I sustained in the crash on August 11. At 7:50 PM. Not that we're keeping track or anything, but it's funny that we can pinpoint it to about the exact minute.

Of the seven (until I wrote this up just now, I thought there were six initial spots) places that needed Tegaderm, four no longer need any covering or protection. Two, the right ankle and right elbow, still require some "heal time".

Right shoulder, right after the crash. This was about 2 AM on Wednesday, shortly after I got home from the hospital. My shoulder hurt the most, but ultimately x-rays and some MRIs would show that I managed to get away with minimal damage to the area. No broken bones, no torn musles. The wound is shiny because the missus already put Tegaderm on it. I'm wearing a neck brace, so I could sleep sitting upright. If you ever get a neck brace, save it. I got this one in the early 90s.

The right shoulder, three days later. Incredible. That's the good news. The bad news is I can't life my arm in this picture. Now, on August 24th, I can lift is until my arm is almost horizontal. Physical therapy begins next week. Yum.

The left shoulder, again, at about 2 AM on Wednesday August 12. Note it looks like it has cling-wrap on it - that's the Tegaderm. Neck brace just visible.

August 15, about three days later. The yellowish tint in the middle is some "leakage" from the wound. The missus took this picture (at my request) after she cleaned the wound. We were still using Tegaderm on it. Note the numbing wound spray (blue bottle) in the background.

A week after the second shot, I complained of some itching on that same shoulder. The missus checked and it looked pretty good. In fact, to my dismay, she peeled the Tegaderm off right then and there. I made her take a picture of it in return. Ten days total heal time. The left shoulder feels 100%. Note that I'm on BikeForums at that moment.

The tire mark. It was like a rug burn. This was after 2:15 AM Wednesday because that's when SOC and Mrs SOC left. It's probably closer to 2:30 AM.

By Saturday the 15th, it was okay. You can see the area the Tegaderm covered - it's kind of pale. Those big Tegaderms, by the way, cost $4 each. Each!

The stinging hip, which, because it didn't look bad, disguised the fact that the pelvis underneath had two fractures. This is the 2 AM shot the night the crash occurred.

By Saturday, it was fine. Note the adhesive left over. Rubbing alcohol worked quickly to get that all off.

Since I couldn't bend down too much to see what I was doing (I was cleaning stuff by myself, in the wheelchair), I had to use a mirror. There's a bruise apparent that we didn't see the night of the crash (but if you check the first picture of the tire mark, you can see it there). The tire mark is lower. And you can see the ankle too.

I forgot about my back. This is looking down from the right shoulder. The scrape marks lower down in the picture removed my number from the jersey.

These wounds were fine by August 15th. Incredible, right?

The nasty ankle wound. Deep and painful. This is the night of the crash.

A slightly blurry shot, Saturday August 15th. Not much progress. A LOT of swelling. This led the doctor to do an ultrasound of the leg - they found two clots in my calf. Blood thinners, and if I experience any pain closer to the knee, call the doc right away. They were debating whether or not to call the ambulance while I sat there on the ultrasound table.

August 18. It looks better but it bleeds regularly. Note how swollen the foot looks. It still looks like that now, August 24th. It still hurts and I feel it pretty much 24/7. I give it 2 weeks to go.

Nasty right elbow. Night of the crash, before dressing it. After dressing the shoulder and back wounds, I was almost fainting from pain, shock, and hunger. We took a break before tackling the ugliest wound visible while I still has my shorts on (visible at the bottom of the picture). SOC and his wife left so that the missus could privately dress the wounds the shorts covered.

August 15th, the elbow looks much better. It's still weeping now, on August 24th. I figure a week or so before it's done.

So there it is. It's hard to believe it's already been two weeks (well, tomorrow it'll be two weeks). It seems like it happened just the other day. I hope in the next week that my elbow will be done, and the week after the ankle too.

I also hope that the Sept 4 ultrasound shows no more blood clots in my right leg.

And, at some point some time, I hope to get back on the bike.

Because, you know. There's always next year.