X-ray image of my broken collar bone.

No KOM or race win is worth an injury lay-off

One year ago today I broke my right collar bone in the first race of the season.1  It was also my last so far. I suppose almost every ambitious athlete suffers an injury during his life. I will describe my experience with the collar bone and what I learned from it.

Operation

In most of the cases an operation is needed. In the operation there will be a plate applied which connects the two parts of the broken collarbone again. But I managed to shred the outer three centimeters of the bone completely. It was not possible to screw a plate on top of it. My doctor decided to do a tight rope fixation. They drilled a hole through the intact part of my collar bone and another one through the bone below and pulled a rope through to move the collarbone down. That way the collarbone was in the right place again and could merge again with those fragments at the outer side.

Recovery

The problem with this is that it takes much more time than a fixation with plate would have. And you can’t move your arm properly for weeks. Because of that I had to wear a shoulder immobilizer for ten weeks. Thats a massive sling around the neck that looks like a sofa for small children. My recovery went pretty well, I think. I had regular physiotherapy in which I always could perform every exercise my trainer wanted to do. 52 days later I sat on my bike again. But only at home on the bike trainer. Outside the concussions would still have been too much. Over two months after the accident I did my first jog. My first time on the bike outside was 74 days after the accident – thats two and a half months without proper biking. That was a long time.

Motivation kicks in

When I had time to ride my bike again it was already autumn. But my motivation was higher than ever. I bought very good winter clothes and rode through the whole winter. When the temperatures got friendlier again my ride became even longer. This march was the month with the longest distance I ever had. I never was fitter. I further optimised my bike, adjusted the suspension and rethought my position on the bike. My feeling on the bike was so good.

Second injury

Two weeks ago I managed to crash again. One second after I went down I knew my collar bone was broken. Again. I roared into the woods. Frustration. Twenty seconds later I picked up my bike and rode home. This time I did a better job breaking the collar bone. Same bone, different position. This time I got a titan plate on the bone. It feels like a steel beam inside my shoulder.
It was my second bike accident since I ride mountainbike more serious. I hope in the future not every accident results in a bone injury. I would also be easily satisfied with some small scratches…

Recovering from a déjà vu

In the first days while I waited for my operation I felt pretty devastated. Everything felt like a big déjà-vu. It was difficult to accept that my season is falling apart yet again. But some days after the operation – today is day 8 – I felt that thanks to that plate I’m much more able to do things than last time. I already move around without the arm sling most of the time. I mean I’m stille pretty slow with everything that has to do with that arm. But at least I can move it at all. I plan to be on the bike trainer as early as next week. My physiotherapist even advised me to do so. Because encourage my metabolism will help with the healing.

Lessons learned

Because the same accident happened again so fast I spent a good amount of time thinking about what I can do to prevent this kind of accidents in the future. Both accidents didn’t have much in common. But I came up with a (still a bit undefined) list of things I plan to do:

  • Participate in a technique training to improve my bike handling skills.2
  • Don’t ride at the limit when I don’t have perfect vision.
  • Fast descending is not what makes a fast race.
  • Only ride fast when I have inspected the trail just moments ago.

Some of those points are common sense but sometimes when you have fun on the trail you ignore some of these rules. I try to keep them in mind in the future every time I have the impulse to hit the pedals hard. It is always good in life to reflect your own actions – so it is on the bike.


  1. In minute 18 it gets “interesting”.

  2. I’m looking for bike training schools in south Germany right now. If someone has any tips. I would prefer someone who has actual experience in Cross Country racing and such things as curve technique, rock gardens, small jumps …

My workshop is a mess

 

Right now …

My workshop is a mess. Some days ago I was cleaning it up. “My workshop” is a big exaggeration. There was a time when below those bike parts, cleaning equipment, clothes and tools was a sofa. Yes I mean that piece of furniture where normaly at least two people can sit on.
When I started to work on my bike myself I didn’t like the idea to stand for hours  in the cold and lonely basement so I kept all the parts in the flat. But the parts and tools became more and more until the sofa was no longer free to sit on.

Now I structured all the things laying on top of it. Old bike parts will be sold. Parts I will maybe use again are stored below the sofa together with all the tools which fit nicely in a surprisingly small cardboard box. There are two boxes still on the sofa. In one I store all the fluids, oils, greases and lubricants. The other contains tubeless sealant and some parts to apply it.

But in the future …

This is not optimal but I now I’m able to sit again in the office/workshop below my montainbike and do things or sleep. In case of the latter I dream of kind of a garage beneath the house I live in where I don’t park my car (because I won’t own one) but instead store my bikes and have a workshop with all the tools nicely ordered at the wall. There’s a big workbench like table with drawers for parts and other materials. The heart of the workshop is a very robust workstand where I can put my bikes on.

I wonder if the day will come I won’t wake up and realise it was just a dream.

Brake Uncertainty

Not long ago I maybe have discovered what caused my accident last may. Back then I rode with an almost new Shimano XTR Race M-9000 brake. I just made one tour with the new brake. The accident happened on a steep downhill section on a wide forest path. I constantly had to break a little. Suddenly I braked a bit harder end everything went south. Until now I thought the slippery chalk gravel caused my wheel to swing off. But after I read a review of the Shimano XTR at MTB-News I figured that maybe the brake itself was the problem. This version of the XTR brake (and also its XT version) can have a changing pressure point. Means that if you press the brake lever once, release it almost(!) completely and press the lever again, the pressure point moves more far away from the handle bar. So the point where the wheel locks happens earlier. I rode with this brake since August when I was allowed to bike again. I didn’t have any real problems. But I was extremely careful because I didn’t very confident on difficult sections after my spill. After I read the review I tried it and I could reproduce it immediately.

When I first bought the XTR I almost chose the Magura MT8 instead. Maybe I’ll have a look at some secondhand MT8s now…

Back to the roots: WordPress

Huh, what’s going on, I’m back on WordPress.

Almost three years back I switched my blog software from WordPress to Publify. My WordPress installation was old and slow and it felt like it becomes worse with every update. At first I thought about writing a little blog software with Ruby and Rails by myself. But then I found Publify. It is a ready to use Rails blog software. At first all worked well. But from now and then I found a bug. The bugs became more and more and after the last update I wasn’t even able to log in to admin panel. Additionally I wanted to be able to blog from everywhere. Publifys admin interface is not really responsive.

Meanwhile I tried also Medium. What I most liked about it was the editor. It is very clean and easy to use and looks great. I never felt less distracted while putting my thoughts into words. But the disadvantage is that the editor is very limited. There are several items the editor understand and is able to treat them special. For example videos from YouTube or Vimeo, Tweets and of course images. But links to Strava activities get treated like it’s a normal link. That means Medium displays the Strava icon and the title of the Site, in this example that’s the title of the activity. There is no possibility to use Stravas own embed feature because Medium won’t display custom embeds. That means there’s no way to show a map to an activity. But that feature is crucial for me. It bothered me that those Strava links looked to dull. For WordPress there even exists plugin to fit your Strava activities nicely in your posts. Thats the advantage of being mainstream. 😃 1

Over the years my old existing WordPress blog (this one) updated itself with each new release. I tried it occasionally and it became better and better. It was even fast again. So today is the day I switch back to WordPress. For now I use the standard design. It still looks bloody boring but my main focus was on being able to write again. Design will follow.


  1. It was never updated and works no longer due to API changes.

Best Winterpokal already

Last weekend this winter became already the most productive of my life yet.

Every winter from October to March MTB News hosts a competition called “Winterpokal”. For every fifteen minutes of biking participants get one point. My best Winterpokal so far was 2010/11 with 114 points. As of today I have 120 points this winter. Maybe I have to catch up on some kilometres this year. 🙂 And we have just December. I hope I can keep up my motivation.

Hitting the wall

According to my training plan like last sunday I had to complete another 4 hour ride yesterday. I found a nice route on komoot and started riding shortly after 2 o’clock. I didn’t look at the route in detail, because when riding with my mountainbike there’s hardly anything that can stop me. Butwhen I was half way through the route it got dark. So far I was riding through the northern suburbs of Berlin but now I left urban territory. What followed was many kilometres of dark forrest. Normally when I’m riding in the Grunewald that’s no problem, because I know the place. But in an unknown wood in the dark it’s almost frightening. Additionally there was very thick fog yesterday. Although I had a very bright light I couldn’t see any farther as 5 metres. So it came that my heartrate was noticeable higher when I was in the forrest. Actually I rode in the GA2 and tempo zones instead of GA1. Because of that I stressed my body a bit too much. Approximately one hour before the end I hit the wall. I didn’t have enough to eat with me.

 

When I was at home I didn’t feel very comfortable although I ate something immediatly. I ate two crumble cakes and four pieces of Pizza. I know, that’s not the optimal nutrition after such an effort. I have to stock proper bars, gels and ingredients for recovery shakes again. So I went to bed early, but I couldn’t sleep. It felt like my body has things to do to manage this tremedous effort. When I finally fell to sleep it was very restless. I wasn’t tired in the morning, but I felt still very stressed. My first pedal strokes on my way to work felt terrible. It got a bit better after some metres but it didn’t feeld good. Also my heartrate felt like it raised pretty quick.

Frozen berry.
Bike at the fence of the Tegel airport in Berlin.
Bike at a frozen river.
Bike in the woods.
Bike in the fog.
Besides the bonk and the dark forrest it was a very nice and rather fun ride.

What I’m learning from this training sessionit is crucial to eat enough during the workout. I suppose hitting the wall doesn’t get me anywhere. Not that I didn’t knew this before but actually experiencing it is quite another thing.

Now I will look into ways to make my own bars, gels and shakes. 🙂

Scanning Schmargendorf

I’m following a traing plan again. Last sunday I had to complete a four hour endurance ride.

At first I wanted to ride in the woods. But thats not very appealig if its dark. So I decided to look araound in a part of the city I don’t know that well: Schmargendorf. In Schargendorf live rather wealthy people. There are many nice villas whith pretty Christmas illumination. I simply rode up and down the streets. It almost felt like I was a Google Street View car. I have to do this a couple more times this winter. Maybe next time I will have a look at Charlottenburg. So I can work through all parts of Berlin unter next summer. 🙂 My Strava heatmap will become a bit more balanced.

The City Bike Transition

The weekend after I received all parts I started the MTB to City Bike transition.

I began with the tubeless conversion of my wheels. They came without rim type installed so I had to attack some. This was rather easy. I tried to inflate the tyres without first mounting them with a tube — and failed … aigain. After I found a tube which was more or less fitting — I used a 29" tube although I was working on 26" wheels — I was able to inflate the tyre instantly. The tyre has to be inflated once before it works without a tube. But after that it is pretty easy. I filled in the tubeless sealant and shaked the wheel around. The following day I kept a close eye at the wheels because sometimes the sealant takes a couple of days to seal the tyre reliably. Two days after the conversion I hat to stop at a gas station on my way to work because my rear tyre was almost flat. But since then the tyres are seal.

The rest of the assembly was pretty straight forward although it was mostly the first time I did it. The crank arm was easily removed and the new one was likewise easily installed. Same with the cassette and the rear derailleur. The only thing that took a bit of trial and error was the adjustment of the rear derailleur. At first it didn’t shift very good. I had to adjust it with its screws and try a bit with the position of the Bowden cable. When I was finished the shifting worked, but ther was still a faint clicking sound. I figured that it will be gone after a couple of kilometres, and that’s exaclty what happened.

I’m using my new 1×11 City Bike now for two weeks and I love it already. It feels so smooth to ride and shift. Somehow the one by shifting feels very solid, smooth and accurate. I can only imagine how the top of the line 1×12 SRAM Eagle will feel.