Saturday, December 29, 2012

A New Year, a New Promise - Part One

For the latter half of December, I had been taking my winter bike out with studded tires, mostly through the wooded trails in nearby Brown Deer Park. I went there at night, after a recent snowfalls, with my high-powered LED headlight leading a visual path through the darkness. I was an incredible experience: peaceful, moody, and even a bit spooky. A nice change of pace from riding on the roads. I had no concern of traffic, but the narrow trails still offered a bit of a challenge. A whole new world. Then there was a day of partial melting about a week ago. Last Sunday, the day before Christmas Eve, I decided to go for a ride. A road ride. There still were patches of ice on the roads, but it seemed clear enough that I could maneuver my way around them. The traffic was light. It all would have been fine, except for the fact that I decided to take my regular road bike out with smooth, narrow tires. I was no more than 4 blocks from home that choice of ride proved to be the mistake. As I was slowly climbing a hill when my tires suddenly slipped from under me. I was climbing out of the saddle, firmly gripping the handlebars, so there was no way to react in time and brace myself. Within a matter of a second, I landed directly and completely on my left hip.

I knew it was a hard fall. I don't remember much of the next few minutes, other than trying to get up and just stand. My left leg was out of commission. I believe it took me almost 10 minutes before I could actually pull myself up with the power of my right leg alone. I'm sure it took me so long to get back up because of the pain. And when I finally did get up, I confirmed the fact that I could not apply any weight on the left leg. Besides the pain, even the smallest amount of weight applied produced the sensation that my foot was slipping on ice. And yet, when I looked down, the foot was on dry, solid pavement. A vert strange feeling. It was obvious to me at that point that the slippage was occurring in the leg itself, and most likely in the hip are. Had I torn a muscle or other connective tissue so that there was no reliable physical connection between my hip and foot? I had never experienced anything like this before, so I figured this is probably what had happened.

Even when I tried to lift it, the weight on the leg alone produced the same excruciating pain. I immediately pulled my cell phone out and called my wife. I needed to be picked.

When Linda got there, she tried to position that car so I could just take a couple very short hops to the car seat on my right leg. But because I couldn't even left the leg hang by it's own weight, that proved impossible and very, VERY painful. I couldn't move from that stop one inch! At this point I was concerned with the cold and possibly going into shock. My wife found her trusty old wool car blanket, a gift from her late father from WWII. Then she called 911. Within minutes, paramedics were there and assessing the situation. A few of them cautiously helped lower me onto a stretcher, and I was loaded into the ambulance.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Return of Race Across Wisconsin?

Yes, it's seriously being considered. The one-day "Race Across Wisconsin" that was held from 1984 though 1987 might be returning for 2014! There seems to be a strong interest from several people I've been in contact with recently. For those who aren't familiar with the race's history and design, you can find out a bit more at this link: Race Across Wisconsin.

I will begin working on the plans over the next few months. If you have any interest in participating, whether it be as a cyclist or race official, please contact me at:, and put the words "2014 Race Across Wisconsin" in the subject line.

Thank you,
Mark Ehlers
The Prodigal Cyclist

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holy Hill in December?

Well, I think I can honestly say that this was the first time in my life that I've ridden to Holy Hill during the month of December. The latest month of the year I've ever made it out to this location is probably October, although September is more likely. In the past, by this time of year I usually don't feel any desire to take that hilly trip. The truth is, there is no practical reason for it. As the riding season has gone into maintenance mode, hills and 50+ mile rides aren't needed for training purposes. But for the past 2 months I've been hoping to make one more trip out there for the year.

Unfortunately, something always seems to come up that keeps me to a shorter and/or flatter route...until today. The weather forecast was for sunny skies and winds directly from the west. If I could accept the struggle of a direct headwind for the 25 mile ride out there, I would be rewarded with nearly a free ride on the 25 mile ride back. So I did, and so I was. It was a beautiful day for another first in my life on the bike.

December 4, 2012 Holy Hill Ride