Round-Up 2015

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When Round The Bend started earlier this year I knew that 2015 was not going to be good for cycling.  However, there was plenty of cycling to talk about and no shortage of past tours to document, resulting in all with 49 posts.  Although this is just my personal record of Life on a bike it is pleasing to see that up to now the site has attracted 660 visitors from 41 countries around the world and over 2,000 views; you are all most welcome.  I would be very pleased to hear from anyone or provide further details on the rides or other relevant information if interested or just leave your comments  – contact details in the About section.

In addition to the usual local and various other UK rides, I had ambitious plans to cycle to Berlin in 2015, so there would also be lots of new material for RTB right, wrong.  In the event, as far as cycling is concerned this has been a very bad year – I feared it would be but staying hopeful was part of my subliminal defence towards what was about to come.

Despite last year’s numerous tours, it was clear before Christmas that after two previous arthroscopies on my left knee over the preceding 4-years, its life (the knee that is) was coming to an end.  Although I was still cycling the leg and knee were badly swollen and walking had gone from bad to worse, even mowing the lawn was a very painful undertaking.  It is said that when something like this starts to really affect the way you live it is time to do something and I knew that the most likely outcome would have to be a total knee replacement (TKR).

2015: The year of the knee - after the TKR x-ray

2015: The year of the knee – X-ray after the TKR

As someone who has been physically active all my life – numerous sports, walking and climbing, scuba diving & cycling – this was a difficult step (no pun intended) to accept but life had become miserable and I figured that to get the maximum benefit from such a procedure it was better to just do it sooner rather than later.  Despite all the criticism of the NHS, the people, process and procedure was altogether outstanding; from first seeing my GP in December with a subsequent assessment by a specialist in January, I had my new knee on 25th April and ever since then I have been slowly recovering.  The result has been limited and often painful cycling – certainly touring has not been possible this year after the operation but I can walk reasonably again.

Round The Bend - Puglia April 2015

Round The Bend – Puglia, April 2015

Prior to the operation and thinking this was likely to be my first and last chance to tour in 2015, we took the opportunity of a short supported tour of Puglia, Italy in early April, returning with a nice tan just two days before going into hospital.  What a tonic that was; apart from being a wonderful trip it put me in good physical shape to recover from the operation and, furthermore, helped with my morale in the weeks that followed the operation.  However, make no mistake this is a big operation and the first couple of months afterwards were difficult and painful.

Recovery can be charted through a few personal landmark events, which is still ongoing:

  • 4-weeks – started to get some sleep again.
  • 6-weeks – on the turbo trainer (with difficulty).
  • 12-weeks – off all drugs and painkillers
  • 14-weeks – cycling again; only 7.5 miles but being on the road again was fantastic.

Since then I now try to walk up to 1-hour or cycle at least four or five days a week, depending on the weather.  My rides have reached up to 15 miles, though I do need to stay on the flat where possible.  For this reason I have been mainly taking the Joey into the local countryside by car and riding round in circles!  Sounds boring but it can be quite enjoyable and as usual I’ve seen the seasons as time passes.  In addition, when the weather is bad, I use the turbo trainer indoors at home for 30-minutes.  It’s a far cry from my previous cycling exploits but it maintains my spirits (mostly) and hopefully will eventually lead to greater things again at some time in the future.

Round The Bend - Somerset, September 2015

Round The Bend – Somerset, September 2015

In a normal year I have been clocking up to 3,500 miles and despite this year’s problems it looks like I’ll do about 1,100 miles on the road in 2015 i.e. excluding turbo trainer ‘rides’ of about 250 miles.  This is both surprising and gratifying under the circumstances.  As indicated, the majority of post-op cycling has been on the Joey but some 550 miles were achieved prior to the operation, in the UK and during the Italian tour.

Round The Bend - Surrey (local), October 2015

Round The Bend – Surrey (local), October 2015

To be honest I have been disappointed with the progress, though ironically it is not the TKR that is causing the problem but my other knee which is now showing similar signs of degeneration and can be painful during and after a ride!  At the moment I am really not sure how cycling is going to turn out in the future but I am hoping that with continued perseverance I can eventually get back to +30 miles a day and perhaps undertake some modest touring, we shall see.

For sure the TKR has dominated not just my cycling but my life in 2015, which has truly been an annus horribilus.  Notwithstanding, there are a number of rides still to write up in Round The Bend and plenty to say about the ever changing world of cycling.  The plan is to (a) persevere with the current regime, and (b) work towards modest but hopefully nonetheless challenging new goals.

Notwithstanding the above it is still a great pleasure to be able to ride into the countryside once again and just spin the wheels.  Here’s to 2016 and remember:

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best

And always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the light side of life

If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that’s the thing

And always look on the bright side of life
Come on!
Always look on the right side of life

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin
Give the audience a grin
Enjoy it, it’s your last chance anyhow

So, always look on the bright side of death
A-just before you draw your terminal breath

Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

And always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life

Ref. Eric Idle from Life of Brian

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