Posted by: brendan | May 31, 2008

Let the bike riding begin…healing is amazing!

Just got back from my first extended ride…and although just 10 miles, it felt great.    I think I’ll be ready to start my cycle commute to work starting on Monday, tt’s 5 miles each way.   I’ve got to pull my daughter in a it will be a little extra work, but luckily we live in flatville…so it shouldn’t be to bad.   Here’s a pic of the mtn bike converted to ATR cycle:

Slick tires put on, clipless pedals replaced with flats, and seat lowered so that heels can hit ground in case of quick stop.  

Gosh…I just am reading some posts of folks that are just in their first days after surgery and it seems just like yesterday to me.   I’m telling you it goes slow at first and then before you know it you’ll be back on your feet (or cycle) and doing the things you love to do.   In retrospect, when I was laid up in bed for those first 2 weeks, leg elevated, in pain…it was one of the only times in the last 10 years that I’ve really slowed down.   I got to think about things and catch up with old friends…things we just don’t get to do in today’s busy society.   So in some sort of wierd way, I enjoyed those first few weeks, not really while I was experiencing them, but after the fact…the memory is not bad, it’s actually a little refreshing.   I’m not saying I want to go through this thing again, but I can remember writing a post 2 months ago about being scared of returning to the activities that come with risk of injury…but now just a few months later, I say bring ‘em on.   

I just feel thankful (and a bit embaressed/spoiled) to have access to such good health care.   I saw an image on the Yahoo home page a few days ago of some tribe in South America that was being photographed from a helicoptor…they are apparently one of the last truly indigenious tribes that have not had contact with the modern world (aside from seeing metal flying in the sky!).   My first thought was, wow…if one of them tears an AT while hunting…there is a good chance they would be crippled for the rest of their life…however long or short that may be.    Hence..the thankful feeling on my part…

So, Brendan, what are you getting at really.   I guess I’m just a little overwhelmed with good feelings today and I just think I’ve grown a lot through this experience, so I’m kind of glad it happened…no, glad really isn’t the right word….maybe fortunate.   Heck, IMO, we get one shot at life here…and why not experience as much as we can.   We are members of an elite group of folks who have sustained one of the worst sports injuries…and we are all living to talk about it.    

OK…back to the heel…it’s still looking good, I haven’t iced outside of the PT office in a week:

Been walking in two shoes for about two weeks now, and if I really concentrate and roll up on my toes, I walk without much limp.   But if I need some speed, I stay on heels and limp along.   Working the calf eccentrically with some body weight, and cocentrically with the therabands still.   Did some jumps on the leg press shuttle machine at PT which my therapist said would be scary…but I didn’t find it so.   Stretching the AT for one minute intervals with some body weight.   I’m going to make a slant board as well to help keep the stretching up.   A family friend said that that really helped her in the 3-6 month time period after she had ruptured hers.  

As eriedutchgirl says…keep your chins up.    We’ll all get this thing licked!




That’s great Brendan. I just got back from a 3 mile walk on some hills. I did really well. Much less limp than yesterday and soreness, but not pain. I actually forgot about my Achilles for a time! I find myself feeling fortunate quite often these days too. I got the bike out the other day and rode for a while. I forgot that I can’t really support my weight on the ball of my foot yet and stood up in the saddle. I was shifting to top gear and was moving along at a good clip and my foot almost slid backward off the pedal. That was a bit scary so I try not to stand up now. Are you able to stand on the pedals and give it a good push? Keep up the good work. I’m always amazed at how motivated everyone here is to get back to normal, but it probably that drive that got us here in the first place. I agree, bring it on!

Wow, Brendan. Riding your bike and bringing your daughter to school will be an amazing milestone and an indicator that life is truly on the road back to normalcy.

Congratulations, and be sure to enjoy your time with your daughter as you are pedaling down the road!

I enjoy reading posts that provide perspective on the experience and the joy for all that life has to give. As down as we’ve all felt at one time or another during the recovery process, it’s great to know that there are happy days ahead (and even now), and it means that much more when it comes from people who have experienced the same injury and rehabilitation process.

Brendan -
Glad that you are riding around and becoming more active.

It’s great to hear that from this injury/recovery you are able to take away something positive.

Today, a good friend of mine (from since college days) and I went to a sporting goods store, bought a couple of baseball gloves and a ball. We went to a park nearby and threw the ball around for some time. My leg is still a bit stiff from the jog and the leg workouts, but we had a great time.

Congratulations with your continued progress and milestones. It is wonderful for those behind you (like me!) in the timeline to hear about this kind of progress.

I can truly relate to your perspective and how this injury has made you take stock. I would not wish this on anyone, but I do appreciate the new insights and way I am looking at my world these days. I have learned alot. Who knew….

Jim - I’m not standing on the pedals yet…in fact with my injured leg, I’m just pedaling with more of the heel than the forefoot…that will come soon. When I got home and took a step, my AT felt so good and stretched, that I couldn’t feel it for a sec, and I was like “Whoa…is it still attached?” But of course it was, it had just been stretched more than it has in 3 months.

brendan -
Thank you for your generous contribution.

Great post Brendan, really inspiring for those of us still aiming to get back in the saddle. Love your point about the enforced gift of slowing down - I’ve just spent 2 hours sitting in my garden reading and watching a caterpillar. Normally I’d have been out riding since dawn!

And true, for most people in this world an ATR is life sentence that they may never recover from. We are fortunate despite our misfortune!


Way to go fella !
Enjoy your commuting and welcome back to the cycling world.

Johnk :)

Brendan, I took a look at your blog posts since the beginning…you did a great job in keeping updates related to your progress.
I had pretty much been watching new posts, and now I am starting to look to see what some of the more advanced “recoverers” did at week 5, 6 etc.

Just thought you would like to know how interesting it was and helpful as the healing progresses beyond the first few weeks.

wow, your progress is amazing
on your bike, 10 miles…
my physio’s got me only on the bike for 15 min….
got to change this!!

give me a tip on how to walk on my toes…my bad foot is not cooperating, brain has shut down!!

i’ve been in 2 shoes now for over a week, full time
limping a little but much better than last week…what a learning curve it’s been

strating week 13..
my surgeon told me that the next 3 months are important, to be careful, that’s when accidents happens because you feel that you can do so much more…

we’ll i’ll keep on reading, i haven’t been on the site for a long time…

take care

Brendan, How have your first days cycling to work gone ? I’ve done 3 days return journeys now and feeling stronger as the days go in, a little cramp in the bad calf but thats taken care of with Arnica oil massage balm.

Johnk :)

johnk - the bike commute went great. Besides days I have PT, I plan on parking the car in the garage for the summer. I’m still driving on the pedals mid-foot…so no real pressure on the calf/tendon yet. When I stop at a light, my injured calf shakes a little from not being used in so long. I used to feel this after 25-30 mile rides when it was this is not an uncommon feeling…in fact it actually felt good because I know that I am slowly returning to normal. I have forgotten about my Arnica Oil..I used it for my scar, but I did read it’s good for muscles too…I will start using it again on the calf..thanks for the reminder!

Brendan - Good to hear the riding is going well. I had a thought about your pedals. I know you mentioned that you replaced your clipless with flats. It may be helpful to try the clipless pedal for the good leg and the flat pedal for the injured leg. That way the good leg can help pull through the pedal stroke as you’re pushing down with the injured leg, yet leaving your injured leg free to come off the pedal. Just a thought. Perhaps you prefer getting the extra workout from the flat pedals?


Great things are happening to you! That’s terrific. So much to be thankful for, as you say. I can break a sweat stationary-biking every day if I want, and that’s my sanity back. And with the weather getting gorgeous here… the lake warming up and the beach waiting… I feel lucky too.

Funny you should say that about the South American tribe. I totally thought about the Darwinian reality of my ATR after the miracle of modern surgery. I was thinking how if I’d been a caveman, I’d have been left behind with my sad little leg to be eaten by wolves. I mean, cavemen didn’t live to an average of 27 years just because they didn’t have penicillin! ATRs cut a few of them out of the gene pool too! So thank you, mom and dad, for having the good sense to conceive me in the 21st century in a first world country.

And those following brendan’s progress and praying for the day they can torch the crutches, good things on the way. Chins up, best feet forward!

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