Getting stronger in the ways that count

I’m 45 this year, and all this riding and teaching is starting to take a physical toll.

As I enter the 2014 season, I’m working hard to get stronger in the ways that count.


For now we’ll ignore deep emotional issues and focus on mechanical stuff.

• Left shoulder hurts most of the time. It’s in very bad shape. The joint space is almost all gone, which means you have bones hitting bones, and it’s just a mess in there. Doctors want to install an artificial shoulder, but those things are not made for shredding. I need to keep this shoulder as long as I can.

• Right shoulder hurts too. The collarbone has been broken for years (it just didn’t heal after a dirt jump crash), and it looks like the labrum is torn. Despite not being officially attached to my body, this is currently the good shoulder. Gotta keep it strong and hang onto it until I can get it fixed.

The clavicle on my good shoulder. Some idiot has used my body for terrible things.

• Low back has been hurting more and more. It turns out my hips have been battered into a state of crookedness, plus some of the spinal stabilizer muscles have not been working. Some idiot has used my body for terrible things. He’s been using the big muscles to ride and teach, but when they get tired (like, say, after a long season of coaching), the little muscles aren’t functioning, and the spine is unstable. Add some crushed disc action, and you get nerve impingement and horrific pain for a week at a time.

That’s quite the laundry list! I blame two things:

1) Decades of aggressive use — often with inadequate supervision and poor technique. It all started in the high school weight room (must … bench … 300). Years of DH racing with terrible form … not good.

2) A powerful ability to ignore pain and forget troubles. This quality is useful when you want to ride a bike or write a book, but I’ve taken it to the point of self destruction.

Measure twice, lift once

For the past few years, Erin Carson at RallySport Health and Fitness in Boulder, CO has taught me a ton, and she’s kept me functioning this long. Erin is now owner of RallySport (congrats!), and she’s busier than ever.

I am currently working with Dee Tidwell of Enduro MTB Training. Dee is a highly respected fitness professional who happens to love bikes.

Dee hamming it up with my custom program.

First, Dee had me provide a detailed client history. My top five goals went:

1. Keep my shoulders for a long time.

2. Don’t hurt my back.

3. Live with less pain.

4. Be generally strong. Handle moving day, airport, fighting bears.

5. Stronger/better on the bike.

At his gym in Greenwood Village, Dee did an official assessment of my mechanics and mobility. Findings:

• Yep, my left shoulder is still messed up, and the soft tissues around it are angry. Range of motion is super limited, and it’s very weak in certain areas.

• Despite my best efforts to ignore and forget, my right collarbone is still broken! Dee was offended: “Do you have any idea what that’s doing to your power?” Uh … what … I forgot what you’re talking about.

• According to Dee’s test, my core strength was a D. A D! As in A, B, C, D, F. Wow, I did not expect that. Remember, a lot of the stabilizing muscles have not been working.

Poor? Ouch.

Getting stronger

Based on his measurements and my lifestyle, Dee created a four-week training plan just for me.

He banned me from everything fun and satisfying. No big pulling or pushing, and I laid off the pump track. Instead, it was all about building stability in the shoulders and core: light weights or no weights, with lots of crazy movements. At the same time, Andrew Maloney at Jade Mountain Health started sticking electrified needles into my left shoulder.

Two weeks in, I was super bummed! Bike power was way down, and I was exhausted. Dee assured me this is normal, and that I should respect the neurological stress my body was under. New movements plus acupuncture and my on-bike training all add up. I had to trust my Coach and be patient.

After a month, Dee re-assessed me:

• Shoulder range and strength were measurably better.

• Core strength improved to a B.

On the right track!

Right now I’m drilling Week 3 of Month 2, and the workouts are crushing me. But I have confidence in Dee, and I’m feeling stronger on the bike. Plus: My back is feeling way better.

Stoked on that. I’ll keep you posted.


Dee demonstrates one of his crazy moves.

If you have structural issues or just want to get as strong as possible, check out Enduro MTB Training. Dee offers a phased, downloadable program for $99. You can work with him remotely or at his gym.

Know more. Have more fun!

Join the leelikesbikes mailing list:

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *