One month post op: Back on the trail

This past Sunday, 32 days after shoulder surgery and after several weeks of 12-hour workdays, I got to ride some trail.

How was it? Even better than expected.

The ride
Standard issue local singletrack love: Up from the Heil Ranch trailhead (Boulder side), clockwise around the Wild Turkey Loop then pin it back to the car.

I rocked the 2008 Stumpjumper Pro Carbon with Specialized Eskar 2.3 tires, Hayes Stroker brakes, Maverick Speedball seatpost, stock bars/stem and the suspension set stiff. I wore long pants with a rubber band around the drive-side cuff.

I’m proud to report I rode at my pre-surgery pace, both up and down.

It just goes to show: If you ride the trainer and do your dumbbell exercises and you’re nice to puppies, you can maintain decent fitness even when you’re injured and working too much.

I didn’t know what to expect, but my shoulders felt fine during the ride (not so fine that night, but oh well). I paid extra attention to maintaining a sweet Attack Position, and to keeping my hands light, which leads me to …

… hubris
At the top of the ride there’s this amazing section of trail. If you could helicopter a new rider there and let her ride 100 yards, she would be a mountain biker for life. This sinuous goodness slaloms through the trees, ever-so-slightly downhill, with sweet little rollers and mathematically perfect flow (until the end of the section).

I was pumping through, rocking the heavy feet and light hands so much that I let go of the bars. My hands were open, hovering over the grips, offering only the slightest guidance as I railed turn after turn.

It was awesome! And I had this thought: “Dude — I am so good at this — this would be amazing in a how-to video …” And I reached the end of the section. The trail turned tight off camber right, and I grabbed the bars and hit the brakes, but it was too late, and I tried to make the turn, but it was too late, and the front wheel washed and I crashed.

And it hurt, and I deserved it.

And I shook it off, and I started the descent.

And I RAILED it, and I was stoked.

5 replies
  1. Greg says:

    Hey Lee, Great to hear you are out riding again!

    Your post sparked a few questions about your bike set up.

    I’m using Kenda 2.1 DTC Nevegals.

    I’m looking for some new tires that will work tubeless with Mavic rims. Your Eskars are one of the tires I’ve turned up that look interesting and light. I’ve heard/read that the sidewalls are a bit weak in “rocky” terrain. Just wondering what your experience has been and do you run them tubeless?

    The other thing I noticed was the Speed Ball. Is this one with the remote?

    Additionally, I’m thinking of adding the Ultimate Workout from James to the DB Combo. Besides being much more intense, when do you personally use one over the other?

    Are you doing the workout as part of your recovery?

    Cheers Greg

  2. Naoko says:

    Congrats on your great recovery! It’s good to know that the stationary and dumbbell workout really does good.

  3. tony says:


    getting back on a bike after some time off is…well, like riding a bike (doh).
    Zen masters take time off, but they don’t ever really come down from the mountain top. Kung fu/mtb masters are and always will be strong riders, even after a few weeks off just riding a trainer.

    glad to hear you’re back in the saddle and recovering well from surgery.
    just keep you’re hands on the bar on your next ride 😉

    check this vid out of backside of montara mountain

  4. Anne aka Stripes says:

    Lee, I’m impressed 🙂 PT and working out are key to getting back.

    It’s hard coming back from an injury. I’m finally doing what I should have done last year: finish the ride where I broke my wrist. It’s taking time to get over the mental part, but every ride I do feels good and is an accomplishment.

    Do you have any suggestions on getting the mojo back after a injury?

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