Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Injury Time Out

The Velo News story has been filed to the Editors as of the end of last week. Stay tuned.

And I promise to write something positive and / or funny as soon as possible - just not yet.

In all the time I've played sports, from 5 years old on, I've never had a knee injury. Ankles are another story but no knee problems ever. Now I'm getting a solid dose of how knee issues can really f&*# with one's bike riding. I wish I could say it's just road rash or the stitches. The stitches on the right side as completely healed over. The left one would have been a nice scar by now but I managed to run it across the edge of a cabinet while standing up from scratching my Dog's belly, so it gets to start over.

All of us who race probably have a injury almost every season that takes some time away: road rash, collar bones, etc. It's a challenge not to get mentally down. Sometimes, I'm sure the circumstances of a crash have an effect on how one feels about the recovery and lost time. If you get taken out by a stupid move by someone else, that would be hard to take. Crashing while trying to stick a break, maybe a little easier. It's a long season. Pros crash and miss major races, then come back an kill it later on or the next season. Horner comes to mind. Van De Velde - it's a long list. ED NOTE: I was watching the end of Tour of Switzerland Stage 4 sprint while writing this. Holy crap! That crash was unnecessary and there will be some harsh words!

Obviously in the world of local amateur cycling, the stakes aren't that high so you just have to roll with the punches. I have said a bunch of times how lucky I am to be walking around at all. If my bars had come off 30 seconds earlier on the descent to the gravel, for example, I probably wouldn't be riding at all. My team mate's bars coming off at the start line falls into the same category of good fortune, considering the alternatives.

Now it's exactly a month later and the feeling of being lucky has worn off - completely. I have a good riding day without pain and think, "ok, it will take 2 more weeks and I'll be ready to go". Then the next day going down the stairs or on the bike, I get the pain under the knee caps, on the sides, one side or the other. Fuck. Now what? Stop riding completely and give up weeks? Ride flatter, slower rides to keep the legs turning? Race or not? The problem is the rock impact from coming straight down on the knees. There is a huge bundle of tendons there that are one issue. I'm fighting the thought of how good my form was at that moment and where I am now. It really sucks. Being left behind. Watching the team race and not being able to. Wondering if I can race at all again this year.

One of the things I asked for from Trek was for someone to call me. They were saying that the "issue" was discovered only after my crash. I don't believe that and I think the facts say otherwise. Nonetheless, as a rider on a sponsored team, a sponsor myself and as the person who paid for our team bikes, I wanted someone to say, "we are sorry this happened to you and we are taking these steps..." Something. Of course they did the opposite. If they end up with an expensive, protracted recall of the Madone, they deserve it. All I asked them for was a guarantee that all Madone owners would be notified asap, which would likely require some public acknowledgement. They wouldn't do it.

So yes, I'm personally offended and pissed off that my season is screwed up because of this. I'm still more worried about all the other 6,000 Madone riders that are at risk but today, right now, I'm sitting here deciding about whether to ride through it again today or stay home.

I really hope the Velo News story does two things: first get the word out that the Madone is not safe. Remember, they have ALREADY modified the design for newly shipped bikes, so they implicitly admit there is an issue, regardless of how they spin it. Secondly, I hope it exposes the kind of cover-your-ass corporate thinking that is far too wide spread. Sporting companies and cycling in particular don't need this.

In 2000, Trek had a recall for a similar issue with handlebar stems breaking. Note that only 3 incidents / injuries were reported, prompting the recall. The CPSC had to intervene here too. It sucks that we have to deal with what looks like an auto industry approach to delaying action as long as possible. It's now 30 days since my crash and nothing has been done by anyone yet. It's wrong.

You can search for any recall for any company here on the Consumer Product Safety Commission web site.

I was looking at the SiteMeter stats for this blog the other day and noticed reads from the domain Charter.com. So? Well it turns out that Charter provides cable service in Wisconsin. So? Well, when I had my journal of this incident as a private blog, I invited Trek to read it so they would hopefully see that action was necessary. The hits on the blog, when there only 4 authorized readers, came from the same domain. I picture someone in a nice office at nice desk, reading this blog and cursing that Vaughan guy for giving us trouble. I think it's both funny and sad that anyone there would take the time to read this blog but not do any thing or write me a letter, send an email or just pick up the phone.

In Trek's defense, they have at least taken some action that I asked for, which was to allow me to return some bikes that were purchased. Although they won't communicate with me directly, the word is I'm getting credited for 4 bikes I sent back. Of course I haven't seen any credit yet but hopefully that comes through. Obviously, I don't feel like they are doing me a huge favor there but they deserve a little bit of credit. Frankly, I think they just want to get rid of me asap. The feeling is mutual for sure.

So to whoever is reading this from Trek, "I am really, really unhappy with how you as a company have handled me personally, as a sponsor of my team and multiple (former) bike owner and I'm even MORE unhappy at your handling of the Madone's steer tube issue and the other 6,000 + of your customers." That's putting it mildly. It's wrong and I hope that more exposure will make this more clear. I'll never ride another Trek bike. My Wife's is the last one left, hanging in my garage but it goes on sale - cheap - this week. Then I'm done.