A Tendonitis Tale

It is now early summer 2014 as I write this piece. Just last fall I had begun seriously looking at bicycles that would work better than my trusty old Specialized Crossroads on the many dirt trails around Anchorage. I had been looking forward to a new mountain bike ever since, and here I was on my very cool new Specialized Hardrock “Hardtail 29er” on my favorite paved trail, Anchorage’s Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. I rode my usual out and back nine-mile route from Point Woronzoff to the hill that rises from the flats up to the Kincaid Park chalet. No problems, and I felt great about finally having a bike I had waited so long for.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I felt a mild, but nagging pain in my right wrist. That was the start of the problems. The pain wasn’t bad enough for a doctor’s attention, and I could still function OK for the most part. I never had any problems with the flat handlebars on my old bike, but those on the new bike were considerably wider, which bent my wrists at a sharper angle. They also sported handgrips that flared to the rear, which bent my wrists even more. I reasoned that handlebars that angled back some would place my wrists in a more neutral position, so I took my new bike back to The Bike Shop on West Dimond Blvd to get fitted with new handlebars. They didn’t have any in stock, but one of the techs checked the handlebars catalog, and said new ones would arrive and they would install them in a few days.

A week and a half went by and I hadn’t heard from the bike shop, so I swung by to see what was going on. The man who I had dealt with to order the new bars wasn’t there, and nobody else could find any new bars, or otherwise seemed to know what was going on. They could not even find a record that any new bars had been ordered. When one of the shop techs was checking the catalog to find the handlebars I said the other tech had ordered, what should he find but the written order for my bars, securely hidden in the pages of the catalog. The tech I dealt with a week and a half earlier had put the order slip there, then promptly forgot about it.

While the bike shop didn’t have any handlebars that both angled back and were as wide as the stock bars, they did have narrower angled bars. They offered to let me use those until wider ones they would order arrived. OK, that would work as a stop gap measure. I rode my bike several times with those bars. They worked ok, but were decidedly too narrow, especially on the hilly, dirt trails I tried. They then ordered different new ones (Surly brand, at $60), that were wide enough, but had a steeper angle.

Meanwhile, they had put the stock bars back on, but fit with plain grips that didn’t flare out behind. I tried out that setup on another ride on the coastal trail and I was glad to discover that I had no more wrist problem. I reasoned that it must have been the flared grips that caused the wrist problem on that first ride and not the wider stock flat bars themselves. A few days later, I went RV camping with my son Mike and his friend Tom. As we often do when out in the woods, we did a little target shooting. I was only able to fire off a few shots with my pistols because their kick re-aggravated my wrist tendonitis. Big time.

A few days later the Surly bars came in, but the bike shop discovered a new problem. The hydraulic brake line to the front wheel was now too short, and they had no lines in stock. It would take several more days for the new brake line to come in, so I had the shop put the stock bars back on, but with non-flared grips. I was hoping that my tendonitis would not be re-aggravated if I continued to ride the bike with stock bars. I thought angled bars would still help.

On my Doc’s advice, I bought an Ace wrist wrap. It helped the tendonitis some, but it wasn’t the best solution and I left it off most of time. I awoke one night soon after, as I had somehow aggravated the tendonitis, and it was very painful. Decided to go to my doc in the morning, just to be safe. He prescribed anti-inflammatory pills, a stouter wrist wrap, and icing my wrist.

The brake line came in and the shop fitted the new Surly bars. However, a test ride discovered yet a new problem — the bars were now too high. They just didn’t seem to fit right, so I decided that stock bars with plain grips was the best solution after all. I took the Surly bars off myself and took them back to the bike shop to swap for the original bars. At the bike shop, I learned my old stock bars must have been sold, because nobody could find them. They scrounged yet different bars that had a bit of an angle, but had a wider diameter attachment to the head piece, which necessitated a new head piece, which they provided. At home after bolting on the new parts, I discovered that the head piece was way longer than stock — groan!  ANOTHER problem, because I would now be leaning too far over the bars.

On my way to take those two pieces back and just have them order new stock bars, I decided to first check the original Bike Shop on Northern Lights Blvd. They had a pair and offered to just give them to me at no charge! I gave them the two pieces the Dimond shop had given me. The new stock bars went on just fine and I’m looking forward to riding again.

Meanwhile, I continue to wear the new brace and to take the pills, and my tendonitis is finally on the mend.

A tendonitis tale of domino events and circumstances.

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