Saturday, August 3, 2019

I will never be a cyclist.

Just hours after I published my "Running in Oslo" post last Saturday, my international running adventures came to an abrupt stop.

Greg and I had signed up for a group bike tour of Oslo on Saturday afternoon. There were 14 of us, and we were led by a local guide who worked at the rental bike shop. We had signed up for this "Oslo
By Bike" excursion a few months ago, and it was my idea. Greg was actually shocked that I wanted to ride a bike. I hate bikes! The last time I rode a bike was in 2007 when I rode 11 miles through Tuscany. And prior to that, I hadn't ridden a bike since around 1994.

But biking is always the analogy people use to talk about things you never forget how to do. It's like riding a bike, they say. If this had been a mountain bike ride, or a really long ride, I wouldn't have signed up for it. But it was only seven miles and it was two hours long. I figured it couldn't be that difficult. I could run, or even walk, that distance faster.

When I first got on the bike, it wasn't a familiar feeling. I had to remember how to balance, steer, etc. Unfortunately, there was no clear area in which to do this. The bike rental place was in the middle of the city and there were swarms of people everywhere. In, fact, we had learned yesterday on our boat tour that this was the busiest time of year in Oslo because many people had time off from work and it was a very popular tourist spot. Plus, the weather was warm and sunny which is not typical for Oslo.

I spent the first part of the bike tour frustrated and scared. We were led through crowded plazas, over speed bumps, up and down curbs, weaving through masses of people. This photo shows one of the areas we rode through, as seen from the boat the day before at the same time of day.

One of the crowded areas we biked through
We all had to keep stopping and starting and everyone was really frustrated with it. If I were a pedestrian in that area, I would have been annoyed by such a large group of cyclists plowing through the crowds.

Finally we were on a bike path and I felt more comfortable, and like I was starting to get a handle on the steering, the gears, etc. The guide then took us through a wooded area on a gravel path. It was hilly and curvy and there were roots sticking up, so it was much more difficult than anticipated. Finally I didn't feel like the worst cyclist in the group because I was able to go up the hills just fine and my athleticism kicked in.

We stopped at a beach for about 15 minutes (this is why the tour was long--we kept stopping). Greg snapped a photo of me and I posted it to my Instagram Story, saying that this was the last time anyone would see me on a bike. At that point, I knew that I had no desire to ride one ever again, That said, I was proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting on a bike. I wasn't looking forward to the way back, though, knowing we'd have to bike through that busy plaza. I also thought it was kind of a miracle that I didn't have an accident and wondered if I should take the bus back and end it on a high note.

Instagram Story mid-ride
We got back on the bikes and rode through the woods again. Only this time, I wasn't able to maneuver the bike as well I should have been able to. Since the path was wide, we were not riding in a straight line, and people were riding next to me. There was a fairly steep hill that curved around, and as it curved, I wasn't able to properly steer while also getting up the hill, so my bike hit the back of another rider's wheel, and I went tumbling. Nobody else fell, but I was on the ground with just a minor scrape. It was really scary, but since I wasn't hurt, I got back on the bike, vowing to stay away from the other riders.

We got back onto the bike path, which was great, but then it was time for the crowded plazas again. I don't know why I simply didn't get off the bike and walk it back to the shop. We were close enough at that point. If I really stopped to think about it, I would have done that, but instead I felt like I had to keep following the group over the curbs, the speed bumps, and the train railways.

There were actually two tour guides-- one in front and one in back. The one in the back told the one in the front that she needed to slow down on multiple occasions (every time we stopped), but she didn't slow down. At one point, the tour guided us to drive in the middle of the train railway. This area was clearly for trains only- not pedestrians or cyclists. To do this, I needed to cross over one of the railways to get in between them, as there was no room left on the right side of the railway. As I did this, my tire got stuck inside the rail and the bike stopped. I fell onto the bike, ramming my pubic bone directly into the bar. I screamed in pain and in fear. It was maybe the worst pain I had ever experienced.

I walked away from the train track full of fear, and Greg and the tour guide from the back of the group came toward me. The other riders and the guide in front had no idea that I had fallen. Since we were so close to the bike store and the cruise ship, the tour guide from the back took our bikes from us and we walked back to the ship to get an X-ray. It hurt to walk, but thankfully, I was able to walk.

Back on board, I found that the entire left side of my groin was hugely swollen. They did an x-ray and found that nothing was broken. I was in extreme pain, but they weren't able to give me anything except for Advil and an ice pack. I really liked the nurse and the doctor, but they weren't specialists in this kind of thing and weren't able to give me stronger pain medication. That night, Greg and I ordered room service as I continued to ice the area.

4 days post accident
The swelling and the bruising were severe over the next five days. Today, one week later, the bruising is still dark blue over much of that entire area, and looks worse than this photo, extending all the way down to almost my knee. Seeing so much swelling and bruising made matters worse, as it was a constant reminder of how harsh the blow was.

I tried my best to enjoy the rest of the trip, which included stops along the coast of Norway, ended in Bergen. I was in constant pain, and walking wasn't easy, but it didn't seem to aggravate the issue. The worst part was not knowing the extent of the damage. All I knew was that the area was very swollen and painful, and I had a sizable hematoma. Regardless, Greg and I had paid a lot of money for the trip and been looking forward to it for over a year, so I wasn't about to let this accident ruin it for me. As I wrote about in my previous two posts, I love running around new areas on vacation. So it was definitely a bummer to not be able to run in the port stops during the rest of the trip.

We returned home on Thursday evening, and I saw a doctor yesterday. The swelling is gone, but I have a big bump on the left side of my pubic bone, which is the hematoma itself. Even at rest I have a small level of pain, and running definitely aggravates it. My doctor was able to isolate the muscle group that was impacted, and it's the lower abdomen. Thankfully, all of the adductors are in great shape. I never realized that the lower abdomen was used so much in running, but it is painful with each toe-off, so I guess it's pretty critical.

So as of now I have the constant pain of the hematoma, as well as an inflamed/irritated lower abdominal muscle that is painful to run on or to move in certain ways. I do not know when I will be able to run again.

I think this injury is difficult for me on a number of levels, mostly because it feels like something was taken from me.

1. I wish I would have followed my gut instinct and gotten off the bike instead of following the group over the rail tracks.

2. I have been taking it easy all summer with running and had planned my race schedule around being able to start training more seriously after this trip. Instead, I'm digging my hole deeper and will need to rebuild before progressing. I really thought I'd be able to crush a 10K in early October, but now I'm doubtful.

3. I don't know when I will be able to run again, so I am dealing with uncertainty and things being up in the air. And even if I am able to run, I don't know how long it will take to be completely pain-free.

Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, I do have the perspective that I am lucky the accident wasn't worse. I wasn't seriously injured and I can walk. Nothing is broken. This isn't as bad as having mono because I am still able to walk around, go to work, and live my non-running life.

I do blame myself for not trusting my instincts and for following a group of people who were riding in areas that I felt unsafe in. (Later, the other people on the bike tour said that they felt unsafe, too, and didn't find the ride enjoyable because of all the obstacles. One person also got their tire stuck in the railway, but he was able to stabilize himself and not fall.) But, on the other hand, I am not beating myself up too much because I was just trying to get the most out of our time in Oslo, even though it meant hopping on a bike.


  1. Wow who setup this bike tour in Oslo. It seems like a bunch of idiots set this up, if you want my personal opinion. Not because you got injured which does sadden me (but I know you'll recover and your body is used to time off in the summer so maybe it's just karma), but because if you are going to setup a bike tour, have it so people can actually ride their bikes. Having to stop all the time, weave thru crowds and riding in the train railway?? Really, who are these people? In the USA they'd be asking for a lawsuit but who knows what the rules and laws are in Norway. I just find it all retarded personally and that has nothing to do with you being unable to steer your bike which I would say is on you. But the conditions they put you thru sounds dumb to me, especially if it is supposed to be touristy and you want to make it easy riding for the convenience of a tourist to look around and not have to stare at the next bump in the trail, etc. Obviously I'm a bit bothered by this.

    I can't recall the last time I was on a bicycle myself but my parents were still alive. I'm guessing I stopped riding around 14 years old as I was transitioning from working at the local water park and my paper route. I can't remember riding my bike after I got rid of the paper route!!

    The rest 0ff your feet (if short lived) may be good for you but hopefully it's not too long till you're running because I know after 2 weeks or so, the fitness declines a decent amount but if you can get back at it in two weeks, you shouldn't give up on that 10K goal.

    1. Everyone who took this bike tour was in agreement about the poor planning of the route. It would have been fine by me to simply walk the bike through the city plaza to get to the bike path. Viking did refund us for the cost of the bike tour and gave us a small voucher to use toward a future cruise.

  2. WOW Zebra...your "Adventure" in life continues! That's a serious whammy you took on that last fall and consider yourself lucky you don't have a fracture! I was looking at the bike you standing by and sorta seems like "Townies" to me with big fat tires, which are designed for urban riding and even fare well on natural surface bike trails. What seems odd for this bike tour, as you recognize that initial out from the bike rental shop/store through lots of pedestrian crowds, and urban street hazards like speed bumps and trolley track rails. Seems to me if the distance not that far to where streets open up or the trail starts, then guides simply have everyone walk there bikes in group fashion thru the crowded urban street area, then start riding when at the trails or more open road/areas. But that is a nasty hematoma and glad to hear no fracture, and despite not running, time off shouldn't be excessive like in other injuries.

    If it hurts to walk, then you obviously can't run. I guess your first road you cross is when you can walk normally and feel no pain or sense discomfort. Drs or Ortho will and should give you the specific clearance when acceptable to resume running. Obviously, and I know you will know it, you won't just jump into your regular run routines, but you test the waters with real, slow recovery run speed or even slower, and of course low-duration/distance initially, then progress from there until you back to your normal running self. Your Dr and/or Ortho specialist should be #1 in quidance, then #2 Coaches give you how to test/rebuild/progress after Dr gives clearance to resume running. But you know this!

    You know I have found biking to be an awesome X-Train from running, either fixed-stand in basement in winter, or on streets and trails in spring/summer/early fall. Drat, I have to suspect you won't be interested in buying the 2009 Trek 5.5 Madone I am listing for sale....LOL!

    Heal up - get back to run-normal SOON!

    1. Thank you for all of your support and for your perspective. Walking does not cause any additional pain-- the pain is constant weather standing, lying down, or walking. Running, however, does cause extra pain. I discovered yesterday that I can run in place without additional pain, and I believe that's because the abdominal muscle is used for forward propulsion. In other words, it's not the impact that hurts (at least not anymore) but the act of striding. I did some jump rope today, which was good exercise, but kind of like limp running so I didn't do it for too long!

  3. Yikes, I hope that muscle isn't torn. That bruise doesn't look good!

    1. At this point, I don't think it's torn. I suspect that the hematoma is pressing against it and making it really uncomfortable. OR-- I strained it during the fall as a reaction to the pain. What amazes me about the bruise is that it covers a huge area which you cannot see in the photo! And it's like black!

  4. It was Great running with you in Oslo! :o)