This post is probably going to be long but I'll try to be as brief as possible. Thanks in advance to everyone who contributes to this thread, and tries to help me get over a nagging injury so I can successfully complete my first century.
Three years ago I got a bike and started commuting to school. Between my commute and misc riding I was doing about 50 miles a week. A year later I got a weekend job with a 30 mile round trip commuting, bringing my total weekly average to 80 miles. Although I've always wanted to do more leisurely organized rides, I've never quite been able to find the time as I work on the weekends. However, it was on just such a ride that I injured myself almost two years ago.
It was the NYC Century ride in September 2005. I still had to work that day, but my shift didn't start until 4PM that day. The 55 mile route was the one I was doing. I figured with the time the ride started (7AM) and me keeping an average speed of 15mph (which I do on my commutes) that I would have plenty of time to do the ride, go home and shower, and then go to work. How wrong I was. There are a lot of details that I'd rather not bore you all with but would be happy to provide if requested. Long story short there were delays in the ride, I got tired long before I thought I would and pushed myself hard to try and finish quickly and get to work on time. I was an hour late, and apparently injured my groin muscle in the process. A nagging seeming to come from my right testicle bugged me from November to early December. I layed off the bike until early February. By then it had completely gone away. Half way into my first commute to work, the pain came back worse than it had the first time. Some of the worst pain I've felt in my life.
This whole thing has been complicated by the fact that I was (and still am) uninsured. With the help of a doctor who is gracious enough to volunteer his time at my school however, we eventually determined that it was a simple muscle problem (things like a hernia or testicle problem were initially suspected). From February - late May I was off the bike completely waiting for the pain to go away. It went down a bit but never completely went away. The doctor then suggested I ease back into riding slowly. After a week of riding to school and taking it easy the pain in my upper thigh went away, but I was still feeling some pain in my lower abdomen that was separate and distinct. He suggested I start doing abdominal exercises, which I did. Using a borrowed Ab Slide (as seen on TV!) the abdominal pain also completely went away. I started doing my riding again regularly (80 miles a week) and continued since, even through the winter. I forgot about it.
Then, in late February of this year the pain magically came back. When I was sitting down at work doing nothing no less... I had been holding a bowel movement for a bit, which is the only precipitating thing I can think of that caused it. Although not nearly as bad as last year, it's nagging at me and hasn't gone away. There are once again two separate and distinct areas of pain: my lower abdomen and my upper right thigh (specifically the crease where the thigh meets my right butt cheek). The ab pain has been with me all the time, but the leg pain would only start halfway into my school commute. I've tried the same things I did last year: staying off the bike for a week, ab exercises. It hasn't helped. I went back to the same doctor at school. He recommend staying off the bike for a longer period of time (I'm going on three weeks now), and ab exercises as last time, but also that I should incorporate stretching into my bike routine from now on to prevent injury. He also thinks I would really benefit from physical therapy, but as I'm still uninsured that's not really an option. However, I will be working come this September and I'll be fully insured. Before this whole mess started again I was hoping to do the entire 100 miles at the Century this year. I asked him if that would be possible and he said he thinks it certainly will be...
So that's pretty much where I stand now. I'm going on week three off the bike. Mostly I don't feel the pain in my leg, but if I sit down Indian style, bring my right knee close to my chest or anything similar, I'll feel the pain in my leg. The ab pain is basically with me all the time, despite my working out at increasing amounts daily with the Ab Slide (which fixed it last year). I feel like I'm at the point of diminishing returns with the Ab Slide because it takes forever before my ab muscles start to get the least bit sore, and long before then my arms are hurting me.
I'd like to do the NYC Century ride this September - the full hundred miles. Between now and then I need to get through this injury and train enough to be in the right shape to do the ride and not get injured. So far I've been looking at the excellent site How to Stretch
, and I've also purchased the Yoga for Cyclists DVD. I plan to make stretching part of my post cycling routine, and a necessary step at the first rest stop on longer rides. The doctor warned me against stretching cold muscles.
There's another complication though. From mid June through early August my days will be totally occupied from 8AM - 6:30PM with job training and grad school. That's a lot of time I wont be able to train. I didn't mention that to the Doc when I saw him last because I didn't known then what my schedule would be like. I will when I see him again soon though. Now, on to the questions....
Given my nagging injury and the limited time I'll have to train during the week for much of the Summer, is it realistic for me to aim for the 100 mile route? Or should I be more cautious and go for the 75, or even just the 55?
Given the limited time I'll have during the week until early August, what kind of routine should I be doing to prepare myself? I
Are there any other ab exercise machines any of you could recommend for me to use at home?
For that matter, WTF is the name of the ab muscle that is used when biking?
Any and all comments/help really appreciated.