Do hips lie?

On our first day in London we walked about 8 miles. My left side was a wreck. My back, my hip and knee all screamed with pain. Same after days 2 and 3. Then I switched shoes and things got better.

I haven’t done any long walks since. So today, to take a break from riding in the basement, I went for a long walk. (My iPhone said it was 6.1 miles but my bike and car odometers put it at 8.)

I used a third pair of shoes, some low rise hiking shoes with no orthotic insoles. After a mile, my lower left back started to tighten. That’s pretty normal for me these days. After five miles my left hip felt a little tender.

The last half mile was Day 1 in London all over. My left hip and knee were on fire. I could barely get up the steps in to the house. My left leg wouldn’t flex.

I took some ibuprofen and got comfy on the couch. After an hour or two, I got up and did some iliotibial band stretches. They seemed to loosen things back up.

I quit stretching during my 2018 bike tour. I did get hot spots on my left hip and some lower back soreness, mostly when I was climbing for hours on end. On a number of occasions, while walking, my left hip seemed to pop out of joint for a split second.

One unexpected benefit to not stretching was the fact that I became more flexible. I could change clothes in my tent with ease. So I continued to avoid stretching even after getting home.

Looks like I’m going to have to start up again. (I might even pull out the old yoga book that I’ve used in the past, if for no other reason than to give me a routine to follow.)

My left knee has been wonky for decades but this left hip thing is relatively new. I’m going to give it a month. I will test it once a week or so with long–ish walks. I’d like to do some hiking this summer so fingers crossed….

It Felt Really Strange

For two summers I drove a cab. In Boston. (I was wikkid at driving a cah.) It has taken more than 35 years to get all the bad driving habits from that summer out of my system.

I can’t remember the last time I drove to work. Today I drove. It felt very strange. Even though traffic was light it was stressful. All the other drivers were doing stupid things. Couldn’t they see that I was driving? What is wrong with them?!!!

It all started with a humongous millipede. It was hairy and it was crawling on the top of the door in our bathroom. Normally, Mrs. Rootchopper calls for me to slay these invaders but, pressed for time, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Forgetting that she has been unable to jump since she was run over by an SUV, she jumped.


My daughter was standing right next to her and heard it. My wife both heard it and felt it.  It was her right calf tearing.

She tried to RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) it but, after getting better for a few days, it got worse. So yesterday she went to the ER. They put her lower leg in a cast making it impossible for her to drive. I could read the writing on the wall. I’ll be biking to work again some time in December. Ugh.

So I drove her to work today. Late in the morning I picked her up and drove her to the orthopedist. He took off the cast. The diagnosis took no time at all. Torn calf muscle. Four to six months to heal. Use crutches or a cane. No cast needed. You can drive.


He is now the official orthopedic surgeon of the Rootchopper Institute.

I’m back in the saddle again.

It will feel really normal. I don’t like strange.


My to-do list for the winter is quite long, and none of it involves bicycles. Last week I knocked off some plumbing issues in my house. As is usually the case I used my best plumbing tool, my credit card. Suffice it to say that I am just about as competent around the house as I am working on my bike. 

I also went to the dermatologist to get a thingie on my right middle finger looked at. The thingie turned out to be a cyst. The dermatologist referred me to a surgeon to have it removed. It’s annoying and painful and keeps me from riding up hills like Claudia Chiappucci. (Okay, I made the climbing thing up.)  I go to the surgeon this Friday so I will miss Friday Coffee Club. Yes, I know, my priorities are all screwed up.

Some time ago, Mrs. Rootchopper found an unusual looking spot on my back. I asked the dermatologist to do a skin screening. The spot on my back was nothing to be concerned about. The rest of me was a whole other story.

Being that I am mostly of Irish lineage, my skin burns pretty much during all daylight hours. It’s a bit like being a reverse vampire. The doctor found beaucoup spots with skin damage that had to be frozen off. She also had me apply a caustic gel like substance to the perimeter of my face. After three days of application, my face looks rather ironically like I have a bad sunburn. 

On a whim, I told the doctor about an annoying bump above and behind my left ear. To my shock, she biopsied it. I should find out tomorrow if it is anything to worry about. “I’m afraid your head will have to be removed.”

All of which is to say, that today I moved to the next item on the list, electrical issues with my house. I had three items to fix: the front porch light, a light switch in the basement and an electrical outlet in the basement. Of course, I hired an electrician. 

The light switch was a five minute fix. The front porch light took 15 minutes. The socket took two hours. It was wired backwards creating something called reverse polarity. Basically if you touched it with a metal object you’re likely to get zapped. The electrician checked all the other outlets and light switches in the basement and nearly all of them to be wired improperly. I am not surprised since it was DIY electrical work by the previous owner.

While using his tester to check an outlet upstairs, I bent over and I got a zap of a different sort. My back caught. This has been happening to me since I was in college so I wasn’t entirely surprised. Maybe my back has reverse polarity.   It’s frustrating but in ten days or so I will be good to go.

My primary method of treatment is to ride Big Nellie gently. I really don’t know why it works but it shortens the recovery time by a couple of days. So I probably won’t be bike commuting for a while. As they say in professional sports, my bike commuting status is day to day. All of which is to say, I am grounded.