It was July 2014 and I was in tip-top shape. I had just completed one of my best performances in ultramarathon cycling since I first began doing the events a decade earlier. Ultramarathon cycling is a sport in which endurance is built up over thousands of miles and years of training and racing. My first significant accomplishment came in 2008 when my performance at the Sebring 24-Hour qualified me for the pinnacle of ultramarathon racing - the 3,000-mile Race Across America (RAAM). Then, the following year I set a World UltraCycling Association point to point record traversing 436 miles across Illinois from north to south. In early summer of 2014, it felt like things were coming together again as I prepared to set a second point to point record. Then, I fell.
We were on vacation. I was cross-training to help maintain my fitness. As soon as I fell, I knew it was unlike any other injury I had experienced before - and having been cycling competitively for over 20 years, I had had a few. This was bad.
Returning from vacation, I made an appointment with Fort Wayne Orthopedics. We began with therapy. However, after a few weeks trying to resolve the symptoms I was experiencing, nothing improved. My MRI revealed a potentially debilitating lateral meniscus tear in my right knee. I was 38 at the time and not a prime candidate for a repair. Having it removed was not something I was remotely interested in either. Despite the injury, I still had plans for riding and racing my bicycle. My physician tried to remain optimistic but was pragmatic about the situation. I knew he had my best long-term interest in mind.
Dr. Kolettis and I built a trust during this whole process which made my decision for surgery an easier one. He explained to me that during surgery if the meniscus looked viable and the tear was reasonable, he would reattach it; otherwise he would remove it. During pre-op, I told him to be cocky and make it look good as he stitched it back in place. But as they rolled me into surgery, I didn’t know what the outcome would be.
Post-surgery was pure relief when Dr. Kolettis informed me he was able to reattach the meniscus. The road to healing would be long, but worth it.
It took time to heal and regain strength since having surgery in 2015. However, the last two years have been outstanding for me. Not only have I resumed normal day to day and athletic function, in May 2018 I qualified for RAAM again by riding over 409 miles in 24 hours. Later that summer, I set another World Record - covering the entire length of Indiana (south to north) in 16 hours and 38 minutes. My crew and I beat a 20-year-old record by over 45 minutes. In 2019, I placed 3rd overall at the National 24-Hour Challenge riding just over 416 miles. I plan to set another World UltraCycling Record in September 2019. This next record attempt will be a double cross of Indiana, north to south to north and will cover 600 miles. It is my hope this next successful record attempt will pave the way for a solo attempt at RAAM in 2020, riding 3,000 miles coast to coast across the U.S. in less than 12 days.