I went on my biggest mountain bike ride last week, Ferrins to Leeks to West Game to Cache and back home to Jackson. It has been nearly four months since having a major knee surgery at the Steadman Clinic in Vail. I was fortunate to receive a grant through the Kees Brennenkmeyer Foundation, whose mission is to “Financially assist mountain guides, patrollers or instructors who require surgery to continue their careers.” They covered not only the surgery at the famed Steadman Clinic but also travel and hotel at the excellent Sonnenalp Resort for a week post surgery. I pulled a bonehead move by ordering room service for a week while recovering thinking the foundation would cover meals too. Wrong. It was painful to realize I was on the hook for the $1,200 bill. Good thing I have a better attention to details while climbing.
Joanna at the Kees (pronounced KAYS) Brennenkmeyer Foundation was a treat to work with. She not only helped with the application process, which involves detailed financial information as well as medical and work history, but was invaluable as a liaison with the doctors and their staff at Steadman Clinic. Previous to her current position at Kees Joanna worked at Steadman for several years and seems to have a great relationship with everyone there.
A little history about the Foundation from their website: The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation is a non-profit resource for alpine industry professionals seeking orthopedic medical care. The foundation is inspired by and created in memory of Kees Brenninkmeyer, who passed away while actively pursuing a career as an alpine ski and mountaineering guide. It is established to financially assist alpine guides, patrollers, or instructors who require surgery in order to continue their career.
Now my words…Kees hurt his knee while Heli-guiding in AK. He was Canadian and was covered under their national health plan. He chose what he thought to be the best and most respected Orthopaedic group in the world, the Steadman Clinic, to have his surgery. He was impressed with Steadman Clinic. Kees lamented that his American counterparts (guides, patrollers and mountain professionals) don’t generally have the opportunity to receive outstanding surgical intervention when necessary due to no national insurance in the USA. Also, most guide services do not offer insurance for their employees and the cost of health insurance is too expensive for many mountain professionals to afford.
In 2007, Kees and his girlfriend Claire Dixon passed away in a mountaineering accident while volunteering as hut custodians in the Wapta Icefield of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Kees Brennenkmeyer Foundation was established in his memory.
The Kees Brennenkmeyer Foundation has been known to pay for surgeries in full even when a grant recipient has insurance because of the difficulties of dealing with insurance companies. The Foundation is very generous with this grant application. If you are a mountain professional – mountain guide, ski patrol or even a ski/snowboard instructor, you can apply. The Kees Brennenkmeyer Foundation is helping me get back to my work in the mountains. Maybe they can help you too!
I tore my ACL in June and had surgery in July. This was the first of two surgeries needed to properly repair my ligament. This being my third ACL tear my bone was compromised from being drilled to anchor the previous repairs, to an extent that offered a limited chance for a successful repair. The better option for me for a complete recovery is a two stage repair. The surgery I had in July was to repair a major meniscus tear, clean up a lot of scar tissue in the knee and bore out and fill in the old bone holes with bone paste to have a clean and strong place to anchor the new ACL. The new ACL will be put in sometime early in 2013. I will receive an allograft (ligament donated by someone who no longer needs it due to being dead). I have had a hamstring repair and several allograft repairs in the past. I recommend an allograft repair over using your own ligaments for the following reasons: harvesting your body parts is traumatic and recovering from that alone can be challenging. Also, with a hamstring, once removed it never grows back. I still have an indentation where my hamstring was harvested for my first ACL surgery 14 years ago. I was inaccurately told by a doctor that it would grow back. It doesn’t and hasn’t.
So I am recovering from this past surgery to get strong for my next. And biking is the best thing for recovery from knee surgery. I started off a few days after surgery riding a stationary bike with no resistance at physical therapy. And at (about) six weeks was on my road bike, riding the new bike path from Jackson to Grand Teton National Park and back, a sweet 40 mile loop. I am very much looking forward to GTNP officials following through on their commitment to continue the path from Moose Junction to Antelope Flatts Road, which will keep riders off the busy highway where drivers are often distracted by the beautiful mountains and abundant wildlife. For more on the progress of the Jackson Hole Bike Path system check out the great work my friends at Friends of Pathways are doing.
My ride last week was the longest of the year because I have been recovering from surgery. But it was great to finally get to ride through the burn area from the Horsethief Fire. Interesting that the person who started the $5 million fire was known to bemoan government involvement and taxes. Now the taxpayers (government) are paying the price for his breaking the law by burning trash when there was a fire ban in effect. There has been trail work done and it was interesting to ride over scorched earth and through burned trees. The smell was intense but not overwhelming. In a sense it was too bad the fire fighters did such a great job keeping the fire out of Cache Creek. Had the fire run its “natural” course (for a man started fire) it would have burned the steep northeast facing trees rolling into Cache Creek, burning the downfall and thinning the trees which would have led to some great ski runs where currently there are few to none due to the thick trees and downfall.
Check out The Mountain Pulse for wonderful information on fun activities to do in Jackson Hole, including mountain biking. For the map of Snow King and Cache Creek it is the second link on the right under View Quicklinks.
My ride is mapped out on Endomondo, a great resource for tracking and sharing your activities through a smartphone.
Now it is time to get excited for skate skiing, an activity that I took up last winter by skiing with my best buddy Odin several times a week.
And a few photos from my adventurous mountain bike follow:
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