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Showing posts from September, 2017

A Bath.

I abused the ti bike.

Over the past week, after every soaking wet ride, I would just throw it unceremoniously in a heap in the garage. I wouldn't wash it. I wouldn't wipe it down. I wouldn't even clean and oil the chain. Too tired and not interested.

Black goop, a foul mixture of old chain oil and road grime, covered the drivetrain. "Oh well" I thought, "it will act as a protective layer. It can't possibly rust with such a thick layer of crap coating it." Turns out I was wrong. Yesterday when I got off of work and pulled the bike down, surface rust was plainly visible on the chain, uncovered and promoted by the steady rain that had been falling all day. Quickly I rotated the cranks to recoat the chain with black goop. Out of sight, out of mind.

The drivetrain didn't squeak, but I knew it was time to do something about this situation.

When I got home, I gave it a pretty good washing. The frame cleaned up nicely, as it always does, but the drivetrain …

Stress.

I just got back on the bike, so I can't expect this ship to right itself all at once.

I've got two months of accumulated stress to burn through, compounded by a handicapped decision-making process. That little guy who usually says, "dude, now would be a good time to shut up" has been watching and holding my beer a lot lately. My aggressive-aggressive nature has been on full display, and the results have not been good. Right now I'm keeping my head down and trying to ride (literally) this out.

I never really realized how much I relied on riding to balance me out until now.

At the very least, now I see the error in going with my first inclination to negative stimuli(smash), bypass the second (weapons-grade sarcasm) as much as possible to avoid offending those with gentle constitutions, and shut the fuck up. I'll scream my frustrations into the wind, because now I can. I have a lot of them, so I do a lot of screaming. Apologies to those within earshot. This is how …

Moving Forward.

There were any number of reasons to stop.

The hip gave little twinges of pain at odd intervals. Sometimes they were so small I wasn't quite sure if I imagined them, but then another one would come along and confirm their existence.

The back started to ache from the steady, cold soaking. Despite my best technical fabric and full fenders, the water slowly found a way in. Once in, it went to work.

The flags and leaves, weighed down with water, gave little indication of the wind, but you could tell it was there. I'd cast my head this way and that way to isolate it. Yeah, there it is. The knowledge of its origin did little for me. I just had to deal with it.

My butt, softened by months out of the saddle, was getting a sudden reintroduction to the realities of chafing. I'd stand and try to shift the fabric to lessen it, but any relief was temporary.

My legs weren't much better. They started out strongly enough, but now were starting to feel the effects of the cold rain. The knees…

Whew. I Need A Break.

After two whole days of riding, each with slightly less than an hour of saddle time, I took a day off.

Was the dramatic uptick in volume too much for my fragile system?

Nope, I was just too busy to ride. The youngest had a day off from school and the arranged childcare fell through. So, instead of going to work and adding to my brain tumor, I took the day off to spend with my buddy.

We went to Costco to buy large quantities of things Americans seem to need in bulk. Unlike most trips to Costco with the wife, I had time to leisurely browse the aisles. Check out the specs on a generator or whatever. It's rare I get to do that sort of thing.

Then we were off to the boat supply store. I have a cheap canoe that hasn't seen water in the ten years I've owned it, other than what falls from the sky. I'm not much of a water person, especially the "fall in and you die from hypothermia" variety we have up here. However, boat stores generally have really good electrical wiring…

"Triumphant" Return.

While I took a break from all things bike (including this blog), went turtle, and tried to heal, traffic here fell off. A lot. As in, not even my faithful Micronesian villagers and French porn-bots were checking in anymore.

Can't say I blame them.

Like riding itself, starting writing regular entries in this blog is a habit I have to actively cultivate. It's too easy to be lazy. Carving out the time to write in an already busy day isn't easy, especially when all you want to do is dive head-first into a bottle of Flexeril.

But here I am, trying to make a new start and return to my old habits. Hopefully while I'm at it, I make new ones, like not falling down. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Just avoid the pavement. If you look at a satellite map, you'll find there's a lot more unpaved territory than paved. Yet somehow I have cultivated a knack for homing in on the asphalt like a cruise missile. 

Boom. Season over.

Yeah, I'm slowly working my way back into a rhythm. Ba…

Day By Day.

My second ride was better. Faster. Drier. Shorter...

It was a nice fall day, with only a few damp spots in the shadows. I jumped early and kept pushing. What was only a 'meh' ride a couple months ago was a major achievement for me.

I did the same route as the day before, mostly because I didn't have a whole lot of time available to ride. I had to pick up kids from school. I still felt myself tense at the sight of paint of gravel, but I reminded myself to ride loose and roll through it. I stayed upright, which was nice.

For the second straight day, I didn't download my ride. There's a time for data and charts and tracking, and this isn't it. This is the time to turn the pedals and hopefully become a cyclist again. I'm not geeking out about the latest bit of carbon or the optimum tire pressure. It's all about rolling down the road and finding my inner roadie before the snow falls. It will be a lot easier to endure a winter on the trainer if I rediscover that…

No Time Like The Present.

It was raining steadily and the temperatures were hovering in the low 50s.

Didn't matter. It was time.

I kitted up after work, pulled the bike off the car, and started riding. Despite the precautions I took, I got wet. Not soaked, but wet. My hip ached, but I tried to put it out of my mind.

With my rain jacket and state of fitness, I didn't set any speed records. I pushed a bit here and there to feel normal, but it's been too long for "normal". The best I can hope for is a gradual return to that feeling.

Every painted line or rock on the road was viewed as a threat. My last rainy ride didn't end so well. Being overly cautious is probably worse than being blissfully ignorant and brave. It's just where I am today. I just have to work through the steps and stages to rebuild. With time, I will return to my usual state of overconfidence.


I won't say that I was flooded with an overall sense of well-being when I climbed off the bike, because that would be a lie.…

Good.

My family was sitting in the RV, nestled comfortably in a very nice campground in Denali State Park. We'd spent the morning hiking up the ridge to take in the scenery and stretch our legs. The teen was stretched out in the bed over the cab, sound asleep. The youngest and his sister were playing on the iPads on the bench seat on one side of the table. My wife and I were curled up on the other side. I just gazed contently out the window at the leaves in all of the fall glory and the snow-dusted mountains that surrounded us while the wife read.

My wife looked at me and said, "this is good."

It was presented as a statement of fact. Not "good enough" or "this will do", but rather this was exactly where we should be at that particular moment.

Rare are the times that I've experienced that sensation so completely. That's not to say I haven't been happy or content or satisfied or whatever else you want to call it, but this was one of those times wher…

It Ain't Easy.

Judging by the posts on Facebook (when I feel like spending any time on it), I'm associated with some pretty awesome people doing some pretty awesome things in any number of ventures.

Road season has ended and 'cross season has begun. The persistent rain and cooler temperatures have certainly made for more "Belgian" conditions, and it sounds like people are having fun. If I wasn't broken and hadn't already made the determination that 'cross is detrimental to my physical well-being, I'd be out there in the mud with them, happily doing serious harm to my body.

As it is, I've been buried on all sides of my life. Work is a never-ending crush of paperwork that has to be reviewed with a magnifying glass, and it's always time-critical. Back-to-school means the kids have to be ferried hither and yon for whatever extra-curricular activities they're pursuing at the moment. I have three kids in three different schools, so I can't even double-up eve…

Variations on a Theme.

My hands are trashed. Cut, scarred, and stained by unidentified substances. Sometimes they ache and don't close fully. Seems familiar.

My back is trashed. Pains come from various points depending on the stresses I placed on them the day before. Also seems familiar.

Before I was a bike racing guy, before I was a ski racing guy, I was a Jeep guy. My old CJ-5 would hammer my body as I traversed rough trails. Then I would do more muscular damage by wrenching on the Jeep so I could drive to work on Monday. That was the rhythm of my life: wheel-wrench-repeat. As much as my body and wallet could stand. I'd break stuff, upgrade it, then break something else. There wasn't a component within that 83.5" wheelbase I didn't lay hands on at one point or another during the 20+ years I owned it.

Eventually I couldn't do it anymore. The local culture changed to something I didn't identify with. I reached a point when the bang for my buck on upgrades didn't justify the exp…

Hitting The Pause Button Again.

I had to stop.

The back is a serious concern at this point. Complete strangers keep coming up to me and asking me if I'm OK, just based on the way I'm walking. It smooths out once I get going, but initially it's pretty ragged. My face takes on a look of grim determination. I'm not letting this stop me.

But the truth is, I am.

I decided to hold off a bit longer on the riding and try to heal a bit more. The rain recently has helped with that choice a bit. I putter around the RV, doing odd jobs and trying not to stress my back too much. I usually end up pushing it too far, and pray for the sweet, sweet fog of Flexeril. Hell of a way to live your life.

This can't go on much longer. I need my regular dose of endorphins to balance my moods out. I'm short with people and dwell on minor things for far longer than they deserve. I need my alone time to shout profanities into the wind. I need to bury my frustrations into long, pointless efforts. I need to ride.

Unfortunately, …

It Ain't Working.

The hip is better. The back isn't. Usually the back stiffens up when I don't ride, then loosens up almost immediately once I start to ride again. This time it didn't. In fact, it seems to have doubled-down on me. I'm not sleeping because of it, which makes the transition from inactivity to activity all that much harder.

I went back to the doctor. He had them take some more X-Rays, referred me to physical therapy, and gave me some Flexeril. He said to be patient. It will be six months before I'm back to normal. I was initially told six weeks. Small difference there.

Hopefully the muscle relaxer takes the edge off of things. Hopefully the stretching and riding combine to push me a little closer to normal. Six months? That's just too long. Six weeks already seemed like an eternity.

I just want to be normal again, free to return from the opioids and NSAIDS to a proper cyclist's diet of testosterone, EPO, and SARMs, cut with a healthy dose of clenbuterol to promote…