Sunday, February 19, 2017

Perfect Weekend in February


A wonderful reprieve in the winter this weekend.  Friday had Des Moines to 74F.  Everyone was out on the trail when I rode home after work.  Including a bat.  Yes, a flying mammal.  He seemed a bit stunned as he/she was awake in February and it was sunny.  It hovered a bit above the trail next to the dog park in Windsor Heights and I damn near collided with it!  Smoke em if you got em!  Get outside before the jealous NW Wind freezes us again.

Reviewing this blog and my bike log I discovered that this is not so unusual.  Last year on the 27th I rode to Summerset Winery and it was 68F.  I recall having a conversation with Ron Mark, the owner, about the weather and he was concerned that the vines would bud out and then a killer freeze would hit.  For some reason I thought this occurred in March not February but my documentation proved otherwise.  This year we are a week ahead.

Saturday would be the big day.  Most of my weekends have not included much biking.  Usually during winter it is cold and miserable or I am ill.  But this Saturday I was ready.  Aired up the tires of my best road bike and hit the tarmac.  The Summerset Trail in Carlisle would be our destination.

It was a perfect day.  67F with no wind.  How often does that happen?  No wind.  Rarely.  We waited until it was 60F before leaving.  Immediately on our back deck I dropped the gloves, the ear warmer and the jacket.  Warmer outside than it was inside the house.  I was a bit disappointed since it was a new jacket and had zippers on the pockets plus inside pockets.  Another ride and I will be able to use it for the first time.  Mary dropped some of her gear as well.

Why head south east?  Simple.  Everyone will be on the metro trails.  Walkers, runners, baby strollers, people walking up to 3 dogs each, fatbikes, hybrids and road bikes.  Crowded.  Too much energy spent on avoiding collisions.  Now the county highways to Carlisle will be empty. The Summerset Trail is usually empty as well.   Another plus is that we have not been on them in months. We are on metro trails every day.  A change of pace, a change of scene.

Ugly and smelly.  Lots of scavenger water birds at the puddle in the middle of what once was Easter Lake.
Where did the water go?
Where did the fish go?
I saw people walking in this on Saturday.
For all your dredging needs.

First the Des Moines River Trail.  A few bikes and pedestrians on it today.  All the bald eagles were gone except the big nest near Gilligan's Island.  Then the fun stretch of Evergreen Avenue on the north side of Easter Lake.  Despite the need to repave this stretch of road I love it heading east. Always big ring time.  Get cruising in the 20s and look at the lake.  Lake looked strange since they drained it.  Somewhere on the other side is a trail that will connect to Carlisle.  I don't know if I ever will ride that trail more than once, curiosity will be the the first trip, since I love my safe route to Carlisle.  Today I thought the money spent draining the lake and building that trail would have been better spent repaving Evergreen.

12 miles from my deck to the Casey's in Carlisle.  We did not stop for food.  Wait til the return.  Now where?  Take the trail to Indianola?  That would guarantee over 40 miles.  Do we have the time?  Need to do Timmy's taxes and Katie called with tax questions.  How about Summerset Winery?  6 odd miles on the trail and a big climb, gotta do hill work some time, do some free samples and purchase a bottle to take home.  Mary liked that Idea.  Stop at the trailhead so Mary can ditch her jacket.

The trail was not crowded.  Two or three groups of four bikers each heading our way.  Some women at the trailhead prepping.  Nobody passed us.  A few families.  A few runners.  The gun range blasting a way.  An easy ride.


At Summerset Rd we hang a left and climb the hill.  I am not proud.  I am still having gout issues affecting my left foot and leg.  I immediately downshifted to granny.  My bike has a racing triple so the granny is a mere 30T.  Not a huge shift but makes a difference on long steep climbs.  If there would have been the same bike with a double I would have bought it.  Much rather have the 53/39T front instead of the 50/39/30T, sacrifice top end for climb.  Front shifts are often the worst and the third option makes things worse.  That's why there's a trend to for 1x10 or 1x11 bikes.  Really, 2x10 or 2x11 is all one needs as long as the cassette is wide.  But times like this I appreciate the triple. Play the cassette and avoid a horrid under pressure front shift when I am losing the energy game.  I'm not getting younger or healthier.

The back of the Camelback.  Pump, tube, patch kit, levers, wine.  Be prepared.  Also inside is a drawstring bag in case I purchased two bottles of wine.

Had we more time I would have preferred to purchase two bottles.  One for drinking here outside at the winery and one to take home.  I think the time issue was all in my head, Mary never complained about time.  We did our samples and got one bottle.  I placed it in my Camelback and rode off.  I removed the bladder a long time ago and use the Camelback for carrying tire repair gear and other necessities.  My LeMond is bagless.  This was the first time I carried a bottle of vino in it.  Worked great!

Granny up the hill, big ring down the hill.  Mary got out in front and a truck got behind her and refused to pass.  I was gaining on the both of them.  PASS YOU BASTARD PASS HER!!!!!!  He did not and I had to hold back.  I was unable to break 40 mph and settled for 39.3 mph knowing that I could have.  But there was more to this.  Right before the trail crossing there was a scar on the road and it could not be avoided.  The bump looked bad at 39 miles per hour but it was quick and the bike handled it well.  Even Mary would comment on this pothole.  Both of us zoomed past the trail and bled our speed out before turning around.  I was proud that Mary did this.  Reward for the climb.  She only hit 32 mph.

On the way back there were bikes crossing the road on the trail.  Two Townies heading north.  One was dressed like the wicked witch of the north.  Well, black with a black sun visor brim on her helmet and when sitting upright on a Townie it looks like someone riding a broom.  She had momentum from blowing through the intersection, we did not.  And she put up a fight passing her, 14 mph.  Back to big ring, downshift the cassette a bit for rpm, wait for the oncoming bikes to pass and hit it, ON YOUR LEFT and hammer hoping Mary would do the same.  She did and said she was afraid I would have mistaken the with for her and said something totally inappropriate.  I did not.

These are the droids guarding the wine before it goes into the chiller.

Stopped at Fiss's for lunch.  I had a sub, she had a wrap. $12 including drinks.  I wanted to stop at the Mexican restaurant but Mary thought she would eat too much and thus have a miserable 12 miles home.  My sub was good and there is a bike rack in back of Fiss's.

Nothing to note on the remaining ride home.  The lake was still empty.  The pavement on Evergreen Rd is worse going west.  And we saw the same woman on the Des Moines River Trail that we saw on our way out.  And the dogs across the street...the little jack Russel mix chased me as I entered my driveway.  The people let their dogs run loose.  One day those dogs will get squished by a car.  I would call the dogcatcher on them but the little kids who live there would cry since those mutts are prolly the only nice thing they have.  But for the love of all that is good, keep your dogs in your own yard!

An American Riesling.  Semi-sweet.  Now before you start bitching about sweet wines, dry whites are for people that cannae handle bourbon, scotch or whisky.  I do drink more dry reds that sweet or semi-sweet whites.
Sunday the temperature reached the 73F and it was windy.  Took a ride back to Easter Lake for the photos of the empty lake.  On the way there I encountered a very friendly dog who was on a broken chain.  Small German Shepard type, black on top and brown on the bottom.  Large pointy ears sticking straight up. Most likely a pup.  He was happy to see me and followed me.  Even ran along side me and sniffed my feet while I was pedaling.  Eventually he went away.  Hate to bring home a new dog.  On my way home he was staring at the door of the house I first saw him at.

Team Kum & Go.  I look shorter and fatter when I step back in group photos.

The big ride began after I got back.  Team Kum & Go was meeting at Mullets and riding to Cumming.  I contemplated grabbing a bagger and filling it with beer but I would never be able to keep up.  9 of us, Steve, Lori, Dennis, Steve, John, Mary, Mary, Donnie and myself met up and got as far as Confluence for one beer.  Then off to the Cumming Tap.  We saw a lot of people we knew and the team was impressed that we knew so many people.  Hey, if you ride in the same circuit as everyone else you get to know people.  Or is that circus?  And it was a circus, however, as the trail was very busy and the strong wind from the south dampened our speed.

On the way back it was an all out effort between the two Marys, Lori, John and myself.  The others headed south to Donnie's giant garage.  Mary and I had to get home, lights and dinner issues.  All out big ring effort in play.  Let's just say that my speed was rarely below 20 mph.  But I needed to break out of my slow ass commuter mode.  At least my hip was not bothering me.  I kept thinking about what I heard once, "always hang out with people who are smarter than you, it may rub off."  Hence, ride with people who are better riders than you for it will make you a better rider.  Tell that to my legs.  Somewhere during that warp ride I passed the 100th mile for the year.  Great to be back in 4 digits again!  I'm ahead of last year.  Good people to see me do it!

Next weekend looks to be winter like.  I'll probably stay home and resume hibernation.  Spring is near.  I can wait.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

On Your Left

Earlier this week, Wednesday to be exact.  Passing an elderly couple on the Clive Greenbelt.  On my approach I sounded the warning and my intention.  I try to keep it friendly.

"Howdy, passing on your left."

She stopped and turned around to look at me.  Smiling she said thank you.  Not the first time someone has thanked me for announcing my presence and intention.  But why?  Could it be she has never been on a trail and thought that my greeting was novel and the most kind thing ever uttered on a bike path?  Or was it that armleutchers on bikes pass her at high speed without warning?

I tend to think it is the latter.  Bicyclists are their own worst enemies.  Let them know you are coming around.  Try to keep it friendly.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Hipster Blog I wanted to Do But Did Not

Purple vinyl.  New Order, Singularity 12"

It was time for a new toy.  I'd been collecting vinyl for the past two years without the ability to listen to it.  One day I'd get a turntable and that day was yesterday.  Easy enough.

I did some research online.  Visited a Best Buy.  Finally Googled "where to purchase a turntable in Des Moines."  BINGO!  Guitar Center!  Now is that not the guitar store next to Barr Bicycle?  Right off the trail on my way home.  Damn, that's easy-peasy!  I'll ride right over there after work!

I had the Red Phoenix with a rear rack sans panniers.  But I had two bungie cords.  No problem.  I'd be some damn hip.  Think about it.  Hip to have vinyl and a turntable.  Ultra-hip to ferry said turntable home on a bicycle.  The only thing more hip would to have used my cycloscross single speed but conditions were icy and snow covered in spots so the hybrid with studded tires was the bike of the day.  That's ok.  Guess it would be more Viking* than hip.  Dashing through the snow to plunder Guitar Center of a turntable and rushing home to put on New Order first.

Walking in a clerk asked me if I needed help.  Yes indeedy, one turntable, please!  "We don't sell them."

WHAT?!?!?  I just looked it up online, said in stock.

"You must be looking for Guitar Center which is on University Ave a few miles away.  the is Professional Music Center."

My bad, exit now.

What it would have looked like bringing the record player home on the Red Phoenix.  Perhaps the car was the way to go.

Just as well.  Probably needed a longer bungie cord since one is kinda short.  Also could use a trash liner to keep the turntable dry.  Damn.  Tomorrow....

Got home and College Boy was home.  IDEA!!  "Say, Son, could you drive me to Guitar Center so I could purchase a turntable?"  This cost me dinner and drinks for him and his mother and myself.  Fair price.  It saved what I can a urban commercial bicycling hazard--riding through parking lots, sidewalks and traffic lights in a place developed for cars only.  But it saved my Friday and the possibility that the turntable would get damaged on the way home.

So it was not hip.  But it was nice to make the purchase at a guitar store instead of a big box store.  If only I could have also taken home a Gibson Jaguar like Johnny Marr's.

The first to play, New Order Singles, remastered 8 record boxset and on 180 gram vinyl.  Never played before, just waiting for this moment.  Ceremony was the first track, fitting since it was their first single.  4 to 5 tracks per side in order of release, each side representing a specific wonderful era of their career.  No wording on the center, need to keep each record in its proper sleeve
What the heck you get?  Audio-Technica AT-LP60.  HQ in Japan, made in China.  I opted not to get the model with USB port figuring that I could plug the stereo into the computer without it.  It does have a pre-amp for plugging into other devices.  My computer is connected into my stereo receiver which is the way to go.  Also explains the messy photos of said turntable, the modem is in the way.

How does it work?  Lift lid and place vinyl on.  Select 33 or 45 rpm and select 12" or 7".  Press Start. The arm returns to the resting position when it is finished or when Stop is pressed.  The only issue is that I have to change or flip the  record more often than I would if I was playing something off the computer.  Time management.

One problem, when someone walks into the room to speak to me I cannot pause it or return to the track when they are finished.  Suppose I could lift up the cover and lift up the arm and wait to place it back down but it's not like the digital format.  Oh yeah, when you aere so intent on what you are doing you miss the track you wanted to hear.  Sacrifice, sacrifice...

How does it sound?  Fuller, louder, richer.  Amazing.  On older vinyl it sounds live, the scratches and cracks between tracks sound like the crickets at a boring concert when the crowd is so underwhelmed they don't make a sound.

Among the hidden treasures of the vinyl collection I found in my childhood home is Roger Water's Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking.  Concept lp of a nightmare, yes, very Pink Floydish.  Eric Clapton plays guitar, Ray Cooper on drums.  I was lucky enough in 1984 to get the uncensored cover.  Subsequent pressings had her ass covered up.

Interesting fact:  This is the first turntable I have ever purchased.  When I left for college I took my parents!  And that was in 1984.

Side one of this is most excellent.  Not only has Tainted Love, their biggest hit, but it opens with Frustration, a track that describes a middle aged man.  That track and Youth mean a lot more to me now than it did when I first listened to them back in 1981.  Seedy Films, however, is my favorite. 

Sad Fact:  I abandoned my vinyl collection back in 1996 while moving.  The turntable was long dead by years, CDs ruled the day.  We were moving to Des Moines.  Three little kids and only one friend to help move.  just seemed like too much to pick those boxes up and put them into the truck on a cold and snowy December day.  My regret.  I also left a box of cassettes behind.  Unlike the move from Cedar Falls, I took all the bicycles, abandoning a JC Higgins and a Schwinn Typhoon.

Time to rebuild.  I've been purchasing newly released vinyl from bands I really enjoy recently.  Someof it pretty interesting, colored vinyl and shaped discs, heavy weight records as well.  When cleaning out my mother's house a few years back I found a crate of vinyl in my former bedroom.  Mostly shit from high school.  Journey, Men At Work, U2's War, REO Speedwagon, BOC, Van Halen, AC/DC, Kiss, Eagles, Robert Plant's solo lp ect.  I'll probably give those away.  But I did find Roger Water's Pros and Cons of hitchhiking, Soft Cell and Lenny and the Squigtones.  My uncle told me that the latter lp may be work something in the future.

Christopher Guest and Michael McKean's musical group before Spinal Tap

Notice the name of the guitar player....
But I ain't hip.  Much too old.  Non-hip musical tastes.  No man bun.  I'm a Viking, loud, alcoholic, "cunt" in my vocabulary, tribal musically.


The reaction I had when I I heard the lp version of The Perfect Kiss instead of the 9 minute sonic orgasm known as the official 12" single.  Seriously, if there was a space limitation they should have placed the lp version of Subculture instead of the john robie bastardization of that track.  That single is New Order's worst, so bad that Peter Saville refused to do art work for it.  #NewOrderIssues


* The Vikings, hardcore New Order fans.  They have their own catalog number from Factory Records, FAC 383.  Name come from the opening music that was played as NO walked on stage, Funeral For a Viking.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Yes, I Rode a Bike To Work Today

Water Works Bridge over the Raccoon River

February 8, 2017, Des Moines, Iowa.  The Weather Announcers had been touting it for half a week. 1 to 3" of snow Tuesday night into Wednesday.  before going to bed I checked the radar and saw that the system was still in Nebraska.  Hoping that it would miss I went to bed.  But before I closed my eyes for the day I brought the Red Phoenix inside.  The front tire needed air and the chain needed oil.  I did not bother transferring bags to this bike.  I raided the grocery store and had about 3 meals planned out.  I also had ferried a few days of work clothing to my place of employment and would not need to bring any more this week.  Panniers were not essential.  If the forecast was right I could take a road bike to work on Monday.  I was prepared for the snow.

It came as a shock when I let my dog out at 4 am.  Yep, a few inches of fresh snow.  A dry snow and it was still falling.  The backyard looked nice.  A rabbit visited at some point and left tracks.  Time to finish dressing.  Under Armor, three layers of socks, black pants and sweat pants on top of those for extra insulation, two warmth layers for the torso, thick face mask and hat and the Performance Gore-Tex gloves.  Insulated and waterproof boots for my feet.  It was cold.  17 F if I recall correctly.  Head wind of 10 mph.  Time to roll.

If you read my last post you would know that I am not at 100% health.  Namely, my left leg is sore from compensating for a gout attack on my ankle and big toe.  Yet I noticed that the first pedal stroke did not have me wanting to scream until the leg warmed up.  I must be getting better.

Our street had yet to be plowed.  I stayed to the right and left fresh tracks.  SE 1st was plowed and I increased speed.  The trail starting at Mullets was not plowed and I got the honor of soiling virgin snow.  With the exception of deer, rabbit and fox tracks the trail was pristine.  By SW 30th a jogger/runner had left their prints all the way to Water Works Bridge over the Raccoon River.  Then the trail was mine again.

The bridge over Walnut Creek, Clive Greenbelt.  Of note is how much the trail had been used after the snowfall.

Although it was beautiful and I had no traction issues, the snow slowed me down quite a bit.  No sense in worrying about it.  Keep on riding.  7.5 miles of trail gives way to Buffalo Rd and I will make up time on it, assuming it is plowed.  Sure enough, I also climbed the hill faster than I rode on the trail.  Westown Pkwy was clear too but I took the side path over the interstate just in case the wind blew me into traffic.  Did I mention it was windy??  I got to work about a half an hour later than usual.  But I got there safely and I was warm.  Zero issues with slick roads.  Later, I received a text from a friend who commutes from Norwalk to Des Moines.  He said he it took him a half hour longer than normal.  I felt better about my time after reading that.

Of course everyone asked me if I rode a bicycle to work today.  Yes.  They thought the roads were bad.  A co-worker was very late because of it.  I smile and tell them that my tires say "Klondike."  My bicycle is specifically built for days like this.

Looking forward to finding a clean line.

After work I headed into the wind to reach the Clive Greenbelt Trail.  To my disappointment it had not been plowed and was covered with many foot prints and fatbike tracks.  The ride was a bit slow and I got off on Swanson Ave to make up time.  One stop to visit Anders.
Anders store, the Rookie, is on Swanson.  Just a friendly visit.  he rode his fatbike.  Said that he had issues related to neglect, a rusty chain from the look at it.  His rear wheel did not want to move on its own.  Rode hard and put away wet.  Now he needs it.  Lessons in maintenance are sometimes the hardest lessons in life.  He'll figure it out.  Tri-Flow!

Anders' Fattie,  he bikes to work every day.

I took Swanson all the way into Windsor Heights and got on the trail I rode this morning.  It was plowed and I made good time.  But after departing the dog park area the trail was not plowed.  But near the Waterbury neighborhood turn the plowing resumed.  Weird.  Des Moines skipped a section.  I lived and the trail was plowed the rest of the way home.   By tomorrow afternoon all the trails that get cleared will be clear.  Just got to be ready for the icy bits tomorrow and Friday morning.  The Weather People are promising 50s Friday and Saturday.  Hopefully, they will be right.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Broke Dick Biker Pt II


The view from the bike rack at Mercy.  I wonder how many cardiology patients ride their bicycles to their appointments with the heart doctor?  Surely, I'm not the only one.

We have a cat named Max.  He is possibly 3rd generation cat from the promiscuous kitty we adopted many years ago that left us with a few litters.  He is our only cat and the strongest of all the cats of his lineage.  He drove off and out his brothers that were never adopted.  Max spends his time outside and only comes in when it is raining or he is hungry or needs to sleep.  He will be gone sometimes days at a time but usually is there in the morning when I leave for work.  This actually makes him a decent cat.  Max won't play stupid kitten games.  Pure business.  Eat and sleep and beg for food and then stand at the door to be let out.  This week Max came home walking on three legs as a result of an injured paw.  Yet the brave feline never altered his routine.  Eat, Sleep and stand by the door to go out.  It never occurred to him that a three legged cat cannot out run an enemy or catch prey.  But he insisted on going outside.  Damn, I feel like him sometimes.

Usually this time of year I suffer from upper respiratory infections.  Some dirty bastard or bastardette infects me with a virus or bacteria and I start coughing, have a runny nose and end up with bronchitis or an ear infection.  I usually get a cold in October and then it clears up and then late winter I get another.  My cycle of health.  Last winter I stopped using Sudafed, the best defense to prevent ear infections, because my cardiologist said it raises my blood pressure.  Last winter I had bronchitis twice and walking (biking) pneumonia once but my blood pressure was good.  This winter I discovered the cold and flu meds, Coricidin (which was a bitch to find because there are at my store only two and they are hidden in plain view with the other cold and flu OTC meds), for people like me who are cursed with high blood pressure, and I have not had any serious illnesses of the respiratory nature.  But all is not well.

I got hit by three health issues that effected my bicycling in the past month.  The first was a bout of vertigo which may or may not be known as Meniere's Disease or an issue of the inner ear that the only thing I could do is remain horizontal in bed or on the couch.  Standing up and walking had me feeling extremely dizzy.  I was able to take a shower but was unable to dry myself off totally.  It was like being completely and  utterly wasted drunk, especially when walking, but without feeling drunk or laughing about it.  A hint of nausea was present anytime I moved to a vertical position.  I did not feel safe driving a car or riding a bike so I called in sick went back to bed.  I experienced this once before and that was in 2009.  Bed, couch and NetFlix.  I was better that evening.

No sooner than that cleared up health attack #2 hit.  An arthritis attack on my ankle commonly known as gout hit.  Apparently, my body does not metabolize uric acid efficiently and it builds up and out of nowhere I am in pain.  This time my left ankle.  Why the build up?  The consumption of meat and seafood and medication.  And beer.  The latter may have been the reason in the past.  A behavioral issue.  But recently I discovered that the little yellow baby aspirin I take daily and the diuretic on my BP medicine contribute to the failure of the elimination of uric acid.  I brought this up with my cardiologist who asked me if I really wanted to take a pill to deal with the side effects of other pills I take.  Catholic Guilt in me said that he was right, it is a behavioral issue and if I lowered my beer consumption I'd be fine.  BUT this flare up hit me when I had been virtually beer free!  Time for cherry juice, the best natural cure for gout attacks.

So I was limping a bit.  Glad it was winter so I could wear boots and not clip into my pedals.  The twisting motion of clipping in and out hurts my weak ankles.  Then the third health issue hit me hard and damn near killed me.  Angiodema.  This is when the blood vessels in one's neck and tongue decide to discharge the fluid they carry into thiose regions.  It is not unlike an allergy attack of peanuts or seafood or bee sting.  About 1230 pm I noticed that my tongue was swelling.  I blamed it on stress and then took my lunch break a little after 1 pm.  Bok choy and an egg roll.  Not the best choice but it was available.  Swallowing was a bit difficult so I drank water then looked in a mirror. Yep, the tongue was swollen.  Hit the Google and see what causes that.  Three things I consumed could cause that.  First was the tart cheery juice.  I was hitting hard today and had already mixed 6 table spoons into 3 glasses of water hoping it would flush the gout away.  Aleve (NSAID) was the second.  Took two in the morning to deal with my ankle.  The third was the scariest once I did the research.  My ACE inhibitor.  It is a blood pressure medicine that stops the enzyme that raises BP.  Apparently people who have been on it for years suddenly find themselves in the ER with a swollen tongue.  Exact reasons or mechanism of this reaction are not known.  So I have the Deadly Trifecta in me.  Let's see, allergic reaction...take some antihistamines.  I Took 2 Claratins and then a third after a coughing/puke attack.  Time to leave work.  I have a new box of Benadryl at home that I bought for Mary who was suffering from strawberry exposure and now has hives.  Only 15 miles away!

About 2 or 3 miles into it I decide that the prudent course of action would be to stop at Mercy Urgent Care on NW 114th  and seek professional help.  Right now I talk funny and am experiencing difficulty in swallowing my own saliva.  Surely they have a shot of a steroid and an antihistamine that would eliminate my symptoms and I could enjoy the rest of my Friday and weekend.  Right turn at the aquatic center and up the hill.  Hide the bike by the electrical transformer and check in.

The wait was not long.  And as soon as i rattled off the Deadly Trifecta the doctor stopped me, blamed the BP med, Lisinopril, and told me that there was nothing they could do for me.  No shots, no needle, no industrial strength Benadryl, go straight to the ER to be observed overnight in case my throat shut and a tube was needed to shove down my throat to keep the airway open.  I felt a wave of anger and Adrenalin come over me and my tongue shrunk just a bit.  I could swallow my drool now and pronounce words without sounding like a drunken fool.  It had been about 3 hours now and I was not getting worse.  I told them my ride was on the way.  I texted Craig a while back to pick me up at the clinic.  I also told them that I would not be going to the ER unless I felt it was absolutely necessary.  The doctor told me that I was an adult and could make those decisions.  He also said that I would have very little time to get there if it was apparent that my airways was compromised.  Take Benadryl every 6 hours.  No problem, I live within 2 or 3 miles from Mercy.  I guess he did not want the liability of me being there.  Maybe my kidneys were on overload, too much poison to eliminate.  For the second time in my life I  upset a medical professional about my need to visit the ER.

They allowed me to stay in the room until Craig arrived.  As soon as they left I whipped out the phone and Googled my condition.  Yep, this shit is real.  Some people need to be tubed.  If I'd gone to the ER I would have been given a shot of steroids, a Benadryl IV and a steroid script to take home.  I also overheard the nursing staff bitch about dinner breaks and who would be getting the food.  Guess workers' life is the same everywhere.  Thank God Craig arrived quickly.

Long story short, I spent the next two days, the weekend, on the couch popping pink pills and watching NetFlix.  Benadryl is like being stoned and tired without  any creative energy or thoughts.  It sucks but the swelling subsided and my tongue returned to normal size.  On Wednesday i had my 1 year check up with my cardiologist.  I had a lot to say.

Obligatory of Graziano's


Whenever I have an appointment with my heart doctor I take the day off.  I like to get there an hour early and meditate to ensure I have the lowest possible BP when they check me.  Unfortunately, my appointment was at 4 pm which meant that I had to behave all damn day.  Got my hair cut at 8 am.  Stopped at B&B at 830 am.  Then rode to Graziano Brothers afterwards.  Then home for breakfast and lunch and NetFlix.  The break from long riding allowed my ankle to feel better but I think the pain merely migrated from there to my knee.  My leg was stiff.  No matter, I'll continue to ride the single speed and warm the leg up on the climb to Laurel Street, Iowa Heart Center.

Painting near the elevator at Mercy Hospital's Laurel Street facility.  It looks like the cover of New Order's Lost Sirens lp.

My appointment went well.  The receptionist was missing and a nurse had to check me in.  As I went through the door I ran into Old Man River pushing his wheelchair bound wife from hear appointment.  not used to seeing him outside of the biking world and certainly when we were both sober.  Small world.  My BP was good especially considering I had stopped the Lisinopril 5 days earlier.  Dr. Wick was behind so they asked if it was alright if I saw Jolene, his PA, whom I have seen many times.  Honestly, I'm more comfortable with her and she knows me better.  She got me off the ACE inhibitor and onto a calcium channel blocker, off the diuretic (a cause for the gout) and on a gout pill.  I did ask for a prescription bee sting kit in case the angiodema hit me again, a real possibility according to my research, but she said to keep the Claratin and Benadryl with me at all times.  As for my heart, she said it sounded good.  Come back in 6 months.  No treadmill, no EKG, no echo cardiogram. Inquiring about my kidneys, Jolene shuffled the papers, they are fine.  Good news at last!  As for my ankle/knee, take time off the bike.  If only I could.  But wait a minute, I did take time off of it and and things got worse!  Probably the best visit to a doctor I have ever had.  It was a cold downhill ride home but I was smiling!

So now wait for the new meds to kick in.  I decided to cancel a trip to BRR to give the left leg a rest. Besides, new meds and mass quantities of beer probably not the best idea.  I have pushed things to the edge recently and it was time to leave the dice on the table.  Rest and recover.  2017 will provide many opportunities for me to ride.  Oh yeah, Max is back on all four paws.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Beautiful Ride Home

This moment.  "If you could just see the beauty.  These things I can never describe.  Pleasures and wayward distractions.  this is my lucky prize"*

As they left the building they told me to be careful, safe ect.  I was prepping the bike for the ride home.  They were walking to their cars and trucks and SUVs.  Muggles never know.  I should have been telling them to be careful.  To illuminate the situation, it was snowing.  Our winter has been a drought and snow was something rarely seen in these parts.  All of that changed today.  The temperature was dropping below freezing and the snow was still falling.  But that did not bother me at all.  I was glad.  I chose the proper vehicle to get myself to and from work, The Red Phoenix in her studded tire glory.  Just needed to air up the front tire and away I go!  Yes, slow leaking front tire but that's another story.

The wind was out of the northwest at 18 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.  Winter rears its ugly head once again.  It did not exactly hurt but it was not a good feeling.  The snow had an icy bite and the wind slowed me to a crawl.  I was cold because I just begun and had not had a chance to reach operating temperature.  the funny thing about it was that the temp really was not much different than it was this morning or what it had been for what seems like a week.  30s just above freezing.  but now it was dropping and that evil jealous bitch of a northwest wind was raging for vengeance on us.  I need to ride 2 miles into said wind to reach the safety of the trail.  Once on the trail I will have  12 and half miles of car free riding with the exception of crossing Grand Ave.  Sewer work has the trail closed at Grand.  This is what the muggles do not know or understand.  Once I cross University Ave I am in a residential neighborhood until I reach the trail.  Low traffic.  I have a greater risk of being hit by a deer or squirrel or goose than by a car.  I am safe.  Those driving are not safe.  they are surrounded by other cars/drivers who must remember how to drive in the snow.  Not my problem.

Rare photo of the Red Phoenix without panniers.  It shares bags with the single speed.  I was too lazy to put them on last night after fixing the rear tire AGAIN!

It was a short moment on the trail, Clive's Greenbelt, when I had to stop and take a photo.  Caught up in the beauty of it all.  Our brown and grey world was transformed into a gorgeous winter wonderland.  The trees were painted with snow.  A world in white.  Pristine snow.  I did this last year as well.  Almost the same location.  just that one moment makes it all worth it.  Good Lord, I probably blogged it as well last year.  There is a difference this year.  Only an inch so far on the trail and someone plowed it.  I remember last year suffering from angina on this stretch, however, my heart is fixed and did not know what angina was when I suffered from it.

The trail was basically empty.  A few fatbike tracks.  A person or two walking a dog.  I think I saw two bikers.  Lots of deer in Windsor heights along Walnut Creek.  A the geese on Water Works park.

The geese in Water Works Park.

There was one person I wanted to see but because I stopped to take photos I missed her by minutes.  I did, however follow her tracks home.  That was Mary, my wife.  Wanted to share a drink with her at the local pub.  At a later date.

After getting home and settling in I turned on the radio and heard the news.  Many car wrecks across the metro.  Traffic backing up.  Even the bridge I take every morning was "too slick for cars."  I had to laugh.  Me be careful?  Get better tires you fools!  Mine are studded.  There are tires for cars meant for winter.  Be responsible and get them.


* Isolation, Joy Division

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Surviving the Ice Storm

Wednesday on the Water Works bridge over the Raccoon River.

So the hype was almost true but Monday the roads were bad, mostly.  The trails, worse because they never get cleared of ice.  Well, the MLK sidepath does but that is rarely part of my commute.  But with the doom and gloom forecast of freezing rain and up to a quarter inch of ice I made plans.  I would take my "Trail Is Destroyed Route" to work.

I grabbed the trust Red Phoenix for its studded tires and left the house.  The temperature was at freezing and there were a few drops of rain every now and then.  Our deck was iced over and so was the yard as noted by the crunch it made underneath my waterproof and insulated boots.  The street was total ice but it was white from cars crushing it as they traversed the road.  Two blocks later I reached the main road and it was wet.  I sped up.

Tuesday morning Walnut Creek dumped some ice on the trail underneath the rail trestle on the Bill Riley Trail.

Approximately a half mile from my home found me at the confluence of the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers, or Mullets, and I had to make a decision: trail or streets.  The trail looked like it had a solid layer of ice and since they never salt it it would be a slow nerve wrecking ride even with studded tires.  The roads won out but first the pedestrian bridge must be used to cross the rivers.  It, too, had that layer of ice.  No issues were encountered as I rode over the ice to reach MLK Blvd and the comfort of the salting of the roads.  Sure, salt and sand will beat up the bike but I can always clean it up later.  Normally I would have taken the sidepath because they do apply salt to it along MLK but it looked slick.  The road itself was wet.

I road on the street until I reached 15th and turn up that at Exile and then a left on Ingersoll.  Wet, not icy.  I was making progress.  Half way up Ingersoll there was a truck parked with its window down.  A familiar voice called my name and asked if I wanted a ride.  It was Kevin Allan, another Commuter of the Year.  He said he was 2 hours early and works in the same vicinity of my place of employment.  Why not?  Get there early and drink coffee.  The rain was picking up anyway.  His truck had a cover yet it was able to close eve with my bike in back.  Me and the Red Phoenix dry!

The Red Phoenix safe and dry at work!

He drove the route I would have taken.  Ingersoll all the way to 59th then Grand to 8th and a left on Ashworth.  He turned on 60th where I would have turned on 28th and cut to Westown Pkwy but basically the same.  60th was the worst needing more attention form the road crew.  So in cheater mode I made it to work.  Time warp as some would say.  My instincts were correct as the roads were good.  Coffee time!

The rain never really let up through the day but the temperature remained more or less near freezing.  About 2 pm I received a text from Craig.  "Would you like a ride home?"  With the the exception of hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones, rain is my least favorite weather event.  Rain when it is near freezing is even worse.  I love to ride when it is snowing.  Rain, I hate.  I took him up on the offer.

The day after.  Tuesday 445 am.  I am on the trail.  The rain did some good.  The ice melted, mostly.  It was safe to ride a bike with studded tires.  To my relief there were not fallen trees or limbs.  In fact, the metro had very few power outages.  The ride was uneventful and I would have set a record to work if I had not ridden cautiously.  To ruin my bliss, the rear tire took a dump and I had to change the tube after dinner after I got home.

Ice on the trail from Walnut Creek.

Wednesday was a heat wave with the high reaching 49F.  The bike trail was of users especially roadies who appear like box elder bugs when it warms up.  Walnut Creek is high and water is almost to the trail itself underneath the rail bridge on the Bill Riley Trail.  I became concerned about flooding.

Thursday was a good day.  Stopped at the store and carried home a 15 lb bag of dog food on back of the bike.  The trails are improving so much that Friday I was back on the single speed roadie.  No ice to worry about.
Looking east from Water Works Bridge.