Monday, May 28, 2018

Hot 100 Miles Memorial Day Weekend

Perry, Iowa

New Rack at the depot in Redfield

So we picked the hottest day of the year to do our longest ride of the year.  I am sure we have ridden in worse and for longer but not in the month of May and certainly not with so few long miles under our padded cycling shorts.  It seems every time that we attempted even a 40 mile ride we have to abort.  Rain, flat tires and no time.

It was Craig's idea.  He suggested that we make another ride to Redfield for the breakfast at the Legion Hall.  read about it here  Then he combined this as a Ragbrai training ride.  He and Kim rode loaded touring bikes with the intention of test new equipment when they camped out in Perry.  Breakfast sounds good but we have too much going on to make 2 days out of it.  We took road bikes.  Escorts if you will.  Motivators.  I tend to have better workouts on a fast roadie than a touring rig.  The reward for effort is sweeter.  That and the state of our touring bikes is bad.  Mary's needs new brake pads and its winter wheelset (studded tires) need to be swapped out.  Mine still has the heavy Continental touring tire replacement on front from the near disastrous tire ruining sidewall slash on last years Ragbrai.  As I tell people, we train on our touring bikes the day we leave for our version of Ragbrai.  Usually those bikes are not running until the night before!

We were to meet at Colby Park at 530 am.  More like 6 am for a number of reasons.  Mary and I had to stop downtown for cash at our respective ATMs so we took Ingersoll Ave so we could look at the new "protected" bike lane at the intersection of MLK.  Radar gun visible on the pole but it did not detect us and trip the light.  Mary had to push the crossing button.  Ingersoll Ave has some construction on it overflowing onto the bike lane.  I doubt I will ride on this road beyond Zzz Records.

We met up with Craig and Kim we rolled on to the Clive Greenbelt but got off after 86th street and took University Ave as our detour.  A major section of the Greenbelt is being resurfaced this summer and the official detour is not my favorite.  University Ave is empty this early in the morning especially on a Saturday.  My took a right on NW 114th to return to the trail and take a look at the work.  The old trail has been removed and a new trail is ready to be paved/built next to it a further north of Walnut Creek.  We should not have turned at the swimming pool but continued to 114th but then again it was interesting to look at the trail work.

The sprawling suburb known as Waukee was the next trap of detours.  New entrances for businesses are being constructed and trail users are forced to go around them on gravel.  Some of this looks loose and dangerous.  None of us fell and we regrouped at the trailhead.  Here we saw a lot of automobiles in the parking lot with bike racks.  We did encounter many bikes heading east.

Now the difference between bicycle types started to show.  We were starting to run out of time and had to haul ass to make it to the Legion int time for breakfast.  Now Mary and could hammer it out and get there with lots of time to spare but Craig and Kim would be left behind.  We found a moderate speed to keep them up with us and we regrouped at the depot in Redfield with time to spare although the people at the Legion would be wiping the table in front and around us and asking us to take our coffee mugs to the kitchen when we left.  Our group and one senior cyclist were the last bikers to arrive.  A group of cyclists were leaving when we pulled in and they said as a joke that the Legion was out of food.

Craig and Kim arriving in Redfield

As for the breakfast, all you can eat for $7.  I had 2 biscuits, two sausage patties and two over easy eggs and 1 blueberry pancake.  3 cups of coffee.  it was going to be a long day.

Next stop Linden, the high point of the trail.  Never did see that sign but we met up in the shelter and watched at least 50 antique tractors drive by on their way to parade or something.  that was really cool.  Something one only sees in rural America.
One of many...

Could my non-North American readers let me know in the comment section if things like this occur there or is petrol something not to be squandered?

Panora was the vortex.  The stop at the Owl's Nest was long.  I only agreed to stop there if Craig would agree to do a Busch Light Trifecta.  What is a Busch Light Trifecta you ask?  Beer comes in 3 forms--bottle, can and draft.  Order one each of the all three forms at once and drink them.  New rule, consume them in alphabetical order.  Why Busch Light?  It is light beer and close to water.  Also, hard to find an establishment that has all three forms of Busch Light.  I think I have only found 3 or 4 places that do.  This was the first time we did this together.

Busch Light Trifecta

Busch Light Trifecta Complete.  Nice of Craig to join me in this.

But before we could leave town and complete our mission we had to stop at The Port on the north side of Panora.  The Tiki Bar was the place.  Unfortunately, The Port is on the other side of the road from the trail but there is a gravel driveway on the border of the church and someone's house that we took from the trail and this saved us a lot of time from riding on the highway.  I had two Stiegl Radlers, low in alcohol and tasty.  Then it was time to get serious.

From safety to where?  The Tiki Bar at The Port, Panora, Iowa.

My last can of liquid refreshment.

Time to work.  We were 46 miles into the ride.  54 miles for the century mark and another 10 or 11 to get home.  The wind was from the north west and we were heading north for 12 miles until the right turn and favorable wind.  The heat of the day was hitting hard now and we were about to enter god's Anvil.  Many years ago Mary and I took two sons on this journey leaving Panora at 3 pm on a very hot day with Jefferson the overnight stop.  But leaving Perry we had to stop  in the shade and let the sun and heat fade a bit or else we would die.  Find shade and rest and wait.  Our son, Quin, brought this story up yesterday.  burned into our memory...  Today, similar situation but instead of 24 miles we had at least 64 miles to go.  Only advantage, fast bikes and no children to worry about.  So I put my head down and hammered.  Somehow I could keep it up to 16 mph knowing that in 6 miles we would be at the shady park in Yale with a cold water fountain and benches.  Focus on that.  6 miles is not that far even on a hot day.  reward at the end.  This was a sobering 6 miles.  Something may break but it would not be me.

Old trikes never die...they become art or decorations.  Shelter outside Panora.

Another "yard bike" decorative art at the shelter north of Panora.

That water never felt so cold.  I drank about two bottles worth.  Mary did too and ate a PowerBar.  Our next stop would be 12 miles later in Dawson at the depot.  We would be able to get COLD water there and rest in the shade.  But first, another 5 miles straight into the wind.  Hammer it out and ignore the pain that the desire to call for the airstrike.  My children can barely find me in west Des Moines let alone Jamaica, Iowa.  Speaking of which, the new bar in Jamaica is located right off the trail and was packed with bicycles.  This would be the pattern.  Places packed with bikes but no one on the trail.

There were, however, people on the trail.  A pink and a yellow shirt could be seen miles ahead of us.  But I had to beat them to the restroom first because my plumbing was about to burst.  Motivation found in the most primitive needs.  So I threw more coals into the fire and caught up and passed them.  Judging by the size of the dude in yellow, I would want to be the first one to use the restroom.  Put a half mile lead on them.  Then vapor lock.  No go.  But cold water and paper towels to lower my core temperature and some cold refrigerated water.  After discussing this moment yesterday we decided that we should have poured a bottle of that cold water over our heads.  I reached for a Powerbar but then remembered that I gave my last one to Kim at the Tiki bar.  Oh well, I've plenty of fat to convert to energy.  Our new friends, Pinkie and Yellow, were drinking soda.  It was 96*F.  More water for us but then they thankfully filled their bottles.  Don't know where they were heading but we later saw them rolling out of Perry while we had our last meal stop.

So 6 miles later we stopped at the Kum & Go in Perry.  Bottle water, banana, apple and a sandwich and a bag to carry it to a picnic table up ahead on the trail.  That would be it for food.  I had thought about getting the 10 for $10 taco special at Taco John's in Waukee but not only would it be garbage food it would be either deadly or wasteful.  Mary would have 2 and I'd probably eat 4 or five and then suffer a  ride crippling gut disaster and/or an unexpected BM in my shorts.  Eat light more often.  I've been dropping weight lately namely be viewing food as poison and focusing on better nonpoisonous food or less poisonous food.  Delay the 10 for $10 until we get home.  Speaking of which, we had to get home at best possible time.  I only had prescription sunglasses on.  Darkness was a real threat.

Mary notices the electronic sign at the car wash and comments.  101*F.  I take a photo then consult the Google.  Only 96*F.  I swear it does not feel like a degree over 97*F.

7 miles to Minburn.  One of those M towns on a trail or bike route.  Mingo, Milo, Menlo...When the brain is on oxygen debt I forget the name of the M town I am approaching.  A chalk sign reads "free keg at the Lunch Box."  Mary comments.  I have had enough beer for the month and am running out of daylight.  The establishment, Nineteen 14, in the old depot is packed with bicycles and riders but no one is on the trail.  We roll on to Dallas Center another 6 miles away.  Here we stop to rest.

Once again, the bar is packed with bicycles.  Well, there are several bikes in back and out front.  We rest at the water fountain across the street.  New restroom built instead of kybos but still hot as hell inside.  New water fountain too.  The type that fills bottles.  I think of places in the world where there are water shortages and think that here fat bastards like me doing jack squat can have their fill.  I dump the now warm Dawson water out and refill and drink it and refill again grateful that I live in Iowa.  We talk to a couple with matching LHTs.  Left their bags at home.  When they hear of our long ride they marvel.  Really, anyone can do this just takes time and the right bicycle.  I want to take my shoes and socks off.  My toes on my left foot are messed up in the sock.  But I do not get around to this.  6 miles to Waukee.  11 miles to the Greenbelt.  14+/- miles to home after that.  Think about the detour around the Greenbelt.

As we are leaving Dallas Center we  hear "on your left."  Wow, first time today.  He did give plenty of warning and I am able to get in front for single file riding and he is gone.  We are at 85 miles for the day at that moment.  I do not have the strength to catch him.  He turned around at the memorial for the 'bent rider.

Once past Waukee I make the decision on how to get around the closed section of the trail.  Take my old commute.  Turn off the trail, at 128th and take Westown Pkwy to Twisted Vine Brew Pub and a left to cross University, go behind Pier 1 Imports and hop back on the trail at Cool Basil.  Trail the rest of the way.  Easy peasey.  Turn on lights.  Home before it was truly, truly dark.  Phone still had battery life at 31% without charging it.  Amazing since I took photos, text, Google Maps, FaceBook, Gmail ect, ect.

110.7.  Just missed my 111 guesstimate.  Great ride with Mary and great friends.  I rode strong especially during the last 64 miles in adverse conditions.  Impressed myself.  I've come a long way since that Friday afternoon I could barely walk or ride.  Centuries, bitch, centuries!~  Skipped dinner and drank a glass of water to swallow my drugs.  Shower and step on the scales.  I weighed myself before leaving and now I am 5 lbs lighter.  Yes, I am aware, it was water weight  but still....

There should be a bicycle in that news blurb.  We were over 50 miles away on Memorial Day weekend.  Unfortunately, the day after we had to drive 100 miles to visit Mary's father in the hospital.  He's having issues recovering from pneumonia but is in great spirits and I think the staff wants him to leave!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rolling Again and Rolling Thunder

Target Field, Minneapolis, MN.  Along the sea of broken glass I had to stop and take this photo.  Plaque: Kent Hrbek. Minnesota Twins. 1981 - 1994. Kent Hrbek to his wife Jeanie Hrbek, before the start of the 1987 playoffs. "I don't want to win the World Series for me, but for all of the fans of Twins baseball."

As expected, once I stopped taking the poison, Lipitor, and that venom left my body I would be walking and rolling again.  To bring you up to speed, Friday May 4th, I could not walk because the cholesterol prescribed to me by my primary care physician decided it would rather destroy my left leg muscles and knee joint rather than eliminating bad cholesterol and triglycerides in my veins.  Monday the 7th I rode a bike again after two days off.  Then after returning home from KC and Minneapolis I rode every day to work.  By Friday I was almost to total health with only the occasional glitch in the knee.  But the 7th was the big test.

We found ourselves in Minneapolis to see a rock concert.  I had a big fantasy about exploring the trail system so we took two bikes with us.  Because we drive a Taurus we had to remove the front wheels from the bikes to fit both into the rear passenger compartment.  Bicycles are safer inside vehicles than outside of them during transport.  I took my Verenti Substance "adventure" bike for two reasons.  First, it had flat platform pedals on it and since I was barely able to walk let alone ride a bike I did not desire to stress my knee out any more than necessary by having to clip in and out of a SPD pedal.  Second, the concert we were going to see, Peter hook & The Light, was going to be a performance of Hooky playing both the New Order Substance and the Joy Division Substance albums.  Substance being the name of those lps that featured all their 12" singles up to 1987.  Seemed only fitting that I bring the third Substance.  Coincidentally, the Verenti was purchased from England the home of Joy Division/New Order and Peter Hook.

So I rode home from work, barely, crawled into a vodka and club soda and did not ride a bicycle until Monday.  That first trip was from the front door to the car.   I had to see if I could pedal.  I could although that first pedal stroke HURT but it got better.  Then after driving to Minneapolis and checking into the hotel and changing our clothes for the ride I made Mary look the other way while I did that painful first pedal stroke in the parking lot.  But it felt better this time.  So with that out of the way I did probably the stupidest thing a person in my condition could do.  I rode on the streets of a major US city.  Bike lanes and not I was hitting the streets in less than 100% riding condition.  But I am stubborn and tend to deal with the limits hoping my guardian angel is there to rescue me.

Downtown Minneapolis.  A mix of one way streets, bike lanes both protected and unprotected, traffic, giant buses, potholes and broken glass.  After using the Google I discovered that Minneapolis is a Lakota word for "arseholes break glass bottles here."  To be honest, most of the broken glass was near the curb and on the sidewalks and the further we were from downtown the worse it was.  But we saw a lot of bicycles parked at businesses and cyclists in the streets.  This is bicycle commuter friendly city.  Lots of single speeds.  A few bikes with panniers.

As for the bike lanes, they were everywhere we needed them.  We started at the Best Western Plus Normandy Inn & Suites on S 8th.  Nice place.  Great to be able to park the car and leaving it in their lot.  Our first mission was to ride to First Avenue to see the venue for tonight's gig.  Definitely within walking distance.  And we discovered that the Target Center was basically across the street from First Ave.  So if there is concert there, Normandy Inn will be the place we will stay.

Hooky performed both Substance albums.  I rode the Substance.

After the obligatory photo session at one of the nation's best rock & roll venues we consulted Google Maps and picked a route to intercept a bicycle trail that would take us to the trail that goes around one of the lakes.  Way back over a decade ago I was up here for business and took my Trek 520 and rode around a lake or two.  Nice trail system.  Segregated lanes for bicycles and pedestrians.  I wish we had these in Des Moines.  But back them I started from south of downtown and it was easier to get to the trail.  We did stop at Target Field home of the Twins.  Eventually we got to the trail but only had time to ride around one lake.  The trail was a mix of people kitted out on road bikes, like Mary, and commuters and everyday bicyclists.  I wish we had those in Des Moines.

We knew this was going to happen.  Eventually we passed this bus and got on a protected bicycle lane.

After the lake more street action.  Issue with the buses.  Guess what pulls into the bike lane to pick up passengers?  I was never so relieved to find a protected bike lane.  Not overly visually busy like the protected lane on E Grand Ave in Des Moines.  Just enough bollard for cars to get the clue.  Upon returning to our hotel I noticed a brew pub across the street.  Damn, barely enough time to shower, change, grab a bite and get to the venue.  Of course it was closed after we got back but the hotel bar was still open.

As far I was physically, some soreness to the left leg and knee but no issues riding.  Walking in KC and Minneapolis and standing in front of Peter Hook & The Light helped remove the poison and damage from my leg and knee.  I am back.

Final note on Minneapolis.  They have a bicycle share program. We saw these kiosks/docking stations in quite a few places even near a residential neighborhood.

After returning home I rode to work for the rest of the week and the next week.  Rain on the weekend literally dampened any riding plans.  And lawn mowing and tilling the garden.  At least I could do that.  Both activities require functioning legs and knees.

Finally today, the 19th I was able to ride on a Saturday but once again that ride had an early ending due to rain.  What should have been a 40+ mile ride ended up a 14 miler.  I was on my best road bike.  The previous time on this bicycle I was in top shape when Mary and I rode with team Kum & Go to the High Trestle.  I was in great shape.  Then everything went south.  But today I rode strong.  The departure for the ride was delayed by my desire to finish mowing the back yard as it was getting out of control again.  And half way into the ride, 7 miles, we stopped to eat at a Mexican restaurant, La Feria just off the 4 Mile Creek Trail in the Copper Creek area.  Three other cyclists were there as well, two in Ragbrai jerseys.  When we went to pay they were finished too.  A large obese man man asked if there was a bicycle race somewhere near.  No, our fellow travelers replied, just out on a ride.  Then I chimed in, "when we drive cars we wear NASCAR outfits."  It was very warm and humid when we rode there.  Jerseys and bike shorts were needed for long rides.

After our meal when Mary went to the restroom I checked the radar.  Damn, something red was brewing south of town.  The temperature had dropped 10 degrees since we stopped.  Time to haul ass home!  The sky was dark and we made good time.  Two men on road bike passed us so we added more coal to the fire and caught them.  They too turned right on Scott Ave and headed to downtown DSM.  Raised our average speed by 2 mph as well.  As I reached for the door handle of our house I heard the thunder.  In the nick of time.  Just enough time to get the bicycles put away, the extension cord for the tiller inside and put away my single speed commuter before the first drop.

Glad to declare myself fit for riding and long rides.  Now if the weather would cooperate I'd be pleased.  This will be lowest mileage year in a decade unless I dedicate every non working moment to riding.  Nah, I've a life.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Did Statins Kill My Mother....

Cue Elegia....

Bear with me for a bit and read about my experiences.

April 2018

I am capable of riding centuries.  I am able to run.  Stairs, hell yes, I'm a pro.  I even climbed stairs with friends training for mountain hiking and the Fight For Air fundraiser just so I could talk to friends about my Ragbrai plan.  17 stories, Basement Level 3 to the roof three times talking the entire time.  My bicycle commute was a 27 mile round trip Monday through Friday.  Legs and knees perfect!  More importantly, my heart and lungs were great.  My latest EKG was good and the ticker sounded good.

The House of Pain.  but good pain.  Basement Level 3 to the roof.  When we trained for self contained backpacking adventure in the Rookies, 10 days, we did this once a week 6 sets and sometimes with 50 lbs in our backpacks.  I know real pain from training versus pain from bad medicine.

Then I got a new primary care physician.  Straight to hell.  My triglycerides were high (beer and non-vegan diet).  I had been on a low dose of fenofibrate for about a month then had it bumped up.  This was prescribed by my cardiologist.  The new doctor, despite a modest improvement in certain numbers, wanted to end the issue once and for all.  He suggested that I go on a statin.

St Michael, The Arch Angel, casting the rebel angels into the Abyss.  This is what statins do to me. From the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

How I feel when my leg and knees die from statins summed up in artwork.

My reply was simply.  Crestor had me walking like a 112 year old person.  Tried them and did not like them.  Two years ago I went on it.  Improved my cholesterol and trig numbers but after a few months I noticed that my leg muscles were sore.  And this soreness got worse.  A little research into that statin revealed that I was suffering from a side effect.  So I stopped.  Then about a month before my next check up I started it up again to keep the doctor off my ass.  The pain was worse.  Felt like the muscle was being stripped from the bone.  Could not cross one of my legs to put on socks and shoes.  I was walking very slow.  No running.  The first few moments of pedaling a bicycle were painful.  So I stopped it.

When I told the doctor about this I was put on a different cholesterol medicine, fenofibrate,  I suffered no ill effects.  But the dose was low and the progress was not as good as the statin.  Yeah, change diet.....

Well my new doctor did not like that.  "People on statins have fewer heart attacks than those who are not on them..."  He suggested Lipitor.  "I have a patient who was on one statin and suffered what you described so I switched brands and he did not have any issues."  OK, fooker, I'll try but if I react bad to it, no more.  I was good for about two weeks.

My son graduated from college.  We went to the ceremony at Wells Fargo Event Center.  We traversed the steep stairs up and down.  The next morning I woke up and asked Mary if her legs hurt.  Felt like I did a lot of stairs.  She said her legs were fine.  Odd.  Rode the bike to work and I pushed it a bit to stretch them out.  As the day progressed my legs hurt more and more.  Fook me, I'm limping.  When I left I took the stairs down to street level.  CRAP!!!  My left knee could barely bend!  Then it hit me.  The goddamn statin!  I stopped taking it.  

I only had two, one shot each.

Friday I limped all day.  Took the elevator to go home.  I could barely ride the bicycle home.  In my head I went through the list of people to call for a ride home.  But I made it.  Poured myself a cucumber vodka and club soda and sat down and wondered how long it will take this poison to leave my body.  I had a four day weekend so I had time.  But a busy weekend.  Had to drive to Kansas City to take my daughter, Dora, and her friend, Alexis, to see Post Malone.  Monday Mary and I were to drive to Minneapolis to see Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order) & The Light at First Avenue.  We were planning to take bicycles along to explore the trails, something I have not done in a decade or so.  Basically, plenty of sitting on my ass time while driving.  I would recover.  But Friday night I could not sleep.  I could not find a position on the bed that did not make my left leg hurt.  Eventually I moved to the couch.  I considered staying home instead going to Kansas City but that would be worse because I would worry about Mary and Dora and Alexis the entire time.  I finally took 3 Aleve at 3 am and moved back to bed.

Getting in and out of the car was difficult.  And walking the first few minutes was embarrassing and painful until I warmed up.  But walking was good.  The more I walked the more the poison left my leg.  But if I sat down for a bit of time or drove somewhere the leg would stiffen up again.  The knee especially.  Cycle returns....At the art museum we encountered an elderly woman donned in spandex.  "I'm 93 y/o and look great!" she exclaimed and ran off.  F me, I can barely walk and she is almost running!  Then Mary made a comment.  "Your mother walked the same way.  She always complained about her knees.  She could not bend her knees or lift her legs either.  The doctors could not find a problem.  She was on a statin, too."

WOW!  What an observation!  A little about my mother.  Short and round.  Morbidly obese.  Couch potato.  Little to no physical activity in her final years or for most of her life except the demands of being a teacher and a parent.  Could not walk in her final years.  Had a PT that was able to get her to walk from the couch to her bedroom but when the insurance $$ for that service ran out of its alloted time she gave up.  I always thought that if she put a little more effort in moving around, i.e. walking, that she would recover and still be alive today.  I blamed it on attitude and depression, which did play a role, but it never occurred to me that it may have been her meds until Mary made that comment.


A wonder drug in many respects.  They clean out your pipes quite well.  Most people are placed on them for the rest of their lives.  However, dark side does exist.  They have been know to mess with brains and now muscles and joints. 

More info on statins

Crestor is bad side effects

Lipitor is bad side effects

Muscle Destruction info


I was able to ride a bicycle on Monday.  lots of riding in the streets of a large city, too!

Despite the way I am portrayed in social media, I do not drink that much.  Now even less.  Maybe a drink a day average for a week.  Special occasions, say the Funhaters Ride, a little more, ok a lot more.  Red meat is going bye bye.  Chicken skin, the best tasting part of that bird, no mas.  Over the years I have increased my fruit and vegetable and fiber intake.  I do not know how to increase my exercise over what I do now.  40,000 miles ridden in the past 4 years.....  I've dropped a few pounds lately.  Basically cut out fast food years ago with maybe a visit to Taco Bell once every 6 months.  Pizza and carbs have been slashed lately.  Driving Mary and Dora nuts with changes.  I must accept that my body does not process poison and garbage like it once did.  I do not have the strength or desire to become a vegan or vegetarian or the financial resources.  I know plenty of overweight V's anyway.  Carbs are easy to kick out thankfully.

I was able to get up front during Hooky's gig at First Avenue.  We walked to that show and for 3 hours I enjoyed myself and did not feel any pain.  Rock and roll heals!

I called the doctor the next day.  It was the day of the tornadoes.  They called me back the next week when I was in Minneapolis and I did not check voicemail until Friday.  However, Mercy has a personal health web page for patients and I was notified of the change in meds.  Back on fenofibrate instead of Lipitor.  They got the message.  I hope they read the survey that was sent to me asking me to rate my visit.

A week or so later I am almost pain free.  I can walk without a limp.  I can climb stairs.  I was able to explore Minneapolis on bicycle without much difficulty, always that first pedal stroke that's the killer.  Today I feel I could ride a century if it was not raining.  Maybe next weekend.

As for my mother, I do not know how she lived as long as she did.  But now in the back in my mind I wonder if statins sped up her demise.  We are like sharks.  When we stop moving we die.  RIP Mary Ellen.