Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bad To Good In Half-a-Day


It has been rough since I last posted. I haven't felt like riding or even working on my bike in 4 weeks now and this past Saturday I was hurting bad enough that I called in FMLA (first day this year). I went to work the next day, my last work day for my week, and began feeling better mid-afternoon. 

Monday I had a list a mile long to get started on ... if I could just get two or three items crossed off I would feel good. It was one of those days where things just fell into place and combined with feeling good for a change, I got most of the list crossed off plus pulling the tank and seat on my bike and wiring up new driving lights. I followed that up by a quick trip to my GP to get a new prescription Tuesday morning then I came home and mowed and trimmed our three acre hacienda. after that, I cleaned up and went to take some tests at work that I was behind on. I can't explain why I'm suddenly feeling better so quickly ... I am just enjoying it for the moment. 

Cool note: Phil, one of my followers here bought a KLR and is loving riding again. 
Uncool note: Phil is also struggling right now with his RA and rides one day at a time like me.

I did take my bike out for a quick 40 mile ride Monday with the new lights. To quote a riding buddy who also lives with a chronic illness, "it feels good to feel good for a change." I have a new exhaust ordered that should be here Thursday. That will be the last big item I need for my new bike. The only other thing I need is for the Cimzia to work well when I switch meds!
New lights I put on Monday

Monday, July 14, 2014

Patiently Waiting Is Killing Me


It has been four weeks since I have felt up to riding and this week is no different.  After doing some research and talking with a few people who have used Cimzia, I am prepared to start it in seven weeks. I usually dread any med changes but feel if it doesn't work, it won't be any worse than where I am right now. I'd like to thank Andrew at Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis for his posts and helpful information on Cimzia.

In addition to feeling major league fatigue, you know the kind where you wake up from 8 hours of sleep every bit as tired as when you went to bed the night before, I got overheated at work Saturday. The door at the front of the press has been broken for three weeks and the heat from the warehouse just comes right in on where we work at the front of one of the presses. It has been hot but Saturday the temperature hit 101, not sure what the heat index was. I thought it was just me but toward the end of the shift Sean, who works the front of the press with me, told me that the heat had got to him as well. 

I have spent the day inside today researching some old abandoned iron truss bridges to ride to and shoot this fall once I start feeling better. One will be a stretch (for me) to ride in one day but I will try to get Randall and/or Greg to go with me. I found another one that was washed downstream and is supposedly still sitting in the creek bed.

btw, I may force myself to get out and do a short ride Wednesday before I start back to work Thursday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crossroads


I once again find myself at a familiar place with RA. I have been struggling with it for the past 6 to 7 months. I had a lengthy visit with my rheumatologist Monday complete with extra blood work. After examining my shoulder and hands he said inflammation doesn't look that bad and asked if I could get up on the examination table. I got up and walked over and stepped up to get on the table and he said, "you aren't moving well at all!" He also said that he was sure we could get me back to moving and feeling better. I go back in 10 weeks, if I'm not showing signs of improvement, I will be switching medicines again. It appears I may be going with Cimzia next. He gave me literature on it and I will do some research on it online as well before going back.

I just have to get better. I'm having 1 to 2 good days for every 5 to 6 bad days; I just can't go on like this. It's frustrating when you want to go do things but you just don't have the strength or the drive to do it. Fatigue is really been hitting me hard. I wake up every morning  just as tired as when I went to bed the night before. I even have to force myself to go riding lately, and you know how much I love to ride.

I'm not whining, nor I don't want anyone’s sympathy. I just want everyone to understand that, even though I don't complain much about RA, that it is a very real part of my life. I have had comments made in the past that I don't really have RA or I couldn't go ride motorcycles like I do. The bottom line is I hurt every day, but I still get up and push myself to go to work, mow the yard and yes ... lately even to ride my motorcycles.

Perhaps I will feel up to riding next week. Anyone who knows me knows I'm hurting pretty bad when I don't feel like riding at least one of my days off. I have been doing some research on fire towers in our area and may try to hunt some up to photograph this fall. I can remember climbing a couple of them with my dad while out hunting years ago. I remember finding one, just out for a weekend drive with him, back down towards Russellville (I believe) and it was so tall that I chickened out on going to the top of that one. I only made it a little over halfway up on that one. Haha, the things you remember later in life.

Below is the Rich Mountain fire tower that we stopped at last fall on a ride. You can climb it a couple of days a week, but the day we were there it was locked up.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Silver Bridge Ride


It was going to be a hot day so we decided to start early to help beat the heat. It was a balmy 80 degrees at 6:45 a.m. but it was partially overcast. I rode out some 40 miles and met Tony at Silver Bridge in Mulberry, Arkansas. It is a beautiful three span through truss bridge that was built in 1912. It was full on hot by the time we met at 8:00 a.m..  We took photos and walked around, across and under the bridge before heading out. 
Just up the road about a mile sat an abandoned house on top of a clearing that overlooked a valley and several mountains in the background. It struck me as such a beautiful place (I love photographing old abandoned places) that I turned around and went back to shoot the old home place. 
First panarama pic I've ever shot. Silver Bridge
Silver Bridge over the Mulberry River.
Abandoned house I turned around and went back to shoot.
Tried to get Tony to cross here but he didn't trust my judgement.
The old Boy Scout camp.
The appropriately named Long Bridge.
Inside the Oark Cafe.
Breakfast ... and no, I couldn't eat all of it!
What my knee sees.
Shores Lake Bridge. Closed for business...
... for a hole in the bridge.
It felt 10 degrees (maybe more) cooler when we rode into this.
My KLR parked road side while I shot some pictures.
We next headed for an old swimming hole/party spot. I was riding with someone who grew up here so I was getting the inside on places that I never would have seen. The water was too high and rolling fast to cross here today but we found plenty more to do. Next we stopped at the old Boy Scout Camp down on the river. By now we were hungry so we rode over to Oark and ate breakfast. As we were leaving we ran into two riders from KC and talked with them a good while. I've said it before but I'll say it again, I love riding, no doubt, but I also really enjoy meeting and talking with people out on rides. I truly believe 95% of the people out there are good people away from jobs, stress and money problems. We headed to Shores Lake next but 1 mile from the lake, the bridge was closed. No problem, we rode over the rocks at one end but they were too close to the guard rail on the far end for my 650. Tony squeezed through and we parted ways leaving me to take the long way back home.
Pulled back in to the house with 203 miles but it was seriously hot out there by this time. My RA griped and grumbled all evening and night but I feel better this morning. I finally have decided which exhaust I am going with and the company has gone bankrupt. Supposedly it has been bought but I can't get in touch with anyone that can tell me if I can still get a X3 exhaust or not. Just my luck.

Monday, June 2, 2014

What You Missed This Weekend


My first week back to work from vacation was not kind to me. My feet, which have serious damage due to RA, hardly hurt during my vacation time. The first day back I laced up the mandatory steel toes and within 4 hours me feet were begging for mercy ... only 8 hours in the shift to go! I had also grown used to taking a short nap around 2:30 in the afternoon but I made it fine at work without my nap. Funny how I hated naps as a kid but now they rock. My hands and right hip complained but no worse than normal. Mainly it was just my feet with those damn steel toe shoes. My rheumatologist asked me once "could I write your employer a letter explaining the damage in your feet from RA and possibly get them to make an exception in your case?" I told him it wouldn't matter, they want 10,0000% compliance from employees (this is one of their sayings on PPE). He shook his head and said "what I have seen from the medical side is steel toes destroy your feet". My feet couldn't agree more.

I decided to do a short ride Sunday and soon it grew to another co-worker wanting to go. Then I called Greg and he wanted to go then the next day another co-worker asked about going. When we left yesterday, there were three of us, one backed out. It was heavily overcast and 71 degrees with a good breeze with the radar assuring us there was no rain in the area. 

All three of us were riding on extremely worn tires so we took more asphalt than normal. We rode the back way (dirt) into Devils Den State Park and then rode the twisty, curvy mountainous asphalt patch back into Winslow. There we stopped and walked up to the train tunnel to get a few pictures. At least Tony and I did, Greg stayed with his bike setting up his GoPro for the ride though the Boston Mountains back toward home. I have some Bilt adventure boots that aren't as stiff as my Alpinestars so I wore them to walk in. It was about a 1/4 mile walk and didn't bother me at all. Upon returning we found Greg swinging on the park equipment where we left the bikes. Yes folks, he is 50 years old and playing on a swing set at the park where we left him. 
Quick pit stop for air for Greg
Downtown Winslow
Walking the tracks to the tunnel
North entrance to the tunnel
North entrance
Downtown Winslow
Greg swinging

This was a knobby tire 2500 miles ago
Metzler Karoo 3 mounted up
We left Winslow climbing up onto the mountain and it started getting cooler, almost to the point of "wishing I wouldn't have worn my mesh jacket cooler". Soon it started raining on us, it was only a brief rain and we worked our way through the treacherous windy road at break neck speed. Soon we were back on 282 that brought us back into town. Once home I lubed my chain while it was still hot then jacked it up and pulled the front wheel. I changed the front tire and will change the rear tire later this afternoon. 

It was a good day to be out this weekend. Everything is so green right now here, usually we are entering near drought conditions. The sad things is that despite the rain we have received, there were still many dry creeks that we crossed. Hopefully everyone got outside and enjoyed the weekend. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Took My RA For A Ride


I'd had all I could take at work, I had to have a week off and it had to be now. As meticulous as I am about maintenance on my bike and laying the routes out that I wanted to take, conversely I just haphazardly threw anything that got in my way into the dry bag about an hour before we left and strapped it on the bike. I'm on vacation!

We head up through the Ozark National Forest and ran across a guy from KC with a Husaberg 570 ... I was jealous. Soon we jumped back out onto asphalt and found some incredible roads through the mountains to ride. We passed by the old Vendor one room schoolhouse which has been taken over by trees and vegetation. There was also an old spring, still running, out behind the schoolhouse ... with snakes galore. We were there between 5-10 minutes and saw 3 good sized ones.

We left the school house and head out for the old Sylamore suspension bridge. It is one of two suspension bridges still left in Arkansas. I was a bit disappointed after seeing the Beaver suspension bridge first, much longer and in better condition. Still cool though and after shooting it from different angles, we rode across it. Then we were off for Yellville to get a hotel room and something to eat. First day mileage 303 miles.

The next morning we got up and headed out. We caught the ferry across Bull Shoals Lake and then rode up into Missouri. If you have the nerve to push it a little bit, the asphalt roads in this area rival a roller coaster. Spent most of the the day in the Mark Twain forest riding till we were whipped out. Second day mileage 140 miles. At this point I was hurting and started dreading the long ride home ... I knew it was going to be uncomfortable at best.

Day 3 we packed up and headed out of town toward St Joe. There is an awesome little smoke house there by the name of Coursey's. Greg bought a small bone in ham while I went for some thick sliced bacon. Next we finished our ride back via highway 123 through the Ozark National Forest. It's not for the timid, especially pushing a bike, but it's an absolute thrill ride! We found an old abandoned service station that we stopped and milled around at for a while. Once back down to Clarksville, it was pretty much uneventful ride back in to my house. Third day mileage was 219 miles. Little dawg was once again excited to see me arrive back home. She just can't contain herself some days. If I ever find a girl that gets so excited that she pees in the floor just from me walking in the door ... I'll marry her!  

The DOWN side of the trip is that I hurt badly and was pretty much incapacitated over the next 3 days. I did manage to mow the yard but could not trim it. I couldn't lift my right arm over waist high without extreme pain. It finally eased up the third day after returning. The UP side is I had a great time, saw a bridge I have been wanting to photograph for 3 years now and the bacon. I baked some in the oven the next day and if it tastes half as good as it smells ... well, lets just say I will be happy. After eating a couple slices for breakfast, I have to admit this is THE BEST bacon you can get anywhere. 

I still have 2 days left before returning to prison, aka work. I have logged, to date, 879 miles for my vacation week and am shooting for 1000. We have heavy rain forecast for the next 2 days so I'm not sure if I will get it or not, but I will do my best. Still, even at 879 miles for a week, thats not too bad for an old, fat, crippled guy!

Dirt roads that never end
Ran across a guy from KC with a Berg
The old Vendor school house
Spring out back that was running
Entrance to the school house
Sylamore Suspension bridge in north central Arkansas
Bridge from side
Bridge deck ... pick your line wisely if on a bike
My hand would barely reach halfway around the cable and
look at the size of the threads on the bolt for the cable tie
Sylamore creek that runs under the bridge
Bikes on the ferry
At the start of Glade Top Trail in Missouri
On the Glade Top Trail
Ft Douglas bridge
On the bank of the Big Piney
Abandoned service station 
Car rack outside the old service station

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Day Of Relaxation (Not My Idea)

Sunday we were up over 90° followed by strong storms Monday which were pushed through by cold air. It was 49° this morning and in the morning it is supposed to get down to 42°. This has thrown me into a moderate flare up which has me walking with great pain and difficulty both yesterday and today. Not one to get discouraged easily, I just adjusted my plans from riding yesterday to catching up on some older movies I had been wanting to watch. I watched Maximum Overdrive, Scary Movie 3 and a couple of James Bond flicks. Not exactly your intellectual, Emmy award winning movies but I enjoyed them nonetheless.

I have a couple of parts coming for my new bike. I'm building it kind of like Johnny Cash ... one piece at a time only I'm not getting my parts for free, like in his song. I have decided to go with soft bags on this bike and have sold my racks and small boxes that were on my 09. I had some cheap soft bags thrown back that I bought for my KTM but they didn't work out with that bike. I will use these bags until I can buy the Wolfman Expedtion Dry Saddlebags.

I'm on vacation next week and I have a three-day ride planned. I'm riding over to the middle part of Arkansas to shoot an old suspension bridge. Then I'm riding north up into the Mark Twain Forest in Missouri. We'll see what I can get into up that way. I use to race at a place called Chadwick not too far from where I will be. Hopefully I'll have some good new pictures for you on my next post. Oh, and I have to do the ferry ride across Bull Shoals Lake again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

BAM!!


Well. it happened. It had been over 5 years years since I hit the ground while riding. It was also my first REAL ride with my brand new motorcycle, which only suffered 1 small scratch mark on the engine guard on the right side. I had pulled to an intersection with a slight incline that dumped to an easy off camber turn. After checking traffic and starting to pull into the intersection, the engine bonked on me leaving me trying to turn while going uphill without any power. So I did the only thing you could do in a situation like this ... I fell over. I put a good sized knot on the back of my right hand but other than that ... I was fine. With my damaged ego collected and back underway, I rode another 180 miles that day without incident. 

My last crash before this one was a high speed offroad crash on my KTM525 back in 09. Randall and I were riding some technical but ultra fast single track in the Ouchita National Forest. We had been riding a fast pace for the tight trails that were still extremely slick due to the recent rains. Randall and I had both had a couple of near misses, but kept the pace up. Just as I top a hill in 4th gear and start down the other side, my front end washed out so damn fast I was about 6 inches off of the ground before I realized I was crashing. It had been a good 8 years, maybe longer since I had crashed that hard. I took all of the impact on my head and left shoulder. It didn't knock me out but I was dazed. I remember fighting to breathe, had the breath knocked out of me, and thinking that I broke my left collar bone again. This was the first really nasty crash I had since being diagnosed with RA and just in case anyone has wondered, it did not trigger any additional pain (at least not from RA anyway) or even a minor flare up. I was surprised to say the least. 

None of that this time with my zero speed crash. However, two weeks later and I still have a good sized knot on the back of my hand on the bone that runs to the index finger. Oh well, small price to pay for having big fun! 

BTW, due to my RA and being too painful to squat or get down on my hands and knees to work on my bikes, ta-dah ... my newest toy for my shop.


I hope everyone is outside this spring enjoying the weather and overly abundant pollen!