Sunday, July 26, 2009

Unbearable




I woke up this morning to moderate pain from my RA. On a scale of one to ten I was a solid four, but I was determined to ride today. It was a beautiful morning, for the end of July it was an unseasonable 68 degrees with a nice breeze.

I unloaded and was quickly face to face with one of the days most painful things for me, pulling on my socks and boots. Funny thing how RA takes the simplest thing and makes it difficult, or in some cases, a dreaded task you have to perform. Now that the socks and boots are on, my day will get easier. I start the KTM and let it warm up, then head up the mountain. At the top I am greeted by a rafter of turkeys ... running right down the trail in front of me, not seeming to care if they got out of my way or not. I was amused at this and just idled along behind them for what must have been 100 feet down the trail before they decided to duck into the woods.

Now I'm back on the gas and after running through some rough washouts due to the hard rains last week, arrive at the dirt/asphalt road section of my ride this morning. I was feeling comfortable, once riding you forget about the pain for the most part, and lit the 525 up on a long stretch of straight dirt road. In no time I was pulling 83 mph before I backed off. Whew ... what a rush to feel the torque and sheer acceleration of a big bore four stroke, but now back to some normal riding. I jump out on the asphalt and run up to Walker Mountain Road which takes me to ... Walker Mountain. I am back on dirt road, turn onto an old fire road and arrive at some prime single track. Single track is what I used to race in the enduro's and hare scrambles and I still love to ride it, it's just that my RA doesn't like me to ride it. But since I am a stubborn individual, I always try to slip in a little bit of single track every ride, just to show my RA that it hasn't won yet. I jump a deer a couple of hundred yards into the trail and about 30 minutes later as I top a small hill, am looking at a bear. It was a small adult, unlike some of the larger ones we have ran across before. He was polite and motioned me by him ... not really, he ran like hell the opposite way I was going which worked out good for me. After a couple of minutes my heart rate is back down to about a thousand!

On the way back I hit another patch of asphalt and rode through what can best be described as a tunnel of shade trees. The road is next to a large creek and there are trees on both sides of the road for close to a half mile. They grow out over the road and touch each other in the middle forming a "tunnel" that, even in the middle of the day with bright sun, turns the road dim from the dense foliage. I stopped this morning and felt the cool breeze inside the tunnel before heading back up the hill to the truck.

Not a bad day. I rode 105 miles, saw some beautiful country, explored a new section of trail and got my heart rate up. I could have easily sat in the recliner this morning with my RA nagging at me, but I pushed it a little bit and had a great solo ride. One more day that I did not let RA beat me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Redneck Way of Life

I never lived in a house trailer or dated my cousin, but I am a redneck and proud of it. I believe in many of the fundamental redneck values. I believe in God, honesty, self-reliance and a simple way of life.

But I also like computer's, high end stereo equipment, electronic fuel injection and other non redneck values. I am ... a complex redneck.

I have enjoyed redneck jokes for years, and after Jeff Foxworthy and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, it became cool to be a redneck. If I were face to face with a group of terrorist's, I'd want six or seven rednecks with a pickup, keg o' beer, shotguns and tire irons at my side. We might go down, but we'll take 'em with us!! Just boils down to good redneck work ethic, clean up what you started.

I love a good redneck joke and one of my favorites is :
A teacher is giving a lecture around Halloween.
"Okay, how many of you have seen a ghost?" A few of the students raise their hand.
"Okay, how many of you have actually touched a ghost?" Two or three raise their hand this time
"Okay, how many of you have had sex with a ghost?" Silence, until a redneck boy in the back row puts up his hand.
"You've actually had sex with a ghost?"
"Ghost? Oh. I thought you said goat!"

Just for the record, I've never done my cousin, ... or a goat.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm That Guy

I can remember as a young boy watching older people around my aunt's general store in the hills of Arkansas. I would go spend one, sometimes two weeks with her and my grandad, whose house was just across the street from my aunt's store.

I always loved the chance to get away from mom and dad for a little bit, and besides aunt Nola would let me eat candy and drink a coke through the day. I got to help unload the feed trucks, grocery truck and talk with the gas truck driver while he was filling the gas tanks at the store. It was a big experience for me and I did this on a regular basis from the time I was five on up. My grandad ran a sawmill pretty much up til the time he died, so I got to hang around and watch, he wouldn't let me near the sled that carried the logs or the open blade of the sawmill. These days OSHA would have shut him down in a second, but back then no one had ever heard of OSHA.

I used to enjoy talking to people that came into the store, it was a different time back then. People used to have time to stop and visit and if they didn't know you, they stopped, introduced themselves and soon you were talking like you had known them all of your life. Too bad we have lost that in today's society.

I also watched a lot of the older people hobble and limp around, some had to walk with canes. I used to wonder why they seemed to have such a hard time getting around, you don't think about these things much when you're five or six. People with crooked fingers, some of them their hands shaking so badly that they could barely count out money at the register. I have watched my grandad take what seemed like forever to put on his socks and boots all the while wishing him to hurry up so we can get to the sawmill.

That's been about 45 years ago and now, I pause when putting my socks and shoes on after getting up. Not because I am reflecting on what I need to do today but because this is one of the most painful activities that I do every day. I don't moan or complain about it, but it just hit me a few weeks ago that, I'm that guy, that I used to watch as a kid.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mental Conditioning

On my previous post I spoke of mental conditioning and blocking out the pain until it gets too bad to ignore. I had quite a bit of training in this from racing enduros and hare scrambles. You see, these two types of motorcycle racing are long cross country races through the woods. They don't make laps in front of bleachers with paramedics waiting trackside for the first crash. In fact most riders, when they do get hurt, ride themselves out of the woods and back to their vehicle. I have done this numerous times and even a couple of times went on to finish the race.

Once when we racing at Chadwick (nasty place with big rocks ... ok the whole place was one big rock with a little bit of dirt here and there on it) I crashed hard and broke one toe and two bones on the top of my right foot. I knew my foot was hurting, but all I could think about was finishing the race. I still had about 20 miles to go, I started my bike and re-entered the race after losing a couple of minutes. I finished 4th in my class with 3 broken bones.

Another time at a AMA Regional Enduro just outside of Saint Louis, I hit my head so hard I saw in black and white a few seconds. I did the same thing, crawled back on my bike and finished a regional in sixth place with a slight concussion and a broken front tooth.

I was once told by a motocross racer buddy that "you cross country guys aren't normal". This is coming from a guy that doesn't think twice about railing a jump 30 foot in the air. But I also believe that has been good training for teaching me to ignore the pain from RA and go on with my everyday life as best I can. I may not win everyday, but I do compete and finish everyday.

I'm OK ... most days

I have been feeling better since the weather has warmed up and dried out. In fact I felt good enough that I have been working quite a bit of OT at work over the last month. Two weeks ago I put in 72 hours and this week I will have 60 hours, not pain free by any means, but still not bad. I work with people who are healthy that complain about how they feel when working these kind of hours and I am asked frequently, "how do you do it?"

Bottom line for me is it's all in my mental conditioning. If I allow the pain inside my head, I am defeated for the day. If I block it out and go on with my normal work day, I can do most anything that a normal person can do at work ... that is for the first 8-9 hours. The problem is that I work 12 hour shifts but if I can make it that far, I can survive hurting for 2-4 hours of the shift, go home, crawl in bed and sleep all day and feel pretty good when I get up.

My normal work routine consists of getting up, playing with "little dog", workout for 30 minutes (weights and cardio), shower, fix my lunch and head off to work at 7 pm. If I feel good enough by my first break, I walk outside for 20 minutes. My second break I eat lunch and my third break I will usually eat some fruit and just try to stay awake. Get off work at 7 am, go home and eat a snack then crawl in bed.

Most days when I crawl in bed I'm hurting a 3 to a 5 (on a scale of 1 - 10), but I can smile as I am getting into bed. I have defeated RA one more day, I didn't let it get the best of me today.