Friday, December 31, 2010

A Day In Pictures

I took this photo this morning in my front yard at 8 AM.

I awoke this morning to the unmistakable rumble of thunder.  Not just a quick small rumble, it was a long, very deep pitched rumble that rattled the house.  It was still dark in the bedroom, but when I looked at the clock it was 7:45.  I got up, the alarm was set for 8 anyway, and was in shock as I stepped outside.  It was nearly pitch black at 8:00 in the morning with some low level rotation just to our northwest.  I turned the tv on when I got to my shop (I was going to meet some guys this morning to ride), they confirmed a tornado had hit the town of Cincinnati, Arkansas, a small town about 40 miles northeast of where we live.  At that time there were 3 confirmed dead, people still trapped in their homes and still other people missing.  I continued loading my gear in the truck and was taking my bike down off of the workbench when the storm arrived at our place.  Luckily we just had a few bursts of hard straight line wind, and some pea size hail.  What a horrible way to bring the new year in for this small town.
My KTM sits eagerly waiting to be loaded in the truck ... it was happy today!  An hour later I'm loaded up and headed to the woods.  My RA is behaving for now, so I'm going to play it by ear on how far I ride. Everyone bailed, so I'm riding solo today anyway.  If I do start hurting, I will just head back to the truck.
After riding asphalt forever, well maybe not forever but 6 miles of asphalt on a dirt bike feels like forever, I find what I am looking for. Forest Road 247 will take me out to the back side of Lake Hinkle.  
This is amazing, these people have manicured this field.  It goes way beyond the frame of the photo, must be at least 15 acres that they have looking like this. Beautiful site to see as you round the corner on FR247.
FR247 crosses a creek that was slightly swollen after all of the rains we have had over the last 2 weeks.  The creek is normally about 30 feet wide, it must be 130 feet wide this morning.  I have rode through 20 feet of water up to this point.  The actual creek bed is about 70 feet in front of me.  Against my better judgement, I turned around. Still think I could have made it ... waters probably not over 4 feet deep out in the actual creek bed. lol
Headed back another way, stopped to take this photo because the sun on the trees was amazing.  By the time I got stopped and got my camera out, the sun was gone.  So much work to get stopped and get the camera out, I took the picture anyway.  There ... take that sun!
HA! 20 minutes later I got the sun this time.  Them durned dirt bikers messing up a perfectly rain washed road with their tire tracks.
Your tax dollars at work.  I know most people don't have a very high opinion of us dirt bikers, but come on ... even I know what a dirt road is. At least they could have put the pole in the ground straight!  
Gorgeous view with Rich Mountain in the background.  I wish I could make a living just riding my dirt bike around and taking pictures.  Too bad, most people that live around here have never seen the beauty that our back roads and forests have to offer.
Just before stopping to eat, I rode a new (new to me) short trail out and took a really hokey self portrait.  
After eating I am on my way back to the truck and run by this creek. It is about twice as wide as normal, it is nice to see some water back in the creeks after a very hot and dry summer.
I love iron truss bridges, have to stop and photograph every one I see.  Just ask Randall and Darel!
Ok, another photo op.  A fiberglass ski boat sitting on a creek bank in such thick underbrush, there's no getting it out.  It is sitting on the ground, not a trailer under it.  Don't ask me, I didn't put it there, I just took the picture.  
Ran across this water tower.  I'm showing my age here but I can remember when every town and community had at least one water tower in them.  It's sad, I miss seeing them.  It seems to me that we are losing way too much of our past.  The iron truss bridges ... ugly old concrete ones now, wooden barns ... been replaced by steel ones, no water towers, no mom and pop hardware stores.  I miss what once made towns individualistic.  Now you go into any town and there is a Fridays, Applebees, Home Depot, Best Buy, it's the same from town to town anymore.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Zombie Dual Sport

It has been discussed that we should build a training ground on some unnamed property outside of Fort Smith to help build the skills to become a more complete dual sport rider. In addition to developing hooligan motorcycle skills, we will develop skills like shooting a paint ball gun from a bike at speed, learn camouflage basics as well as shooting pistols and shotguns. Some of these skills will come in handy as the new Health Care Reform sweeps the country and the zombie outbreak occurs. Of course everyone knows that the best way to kill a zombie is a crowbar to the head or, my favorite, run them through a wood chipper, but hey ... it's just good clean fun shootin' guns.  At night fall, we will have our usual beverages as we sit around the campfire.  
Haha, can you imagine the turnout, if nothing else just out of morbid curiosity, if  we actually did this and hung a couple of fliers in local motorcycle shops?  We might just have to try this once it warms up!
Screen shot is from the game Dead Rising 2.  Pure zombie-motorcycle mayhem. 

RA and OA have flat out kicked my butt over the last week.  We have had frigid temps, relentless winds and rain, all combined rendering me almost unable to walk over Christmas eve and Christmas day.  I'm doing better now, my ankles are actually bending again, so maybe I won't be confused for a zombie while walking.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ready for 2011 (I Think)

Living with a chronic disease, we have to reach daily to our inner strength for a simple task that a healthy person takes for granted.  When I do accomplish a milestone, it means far more to me than to a normal person.  It's similar to having your first job as a teenager, when you bought something with money that you had earned, it meant so much more to you because you did it on your own.  

The weather has been dreary and cold here, I haven't been riding much lately.  I have been researching old bridges and other points of interest that I would like to ride to in 2011, and have some interesting prospects.  Just need some constant warm weather to roll back in.  I'm getting the helmet cam set back up so I can shoot some video of our rides in the future.  Hopefully, I'll have enough good footage to put a few clips together and post here next year.
As the holiday season is upon us, we usually find ourselves reflecting on the past year and on those who have shared our joys and sorrows. Thank you for your friendship. I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas (yes, I still say Christmas ... not Happy Holidays) and I hope that 2011 will be better for all of us.   

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Few Things I have Learned In Life So Far

RA

RA has taught me that I am resilient.  I work 12 hour days and most days I am hurting moderately to badly by the end of a shift.  Many nights I can barely walk, my feet hurt so bad.  After a good nights sleep (8 hours minimum), I wake up ready to go again.

I used to try to make sense out of RA.  After some 7+ years, I have realized ... you can't rationalize RA.   If my right hip is bothering me today, there's a good chance it will be ok tomorrow.  Tomorrow, it will be my left shoulder that is hurting.   

I am not alone in my fight against RA.  I have made some great friends and through talking with you and following your blogs, I realize we have most of the same struggles, obstacles and we often do the same stupid stuff.  Thank you for your friendship.

Laugh daily.  Learn to laugh at yourself, yes I still get frustrated with myself when I am dropping everything I touch, but it makes your day go better when your laughing rather than mad at the world.

RIDING

Off Road riding boots are NOT made for walking.

You can ride farther in 30 minutes than you can walk in 4 hours. (see above lesson) 

You never need to go to the bathroom until after you have your leathers, jacket, fanny pack,  back pack, helmet, googles and gloves on.  
Terry's theorem: How badly you need to go to the bathroom is directly proportional to how much gear you have on at the moment.  ie a rider with a jacket, fanny pack, backpack and helmet needs to go 4 times as bad as a rider who only has a fanny pack on. 
Terry's corollary:  you never realize that you forgot to replace the toilet paper in your backpack until you look for it.

DOGS

If you stare at someone long enough, eventually, you will get what you want.

They are always excited to see you come in the house, even if you have just walked to the mail box and back.  Too bad humans can't show that emotion for each other.  Then again, it's good that humans don't pee on the floor when another human walks in!

If you could find a picture next to the word loyal, it would be our first dog Bear. He was Wolf/German Shepherd and loved our daughter so much, we often joked that he thought she belonged to him.  He would sleep in her room when she was young and if she would whimper or cry, come get us.  She grew up loving him and even though he outweighed her, we were never worried with her being around him.  He went blind shortly before he died and even blind, when she and her friends would play in the yard, he would place himself between them and the neighbors kids who were older and more rowdy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Changes

If you were to meet me on the street, you wouldn't know anything was wrong with me.  I like that for personal reasons, I'm not someone who likes attention drawn to them, but it makes our acceptance suspect.  Other diseases have obvious trophies, rewarding the patient for their participation.  When you see me, you do not know how I struggle to take my first few steps of the day, or how after taking those first few steps of the day, I can tell how good or bad my day will be.  You don't see me grimacing while putting my socks and shoes on everyday.  You don't notice my hands, fingers now starting to hook and curve, or how it hurts somedays just to grip and hold things.  I drop things now, as an accepted part of my life, and usually joke about it or scold myself for being so clumsy and dumb.  If you were to meet me face to face, I would most likely be smiling.  I don't always smile outwardly, due to the pain, but I'm still smiling on the inside.  

You wouldn't know that I have had to give up golf, riding bicycles (I still have a mountain bike but days are few and far between when I feel like riding it now), I play bass guitar but my fingers limit my days that I can do that, I gave up woodworking and sold most of my saws, routers and planner because clumsy fingers don't belong around saw blades.  

If you read my blog much, you know that I ride motorcycles.  What I really love is to ride single track, but my RA doesn't allow me take that much abuse anymore.  I have started riding dual sport rides instead.  Don't think that this pain free either.  It hurts getting on and off of my bike, once on, however, all is good for the first 70 miles.  By this time, my right hip and hands are starting to voice their opinion about the ride.  After that, somewhere around 110 miles, my right shoulder starts aching and, well ... my feet hurt all of the time.  Although it hurts, I  refuse to give in on my riding.  RA has taken too much from me in the first 7 years.

This might seem like a lot of change, but in reality, I'm no different from anyone else with this disease.  You just don't know that when you meet us on the street.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Sucks

I am doing better now, fully recovered from a upper respiratory infection I came down with just before Thanksgiving, with the exception of a lingering dry cough.  My RA is hurting now due to the fact I could not take my meds while on antibiotocs.  I am looking forward to being able to take my Humira shot Wednesday and get back on my MTX.  Sometimes it takes something like this to drive home how much good the meds we take are helping us.  

It is too cold to ride, so I have been cleaning my shop, throwing some junk away and working on my bike.  My last ride, even though the temp was in the upper 50's, hurt my hands, partly due to the unexpected rain that moved in on us early that day.  I may have found a solution for the winter months, even though it looks strange.  They are manufactured by Tusk Racing, I believe more geared toward snowmobile use, called Hand Mitts.  Simple design, they fit over your handlebars and controls, lock down with a nylon strap and you put your hands, wearing regular off road gloves, inside of them (they have a light fur lining inside) and you still have complete freedom of movement.  I am anxious to try them out on a 50 degree day and see if they will help my hands.
I have also been going through a huge box of my old riding clothes.  Neon orange AXO leathers (I know Mike remembers them), my old Can Am - Go the Rat jersey, must be shirts from 25 enduros, Nationals, Team USA shirts.  I threw some old workout stuff away, but my cycling and motorcycle race stuff is far too valuable to trash.  lol  By the way, Mary, I ran across some old century ride t-shirts, an old MSR mountain bike jersey and a Cannondale road bike jacket.  Some good times remembered going through that box today.
I have said it many times before, but here goes again ... I hate winter!  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oark Adventure Ride

I have been down over the Thanksgiving holiday with an upper respiratory infection.  After some antibiotics and sleeping 70% of the last 2 days, I'm feeling better today.  The down side is, by being on antibiotics, I missed my Humira shot Wednesday and cannot take my MTX or another shot until 10 days after my last antibiotoc has been taken.  I hope my RA will be kind to me over these next few days.
This past Monday morning, Randall and I headed out early to beat the storms that were coming in.  They were supposed to be moving into our area around 1pm.  We met up at Oark and headed through the Ozark National Forrest to photograph the Big Piney Creek bridge, most of you know my passion for old bridges by now.  We had no more left Oark, at 9:00am when I felt sprinkles. I couldn't resist walking across, and photographing, the old swinging bridge just outside of Oark.  Just down the road, the sprinkles turned to rain, then shortly later, hard rain.  After getting lost in the woods, the fog was so heavy on top of the mountains, you couldn't see over 50 feet in front of you at some places, I found the bridge.  The rain had let up and I shot a mere 3 pictures before my camera started acting up.  
After riding across the bridge and turning back north, I found the real treat of the ride, and this time it was not the bridge.  Beautiful, over hanging bluffs on one side of the trail, while the other side was a 20 foot drop off to some of the clearest water I have seen in Arkansas. This rivals Colorado beauty, is just over an hour away from my home and, at 52, this is the first time I have seen it.  My camera did me the honor of taking 3 more pictures before officially committing suicide. By the way, the pictures do not do the place justice. 
After leaving the overhanging bluffs, we climbed back up into the fog and rain, into the city of Deer, Arkansas.  We met an elderly couple and must have talked to them for 15 minutes.  As we were leaving the store at Deer, the cashier said, "watch out for elk".  Randall and I looked at each other and grinned which brought on a stern reply.  "There have been several run over this summer and fall ... be careful".  We assured her we would.  Then as I'm getting on my bike look at Randall and say, "you couldn't make something like this up.  Man runs over elk on a motorcycle in Deer, Arkansas".  We laughed, then proceeded cautiously until we were out of the fog. 

We stopped to check the map at an intersection and heard an unfamiliar sound coming toward us.  As it emerged out of the trees, topping the hill, he saw us and got on his brakes hard.  He pulled in next to us and was riding an Aprillia twin cylinder super moto bike.  Of all the luck, I have only seen these in motorcycle books, and here I am face to face with one and my stupid camera won't work.  Turns out, he was from Canada and came down this way to get some riding in.  We talked for 25-30 minutes to him before parting ways.
We have already planned to return and ride this exact same loop, with a camera that works on a sunny day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Life is not having all you want, Life is wanting all you have

I wish all of my followers and casual readers a Happy Thanksgiving.   With our disease overshadowing our day to day life, it's nice to shift our attention to what we have rather than what we don't have. Thanksgiving means different things to different people.  To some, it's merely the day before the largest shopping days of the year, to some it kicks off the Christmas season, many go to Thanksgiving Day parades, it means something to all of us.


For me, Thanksgiving is not about having the biggest, best meal of the year. It's about sharing what you do have with friends and family alike.  It's about enjoying a good meal, afterward maybe undoing the top button on your jeans and catching up with what everyone has been doing, because we don't have time to keep up with everyone through the year.  Whatever Thanksgiving means to you, I hope you have a happy, safe one.

Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for, in no certain order:
•  My family.
•  In our current economy, my job is holding up very well.
•  I am doing better than I was this time last year.
•  I'm thankful for our troops defending out freedom.  God bless them and their families.
•  Hot tubs!!  
•  That we have better drug choices to fight RA than 20 years ago.
•  That my KTM is repaired and I got in 2 good rides this week.
• For letting me be a part of the RA blog community, a lot of inspiration and support here.  


I was going to write about my second ride this week, an adventure ride starting at Oark.  I will post that later over the weekend with some great photos.  Instead, I ran across this story and I wanted to share it with you.  It seems we are losing more and more of our rights every year.  This link is about a young boy who was told by school officials that he should not ride his bike to school with an American flag on it, some students were offended ... in America!!  Follow the link below, watch the video clip, it's awesome!  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Voices In My Head

I picked my bike up, from the shop, the day before I had to go back to work 2 weeks ago.  Since then, I have worked 10 out of the last 11 days.  My RA has not been kind to me over this stretch of 11 days.  Today was a much needed day off, I was hurting moderately when I got out of bed this morning.  I jumped in the hot tub for some temporary relief and knew that I should just kick back and recoup today.  Besides, it's modern gun deer season right now and drunks with guns (sounds like a punk rock band doesn't it? Appearing tonight will be Drunks With Guns) are not someone I want to be aggravating. 

Then the voices in my head started saying ..."but we'll just ride forrest roads and asphalt, it'll be ok".  No, I will just work on it and ride a little bit around the house today.  The voices came back as I was changing oil and filters and said, "come on ... are you a man or a wimp?"  I'm a wimp, leave me alone!  After changing oil, I was cleaning and re-oiling the air filter when the voices popped back out and said, "the old T would go ride today".  Thats it, I have to defend my RA challenged honor now! 

Soon I am headed to Poteau Mountain with my KTM in the truck.  I was surprised to see almost no hunters as I set out in search of a good time today.  I was breaking in the new top end on my bike, so it was a different pace today.  After riding some 80 miles, on the way back the voices told me to hit one of our favorite single track trails ... in the middle of the woods. 
About 4 miles into a 6 mile long trail, I came face to face with 2 hunters.  I chop the throttle, kill the motor and apologize to them.  I told them I hadn't seen a vehicle and was just running this trail as a shortcut to get back to my truck.  I asked which way they were hunting, that I would head back the opposite way.  They were very friendly, said they lived just up the road a little ways and it was no problem, hadn't seen anything in 3 days of hunting anyway ... they were just killing time.  We talked for the next 25 minutes about everything from motorcycles and ATV's to the economy to iron truss bridges.  Very nice guys and as we parted, I told them I would back track the way I came in.  They said, "hell no, ride it on out, you aren't bothering us".

I was going to hurt today no matter what I did, at least I got out and enjoyed the beautiful weather, broke the new top end in on my bike and made 2 new friends.  Yep, the voices in my head were right about today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Still Smiling

It's been a long, tiresome week.  I picked my KTM up at 6 pm, the day before I went back to work last week.   I finished up my work week Sunday, having worked 52 hours over the past four days.  I signed up for two days over time if they needed help in the pressroom.  I woke up at 7 am this morning and checked my phone.  Whew ... no calls.  That means they don't need me and I can go ride today.  I need to break the new top end in and then I will be ready to hammer the thing as hard as I want to.  Just as I was heading out to the shop to service my bike before taking it out, I get a call ... from work.  So, I spent my first day off working.  I will also spend my last day off this week working.  I hope my daughter appreciates all the over time that my wife and I are putting in to put money in her wedding fund.

We had some serious weather changes blow through over the weekend, and I am still aching over them.  It didn't throw me into a flare, just a lot of extra aches and pain.  We have had high winds and rain along with a 25 degree drop in temperature.  My RA has been very grouchy this past weekend.  Everything short of my left shoulder has ached or hurt over the last 4 days, but I'm still smiling.  I am starting to crawl out  from under the extra aches today, even after working 10 hours on my first day off. 

I get to enjoy one of my three days off this week tomorrow.  I am taking my KTM out for a 50 mile partial break in ride, can't wait. Then I'm going to spend the other half of the day with my daughter.  She wants me to come up and just hang out for a while.  If that doesn't make you smile, as a parent, nothing will.

Monday, November 8, 2010

RA Update



It is approaching 8 years since my healthy life was hijacked by RA.  I am now 3 months into my detour with Humira.  I have to admit that while I am 75% pleased with the results that I have seen, I have also not seen how it will do through the upcoming winter months.  Winter is the hardest on me and I have just been shown a sample of what I am afraid is in store for me.  Over the weekend, we had overnight temperatures drop down to just below freezing for the first time this fall, and by noon Saturday, my hips were hurting enough that it was very painful to walk.  Can't wait for the low 20's and throw in some snow or freezing rain!
For me personally, this is how my life with Humira breaks down so far:
Pro's
Most days about 70% pain free
Slightly increased flexibility
Most days little to no fatigue
Feel up to working out and walking again
Con's
Feet and ankles have felt no relief at all
Ring finger on left hand is now giving me incredible pain (I'm sure this is just the progression of the disease, nothing to do with Humira)
When fatigue does drop by to visit, it seems more severe now
Shots hurt BIGTIME

I have been working out using the My RA Fit Kit program and while it is ok, I must confess that I am not able to bend to do some of the flexibility exercises, the weight routine is good, but I do not have the time to do as much cardio as they require in a week.  I am still doing what I can with it hoping my flexibility will improve.

I got my flu shot 3 weeks ago.  Funny how in my preRA days, I used to dread getting a flu shot.  After giving myself injections for 7+ years, I didn't even feel it.  I have heard several people talk about feeling bad afterward or even coming down with the flu after getting the shot.  I have never had any reactions or complications from taking a flu shot.

Now, the most painful update, it has now been 5 weeks that my KTM has been in the shop.  They called me last Wednesday and told me it was almost back together, that it would be ready by 5pm.  I was so excited, I rushed around and drove 85 miles north to the shop to find ... it was together, but running lean.  When they pulled the carb off to check the main and pilot jets, the pilot jet broke off in the carb body.  Needless to say, I'm  way passed depressed, I'm pissed now.  It has been 5 weeks for a top end job (piston and rings)  and who knows how long it will be before they have it running.  When we had our house built, it only took 7 weeks!  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 6 Cancelled

A motorcycle racer in the USA is viewed, by most, as being about the equivalent to a registered sex offender.  We have had numerous regional and national AMA races in our area and have received absolutely zero sports coverage from any of the 3 tv stations in our town.   I am used to it, but sometimes it still bothers me that our sport is written off.  
What happened yesterday I thought would surely get some major news coverage.  The ISDE (International Six Days Enduro) was awarded this year to Morelia, Mexico by the FIM, the organization that governs all world motorcycle races.  The ISDE is a 6 day off road motorcycle race that is often referred to as the Olympics of motorcycle racing.  There were still 32 world teams represented at this years event.  I thought it was a bad move by the FIM at this point in time, and even applauded the British and Australian teams when they refused to send riders to Mexico.  

The first 5 days went very smooth.  Then Friday night, violence broke out between 2 drug cartels.  After the capture of 2 members of one of the cartels, they unleashed a wave of violence in Morelia, setting fire to cars and buildings, and blocking highways and major thoroughfares around the city. Local media reported that gang members also fired at police around the city and set fire to gas stations by throwing molotov cocktails.
After the attacks, US Team members reported seeing fires burning in the distance from the team hotel on Friday evening.

The 6th and final day of the world event was cancelled for the safety of every one involved, and awards will be given out based on the results at the end of the 5th day.  This sucks for Team USA, because day 6 is always the motocross competition and we usually have an advantage on the MX tracks. As it stands, Team USA wound up 4th in the World Trophy, 3rd in the Junior Trophy and 2nd in the Women's Cup.  I am proud of every one who represented Team USA this year, and pray that every rider, crew member and family member, from all of the world teams, get out safely.

Sadly, there was no mention of the violence, or the violence that led to canceling a world event on ANY of the news networks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Day On A Borrowed Ride







I got out Tuesday morning for a 120 mile solo ride on a borrowed XR650. Man, did it feel good to get out of the house. Hopefully I will have my KTM back next week. I really didn't think that I would enjoy riding the big heavy XR, but it beat sitting around the house on another day off. I picked the beast up Monday afternoon and Darel didn't help my confidence any by saying, "you'll hate it at at first. It doesn't turn, stop or have the crisp acceleration of our KTM's." 

This was perhaps an understatement as I started on my journey Tuesday morning. It was heavy, awkward, didn't slide through the corners and didn't stop well. Other than that ... I guess it was ok. By the time I got to the bottom of Poteau Mountain I was just about ready to turn around and load it up and go back to the house. I pushed on though and somewhere along the ride I started adapting to its style and before long was pushing the big beast down fire roads and trail alike. There is a learning curve, but I was liking it now. In fact, the additional 80 pounds reduced vibration and smoothed the rough jolts that are relayed to my body on the KTM. I rode the XR 120 miles and my body felt equivalent to a 40 mile ride on my KTM. Maybe this is what I need to be riding, now that I nearly have my KTM set up for dual sport rides. My RA hasn't been grouchy after returning home some 16 hours ago. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos of part of my ride.

The XR, an old school air cooled, single cylinder 650cc dinosaur.  It doesn't turn, stop or accelerate like my KTM, but by mid-day I was liking it.  
I rode out to Cedar Lake, a beautiful small lake with tons of camping and hiking facilities.  We used to camp here a lot, just seems like we can't find the time to go the last 2 years.
 Somewhere between here and there, I ran across this old house.  I wanted to take a look inside, but will wait until snakes are safely in their holes this winter. Loved the rock work.
 RR tracks built up ... don't even ask.  Third gear, big air on the dinosaur.  
This guy followed me all day. He sped up and slowed down when I did, stopped to eat where I did ... he had to pee a lot. I got tired of waiting on him.
This is on a 3 mile stretch of 65 mph single lane fire road. Awesome, just as long as a deer doesn't decide to commit suicide in front of me.
These last 2 photos are just some of the great trails that I rode on today. I really hope our government doesn't continue to shut down public forest land and shut us out all together.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Can't Trust Everything You Read

Well, I got the bad news this past Wednesday.  My bike sucked a lot of dirt into the cylinder and needs a new top end.  When quizzed about how I service my air filter, I told Travis (mechanic) that I clean my air filter every 3 rides. I've cleaned air filters in my bikes for 41 years without any problems but I recently switched to a new product, at least new to me, after reading a great review about it in a certain dirt bike magazine.  To make a long story short, the spray filter oil was not trapping all of the dirt and allowed dirt to pass through into my engine costing me a new top end.  
The fact that companies spend a lot of money advertising with a magazine, regardless of what product or magazine, should not influence the review of a product ... but lets face it, this is just big business.  Can I really expect a magazine review to be any more fair than life is?  I should be able to, but thats not the way the real world operates anymore. 
That is why I try to read reviews of products posted by normal, everyday, real life people on the internet.  Even this can be misleading though, if someone has had a run in with a company before, can you be sure they are being fair with their review of a product?  
I hope that when it comes to health magazines that can affect peoples life, not just their wallet, that these types of magazines are more responsible and unbiassed in reviewing products and medicines.  
Tomorrow, however, I am going by my buddy Darel's house to pick up his Honda XR 650 to ride this week.  He has called three times telling me to come pick it up, but I have been reluctant to so far.  That's a real best friend when he calls you up wanting to loan you one of his motorcycles!  I'm into my 4th week without a bike and I'm like a crackhead detoxing.  I can't stand it any longer, I've gotta get out and twist the throttle, feel the raw horsepower as the bike picks the front end up in 4th gear while you're already going faster than any sane, normal person would ride.  Then again, I may be feeling the detox effect from not having a killer cheeseburger from Rich mountain in over a month.  Whatever the reason ... I will be feeling better soon... I promise. 
Oh, by the way, my RA is still holding up well except for my left hand.  My ring finger has been hurting and popping badly when you bend it.  It occasionally hurts all the way up into the palm of my hand.  If it keeps this up, I would rather have them amputate the finger than have to put up with this pain for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My RA Fit Kit

I had started a blog for this week this afternoon.  After running into town for a couple of hours this afternoon, I came back home and cooked dinner. When Donna came in from work, we sat down in front of the tv with a plate while catching up on the news.  The first ad was for something that is new to me.  It was advertising My RA Fit Kit.  
Since I am just feeling up to working out again, I checked the website out.  It has a simple questions page to enroll in the program, don't worry ... it's free, then you answer some questions (takes about 2 minutes) about how much exercise you currently do as well as what types of exercise you are interested in.  Then it takes you to, supposedly, a tailor made program for RA patients.  My fitness program seemed pretty generic to me, but I am going to try it.
I did not print my program out, you have this option once you go to your exercise program.  I am going to check each individual exercise out and keep what I can do and not worry about what would hurt me to do.  There is also a activity log that you can download and print out to track your exercise each week.  One thing I noticed right off, the minimum recommendation for cardiovascular is 150 minutes per week.  I don't come close to that right now.  We'll see how I progress as I try out their program. 
Just wondering if anyone has seen this or enrolled in it?  I will post a follow up on the program and let you know how I am doing with it in a 2 to 3 weeks.  Hope everyone has a pain free week.

By the way, I still haven't heard anything on my bike.  I'm taking this as no news is bad news!  I'm going nuts, I am feeling good, the weather is beautiful ... my bike is broke!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Work, Sleep, Work

`Working with RA can at best be trying while other days are just brutal.  I work a full time job that is pretty physical.  I start to get stiff and hurt if I sit for any period longer than 20 minutes.  My co-workers, even though they know I have RA, give me a hard time when I get up and go work around a little bit to finish my breaks.  We all know that if you keep moving you don't hurt as much, but outsiders don't understand this.  My bad days include climbing up and down stairs on the printing press that I work on (3 stories tall), getting down on my knees and crawling around working with the two bottom print decks.  Also, if we have had problems, being on my feet for a full 12 hour shift hurts my feet, ankles, knees and right hip.  When a job is running good, we can usually sit down for about 3-4 minutes every roll.
The flexo press that I work on has a turrent unwind and rewind on it, which means that the press never shuts down unless there is a problem. We run 62 inch rolls of paper that average 13,000 linear feet.  Run speed on the press is 1500 feet per minute so on average, we are changing rolls every 8.6 minutes.  Add in checking print quality, inks with the XRite (computer color analyzation system), velvetol, monitoring and adjusting moisture applied to the paper, coatings, ink ph and viscosity.  Because of the run speed, we have 8 ovens on the press to dry inks and coatings.  To cool the paper after coming out of an oven, there are chill rollers which circulate ice cold water through them to help bring the web temperature back down as the paper exits an oven.  Printing is no longer an art, it's becoming a science.  I didn't mean to get carried away talking about the press. 
If I have had a rough day and am hurting more than normal, I will not sleep well.  This comes in part from hurting in my sleep while, I believe, subconsciously worrying about work tomorrow.  I can not hold up to a 12 hour shift with 5 or 6 hours of sleep now, so on my bad work days I will take 1 acetaminophen pm as soon as I get home from work to help me sleep all night.  I always make sure that I have 8 hours to sleep before taking one but have not experienced any of the grogginess or confusion listed as a possible side effect with the product.  Also, it has not become addictive, on my days off, I have no problem with sleeping.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bummed ... Really Bummed

I took last week off from blogging in preparation for our 2-3 day ride.  After a long and grueling 4 days at work, 12 hour shifts where we are on our feet about 90% of that time, I was ready for some days off.  I took my bike out for a 105 mile test run with all of the bags and equipment that we would be carrying on our ride.  We worked in some really rough washed out trails, fast fire roads, dirt roads and a little bit of asphalt.  Everything was going good at first.  My duffel bag stayed strapped down to the rear fender rack, the Wolfman tank bag performed exceptionally well, panniers fit and rode well ... but my bike was blubbering.  No big deal, just trash in the carb, as soon as I get home I will pull the carb off and clean the float bowl and main jet.  As the day progressed, my bike's performance deteriorated.  When I got back home, I washed my bike and did my normal maintenance routine, then turned my attention to the carburetor.  After cleaning the carb and putting it back on the bike, I hit the starter.  Nothing.  After an adjustment and a new spark plug (I knew deep down the new plug wouldn't change anything), I hit the starter again.  Nothing part 2.  I pull the carb back off to double check that I didn't screw something up and cannot find anything wrong.  Once again, put it on the bike, hit the starter, Nothing part 3.  After Nothing part 4, 5 and 6, I call my KTM shop and run the bike up to them to check out quickly.  I raced with several of the guys that work there so they worked my bike in for me that afternoon.  After confirming that everything I had done was ok, they did a compression and leakdown test.  My bike is losing compression, which means a top end tear down to find the problem.
After planning this trip for 2 months, just waiting for cooler weather, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be typing this tonight instead of being 140 miles north spending the night on Bull Shoals Lake.  If it could have just waited another week before it puked the top end, I would have been fine with it.  
As far as my RA goes, I am feeling better still.  Sore and stiff ankles, heels and feet along with my knees and right shoulder still being grouchy, other than that I have no complaints.  I have been using the Voltaren Gel on my hands quite a bit over the last 2 weeks and it does help. The middle joint of my ring finger on my left hand is very notchy when I bend it now.  It doesn't hurt too bad but you can watch the knuckle pop as you bend it.  I hope this passes quickly.  I am back to working out consistently and am starting to feel my muscles fill back out in my arms.  I love the feeling after a workout where you have pushed yourself a little bit.  My arms hated me the first couple of weeks, but are now starting to like working out again.