Monday, August 30, 2010

Flat Phantom

I am still doing well as far as my RA goes.  I have continued to push myself beyond what I should be doing with little repercussion.  I have been experiencing extra pain in my hands over the last 10 days or so, but I have been doing quite a bit of digging and shoveling working on our extended patio project.  I have been using the Voltaren Gel at nights only to get up and abuse my hands the next day again.  Also, today, after putting in a horrid 120 mile ride, my ankles do not want to bend.  I have the hot tub on and am going to soak my whole body in a few moments.  Other than that, I can't complain.  Even though I am doing much better for the time being, I am stiff when waking up, have fatigue like a big dawg and if I sit for more than 20 minutes, my entire body protests about trying to stand up and move.  In other words, normal RA effects.
I met Randall for an early morning ride to eat breakfast at Rich Mountain.  Steve and Susane own a small country store/cafe and on top of having really good food, they're the kind of people that you just enjoy sitting down with and talking to.  On the way, the clouds were sitting down on the top of Poteau Mountain this morning.  At exactly 6.1 miles into our ride, I had my first flat tire since I have owned my KTM.  Well, I'm not going to complain about one flat tire in two years.  
After changing tubes and airing the tire back up, we continue on to Rich Mountain.  It was awesome, we rode across a closed iron truss bridge, then shot through the tree tunnel this morning in the cool morning air.  
After eating breakfast, we climbed up on top of Rich Mountain to Talimena Drive for a cool ride in a light rain. The rain didn't last long and soon I was testing the new gearing I put on my bike.  It still has that "yank your arms out of their sockets" power in the first three gears, but fourth through sixth are stretched way out now for more top end speed.  Now, at 70 mph, the engine is running nice, comfortable rpm's, not winding out like with stock gearing.

We take an insane fast forrest road back coming off of Talimena Drive. We were running 65 mph on this little single lane dirt road.  It was big fun, just as long as one of us doesn't crash at that speed.  I hit a fire break on this road at 55-60 mph standing on the pegs and slammed my knees when the bike came back down.  My OA in my knees is extremely grouchy tonight.  Soon we were on another fast fire road and BAM ... I have my second flat tire at 85 miles into the ride.  Not overly excited about this one, once again install a new tube, (note my happy fat butt with helmet hair trying to make my fingers bend around the rim and tire) new air and away we go.  Pretty uneventful ride back in until at 105.3 miles ... I have a third flat tire.  Randall and I were both out of tubes by now, so I had to ride the remaining 12 miles back to the truck on a flat rear tire.  Hopefully I haven't ruined my brand new rear tire.
I've not had three flats in the last six years of riding.  I am going to pull my tire off of the rim tomorrow and check for something in the tire, a bur on the rim or possibly a protruding spoke.  Frankly, I don't find changing tires out on the trail that mondo jovial.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Feeling Better With A Bobcat

As most of you know by now, I love to push myself when I am feeling good.  It has been so hot over the last 4-5 weeks here, and at work, the air conditioner is not working properly in the pressroom where I work.  The temperature, in the pressroom, has been in the mid to upper 80's all week.  Yesterday, on my 4th twelve hour shift in a row, a mild case of heat exhaustion set in on me around 3 pm.  By 5 pm, I had a serious headache, could barely move (flu like feeling) and slightly nauseous.  I got off work at 7 pm, went straight home, took a cool shower and crashed on the couch with a fan blowing directly on me.  By 9 pm, I felt a little hungry, ate a smoked turkey sandwich and went to bed.  
Now today, one might think that little episode would be fresh in my brain and I wouldn't do anything stupid 2 days in a row.  One would be wrong.  My father in law came down to frame up a patio for us.  We have a nice patio with the hot tub sitting on it already.  But we don't want a nice sized patio ... we want a big ass patio that we are going to have covered later.  Anyway, I got up this morning and took Donna's car and filled it up with gas, washed and vacuumed it out, cleaned the interior, and washed the windows by hand (car washes never get the windows clean enough), ordered 6 yards of sand for the patio and started playing in the dirt with David's Bobcat.  Man, that is almost as much fun as riding a dirt bike!  After moving the dirt from the pad (where the patio will be poured), framing and leveling the patio, spreading the sand and spot mowing my yard, I once again have a headache and nauseous feeling.  The temperature, currently at 4 pm is 101 with a heat index of 107.  Still, getting to play with the Bobcat was worth it.
I'm taking care of myself tonight, have a ride planned for tomorrow, then we are pouring the patio Wednesday.  Then back to work Thursday.  Man... I love feeling better.   

Awards

I wish to thank the readers and followers of my blog.  Anne from the Medical Assistant Schools informed me that Dual Sport Life was chosen as one of the Top 40 Arthritis Blogs. Although excited about receiving the award, I honestly feel a little out of place, after all, I don't post very often on actual resources for RA, but more from a personal viewpoint of living with RA. 

In addition to that, Dual Sport Life has been nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award.  Thanks to Lana from Living It, Loving It,  Laurie form Frozen Woman, Squirrel from Feelin' Swell and Andrew from Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis for the nomination.  As part of the award, I am to award other bloggers that have inspired/impacted me. Here are my favorite blogs in no certain order. Most have already been been chosen, but I still wanted them to know that they were special to me.
Kelly at RA Warrior
Lana at Living It, Loving It
Andrew at Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA Guy
Wren at RheumaBlog
Laurie at Frozen Woman: Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Mike at My Life ANd New Fight With RA
Cathy at The Life And Adventures Of Cateepoo
Squirrel at Feelin' Swell: My Life With RA
Kelli at Rheum For God
Amanda at All Flared Up

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Lieu Of Flowers

I would like to start off by saying thank you to everyone who leaves comments and words of encouragement for me.  This is not an easy disease to live with, the day to day ups and downs, the pain, fatigue and sometimes depression that comes along with it.  I just want you to know that it means a lot to me having the support of fellow bloggers and followers.

I feel considerably more like the old me (not the pre RA me though) this week and have even started working out with weights and walking again daily.  I'm starting off slowly, careful not to hurt what little bit of muscle that I have left.  I know that exercise is important for us, but between my RA and OA pain and fatigue, I just couldn't make myself.  I hate feeling that badly, I really enjoy working out.  I will take my Humira shot shortly, in fact I have it laid out warming up now.  I cleaned my shop up yesterday, it seems so strange, after selling my KDX, just having one bike in the garage again.  I even felt good enough to crawl around on the shop floor yesterday greasing the spindles and drag link on my mower after changing oil in it.  No repercussions today from crawling around on my knees and back, that is a good sign.

I sit here this morning with my maps and computer putting a ride together for this fall.  I know you can tell that I am feeling better now, the last three weeks I haven't felt like or cared about riding.  This will be a 2 day, possibly a 3 day ride that I am looking at.  I have thought of some of it and borrowed parts of it from fellow adventure riders.  A rough estimate, as of now, is 350 - 400 miles.  My RA gets pretty grouchy at anything over 130 miles a day, but if we have to do it in 2 days ... count me in.  The ride will include 3 old bridges for my other blog, one of them is a swinging bridge for vehicles that is still in operation, at least 3 swinging bridges to walk across, a ghost town on the Buffalo River and a 25 minute ferry ride that will depart on the Arkansas side of the lake and drop us off on the Missouri side.
For another ride after the weather breaks, I have learned of a Bowstring truss bridge that was built in 1874.  It would be a one day ride ... a long one day ride.  It is abandoned with about 30 % of the deck missing, but it will be a find, that is if I can find it.  Bowstring truss bridges are extremely rare now plus it was built in the 1800's.  

I saw an obituary last week where the family said "in lieu of flowers, please contribute to the campaign of anyone running against Obama in 2012".  LOL  Now that's funny, I don't care who you are!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Off-Road Race Crash

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will review Saturday's off-road race crash that killed eight spectators in Southern California's Mojave Desert, a spokeswoman with the bureau's California office said.
My condolences and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones or were hurt themselves by this terrible mishap.  Also I couldn't imagine what the driver is going through right now.

As an ex-off road racer, as well as a spectator at numerous events, I know that:
1) Spectators want to be as close to the racers as possible when they pass by them.
2) Spectators don't want to see you go by on a smooth flat piece of land.  They usually will congregate at the gnarliest, roughest sections to see the best action.
3) Off road courses are 50 to 100 miles in length.  There is absolutely NO WAY a race promoter can set up barriers for the whole race.

Depending on how close spectators crowd up against the race course, this can become very dangerous.  The racer has to either:
1) slow down for the spectators safety and risk someone passing him (off road racers can work for 10-20 miles trying to get around someone and you sure don't want to give up a position as a freebie to another racer who doesn't care about the spectators safety)
2) focus on the race and not worry about the spectators
3) try to do both

"You could touch it if you wanted to. It's part of the excitement," said 19-year-old Niky Carmikle, who stood sobbing over a makeshift memorial on the spot of the crash Sunday. Her boyfriend, 24-year-old Zachary Freeman of Ventura, was killed in the crash. "There's always that risk factor, but you just don't expect that it will happen to you."
Just as Niky stated above, spectators know the risks. At some off road events I have been to (as a spectator), you have to sign a form acknowledging that they (promoter/racetrack) are not responsible for any personal injury. They (spectators) should be responsible for their own safety.  A race promoter cannot police 50 to 100 miles of course to make sure that someone is not where they shouldn't be.  Racers put their lives on the line, likewise, spectators take their lives in their own hands as well.  Most of them (spectators) are there to see a good crash, but it's tragic when something like this happens. I just hate to see the lawyers, BLM and our politicians come in and try to make sense out of something they don't understand.  Look at what they have done for the rest of the country.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Brown Moments

I'm finally starting to feel better. It has taken much longer than I anticipated, getting back to this point, after finishing the antibiotics nearly a month ago. The weird thing was, I went to work last Friday hurting and fatigued already just after crawling out of bed. I struggled to make it through another 12 hour work day, then went home and crawled back into bed. When I woke to the shrill beeping of the alarm clock, at 5:15 Saturday morning, I did not want to face another work day. I shut the alarm clock off, rolled over and tried to stand up, and to my surprise, everything worked reasonably well. I shaved, showered, made my lunch and was out the door. I actually felt like going to work. There was no gradual improvement into feeling better, just like someone flipped a light switch and BAM ... I'm better. For me, that's one thing that is extremely frustrating about RA, just when I think I am starting to understand this disease a little bit, the rules change again!

I geared my bike up so I should be able to get another 10-12 mph out of it. This should allow it to cruise comfortably at 70-75 mph without over revving the engine. Funny thing, after I quit racing, I thought my brown moments were behind me. Brown moments now occur when you realize you're running 20 mph faster than you thought you were and you don't have enough room to get the bike slowed down before the turn.  So far, Randall and I have escaped bodily damage, but you're heart is pumping about a million beats per minute and you have that nauseous feeling in your stomach that you get with a broken bone.  Then we laugh about it and go on.

I changed the rear sprocket, cleaned and greased the rear wheel bearings and cut 2 links out of my chain to accommodate the smaller sprocket today. It hurt my hands breaking the bolts loose, but they will feel ok for my test ride with the new gearing in the morning.

I sold my woods race bike Sunday afternoon. Bittersweet, the thing was built for the tight, nasty woods and it would literally carve through the nastiest, tightest sections imaginable ... as fast as you felt comfortable. Of course, I was no longer able to ride the rough, tight stuff, so it sadly sat in my garage, content to make a trip up and down the road once a month or so.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Out Of Boredom Comes ...

With the heat being so intense over the last 3 weeks, I have spent more time inside than I normally would.  Once I washed the towels and my work clothes (the only laundry my wife lets me do) vacuumed the house and cleaned the kitchen, I cranked up some old Soundgarden tunes and fired up the computer.

At times like this, I waste way too much time on the internet looking at youtube or other addresses that I stalk for weird and goofy stuff.  Hence, the photo below comes from my boredom.  The girl is ultra cute, so she would look good in anything, but this is sort of scary-awesome in a people of walmart kind of way.  I just hope that she didn't go grocery shopping in this.

Here are a couple of my favorite time wasters:


My daughter and her friends have developed a game that I play from time to time when I go see her.  They have a local arrest registry with mugshots from each day.  You look at the thumbnail mugshot and try to guess what they did.  After everyone has guessed, you click the thumbnail and see what they were arrested for.  Simple, yet entertaining for a while.

Below is one of my all time favorite funny video clips.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just Plain Numb

There comes a time where life quits giving and starts taking from you. I sometimes feel that I am reaching that point. Perhaps it is not so much life, as it is the RA, but I have been so fatigued and numb this year, I simply do not feel like doing anything. I have to literally fight to put one foot in front of the other, I don't feel like going to work, mowing or cleaning the house. I didn't even ride my bike last week and just barely have been on the computer.

I keep making excuses for myself, saying that I will feel better in another week or two. But it doesn't seem to ever get here.

I have a ride planned for in the morning. I pushed myself to prep my bike this morning, got some fresh fuel, I have my back pack and gear bag ready. Normally, I would be chomping at the bit to get up in the morning and hit the woods. I sit here ready to go because I love riding, love my KTM and I know I will have a good time, but I'm just not excited like I should be.

My life with RA and Humira seems to be up and down. On most of my days off, with the exception of the fatigue, I feel ok. I think that most of you with RA know "ok", you don't feel like you want to, especially not like healthy people do, but you have felt worse so you're not complaining. I have no doubt that if I didn't work, I would feel much better. But, I love my family, my house and my toys. I'm not ready to quit my job and live under an overpass just yet. But I do know where a nice one is that is not occupied.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Daughter

I got up at 5:15 Saturday morning to go to work. There was a text message on my phone from my daughter.  I opened it and it read "I love you".  What a great way to start your day out. 
Kelli left a comment on a previous post about my daughter.  It got me to thinking about her and that is where this post comes from.  I was scared to death when I found out that I was going to be a father.  I had not been around small kids at all.  All of my cousins were younger than I was, my friends up to that point all raced and most of them were single.  I had no idea what to do with a kid.  I was perfectly calm sitting on the starting line at a motorcycle race, but the first time my wife left me alone with my daughter ... I was absolutely terrified.
It didn't take long to pick it up though and soon we were having a pretty good time together.  When she was about two, Donna took a job at FedEx.  The increased pay and benefits were great, but she had to work nights.  That meant that Kala and I spent every evening and night together (that Donna worked), I was feeding her, getting her ready for bed and reading to her every night.  There was one afternoon I remember where Donna had been in Memphis for training, so I left work early and picked Kala up from daycare, cleaned her up, did her fingernails and put a nice dress on her.  We met momma at the airport and took her out to eat.  I don't know which one of us was more proud of our little girl.
It was somewhere around this time that I started spending one night a week out with Kala as sort of a date night for us.  I would let her choose what she wanted to do (within reason), some nights it was McDonalds and a movie, other nights it was just eating at a nice restaurant, some nights it was trying everything out at Toys R Us, she had hundreds of ideas.  As she grew older, I used this time to talk to her about peer pressure from other kids, alcohol and drugs, I taught her that a gentleman opens the door for a lady (which I would do for her on our nights out).  In fact, I remember one time I told her that her date should open her door for her to which she replied, "if he doesn't can I beat him up?"  I believe I told her yes.
She grew up around motorcycles so for her, it was just second nature to want one.  She would go out in the garage before she could even talk and just point to my bike and grunt.  I would pick her up and put her on the seat of the bike.  She would grin and grab onto the crossbar and rock back and forth.   Donna gave in and we bought a dirt bike for her for Christmas when she was 12.  The first time I took her riding in the woods, she was quite a sight.  Her blond hair was messed up from the helmet and her face had a strip of dirt where the goggles and bar on the helmet don't quite meet.  But she was grinning from ear to ear.  One time we were riding on Poteau Mountain and she couldn't get her bike started.  I told her that I would turn her bike around (we were in some rough trail for her), start it and she could just ride back toward the truck.  She took off and I walked back down to my bike, started it and turned around and took off to catch up with her.  I rode and rode, picked up my pace and couldn't see her.  My heart sank, I was starting to think that she made a wrong turn and was lost in the forrest.  For the first time in years, I was really scared.  I lit my bike up to full throttle to run back to the truck before I started looking elsewhere.  I finally caught up to her about a mile from the truck.  She was flying... I was so proud!  That was the same year that we took her to an Indy Car race.  It was such a thrill for me to see her excited about the race and again... grinning from ear to ear.  
At around the age of 15 or 16, she had outgrown our date night.  It honestly hurt me, I missed getting to spend time with her, but I also understood.  Doing things with your parents at that age, isn't cool anymore.
Today, we still share a lot of the same interests; racing, music, motorcycles, comedy and movies.  Sometimes, she will call me on my days off and ask if I'm coming up.  She lives about 80 miles north of us attending college now.  She will ask if I can spend the night, I do occasionally, but it always makes me smile when she asks.  
She is engaged to a really good guy.  I think, as a parent, you have an obligation to teach them all that you can, especially right from wrong, give them a good home life, help them through school and give them their first, maybe even second automobile.  After they move out, you just hope that they have listened to a little of what you have tried to teach them.  I think she has done pretty good so far.  
Trying to act like she's not scared as the dolphin kisses her.  lol
Kala and David