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!