Thursday, September 29, 2011

2 Days And 400 Miles With RA

Tuesday morning Randall and I drove the bikes out to Highway 23 to unload, just can't get excited about riding on Interstate for 60 miles.  It was 50 degrees and the first hour of the ride, at 65 mph, your face isn't numb from the cold, you just wished it was.  That would soon change and before long we were pulling clothes off faster than a $2 hooker.  About 5 hours into the ride we were officially lost (it's not a real ride until you're lost) but soon we found our way out to where we needed to be.  Okay, it was more like blind luck, but we accidently stumbled onto the forest road we were looking for.  
We rode up to Bull Shoals and took the ferry across the lake.  Once on the other side of the lake we rode up into Missouri.  On the way back Wednesday morning, I ran out of gas topping a hill and pulled to the side of the road.  I laid my bike all of the way down to let what little gas on the right side of the tank over to the left side where the petcock is.  Randall did the same even though he was not out yet.  I had enough gas to make it, at most, 2 miles.  I got my bike started and we took off and ... we were one tenth of a mile from a gas station.  On the way back we tracked down an old fire tower the US Forest Service no longer uses.  It was a brutal climb up the mountain since they no longer keep the road up after closing the tower.  The steep, rocky, rutted out climb to the tower was also one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Most of us with RA tend to overdo it when we feel good.   I usually always pay for overdoing it, as I am now, but I am also smiling.  While my RA was not a problem child on the trip, by the time we got to the hotel room at the end of the first day, I could barely walk.  We had left at 8:30 am, stopped to eat breakfast, again to fill up with gas and a third time to check the maps while we were lost, and arrived at the hotel at 7:15 pm.  That means a solid 9 to 10 hours on the bikes. My hands, hips, knees and right shoulder were all hurting pretty bad along with my feet.  But I am not one to just sit back and let this disease tell me what I can and can't do.  
It is hard for me to give up things, RA has forced me to give up so much already, but I am coming to the conclusion that I may have to sell my KTM soon.  It is absolutely awesome, light weight, great handling, superior suspension and just tons of raw horsepower but it also has a lot of vibration and a seat height that prevents me from being able to get on or off without finding an elevated step or someplace to lean the handlebar against while I get on and off of it.  I hate to admit it but I am thinking of a KLR650 or maybe a XR650 with lowering links.  I'm bummed even thinking about it but I will keep on riding something.

Hope you enjoy some of the photos from the ride.
At 65 mph, the camera doesn't focus very well
 Old school house in a small community we rode through
 You know me, I love iron truss bridges
 Riding next to bluffs on Big Piney Creek
 More bluffs on Big Piney Creek
 And yet, more bluffs on Big Piney Creek
 Abandoned rock building in Deer, Arkansas
 Bluffs along the Buffalo National River
 Our bikes riding the ferry across Bull Shoals Lake
 One lake, one ferry and 4 moron's shadows
 Just outside the restaurant where we ate breakfast Wednesday
 Train trestle just outside of Yellville
 Possibly the worlds smallest post office
 Forest road somewhere between point A and B
 An endangered species ... the wooden barn
 10 miles into the ride, still had happy butts (not hurting yet)
  100 miles south of us everything was so green and lush
  Made a pit stop to pull some clothes off after it warmed up
Not often you see a bear warning sign in Arkansas.
Okay, this is the first one I've ever seen.  I've seen 
several bear, just not a bear warning sign before.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good Times

I picked up a new battery Monday morning, after Sundays ride. After addling the electrolyte in the battery and installing and hooking all of the cables and wires up ... it was time to go to work. Monday at work drug by, but finally my 8 hour sentence was paid in full and I was allowed to go free, only temporarily though. 
I awoke Tuesday morning and after a quick shower, dashed out the door and pointed my truck toward the woods. Yep, I was riding for the second day out of three. I met Randall at the edge of the forest and we lit the big beasts up and aimed them south. We rode some new fire road that was grown over with knee deep grass, just barely leaving 2 tire tracks visible at times. We were running this stuff fairly fast, 3rd and 4th gear, when we come to a large tree down across the makeshift road. It was too large to jump the bikes over so we made our way around it out through the woods. While I am not overly scared of snakes, I kept my eyes focused squarely in front of my bike and tractored through the lush under growth with precession and balance. I was extremely relieved to make it back out to the fire road. If there was ever a place considered to be a snake magnet, we just rode through the middle of it!
After another hour or so of riding, we stopped in at the Haws Creek store. We had a burger and parted ways. While visiting with the lady running the store, she informed us that the mountain lions now have cubs and to be extremely careful around where she lives. She said that while both the Arkansas and Oklahoma Wildlife Departments told her there are absolutely no mountain lions in this area, they will not even come out to investigate it. In the meantime she said that neighbors have lost pets (a large older Tom Cat found dead and a dog missing) and there have been farm animals mutilated (2 goats and a calf). Their explanation is that its a bear and she has most likely been seeing a bob cat. Come on, a bob cat and a mountain lion are not any where close to resembling each other. One thing's for sure ... it sure kept my mind off of arthritis during my solo ride back through the woods.
Once back, I had to go pay up another 8 hour sentence. Boy, work sure does get in the way of having a good time! Randall and I are going to do a 2 or 3 day ride the last week of this month. Hopefully I will have some good pictures soon for you to check out. It's been great having my RA behave for the last 6 days ... I hope it continues.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day In Pictures

I have my latest flare behind me so after getting off work this morning, I got up at the crack of noon and stopped by my son-in-laws house.  David had marginally more sleep than I did but we were dragging our happy butts out to play today ... we had earned it!   We had a good ride today that was cut short because of my bike and a battery issue.  At one point, we pushed my bike up a steep little hill for a rolling start.  Mary, my hats off to you and all the other cyclist's out there.  I had not hurt this bad since Mike and I rode bicycles for cardio training.  While pushing my bike uphill, I'm pretty sure my lungs came out through my mouth trying to get air!  
Oark is a cool little town, I always enjoy stopping in and visiting with the people there.  Check out that burger, the melted cheese doesn't even get to the edge of the patty.  Their home made pies are the best but neither of us had room for a piece today.  My dad actually worked at the canning factory at Oark keeping the boilers going after he came back from the Korean War.  It was located just down the street from the cafe.   
Not much else to tell, my RA is somewhat behaving and I had a good day today in spite of my battery grief.  Here is part of my day in pictures.

Monday, September 5, 2011

FMLA - Know Your Rights

I have FMLA papers filled out every year by my rheumatologist for my employer. So far, in the 5 years I have been covered by FMLA, I have not used it a single day but it is there should I need to use it. If you do not have it, I would suggest checking on it, especially if your employer has a stringent attendance policy. Once your FMLA papers are filled out and approved, you do not need to give any advanced notice. To use it you call into work, but instead of calling in sick, just let them know that you are calling in FMLA. In our case, living with a chronic disease, this is an excellent tool to protect your job. 
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, administers and enforces the FMLA for all private, state and local government employees, and some federal employees. You can take as little as half a day or all 12 weeks at once, depending on your needs. 
FMLA applies to all public agencies, including state, local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools), and private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.

To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
• work for a covered employer;
• have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
• have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
• work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

Under the LEAVE ENTITLEMENT section there is this paragraph that pertains to us taking a day or two off during a bad flare up :
Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave intermittently – taking leave in separate blocks of time for a single qualifying reason – or on a reduced leave schedule – reducing the employee’s usual weekly or daily work schedule. When leave is needed for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operation. If FMLA leave is for birth and care, or placement for adoption or foster care, use of intermittent leave is subject to the employer's approval.
The down side of this is that you do not get paid for the time missed while out on FMLA and there is abuse of this program by employees who just don't feel like going to work on any given day.

If interested, you can read up on FMLA at: