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.