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:
Most days about 70% pain free
Slightly increased flexibility
Most days little to no fatigue
Feel up to working out and walking again
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.