Saturday, January 29, 2011

Slave To Gravity

Against my better judgement, I went out for a quick solo ride 2 weeks ago.  The temperature was not what I wanted, a high of 49 degrees forecast, but I needed to ride.  I headed out and after crossing Poteau Mountain, arrived at one of my top 5 favorite single track trails.  I attacked the trail as if I were racing again.  Caught air off several jumps, sliding through the corners, even overcooked one corner and as I was sliding off of the trail while braking, aimed the outside corner of my handlebars at the tree and gassed it.  Bank shot off of the tree that put me back out on the trail quickly.  This is not for the faint of heart, Mike and I crashed A LOT while learning this technique.  Once through this trail, I headed for the 4 way trail and rode all 4 trails out.  I was staying pretty warm back in the woods, but had to get back out on the road now.  I ate 7 miles of road up in a hurry, it was cold out on the open road with no trees around.  I ducked back into the woods and this is where my story should have ended.  I should have gone on back to my truck, but I was having a good day riding single track.  Soon I was riding hard again as I rode around the north side of the mountain. I was sliding through a corner sideways when I realized I was on frozen tundra. It was hard to tell which was more slick, the ice or the mud.  What seemed like a slow motion crash that took 30 seconds to play out, in reality took about a second and a half.  At first I was sliding one way, then I cranked on the bars and shifted my weight to the other side and gassed it.  This leads to severe overcorrection, so I do my best Mary Lou Retton impersonation of ... well okay, it probably looked closer to a wounded duck that had been shot while trying to fly off the motorcycle.  Just when it looked like I might actually save it, the bike pitched me hard, and as I am being slammed to ground, realize that ... I am still a slave to gravity.  As I am bouncing/sliding on the frozen turf and thinking that wasn't so bad, the bike is about half a second from hammering me into the ground like tent peg.  Okay, it's officially a good single track ride now ... I'm tired, cold, wet, late and hurting.  Did I mention I have a 300 pound motorcycle pinning me down on the ground.  It took a while but I crawled out from under it, made sure nothing was broke (me - not the bike), started my trusty steed and limped back to the truck.  Remember kids, don't try this at home, I'm a trained professional.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

RA vs Minor Burns

My flare up has continued to dog me for yet another week.  Most days I wish that I could ride my motorcycle on some nasty, tight single track trail again, lately I have just been wishing to walk without too much pain.  Funny how RA continues to change your outlook on life.

I was working on my bike today and had it running for a couple of minutes to heat the oil in the engine for an oil/filter change.  I went to tighten a bolt and bumped a fingertip against the header just out of the cylinder. At that precise moment, the header was the same exact temperature as it is 7 feet off of the surface of the sun.  
You sometimes forget just how many nerve endings are in a fingertip until you stick your finger in a blender ... or against an incredibly hot exhaust header.  For a few moments, I forgot that a flare up had hijacked my semi-normal life for the past 3 weeks.  While I don't recommend this therapy for everyone, I am a professional when it comes to pain, it has certainly taken the edge off of my flare for now.  Don't worry about my finger, the burnt dead skin will soon be replaced by fresh healthy skin.  Too bad our joints can't replenish themselves in the same fashion.

I hope everyone has a good week, I can't wait for some nice, warm weather.  I'm officially through with winter and ready for another year of riding.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I have been in the grips of a major flare for the last 2 weeks.  With the exception of an occasional mild flare up, I had almost forgotten what one felt like.  I have experienced severe shoulder pain that I haven't felt since separating my right shoulder some 25 years ago, swelling, fatigue and my feet have hurt so badly that I could barely stand to walk.  I am feeling better now, I believe the worst is behind me for this time. 

I have not hardly been on my computer over the last 2 weeks, I will catch up with everyone's blog soon.  I am reposting (I should feel like doing a new post next week) a humorous ride I did a couple of years ago.  

Randall and I had both worked Saturday night and got off at 7am Sunday morning. We did not have to work Sunday night for President's Day so we decided a ride was in order after 3-4 hours of sleep. I arrived at Randall's about 1 pm and we loaded up and headed off to the woods.
We had an excellent day riding, found some new single track trail that was incredibly fast (40-55 mph) without a rock in it. We also missed a turn and rode some of the new trail twice which was fine because our 525's were built just for this type of trail. We got caught on one of our favorite trails late in the afternoon. An ice storm had came through 3 weeks earlier and had left a ton of downed trees and we were riding 200 yards, getting off of the bikes and moving tree branches, limbs, and brush. In most places the woods were so dense that you could not ride around the fallen debris. It was getting late and we were running out of daylight quick. When we finally made it out of the woods, we lit our bikes up and hammered them back to the truck, arriving just at dark. 
We thought our excitement was over. Boy were we wrong! Randall has a heavy duty lock on the back of his HiPoint trailer and the numbers are not highlighted with paint, they are stamped out of the metal. Randall and I both have excellent vision ... far off ... one foot in front of our face, we're both blind as a bat. We have no problem with the numbers in daylight, but it is now night time in the forest.  We started my bike and aimed the light at the lock, Randall tried, I took a turn at it, we took Randall's cell phone and tried to use the light off of it to see better. All to no avail and by now it is dark, foggy and cold. We both had our reading glasses locked safely inside the trailer ... the one with the lock on it that we can't read. A bit of irony here but a lesson learned the hard way. Even on short rides when we're not taking maps, pack your glasses in your fanny pack! After 20 minutes of this I broke out into laughter while trying to read the numbers and yanking on the lock to no avail, Randall walked around the side of the trailer. I hear a muffled "I'll be damned" and I feel the trailer move. My first thought is "Great, the trailer has a flat tire also". 

But instead of more bad news, it was some much welcomed good news. Randall had not locked the side door (something I still can't believe for Randall) which worked out great for us on this particular day. Once inside he found his glasses and opened the lock. It was well after dark by the time we loaded up and once again we have another story to laugh about.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hydrotherapy and RA

Hot tubs provide some great temporary relief.  Heat helps by bringing natural pain relief to a sore joint by increasing circulation, so the fluid from a swollen joint can be removed by the blood stream and filtered out by the kidneys. Hot water can also improve flexibility, balance and range of motion. The jets can promote healing of damaged muscle tissue too.  Some doctors prescribe certain exercises that can be performed in a hot tub to relax muscles and ease tension. This is similar to the hydrotherapy that patients involved in physical therapy perform. Motion in the hot water and near jets can help where regular exercises produce no results. This type of therapy is not new, ancient cultures such as Greece, Rome, Japan and China have practiced hot water therapy for centuries.
If you have access to a hot tub then you know first hand how exposing painful joints to warm soothing water for 20 minutes at night and/or in the morning can make a big difference in how you sleep and with your joint mobility during the day. I have both RA and OA, for me, after a 20 minute soak at 103 degrees, I am more relaxed at night. Not only do I feel a reduced pain level, I sleep better allowing my body to rejuvenate sore and painful joints better. In the morning, a 20 minute soak helps get relief needed to get my joints moving for the day. I have used one for six years now and while it is not a long lasting relief, it is relief. 
• Relieves arthritis pain and stiffness
• Buoyancy in the water relieves stress on joints 
• Easy to take care of if you stay on top of chemicals
• Increased Home Value

• Bacteria in hot tub if you don't take care of it
• Cover can sometimes be hard to handle by yourself, especially if it is windy
• Cost

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