Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In A Word ... GREAT

Living with rheumatoid arthritis can feel like a crap shoot sometimes.  You feel good today but you may struggle to get out of bed and get to the living room tomorrow morning.  It is something we deal  with but deep down, no matter what level of acceptance you have reached, we all hate it.  I can't explain why my pain level is low right now, I am just enjoying the days as long as they will last.  I even changed a tire on my bike tonight after getting in from today's ride.  This usually hurts my hands badly from prying on the tire tools stretching the tires off and onto the rim.  Not this time, hasn't bothered them at all. 
I did not get to ride the last two weeks, the first week was due to some serious RA pain going on at the time then last week I had a sinus and ear infection.  This week I made up for it.  I rode with Greg Monday.  His BMW1200GS was all shiny with the stock tires so we kept to mostly asphalt.  We rode 150 miles but I did take him for a little bit of exploring that paid off.  I have rode by this particular dirt road many times but slowed and turned down it to see what was down that way.  After a couple of miles of snaking around a narrow twisty dirt road with lots of hills, and trees hanging over the road forming a tree tunnel, we were face to face with a massive train bridge.  The bikes are dwarfed in the photo below.  Greg had a good time and has engine guards and knobby tires ordered.  Next time I will drag him over some good stuff.
Tuesday, Randall and I headed out at the crack of nine.  Randall was riding his KTM 950 Adventure that he had just picked up yesterday.  In a word, Holy Crap!  Sorry, that was two words wasn't it?  We rode from the house to Oark and turned around to head back home for 187 miles round trip.  After eating, we walk out and it was about the coolest thing I have seen in a while.  There were 15 bikes all lined up on the side of the cafe where we had parked.  We talked with a group of 5 from Minnesota who were loving the riding we have here.  Then Randall says, "I want you to ride this".  No... I'd better not, I replied.  "No, ride it like it was yours" he fires back.  I rode it for the next 12 miles on Highway 215 which is narrow and twisty with a bluff on one side and the river on the other.  Once on 215, after leaving the cafe, I grabbed enough throttle to climb to a comfortable cruising speed while adjusting to the bike.  I look down and I am running 69 mph ...  it is so smooth and the power so linear, I thought I was running low 50's.  A big smile came across my face ... okay, lets see what she's got once I get through this corner.  Coming out of the apex of the turn I pull the throttle hard and the acceleration was incredible!  It jumped, literally on the digital speedometer, from 45 to 58 in a second.  About 3-4 seconds later I was at 87 mph.  I have got to get me one of these!!  I pulled in at the junction of highway 215 and 23 to trade bikes and was laughing hard as Randall pulled up on my KLR.  He grinned big and said "yeah, when it goes bad, it's going to be REAL bad".
My week has been a good one, I have lost 4 pounds, rode 335 miles in two days in two different national forests and although not totally pain free, haven't felt too bad for all of it.
Massive train bridge on the edge of the forest.
Bikes under the bridge.
Randall's 950 after he let me hammer it for a few miles.
To say it was a nice day to ride is an understatement.  Oark Cafe Tuesday afternoon.
Highway 215 to Oark.
Fall colors just starting to hit the Ozark National Forest.  The Ouchita National Forest will be a couple of weeks yet on colors.
Highway215 and 23 junction.
I want to own land with my own abandoned bridge on it some day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Figures ...

My RA has decided to behave over the last week so I was looking forward to my 4 days off this week.  Then on my final night at work last week, I started noticing a light headed feeling when I would turn my head or look up.  Not good, later toward the end of my shift I felt pressure building up in my forehead and cheeks.  Yep, going to be a wash on riding this weekend.  Went to the doctor first thing Monday and as I suspected, a sinus and ear infection.  Then I went on to my rheumatologist for some scheduled blood work, ah two doctor visits in one day.  Still my RA is hardly noticeable ... I really need to be riding, the weather is better than perfect today, but turning your head and becoming light headed is not a good combination for being on a motorcycle.  It's hard work being responsible!
I had just sat down at my computer yesterday afternoon when Donna hollered, "you have a visitor".  As I approached the front door, I was immediately jealous, the guy was riding a BMW 1200GS.  I opened the door and he took his helmet off and it was Greg.  I used to work with Greg, then he went to Iraq as a civilian contractor 10 years ago.  He just got back into the states for good this time and had bought the BMW yesterday afternoon.  We talked for two hours, have a ride planned for next Tuesday and are getting some of the old co-workers together to go out to eat.  We have had a lot of good times with Greg and now I look forward to many more.  Good to have him and Debbie back home safely.
Greg and his new BMW 1200GS, just in from Iraq.
I have been pursuing a BMW F800GS hot and heavy over the past week and finally got the real story from the owner.  He took it with him to Italy, can not get it registered over there and must sell it back here in the states where he bought it.  Although it is a good clean bike at a VERY good price, I just don't feel like dealing with shipping a bike back here and getting it through customs then hoping the guy has  all of the paper work needed to get it transferred to my name and tagged.  Just don't need the aggravation. 
BMW 800 that I have given up on for now.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Twenty Five Years Ago

Twenty five years ago life was much simpler.  The year was 1987, I was 29 and having the time of my life racing motorcycles.  I had no computer, internet or cell phone but somehow I made it just fine.  Today it seems that I am tethered to my phone and as soon as it dings announcing a new text or email, I have to see what someone has sent. 
I was also completely healthy and, with the exception of a broken bone, I never went to the doctor ... never.  I had accumulated enough points through wins and consistent finishes that I was advancing to the next class.  Two months later, in December 1987, I had a serious crash while racing a European Qualifier.  I cracked three ribs, suffered my second concussion, broke my right collar bone at the neck and separated my right shoulder.  All healed well except for my collar bone.  It was eight months before I could ride without feeling my collar bone, the handlebars transmit jarring and impacts through your arms, I would feel nauseous from the pain.  Anyone who has had a broken bone knows the feeling of bumping it as the bone is knitting itself back together, you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach ... as well as the pain. 
I was also not familiar with RA despite already having OA in my knees from football and racing.  I had always planned on going back to racing in the senior class after our daughter got older, but never saw RA entering the picture ... we never do.  I hold no grudge or remorse now, just enjoy a much tamer style of dirt riding.  At least I'm still able to ride most days.
What brought this post on was a visit from Mike Smith a couple of weeks ago.  We sat out on the patio and talked about everything from family and adventure riding to camping trips and old racing memories.  Man, some of the stuff we did ... we could fill a blog up from riding stories.  He also brought some old photos with him, so here is a glimpse of days gone by.  

Me, healthy, at age 29
Mike Smith 1986
Start at an Arkansas Hare Scrambles event in 87.  Mike Smith is the rider at the left and I am 3rd from the left in red riding pants.  Once again Mike and get a good start.
Me in 1987 racing at Tulsa
Arkansas Hare Scrambles event 1986.  Mike and I are battling for the lead at the left side of the photo.
Me racing at an enduro, possibly Stillwater, aboard a Husky 430.