Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good Friday

I like all of the seasons with the exception of winter, I used to enjoy winter until my jackass friend RA moved in.  Spring is more than just a date on a calendar to me, I love spring because the air smells so clean and fresh.  I like to hear the birds singing and watch everything green back up, witness nature coming back to life after a dormant winter.  I like thunderstorms, frogs croaking at night, in short spring makes me (and my RA) happy.  

I got off of work at 7am on Good Friday that was followed by a Bad Saturday.  We had rain move in and despite the warm temperature, by mid afternoon my RA started misbehaving.  I hurt so much that I went on to bed at 10pm and slept til 10am Saturday morning.  I got out of bed, but hurt so bad that I could barely make it to the living room.  I wound up going back to bed at 11am and slept til 3pm.  I felt marginally better at 3 so I forced myself to get up, clean the kitchen and get my bike prepped for Monday just in case I feel like riding.

My RA has really gotten in the way of doing many things this winter and I'm hoping that spring will be just what I need.  My hands and feet have been hurting moderately over the past two weeks and wouldn't you know it ... a new area of pain to deal with.  Actually I think this is more OA related though.  I broke my right collar bone (racing motorcycles - of course) right up against my neck 25 years ago.  It bothered me for a couple of years but other than an occasional severe storm coming through, has been silent ... until 2 weeks ago. 

Speaking of severe storms, we had our first tornado of 2013 Saturday night.  Actually we didn't have one, it was 25 miles west of us moving our direction.  By the time the storm passed over us it was merely high winds, pea sized hail and a ton of lightning and thunder.  We did put the new Edge in the garage though, just in case.  They had golf ball size hail just to our north.

I hope that I feel up to riding tomorrow.  Right now, I can see it going either way.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stupid RA

I did a real ride yesterday and I am paying for it today.  Actually I feel quite good with the exception of my right hand.  On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a solid 12 today!  Stupid RA.  I have had highs and lows over the past week directly correlating with the up and down temperatures of springtime in Oklahoma.  

I rode 240 miles Monday, shooting 5 iron bridges, speeds up to 86 mph on asphalt, 67mph on dirt, not a scratch ... not even a bobble. Got home, took my riding boots and socks off, turned around and caught my big toe on the edge of a chair leg.  Bent the nail back and split it the length of the toe nail as it started to bleed.  I'm actually safer on a bike than I am walking through my house.

We rode some good stuff and it was nice seeing trees budding out and grass starting to green up.  We rode over some of the cleanest, clearest water I have seen since being in Colorado.  I shot 3 open bridges and 2 abandoned bridges.  My favorite was the old Illinois River bridge, it was completely shut off to the public. We had just rode 93 miles to shoot the bridge today so we rode on in past the no trespassing signs. After 25 minutes of taking pictures, walking on and around it we rode back out to be greeted by a trooper blocking the road with his lights flashing. I thought we were busted but it turned out the trooper had the road blocked with his lights on for someone else ... whew!
I love seeing these old water towers in small towns. 
It didn't say land mine so we went on in.
After 6 hours of riding on a Power Bar and bottled water, we were ready for some real food so we rode on into Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  I was first to choose a place to eat so we decided Lucky's Cafe would be the dinning experience today.  When we pulled into the parking lot, the sign said open but there wasn't a single car in the lot.  This can't be a good sign so Greg chose next.  He decided we would just do a quick lunch at Taco Bell but found a nice looking BUSY mexican restaurant by the name of El Molcajete.  I didn't expect much, we have several mexican places similar to this at home. It turned out to be awesome. I wish they would open one where I live!
If you're ever in Tahlequah, eat at El Molcajete.
I struggled to get back on the bike after a huge lunch for only $5. You can't even eat at McDonalds for that. Once back on the road, we lit them back up and rode some new (to me) twisty, narrow roads that were sheer excitement.  I felt good when I rolled into the driveway but was feeling my right hand already.  Today, I can not grip or pick up anything, its a good thing I have a left hand.

btw Kim, I am starting to like the gel grips now that I have some 350 miles on them.
Eagles Bluff bridge with Mike Palmer and Greg Trosper.
Eagles Bluff bridge.
Abandoned Illinois River bridge
Decay on bridge
Concrete cracking 
This sign can't mean us!
Grown over deck of the llinois River bridge

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Warm Hands

I recently rode through the Ozark National Forest and stopped on Mill Creek.  It was a very familiar place, there it sat quietly ... a huge oak tree that Mike and I have camped under in days gone by.  Looking at it I can't help but wonder who is enjoying the beauty of this tree and the creek these days.  One thing is for sure though, as beautiful as the area is, someone is still camping under the huge tree.   I didn't think to take a picture but the next time I pass through, I will stop and get one.  The tree is old and if it could talk, I know it would have some stories to tell.  This is where Mike set my arm on fire once, though he claims accidentally.  Editors note: never use premix gas to start a camp fire.

We have had cold weather again that has my RA mildly flared so I didn't ride this week on my days off.  I hate even thinking about switching meds.  I feel so much better on the warm days when we have them right now, I'm sure that once it warms up for good I will be alright. 

I got my grip heaters on my bike.  The kit was simple, straight forward but I am not sure about the gel grips I installed. I will have to ride with them a while before I make a decision to keep or replace them.  They feel very spongy, which should be easier on my hands but they feel huge compared to normal grips.  The heat will help my hands on cool days, they don't get super hot but definitely warm.  If I would have known 20 years ago, while I was still racing, that today I would be riding a bike with aux lights, windshield and heated grips ... I would have kicked my ass.  Times change, I never saw RA coming either.
Grips and grip heaters
Simple and straight forward but my name and idiot proof don't belong together.
Dash with heated grips switch.
Gel grips safety wired on... not sure about them yet.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Turner Bend Ride (I Feel Good)

Last week on my 4 days off, I hurt badly.  I slept 11 hours Saturday, 12.5 hours Sunday, 16 hours Monday and 10 hours Tuesday.  I have had many weeks where I didn't get that much sleep in 7 days.  I am feeling much better this week but am anxious (ok - dreading) to see if the next cold snap throws me back to hurting again.  Just finished another Humira injection and no matter how many of these I take, they still hurt.  I have tried, I think, all of the tricks.  I guess I'm just going to have to face up to the fact that I'm not nearly as tough as I like to think I am!

It was 71 Monday and I felt good enough to ride.  Greg showed up at noon and we headed north.  No particular place to ride, just riding because we needed to.  Anyone who rides understands that last sentence.  When riding, you have to be focused 100% on the road and other drivers (cars), you clear your head for a few hours of all those pesky thoughts, what if's and any conflicts.  Plus riding a motorcycle, you experience the trip versus looking at the scenery through a piece of glass.  You feel every mile, smell everything from roadkill to flowers and honeysuckle along the way. The sheer acceleration and hearing the motor rev are just a bonus.  

With it being 71 degrees today, I decided to wear my light jacket and shoulder pads ... who needs a big heavy jacket with a liner today, not me ... oh no.  Then suddenly clouds moved in and the temperature must have dropped 10 degrees, maybe more.  Crap!! Too far out to turn around, I sure wish I had  worn my heavy jacket!  After about 20 miles of shivering, the sun popped back out.  It never was as warm as it was before we left but thankfully conditions didn't deteriorate any further.  We turned north on AR215 and picked the speed up since there is little traffic on this narrow, windy road.  Boy did I get a surprise as I topped a hill running 70mph.  There was a trailer house blocking the road with numerous cars lined up.  As we rolled up to the line of cars, they waved us on through ... the advantages of being small enough to get through a ditch.  The people sitting in line didn't look to happy with us.  Once by, we lit the bikes up again and shot through the forest with the reckless velocity of a teenager on a crotch rocket.  We didn't slow down until we were descending the hill by Shores Lake spillway.  I would like to point out that while I do enjoy the adrenaline rush from the acceleration and speed of a motorcycle, I will absolutely not leave the house without all of my gear on, all of the time.  I cringe every time I see riders with no helmet, or shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes.

We stopped at the spillway and I was thrilled to see water rushing over the spillway again.  We have been in a severe drought and while we have had an abundance of rain over the last 2 months, we are still way down.  There were still several creeks we crossed that are still dry.  As we headed on east, I wasn't exactly sure we were going to come out at.  We rode the next 15 miles of dirt roads through some rugged, twisty, hilly country, but it was beautiful.  We even rode a few miles next to the Mulberry River and at one point I thought I heard banjo music.  We were in some "Deliverance looking country", then suddenly we popped out on highway 23.  I never did tell Greg that I didn't know where the road went but we came out somewhat close to where I thought we might.  We stopped at Turner Bend and had a world class sandwich and a welcome rest.  A guy, looked to be 60, pulls up, gets out and says nice bikes (Greg was riding a BMW 1200GS) and we start talking about riding.  He rides a DRZ400 but is looking to buy a KLR soon and was admiring the farkles on my bike.  We talked for 30 minutes, turns out we have rode much of the same stuff from Mississippi to Colorado.  Small world ... I get to meet a lot of nice people on rides. I would like to rent one of the cabins this spring and take Donna up there, I know she would love it once we got there.
Shores Lake spillway
Shores Lake
It's Pirate Greg
Lake from the overlook on top
Mulberry River with water flowing
Lunch at Turner Bend
You know me ... I love bridges
An outhouse on blocks!  yes, I used it. 
One of the cabins for rent at Turner Bend