Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mountain Fork Bridge Adventure Ride

We set out in search of iron truss bridges, a tunnel under RR tracks, an old fire tower and the ultimate cheeseburger. A quick stop for gas and a PayDay (Darel calls them the original PowerBar) and we were gone. It was a brisk 58 degrees with fall in the air, it even smelled different being out in it. 
We ride 12 miles when Greg pulls up next to me at a stop sign and says "I'm hungry". Holy cow, are you kidding me? We've just got started!  We stop at a well known hole in the wall, down the road, for a burger and get back out on the road. I have to admit, I was more hungry than I realized by the time we ate. Good, now that lunch is out of the way, that will free up the rest of the day to ride. 
We head south and finally climb up on top of Talimena Drive. Talimena Drive is 55 miles of sheer excitement on a bike with overlooks to stop and enjoy the view along the way. We don't have time for that today, besides, we've both been on it numerous times. We turn off of Talimena Drive onto PCR 100 and start our descent down the mountain. With all of the floods this year, the road was in treacherous condition. Wash outs left harsh square edged deep cuts across the road and the dirt had been washed away leaving sharp jagged rocks exposed just waiting to puncture a tire if you hit them wrong. I have rode miles of trail that was not as rough as this dirt road. We finally make it through the 11 miles down to Highway 8. Run up the highway for 1.5 miles then turn onto more county dirt roads. The condition was much better than the last dirt road we were on.  We rode miles and miles of dirt road, taking in the beauty of the country, right up against the mountains before finding the Mountain Fork Bridge. Man, she was a beauty too ...110 years old! Greg pulls his helmet off and says, "you drag me out in the middle of (censored) nowhere ... for this?? I replied, no, I am looking for a tunnel under the RR tracks ... this is just on the way. He looks at me and says "oh ... cool". 

We spent quite a while there admiring and photographing the bridge and enjoying the peacefulness and beauty of the river and its surroundings. Next we ride across the bridge and I stop to get a couple of photos. It was cool looking through the decking to see the river below. Next up we stop at the Two Mile Creek bridge built in 1920. From there we ride back out to asphalt and ride Highway 71 for four miles before catching another county road. I knew we must be getting close to the tunnel, I have been following the train tracks next to the highway and they bent off just before we turned onto the dirt road. After losing the tracks altogether, we were twisting and turning going through the country side and I was about ready to say, lets turn around ... we make one more hard bend and there is the tunnel. We rode through it, took some pictures, played with a friendly dog that found us then started back towards the house. 

We stopped by the Rich Mountain Fire Tower ... a lot of history with that little place on top of the mountain. On the way back, Greg pulls up and says (no ... he doesn't say I'm hungry again. You're getting ahead of me here!), "I'm low on gas, I have 31 miles to empty". I look at my mileage and I'm about 29 miles from hitting reserve myself. We drop back down to Highway 59 and run into a little town for gas, I had just hit reserve and Greg had 6 miles to empty. Nice ride today, 255 miles, saw some cool stuff, made a new friend and in general had the time of our life today. I love fall days.

255 miles exceeds my mileage (a lot) that I normally try to stick to but I have to say I am feeling great for the day after.  My RA has been well behaved and didn't even complain too much throuhout the longer ride yesterday.  I hope everyone feels up to getting out and enjoying the fall weather this year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Semi-Mundane Monday

I was contacted by Stephen Trevathan a while back about some info on RA.  Anyway, I checked it out and it seems to be legit so I decided to pass it on.  In my opinion, the info won't really surprise any of us living with RA but would be good info for newly diagnosed patients or family members.  Here is part of his email to me and the link if you are interested: "Last year, I helped to put together an infographic on rheumatoid arthritis, and I figured it would be something that you might want to share with others."

While I am feeling better, now out of my flare, I continue to drop things daily.  I just dropped my 1/2" torque wrench on my right foot ... wouldn't have been so bad but I had my house shoes on working in the shop. I might as well had a sheet of paper wrapped around my foot ... the protection factor would have been about the same.  After hopping up and down on one foot, swearing and throwing things at the cat (pretty sure she was laughing at me), I am nursing a bruised top of my right foot.  I have a week of vacation scheduled for the week of October 21st and Greg and Randall are on board to ride up into Missouri with me. That will be a 2, possibly a 3 day ride depending on what we run across while on the ride.

I got up and left the house on my KLR at 7:30 Monday morning.  I was meeting Greg at 8:30 and we were riding 90 miles NE to eat breakfast at a small cafe in the Ozark National Forest.  As I left the driveway and turned north, I noticed a small thunderhead in the sky.  Not giving it much thought, I proceeded on and over the next hour witnessed our sunny morning turning darker and darker.  I stopped at 8:15 and checked the radar on my cell phone and sure enough ... rain was moving in.  I called Greg and he was stopped getting gas so we decided to eat breakfast locally and see what the weather did.  It's funny how in small towns where we stop to eat, no one pays any attention to us walking in and sitting down.  Walk into a larger town cafe with riding pants and knee pads, riding boots and jackets and everyone stops and stares ... you would have thought we had guns the way everyone was watching us!  I kept watching radar while we were eating and the rain was staying just north of our position so I talked Greg into running a shorter loop and rechecking the weather on the way.  We stopped at a dry creek, which normally has 2-3 feet of water in it, and rode the creek bed for a little bit.  I actually intended to just run up a short way and turn around to come back but noticed that Greg had followed me down the creek bed on his 1200GS with street tires!  Alright Greg ... so we rode a bit more of the creek, turned around and rode back out to the road.  Once back on the road I noticed it was getting darker again and cooler.  We rode into an abandoned truck stop and you could see and smell the rain, now about a quarter of a mile from us.  We talked about riding it out under the truck stop awning but Greg needed to get back to meet some contractors on his house so, not knowing how long we might be caught there, we headed back towards town.  On the way back passing through a small town I looked down at my speedo ... oh crap!  I was running 63 in a 40 mph zone, so I threw the binders on and slowed down just in time to ride around a corner and meet a state trooper sitting just off of interstate on the side of the road that we were riding.  Not a bad day, we scared some people, had a crummy breakfast, beat a speeding ticket and still rode 153 miles while staying dry for the most part.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

RA and Osteoporosis

Remember to get your questions for Angela into me by this weekend.

As someone with rheumatoid arthritis, we are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Both arthritis and osteoporosis make you more likely to slip or fall. Strategies for preventing and treating osteoporosis in people with rheumatoid arthritis are pretty simple and straight forward. Reduce clutter and trip hazards in your home, use a rubber mat in the shower and using the hand rail on stairways.                                                                                                                          

A well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is important for healthy bones. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products; dark green, leafy vegetables; and calcium-fortified foods and beverages. Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium absorption and bone health. Bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. The best activity for your bones is weight-bearing exercise that forces you to work against gravity like walking, climbing stairs, weight training, and dancing. I have no problem climbing stairs but it is difficult and painful coming down them.

A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures bone density in various parts of the body. The test can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs and can predict one’s chances of fracturing in the future. I have been getting a bone density test every 2 years over the past 8 years, they are safe and painless.                                                                                                    

Like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis has no cure. However, medications are available to prevent and treat osteoporosis.   Several medications, including bisphosphonates and a parathyroid preparation, are available for people with rheumatoid arthritis who have or are at risk for glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.                                                                               

I have my bike ready to ride this fall, just waiting on some fall temperatures. It has been 95-99 every day last week and this week with heat index from 103-110. Too hot for this boy!

A young man was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash over the weekend. He has serious head injuries and was not wearing a helmet. One of many debates with helmet use is that many experienced riders feel they should not have to wear a helmet. The problem I have with that is it's not about the experience, for me it's about the safety. While a more experienced rider is less likely to show off and watch the road better, 48% of motorcycle accidents occur due to the fault of the other vehicle. Sure riders want the freedom, but are they ready to pay the consequences to receive their few minutes of enjoyment? 

From 1997 through 2008, the number of motorcycle fatalities nationwide more than doubled from 2,116 to 5,290*. Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Yes there are more motorcycle riders out there now but the bottom line is that two out of every three riders killed were not wearing a helmet. An NTSB spokesman said "It's a public health issue." No, it's not a public health issue. A public health issue comes from people being exposed to illness, skull fractures are not contagious.   I'm a firm believer in AGATT (All Gear All The Time) no matter how hot or uncomfortable it may be. Unless riding to work, I ALWAYS leave the house with full length boots, riding pants with hip and knee pads, gloves, full face helmet and most days a jacket with shoulder, back and elbow pads. The days that I ride to work with just helmet, gloves, jeans and my steel toe work boots, I almost feel naked.                                                                                                                             

The choice is ultimately yours but remember, you don't just put yourself at risk.  Are your family and friends ready to take care of you long term or say good bye to you forever? 

* http://www.ntsb.gov/news/speeches/hart/hac110214.html