Friday, February 28, 2020

is "banking" rides before a cumulative cycling event cheating?

Thirty Days Of Biking begins April 1.
On March 30, I will undergo the first of two surgeries on my eyes.
Each eye will have cataracts removed and a partial corneal transplant.
The first surgery, if successful, will render my vision completely wonky for six to eight weeks (until the second surgery in May). During that time I won't be able to ride a bike or drive a car. I may also bump into things when I walk.
This means that I can't ride in April, and therefore would have to miss #30daysofbiking.

However, with the recent warmer, sunny days, I've been getting out on my bike more.
A fellow biker suggested that, in light of my medical issues, I "bank" my rides in February and March towards the April event -- in effect, "pre-riding" some of the event.

Thirty Days Of Biking is not a copetition, and not even a sanctioned ride. It's just a way for folks to celebrate the joy of riding a bicycle and keeping track of how many days in a row one rode.
Since its inception ten years ago, it has grown into a worldwide party, with folks tallying riding days and sharing photos from their rides everywhere. Now it's also a fundraiser for a charitable bicycle organization in Minneapolis, where the event originated.

Still, I am taking my fellow rider's advice seriously, because I have no other options but to celebrate early and call it good.

In this particular event, it doesn't really matter either way.
But in a more competitive or sanctioned event, would it be cheating?
You decide.
I'm gonna ride.
Cheers!

Image may contain: bicycle and outdoor
Image may contain: flower, plant, grass, nature and outdoor
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 Image may contain: bicycle and outdoor

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

maybe i'm falling apart. we all do, eventually.

I went to see a rheumatologist today, referred by my PCP. I'd been seen by other specialists because of the pain, stiffening and swelling in my joints, especially in my hands and knees.
After a thorough and lengthy exam followed by a new round of x-rays, I have a strong possible diagnosis of a kind of arthritis that is related to my having Crohn's disease.
This kind of arthritis, called enteropathic, is a non-intestinal manifestation of Crohn's. It means that there is pain and swelling through my hands and wrists, not just in my fingers. It is degenerative and can result in loss of grip strength and flexibility over time. It is subtle and often harder to diagnose, especially if one is being treated for Crohn's and the treatment is masking some of the symptoms.

Since I'm already on a biologic for my gut and it's working (i.e., keeping my Crohn's symptoms mild), I can't really discontinue that medication to make my non-intestinal symptoms easier to see. However, the symptoms in my hands are different enough from rheumatoid and osteo arthritis that the doctor was able to find some evidence of enteropathic arthritis in my hands. So now she and my GI doc will coordinate to see about adding another medication to my daily regimen. Hopefully in time I might see some relief from the pain in my hands.

As for my knees, the rheumatologist believes it's straight-up osteoarthritis, the stuff that comes with hard use and aging. There's no real cure for this, only small doses of Tylenol and/or ibuprofen to relive some of the pain. Possibly down the road I might qualify for knee replacement surgery, but that's quite a ways down the road.

So what does this all mean?

Well, it means that I may need to change my approach to bike riding in a more thoughtful and deliberate way. When I rode today, my knees hurt, especially my right knee (which is falling apart faster than the left). My hands worked to grip the handlebars, and I considered that I might need an even thinner cushioned grip than I already have. Mostly I wondered if adding a new medication -- methotrexate, for example -- would further limit my riding during the warmer half of the year (since I'd have to avoid the sun and cover up a lot more when I'm outside).

Hopefully, I'll know more after I see the GI doc later this week. meanwhile, I am looking forward to being outside a little more as the days grow warmer through Friday.

Happy riding.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

nice to know i'm not imagining things: disc brakes and more

JP Partland, a Rivendell rider and longtime bicycle industry guy, keeps a blog that offers some interesting insights into bicycle technology.
This post from 2015, which I was directed to by Grant P at Rivendell, is Partland's take on the whole disc brake thing. If you're super-geeky read the whole thing HERE.

If you just want to cut to the chase like me and other ADHD kids, here's the summation:

"Some think this conversion to disc brakes will be good for the bike industry. It will only be good if it ultimately results in more people riding more often.
If we end up with bikes that stop no better, need to be serviced more frequently, go into the shop more often, and cost more to buy and operate, we will have lost. If we’re doing this to be “modern” or to keep up to date seems misplaced at best: they’ve been putting motors on bicycles for years, and by choosing to ride a motor-free version, we’re deliberately limiting the technology at our disposal.
When looking at disc brakes on road and cyclocross bikes, it would be great to know that not only will performance be markedly better, but that the amount of time and effort it takes to keep the brakes going either doesn’t change or gets reduced.
But disc brakes can’t be stopped. Maybe they shouldn’t be, but it would be great to know there’s more than fatalism behind the change."

*****

In other news, I'm getting ready to replace the tires on the All-Rounder. The Panaracer Tour has been a great tire (get some for your next city bike) and if I had the money I'd spring for another set. But I'm broke and have other priorities (like, you know, the gas bill); so I'm going through the pile of used parts and behold! A used pair of of Conti Top Touring 2000's that I forgot I'd had in the stack. They're probably close to 20 years old, but the sidewalls look great and feel supple and this might be the excuse I need to put a wider tire on the A-R (and by extension, swap in some wider fenders).
So today's bike love will be hurled at MY bike for a change.

Of course, the danger of taking the wheels off my bike simply to swap in new tires and fenders is that I'll discover something else that needs to be addressed -- sometimes the wheel is being held together by little more than being clamped into the dropouts, and once you open up the quick-release things begin to fall apart. But since I have another functional bike it's a risk I'm willing to take.
So after I do some rehearsal I'm gonna hang out in the Brain Trust a bit.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Errandonnee 14 and 15: Done for the books

Today's ride sews up my official Errandonnee Challenge for 2020.
That doesn't mean I'm done riding -- I'll get in as manby miles as I can enjoy before my eye surgery at the end of March kicks me off the bike for at least a month (so, no #thirtydaysofbiking for me this year -- waaaah).

Today's ride was officially an errand to transport a guitar amplifier on my bike, hoping to trade it in for whatever I could get. (I had found another small acoustic mp for only 20 bucks at Goodwill, and snapped it up before the guy standing next to me could get his hand on the it because we both knew what we were looking at. I took it home, repaired the carry handle, plugged it in and knew it was better than what I had. So out went the old amp.)
 They guys at TradeUp are pretty chill, but just like any shop they're trying to make a profit. So I knew they wouldn't offer me much for the little amp.

In fact, they offered me $25 in trade and said they'd prefer not to offer me any cash at all. So there I was, deciding how to make the most of a paltry offer for an amp I'd paid $70 for new.

I bargained for two 3-packs of strings. THey didn't want to go that far, until I reminded them that their $17 per pack price was retail. My tone gently implied that I had a good idea of their cost and how high their markup was. The manager sighed and shrugged and said, "Fine, yeah, sure."
I'm not sure he would've been as receptive if the transaction hadn't taken place in front of other customers. But there it was.
I took the strings and left.
Next, I decided to head over to Golden Pliers for a small bite for lunch. It was a beautiful day, and I knew I'd be hungry if I rode long enough. It was still quite cold, probably not gonna get above 45F, but the sun was bright and elevated my mood. So I pedaled over to Going and down the hill all the way to Interstate Avenue.

The afternoon was simply glorious. I enjoyed the first stirrings of Spring all around me, including tiny buds on the tree branches and crocuses popping up everywhere.
Once I got to Golden Pliers, "Personal Care" became a "Social Call" when I discovered my friend Hazel tending the counter and pouring coffee for customers. It's her new once-a-week gig and so far she enjoys it.
I ordered some reasonably-priced avocado toast and enjoyed the play of the sunlight through the window and on the floor. While I ate, other customers came and went in the gravel-positive bicycle repair space. (I scanned the tire display to discover that there was not a single 26-559 tire; everything on the wall was either for 650b or for 700c wheels.)

I don't believe either of the owners are longtime Portlanders, (though I could be wrong), so I was a little surprised to see this sticker on the tool cart. But hey, Dead Moon was a great love for so many people. Why not?
Home now, and getting ready to go meet up with someone who might buy some parts from me. Whatever isn't working on my refugee bikes, I'm trying to sell to raise funds for more lights and patchkits to equip those bikes with. Hopefully we'll both leave happy.

Categories: You Carried WHAT (guitar amp) and Social Call (Golden Pliers)
Total miles pedaled today: 6
Total miles pedaled for Errandonnee: 36.5
Done.

I'll keep riding, though; and I'll offer periodic ride reports on the interestingness here.
Rubber side down, kids!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Errandonnee 13: It's heavy in here

So at first I wasn't sure how file this one.
I could file it under "You Carried WHAT?" since it's heavy.
But the weight here is spiritual and I'm fairly sure that's not what the category is for.

I went to the public memorial service for one of Portland's most famous and longest-serving rabbis.

He was the senior Rabbi when I began working at the large Reform temple here in Portland, and while I found his one-on-one style rather formal, he was very encouraging and a fan of my music and teaching in the religious school. He was one of my early teachers in my adult explorations of Jewish communal life. And so, when his death was announced a few days ago I knew I'd go to the public memorial gathering.

I took the bus over the Lloyd Center, and then I rode into town over the Broadway Bridge.
Photo: A bit of Portland's groovy bicycle infrastructure. We have a number of strategically-placed bike signals that hold back turning cars until the bikes have passed through the intersection.























The day was very cold, and the West Hills were partly shrouded in a thick fog. I couldn't really see much of anything to the north past the Fremont bridge. The cold air hurt my knees and hands but it felt good to ride.

The service was, well, kind of heavy. I knew enough to arrive early because, while bike parking wouldn't be an issue, seating would be at a premium and it would likely be full by 4pm
This temple is Oregon's oldest synagogue, founded in 1858 (a year before Oregon became a state).
Rabbi Rose served as the senior Rabbi for over 45 years, as far as I know the longest tenure of any Rabbi in Portland.

It's also a very affluent congregation, with US Congresspeople and Senators, Oregon State officials and members of city government, and corporate and industrial heads. It's also the home of four of Portland's oldest Jewish families, people whose ancestors helped to build the city back in the late 19th century.

So, as you can imagine, it's hard to attend an event like this and not bump into that wealth and comfort.
It's also home to the more recent senior Rabbi I worked under there, before I was laid off in spring 2014. He and I did not part well, and today he walked past me three times, each time within a foot of me, and each time he quickly averted his gaze to avoid meeting my eye.
I said nothing and focused on greeting friends I knew -- a huge chunk of Portland's liberal Jewish community was in attendance -- and let it slide.
Things basically rolled out respectfully as various folks who knew the departed Rabbi Emeritus spoke fondly of him. Finally, the scion of one of the Four Jewish dynasties got up and spoke, reverting into a political diatribe that he insisted the Rabbi would have not only agreed with, but would have declared from the bimah word for word. At the sight and sound of Portland's richest man putting words into the mouth of a dead man, I felt I'd been there long enough for my presence to have paid due respect, and I quietly left and rode downtown, where I caught a bus home. (It was getting too dark for me to see safely, and my headlight was on the fireplace mantel at home recharging.)

I felt heavy and vulnerable and annoyed and unsettled all at once. The ride downtown did some good, and being home has definitely helped me feel calmer.

I still have one category to fill, which I hope to do tomorrow.
Category: Non-store errand.
Total pedaled: 4.5 miles

Monday, February 10, 2020

Errandonnee 10, 11, 12: A little smoragsboard

So today I needed to get a few things done, and they added up.

First, I rode over to see a mural my friend had told me  about, on one of the side streets behind PCC-Cascade (can't remember which now, but it's over near Killingsworth, I'll try and get a location).

I really like the use of color -- and roses! -- in this one.


Then, I rode around the south side of PCC-Cascade and soaked up some sunshine, just for the pleasure of it. Tomorrow will bring fog in the morning, followed by some very cold showers, so I made the most of a gorgeous afternoon.

My next errands, with accessories -- coffee and work -- was at the Starbucks near my house.

I needed coffee (of course), and I really needed to finally get down to work on some writing for an upcoming Shabbaton trip (where I'll be a guest artist/educator at a synagogue in the midwest). I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator on these things, hanging out with ideas for awhile before actuyally writing them down and constructing lines of reasoning. I got a good start on this at the coffee shop, and should be able to finish it before the weekend.

 It was nice to get out of the house -- Sweetie and I are both freelancers, and she got to enjoy some quiet time at home working while I had a nice cup of coffee and some space of my own.















After leaving Starbucks, I stopped by another neighbor to pick up a freecycle offer of some brand-new earbuds. I am always misplacing these things, especially when I'm touring; so it's good to keep a spare set or two on hand just in case.
I noticed with a smile that the light is lasting longer. At 5pm, while I prepare this ride report, it's still light outside, which it wasn't a month ago. It's still quite cold, but there are buds appearing on the tips of the branches now, and crocuses bloom in yards and green strips around the neighborhood.
And to my delight, the dandelion bulbs a friend gifted to us, and which we planted next to the driveway last year, are sending up gentle green shoots that should bloom in the coming week or so.

I have one category left to complete, and five days to do it in.
I'm confident I can get it done. meanwhile, I may rack up additional errands in the coming days, just for the hell of it.

The truth is that, while riding has been hard, I've still enjoyed it. It's hard because I'm out of shape nowadays -- the fatigue from all sorts of issues, plus worsening arthritis in my knees and hands, have made the riding slow, tiring and very creaky, even achy. But the benefits are still there, including slightly elevated mood, a chance to go slowly enough to see the seasons turn up close, and the plasure I get from being able to turn the cranks and feel fresh air on my cheeks. I am hoping that the planned travels and surgeries of the spring will not completely flatten my riding for too long.

Categories: Arts and Entertainment (Street art);Work (writing at the coffee shop); Personal Business (freecycle pickup).
Total miles pedaled (and no bus!): 7.5 -- bringing my total to to 26 miles pedaled.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Errandonnee 9: Scavenger hunt




Today, it stayed in the mid-40s, but the sun finally came out so I went to my scavenger ride.
I do this nearly very Sunday, riding to a coffeehouse about half an hour before closing, where I can enjoy a cup of coffee and then, to no one's objections, help myself to what's left of the New York Times Sunday edition. Yes, by then it's several hours old and Monday's issue is already being edited and will hit the presses just after dinner; but the news in the Sunday edition is still relevant enough that I can amuse myself with it for a few days at least.
No, I don't pay for it, because I practice mindful cheapskating daily and $6 is, frankly, too rich for my blood on Medicaid and food stamps.
So I wait until the coffeeshop doesn't need it anymore, and I help myself to a newspaper that wuld otherwise get recycled. Everybody wins.

Which is good, because the coffee was old and had that floral finish that I'm not wild about.
I like my coffee to taste like, well, coffee. Not mashed dandelions.
(Reminder: skip Woodlawn Coffee next time.)

 

I took a lovely scenic route around the neighborhood after coffee, to soak up the sun and admire the crocuses now popping up out of the ground. My knees hurt like crazy -- and it doesn't seem to matter which bike I ride these days, my knees feel creaky regardless, a sign that age and arthritis are becoming bigger factors over time. But I really enjoyed riding in the sunshine, so a little creak was worth it.

On the way home, I stopped to say hello to a couple of pit bulls I know; they live in the yard on all but the coldest days, and are trained to guard. But they don't seem to mind when I keep my distance and talk to them in a loving baby voice. They really are beautiful. So far, their owners don't mind me, admiring the dogs, either.

Category: Wild Card (scavenging)
Total distance: 2 miles.