Sunday, April 30, 2006

Back in the Saddle

The most obvious, I found my sidebar! Still a couple of glitches but none significant.

I went to a to a gear swap yesterday put on by the Valley Bikers and Hikers. They had a couple of clinics on bike maintenance (already knew everything they went over) and then a little skills clinic, which was basically positioning for climbing and decending small hills. I was pretty wary with the shoulder and also being on the 1st real ride with my Santa Cruz Juliana. I rode it a few times on the bike paths in the winter, this was the 1st off-road ride. So I start to climb up this rather little hill which I would have normally never thought twice about.

The bike is way light compared to my Cannondale and I just didn't have the feel for it. The front tire kept lifting with each pedal stroke. I didn't make it up the puny hill. Other's were trying it but they kept standing up to lean over the bars and spun out. I have always been a "seated" climber, so my issue is not leaning over the bars enough. So then I start evaluating how the shoulder feels, if I will be able to put pressure, pull back or whatever. I finally decided to just relax and ride, I found I was actually a bit afraid (I HATE to admit that) of my shoulder failing and of the bike, it's just soo different than what I'm used to. I decided to go along for the group ride, the 1st one I have been on.

There were REAL bikers in this group. I'm feeling like a wanna-be biker on a way-expensive bike that I'm not bike-worthy of, sort of foolish. But what the hay, lets go for a ride. I will stick to the back and hopefully avoid anyone noticing me. But as I was comtemplating all of this, a guy comes up to me and askes me if I'm Chaindriven. It's Tim of Bicycles and Icicles fame! It was great meeting him and his friend. They are "real" bikers! My plan to blend into the mud became a bit more difficult, especially when I huff and puff up the trail and there is Tim, camera in hand....I do my best not to look like I'm on the verge of passing out or puking as he clicks away. I don't know if I was able to pull it off, he's going to email me the pic and we will see. Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

My shoulder did suprisingly well. My endurance is non-existant. I was huffing and puffing soo loudly I started laughing at myself which caused even more oxygen deprivation. We rode through hayfields which were like a soggy sponge. It was a good workout for a girl who has only done about 25 miles on the trainer in the last 2 months. My body started remembering how to WORK a bit about 3/4 through the ride and I started feeling stronger at the end and more confident with my bike. The full suspension is really nice, although I need to remember to check my settings to make sure I'm not boucing away a lot of energy.

So I'm happy with myself, I finished the ride slowly but surely with none the worse for the wear. I felt a bit bad for the real bikers, who would stop and wait for us stragglers, but everyone was very friendly. My nephew also came along, it was good for him. He was able to keep up with the big guys and was complemented on his riding. Big grin on his face. He said the ride was about 8.5 miles if the bike computer is set up correctly. The best part of the ride was going downhill..I really love that part! My bike handled beautifully but I have to get different tires. They were soo gunked up with mud at the end of the ride. I talked to another guy who has the same tires. He said he had the same problem with them but they are the best for dry, hard packed conditions. We seem to mostly ride in wetter conditions. I will take the tires off my Cannondale and put on the Santa Cruz. I think I will also start carrying a camara. There was some beautiful views on yesterdays ride. I gotta go clean my bike!

Friday, April 28, 2006

I have lost it all

My sidebar has dissappeared. I don't know why. I will try to sort it out but I really hate sitting at the computer trying to figure out things like this.

It snowed the day before yesterday. blahh

Lots of birds migrating through: swans, sandhill cranes, canadian geese. Have also seen a coyote, snow owls, hawks and lots of eagles. Bird flu is a big concern here due to the migration routes.

Shoulder Status: stiff and sore - grr

Friday, April 21, 2006


It's FINALLY the weekend. :)

I have a funeral to go to on Sunday. A guy I've known since 2nd grade, we were the same age.
He died of a drug overdose or at a minimum damage from abusing his body with drugs. There will be no autopsy because it is drug related one way or another.

The last few years he became a walking train wreck. He had 2 fatal accidents which were his fault. The 1st, about 10 years ago or so, he was driving his monster truck type truck, oversized wheels down the Seward Highway towards Girdwood (a road along the Turnagain Arm. Water on one side, mountains on the other). Something in the steering broke and he basically ran over an oncoming car and killed 2 occupants. The last year or maybe 2 years ago he was driving out of Wasilla on the Parks Hwy, crossed the center line, killed a 12 year old boy, critically injured the boy's twin sister and brain damaged the oldest sister. He dove into the drugs harder than ever after the 2nd crash. It got so bad his sister wouldn't allow him to be around her kids, he was homeless a lot. He was just a disaster, but he was always friendly when I saw him.

I have great memories of him before he became what he was at the end. To be honest, I have really messed up feelings about his death. Now he can't hurt anyone again. He never took responsibility for the accidents, especially this last one. Put his mom and sister through hell. But I am sad he is gone, sad he never did turn his life around. Sad he didn't turn back into the guy I knew and enjoyed.
Sad and that wrong?? Groan.

He destroyed many peoples lives. Not intentionally. But still guilty

His mom came to see me at work. We paid to bury him because no family could afford it.

She asked me to come to the private viewing of his body. There are a lot of people out there who are happy he is dead. His poor mom, she just wants people there who have good memories of him. I don't want to go. but I will. it's not about me or even about him. its about his mom. i don't want to but i will.

Mile on bike (on trainer) this week: 23 and change
Shoulder: hurts but moving better

Life should be good, sometimes it's not.

Cosmo-MMM Good Posted by Picasa

Thru the Spokes Posted by Picasa

Refreshing... Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Day 2 of Riding

On the trainer, 5 miles again. Was going to do more but don't want to over do it as I have to work tomorrow and it's going to be a tough couple of weeks as I have a special project in addition to my regular work load. Shoulder/arm feels a bit weak and achy, but the weather is turning and the therapist says my shoulder will be a barometer for awhile, so I will blame it on the weather, not the riding. I have been working on pedaling in circles rather than just pushing down. It's going to take some getting used to. Clipless is a must.

I had a return item at REI so I exchanged it for a cyclocomputer for my Santa Cruz. I decided to get it all set up today and well guess what? The front fork is too fat to attach the sensor to and also the rim brake mounts are EXACTLY where the sensor needs to go. So start looking at mounting it on the back tire. Get it all good to go and then realize the sensor is too far from the magnet due to the seat stays being further from the spokes on a mountain bike than on a road bike....duh. So now I have this computer that doesn't work for my mountain bike. It's a Sigma wireless something or other. So what to do, what to do. Buy yet another computer like the CatEye Enduro or try to find a Supermagnet that Sigma makes for these situations. So far I haven't located one. I'm also concerned that this computer just can't take the ab(use) of mountain biking. Hmmm.

My son and his cousin want to go camping down at the big riverbed behind our house. Cousin's dad says no; bears, weirdo's, cold weather, etc. It's frustrating for the boys, they are 14/15 yrs old and this is one of the best activities they could be doing. Plus they have cell phones and are only about 10 minutes away from our home. My husband is all for it, he went down and checked out their spot and gave it a thumbs up. My husband is a huge outdoors guy, his dad would fly him and his buddy up to Knik Glacier and drop them off for a few days when he was this age. This is typical life in Alaska for a lot of people. Cousin's dad has only been in Alaska for a few years, so he has a different point of view. The boys would be fine, just need to reassure the parents and it is really good to learn wilderness survival skills. Lots of time for them to camp when the weather gets warmer.

Daughter got her 1st paycheck from Alaska Airlines, she's pretty happy, never earned that much $ before. She is already being noticed by the trainers as a go-getter, they are telling her if she keeps it up, she will be on the fast-track for promotions. Good girl. I think I was a pretty good example of doing what it takes and working hard to support yourself and your family. I was a single mom for a few years; worked and going to school and raising them alone. It was tough, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

Look where you want to go, not at the obstacle in front of us. I think this applies to more in life than must bike riding...  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 15, 2006

On the Bike

I have been cruzing the internet looking for an affordable in-the-bed truck rack which doesn't require front tire removal and will hold multiple bikes. I really am not finding what I want that is under $400, so I started thinking. Bike guy has 2 level rack he built to display bikes for sale. I'm just interested in how the bikes are held upright. I'm coming up with an idea that may work for my truck. More on that later...

I just couldn't stop myself, I took the Santa Cruz out and rode. It lasted only about 10 minutes before the shoulder started complaining, darn. Started out by hurting a bit, then progress into pain and feeling like the arm could was slipping a bit out of the socket. Not a good feeling. It's just not stablized yet. Physical therapist says 2 more weeks then can do riding if it's sitting up without too much pressure on the shoulder. My muscles still don't know how to work with the newly shaped bones and some muscles are being used that haven't been in about 16 years. It's sort of a tug-0-war, the muscles that were working overtime before surgery don't want to give up the work and the muscles that weren't being used don't want to take it on. Just a matter of convincing them all to work the way they are supposed to. Anywhoo, it is REALLY windy, a biting, cold wind, so I was pretty cold after my 10 minute ride. I put my road bike back on my trainer (was using the trainer as a work stand). I sure do feel frustrated trying to do things that require shoulder use, like getting it into trainer. I just don't have the strength or range of motion yet. So I did 5 miles on the trainer. I am sssoooooo out of shape...flabby and poor aerobic condition. It's going to be a long way back. I have been pretty lazy also, which hasn't helped.

My friend and I went to pick up her bike the other day, turns out the one she purchased was damaged in shipping: water-logged and rusted upon arrival. Bike guy doesn't know exactly what happened but thinks it fell into the harbor either loading it on the barge or off. He lost about 20 bikes this way. So my friend and I start looking at other bikes. She must have the right color, must be just the right shade of blue. I love blue also but it was getting silly. She finally found a full suspension K2 which bike guy said he would knock $100 off and so it would cost her $100 more than the 1st bike, but it's the right color. It should have been ready this morning.

It's pychotic season at the bike shop. Bike guy is a one-man show with a teenage sidekick. When I drive by on my way home from work, the group of bikes to be fixed and tuned is bigger every day. It's almost comical. I just don't know why people wait until spring to get their maintance done. Bike guy was burning time this last winter.

I have been having lactic acid nodules build up in the muscles, which cause them to sort of snap along the top of my shoulder when I move, the therapist showed me how to rub them out and told me I would probably start feeling nausiated and achy all over. Sure enough, it happened. I was on the way into Anchorage with a couple of my girl friends to see Larry the Cable Guy and the blahh hit me. I wonder if it still would have happened if the therapist hadn't of said anything, you know what I mean? Ignorance can be bliss.

Larry can be pretty funny but I'm just not into crude humor. Farting, loose bowel, fat girls and overly-sexual humor and the like for 2 1/2 hrs. The thing is his "clean" jokes got as many or more laughs than the crud. Then these girls behind me were talking almost the entire show about shoes, makeup, etc loud enough I couldn't hear Larry. Why pay $50 a seat and chat about lipstick not matching her shoes???

I think I will get 2 of these so I can carry more bikes in my truck bed without tire removal. I use a Rec-Rak truck bed side bike rack, works great. Bought the add-a-bike adaptors but they were pretty sad, plastic tubes with velcro, broke the 1st time using them. These look must sturdier and affordable. Campmor has them for $20 Posted by Picasa

I REALLY want to do this next year!! I have to find some partners who will form a team with me. WooHoo! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 09, 2006

For Steve: American Beauty

Steve of Biking in Halifax challenged me to find a cocktail using Tawny Port. I don't know how good this is, I don't have all the ingredients to try it but here's my pick based on the ingredients. I think I will buy some little bottles of brandy and creme de menthe and try it.

You gotta love the name!

American Beauty
1 oz Brandy
1/4 tsp Creme de Menthe
1 oz Orange Juice
1 tsp Grenadine
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Tawny Port

In a shaker half-filled with ice cubes, combine the brandy, vermouth, creme de menthe, orange juice, and grenadine. Shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Pouring slowly and carefully, float the port on top.

Warning, I'm cranky.

I'll start off with good stuff will get progressivley worse, you are warned:)
I ran into a guy I know from my previous job. He is paralyzed from the waist down and in a chair. He has a hand cycle, I told him about my bikes and he want's to meet up and go riding. He did a handcycle race a few years, the Midnight Sun Race, back from Fairbanks to Wasilla, over 300 miles long. All with the arms. Wow, I just can't imagine. So I will be calling him when the shoulder allows. :)
I've been deciding on the next upgrades for my bikes. I think I will get a carbon fiber fork for my road bike and also a carbon seatpost. I think that will help with those numbing vibrations. I still need pedals for my Juliana, I don't think I will do the clipless yet. I would like to find some light weight platforms, the loaner's I have weigh a ton. Xpeda has some possibilities.
I would like to upgrade my suspension fork on my Cannondale hardtail. Its the most basic and is pretty harsh, barely works. Nothing super fancy, maybe a RockShox J3 or 4. Now all I need is $$$$.

Spring isn't here yet, snowed this morning, melted off a bit but it's cold and ugly out. I want to RIDE! I did get on my Juliana the other day and just road around the driveway. It's still just a bit too much pressure on my shoulder, plus my arm moves like a slug, slow reaction time. Not the best for being on a bike. The rest of my body said YES! LETS RIDE! An internal war started. I COULD do it, after all, I do have a high pain tolerance and I really WANT to do it. Then I tried making a hard left turn, that decided it. I really think it would be more helpful to the healing process if I didn't accidently dislocate the shoulder. Darn...the dr keeps saying "6 more weeks" and I won't even know I had surgery. Well that will be a total of 11 weeks. Our above freezing season is soo short here, 6 weeks is precious time. I asked the Dr. about him telling me I would be back to real life 6 weeks post op, he said he that is for the typical couch potato life, not an active sort of life. Alrighty then.

Bummer of a weekend. Friday started out wrong, garbage at work. The ex didn't pick up my son, son says he didn't want to go anyway. Son goes to his cousin's house to bury his hurt in crappy video games and rootbeer. I woke up at midnight and I was the ONLY person home! My daughter hadn't made it home yet (she's 18 and I knew where she was), my son still next door blasting away space creatures and buzzing on sugar, **** not home from playing hockey, hanging with the guys. Can't sleep so I get up and take a drive. Maybe give **** an idea of what it's like to be MIA in the middle of the night, I don't know why I think stuff like that will work..... headsmack, headsmack, headsmack. Anywhoo, ended up at the car wash, scrubbing away at 1am - No lines, kinda nice. Truck nice and shiny. Got a paper, read a bit in the car wash parking lot, got hungry, McDonalds drive thru still open, got some french fries. Went home wet, tired, full of fries...everyone home now, daughter won $50 playing poker, climbed into bed, went to sleep.
**** and I were supposed to go flying up to Knik Glacier yesterday. I was ready and waiting and waiting and waiting. About 2 hours after what was to be lift off time, got a call from ****, he ran into a friend and visited for a few hours and was now leaving to go to talk with the pilot, would be here in a few minutes. More waiting, waiting, fell asleep on the couch, woke up, said f**k this and headed out the door to the store to get a tax return program (haven't done them yet..yeah..I know. What kind of life do I have where I do my taxes when I get stood up?? Sad, sad sad...). Never went flying. Never got a second call so I called ****, he was busy doing something else and would be home later. It was a fairly nice day outside and it was just wasted.

I'm going to finish my taxes and cruise E-bay for pedals !!!

there IS a bicycle under there somewhere! Posted by Picasa

Julian Beever, 3-D sidewalk art, incredible! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The shoulder and the Challenge

My shoulder is on the road to recovery, but it seems soo slow to me. I see the surgeon tomorrow for the 1st time post op. It will be 4 weeks post op on Tuesday. I don't feel like my shoulder is out of the socket so much anymore and am finally getting some use out of it, although limited. I have just recently been able to reach up high enough to brush my teeth, which is a good thing because I'm not the best with my left hand. I would be scrubbing away, using my left hand, then suddenly loose control of the tooth brush and end up with a toothpaste skidmark across my face from my mouth to my ear. Not the best look. It is tiring to brush with my right, but it's do-able. I am still working on range of motion, I am almost back to full range passively (putting my arm in a pulley and pulling it up and out) but it's a different story using my own strength. I an get just above 90 degrees but it is a lot of work. It's so strange. The physical therapist says it's the NEURO muscular that we are working on. Appearently this type of surgery interferes with the muscle/brain connection. It's sort of like an MS attack that i had once, my arm felt like it weighted a ton but I had no control over it. right now, it feels like it weighs a ton, but I do have control, it just isn't strong enough to lift all the way up. I still have a fair amount of pain, I'm taking more Advil right now than I did pre-surgery. I am hurting in odd places, like under my shoulder blade, no where near where the work was done. But the shoulder is the most complex joint of the body and these strange sore muscles are all part of getting it to work correctly.

Steve has given me a drink challege: to come up with a cocktail using Tawny Porto. That's interesting because someone recently gave me a bottle of Sandeman Tawny Porto. I didn't open it until this challenge, so I could have an idea what I was dealing with. Stay tuned to see what I come with and Steve's verdict!

I was on a bike today!! My nephew's bike has serious cable stretch and won't shift off the smallest chainring. Told him how to adjust it, looks like a simple fix. The derailler looks lined up nicely so I'm pretty sure it is the cable. He has never had anything done on it since purchasing it.

Cocktail of the day: White Russian - sweet and reliable :) Don't worry, I don't mix the pain pills wiht the cocktails - the pain pills make me nausiated - blahhh. :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

It's nice to know I'm NOT the ONLY one out there!!!! Posted by Picasa


A huge thank you to Steve for the GREAT TIPS!!

Some of my favourite tech tips:

* Save magnets, especially rare earth magnets (as seen in hard drives, once they're ripped open).

* Chain cleaner can be recycled many times before it starts losing its cleansing power. Take two plastic containers (I use icecream tubs), one is the "clean" tub and one is the "dirty" tub. Put a magnet in the bottom of both (see, they're turning out handy already!). Pour used chain cleaner into the dirty tub. Once the dirty tub is full, take a couple of containers like coffee tins or mayonnaise jars, use elastic bands to hold coffee filters on top, then strain the dirty chain cleaner through. Empty the containers into the clean tub, and you have chain cleaner ready to be used again. The magnets will pick up most of the dirt, fish them out every now and then and wipe them off.

* If your chain cleaning device doesn't have a magnet, affix a magnet to the bottom. It's amazing how much extra dirt will get pulled off.

* My chains get really dirty in winter (even though I clean them daily), so to make them last longer I get a spare chain and a sheet of KMC masterlinks (I don't like the SRAM ones - the KMC's are disposable, but at least they're easy to get off, even if it is with a chain tool). After I've cleaned the chain with the chain cleaner at the end of the week, I break the chain and put it in a coffee tin (yes, I drink quite a lot of coffee). Next, I spray the chain heavily with WD40, put the lid on the tin, and leave it for a few minutes. Drain off the amazingly dirty WD40, then fill the can with hot water - though not boiling. Let the chain soak in there for a few minutes to lift up the WD40 to the surface, then drain it off. Put the chain in another can, give it a light spray of WD40 (otherwise the surface of the chain may lift off and attach to the coffee tin, if it's metal) and put it to one side until next week.

* At the start of winter season, give the bike a good cleanup, and when it's dry, I use car wax to polish it up. This will have the same effect as WD40/Pam, but will last pretty much all season. Yes, it's messy, but it's a once a year thing.

* Chain cleaner does a great job of cleaning off rims and rim brakes. This is especially important in winter - if I don't clean off the rims and brake pads nightly I can feel the salt and dirt grinding off a layer of the rims the next morning! I also take the pads off once a week and use a sharp knife to pick out the bits of metal that invariably accumulate in there - I don't know if they're coming up off the road, or off the rim, but I always have at least one chunk in there...

* Save inner tubes that can't be repaired (blown valve core, completely shredded, whatever). The rubber can be cut up and used for shims (eg, for lights), covering chain stays to prevent chain slap, emergency bungee cords, rubber bands with non-standard width... The list goes on. The rubber also has the weird property that after it's been rinsed off and exposed to air for a while, it'll stick to itself - not quite self-adhesive, but sticky enough to give a really good grip.

* Try Continental brand inner tubes. They have a nut that screws onto the valve, so when you're pumping up the tube the valve doesn't try and pop under the rim. They also seem to hold air better than generic Chen Shin tubes. They're about $1.50 more than generic tubes at MEC.