A Slow Start

This month started as a downer. For the first two weeks I fought off the blues, a carryover from November and December. Everything just seemed to drag me down. My days seemed to lack light, both figuratively and literally. When the month started I was hell bent on getting my head squared away. Given the amount of days off the bike due to ice I was facing an uphill fight.

At least I wasn’t in the hospital like Little Nellie, my Bike Friday. Little Nellie was custom made to my specifications. Because the handlebars sit atop a very long stem, I upgraded to a Chris King headset. After 7 years, it died. So I shipped it back to the manufacturer and they agreed to repair it under warranty. I should have it back on Monday. I can’t wait to ride it again.

As for the rest of my stable, Big Nellie was used only once for commuting and only twice for weekend jaunts. Big Nellie is a long wheel base recumbent with about 70 percent of its weight on the rear wheel. This uneven weight distribution makes the front tire prone to slipping. I don’t ride it much during icy conditions.

The Mule did eight commutes and two weekend rides. All told I rode only 372.5 miles, about 90 miles less than last January. 275 miles were just getting to and from work. I rode on 13 of 31 days. I can’t remember when I rode fewer than half the days in a month.

On the plus side:

  • I didn’t crash once.
  • I managed to get in two hikes and one long walk around my neck of the woods without back, knee, or foot discomfort. This is a huge step forward (no pun intended) for me physically. I can’t wait to take on some day hikes in the mountains nearby once the weather improves.
  • Toward the end of the month I moved my saddle up about a centimeter and the constant aching and spasms in my lower back went away overnight. 
  • My right foot started going numb in November. After three visits to an acupunturist, I decided to get an EMG test by a neurologist. She confirmed that my back isn’t causing the numbness and has sent me for physical therapy. (Yesterday, my right foot felt almost normal for the first time in weeks. I don’t care why. I hope it stays that way.)
  • On doctor’s orders, I did yoga at least once a week. Alone. You will never see me in a yoga class. Been there, done that. Just ain’t gonna happen. Alone or in a class I am confident that yoga is not and never will be my jam, jelly, or other sandwich spread. I suppose if I were stretchier I’d like it more, but 35+ years of running and cycling has turned my hamstrings into steel cables. And my quadriceps are boulders.
  • To get my head screwed back on straight, I started taking big doses of vitamin D-3 (a blood test confirmed that I was severely deficient) at breakfast and started practicing meditation daily. It’s possible that my mental state would have cleared up anyway. It’s also possible that either the vitamins or the meditation are having a strong placebo effect. Whatever the case, something is working really, really well. I even managed to go through one of my most stressful workweeks in years with a smile on my face. 

So I finish the month with low mileage and a much improved body and mind. Not a bad start to the new year.

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Working a List

I took the day off from work, my second four-day weekend in a row. I decided to get some things done rather than goof off. I started out by sleeping in. Considering how much trouble I have been having sleeping these last few weeks, this was actually an accomplishment. My first task of the day was to go through my closet and pull out all the clothing that I haven’t worn in over a year. I filled a tall kitchen garbage bag.

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One of the upgrades I bought when I ordered Little Nellie from Bike Friday was a Chris King headset. The other morning the handlebars would barely turn. So off I drove Little Nellie to Spokes Etc., my local bike shop, in the Belle View shopping center. As I walked the bike into the store it was clear that the steering mechanism was catching. It would not smoothly turn left or right or even go straight. Chris the mechanic said that it was kaput. I called Bike Friday and they said the headset had a 12-year warranty. My bike is seven years old so it looks like I’m in luck. So on Monday I need to call Bike Friday when they have service people in the shop to arrange for a replacement.

Next up, I dropped the bag in a Goodwill collection box.

Then it was off to the barbershop to get rid of my Professor Irwin Corey look. Then I hit the bank. Well, let’s rephrase that. I went to the bank.

After that I took Big Nellie out for a ride. The other day I tried the orthotics on Big Nellie and they really messed up my feet. Today, I used the insoles that came with my shoes and had no problems. So my conclusion is that for weight bearing activities the orthotics are great, for other applications, not so much. I know I am jinxing myself by saying this but these orthotics are really doing wonders for my back. No twinges. No aches. So 2015 is off to a good start.

I rode my bike around the Fort Hunt neighborhood, then down to Mount Vernon on the Mount Vernon Trail. Then I rode beyond Mount Vernon in an area I think is called Woodlawn. Whatever it is called it has miles and miles of lightly traveled suburban streets. It’s a good place to ride for riding’s sake. Along the way I was this:

Serious TP Job

I’d say it was the work of professionals. I’d love to see the look on the homeowner’s face when he sees this.

After nearly 25 miles I called the day a success.