On Bicycles, Keys, and Not-so-random Other Stuff

well, the start of the month was excellent!  with a ride through farm country, “hill killer kathleen” opened june with a bang.  i appreciated that.  then, the vietnam vets on thursday, and trip to the bike shop for a yet-jumpy front derailleur on friday.  the first three days went so well.  saturday, rain.  sunday, more rain.  today…

i meant to make a group ride in the new county, except…

there’s the part where i have just one set of car keys, and they’re in supportive spouse’s vehicle… 53-miles from the house, on a work lot, this morning.  because my bike “sleeps” on the car on nights when i plan to ride (to make leaving easier and quicker), i can’t even get her out to ride nearby.  talk about “fails.”  *Le Sigh*

on a positive note, this morning i received word from tom kellogg… my spectrum ti frame is “home” from merlin and seven, made and welded, ready for parts.  so, there’s that.  perhaps it’ll be ready in time for vermont, and perhaps i’ll even get her out on the road a few times beforehand.

on medical things, i went for a second opinion… and am RELIEVED.  verdict… three things… perfect “storm.”  first?  the lump is/was an infection, which effected the lymph nodes.  this was compounded by the part where i’m missing nodes from a prior removal, making the “drains” less effective in that region.  GAH!  second??  **CARPAL TUNNEL** that runs through my wrists, up my forearm and bicep, and into my **neck!!!**  i had no idea my ignoring skills were so sharp.  allegedly, i’ve managed to tune out numbness long enough that it’s effected nerves in my skull!  talk about CRAZY!  third???  anemia.  **anemia!**  while this is concerning coupled with swollen lymph nodes (because it can signal non-hodgkins lymphoma), some iron might change the game and prove to be the solution.  i’ll return in a month for another blood test, and we’ll go from there.  talk about “whew” and “phew.”  for now, i’ll take it.  it’ll be nice to get on a bike and not feel like death warmed over once iron levels are normal.

as for the first doctor… we learned… she NEVER put in for the MRI that she claimed insurance refused.  she double charged insurance, while also charging me.  so, she triple dipped.  AND, she charged for tests that were **NEVER** run.  i’d love to be a fly on the wall in that office this week, as blue cross has opened an investigation with a potential complaint against the doctor.  jacka$$.  when a person’s sick… the last thing the person needs is an incompetent medical “professional” at the wheel, let alone a shyster who triple dips and lies.

walk on…  walk on…  walk on…

my new bike is on the horizon and i should have the energy to ride her when she’s finished.  better?  this ordeal “helped” me lose 10-lbs (another concerning symptom) in short time, so i’m a tad faster despite being tired.  🙂  lemons… lemonade.

RELIEF!!!

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Hill Killer Kathleen and Blue Cross

first, good things.  🙂  last night “hill killer” sent a message asking about a ride for today.  of course, the answer was “yes.”  (there might have been some exclamation points in the original response.)  half the miles of last march?  half the miles of last april?  half the miles of last may?  i’m not letting june get away from me.  at least, i wanted it to start “right.”

“hill killer” agreed to do a playful jaunt with me, instead of a monster climber.  we met in lancaster county, home of the amish and land of smelly farms.  we did about 45-miles, and we mashed them.  at least, i mashed most of the miles.  i figured, if we weren’t climbing, my “wonder twins” (gluteal maximus) should get some serious work.  also, quads.  i’ll feel that for a few days.

about 7.5-mi into the ride there’s a camel farm.  yup.  camel.

camel farm in lancaster, pa

i’d like to say we blew past it, full gas, but i’d be lying.  “hill killer” got a few pictures, and so did i.  sometimes the camels jog to the fence and investigate or “pose” for a cameras.  no such luck today.  i’ve heard some claims the camels spit on picture takers.  frankly, i’d pay to see that.  heh

about 10-mi in, there’s bird-in-hand bake shop.  we stopped to use the rest room, visit the goats, gawk at some specialty birds, and drool over the home-made pretzels the little amish kids sold on the parking lot.

better yet, at the 20-mi mark is a farm with KITTENS!!!

lapp farm, lancaster pa

i’m tellin’ ya.  if my jersey pockets allowed, one of those farm kittens would be mine!  mwahahaha!  last year… at this stop, a kitten crawled into my lap and poked it’s head in a bag of potato chips.  he… or she… helped me devour all of them.  then, the kitten promptly meandered to the veal pens and snuggled up next to a baby cow… for a full, salty belly nap.  the bulldogs on the porch are ridiculous, between their snoring and farting.  but, since the place is run by black bumper mennonites… there’s a dress code.  they’ll serve a woman in a cycling kit, but they have signs around the property that indicate they’d prefer you do your business quickly and get moving.  anything less than full, ground sweeping dresses, aprons, long sleeves, and bonnets… even in the height of summer heat… is immodest and not taken lightly.  they’re really frownie.  i don’t get how such frownie people can make such great ice cream.  it seems like their dour demeanor should stain their churns and make everything taste stern and serious.

at mile 35 is another dairy.  it’s dubiously situated in a tourist tunnel, right off the main highway.  run by people who wear regular clothes.  it’s a great water stop.  also, i like looking at the albino deer.

oregon dairy… the “other” farm, lancaster pa

all told, there’s 3 ice cream stops, 6 covered bridges, 1 camel farm, 2 mennonite bicycle shops, and 5 roadside stands with homemade calorie bombs.  this… was a great “easy” day on the bike.  also, “hill killer” was good company.  two more highlights?  a mennonite woman stopped us.  she was lost.  said she was new in the area and only had her home address on her.  so, we GPSed her route and sent her on her way.  she was just 1-mi from the destination.  from the looks of her, she was a nervous to-be arranged-marriage.  i’m guessing, from what she shared, she’s here to work with the families, get to know the community, and then she’ll be part of the autumn wedding parties if things work out with any of the guys in her age-group.  second?  “hill killer” and i saw two young amish girls in a pony cart.  they might have been 7 and 9?  in little pink and purple dresses… tapping their miniature pony to run faster.  we raced one another to catch the cart, and then we raced to the stop sign after the cart.  “hill killer” beat me.  it was alright.  🙂

doctor’s offices suck.  i’m not sure why the offices assumed our insurance plan was small or not “good.”  supportive spouse elected for the plan that covers C-level people and the board.  we’ve never had need for it until now.  well, the doctor’s office made me pay out-of-pocket for tests, never bothering to check and learn that 100% of our doctor’s fees are covered.  we have no co-pay.  we have no in-network requirements.  we aren’t obligated to a primary care physician.  and, we’re not even required to get pre-approval for medical care.  yet… they pulled $669 from me “up front” at the imaging center.  i was confused but mentally clouded, so i paid.  and, then… i was told that i had to agree to pay out-of-pocket up front for the MRI the doctor requested.  i was told… the cost would be approximately $20,000 for the MRI and doctor readings, as well as consult.  i was like… “okay?”  turns out… supportive spouse got angry… contacted an HR rep and was told NOT to pay “another penny” to anyone.  that all of our money should be immediately refunded.  that no more of my care should be questioned.  that we’re to give doctor’s names, doctor’s office insurance contact names, and the receipts for all the care i’ve pre-paid thus far.  there’s to be some aggressive backlash by week’s end.  i’d like to be a fly on the wall.  meanwhile… 3-weeks i wait… for an MRI that should have already been done and read.  i can’t imagine what it might be like not to have health care, or to have to fight for yourself.

tomorrow i’m riding with the vietnam vets.  🙂

Putting it “Out There” so it’s not “In Here”

*taps head*

this cycling season is wonky.  with extreme ups and downs, it’s had the effect of leaving me unsteady.  the ups are “highs” from good ride experiences that are reframing some “sick” ideas i internalized in a group that wasn’t “good” for me.  the “downs” are personal.

so, here’s the thing:  i’ve been tired… a lot… lately.  like… the kind of tired that’s body-drained-wanting-sleep-can’t-stand-the-thought-of-extra-movement tired.

after feeling tired for some time… i stumbled on swollen lymph nodes… and finally called a doctor.  to my surprise, i was sent immediately for tests.  now i’m waiting for confirmation on an MRI.

the big “C” word hasn’t yet been mentioned, but… my doctor keeps telling me to “hang in there.”  and, she keeps looking at me like i’m sick.  maybe i’m projecting.  i don’t know.

about 10-years ago i had lymph nodes removed from one armpit.  stage 0 lymphoma.  i had no idea there was such a thing:  stage 0.  the nodes were removed… and that was it.  the last doctor i had recommended “watchful waiting.”  no treatment.  being 10-years younger, i was like “I’LL TAKE IT!”

this time the swollen lymph nodes are associated with a lump elsewhere… and it’s kind of a freak out.

meanwhile, i keep thinking… there’s just 70-days until “vermont challenge.”  i need that do-over.  but, when i say… i have to get ready to go out, or that a ride’s “hard on me,” i mean it more than just casually these days.  also, looking back at the past month, i realize… i thought i was exhausted from the emotional drain of change, leaving my bike group and going “no contact” with scorpion, dealing with her “flying monkeys,” but it might have been more.  at least, riding just half the miles of last year’s record for may… might be two-fold:  social change and physical effect, both that are “dinging” mental strength.

okay… now… i’m going to have a day.  i’m going to try and **not** touch or poke those hard nodes, and i’m going to keep my hands off that lump.  if i spend the day “fiddling” with them… putting it “here” (points at screen) so it’s not here (points at head) is senseless.

 

Seems to be a Habit

it happened again…

i read a ride post for the new group and figured, “sure… why not??”

here’s why not:  it was a B+ RIDE  O_o  this group planned 50-miles at a 20-mph pace.  i’m not there yet.  i went anyway.  and, i finished just the same.

(spoiler:  not the posted pace, but i tried like hell.)

so, we “warmed up” for about 6-miles.  that meant riding 2-by-2 in tight formation at 20-mph.  surprisingly, i held on much longer this second time out with yet another “wrong group.”  in fact, i held on so long… i really did think, in my little head, i could try and finish with them.

nope.

about 15-mi in, i knew it was over.  those first 15-miles, i also knew 4-people previously fell off the back.  so, i slowed, drank some water, and waited for the first of the four to find his way.  i joined him, wordlessly.  side-by-side.  we maintained an even 18-mph for about 5-miles, and then hit a “T” in the road.  at this point, the guy says, “i’m waiting for the other three.”  our only interaction.  🙂  i waited, too.

two others came up on us, wordlessly.  the guy with whom i’d paired asked the female, “where’s so-and-so?”  she shook her head, said something like, “he rode a hilly century yesterday.  said his legs were smoked.  he’s cutting it short.  dropped off somewhere.”  then the guy asked, “how are you?”  she shared something about a “procedure” on thursday or friday (colonoscopy and endoscopy), then added that she wasn’t at “full gas.”  the guy then asked the male, “how are you?”  he responded something like, “this is my first time out since the crash last year.”  i was like O_o when it registered:  the only way i can presently keep up with a B+ cyclist is if they’ve recently undergone **SURGERY** with **ANESTHESIA** or if the person wiped out LAST SEASON and is starting the present season LATE.  bwahahahahaha!  🙂  it’s all good.  it is.

i busied myself sending supportive spouse a location pin and text.

text

not gonna lie.  it was a comfort to know supportive spouse would come for me if i called.  mind you, i wouldn’t have… unless there was blood and a bone poking out of somewhere.  😉

blah, blah, blah… etc, etc…

riding… more riding… insect swallowing… buggy dodging… manure snorting… riding…

i ran out of water.  i ran out of bloks.  (yes… i needed them today… because the heat was oppressive… and they kept my mouth busy.  also, they made the acid taste of cow and horse poop covered flies that made their way into my mouth taste not so traumatic.)  and, finally, i ran out of energy.  we were about 3-mi to the finish and i was certain i couldn’t make it.  so, weird or not… i started talking to myself.

in high school i ran track and xcountry.  in college i played tennis.  in all three sports, the coaches were ruthless.  yelling… cajoling… encouraging… insulting… screaming… i still hear them in my head when i ride.  “COMEONCOMEONCOMEON!!!”  “GOGOGOGOGOGOOOOO!”  “DON’T YOU DARE QUIT!!!”  “MOVE!  LET’S GO!  KEEP ON!”  “YOU CAN DO THIS PISS ANT!”  “YOU WILL DO THIS CANDY ASS!”  under my breath… i’m muttering some of those words to myself… pedaling… pushing… no longer sweating… feeling chilly in 94′ temps with 55% humidity on country roads under beating sun with no trees and no shade and no wind.  i put my head down, turned my cateye to the hour, and stopped paying any attention to anything except the sound of my breath.

🙂

what do you know…

i finished!

back at the lot, everyone went their separate ways.  this was fine with me.  i’m not interested in getting to know anyone quickly, and if it takes all season before i learn a name… that’s fine too.  i just want to ride my bicycle.  🙂

“hey!  did you ride?”  i head a voice call from a distance.  then, i see the jersey.  🙂  the sponsors labeled jersey.  and, one of the guys from the thursday night professionals ride rolls up to me.  just like that.  🙂

“yes!”

“was it good?”

“THE BEST!  did you ride?”

“i’m on my way in from one, yes,” he said.  then he added, “get miles… so you can build up to the team’s recovery rides.”

i nodded… and… felt my eyes disappear as i smiled big… i almost broke my cheeks.  as i type this, i feel that same smile.

I CAN’T WAIT FOR TOMORROW!!!  i’m going to go get dropped from another B ride!  😀

BEST RIDE IN THE HISTORY OF EVER!

you know how you have a ride that’s the absolute best?  the one that you talk about later when trading “EPIC STORIES!”

THIS WAS ONE OF THOSE RIDES!

picture it… last night… i got there 45-min early.  i was so nervous… i didn’t know what to do with myself… and i couldn’t control the urge to just stay home.  i figured, better get the heck out of the house before i ended up in pajamas at 5-pm instead of a kit for 6-pm.

BOOM!  i’m on the lot… hanging out with my $900 aluminum bike that weighs about 25-lbs (#iamspecialized)  😉 … carrying a questionably fixed front derailleur… still 10-lbs up from winter fat packing… looking ridiculously puffy in lycra… trying to remember what i ate last night and through the day.  (hint:  not enough calories)

quarter of the hour, a beamer slips into a space two down from mine and a short guy with quads that don’t quite look right in suit pants hops out the driver’s door.  a few more similar looking guys show up.  i notice NONE of them have arms.  their gloves are held on by teeny tiny fingers at the ends of itty bitty lengths of straw-thin arms.  i’m like… O_o

seriously.  one of my thighs easily weighed more than most of these guys, total.  even soaking wet and sharing the scale with a dozen bricks, i out-weighed them.

i sauntered over to the group and asked, “is this such and such club?”  the guys all greet me.  they’re really welcoming.  none of them sneer or makes mean comments about my bike or my kit or me.  (this is an experience i endured with the last club.  i accepted it, believing this was just the way cyclists were.  apparently not.)  i notice, most of them are riding s-works with wheels that weigh 0.0000001-ounce each.  one of the guys asks, “do you ride much?”  i tell him, “almost 6,000-miles last year, but i’ve only been out a dozen times since january.”  i share that most of this season’s miles are trainer-based.  i add, half-joking “looking at your bikes… i’m guessing it was smart to bring a cue sheet.”

this is when…

ready?

this is when… the leader of the group mentions they’re the racing division.  i was like… “ohhhhhh… so… that’s why you’re all wearing jerseys with sponsors….”  one of the guys pipes in that a not-yet-present member of the group was recently at “nationals.”  i didn’t understand the importance of this, but they were all pretty stoked, so i assumed it was really important.

once the group was assembled, the leader then tells me, “we’re going to lead you out about 2 or 3-miles.  then, we’re going to ride like normal.  alright?”  i agree… and… we’re off!!!

for those first miles… they did a 20-mph pace.  i held on for 4.4-miles.  a full 1.4-miles past the point where they thought i’d hold on, and at the base of the first “mountain.”  as they hit the rise, they didn’t break pace… and it was INCREDIBLE to watch them in unison… two-by-two… tight… elbow-to-elbow!!!  it didn’t look like they broke pace.  it was AMAZING!!!  FREAKING AMAZING!!!

by the top, i was on my own.  breathless… i worked the cue sheep out of a jersey pocket… turned on gps… sent a location pin to supportive spouse… and carried on.  i was on cloud nine.  THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME I WAS DROPPED!!!  and, WHAT AN AMAZING GROUP TO BE DROPPED BY!  😀  talk about hitting the jackpot for firsts.  just WOW!!!  😀

well, i rode as hard as i could, tried to maintain 20-mph on flats as long as i could.  then… with dread… i saw the town sign… “intercourse, pa.”  dang it.  i was at least 6-mi off the cue.  this meant, 12-miles total off-course.  i must have had a pretty good spin going to completely miss the gps directions AND not to realize what happened for such a long time.  talk about “meditation.”  🙂  sun’s setting… time check… i pulled a head light and a tail light out of a jersey pocket… strapped them… set them to flash… and kept on.

there were so… many… bugs… so… so… many… and every one that flew in my mouth… tasted like… fresh… chemical-laden… manure.  *gags*

whatever.  it was still the most INCREDIBLE!  AMAZING!  BEAUTIFUL getting lost in the history of EVER!

IMG_5293

this crossed in front of me while i was checking gps.  talk about GREAT TIMING!!!  😀

IMG_5295

of course, so… so… many bridges… with those freaky long-ways boards.  there were some tense few moments… hoping no tire sunk in a crack… and shredded.

IMG_5294

BUT OMG!!!  😀  😀  😀

okay… for real.  when i realized it was getting to be 8-pm, that i was out for 2-hours on a ride that was supposed to be all of an hour, i started getting a little wiggy.  i sent more location pins to supportive spouse.  you know… so someone could find my bike and take it to safety in case i died on the road.  :-/

GUESS WHAT?!?!  i make it back to the lot… and… WHO’S ALL THERE???  THE GROUP!!!  the leader had time to pick up a dozen beers… and greeted me with one.  the rest welcomed me back and congratulated me for finishing!!!  (yes, that’s a plastic ring behind my chain.  obviously none of the guys on this ride… with their s-works bikes had “discs.”  don’t judge!)  😉

IMG_5296

i can’t believe they waited!  i was way too dehydrated to even dare drink it.  (i took one water bottle when i saw the rest of them had one bottle each.  and, on a 90′ day… still 87′ at ride time and into sunset, i could have used about 4 bottles of water.)  i dribbled some beer on my front tire… took a “quick zip” and thanked all of them for waiting.  they told me to come back out any thursday.  i’m dying with the happy and the joy.  🙂

Looking forward to June

today’s 40-mi ride with the “old guys” and “hill killer kathleen” started at 9.  i happened to be in bed at 9.  obviously, i missed the ride.  thank goodness, there’s a 6-pm ride going out with the “new club.”  while only 26-mi, it’s classed “training” and the posted “goal speed” is +20-mph.  i’ve never finished a ride with that kind of average… ever.  i’m going anyway.  if i get dropped, i’ll have gps and consider it an experience.

supportive spouse was home yesterday.  while i was out riding, the dog peed a trail of blood across the house.  so, supportive spouse cleaned up the mess and made a vet appointment.  8-pm.  we didn’t get home until almost 11-pm.  addison’s “trauma” and a kidney infection.  so, we re-upped his cortisol injection a week early, got some pred, and agreed to a 2-week antibiotic injection for the infection.

by the time we settled in for the night, it was after midnight.  with an alarm set for 5-am, all my cycling stuff set out, and the will to ride, the body didn’t follow.

here’s to my first “training ride” this evening!

TRAINING RIDE!  SIX HOUR COUNTDOWN!!!

Mapping, Failure, and Breakfast

between some human and dog health things here, riding’s not been a priority.  (i can’t believe i just wrote that.)  after what seemed 1,923,495-days of rain, the first jag of nice days came with out-of-our-hands downers.

to salvage some sunshiny stretches, i ganked a “dirty dozen” event for a nearby town and broke it into a half-dozen little rides that eventually build up to the full ride:  originally 48-mi with just under 6,000-ft climbing.  then i drove the entire route.

oh…

my…

gawd…

INSANITY!

it’s especially insane because for april and may, i’ve done 1/4 the miles of last season.  my legs aren’t quite there yet.

to the good stuff…

this morning, the “new club” held it’s weekly “breakfast ride” and i went out for it. the pace was “recovery,” and there was an hour breakfast stop in the middle.  talk about relaxed!

funny thing about that breakfast stop…

there wasn’t much talking on the ride out or back, but there was plenty of talking on the break.  to my relief and surprise, not one person “interviewed” me.  when anyone struck up conversation, it was even exchange!  better?  i learned their opinions of the club i just quit.  “aggressive” and “mean.”  “perverted” and “power-oriented.”  that’s the summation.

here’s the big part… the part that has me still kind of  feeling…  O_o

digression:  over the last 2-years, i heard a lot of questionable conversation from the men in the last group.  from disgust at weight their wives gained after menopause to lack of sexual satisfaction and bitching about how women fake ailments to get out of “giving it up.”  some of the guys in the last group had agreements with their wives; they could get “some” elsewhere as long as their wives didn’t find out, and as long as their behavior didn’t embarrass the family.

on at least two rides, “bridgestone tom” and “art the dart” held conversations that ended in agreement:  that when daughters or granddaughter hit pre-puberty it’s time to stop all physical contact.  no hugging.  no kissing.  no patting on backs or shoulders.  no hand holding.  no sitting next to one another (even at family dinners).  no going into their bedrooms, for any reason whatsoever.  daughters and granddaughters at pre-puberty and into adulthood were a “NO ZONE.”  both said, and agreed, it’s okay to be physical with boys into manhood.  in both conversations, “bridgestone” sighed with relief that he had two boys.  and, he lamented that his eldest granddaughter was in the “NO ZONE” since the age of 10.  “art the dart” lamented that he had a daughter, and went on to lament 2 granddaughters.  each time, i talked to supportive spouse, assuming “bridgestone tom” and “art the dart” were just generationally handicapped.  that being men in their 60s, their odd thoughts were throwbacks to “times i couldn’t understand.”

on today’s ride, at the stop, i marveled as 3 men in their 60s talked lovingly about their daughters and granddaughters, describing pride for their families and excitement to participate in kid activities.  one grandfather with a 13-yo granddaughter laughed about “grandfather duty” in which he was “dance class chauffer” and responsible for his granddaughter’s dance team’s makeup cases.  how thrilled he was to be part of the practice, and how amused he felt to get “face painting” instruction from the girls.  another man laughed about how his daughter hated for him to give her hugs in public when she was a teen, how she used to push him away and “throw elbows” at him.  now, he says he laughs as her daughters push her away the same, but how they let him give them hugs, even seeking out “grandpa” for attention and affection.  the third guy, with two daughters and a brand new granddaughter talked about how his life is so much better because of the “girls.”  he says he way more aware of what women can do, and hates hearing how women “belong” in one place or another that cuts away at potential.

can you imagine where my jaw was while i listened?

this jaw thing happens quite a bit with this club of late.

i piped in and asked, “what do y’all think of a man who says that daughters and granddaughters are a NO ZONE at puberty.  no more hugging… no kissing… no pats on the back… no hand holding… no close sitting… no entering bedrooms…”

the first man shot back, “what kind of a pervert do you have to be?”

the second man shot back, “that’s my DNA.  those are my babies.  there is no NO ZONE because i’m not a creep.”

the final man raised his eyebrows, “why do you ask?”

i hemmed and hawed about hearing two men about their age and the opinion that girls should be “cast off” at puberty.  that i thought maybe it was a generational thing or a sign of their times.

“well, that’s the perfect way to F* with a girl’s head, isn’t it?  show ’em love until they develop and then… nothing.  like they’re suddenly bad or disgusting.”  one said.

“yeah, way to send ’em looking for a ‘daddy’ to date.  reject them when they’re most fragile?  you’re not a father if you do that to your daughter.”  another said.

“i’m with you.  that’s got asshole and pervert written all of it.”  the last one added.

i don’t want to be one of those people who looks back on something that’s “no more” and  dismantles it, vilifying even innocent things in “sour grapes” destructive moves.  however, i will say, hindsight is 20/20, and… i’m starting to feel like… what i agreed with or accepted as “normal” wasn’t necessarily “healthy.”  for the sake of the ride, i really shouldn’t have kept my mouth shut as much as i did.  i should have called asshole and bullshit when merited.