Monday, November 24, 2008

Anatomical Reference of the Day

             Went for a road ride yesterday.  I know, that is what is expected from a blogger that calls himself idaho rider, but it's been a tough season, and I've not done much riding outside of my work commute since June.  My season started out good.  I usually start commuting to work about mid February.  Then, when the roads get good, usually late march, I get on the road bike and ride myself back into riding form.  By mid May, it is time to start mountain biking for real.  However, this year I decided it would be a good idea to train for the "Tour of Pain", a double century put on by a local brewery.  I started increasing my mileage in early April, and by May I was averaging 200+ miles per week, with a century thrown in every Saturday.  By the end of May, I was feeling stronger on the bike than ever before.  On the Saturday before Memorial Day (yankee memorial day, as they call it down south), I went for a 125 mile road ride.  On Memorial Day, I met up with Rick and Mars to do a mountain bike ride at Farragut State Park.  Like I said, I was strong.  So, for my first mountain bike ride of the year, we rode 3 hours of single track through the park.   It was great!

             At this point, if you are squeamish, or you somehow have no interest in my urinary tract health, then I suggest that you turn away.  That night I got very little sleep.  I was up 2 to 3 time an hour peeing.  The next day, I, of course, rode to work.  I was miserable all day, and the ride home was terrible.  I went to my doctor, and he diagnosed that I had a prostate infection.  He then put me on antibiotics,  did all the usual test to make sure nothing else was going on, and told me to come back in a few weeks.  I tried to keep riding, but it was just too uncomfortable, so I took 2 weeks off.  

             After the medicine and the time off the bike, I started to commute again, but things just didn't seem right.  I could not get comfortable on saddles that I had been riding for years.  So I started experimenting with different saddles, kept commuting, and had no symptoms, except for the fact that I just wasn't comfortable.  I went back to see the doc, and my prostate was still infected.  So this time, he put me on 30 days worth of antibiotics, and told me no riding.  I took a month off, then went on vacation for 2 weeks and didn't take a bike.  When we got back from vacation, I started commuting again.  After another 2 weeks, I went back to my doc, and I still had an infection!  This time, he sent me to see a urologist.

             I dreaded the trip to the urologist.  For one thing, I was getting sick of having my prostate fondled.  It is not a pleasant thing when it is healthy, and it is downright painful when infected.  But, more than anything, I was afraid that he was going to tell me that my days riding a "normal" bike were through.  I did not want to become a recumbent rider.  I have worked hard to lose weight, and the thought of having to put on fifty pounds, wear outlandish jerseys three time too small, and grow a full mountain man beard, did not appeal to me!

             The urologist examined me, told me that I had chronic prostatitis, and that as long as I was not having any symptoms, I could ride as much as I want (I'm not really sure that he actually said, as much as I want, but I'm sure that's what he meant).  On a side note, he was interrupted by his nurse during my exam, and had to go to another exam room.  Upon his return, he apologized and explained that he had had to go dilate another patient.  So, I guess it could have been worse.

             So anyway, I went for a rode ride yesterday.  About 25 miles, in the cold, with some climbing thrown in.  I rode pretty hard, my toes went numb, and I was pretty tired at the end.  AND IT FELT GREAT!  


Friday, November 21, 2008

Man, am I cold.

            Tuesday was not a typical Idaho November day.  It was actually fairly warm.  The ride to work was in the mid 30's, and the ride home was sunny and in the low 50's.  Still, when I left the house that morning, I was cold.  By the time I hit the trail' I had a 12 mph headwind, and I was slowly sinking into the whine mode.  I figured that I would see Gym Teacher that morning, and I was already thinking about my complaints against the cold.  As I started up the only real climb of my commute, I saw Gym Teacher coming down the hill towards me.  In shorts.  Friggin shorts!  "Man, can you believe this is November?" he asked.  "I can't believe it's this warm."  Yeah, I know.  I'm a wimp.

             I grew up in the deep south.  A nasty winter day in Georgia is a nice spring day in Idaho.  And even though I have been in northern Idaho for a decade and a half, I am still cold blooded.  I love winter.  I love to ski, I love to snowshoe with the dogs, I will commute until the snow plows have buried the bike lanes, but the fact remains, I will be cold doing all of these activities.  When Gym Teacher is wearing riding shorts, a cotton t-shirt, a wind shell, a light weight hat and fingered riding gloves, I will be decked-out in mid-weight tights, a long sleeved synthetic t, a windproof vest, insulated jacket, a balaclava (or baclava, I never can remember which one is a dessert) and insulated winter riding gloves.  It is friggin cold, and this guy (Gym Teacher) is friggin crazy.  Or... I'm just a wimp from Georgia.

             There has to be a physiological explanation for this.  I'm sure that while he was growing up north of here, he was building massive capillary beds designed to keep him warm.  I, on the other hand, spent my youth developing more and more sweat glands.  (Just ask Marlene.  She could not figure out why all the thimble berry leaves were wet as she followed me up trail 257 on a mountain bike ride last summer).  Sweat glands are great for the humid heat of southern dog days, but they do no good when it is 20 degree and snowing.

           A few years ago, I read an article about how Conrad Aiken would take cold showers in preparation for climbing expeditions.   He stated that it helped prepare him for spending days and week in frigid environments.  So, to prepare for the upcoming ski season, I took ice cold showers every morning before work.  I lasted for about 3 days.

           Oh well, I guess I'll just put on more insulation.  Are you going to eat that last piece of baclava?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My bicycle saved my life

        Man, work sucked today.  If you work for a big corporation, you understand the power of the bean counter.  The guy, that regardless of anything else,  is going to ream you because you didn't satisfy his particular  number, no matter that the final tally was what you were shooting for.  All jobs have their own issues.  If you work retail, it's that customer that can't understand why you won't put all your other customers on hold while you take care of his every need; if you're a bartender, it's obnoxious patrons, becoming more obnoxious the more they drink.  Yesterday, on my ride home, I stopped to talk to Gym Teacher, who was running late because he had to intervene in a child custody dispute when one of his student's mother showed up at school with her sleazy, boyfriend, lawyer.  My point is, work sucks.

       Then, at the end of the day, I walk out of work, crawl onto my bike, and ride home.  This afternoon it was dark, 38 degrees and raining when I left.  The first mile of my ride, I'm getting used to the cold and warming up my legs.  Then I hit the traffic.  For the next mile and a half, I am sprinting from red light to red light, hyper alert, trying to be aware of everything going on around me.  I am totally focused on the ride.  Then I hit the trail and I am able to relax.  I cruise along in the rain, watching the headlights of the mass of cars on I-90, reflect on my day, and ride my bike.  By now I am warm and enjoying myself.  I love to ride at night, and the rain gives me that little extra bit of self-righteousness as I watch all those poor slobs in their cars.  When I get home, instead of kicking the dog and yelling at the wife, I am the perfect picture of calmness and utter peace.  Well, you know, almost...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Opening Statement

       This is the beginning of a blog.  My plan is to write about commuting by bicycle in northern Idaho, specifically my commute from Post Falls, Idaho to my job at a skilled nursing facility in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  It will include other commuters that I have met over the years, including Gym Teacher and the Honda Chic.
        This is my 5th season commuting from this location.  I generally ride from when the roads are clear from snow (usually mid February) until they start plowing them again in December.  My commute is 7.6 miles each way, but is sometimes a little longer if I run errands.  I normally ride everyday, unless I absolutely need to have a car with me (and even then I sometimes bum one of my staff members cars.  He doesn't mind)

        Gym Teacher rides the opposite direction from me, from his house in Coeur d'Alene to his teaching gig in Post Falls.  We passed each other daily for a couple of years, offering each a other the obligatory  " how's it going?", until 2 years ago when we stopped and chatted.  Now we stop and talk 4 to 5 times a week.

        I usually only see Honda Chic when I'm running even later than normal.  She will catch me on the trail, and then I have to ride hard to stay with her.  She rides a true rode bike, and I am on a converted mountain bike, currently with studded snow tires, so keeping up with her is work, but pride goeth before a drop.

       During the summer months, there are other commuters, especially this summer when gas was over $4 a gallon.  By this time of year however, the ranks have thinned considerably.   Right now, It's not bad.  Morning commutes have been in the mid 30's with some sun, and afternoon commutes have been in the low 50's.  The sun is going down around 4, so my ride home is in the twilight.  Another  couple of weeks  and it will be dark for both commutes.  And tomorrow it just might snow.  We'll see.