Ben Wheeler 80 Mile Ride

After work this afternoon, ahead of the storms that are closing in now, I managed to get in a 30 mile ride. Between working out of town and continued flooding, I didn’t manage a single ride during the week last week. I rode my Ben Wheeler route on Saturday for 80 miles, my only ride of the week. Today’s ride gave me 453 miles for the month, not as many as I would have liked.

Most of my rides are done at an easy pace, but in the summer, I start picking up the pace to get myself ready for the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred at the end of August. On Saturday’s 80 mile Ben Wheeler ride, I finished with a 16.3 mph average, my best ever average for a solo ride on the rough roads I ride around here. I have no explanation for that, but looking at my other rides this month, my average looks much better than it did at this same time last year, that, in spite of the fact that my weight is five pounds or so above what it needs to be for HHH in August. Whatever has me stronger this year, I’ll take it.

Saturday’s 80 mile Ben Wheeler route.

Martin Mills Metric Plus Ten

I ended up with a total of 531 miles ridden for the month of April. That’s a good April mileage for me, and I was hoping to get near the same mileage this month. But all the storms and flooding have made it tough. I got 120 miles the week before last week, but last week, after two 30 mile rides during the week, I had a 60 mile ride planned for Saturday, to give me another 120 miles.

But when I got up that morning, weather radar was showing a storm bearing down on Gun Barrel City from the northwest. My ride routes take me straight east, and it looked like I should be able to stay east of the storm, so I took off on the F5. I was staying ahead of the main storm, but a new cloud in front of me built up into a smaller storm with lots of lightning. I don’t like riding in the rain. Skinny bicycle tires and wet pavement aren’t a good mix. But if I don’t like riding in the rain, I REALLY don’t like riding in lightning. I cut off the route and rode to nearby Purtis Creek State Park to take refuge.

I hadn’t noticed it on the rough roads I’d been on that morning, but as soon as I reached the smooth state park roads, I could feel an unmistakeable thump, thump, thump coming from my front wheel as I rode. As soon as I stopped, I found the problem, a large knot on the almost new front tire on my bike. At that point, I gave up and called a friend to pick me up. I only had 19 miles for the day. I waited at home for the rain to clear out, put a different wheel and tire on the front of the bike, and just past noon, took off to try again. I rode another 31 miles to give me 50 for the day, and 110 for the week.

This week, between work and storms, I didn’t get a ride in at all until Friday. I rode 40 miles after work Friday, then got up Saturday morning and rode my Martin Mills Metric route, but added another 10 miles to the route to give me 70 miles for the day, and 110 miles for the week. There is more rain in the forecast for this week, so getting my rides in will continue to be a challenge.

Martin Mills Metric route plus 10.

Martin Mills Metric

Another week, and again, more days of flooding in Texas. By Wednesday, I was starting to wonder if I was going to be able to get any riding miles this week, but after big storms during the night, it dried up enough Wednesday that I was able to get in 30 miles that afternoon. It came another round of storms that night, but had dried up pretty well when I got another 30 miles in on Friday afternoon. I took off this morning and rode my Martin Mills Metric route for another 60 miles. The weather was truly nice today. Today’s ride gave me 120 miles for the week.

Today’s Martin Mills Metric route.

Wednesday’s 30 mile route.

Riding My Age

Yesterday’s 65 mile ride to Martins Mill, combined with a Tuesday ride of 40 miles, gave me 105 miles for the week. I ended up with 410 miles in March. That’s about average mileage for me in March.

There is a fairly popular thing among cyclists called Ride My Age. On or near your birthday, you do a bike ride, the length of which in miles, is equal to or greater than the number of years of your age. I’ve never gotten into riding my age. During my club riding years, I was doing rides greater than my age on most weekends. And during my randonneuring years, I did lots of rides much longer than that. On April 4th, 2010, one day before my 59th birthday, I completed a ride of 241 miles. That was more than quadruple my age!

But these days, most of my rides are much shorter, while my age number is starting to get up there. So, I’m thinking that maybe the Ride My Age thing may be becoming a worthy challenge for me now. With that in mind, since last Tuesday was my 65th birthday, I’m calling yesterday’s 65 mile ride this year’s official Ride My Age ride.

Yesterday’s 65 mile Ride My Age route.

100 Miles This Week.

I took off late yesterday morning on the F5 and did my 40 mile loop out to Purtis Creek State Park. That, combined with two 30 miles rides during the week, gave me 100 miles total for the week. But my mileage totals for the previous two weeks weren’t good at all, and I ended up with only 290 miles ridden for the month of February.

I spent the last half of the month battling bronchitis. It came about from my sinuses draining down my throat, and treating the bronchitis with guaifenesin for the rest of the month never got ahead of the constant drainage. I never had any signs of an infection, but on Friday, February 26th, I finally went to the doctor. I’ve learned not to ignore bronchitis that lingers for too long. It’s just begging to turn into pneumonia.

Sure enough, I had no infection, and the doctor gave me no antibiotics. Since I already had plenty of guaifenesin, he just gave me a perscription for pseudoephedrine to treat the sinus drainage. It does seem to be working, and I’m finally much better, though not completely free of chest congestion yet. I need to make a note about the pseudoephedrine for future use. It can be obtained without a prescription, though you do have to ask for it at the pharmacy counter.

On Saturday, February 27th, I attended the LUNGevity Hope Summit in Irving. Nothing worse than attending a gathering of lung cancer survivors while you have a horrible hacking cough, but I wanted to go. I didn’t participate and interact as much as I would have otherwise. Staying quiet cuts down on the coughing. I don’t stop riding when I have bronchitis, but missing half a lung, and after numerous bouts with pneumonia, I do ease up quite a bit, hence the low mileage for the last half of the month. I hate it when these blog entries end up being more about my health than about riding. Spring will be here soon, and hopefully, that will change.

Yesterday’s route.

390 Miles in January

Today’s 30 mile ride, along with a couple of short rides during the week, gives me a total of 100 miles on the bike for this, the first week of February. I ended up with 390 miles on the bike in January.

My mileage goal these days is 5,500 miles a year. That’s around 106 miles a week or 458 miles a month. But I don’t ride close to that mileage every month. I ride more than that in the summer, and quite a bit less in the winter. I try for 100 miles a week in the winter, but don’t ride on the coldest days, and ease up when I’m sick. If I can get close to 400 miles for a winter month, I’m happy with that. Last year, I only managed 220 miles in January. So I’m off to a better start this year.

I’ve also managed to keep my weight down better this year. I weigh 188 pounds right now. That’s just four pounds heavier than the 184 pounds I managed to get down to at the end of August for the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred ride. If I can make it through the winter and its associated baking and candy making onslought of mine, without gaining any more than that, then I’m doing well, I think.

Total Miles Ridden in 2015: 5,503

I took off on the F5 yesterday afternoon,rode to Purtis Creek State Park, and did my 40 mile route. It was only my second ride of last week. I had also done a 30 mile ride on Tuesday. I had intended to do another ride later in the week and before the end of the year, but it stayed so dark and chilly all week, I never got it done. So Tuesday’s ride was my last of 2015. It gave me 5,503 miles total for the year.

Tuesday was a full two days after the flood had ended, but Purtis Creek Lake was still flooded. The parking lot looked like this.

110 Miles on the bike this week

It was chilly enough this morning that I waited until it warmed up a bit, then took off on the F5 and did my usual 40 mile route out to Purtis Creek State Park. I had done a 40 mile ride on Monday and a 30 mile ride on Thursday, so that gives me 110 miles for the week. I had ridden 100 miles each of the first two weeks this month, so that gives me 310 miles for December and 5,373 miles for the year. It looks like I might reach my 5,500 mile goal for the year after all.

I really had thought I would come up short on my mileage goal after having back surgery last month. But it didn’t slow me down as much as I figured it would. I was back on the bike four days after surgery. I rode 45 miles that week. 82 miles the next week, and 100 miles each of the next two weeks after that. I’ve only been doing short 30 and 40 mile rides since surgery, but that’s pretty much all I do in the winter anyway.

My standard 40 mile route.

Post Back Surgery Rides

On Monday, November 16th, I had back surgery. It was not major surgery, just a trimming of a protruding disc and arthritic spike on a vertabrae that were teaming up to put pressure on my L5 nerve. That had been a problem for many years, and had progressed to the point that I really needed this surgery.

Four days after the surgery, I was back on the bike. I rode 12 miles on the Xstream. Back when I had lung surgery, I found that the more upright seating position on my long wheelbase bike of the time put less pressure on the surgery incision on my back, and so was more comfortable. I figured that would apply to this surgery as well. But I found that every bump in the road hurt my back, and wasn’t happy with the pain level I experienced on that ride.

The next morning, as I got ready to ride again, a cold front had come through and there were 40 mph winds. Because of the pain of the previous day’s ride, and the fact that the Xstream, with its fairing, doesn’t handle 40 mph winds very well, I decided to ride the F5 instead. The F5′s more reclined seat puts more weight on my back, but spreads it out all along my back. I rode 18 miles on this Saturday ride, and was much more comfortable on the ride. I decided that the F5 would be my ride of choice until my back is much better. The next day, I rode 15 miles, then took a day off the bike on Monday.

Yesterday I did a 22 mile ride out to County Road 2938, and this afternoon, did my regular 30 mile loop out to Purtis Creek State Park. I’m going to try and get in a few miles tomorrow morning before the Thanksgiving gathering, but there is rain and cold forecast for the rest of the week, so it’s not clear whether or not I’ll get another ride in this month. I have 327 miles total for November. Not much, but considering I had back surgery in the middle of the month, I’ll take it.

4 days after surgery, on the Xstream.

50 Mile State Highway 19 Loop

The rain was just ending when I got up this morning, so I waited a few hours for things to dry out before taking off on the F5. I rode my 50 mile loop out to State Highway 19, and did an extra loop through Purtis Creek State Park to end up with 54 miles for the day. Combined with Tuesday’s 30 mile ride and Thursday’s 36 mile ride, that gives me 120 miles for the week. I rode 560 miles in October, a pretty good monthly total for me. I’ve ridden 230 miles so far in November, but my riding mileage is about to take a hit, as I’ll be off the bike for a bit.

I’m having back surgery tomorrow morning. It’s not major surgery (though using the phrases “back surgery” and “not serious” in the same sentence is hard, when talking about yourself). I’ve had cratered discs in my lower back for over 20 years. The one between the L4 and L5 vertebra, combined with an arthritic spike on L5, is pinching a nerve, and this surgery is to alleviate that. Hopefully, I won’t be off the bike too long. I’ve been taking etodolac for many years to control the inflammation in my back, but using etodolac for that many years is too dangerous for kidneys, so it’s time for me to get off of it once and for all. This may not be my final surgery in that quest.

All of those years of etodolac have also masked what was happening to other joints in my body. I did not realize how bad my shoulders were getting until I needed surgery on my left shoulder, and ruptured the bicep on my right. My left knee, which has been a source of pain during winter rides for the last three years or so in spite of the etodolac, has started popping and cracking, and sometimes buckling when I make a wrong move. I suspect it won’t be too many years before I need a knee replacement. Ah, the joys of aging. But, I do think that dealing with this repair of body parts due to overuse and abuse is still better than dealing with the health issues that a sedentary lifestyle brings. We’ll see how I do with the surgery.

Today’s route.