Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘biking

Aha Moment

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After resting my aching legs for a day –of which the left leg was proving to be the more uncomfortable one– I tried a brief, easy solo ride on the road bike yesterday afternoon. All the weekend guests had departed but I hung around for the rest of the day, mostly because of the simple fact that I could. I will be driving home this morning.

Yesterday, I experienced an “aha moment” during the first mile of spinning the cranks of the road bike. My left side still felt “funny.” Weak is one way I can describe it. I began to perceive a sensation that suddenly occurred to me to NOT be specifically coming from my left quadricep. I had a sense that what I was feeling in the leg muscle was more of a referred pain.

All at once, it hit me that I might actually be noticing the first signs of a hip problem.

Where do I pick up my membership card for that club of unpleasantness?

I rode a mere 11 miles and used battery-powered assistance the whole way. My goal was to allow my legs to do a little spinning without working them very hard against resistance. Mission accomplished.

Floating in the lake after I got back, the discomfort throughout my body seemed to be growing more and more aligned with what my mind was now telling me. Now I am in the place of wondering whether my mind is responding to the vague pains of my body or if it’s the other way around. Is my body starting to react to thoughts that my hip might be growing arthritic?

That’s pretty easy to test. I’ll start imagining my hip is perfectly healthy and see if the vague pains and noticeable weakness go away.

Anecdotally –if you believe this– I did recently decide I should be putting a pillow between my knees at night in bed when I’m sleeping. I can’t explain why I renewed this practice, but maybe it’s related to the possibility of a hip issue and my intuitive self detecting it would be a prudent thing to do.

I’m no Orthopedist, but it’s all making sense to me at this moment.

Or, maybe it’s not the joint, itself. The Mayo Clinic offers this:

Problems within the hip joint itself tend to result in pain on the inside of your hip or your groin. Hip pain on the outside of your hip, upper thigh or outer buttock is usually caused by problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues that surround your hip joint.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/hip-pain/basics/definition/sym-20050684

The location of my pain is more on the outside of the hip and, as I originally suspected, my upper thigh.

I’m going to prescribe some extra rest and see what that does for me. See if it gives me any additional “ahas.”

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Written by johnwhays

August 8, 2022 at 6:00 am

Three Biketeers

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Day two of Paul’s, Randy’s, and my biking-instead-of-golfing adventures up at the lake place was a grinding success. Did I say grinding? I meant grand success. Honestly, the conditions were better than average, practically superb for the combination of riding we had in mind. My only issue was that my legs felt odd at the beginning of the day and as the afternoon progressed the muscles kept threatening to cramp up.

I’m guessing I taxed myself a bit too much on our opening day gauntlet of rocks and roots navigating the Makwa trail. Instead of allowing for a day of recovery, we three biketeers set out midmorning for some smooth riding on the road bikes. Once again, I demonstrated my penchant for having my sense of direction reversed.

My intended route would have basically formed a rectangle on the map but I missed one turn while rolling along and chatting with the guys. Remaining oblivious at the time, I was surprised to reach a “T” with McClaine Road again, which we had turned from miles before. Our route had circled back.

Knowing I’d missed a turn we reversed direction and backtracked. I was mistakingly looking for the Chief River Road I wanted on our right. When we came upon it –and of course, it was farther away than I thought it should be– I discovered my sense of our position on the planet was backward again and it was a left turn, not a right.

The rest of the road ride was without confusion and we enjoyed a triumphant return to Wildwood where we found the sign was showing a new skew of its own.

We switched to our off-road bikes again for the afternoon and I finally got my first exposure to the CAMBA trail loops by the hospital, appropriately named, “Hospital Trail.”

It lived up to the reputation I had heard for a couple of years that Hospital Trail would be much more to my liking. Sharing a variety of the fun features of the more aggressive Makwa trail near us, the Hospital trail in Hayward offers a few loops that meander through a nice section of pine forest. There are a fair number of hairpin turns but it has far fewer sharp changes in elevation or complicated rock obstacles and almost no tree root hazards.

It probably shouldn’t have been as taxing on my aging leg muscles as it was but for the rest of the day I found myself tetering perilously close to having my quads and calves seize up at one wrong move.

Pickle juice, I was told. No, I erred by asking for a scoop of two different flavors of ice cream from West’s Dairy. The serving size in the cup could have fed a family of five. I ate it anyway. Raspberry Delight with Mint Chip.

It’s what a biketeer would do!

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Written by johnwhays

August 6, 2022 at 9:19 am

Not Kidding

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I wasn’t kidding around when I described the drama of my getting stung on Tuesday. Whatever it was, there is a chunk of flesh missing from the middle of the large inflamed area on my back.

This is how it looked last night, over 24 hours after the bugger got me:

I should probably have been researching anti-venom or something. On the other hand, maybe it will give me a super power. I mean, a new super power, different than the other ones I already had.

Cyndie suspects it could have been a horsefly bite. I’ve already been bitten on the back by a horse and that didn’t give me any new senses. I’ve never experienced this reaction from a horsefly before and now I’m thinking I don’t ever want to experience it again.

As luck would have it, I can soak my back in the lake for a few days again, starting this afternoon. Due to Cyndie’s good sense to plan well in advance, she locked in multiple weekends with our house/farm sitter throughout the summer that have us up north two weekends in a row this month.

Actually, I will be enjoying three weekends in a row because I plan to join two of Cyndie’s brothers and a bunch of their golfing pals in Hayward the following weekend. I will be biking with anyone who chooses to skip one of the rounds of golf, most likely in the woods on my mountain bike. No battery to save me on that machine.

That would be a good time for the insect bite to give me a super dose of extra stamina and climbing ability. On one hand, I hope the residual effects of the wound are long gone by that time, but on the other hand, I could use all the help I can get when pedaling the off-road bike on the hilly trails in the Chequamegon National Forest.

This weekend we are driving up with Cyndie’s mom and will meet our friends, Mike and Barb Wilkus for a few days of water worship and good eats.

Further progress on the driveway shoulders will have to wait.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2022 at 6:00 am

Scenic Cycling

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Being up at the lake isn’t all about the water. I did get in a swim yesterday afternoon shortly after we arrived but soon after, I hit the road on my bike to ride through the wooded countryside of Sawyer County.

I made my way through the Chief River State Wildlife Management area enjoying the cool air of the forest wafting out onto the hot pavement as I rolled in and out of shade. I didn’t see a deer on the side of the road ahead of me but I suddenly heard the sound of branches and spotted the animal standing broadside and looking at me calmly through the foliage it had just stepped behind.

As I try to write this now I am constantly distracted by coverage of the time trial stage 20 of the Tour de France.

Such fun!

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Written by johnwhays

July 23, 2022 at 9:59 am

Posted in bicycling, Chronicle

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Park Rapids

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The week feels like it is going too fast. Today is our off day when riding is optional and we are on our own to do whatever we please in and around Park Rapids.

Yesterday we crossed the mighty Mississippi a couple of times where it is so small it appears totally insignificant. We had lunch in Itasca State Park near the headwaters of the big river.

Say, I forgot to mention yesterday that we also dodged five snapping turtles on the trail the day before. On the ride into Park Rapids we had to dodge a very smelly dead skunk in the middle of the road as well as a porcupine on the road shoulder.

Two shots from the beginning and the end of our day yesterday:

Ride co-director Doobie addressing the group after breakfast with details of the route for the day.
Sunset view from the tents in an athletic field at Park Rapids high scooter

I rode 64 more miles, this time on roads, without needing electric assist. On Friday, when we ride to Staples, I hope to finally give the battery a reasonable workout.

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Written by johnwhays

June 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Departure Imminent

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My bag is close to packed and my bike is ready and waiting. Cyndie will drive me to meet Gary Larson and he and I will head for Brainerd after noon.

I will be sleeping on the earth in my tent tonight and every other night for a week. It will be a blast with 200 or so like-minded souls.

We’ll bike to Walker, Park Rapids, Bemidji, and Staples, not exactly in that order. Ultimately, we make our way back to Brainerd next Saturday.

I’m going to try posting a photo a day throughout the week. I’ll soon find out if I get functional cell service in the areas of Minnesota where we will be cavorting.

Bon voyage! Take care of the world while I am off enjoying riding with friends in whatever weather we meet. Something tells me it will be warm and buggy. Black flies, mosquitos, horse flies… Nature’s finest.

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Written by johnwhays

June 18, 2022 at 9:30 am

Very Summery

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No complaints from us with the weather pattern we have been enjoying this week. Warm and sunny during the day and cool and comfortable overnight.

Here are some scenes reflecting the bliss:

A butterfly on our lilac bush and the four horses out grazing in the hay field as the sunlight was about to disappear below the horizon.

One summer trait the horses are not enjoying is the harassment by flies. We put out a fan to provide a minor assist in blowing the pests away.

Swings tends to claim that spot as her own and the others need to ingratiate themselves with her to earn an adjacent position that she will tolerate. I saw Light squeezed in there for a little while earlier in the day.

I claimed a few hours of the warm sunshine for a bike ride through our “Driftless” terrain, which means I sped down some fast descents and struggled to climb up the other side.

I made it out to Elmwood and back, but I wasn’t successful in my quest to ride the entire distance unsupported by battery assist. Honestly, I would have needed to call Cyndie to come pick me up if I didn’t have the motor to help me deal with the last ten miles. I’d lost track of how many river valleys remained and faced an unexpected steep climb that almost broke my spirit.

However, I survived and did so under some of the best weather at the best time of year our latitude has to offer. We live in a very beautiful topography that provides wonderful vistas of rolling farm fields peppered with wooded valleys and gorgeous trout streams where whitetail deer romp and fly fishermen cast their lines.

Very summery, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2022 at 6:00 am

Went Biking

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The weather was so fine yesterday, the only thing to tarnish the great outdoors was harassment by flying insects. I put in over 40-miles of pedaling through the gorgeous countryside of northern Wisconsin on my new e-bike and put the new technology to use precisely how I imagined it would benefit me.

I started my ride with the battery-powered assist kept off and rode comfortably for twenty miles, exploring a route of spontaneous decisions to choose my turns. Having a motor provides confidence that if I end up riding farther from home than my legs are strong enough to support, assistance awaits.

The lure of the road to Moose Lake and a gorgeous view of the Chippewa River had me riding a stretch of pavement to the east that was much farther than my vague memory recalled. At least it was mostly flat terrain, so that eased the effort, but that also makes it easier to overextend my total distance.

If I had just cut out the long section to the east, I could easily have finished the loop around our lake without electric assist.

As it was, after 25 miles I was ready for a little help. My average speed changed from 13 to 17 mph for the assisted portion of my ride, which is so interesting because my legs were tired but I was rolling along with the ease of having a strong wind at my back.

The first half of my ride through the great forests of this region was an exercise in whitetail deer dodging. I encountered at least 15 single deer spread out along the roads I’d picked. One was obscured by brush beyond the ditch and didn’t react until I was right beside it. Luckily, it darted away from the road and not right into me, but it still startled me when it reacted.

Another stood in the road from so far away that I wasn’t sure that it was even a deer. I hoped it wasn’t a dog, and then as I got closer and it got bigger, I hoped it wasn’t a bear. Then the definitive outline of the head and ears became clear and I wondered if I was going to ride smack into its side because it held that stance for so long. I was coasting in preparation to brake when it finally started walking away as I got within ten yards of it.

I wished I’d thought to pull my camera out of the pocket of my jersey because that would have been a great picture, but if I’d done that the deer probably wouldn’t have moved until I’d rolled right into it.

The only pictures I took were at a rest stop with this empty field and the newly budding trees on the far border. I quickly put the camera away because the tiny black flies made rolling along with a breeze the better option.

Much of the latter portion of my chosen route was on narrow-shoulder, high-speed traffic county roads that kept both of my hands safely on the controls.

Final opinion: I am very, VERY happy with my new e-bike.

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Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2022 at 9:35 am

Full Advantage

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Taking full advantage of the summer-like weather on a Sunday in October, nine cycling comrades and I rode bike trails to Stillwater and dined for lunch outside on the patio of the Freight House Restaurant. It was absolutely beautiful under the blue sky of the great outdoors.

I took very few pictures while on the bike due to very heavy traffic in both directions on the trail.

Rich captured a good shot of me sporting my pumpkin-orange, perfectly Octoberish cycling jersey.

My choice for lunch was a crispy shrimp po-boy sandwich.

A passerby kindly took a picture of us all posing with the St. Croix River behind us and the edge of Wisconsin beyond.

It was good to see so many people out and about on this gorgeous afternoon. There were oodles of people walking their dogs. I saw a skateboarder who looked a lot older than you’d expect, a young woman on roller skis racing toward us on the trail, hordes of people lined up waiting to board the paddleboat. Walkers, runners, and a significant number of e-bikes.

We rolled along at a comfortable pace for all and chatted the miles away.

Can you say, “Pleasant?”

Yeah, it was.

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Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

More Riding

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When Paul got back from the group’s morning round of golf yesterday, he changed into biking gear first thing. I had enjoyed an incredibly leisurely morning alone in the cabin and was feeling rather ambivalent about going out to exert myself pedaling up and down hills in the bug-infested woods under noticeably smoky skies.

The couch in front of the Olympic competition broadcasts was rather comfy.

I was in the midst of a battle to update the software of my phone, struggling to overcome a loop that seemed to require me to update in order to update, but wouldn’t let me update until I updated. Ahh, technology. I had surveyed multiple online solutions to a problem that appeared to be relatively common but all the solutions involving resets of the router, the phone, the cache, the clock, the shirt I was wearing, where I was sitting, or how things were plugged in, failed to change the dreaded alert message informing me I couldn’t proceed.

The best solution to my frustration turned out to be a bit of pedaling in the woods with Paul. We agreed on a similar start down the pavement at the end of the driveway leading to the gravel road that is the closest gateway toward the CAMBA trails nearby. Yesterday, we opted to follow our whim and explore some unimproved and little-traveled double-track paths to reach the Birkebeiner Trail and ride that roller coaster up to the OO (double-oh) trailhead.

From there, we could roll the pavement of one of our favorite wooded roads back to Highway 77 and ultimately the driveway of Wildwood. The sections of trail and pavement are relatively obvious in the depiction from my ride-tracking app. The cute little heart shape at the top was unplanned.

The up and down of both sections are better revealed in the following view.

Today my lungs feel like I was out exerting myself during an air quality alert, the very thing we are being advised to not do.

I will be doing much less exhausting exercise in the hours ahead, seated comfortably in my car on the drive home. My butt is looking forward to not being on the bike seat for that ride.

Addendum: As I was crashing in my bed after staying up too late last night, my phone software suddenly updated without a hitch. Go figure.

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Written by johnwhays

August 1, 2021 at 7:19 am