BLOG BLAST FOR PEACE 2021
I was kinda stoked to set up the Spouse Thingy's bike on a trainer...not just to give him indoor ride space, but that meant I needed a new trainer. A smart trainer. One I can (theoretically) use with apps like Zwift.
I got everything set up and hoped on this afternoon to calibrate the sucker...and was met with this message:
PEDAL UP TO 22MPH
Um. WHAT? I am a solid 14 mph rider on a trainer. I have never hit 22, not even down Dixon's only tiny incline. I began wailing and crying because life is not fair. Or maybe just swearing under my breath. But I was not happy.
I pedaled until I wanted to hurl, which took about 45.87 seconds, and I could only manage 20mph for a few seconds. I backed off, caught my breath, and started over. Same thing, barely touch 20.
So I engaged an unhealthy amount of grumpiness, got online, and searched for an answer.
"Check your tire pressure. Then do a 10 minute warm up. THEN calibrate."
Well. It certainly would have been helpful if the product app had said that.
So I added air to my tires. I reset the tension on the trainer wheel thingy (and that is totally what it's called.) I whined about it, because what else does one do when they're 99% sure their new, kinda spendy toy might not let them do what they wanted it to do? And I hopped back on (which looks more like climbing upon it slowly, tbh) and clipped in, started the app, and did a nice, 13mph warmup. I stopped pedaling when it told me to, touched the CALIBRATE button, and was again met with
PEDAL UP TO 22 MPH
Well, fork you, too.
"I can't GO that fast," I whined out loud. Probably loud enough for the Spouse Thingy to hear in the back of the house. But I started pedaling hard, leaned forward a bit because that's what real riders on TV totally do, and watched the numbers go up.
SUCCESS! YOU ARE NOW CALIBRATED!
Bitch, you couldn't give me that last .01mph? I hocked up my lungs for you. They're right there on the floor, next to the contents of my stomach and half of my spleen.
For now, the damn thing is calibrated. I can now try to figure out how to hook up a laptop to the TV in front of my bike and then use Zwift, where I will not race but just ride around whatever little tracks they have laid out, and then whine because I am not going as fast as I do outside.
I might even check out FulGaz, where I can ride outside while I am actually inside, because why not?
I have a book on riding to write. Surely my editor will be so proud when 90% of it is done in my office while watching animated worlds slide by.
Oh, in other news, if I didn't mention it, I signed a contract to write a book about riding in your 60s. I am in no way qualified to write this book, but they asked and I get free stuff out of it.
After fighting it for 7 years or so, it's time to admit that it's not working for me and it has to go. It's about one inch too tall for me to work comfortably and raising my chair doesn't work because I'm tall enough that my legs then won't fit under it.
It's not a desk issue so much as it is one with my back. The problem will be selling it.
It's pretty big. And it's not a cheap Ikea piece; it was spendy. It's not like I want to give it away. But I hate the headaches that will come with trying to list it somewhere and all the "will you take $100?" when it's worth a hell of a lot more. "Will you deliver?" Do I know you personally? Then, no. "Will you take a check?" Do I know you personally? Then, no.
Really wishing there was somewhere we could put it on consignment just to avoid dealing with people. Because people? They're just too peopley.
Yesterday I had my first physical in...forever. I've had check ups and routine appointments with my endocrinologist, but this was the first real physical in as long as I can remember. My endo wanted to and my PCD agreed, because they wanted to get to the root cause of my kidney disease. Mostly, what the hell is causing it?
So dutifully, I went to see him 3 months ago, after my annual visit with the endo. First order of business was to go pee in a cup and then get a kidney ultrasound, looking for stones or strictures, anything abnormal.
Two hours after the ultrasound I had the results: everything looked fine.
I was happy. But I still had 3 months until the pre-physical bloodwork and the exam, and I have been just a little bit concerned about the idea that one day I would wind up on dialysis.
As an aside, I've done Nutrisystem on and off for a while, and right about that time--while I had been off it for about a year--someone posted to the FB support group that they'd been at stage 4 CKD and after a couple of months on NS, they dropped to stage 2. It's a lower sodium diet, and for some people, sodium does not play well with the kidneys.
I figured, what the hell. I liked most of the food and I didn't have to be a slave to it, so why not? The Spouse Thingy was fine with fending for himself for dinner most nights and I would still cook on weekend nights that he worked.
And hell, maybe I could shave off a few of the pounds I gained while Max and Buddah were declining and then gone. I gained 20 pounds, all of it owed to grief and not giving a damn. I ate my feelings. And I'm not one bit sorry about that. But I do know I need to get it off now.
Cut to yesterday.
My eGFR, the number we've been focusing on, went from stage 3a CKD to normal. Just barely. Like, it's the last number in the normal range. But I hit it. My creatine went from Oh No numbers to normal. My BP was great. Resting HR was great. The only thing out of range was my cholesterol, but the numbers weren't such that he was concerned and didn't feel like meds were called for yet, and much of that is likely genetic.
I'll keep at the diet and exercise and see where it is next year, and if it's the same, I'll opt for meds the.
But...my kidneys were normal. Not worse.
I'm sticking with Nutrisystem for the time being, until I learn to cook more things lower sodium.
But yeah. I'm stoked.
And hey, my NS order literally just arrived. I expected it to be delayed because...FedEx.
So of course, with all this, we're going out for dinner.
It's a good day, though.
Hit me up if you want a desk LOL
I finished the Great Cycle Challenge with a couple of days to spare, hit 300 on the nose, and then took a few days off. I didn't intend to take more than one day off, but two nights of 3-hour sleep made sure of it. So fingers crossed that I sleep tonight, so I can get outside early enough to get some miles in before it gets warm out.
For October, I signed up for a breast cancer virtual ride; 150 miles to be ridden by the end of the month. No sweat there, I can do that. And double no sweat, I'm not fundraising for it; I self-funded (tax deduction!) and if something pops up I won't feel too bad about not finishing.
But...more than that, there's this:
2021 Rad Power RadWagon Cargo Bike.
Before y'all roll your eyes and grunt, "Not another bike," this one is largely work-related. My editor added to the bike stable because (or "on account of," if you're Hyrum) I signed a contract to write a book on cycling in your senior years. Part of that will be replacing as many in-town errands as I can, and when I slap a basket on the back of this, I'll be able to haul a ton of groceries.
That front thing is going once Rad gets small baskets back in stock. It's got storage area, but for some reason it bugs me visually. That seat is also going because...ow. It may be the worst saddle I've ever been on.
I'll take it for a trial run tomorrow after I put the big basket on the back. Presuming I can wrestle the screws loose. The kid who delivered it said they might be a bit tough.
The book isn't due until Jan 2023, which is the longest lead time I've ever had. Ideally that gives me a hell of a lot of time to ride and write, but it also gives me a lot of time to procrastinate.
I'm damned good at that.
Like, DAMNED good.
Also...I need a bigger garage.
I'd planned to knock that to under 100 today, thinking I'd do 15 on the road bike outside and later in the day another 5-10 inside.
Then I go up this morning coated in ouchiness and fatigue.
Nope, not getting sick again. I'm fine.
I hoped that all I needed was to wake up a bit more, get some food and water in me, and I'd be good to go. After an hour or so, I got off my asterisk and headed for my bike shorts...and it was a giant NOPE.
I had those suckers in hand for a good 2-3 minutes, and realized what I need more than anything is a rest day.
So I'm taking one.
It skews my daily average needed from 14.65 to 16.71, but in the grand scheme of things, that's negligible. If I split my rides and do two a day over the next 7 days, I can do it.
But for today...I'm just watching TV and playing video games, pretending that the dishwasher doesn't need to be unloaded and that there aren't dirty ones in the sink, and if I do anything that requires real movement at all, it'll be some time spent playing Beat Saber tonight, once it's cooled down.
Yep, because of space constraints inside, we have to play outside. (At least Diesel doesn't have chit fits when we're in out own yard anymore. Nor is he jumping over the fence, so we're not listening to nonstop barking and don't have to worry about canine help. Diesel is a good boy, after all. He was just loaded with anxiety, and his people got him the help he needed.) We're trying to figure out what can be moved and where to create a play space inside, because I am delicate and colder weather is coming.
But, yeah...rest day today. I'll get it done...just not today.
Right now, I can literally feel the outline of my bike seat, despite having been off it for about 8 hours. I've knocked out 80 miles in the last 4 days, and while that's peanuts for a lot of cyclists, it's a major chunk of miles for me. I did the math and realized I needed 20 miles a day, every day, for the rest of the month to hit 300...and I feel pretty determined.
More than that, I'm starting to feel like I can do it.
The hardest part of this is the hunger. I want to eat, like, EVERY FREAKING THING IN EXISTENCE EXCEPT FOR FISH BECAUSE FISH IS GROSS, but I'm also trying to not shove half the world down my throat. Normally I'm at 1200 calories a day but I am allowing for a couple hundred more because starving is just not my thing. You'd think I'd drop a pound or two, but no...not a freaking thing.
Not worrying about it. It is what it is, and at this point in life I think being active is more important. But I sure as hell won't be upset if the riding catches up to the diet and I drop a few.
I may need the distraction of riding over the next few weeks, charity ride or not. we are thundering down on the one year mark of Buddah getting sick, something I am still not okay with. I suspect I will be preoccupied with the what-ifs, and the anger over the idea that he should still be here.
And after that...the slowing of Max's roller coaster ride.
It's not going to break me, but I am going to feel those six weeks, and immersing myself in the miles will probably help.
After playing with the Spouse Thingy's VR headset, I took the plunge and bought my own, for no reason other than there's a decent VR cycling program. It's also a non-cycling program, one where you can exercise in different locations around the world.
After I tried it, he convinced me to try Beat Sabers...holy hell, that one is fun. I bought it for my own set, and am almost afraid to poke around and find other things to try because that could get a bit spendy.
The goal now will be to not fall off the bike with the headset on, and not break things around the house by swinging at the things I'm seeing that aren't really there.
We won't discuss the shrieking and swearing the first time I tried riding with it on and the in-game bike went off the road and had a sudden drop. Nope.
I need more fans on me, though.
That chit gets hot.
And finally, to answer a question I've gotten a few times lately: yes, I am still working on the next Wick book. It's going quite slowly without my writing partner, but I'm still writing.
I'm also debating with myself how to publish. Eventually it will make it into print, but I'm also seriously considering releasing in-progress bits online, chapter by chapter or section by section, but I'm still at a loss as to where to do that. The most obvious platforms--Patreon, Medium, and Substack--aren't necessarily the best venues. But they would be the easiest to use.
I'm not beholden to a specific publisher for this part of the Wick universe now, so it could be anywhere that works for y'all.
I am beholden to a publisher for a book, though. Right now we have a verbal agreement but I will soon sign on the dotted line for Riding My Asterisk Off, which is proposed for a mid-2022 release. The finer details, like what happens if my asterisk doesn't get ridden off, still need to be ironed out, but we'll get there.
I get new toys out of it. That's the important part.
I started out September strong: 25 miles cycled toward my goal of 300 for the GCC, and I was feeling pretty good about doing another 25 the next day, and even better about surpassing my goal.
Then I got sick.
No, not COVID. I did get tested. That was the initial concern, because we did go out in public for my birthday. A trip to the museum, a couple of side trips to bike shops in search of a bike for the Spouse Thingy, and a belated dinner out the next day. Somewhere in that, we both picked up some cooties. He started feeling it first, before September, but was over it quickly.
By the time he felt better, I felt like I'd swallowed a blow torch. And it just got worse. I think because I've stayed fairly isolated over the last year and a half, with very low exposure to germs, when I finally encountered some, everything went into overdrive. It went into my ears just a little bit, just enough to make me lightheaded, and then dipped into my chest.
I coughed so hard and so loud that it startled the dog next door. Not even kidding. I sat in the game room, mindlessly playing Animal Crossing, and he must have been right by the fence. I coughed explosively, painfully, and poor Diesel lost his damned mind.
But...the thing bugging me the most was all the time I was losing. All the miles. And here I am on the 14th and today finally ventured outside for a short grocery shopping trip, and it kinda wiped me out for a bit.
I'm still coughing a little but I feel a whole lot better, getting stronger every day, so I will give a short ride a try tomorrow. If that goes well, I'll try to tackle longer distances.
There's still time to hit 300 if I plan well.
Y'all donated; I do the miles. That's the deal. I've had the same issue with breast cancer events, but I make up the miles not done in the time frame expected. This is no different.
I'm excited to get back to it.
The only real bummer is one of my bikes is in the shop and probably will be for a couple days, so I'll have to start off with a lesser ride. Or take the other road bike off the trainer but that sounds like work and I am lazy.
Or...stay inside and hop on the little desk bike and pedal while playing Animal Crossing, because that's totally riding.
Tomorrow, I turn 60. Though truthfully, in my head I've been 60 for about four months; the Spouse Thingy is only four months older and since we're the same age for most of the year, when the calendar flips for him it also mentally flips for me. So tomorrow, really, isn't a huge thing because my brain got there a while ago.
Still. This was the year we were going to actually celebrate things. We had plans: travel to celebrate our birthdays, because 60 seems like a milestone kind of year. And with our 40th anniversary later this year, we were set to get me some fun drugs to get me on a plane, and go to Hawaii. Over time we scaled that back to going back to Disneyland because that seemed to excite us a bit more...but then we started looking into reservations and saw how much prices had hiked, and we noped right out of that idea.
This week we'd intended to head for San Francisco and spend a day or two...but then the Delta variant numbers started to rise and though we're both vaccinated, he's at the point where he should get a booster and I'm not especially keen on the idea of traveling anywhere when hospitals are overrun and there are no beds available. Yes, I realize we could have an accident closer to home and still wind up needing medical care, but still.
This is not an unreasonable fear or concern. I have, in the last two weeks, lost more than one friend because they had an emergency and were discharged from the ER to home because there were no beds available and no near hospital had space, either. One died from a stroke; the other from injuries sustained in a car wreck. Neither died from COVID, but they certainly died because of it.
It's kind of a wake up call. You can be critical and still sent home right now.
So. Yeah.We're just gonna stay close to home this week. We'll see what we do by the time our anniversary rolls around. It will depend on COVID, certainly, on variant numbers, and on booster shots.
And it's okay. We'll just roll it all over to next year and do something then.Great Cycle Challenge next month. I'll stick to routes close to home at time when traffic is light, but if I have to, I have the trusty inside setup.
I know a lot of miles will be done on this bike, and while I sport the same ruffled bedhead pictured, because August is hot, there are still forest fires in NorCal that spew smoke this way, and I am a weenie. Riding up on a trainer is a bit more difficult for me--it hurts my back more than road riding--but at least I have a/c and a spiffy TV to watch while I sweat and swear.
The idea of 300 intimidates me a bit despite doing it last year.
I was in much better shape last year. Quite a bit lighter, too. That's my own fault; I ate my feelings between late September of last year and April of this year and it shows. Yet I don't regret it--I was seriously wallowing in grief and didn't feel like paying attention to the quality of food I was eating, didn't feel much like riding, and knew it was just a matter of time.
And it was.
Oh, hey, if I mounted the electric bike up there, I could probably knock out that 300 in a week...
(No, I will not. I don't think it's possible. Maybe. In any case, I don't want to destroy the rear tire on that bike, and this trainer will chew it up.)
((Though I might be that lazy and now am curious if it would fit without an adapter.))
(((Okay, fine, I am going to slide down the Google rabbit hole and find out, because now I need to know.)))
But, yeah...60 tomorrow. Fun.
Oddz-n-Endz #867,092, 455.98x666
Komen popped up with a new event a while back, and I jumped on it. It's virtual, on a bike, and 100 miles to be done throughout August. I knew I'd finish before the end of the month and assumed I'd tack on an extra 100-150.
I finished the 100 by the 11th, which is good, because on the 12th... We got home from a memorial service for our DIL's grandfather (whom you should be jealous of not knowing, because he was an amazing person. 21 years a Marine, two tours of Vietnam, and a very open and loving person...I liked him from the moment I met him, and treasure having known him at all) and I sat down--promptly throwing my back out.
Gettin' old, y'all.
Good news...it's already feeling better and I *think* I can get back on the bike in a day or so, but I'd planned on a 50 mile weekend. Inside. In front of a TV. With a fan blowing right on me. Because I'm tough that way.
Next up, the one I most look forward to, is the Great Cycle Challenge in September. This one raises money for the research and treatment of childhood cancers, which is a whole other animal than adult cancers.
I set a goal of 300 miles, same as last year, but barring injuries, I have hopes of surpassing that. Since things are opened up now, unlike last year, and I'm vaccinated, I think hitting 350-400 is doable, because I'll have more options to take breaks. Last year it was a matter of riding what I could, going home for a break...but once I was home the discipline to get up and go out again vanished. If I'm out, I still have to get home, which means additional miles.
The only hiccup in getting extra miles in is the Spouse Thingy put in for time off for my birthday, and we may actually go do things unrelated to cycling. Fun things. Maybe. We're keeping an eye on COVID numbers and while we've both been stabbed, that doesn't mean we want to risk picking up the Delta variant.
Sure, the odds are that we wouldn't get sick enough to require hospitalization, but we could pass it on to someone who hasn't been vaccinated. Or a kid who isn't old enough.We've talked about going to San Francisco and a few other things, but if the numbers go up, we'll probably stay home. And ride.
Maybe even work... I got 100 pages deep into a manuscript, but may start over. The storyline shifted on me, and if I let it go where it wants to go, those 100 pages won't work.
Tell ya what, it's a lot harder to work on Wick things without my furry little writing buddy, but I still hear his voice and I don't think the tone will change.
There's the rub about hitching your career to the wagon of a pet...when they go, you lose not just your treasured buddy, but your professional voice. It took me a while to find it again, and during that time I questioned whether I wanted to keep at it or not. I considered moving on with something else, but... there are still those things "we" had planned, and I don't really want to let them go.
Just a hint...I'm gonna be a tiny bit mean to Hyrum. The one who deserves it the least.
Hey, according to a large number of people, I'm going to Hell anyway.
If I don't get any work done, it'll be because I'm still basically addicted to Animal Crossing and started a new island. With 3 active players and 1 who only exists for reaping his money tree. That takes time, y'all. Who can work when there are villagers to gift every day, fruit to pick, land to terraform, and fish to catch?
I'm a busy, busy wabbit.
Something new for me: my first inclusion in a Story Bundle.
This is an eclectic mix of cat wonder: cats and time travel, steampunk cats, magic and romance, and...cats! It's a pay-what-you-want offering, with $5 being the threshold for the first four books--and The Emperor of San Francisco is one of them. But spring for the whole thing, because there's some stellar writing in the exclusive stories offered in the extended bundle.
I really wish this guy was here for this. I'm sure he would have all kinds of opinions about his work being included with some prestigious authors, and he would be happy that there's the opportunity for people to also toss a few bucks to AbleGamers, a foundation dedicated to combating social isolation through play.
He often said there simply wasn't enough cat fiction in the world.
Shuddup, he did, too.
Max said a lot of things about a lot of things; I never thought I would miss the nonstop stream of consciousness that spewed forth from his mouth, but damn...I do.
Yep. His writery side would be 13 kinds of tickled about being included in this, and a couple more over having the other books read to him.
This is the last day of the ACA DetermiNation Classic Ride; I have ridden my final ride for this, and I have to say, I am happy enough with my mileage. I am also kinda kicking myself (but not really) because I fell a bit short of a second goal set three days ago.
This was a virtual ride in which participants could select either per-determined race mileage or set their own; I decided to set my own. 200 miles seemed doable; if not for months of not riding much at all I'd have shot for 300, but I haven't been doing much and I knew better.
I hit 200 on the 13th, which was the 6 month anniversary of Max's death. I miss that little shit--I miss both of them--but he was not just my writing buddy, he was also the engine behind a lot of my fundraising efforts. Hitting that mileage on that day wasn't significant to anyone but me, I realize that. But it did matter to me.
Both of my parents went through cancer treatment, kidney cancer for my dad, lymphoma for my mom. My grandfather died from kidney cancer. I have several friends who are currently in treatment, many more who have survived. A few who have not. And both Buddah and Max were lost to cancer. Hank the dog probably had cancer--the vet felt a large mass on his spleen--but we'll never know for sure.
This cause matters to me.
On the 13th, after hitting 200, I considered the notion that 250 was not out of the realm of impossible. That was a smidge over 16 miles a day, and I can do that.
I did not do that.
I finished few short, 240 miles done between April 16 and today...and I am not unhappy about that. There were a few days of not-riding when the Spouse Thingy took a week off work and we went off to do some fun things we hadn't done in over a year. We went to the Crocker Art Museum. We hit up the flea market for the first time in at least 5 years. We wandered around Costco just for the hell of it. And we ate out waaaay too many times.
We also played an insane amount of Animal Crossing and did a whole lot of nothing when it suited us.
The pretty orange bike I ordered last September was supposed to be here in time to do this ride, but it's been pushed back to January 2022. I was not surprised by this, nor upset, because it's a casualty of COVID...so many people bought bikes at the start of the pandemic and then ordered bikes they could no longer get in shops, that a domino effect began. The delay is because so many people are getting into cycling, and that's a good thing.
I was willing to wait, but then this bike popped up in a shop in Sacramento, and despite not really wanting a black bike, I jumped.
Turns out the black has shiny flecks in it, which makes it totally all right.
I have not canceled the order on the orange bike. Because of reasons. Who knows?
And meandering way off topic. Which was I finished the DetermiNation ride, did 240 miles, and y'all donate a whopping $2000+!
Grumble grumble grumble.
I am not. I am irritated. very irritated.
After my post about the bike I had as a kid, a friend found said bike on eBay and within a few minutes, I bought it. The listing looked great; it was a restored 1974 Schwinn Continental, same blue, same grip tape, same everything.
It arrived today in a box that looked decent; no outside bangs or tears, perfectly acceptable condition, as good as other bikes I've taken shipment on, bikes with no shipping damage.
[Insert audible groan.]
I was not daunted by the idea of assembling this bike; it wasn't any more complicated than the last two and I didn't screw those up. So I carefully removed loose stuff from the box--the wheels and paper--and laid it down, and promptly said things off the Bad Word List.
Bent chain ring.
So I was already ticked off. But I began cutting all the zip ties holding the protective foam on, and it just got worse.
But we'll start with the chain ring.
Very, very bent.
Bent enough that I don't think that with the chain in place, it will spin. But I decided not to completely lose my chit yet, because who knows?
Maybe I just can't see it well enough.
This "restored" bike was absolutely filthy coming out of the box. But worse than that...
Lots of rust.
I didn't expect pristine because, face it, the bike is 47 years old.
But I did not expect so much rust on a restored bike; I didn't expect pitted components.
Perhaps I should have, but the listing did not mention these things.
I'd like to go back and check it, but once something sells on eBay now, the listing comes down.
No matter what I do, how tight, how loose...it's not straight.
I'm not sure it will ever be straight.
The quick release axle looked straight, but...who knows. By this point I am not surprised at all.
In any case, the skills to seat it correctly are apparently beyond my set and I don't have truing equipment anyway, so...
[Insert more things off the Bad Word List.]
Now, if you don't look at it too closely, it's a shiny, decent looking bike.
But if you get close, oh holy hell.
It's missing the derailleur hanger, so I can't even get that in place.
Pretty sure that if I could get it on, and spin the wheel or move the pedals, the cables would snap.
Can it be made rideable?
Someone better than I needs to take a look at it, but my gut says I just flushed $500 down the toilet. $400 for the bike, $100 for the shipping.
I am trying to come up with the right words for an eBay review that won't get me banned...I'm not sure that even contacting the seller directly will do any good. If he sold this as a restored bike he doesn't give a shit what the buyer thinks. And now I question the reviews he does have, because they were good and they were why I took a chance.
Worst case, I clean it up and it hangs on the wall. But dammit, I really did want to ride it, at least a little.
Carmi wrote about his 28 year old Specialized Stumpjumper the other day, and it renewed in me the feeling of really missing my first "real" bike.
I mowed lawns all through 1974 and into 1975 to raise the money to buy a new bike; I'd had a purple banana seat bike (probably a Schwinn, but honestly I don't know) that I had coveted from 2nd grade on, but I didn't get it until 6th grade when I was really too old for it. That purple wonder was fun, but by the end of 7th grade it was mock-worthy and I took a lot of crap for riding a little kids' bike.
I began to covet something new, and all I wanted was a 10 speed. I knew there was no way in hell I would get it for my birthday or Christmas, so I asked if I could take over mowing the lawn. My parents had been paying the son of a family friend $4 a week to cut the grass, and were (surprisingly, to me, because that was "boys' work") agreeable to it.
So I cut the grass and was given $4 a week for it during months when it needed cut. By the end of 8th grade, I finally had enough to get the bike that I still desperately wanted, and in a stroke of luck the bike shop had it in a metallic blue that damn near made me squeal.
[It did prompt my dad to complain that I "never" rode it...I did. While he was at work. Somehow that didn't compute LOL]
When I decided to take history and English in summer school (for fun...yes, I was that kid) I rode it to school most of the time, though by then I had a driver's license and access to a car. There was something about being able to ride wherever I wanted, just for the joy of riding. For no reason or any reason; that bike was my first taste of teen-aged freedom and before I got my license, it was my way around.
I dragged it with me to Utah and BYU my junior year...where I sold it for $50 just before senior year.
Now, granted, at the time $50 was a decent chunk of change. And it was a matter of sell the bike or not eat for a few weeks, because money was super tight, but I have always regretted it.
I want that bike back.
Every now and then I surf through eBay, looking for one for sale from someone who will also ship it, but I haven't found one in good enough shape. But if I find it? Surprise, Spouse Thingy, I'm getting another bike.
I mentioned it to a friend online last night, and her reaction was puzzled. Like, isn't cycling a new relatively new thing for you?
I mean, it's fun to hear all the newby-advice and get those teachable moments, and no one needs to be stopped so I can say "Yeah, I started riding pretty young" because 1) new bike tech is new to me, and 2) cycling now means something different than it did then, and the terminology is different than it was 40+ years ago. I did take several years off more than once and in between the Continental and more recent acquisitions, I had a lot of really crappy stuff barely worthy of being called a bike. But I did ride.
I stopped what, 8 years ago for a bit after passing out on a ride. But then came the screaming pink electric that gave me the confidence to give it another real go...and here we are, just a little obsessed (and right now angry with myself for taking a break just long enough that I am out of shape again.)
Now all I need is to win the lottery so we can move somewhere close to safe, accessible bike paths. Because drivers? They suck, and I hate sharing the road.
*Oddly, no, I don't want a carbon bike. In fact, I ordered a bike a couple months ago because it was available before this one is supposed to arrive and it was at a great price, but realized after I placed the order that it was a carbon frame. It went back the same day it arrived, box unopened.
My hair has not grown nearly as much as I would like and while I can see it's gotten a tiny bit longer, it feels like I'm still damn near bald and I want my hair back.
Ignore how stuff is sticking up all over; I have helmet hair here.
Now that St. Baldrick's is over, they've received all the funds--including an uber-generous one that had to make its way from overseas via the mail--I'm looking to the next event.
Oh, as an aside...y'all donated over $7000. I am so freaking grateful I can't begin to express it.
But the next one...yes, I am jumping into something with both feet firmly planted on the pedals of my bike, and will rack up as many miles as I can from April 16 through May 16. Officially I'm supposed to do 109, but I think I can best that, despite not having ridden much at all since late September.
After I finished the Great Cycle Challenge (which I will do again this coming September) and Buddah got sick, I sort of...stopped. There were a couple of short rides in there, times when I thought, hell yes, I'm back at it, but I just needed time to stew in my own grief, gain a few too many pounds, and find another way through it.
I haven't really watched any TV since Max died; neither have I done much reading. I know why: my lap buddy isn't here to curl up and help me watch all the things and read all the words, and it's just been uncomfortable. But once we changed his room from Max's Room to our own little game cave, I felt myself sliding away from all the feels, and into some sense of normal.
Doesn't mean I don't miss those furballs as much as ever, because I do, but I distracted myself enough from their absence that my brain began working on the story line to the book I'd been planning before, while just having some fun.
We each have our own Switch, run our own islands, but visit each other when we're playing at the same time. The number of ridiculously stupid things we do to each other--
--like blocking him on a toilet so he can't get off of it, or chasing each other with nets and axes, makes me laugh so hard sometimes I kinda want to throw up. It is stupid, but it's stupid fun.
And it helped.
And thusly did I get back on the bike today, and while I felt every bit of it because I am now out of shape, it didn't feel like the Great Big Awful and I am looking forward to the next ride.DetermiNation Cycling Classic to benefit the American Cancer Society. I did this one last year as a virtual ride and enjoyed it; this year it hits home because I have friends who are actively trying to survive treatment for breast cancer, lung cancer, and brain cancer. Both my parents survived cancer--kidney cancer for my dad, lymphoma for my mom--and it doesn't escape me that it could be in my future.
Even so...we all need something to fight for, this is mine.
Last night I chatted online with a friend who asked, reasonably I think, why I didn't just raise the money. Facebook makes it easy. It's not like I have to do anything.
But I do.
I believe in sweat equity. In giving something back. In doing something that isn't necessarily easy, earning back those donations.
So I will shave my head every year.
I will ride the miles.
I will put one foot in front of the other.
Not because anyone necessarily expects it of me--y'all have been amazingly kind when I've fallen short before--but because it's the right thing to do. It shouldn't be as easy as asking for donations; there needs to be something, anything, and it should require effort on my part.
Ask just about anyone who has done a 3 Day walk on behalf of breast cancer. It's a party atmosphere and the participants have fun, but, y'all...it's hard. Harder than anything else I've done.
Well, except maybe for getting that tumor yanked out from the underside of my brain. That was a different kind of hard.
"Have you ever added it up? All you've raised?"
Nope. But I have a ball park idea and that's good enough. The real thing is that number isn't mine; it belongs to you people out there, the ones who have supported my whims and given me reason to shave, ride, and walk.
I appreciate it like you wouldn't believe.
And my hair still isn't growing fast enough.
Not ideal as in...ouchy. Very ouchy.
This year, thanks to your generosity, I raised over $2200...which mean that DKM had to cut off 12 inches of her hair for charity (pics at the bottom) so y'all get a 2fer!
I gotta be honest. This year it felt kinda...meh. It's just a hell of a lot more fun done at the bar, getting a drink before hand, and watching as the crowd grows and participants get rowdy. Last year's shave was the last normal thing the Spouse Thingy and I did just before everything shut down...the upside to this year's lonely shave is that it marks the very beginning of life getting back to some sense of normal. He's fully vaccinated, I will be next month, the Boy will be by the end of this month, and our DIL should get her first soon.
So. I didn't want to skip this year, so the back yard it was.
Do I look thrilled? He was threatening to leave it like that.
And this is when I realized how bad the clippers are. It's like getting stabbed in the head with toothpicks.
This is as short as we could get.
Look closely, you can see a couple of places where it got me.
Any further hair will have to be taken off with shaving cream and a razor. I'm waffling on that. This actually is as short as I've been at a couple of the events. It's about the same length as in this picture, taken right after my first event 8 years ago.
They didn't make me bleed tho LOL
Last night a friend asked me--she does pretty much every year--how many more years I'll do this. And every year I'm not sure. Because I hate this, I hate the looks I'll get, I hate how cold I'll be, I hate everything about it.
BUT...I do it by choice. And too many people don't have that choice. I went into this year with someone specific on my mind, someone who has just started chemo for breast cancer, and it breaks my heart because she absolutely does not deserve this.
Neither do any of the kids for whom St. Baldrick's raises research funds.
I'll do it for sure until I reach year 10. And unless something happens that thins my skin out too much for it to be safe, I'll probably keep doing it.
Because I have a choice. And this is the least I can do.
Y'all...give mad props to Michelle--DKM--because she had a choice, too, and she did not have to do this to help me bump up donations.
That's a lot of hair!
When we're both fully vaccinated, I'm totally taking her to lunch for doing this.
Also because I miss having lunch with her, but also for this!
Again, y'all THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
Toward the end of February last year, the Spouse Thingy and I sat in the local Cenario's Pizza, discussing the news as we waited for our medium half-pepperoni, half-bacon pizza. The topic was, of course, COVID-19 and what to expect, and his take was simply, "This is going to be bad. Really bad."
We bought one the next day; it was stocked by March 5th. We had enough for a month; if things went to hell, we at least had everything we needed for a month. It felt like we'd gotten ahead of the curve. He still had to go to work, but I was fine with staying home for a few weeks. That was not a big deal.
We honestly thought a month was about what it would take. If everyone did what they were asked, the curve could be flattened, and it would be just weeks.
Here we are a year later.
Who'd've thunk it?
But hey, at least we had a lot of toilet paper to get us through the first 6 months or so. And now we have a spiffy garage freezer. And some stuff stuck in the back that will likely never get eaten.
Right now all I want is to get the vaccine. I am jealous of those who have had both doses. Happy as hell for you, but jealous.
Eyes forward, folks. The light is there, it's just moving toward us a little more slowly than we'd hoped.
It looks like I was the only one who registered for St. Baldrick's this year at the venue I prefer...so they've moved me to another one a little later in the month. The problem I have with that event is that it's indoors, at a mall, and I refuse to step foot inside a mall until I'm fully vaccinated, and there's zero chance I'll even have my first shot by then.
So...it looks like I'll be doing a virtual shave. I still need to contact the event coordinator to tell her that's what I'm doing (and why) and beg to get my t-shirt regardless (because it's all about the t-shirt) but I am still doing it. But at least this way I also have a couple extra weeks of hair growth to shave off. The Spouse Thingy can man the clippers and we'll just do it in the back yard. We had to do it this way a few years ago when I was took sick to attend in person...well, I could have gone but that would have seriously been a dick move on my part.
The bike did not stay in Max's old bedroom very long. The weather is improving and I pulled it off the trainer so I can ride outside on my favorite bike (though the one is still hanging on the wall because it's freaking art.) Mostly...it seemed like a better idea to turn that room into something for both of us, not just me, something that would get used more than I would have used it for indoor riding (which will still be done, but next to the treadmill in a front room, where I had the trainer set up before.)
We've both developed a serious addiction to Animal Crossing. Initially, one of us played it on the TV in the living room while the other used their handheld Switch, but we're old and the screen on the Switch is kinda small. The answer clearly would have been to take turns, but we also discovered we liked playing at the same time, spending time talking and making fun of each others' player characters.
So we did this...set up two TVs in the spare bedroom, dragged two chairs in there, and thusly it became the gaming room, though right now the only game is Animal Crossing. I'm pretty sure that will change over time; we own other games and the way this is set up we don't have to play the same one at the same time.
Mostly...I really needed this room to not be Max's bedroom anymore. It didn't matter if it was the bike room or not; I just needed to get to the place where I didn't look in and expect to see him there. I also still look to the top of the TARDIS closet, expecting cat ears to poke up, but there's not much I can do about that. We need the storage space, and I'm too lazy to paint it again.
And a little bit of truth... I am not as okay with the cats being gone as I believed I was. I thought I was ready to get back to work; I managed about 50 pages but stopped because my heart wasn't in it. I thought I was ready to get back on the bike, but I took a couple of really short rides and just kinda of didn't after that.
Right after Christmas, like the day after, I started having some serious heartburn, and it escalated into some serious abdominal pain. I ate Tums like candy, and learned quickly that I cannot eat Tums like candy, lest it morph into making me think I'm heading into a bout with colitis. The worst of it woke me up every night, feeling like someone had plunged a hot knife into my stomach; I discovered quickly that eating helped the pain abate, allowing me to get back to sleep, which made the Spouse Thingy think I had an ulcer.
I'm stubborn. It took me far too long to admit I needed medical intervention; instead of making the Spouse Thingy sit on hold for half a day to get me an appointment, I messaged my doc through the portal system, and by that afternoon I had his opinion: hyperacidity, based on the symptoms and the fact that I had started to wean myself off Prilosec last year.
Given the stress of the last half of last year, I picked a bad time to try to get off that. He put me on Pepcid AC twice a day with Gaviscon as needed, and suggested that I try that for a bit and if it didn't work, then see him in person.
A week later...yeah, I think he was right.
But still...it was just another symptom of the last six months of 2020. I stopped doing things I enjoyed, at first because my focus was on Max and making his roller coaster ride a bit less intense, and then on Buddah, and then on Max again, but I just couldn't get back to those things. Without riding, I wasn't moving much, and we both indulged a little too often in foods we normally don't. Initially I think we were both pleased that we hadn't succumbed to the COVID 15...instead, we discovered the Grief 15.
I thought I was okay. I can barely talk about the cats without choking up, and the physical symptoms of being weighed down with that grief have pretty well convinced me that I'm not. I will be, but I'm not. I just have to let myself take the time I need.
Part of that was finding something I truly enjoyed, something different, and if it's a stupid video game that takes up far too much time, that's fine. We're having a great time playing it, and a better time playing it together.
|He visited my island AND HIT ME WITH AN AXE!|
Not having my old routine isn't helping anything, either. Most of my writing woes aren't tied exclusively to Max not being here, sitting on the arm of my chair, while I work. I was so used to hopping on the bike, riding anywhere from 5-8 miles, stopping at Starbucks for an hour or two while I wrote, then riding home, taking another 5-8 miles. I could get out and ride, stop somewhere to sit for a few minutes, and then ride back, but it's not the same.
I am looking forward to getting fully vaccinated, everyone getting fully vaccinated, and being able to ease back into the routine that worked for me.
Until then...I'm not going to beat myself up for not writing or riding as much. Though...I have noted lately that the story I started working on has taken better shape in my head. Enough shape that I keep thinking I need to sit down and craft a schedule: housework, write, play, ride, play, write, make dinner. Because if I don't start a schedule soon, it's going to be: surf online, play, lunch, play, make dinner, play. Which isn't bad, but...at some point I probably need to expand my daily tasks.
At some point.
That's probably not today.
Eventually he decided that the back of the sofa was the best spot, because he had a better view of the hallway and of Buddah if he was on his way in. That didn't happen often, though. Buddah seemed to understand that the room was not his, and the few times he ventured in he took the furniture on the opposite side of the room. With only a few rare occasions, it was the neutral zone.
Max loved that room so much that it made the hassle of getting the stuff that had been in it--a treadmill, for one--out and the furniture in totally worth it. It was a comfortable, safe space, and in his last month he rarely ventured out.
We pushed them out--it was a hell of a lot easier than getting them in, for some reason--and put them outside, on the driveway. I put a notice up on Facebook on a local page, offering them up, and within an hour someone texted, wanting them.
The room is no longer Max's bedroom, and I somehow managed to easily make the switch in my head. It's now the bike room, with one on the trainer and one hanging on the wall, with room on the floor for another if I ever have a reason to bring another into the house.
I filled his space with a Dammit Machine.
I can hear his exasperated little sigh from here.
'Tis the time of year when I start contemplating what events I want to participate in. I'm registered for the 3 Day but the timing of that means there's a 99% chance I won't go.
This year I think my focus will be on children's cancer charities.
This is a for-sure thing because it's done virtually so I don't need to worry about it being canceled because of COVID (though I seriously hope we're all vaccinated by then and life will be mostly normal...)
300 miles is my bare minimum goal; I did it last year so barring injuries or illness there's no reason I can't do it again. And if I get close before the end of the month, I can bump it up.
Also on tap is St. Baldrick's. This will be year 8, but there's a significant chance that it will be a virtual event, so I'll likely self fund this one (donations will not be turned away, though!)
The date on it is tentative, but they're hoping for in-person options...I'm not holding my breath because the odds of enough people being vaccinated are low, though I still hope the numbers go way down before then.
Other than that...we're really just wanting enough normalcy that we can do something for our anniversary this year. The plan was Disneyland but with the changes they're making I'm not counting on that either. It might be seriously packed for a long time after they reopen, and I'm just not interested in a packed park.
We'll figure something out. There are other fun places to go.
January is half over and I have ridden a grand total of zero miles.
Ya…it has not been a great start to a new year. I am just now feeling better, but I’m also 99% sure I have an ulcer, which isn’t helping anything. The pain from that is not too bad during the day, but I wake up every night after roughly 4 hours feeling like I’ve been stabbed with a hot poker. The pain goes away if I get food into my stomach, so I’ve been taking a snack to the bedroom at night, and when I wake up, I eat.
And yes, I know I need to see a doctor. I’ve been putting it off because, ew, doctor-office-cooties, and also…my brain settles on the worst case scenarios and it has decided that if I go, I will leave that appointment with 72 different types of cancer and an unwanted mutant puppy.
I’m giving it through the weekend, and then yes, I will see him.
+ + +
For a lot of the time I was feeling like crap, I also did not feel like working. Or reading. Or doing much of anything. I was pretty sure that the day I dove into a good book and then pounded out several pages on the next Wick book (yes, it goes on without Max, but I suspect it will still be his book, because…Max) that I was on the upswing.
What I still haven’t done, though, is ride. But I think today will be the day, if not heading outside, I’ll get a slow start inside. The bike is up on the trainer, ready to go—I checked the tires last night and made sure the TV was signed into Netflix—I just need to get my ass on it.
+ + +
|He was a cinnamon donut freak, too...|
I haven’t been able to bear the idea of it since Max died. Every time I thought about it, the memory of him jumping onto my lap and eating it from the other side slapped at me, and I just couldn’t. He was a little freak where cinnamon was concerned, and the last time I’d had it was towards the end for him; as much as it had to hurt to get up on the loveseat and then make his was across the arm of it, onto the footrest of the recliner, and then my lap, he could not resist.
And yes, I let him take bites. I would have given him anything at that point.
I honestly thought I would gag on it and could have gone the rest of my life without it, but… yeah.
The Spouse Thingy has been the same way with chicken salad. He hadn’t been able to open a can of chicken because that was his thing with the cats…he got the chicken and they got the water with little bits of meaty goodness floating in it. Buddah got to lick the mayo spoon.
I don’t think he’s had any since Buddah died, but this morning I noted there was a chicken and mayo-smeared bowl in the kitchen sink.
It made me happy.
And also a little annoyed because the dishwasher is RIGHT THERE.
+ + +
Off my asterisk to actually do things other than drooling while watching TV.
I have lottery tickets to buy.