Friday, April 29, 2011

Mana-Swamp. Again

It has been too long since I was on one of my bikes. The weather and 10 days in the hospital separated me and the bikes. Yesterday, there was just no way that could not ride.

I knew that I needed to take it easy. While my medical procedure was normally carried out as out-patient, I had to be hospitalized because of coumadin therapy. It took a week after surgery to get my blood numbers correct.

The day was partly cloudy with a rather brisk wind from the NW. Parked in the lot at the Lake Manawa Nature Trail. From there, I would have my ride into the wind first, and the wind could blow me back to the car.

As I rode the Lake Manawa trail I soon noticed lots of standing water. This was not looking for the mountain bike trails. Made a short detour to the river to see the rived level. As expected, Section of the Lake Manawa mountain bike trails were under water (see photo).

Back on the trail to Indian Creek bridge. When I turned into the wind, I was not sure how far I would make it before turning back to the car. While I was wearing my heart monitor strap, I had forgotten to attach the monitor to the bike. So, did not push it. Kept up a 7mph+ pace.

Rode the SW loop - Manawa, up Indian Creek, to the bike shop, back down Harry Landon to Lake Manawa. Just over 14 miles at 9.5 mph. I rode the hybrid. Figured that was better to make sure not straining my back.

Forecast today is for winds from the SE. See where to ride today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Festival of the Trails

Today marks 10 days in the hospital for a normally out-patient procedure. Trying to think about more enjoyable activities. I started thinking about Festival of the Trails in Hayward, Wisconsin - three days of dirt!

Last year was the first time I attended the festival and the first time riding CAMBA trails. This year is the third annual Festival of the Trails.

For the last 4 years, I have been attending the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival in Rapid City, SD. Attended all 4 years of its existence. This year I will be breaking that streak. Last year I attended both festivals. A full explanation of why I will not attend BHFTF will wait for another day.

Festival of the Trails celebrates the great trails in NW Wisconsin. There are clusters of trails, all at or slightly above my riding ability. Altitude of Hayward and the area is about the same as my house. Just the type of trails I like.

There are no races. But there are lots of opportunities for riding CAMBA trails. There's the welcoming social, a film fest, and BBQ. Saturday riders stop for trail-side food served up by local eating establishments. There will be the celebration of the dedication of a CAMBA trail as an Epic trail. A evening ride under the lights. Hone riding skills and learn trail-side repairs during Technique de Trails.

Can't think a better way to celebrate National Trails Day. Join me in Northwoods of Wisconsin June 3-5, 2011 for Festival of the Trails. Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 22, 2011

To Clip or Not Clip - That is the Question

At age 57 I bought a bicycle. I had not been on a bicycle since I passed my driver's license test. When I Stopped in at Xtreme Wheels in Council Bluffs, IA, I was looking for a way to exercise to continue my rehab after a stroke and open heart surgery.

The bike Bill had me try was a comfort bike - Trek Navigator 200. The last bike I had did not have any gears and I pedaled backwards to brake. As my bicycle knowledge grew, I learned these are now called “fixies” with coaster brakes.

Anyway, I had enough confusion with all of the levers on the handlebars. The last thing on my mind was what kind of pedals the bike had. Since then, I have learned that my bike was equipped with “flat” or “platform” pedals.

Not sure just when the subject of “clipless” pedals entered the discussion at the bike shop. As I started riding more, I had problems with my right foot falling off the pedal. My foot was “walking” off the pedal. My stroke left damage on my right side.

The folks at the bike shop and I started discussing my options. I did not feel comfortable being “tied” to a bicycle with special shoes and pedals with bindings. We decided on some toe clips for my pedals.

This solved the problem of the foot falling off the pedal. Now, I started experiencing a new problem. It was difficult to get my size 12 shoes onto the clips. Add to that, it seems that the pedal is always up-side-down. If I slipped my foot out of the clip when riding, the clip would strike the ground.

Back to the drawing board.

The only way to keep my foot walking off the pedal was to tie the foot to the bike – clipless pedals.

“Clipless” pedals. You “clip” into “clipless” pedals. Huh?

Ok, this is the way it has been explained to me. First there are just plain old pedals. The pedals I grew up with. The next iteration is the pedal with toe clips. You slipped your foot/shoe into the toe clip.

Here's where the problem comes in. What do you call the pedals without toe clips which binds pedals to the shoe? Of course “clipless” pedals. Duh...

The first clipless pedals I tried are Shimano reversible pedals. One side of the pedal is a flat pedal, the other side is SPD clipless pedal. Nirvana! – I could clip in when I want, yet flip the pedal riding a flat pedal if needed.

These pedals are great for those of us newbees. A twist of the foot disengages the clip – much like early ski bindings. On my trail bike, I still use those pedals. When I am riding unfamiliar trails, I like to ride with the flat side so that I don;t have to think about unclipping if the trail gets gnarly and near the upper limits of my skill level.

Alas, the reversible pedals are not quite Nirvana. I still have to find which is the clipless side. Murphy's Law saws the flat side is always up when you want to clip-in. The clipless side is always up when you want to ride a flat pedal. Since my hybrid is only ridden on pavement, I equipped that bike with Shimano SPD pedals.

It didn't take much time before I also converted my hardtail to clipless pedals. The one exception is when I change the hardtail into my snow/ice bike. In the cold temperatures I like to ride wearing warmer hiking boots. Then, the hardtrail gets reversible or flat pedals.

When I bought my road bike, I had the bike shop install SPD pedals. OH! And my shoes – I only have mountain bike shoes. Sorry purists – not ready to spring a second pair of shoes for riding my road bike.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Biopsy, New Roommate, and Speech Therapist

Thought it would be a quiet day, but OH, NO.

Talked with the resident early this morning. Middle of the morning my surgeon caught me sleeping. Visited with him. Was thinking perhaps a boost of the coumadin today would kick-start my INR. My surgeon vetoed that, concerned it may cause bleeding, which we don't need.

He gave me good news/bad news. The tumor on my left kidney was cancer. Bad news was it was cancer, good news was it was kidney cancer (not a cancer that had metastasized from somewhere else - like the shoulder). Once again he expressed his confidence that we killed it all.

After lunch, I found out I would be getting a new roommate. Was nice having a "private" room for the 2 days. While the roommate is not making much noise, the machinery is.

My new roommate had 2 speech therapists working with him. When they finished, I asked to talk to them. Thanked them for what my speech therapist had done to help me back on the road to recovery.

As it happens, the therapist that started on my way was near. She remembered me (the face, not the name). I was able to thank her in person and show her how I am doing. That was the highlight (so far today). A close second it that my heparin is "therapeutic" and no more blood draws until 4 in the morning.

Once again, with nothing to photograph here today, I grabbed on from a ride earlier this month - the road bike on Indian Creek Bridge.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Successful Procedure

OK, so this photo has nothing about my hospital stay, except its where I would prefer to be - riding my bike at Manawa.

Doc was in to check on me this morning. Everything went well during my "US guided renal biopsy bilateral, renal cyroablation". They feel that they killed the tumor yet not harming the rest of the kidney.

My procedure was done in one of the CT scan rooms. In addition to the CT scan, they brought in an ultrasound machine. The surgeon and his assistant used the ultrasound to locate the kidney and tumor. It was also used to guide the "needle" for the biopsy.

Several trips into the CT scan as they froze the tumor (making sure they froze the whole tumor without damaging the kidney). They gave me some pain meds and some numbing drugs be was basically awake during the procedure. They needed me to hold my breath as they scanned.

The whole procedure was done in under 2 hours. While it was available to me, I did not need any pain medication over night. Slept soundly.

I was impressed with the team that did my surgery. The prep nurse (Nicole?) explained to me exactly what we were doing. Before the procedure started, Doctor Lagrange called "time out" to verify that everyone know who was the patient and what the procedure it was. I raised my hand to verify the patient name. They told me what they were doing, when they were doing it.

Thanks to Doctor Lagrange and the team.

Back in my room (they moved me to a different room, a quieter room) I was restricted to bed for 2 hours. Withing 4 hours, I eat a snack and was ready for my first post-surgery walk.

Now, we await the biopsy results and raising my INR number. Hoping to be released Friday or Saturday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why I Ride

Very simply, I ride to live.

Some folks say they live to ride, but I ride to live.

In March 2005 I suffered a stroke. The stroke was caused by a failed heart valve. At my cardiac rehab exit interview I was asked what I was going for exercise to continue my recovery. I was not sure but knew I had to do something.

You know how things just work out? I knew I did not enjoy running and walking – that’s “work”. I decided to check out buying a bicycle. I had problems finding a sales clerk at the local department stores. It was a Sunday, a bicycle shop in the area was open – I stopped to check them out.

Bill put me on a comfort bike. I had not been on a bicycle since as a kid. What are all of these levers for on the handlebar? With tentative pedal strokes I was on my adventure. In that abbreviated season I logged nearly 800 miles.

In no time, I “out grew” that bike. Bought a hybrid. In my first riding season, I logged over 2000 miles and added a hardtail mountain bike to my stable. I sent in my dues for THOR (Trails Have Our Respect – the local dirt trail advocacy group), Soon the singletrack was calling me. I fell in love with riding in the woods on a sweet singletrack.

I started feeling great – physically and emotionally. My speed and endurance increased. Asked my doctor if we could try dropping the anti-depressant that I was on. In no time, cycling became my medication.

Sure, I have bad days, but nothing that a bicycle ride couldn't cure!

For 4 years I served as Webmaster for THOR and spent time on the South West Iowa Nature Trails board (Wabash Trace Nature Trail). In 2009 I logged over 3000 miles in my bikes, which now included a trail bike.

Every time I made a trip out of town one or two bicycles were on the car rack. I started searching new trail to explore. Singletrack, Rails-to-Trails, country roads, and bicycle paths – they are all routes to adventure.

Late 2009 I hit a speed bump in the road of recovery. A lump on my shoulder turned out to be cancer. A later biopsy confirmed that it had spread into my lungs. But I did not let this stop me. When the trips for treatments seemed to be more than I could bear, I went out for a bicycle ride. I ended up over 300 miles pedaling during 7 weeks of radiation and 11 weeks of chemo.

For a reward for seeing through the treatments, I bought a road bike. Rule #1: The authorized number of bicycles is equal to the number currently owned plus 1.

My cycling friends and cardiac rehab folks consider me as an inspiration. For me, I want to spread the word of what cycling has done for me and how it can help others.

For over 30 years, you would not see me without my pipe. Was always off for a smoke break. With the week in the hospital I decided to stop smoking. Now, I have not been able to lose weight by pedaling, but my cardiovascular system is in much better shape (my cardiologist is very pleased). My balance is greatly improved (but still can't do a track stand). My depression is basically gone.

I have learned about singletrack design and maintenance. I have cleared brush and downed trees from trails. Six years ago I learned to speak all over. Now, I feel confident enough to speak about what cycling means to me. I want to spread the word.

As I and writing this, I am in the hospital to “freeze” a tumor on the left kidney. A biopsy will decide if it was cancer. In about 6 weeks we will do the same thing all over again for a tumor on the right kidney. My cycling is giving me the drive and determination that I will tame that beast. After all, there are a lot of more bicycle trails to explore. More folks to get on the cycling bandwagon.

That is Why I Ride

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lake Manawa Clean-up Day

Over the last week or so, I started seeing the notices of the annual Lake Manawa Clean-up Day. Its is held every year on the first Sunday of May. Hundreds of folks gather for pick up trash in Lake Manawa State Park (Iowa).

THOR (Trails Have Our Respect - our local dirt trail advocacy group) helps lead the effort in the mountain bike trail area. Please take time to help on May 1st.

Yesterday, I took the time to take a photo of the clean-up day poster. It was taken during my bicycle ride. A relatively short ride for me (10+ miles on pavement).

I was a bit tired after the ride taken Tuesday. Needed just a good recovery ride. Clouds were gathering, temperature in) the 70s, winds picking up and changing direction (from the SE when I started.

Started from the Wabash Trace Trailhead and headed down toward Lake Manawa. Riding the "Super T" road bike. Was not sure if I was just doing a Manawa Loop or to the Trails Center and back.

As I started up Indian Creek Trail, I realized the wind had changed, now from the NE. So, opted to a lap around Manawa and back to the trailhead. After all, this was supposed to be a recovery ride from 25 miles the day before!

Had a relaxing ride through the residential area in Lake Manawa. Back up the trail along side Mosquito Creek, I encountered a good headwind. Still ended up wirh 11.8 miles in 54 minutes (12 mph).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Grade A+ Day and Ride

The weather forecast today was for sunshine, 10 mph winds from the South, temperature in the lower 70s. Sound like a great day for a bicycle ride. The weather is suppoed to go south later in the week. If I was gonna log some miles, today was the day.

Wanting to log some miles means riding the road bike. Aired the tires and loaded the bike on the car. Grabbed a light jacket, not sure how it would be out in town. Drove to the Wabash Trace trailhead.

Temperature at the trailhead was 68. Loaded up supplies on the bike. Left the jacket, hoping I would not need it. By the time I started down the trail next to Mosquito Creek, I knew I had dressed properly.

Had a good ride (even into the wind - such as it was) to Indian Creek Bridge. Stopped for a quick dring of water and headed up Indian Creek Trail with the wind. I could have pushed the speed, but was just having a relaxing ride. Still maxed out at about 18mph.

On over to the Western Historic Trails Center. Dewey saw me dismounting the bike. When I entered the building, Dewey told me that someone I had ridden with in Wisconsin had been by last Friday. Figured it was Bill (from MN), my first ride at the Festival of the Trails. The photo on the right is of Bill.

Hope you are reading my blog, Bill. I am planning to attend this year's Festival of the Trails. Looking forward to seeing you again at Festival. Thanks for the inaugural ride. Hope you had a good ride while you were in the area (Dewey said you were on your bike when you visited the Trails Center).

From the Trails Center, rode up the Iowa Riverfront Trail to the "Bob Bridge". Decided to ride up the the center of the bridge. Construction on the Omaha side of the river, North of the bridge is getting near completion. New residence building and addition to the Gallup campus.

Lots of dirt being moved in the Iowa side of the river at the Bob Bridge. All of that construction is for the new Council Bluffs Riverfront Park. Even with the economy, CB is continuing develop and construct parks and trails. A progressive city.

Back down the Iowa Riverfront Trail to the Trails Center. Stopped long enough to fill my water bottle. Then, over to Xtreme Wheels. Relatively short visit there. Consumed my bottle of G2 and a granola bar.

On South into the wind down Harry Langdon and South Avenue back to the Wabash Trace Trailhead Park. Just short of 25 miles, and 2 hours and 15 minutes of riding time. Just an awesome day and ride.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Checking out The Trace

After breakfast, it was time to get ready for a bike ride. Gonna be a windy, hot day. Forecast is for winds of 20-30 from the South. Sounds like a ride on the Wabash Trace.

The temperature was rising quickly, so headed to Silver City to ride. Started South down the Trace. Goal was to ride to Malvern or further.

As I pedaled, I could sense that I was not going to make it to Malvern. The trail surface was a bit soft, raising my heart rate and tiring my legs. The new destination was the Silver Creek Bridge. Today's photo was taken of/on the bridge.

I was wearing my hydration pack. Glad I had that as the as the hear and humidity was getting to me. There was NO air moving on the bridge.

After stopping for a few photos and drinking some of my G2, figured that I might as well pedal a little further. When I got to 305th St, I decided that was enough and headed back to Silver City.

The ride back was a little better with the tail wind. But, still taxing. Arrived back to the car exhausted, Car thermometer reads 85 deg. Guzzled the other bottle of G2 on the way home.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hardtail and Singletrack

Yesterday was another great day for bicycle riding, sixty's and sunny. Forecast was for windy conditions so I decided to check out dirt at Lake Manawa. Brought the hardtail with the rack as its easier to carry the D-SLR camera. Wanted to shoot some HDR of the trails at Manawa.

Started on West Sidewinder to warm-up and get re-acquainted with the hardtail on dirt. From there, headed East to start a lap. Trail condition was "primo". Nice solid tread. There has been enough riders to smooth out some of the rough spots.

double track from Riverfront Real Estate to Fast Track was dry! Re-route of the muddy area on Fast Track has worn in and old trail has disappeared.

In Tony's Playground, there's a new rouge log crossing (photo above). I can tell its rouge the way it was constructed. Request for riders - Please do NOT construct or alter trail features. Trail features must be constructed and maintained by the THOR Trail Crew.

Long's Loop is in good shape. Need a little work at the ditch - back side of Fast Track to No Second Chance. No Second Chance it clear though could be use some riding to crush the bark debris. East Sidewinder is in good shape.

On over the the short side. Ditch at the entrance of WoodChopper is dry. All of WoodChopper is in great condition.

It was just GREAT to be able to ride the WHOLE lap at Lake Manawa.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grade "A" Ride

Nearly a perfect day for a bicycle ride. Temperature was in the upper 60s to 70 degrees with wall-2-wall sunshine. There was a breeze from the West, meant leaning into the wind some times. Had the wind less, the day could have been A+.

The weather was just saying "Get out and ride". Did I want to ride my hardtail on The Trace? Maybe the Fuel EX7 for some dirt at Lake Manawa. Or perhaps some miles on pavement. Decisions, decisions. I opted for a pavement ride on the road bike.

Headed out from the Wabash Trace Trailhead. As normal, I was not sure just how far I would ride. But, with the weather, my goal was over 20 miles.

It was "breezy" with winds basically from the West. With that, I was still able to ride at about 10-11 mph into the wind. Stopped at the Indian Creek Bridge for a couple photos and a drink of water. On over to the Trails Centr.

Stopped there to sign the guest book and visit. The head wind section of the ride was over! Turned North to the Bob Bridge. Lots of construction between the levee and the river - constructing a new Council Bluffs park.

Continued on the Iowa Riverfront trails to Big Lake. Was a beautiful day at Big Lake. Today's photo features the Super T and a fisherman at Big Lake. This is one of my refreshment stops - eat a granola bar and drank my bottle of G2.

South on N. 8th into downtown. Stopped at the bike shop for a visit and look as larger saddle bags. From there is was a shot 4 miles down Harry Langdon to the trailhead. Roughest part of the ride was climbing over the railroad on Harry Langdon.

Ended up with 22 miles, 1 hour and 54 minutes riding time for 11.58 mph. Oh, and reached the 300 mile mark in 2011.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Swanson River City Shootout

The first of the weekend of Psycowpath Mountain Bike racing is in the record books. The weather cooperated. Most of Sunday was sunny and breezy, In the woods, it was a almost hot!

Sunday saw the 20th running of the Swanson River City Shootout. There were 200 registered races! It also was the inaugural race for Omaha Devo.

My photos are posted on the race photo web site:

The photos on the web site have not been retouched or edited. Since I shot most in both JPG and Canon RAW, I am able to adjust much of the exposure of the photos. If you want to see what a corrected photo looks like before purchasing, send me a note with the number and I will send you a proof copy. Also, if you prefer the original Canon Raw file, that can be arranged, too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Race Season Has Begun

The Psycowpath Mountain Bike race season got on a great start yesterday with 2 races. The first race was Jewell Jam Time Trial, held at Jewell Park, Bellevue, NE.

The weather and trail conditions wee about perfect. Solid, yet slightly tacky tread. Temperature in the 50s, climbing to 70 and a light breeze.

The winner was Stephen Jarrett, course trail leader. The photo above is of Steve as he burned up the course.

One problem with races at Jewell Park is the parking. Most of the parking is at an elementary school about 6 blocks South of the park. That can be taxing after standing on the hillside for 2 1/2 hours. Thanks to Dave of Moose Tooth, who gave me a ride to my car.

From Jewell Park, it was a quick stop at Mickey D's for some "food" and over to Swanson Park.

The Swanson Park races were "Short Track" events. Originally it was going to be a mountain bike crit through old town Bellevue. Maybe next year?

The short track races were exciting. Mass starts with riders navigating some 0.7 miles of grass and singletrack. Was not sure how long I would stay at the race. I shot the first 4 races. Did not stay for the 5th (last) race and awards. I had enought. After all, there's the Swanson River City Shoot-out to shoot today.

Photos I shot yesterday are on my race photo site --

Lesson learned: White Balance - I tried to adjust the balance for overcast, shade and sunny. The photos shot under "cloudy" and "shade" on the Canon are too warm (red tint). Sunny was OK. Think next time I will just leave the white balance as "Auto". Luckily, with the main camera (T1i) I was shooting both RAW and JPG. So, before I deliver files to my customers, I can correct the color temperature.

Lesson 2: Bring a bike to shoot races at Jewell. Its a long walk up the the car.