Sunday, March 30, 2014

Swanson Shootout

The 2014 Psycowpath racing season is underway!  The first race of the season was held yesterday at Swanson Park, Bellevue, Nebraska.

With below freezing temperatures, there was some 30 trail runners for their race.  Runners had a start time of 8am and ran 5+ miles over the Swanson Park trails..  I did not arrive until 9 (Was at ham radio breakfast before). Was there in time to shoot photos of the trail running podium.

Large field of bicycle racers.  I heard there were about 40 racing the 4 hour marathon.  Once the Juniors, Marathon, and Category 3 races were off, i headed into the woods for shots on the trail.  Found a vantage point not too far from the shelter.

Temperature were still under freezing.  Missed some of the riders when my fingers would stop working trying to actuate the shutter button.

Visited for a while between races.  Shot the start of the Category 1 and Category 2 races.  Ended up with the photos of the early bicycle race podiums.  By then, I had enough for the day.  Stopped by the bike shop and grocery store on the way home.

Thanks for the race promoters, the volunteers, and officials.  Great job by the THOR ( trail maintenance crew.  Special thanks to Edge Physical Therapy for grilling and providing burgers and hot dogs.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Major Life-Changing Events

Thanks for postings on facebook, I found out today is Viet Nam Veteran's Day.  Did not do anything special to remember the day except to wear one of my Viet Nam / 199th LIB caps.

The commemorative day is not well known.  I am not surprised, with the way we were treated and how the country would prefer forgetting it.

It was a different country.  That was driven home to me as a high school classmate (who had posted this clipart on her FB page) commented

"Thanks to everyone who served in Vietnam. I know it was virtually 100% of my graduating h.s. class in 1965."

More information about my service in Viet Nam can be found on my web site at:

The last week of March in 2005 was a big week for me.   That week I was in the University of Nebraska Medical Center Hospital.  My roommate drove me to the hospital believing I had suffered a stroke.  I had been sick for over 6 months but my doctors could not find out the cause. 

About a day/night in the hospital, the ran several tests.  My health started turning for the worse.  I remember staff where going to take me for an MRI.  Instead, I was rushed into surgery.  I woke up with lots of tubes in me and a new (mechanical) heart valve.  

One of my doctors later told me that it was emergency surgery and that they almost lost me.  I don't remember the night I was admitted into the hospital - I was in there for about a week.  One March 31st, 2005, I was release from the hospital and started the journey to recovery.  Some friends call it my second birthday, I call it an anniversary.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Outside Bike, Brew, and Beyond

I just saw information about a new bicycle festival.  I have been looking for a Spring festival.  Mark your calendars for May 16-18, 2014 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

From web site: "Outside Magazine and Cycle Santa Fe present the inaugural Bike and Brew Festival, a three day celebration of craft beer culture and exceptional road and mountain biking in beautiful Santa Fe."

The festival is being held in conjunction with the Santa Fe Century (29th Annual) and Gran Fondu.  What I can see from the web site, there is no cover charge for the festival.  But guessing that the brews and food are ala carte.  There IS a fee for the Century ride (100 mile, 50 mile, or 20 mile ride).

This is sure tempting.  Not sure that I could do Santa Fe mid May and Crosby, NM in June.  Santa Fe is much further to drive to, but the festival is over 3 days (the Cuyuna festival is 1 1/2 days).  I am familiar with the Cuyuna festival and trails.  Have never ridden trails in Santa Fe.  The Santa Fe festival is for road bikes, mountain bikes, and cruisers.  The 7000 ft elevation of Santa Fe might be too much for me.

Time to look at my finances.  I had already planned to skip the Black Hills festival because of the lodging cost (over $100 a night).  Santa Fe has rooms for under $60 a night.

For othes looking at mountin bikeing festivals -- Crested Butte Bike Week (Colorado) is June 25-29, 2014.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Scoping Out the Zoo

Slept in today as no early morning chat for the next week.  Noticed a light dusting of snow on the grass.  Was looking for an early start for a trip to the Omaha Zoo.  But, with the cool morning, I waited until 11am to head to the zoo.

I have a couple of goals by visiting the zoo.  It would give me an excuse to get out of the house and walk.  The zoo would also be a great place to hone my photography skills.

Mostly sunny morning, but cool and windy.  My first venue in the zoo was the Desert Dome.  Was looking forward the the warmth and light in the dome.  Did not end up getting many photos there because major remodeling in the Desert Dome.

Next location I wanted to check out was the Lied Jungle.  That was a lost cause.  The cold outside air and the warm, humid air in the jungle fogged up my glasses and camera lens.  I was obvious that it would take a long time to stabilize the lens.  I exited the jungle and went to the Wild Kingdom Pavilion.

Must be school break because the zoo (and particularly this pavilion) was filled with kids.  On over to the aquarium.  This was the best place to refine my photography.  The various lighting, moving subjects, and shooting through glass had their own issues.  Still, I was able to get some decent shots.

Was going to check out the butterfly Pavilion, but was just too congested with parents getting kids out of strollers.  Decide to check out the Orangutan, Gorillas, and Bear Canyon.  By the time I had checked out these locations and shot some photos, my legs were getting tired.

Its not easy to get back from Bear Canyon to the zoo entrance.  Walking back through the Gorilla exhibit (more where outside at this time), and took the elevators up to near the Desert Dome.  Walking back from the entrance to my car, I had to stopped a couple times to rest my legs and knee. 

I ended up walking (with very few breaks) for 2 1/2 hours.  Much longer than I had originally planned.  Treated myself with a late lunch at Culver's.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pain in the Back

No idea what caused it, but a couple weeks ago I was suffering a pain in my back.  Just a nagging ache, nothing debilitating. Had a pre-scheduled doctor appointment so asked him about my pain.  After all, it was in the left kidney area where I had a kidney cancer tumor "frozen".

With the cancer history, from his office I went to the UNMC Cancer Treatment area.  Ended up with a CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis,  This did not show any reason for my problem.

Next I was scheduled for a bone scan - make sure the cancers had not spread to my bones.  The scan just showed the arthritis I knew about in my left knee.  Final test was x-rays of the spine.  That just showed expected degeneration for age.

There is a little spot in one of my lungs that is starting to grew, so we will treat that with radiation.  My medical oncologist offered me to meet with the clinic's pain doctor. I was all up to me, but I figured it couldn't hurt.  I was able to meet her while that day at the clinic.

The resident (introduced to me as the doctor's assistant) did some examination and we talked about the complaint.  Told him I would not have worried so much about it except for the history of kidney cancer in that area.  I also said I would prefer not taking more pills, as I am already taking enough.  The pain was not even enough for me to take a Tylenol.

The doctor came in.  Did a cursory exam.  She said she had prescribed some pain medication (nonnarcotic).  Before I could talk about the cost, was it really needed, she had her office already called in the prescriptions to my pharmacy of record.

I was not please.  She told me my blood work was showing some possible problems by the kidneys with heavy medication, so was prescribing a lower dose plan.  She also mention about a cream (guessing a topical medication) but by then, she had lost me.  I do NOT like doctor's ASSUME I will take all of their advice without discussion.  After all, if the meds are expensive, I have dropped my MediCare part D because I could work with the VA for those.

My local pharmacy has called me that they have my prescriptions.  Just not sure that I will be picking them up.  Planning to call my medical oncologist's nurse to discuss this further.

UPDATE:  Looked at the discharge sheet from the clinic.  The pain doctor is prescribing "gabapentin" 300mg (aka Neurontin).  Googled the med and not sure I want to take this stuff.  For sure not until I talk more with my other medical contacts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Soft Trails

Once again, we need to caution trail users regarding damage to dirt and crushed stone trails.  We have had a long Winter and folks are chomping at the bit to get out and ride/walk the trails.  The problem is that you are managing the trails when they are soft (until the frost is out of the ground). 

The dirt (natural surface - singletrack) trails are being torn up at some places.  If you leave mud in your shoes or bike tires, it is too soft.  If you are leaving marks in the trail surface, its too soft.

Look at this photo (upper photo) of the Wabash Trace taken in the Spring of 2012.  All of these ruts were caused by riding the soft trail surface.  Once these ruts are cut in, it takes a long time and several passes with a grader/scraper.  Mean time, you have to deal with the rough trail until it smooths out. 

Here's a photo (lower photo) taken by one of our THOR members, the damage done to the trail at Tranquility Park.  This photo was taken very recently.

PLEASE - Don't ride soft/muddy trails!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Coffee Packet Review

With my Keurig coffee brewer, I received several coffee samples. One box (12 pkts ea) of Newmans Original Blend and Green Mountain Nantucket Blend. Also a sampler box – all different. Here's my review so far. Note: unless specified, each cup was brewed as a large cup.

First morning – I tried the 2 boxes:

Green Mountain Nantucket Blend, Medium Roast – funky flavor. Not excited about it. Will have to try it again as I have a box of 12. Not planning to buy any more.

Newmans Own Special Blend, Medium Roast, Extra Bold – Reasonable flavor. Right now, its a “go to” blend. Bold enough that I could get a large and small cup in one packet.

Now – the running commentary of the others in the sample pack:

Gloria Jean Hazelnut – very weak. Might have a problem when I tried to extend the use by brewing a large and small cup with the same packet.

Caribou Coffee, Caribou Blend – OK, but nothing worth writing home about. Might be good with a shot of hazelnut syrup.

Van Houtte French Vanilla – reasonable flavored coffee. Just enough vanilla. Coffee could be bolder.

Tullys French Roast – A bold roast. A reasonable flavor. Little bitter aftertaste at the end of the cup. Still like the Newman's, better.

Donut Shop Medium – Not harsh, not bold. Not weak. Good all-around taste/blend

Green Mountain Breakfast Blend – Its coffee, but about all I can say about it. I am thinking that “breakfast blends” are just some caffeine running through your system.

Green Mountain Nantucket Blend – Getting low on my sampler box so tried this blend again. Must have been a bad (stale) packet. Not so bad this time. No “funky” flavor today. One or 2 cups is enough in the morning – finish off with Newman's when I wanted a third. I will be able to consume the box, just not planning to buy more.

Ordered some more coffees with the brewer registration:

Van Houtte Vanilla Hazelnut, Light – There is some reasonable flavor. Being a light roast, not much “kick” in the coffee. Will have to see how it tastes as the first cup of the day.

Timothy's Kahula Original, Mild – Decent coffee. Kahala flavor stays on the palette.

Tully's Hawaiian Blend, Medium Roast, Extra Bold – Bold flavor but not overpowering. Would be a great coffee when you need to get up and out.

Eight O-Clock Hazelnut, Medium Roast – THIS is closer what I am looking for in a hazelnut-flavored coffee. Medium roast, not too strong and not weak. Reasonable hazelnut flavor.

Picked up 12-packet boxes at the grocery store (non-Keurig packets):

HyVee Hazelnut (mild) Blend – Funky smell from the brewer. It sure is a mild blend. Can tell there is some favoring added, just not taste it. Not planning to buy this coffee again.

Cameron's Vanilla Hazelnut, Light Roast – opened the box – are not in typical Keurig packets. May have to check out how to use in the brewer. OK, just a different filter section of the packet. Decent flavor, could be bolder coffee roast.

More - Looking for the perfect cup...  (added May/June 2014)

Superior Selections, Medium Roast.  -- Reasonable taste, specially for the lower-priced coffees on the grocery shelf.  Mild kick and no nasty after-taste.  Almost as good as Newmans Own without the cost.  

Millstone Hazelnut Creme -- Picked up at a local grocery store (box of 12). Reasonable hazelnut flavor, no aftertaste.  Good enough to order from Keurig.

Timothy's Hazelnut, Medium Roast. --  Very disappointed with this coffee.  Had high hops as I enjoy the Kaluha coffee from this roaster.  Weak coffee and unpleasant aftertaste.  Won't be purchasing this one again.

Second Order from Keurig  (June 2014)

Been enjoying coffee from the brewer enough that I made a second order or 4 boxes from Keurig.  One is the Timothy's Hazelnut reviewed above.   Ordered a lager box of Millstone Hazelnut - see above.    Two others are re-orders for coffees I enjoy  from the earlier order. They are worth mentioning.   Eight O-Clock Hazelnut, Medium Roast,  and  Timothy's Kahula Original, Mild.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

THOR Annual Meeting

Saturday, I had two functions I could attend - SWIARC (Amateur Radio) flea market or the THOR (Trails Have Our Respect) Annual Meeting.  I opted on the THOR meeting and glad I did.

The first time I attended a THOR annual meeting it was in 2007(?).  The meeting was held in the repair part of a local bike shop.  There were about 8 attendees.

The 2014 version brought out about 40 members to talk about an advocate for dirt trails in the area.  Awesome turnout for a bitter cold day.  Thanks for the National Park Service for the use of their space. (See upper photo)

The meeting started with welcoming message and goals for the meeting.  Short reports offered by officers, committee chairs, and trail leaders.  Quickly the group got down to the meet if the meeting.

Currently, THOR is an affiliated club of IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association).  There was a video presentation about the benefits of becoming a Chapter of IMBA.  One complaint about the video - The narrator talked way to fast (missed about half of the words) and the graphics flashed in too quickly. 

Break-out groups were given the task of defining what they wanted the singletrack/mountain bike community would look like in 2020.  Many ideas were introduced for future consideration.  It gave an idea of the direction the club wants to take.   (see lower photo)

There was another break-out session where topics of Trail Maintenance, Social  Functions,  Fund Raising, and Strategic Planning/Development were discussed.  I was somewhat surprised that the largest break-out group (over half of the attendees) were in the Trail Maintenance discussion! 

There are high school cycling teams being formed in the Omaha area.  A representative of the high school cycling league spoke about the goals of the league and asked for THOR member help.  Another guest speaker was a representative from the Omaha Mayor's office.  He attended the entire meeting and made some remarks.

Meeting finished with nomination and elections of required club officers.  For those missed the meeting - Officers were re-elected for another term.  Roxzanne Feagan (Pres), Mike Farrell (VP), April Eyberg (Secr), Dave Neef (Treas).  Meeting ended at time,  The club trailer was in the parking lot available to dropping off metal for recycling.