Thursday, January 26, 2012

Joy of Life

For me there is nothing quite like the thrill of a well orchestrated symphony of mind, heart, lungs and muscle propelling me forward under a canopy of trees backlit my a clear blue sky. 

Today was a warm winter day. It was one those day's when everything seemed just right and the joy of being alive brought tears to my eyes. I've had many obstacles thrown in my path but with each adversity I struggle to overcome my joy for life deepens. None of us ever asks for tragedy or pain in our lives but when it does come our response to it's lesson determines the nature of our soul.

Enjoying the ride on Kanan Road under the shade of the Coast Life Oaks in Thousand Oaks.  

On a short trail at Oak Canyon Community Park in Oak Park.

Taking a break at Oak Canyon Community Park.

Letting Betzi walk as I get ready to do some hill climbing in a quiet residential area in Agoura Hills. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rear Rack for the 700

The 700 looks really good when it's unencumbered with add on stuff...

but I needed a some storage for tools, first aid and a few odds and ends so I added the Catrike side bags...

and then came longer rides so I ended up taking the Expedition more often then the 700 so I could load it up with creature comforts like food, thermos of tea, winter outer gear, general stuff and Betzi in her trailer ...

then I started missing the speed and thrill of riding the 700 so I compromised on the 700's look and put a rear rack for those long rides. The pictures below show the end result.
I had an Old Man Mountain rear rack that I had laying around. It has a clean look so I used it. To secure it in place I bought a pair of 13" Old Man Mountain extender bars (Old Man Mountain extender). The dull gray bars looked lousy so I painted them black, red and white to match my rear American Classic rim.

It seems that the end result is a reasonable compromise of looks and practicality.  When I need the extra space I can throw on a small pannier.

Pannier Folded
Pannier unfolded and ready to pack

Now the only choice that I have to make is whether or not I take Betzi for a cruise with my Expedition or go solo for a fast ride on the 700. Either way I now have room for "stuff" on both of my chariots.

Note about the panniers:
The small silver panniers on the 700 are an older set made by Topeak. They're okay but I would not recommend them because the attachment mechanism is poor and I use some elastic bands from DiNotte lighting to secure them down. On the positive side they flatten up nicely when there is nothing in them.
The large red panniers on the Expedition are made by Ortlieb. They are simply big waterproof bags with a good attachment system. They work fine for loading up with groceries and other stuff.

DeNotte O-Rings securing the pannier from behind. The dirty thing on the left bottom is my rear wheel.

UPDATE 3/7/12:  I took off the rack Taking Weight Off the 700

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miles and Elevation 2011

In 2011 I rode 1,090 miles. It's not a big number but most of those miles included towing Betzi. At first I estimated  the weight of the trike, trailer and dog to be about 130lbs. After hooking up a scale it came closer to 150lbs. The total elevation gain was 81,206 feet. Everywhere I ride is hills. Unless I want to ride circles around the lake in Westlake Village there is no flat place for an extended ride. Even with the low mileage for 2011 I got plenty of climbing done. The mileage also includes two breaks for two hip surgeries and of course a heart attack which put an end to the last few rides of the year.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Heart Attack - Final Word

This will be the last post devoted exclusively to my ticker. It's been a little over two weeks since I had an heart attack and I've started riding my trikes again with no limitations. 

It's time to move on and start blogging about cycling stuff. Before I do I want to share the results of what happened to me on Christmas day 2011 with the hope that others may benefit and learn from my experience. (The details of the day I had my heart attack are posted here Heart Attack and a short follow up here Bored and Drugged.)

It is only natural that we want to find a reason why someone takes a fall and to be assured that the reason does not pertain to us and that we will live a long unencumbered life. Sorry to disappoint but there was no outstanding risk factor prior to my heart attack that raised a red flag. Over the years I have avoided the risk factors associated with heart disease. I exercise regularly, my weight is under control, good diet, no family history of heart disease and blood pressure is good. Even though I have now been told that there is some history of high cholesterol in the family my cholesterol levels were good. To top it all I took two physicals (including EKG's) in 2011 in preparation for hip surgery earlier in the year. Everything checked out good. 

So how does someone who is in good shape and exercises regularly have an heart attack while exercising? Even though there is no history (until now) of heart disease in my family I still managed to build up a plague deposit in one of my coronary arteries, the LAD to be exact. While watching my cardiologist repair my LAD in less then twenty minutes with an angioplasty and two stents, he found no evidence of plague buildup in any of my other arteries. The offending artery had a good size buildup of plague. Plague buildup in the artery is characterized by a soft center surrounded by a hard shell. Under the pressure of  blood flowing through my artery, while cycling hard that Christmas day, the soft inner plague broke through the outer shell and blocked my artery and lead to an arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). Even after the blood flow was restored to my heart it took another ten hours for the arrhythmia to settle down. 

Even with a 100% blockage of my LAD I suffered no permanent damage to my heart muscle. I got help reasonably fast (I should have called 911 for a faster response). About 40 minutes passed from the time I started feeling the intense pain in my chest and the pain radiating down my left arm until Carrie got me to the fire station.  A couple of aspirin, a little nitroglycerin and an IV in my arm and the pain started to ease up. This was shortly followed by a code 3 ride over to the hospital.

Another factor that played into getting me through this mess without any heart damage was my fitness level. Even with a compromised coronary artery I have managed to build up a strong heart and vascular system with years of cycling and hiking. Even with a blocked artery and arrhythmia my heart muscle was still receiving just enough support from the healthy arteries to keep my heart "alive" until I received help.

I now know that all my arteries are in good condition. While performing the angioplasty my cardiologist took a little time to examine the rest of the arteries around my heart and gave me a thumbs up. In the future I will be taking stress tests every three years to determine the health of my heart. It seems to me that anyone over the age of fifty, has a family history of heart disease or is a competitive athlete should be taking a stress test. Doctors tell us that after you turn fifty you should have a camera stuck up your behind every few years to check for problems in the colon. How about a stress test for your heart every few years? A stress test is the most effective way to determine if you have fat filled arteries.

It'll take a little time to get used to such mundane bodily functions as the pressure of a burp working it's way up and out... it ain't a heart attack it's just that burrito I ate for lunch.

For many a heart attach would be a wake up call. Having a heart attach and getting through it was a confirmation call that I've successfully prepared for this "shit happens" moment. Being physically fit does not come easy for me but over the years I have put forth the effort to stay fit and it has paid off. I can't predict the future I can only stay strong and be prepared for whatever I'm dealt. My cardiologist says I'm good for the long run but when my time does come I will accept my fate knowing full well that I did the best I could do to be part of the lives of those I love and who love me. Until that time comes...

Here's an easy to follow guide about heart disease.
Visual Guide to Heart Disease

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Heart Attack - Bored and Drugged

Heart Attack - Original post from 12/28/11

It's hard to walk past my trikes in the garage. I'm mentally ready to hop on and take a ride but first things first. The insertion point for the angioplasty in the artery in my right leg needs to completely heal so I don't take a chance of popping open it open. I popped it open in the hospital shortly after surgery. Got to love those nurses...they wasted no time stopping the flow of blood under my skin that was inflating by groin.  In the end I was embarrassed that I didn't listen to their instructions about taking care of the ole artery and I was left with a bloody bruise.
Everyday I get to look at my trikes just sitting there waiting for me.

Also the stink'n drugs keep me light headed. Two of the meds are to keep my blood pressure low while healing. I can't wait to get off those things. My blood pressure is normally right on target. With the meds I have to stand up slow because there's not enough pressure to quickly move the blood into my head. Result...I get light headed without having to have a couple of beers. Yes...I still get to have a beer or two. I'm not dead yet just sidelined.

I see my cardiologist on the 11th. I plan on riding on the 12th.