OK, Now what? I got PE

I recently had an incident of having Pulmonary Embolism aka blood clots in my lungs. It was quite a surprise. Of course any health issue would be since I rarely have any! All my cycling peers wondered, “how can it be, you ride tons of miles for years?” You would think, huh?pp1

Nope. Clots may be much more prevalent than we should assume. They may typically form in our calves (some call our second heart) over time and “float” up into our heart, brain or lungs as they break apart or if they break apart. They come in all sizes. As cyclists, we can ignore the early stages if they begin in the calves. We would think of them as sore muscle or cramps due to fatigue and dehydration. When clots form in the calves, it is diagnosed as Deep Vein Thrombosis. Serious. For me, I had a new hurt, not while riding. Mine was like a running “stitch” in my lower right chest that became increasingly worse like a case of indigestion and then like I was punched in the ribs, just over a few hours. I tried all my old tricks, drinking lots of water, breathing deeply and lying down.  Nothing worked. Pain became unbearable. Time for the pros.

So, Andrea and I went to the hospital and I was tested with CAT scans, ultrasound and X-rays. The fine folks at the hospital discovered the clots, all in my lungs. I am glad Andrea was with me who could explain to the doctors, “Do you understand what he does for fun?” I am very fortunate it was caught early and the doctors understood my riding lifestyle. I am not such an oddball here since the small community where I live is full of sports intense individuals. We live in the heart of the Rockies at high altitude, perfect conditions for the athlete.

I was treated with blood thinners to begin the process to dissolve the clots and meds for the pain. I was lucky. I went to the hospital and needed no surgery!

breath toolsThe doc said I could start riding the week after the pain ceased. I should monitor myself with a Pulse Oximeter and use the Incentive Spirometer. Great news! But how much riding? I was into my season of brevets starting with lots of 100+ mile rides. She said hydrate more, check your blood oxygen amounts and stop if it goes in to the 80s. Does she really know me? I choose to side with caution and actually heed the advice of others this time and the HTFU mentality will have to take a back seat for a bit. I just got a little shit scared. Cycling friends came out of the woodwork sharing their experiences, all with much worse situations than mine, one a world champion nonetheless.  All are back on their bikes and competing!

However, what to do next from such limited guidance was not enough for me and their riding was not quite like mine. Could I just resume my schedule? I have 300k brevet the next week. No. This new incident and my riding goals conflicted with my friends, family as well as me! I was not sure what to do! The best tips I received so far was from others with Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)  is to do your own research and hydrate! Thank God for water and Google!

I began researching topics of athletes with PE, endurance athletes with PE, low heart rate and PE, bicyclists with PE, and recovering from PE, etc. I found the best source was LiveStrong.com. I learned all about PE, DVT, hydrating, signs to look out for, compression stockings and socks, what to avoid, exercises, stretches and so on. All very helpful but a lot of gaps in my situation, riding alone for long periods of time. So, I have had to piece together items I need to add to my riding gear beyond what most of you take like your spare tire kit, pump and water bottles.

XareltoNow I have to take this speck of a pill daily. Little sucker costs over $12 each! It’s called Xarelto. My fellow PEers call it rat poison. I’m okay with it. It works however there is one side affect that worries me. It’s a blood thinner. I already have thin skin. So if I cut, scrape or knock into something, I bleed easily. Xarelto compounds the issue. So, I worry of external bleeding as well as internal. I have been making changes, such as exchanging razor for electric shaving, wearing a cowboy hat so I don’t bonk my head and always carry a bandana and wear a RoadID.

I often ride alone on roads that see very little traffic. How nice, yes? Unless there is an emergency. Cell phones do not work very well. Reception is sketchy to non existent here and who I may be calling is not close by or understand exactly my location or not have their phone with them. Voice mails are not always quick on delivery and texts as well may be overlooked. It happens. However, this shit doesn’t fly when there is an IMG_1338emergency. Therefore, I ride with a Spotfinder.  I hope I never have to use it for an emergency. I do use it often because there are features to communicate. My wife, Andrea can track my progress. I can tell her that I am okay. I can tell her a simple message which is usually prearranged of a brevet control station or a turnaround or destination. I can hit the black button that can tell her to come and get me. Finally, there is the red button. I depress that one, I am telling her and the 911 folks I am in dire need of help!  The folks at Spot claim that they have helped save over 5000 lives. I do not ride without it.  It might help me, but it may help someone riding with me that is having an emergency or someone else on the road I encounter. The Spot has become my primary tool of outreach and then my phone. It uses GPS, not cell towers.

Speaking of communicating, before I leave for a ride. I provide Andrea with all the details and time estimates of my stops. I furnish her with a map of my route with all the controls or stops with which I will “spot” her so she can be notified of my progress. I will use my phone if there is cellular reception or later when I find coverage.  COMMUNICATE!

h2oI am not much of a drinker on rides. I can go thirty miles without taking a sip. I know, I know. I’ve read all about drinking. Ya da Yadda! I hydrated before rides and when the temps get hot. I’ve finally seen the light! Halleyfreakinlouya! By not hydrating, my blood was turning to “syrup” trying to flow through my veins, arteries and heart at  125-190 bpm. A curdling thought, eh? Post clot mentality is to take a minimum of two bottles and take a drink every 5 minutes and replenish with much more at stops. On rides that are super long with stretches of no available water, I will pack the Platypus liter bottles filled. I will also use them if I go overnight and poach a sleep/nap and I can have plenty of water to refuel and recover. I love coffee and now I supplement it with water afterwards. Some of my peers shared with me that they hydrate with electrolytes. I’m not a fan of those drinks. I prefer a mineral water instead if I can get it. HYDRATE!

idSo, now I’m an easy bleeder on blood thinner medicine. If I have an accident, chances are I may need medical help. I had my RoadID updated. I have been wearing medical IDs for a long time. I am on the road quite a bit and alone and if I have a health issue and I am unable to speak for myself, I hope this will help. When I was in the hospital recently, the EMT’s did not see it because it was a black wrist band. I think the red will be more noticeable. Please do not put one on your shoe or on your bike. Who is going to look there while there is an emergency tending to you? Give them something to work with. Time is of the essence. IDENTIFICATION!

In addition, I carry a first aid kit for me and for anyone else in distress! I always had some first aid when I began randonneuring, but it was entirely insufficient. So, I found a wonderful backpacking medical kit and I included a clotting sponge. I also ride with a bandana and I can use my tire pump as a tourniquet. You never know, I might be snake bait! All I hope I never have to use. PREPAREDNESS!

Finally, when I am not riding, I make an effort to take better care of my lungs and legs. I will no longer ignore the soreness or cramps from leg pain. I feel my calves for specific sore spots and gently rub them with my hands or a massage stick. I foam roller will do the job too. I hydrate before I go to bed so I hope not to have night cramps. I also tend to my lungs now. I am much more sensitive to aches and pains around my chest. I use the Incentive Spirometer to exercise my lungs. At rest I typically blow only 500ml of air. The doc told me to pick it up. So I practice my breathing technique fully using all my lungs. Look up LiveStrong.com on deep breathing technique for cyclists. I practice breathing at 1500ml and push to 3000ml for full capacity. This practice helps enrich my blood oxygen levels which I monitor with the pulse oximeter. I cannot get 100% living here at 7500+ elevation, but pretty close. Doc sez stop riding if I drop into the 80s. Damn right! I have begun a practice checking my levels at stops. BREATHE!

So, I am a work in progress trying to figure this all out. My goal is to bounce back and resume riding forever. Getting PE was a surprise for me as it was to other riders who shared their story with me. Equally surprising was the little specific information as to what I can do next after I left the hospital and “recovered”. I hope this helps. PE can happen to anyone. Sharing is caring. RIDE!

paco

ciao

Doublecup Doubleloop 200k

…..possibly the easiest and most scenic permanent in the heart of the Rockies!

dblecupmapThe Doublecup Doubleloop (RUSA #3070) route is located in central Colorado centered around the town of Gunnison. Because the elevation on this permanent begins above 7700′,  the season to ride is generally best between May to October. The weather can change fast year round! Be prepared. The route is two out and back loops. You first begin from Gunnison and go eastward to Pitkin and return. Then you ride the second half going from Gunnison to Crested Butte and back. The total vertical climbing is around 4300′. The beginning, middle and ending control is at Mesa Campground located a few miles west of Gunnison.dbl9

The first control begins at Mesa Campground a few miles west of Gunnison on Hwy. 50. Be sure to begin your route heading east back towards Gunnison. As you pass through Gunnison, take note that there is an intersection named Main St or Hwy. 135 for future use. For now, you will continue eastbound on Hwy 50 until you reach Parlin. Hwy. 50 was resurfaced on 2016. Enjoy the wide shoulders, smooth pave and light traffic. Maybe a tailwind too!

 

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After 15.5 miles and your legs should be beginning to feel good you will drop downhill to a little crossroad to go north on County Rd. 76 at the little hamlet of Parlin aka the QT Corner. There is a post office a general store and cabins. The hours of operation are limited with the exception of the post office where you might need to use to seek refuge from the weather.dbl10

As you proceed north and east on County Rd. 76, you will follow along the valley of Quartz Creek all the way to Pitkin and back. This road is dated and the surface is a bit rough. On the other hand, there is hardly any traffic. You are the traffic! Enjoy the pasture lands and all the sites, like Indian Head Rock.

A few miles north up the road is another hamlet called Ohio City. There are stores, however, rarely open. Venture in if they are because it is like stepping into mining town history. All side roads are not paved. If you had another chance to come back, those off roads would be worth to explore.

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Six miles further is where the 2nd control is on the far end of town at the end of the paved road. Don’t let the beginning of Pitkin throw you off.

dbl11 This a wondferful little town rich with Colorado mining history and friendly folks. The control is at the Silver Plume General Store owned by Chris & Candy Nasso. You stay there long enough, they will make a fresh pot of coffee for you! 12802827_10153999935252558_3949165048985094213_n[1]11066784_10153156671867558_8567903141956552975_n[1] Besides the general store, they have a fantastic outdoor grill mainly open during the summer! Check out what Pitkin has to offer, especially if you want to go off roading into mining country all the way up to the Continental Divide!

As you begin back on the Doublecup Doubleloop, you turn back the way you came and retrace your route back to Gunnison and the third control to Mesa Campground. On the way back between Ohio City and Parlin you can see way off into the horizon the San Juan Mountains.dbl20The road back to Parlin is a bit bumpy, however downhill and quick. As you approach Parlin, get ready to turn right and go westward onto Hwy 50. This may be challenging if there is a predictable headwind. Mesa Campground is your next control point located west of Gunnison again.

After you get your control card initialed, turn back to Gunnison and begin the second half of your bike ride on Hwy 50 turning left onto Hwy 135 which is N. Main St.dbl1 Before you pass through Gunnison on your way up valley to Crested Butte, check out the shops, cafes and bike shops! Then continue north on Hwy. 135. About 10 miles from Gunnison is another little gem, Almont. It is where the Taylor and East Rivers converge to make the Gunnison River. If you have time to visit, I recommend riding up the Taylor Canyon. A fabulously beautiful long canyon road with little traffic and recently paved.

Don’t  lose track! Stay on Hwy. 135 to Crested Butte along the East River. The route has a slight grade uphill and possibly an afternoon headwind. The last 15-20 miles (your trip mileage 80-95) might be the most challenging due to the 2-4% long slug on tiring legs at altitude. On the other hand, the views of the snowcapped peaks will unfold before you. Simply stunning!

 

The approach to the Town of Crested Butte is a sweet relief, a big downhill into town! Your fourth control is downtown on Elk Avenue at Rumors Coffee Shop and Bookstore.

17991032_10155321267447558_308802582850754027_n[2]Before you turn back, pedal up and down Elk Avenue. It’s absolutely charming!

Afterwards, you should return back the way you came. Leaving Crested Butte, you have a steep hill. OUCH! Then it is a sweet revenge because it is downhill almost the entire way to Gunnison. Try to remember to take a look over your right shoulder a few miles south of Almont and see the Anthracite Range and Carbon Peak. Always wonderful! Soon, you will arrive in Gunnison and take a right, westbound on Hwy. 50 an then the short trip back to Mesa Campground for the final control at mile 126.

Hopefully, you will have enjoyed the wide, clean shoulders, low traffic volume and the splendid views of the western slope, You may have even had a chance to see mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep and other wildlife. Gunnison County is truly a large recreational paradise of land for almost all year round outdoor activity.18195142_10155348639942558_5314220794046504967_n[1]

Bonne Route!…and if you need a guide, call me!

 

OK, Now what? I got PE

I recently had an incident of having Pulmonary Embolism aka blood clots in my lungs. It was quite a surprise. Of course any health issue would be since I rarely have any! All my cycling peers wondered, “how can it be, you ride tons of miles for years?” You would think, huh?pp1

Nope. Clots may be much more prevalent than we should assume. They may typically form in our calves (some call our second heart) over time and “float” up into our heart, brain or lungs as they break apart or if they break apart. They come in all sizes. As cyclists, we can ignore the early stages if they begin in the calves. We would think of them as sore muscle or cramps due to fatigue and dehydration. When clots form in the calves, it is diagnosed as Deep Vein Thrombosis. Serious. For me, I had a new hurt, not while riding. Mine was like a running “stitch” in my lower right chest that became increasingly worse like a case of indigestion and then like I was punched in the ribs, just over a few hours. I tried all my old tricks, drinking lots of water, breathing deeply and lying down.  Nothing worked. Pain became unbearable. Time for the pros.

So, Andrea and I went to the hospital and I was tested with CAT scans, ultrasound and X-rays. The fine folks at the hospital discovered the clots, all in my lungs. I am glad Andrea was with me who could explain to the doctors, “Do you understand what he does for fun?” I am very fortunate it was caught early and the doctors understood my riding lifestyle. I am not such an oddball here since the small community where I live is full of sports intense individuals. We live in the heart of the Rockies at high altitude, perfect conditions for the athlete.

I was treated with blood thinners to begin the process to dissolve the clots and meds for the pain. I was lucky. I went to the hospital and needed no surgery!

breath toolsThe doc said I could start riding the week after the pain ceased. I should monitor myself with a Pulse Oximeter and use the Incentive Spirometer. Great news! But how much riding? I was into my season of brevets starting with lots of 100+ mile rides. She said hydrate more, check your blood oxygen amounts and stop if it goes in to the 80s. Does she really know me? I choose to side with caution and actually heed the advice of others this time and the HTFU mentality will have to take a back seat for a bit. I just got a little shit scared. Cycling friends came out of the woodwork sharing their experiences, all with much worse situations than mine, one a world champion nonetheless.  All are back on their bikes and competing!

However, what to do next from such limited guidance was not enough for me and their riding was not quite like mine. Could I just resume my schedule? I have 300k brevet the next week. No. This new incident and my riding goals conflicted with my friends, family as well as me! I was not sure what to do! The best tips I received so far was from others with Pulmonary Embolism (PE) and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)  is to do your own research and hydrate! Thank God for water and Google!

I began researching topics of athletes with PE, endurance athletes with PE, low heart rate and PE, bicyclists with PE, and recovering from PE, etc. I found the best source was LiveStrong.com. I learned all about PE, DVT, hydrating, signs to look out for, compression stockings and socks, what to avoid, exercises, stretches and so on. All very helpful but a lot of gaps in my situation, riding alone for long periods of time. So, I have had to piece together items I need to add to my riding gear beyond what most of you take like your spare tire kit, pump and water bottles.

XareltoNow I have to take this speck of a pill daily. Little sucker costs over $12 each! It’s called Xarelto. My fellow PEers call it rat poison. I’m okay with it. It works however there is one side affect that worries me. It’s a blood thinner. I already have thin skin. So if I cut, scrape or knock into something, I bleed easily. Xarelto compounds the issue. So, I worry of external bleeding as well as internal. I have been making changes, such as exchanging razor for electric shaving, wearing a cowboy hat so I don’t bonk my head and always carry a bandana and wear a RoadID.

I often ride alone on roads that see very little traffic. How nice, yes? Unless there is an emergency. Cell phones do not work very well. Reception is sketchy to non existent here and who I may be calling is not close by or understand exactly my location or not have their phone with them. Voice mails are not always quick on delivery and texts as well may be overlooked. It happens. However, this shit doesn’t fly when there is an IMG_1338emergency. Therefore, I ride with a Spotfinder.  I hope I never have to use it for an emergency. I do use it often because there are features to communicate. My wife, Andrea can track my progress. I can tell her that I am okay. I can tell her a simple message which is usually prearranged of a brevet control station or a turnaround or destination. I can hit the black button that can tell her to come and get me. Finally, there is the red button. I depress that one, I am telling her and the 911 folks I am in dire need of help!  The folks at Spot claim that they have helped save over 5000 lives. I do not ride without it.  It might help me, but it may help someone riding with me that is having an emergency or someone else on the road I encounter. The Spot has become my primary tool of outreach and then my phone. It uses GPS, not cell towers.

Speaking of communicating, before I leave for a ride. I provide Andrea with all the details and time estimates of my stops. I furnish her with a map of my route with all the controls or stops with which I will “spot” her so she can be notified of my progress. I will use my phone if there is cellular reception or later when I find coverage.  COMMUNICATE!

h2oI am not much of a drinker on rides. I can go thirty miles without taking a sip. I know, I know. I’ve read all about drinking. Ya da Yadda! I hydrated before rides and when the temps get hot. I’ve finally seen the light! Halleyfreakinlouya! By not hydrating, my blood was turning to “syrup” trying to flow through my veins, arteries and heart at  125-190 bpm. A curdling thought, eh? Post clot mentality is to take a minimum of two bottles and take a drink every 5 minutes and replenish with much more at stops. On rides that are super long with stretches of no available water, I will pack the Platypus liter bottles filled. I will also use them if I go overnight and poach a sleep/nap and I can have plenty of water to refuel and recover. I love coffee and now I supplement it with water afterwards. Some of my peers shared with me that they hydrate with electrolytes. I’m not a fan of those drinks. I prefer a mineral water instead if I can get it. HYDRATE!

idSo, now I’m an easy bleeder on blood thinner medicine. If I have an accident, chances are I may need medical help. I had my RoadID updated. I have been wearing medical IDs for a long time. I am on the road quite a bit and alone and if I have a health issue and I am unable to speak for myself, I hope this will help. When I was in the hospital recently, the EMT’s did not see it because it was a black wrist band. I think the red will be more noticeable. Please do not put one on your shoe or on your bike. Who is going to look there while there is an emergency tending to you? Give them something to work with. Time is of the essence. IDENTITIFICATION!

In addition, I carry a first aid kit for me and for anyone else in distress! I always had some first aid when I began randonneuring, but it was entirely insufficient. So, I found a wonderful backpacking medical kit and I included a clotting sponge. I also ride with a bandana and I can use my tire pump as a tourniquet. You never know, I might be snake bait! All I hope I never have to use. PREPAREDNESS!

Finally, when I am not riding, I make an effort to take better care of my lungs and legs. I will no longer ignore the soreness or cramps from leg pain. I feel my calves for specific sore spots and gently rub them with my hands or a massage stick. I foam roller will do the job too. I hydrate before I go to bed so I hope not to have night cramps. I also tend to my lungs now. I am much more sensitive to aches and pains around my chest. I use the Incentive Spirometer to exercise my lungs. At rest I typically blow only 500ml of air. The doc told me to pick it up. So I practice my breathing technique fully using all my lungs. Look up LiveStrong.com on deep breathing technique for cyclists. I practice breathing at 1500ml and push to 3000ml for full capacity. This practice helps enrich my blood oxygen levels which I monitor with the pulse oximeter. I cannot get 100% living here at 7500+ elevation, but pretty close. Doc sez stop riding if I drop into the 80s. Damn right! I have begun a practice checking my levels at stops. BREATHE!

So, I am a work in progress trying to figure this all out. My goal is to bounce back and resume riding forever. Getting PE was a surprise for me as it was to other riders who shared their story with me. Equally surprising was the little specific information as to what I can do next after I left the hospital and “recovered”. I hope this helps. PE can happen to anyone. Sharing is caring. RIDE!

paco

ciao

The Weakest Link

Whenever I go long on a ride I am in quest of uncovering what is it that I have done, not done, forgotten or not yet discovered that will disrupt my ride and have to abandon. Will it be me, the bike or something I forgot?

I give it a term, the WEAK LINK! Like a chain, all it takes is one to break and bust the ride.blog pic 1

It seems the older and more experienced I have become, the more I bring. Where I live also causes me to pack more. One day the temps on the road went from 29-105F. I was begging for rain and all I got was a hot headwind and hatches of stoneflies along the long stretch of the Rio Grand River!

I make sure the bike is in excellent shape. I don’t go on a 1200K without a new drive chain, cables/housing and tires. All my subsequent rides over 100 miles are designed to test myself, my bike and the equipment I use. I keep refining, adjusting everything!

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As you see, I am equipped to ride for days almost anywhere, especially in the Rockies where I live. On the handlebar is a Detour bag that is my “glove box” for ready access. The top tube Revelate bag is also ready access primarily electronic related. The Banjo bag under the top tube is ready access for quick to get clothes. On the back is the yellow Camelback roll up bag of tubes and tools. The large Carradice bag with side pockets carries the meat of my needs. I will detail each. In total it weighs about 15lbs unless I carry extra water. The frame is a 52 so I am limited with bag selection. The intent of this arrangement is to provide me easy access to most items while I am riding or quick to get to if I must get off the bike. The small handlebar bag is ideal for the things I need without losing any bike handling. I once rode with a large handlebar bag and it prevented me from sitting up and riding no-handed.

My Eddy Merckx is equipped with a very dependable Campagnolo 11 compact gruppo. The wheels are extra beefy to handle the stresses. They are handmade with conventional spokes. I use Continental Hardshell tires. I beefed up the wheel selection because they are usually the first to go wrong if you run over or into something. I believe it is like a home and the wheels are the foundation. Get them straight and sturdy all else can roll along. I have a dynamo light, E3 on the front axle. Always on to be seen. It provides sufficient light and at an angle that I can see the debris and road conditions from a great angle. This is bike fits me like a glove and the ride is very forgiving. I also have other eyes look over it for me as in an excellent mechanic who understands my riding habits. I believe I have minimized a “weak link” exposure as to the bike unless……

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A race tested mechanic always under pressure! I believe they are the best to know and how work on your machine treating it like an instrument. It is best that your mechanic understands what you are doing with your bike.

To start, I keep a journal book for notes from rides. Helping me with a list of what to take and how not to repeat a mistake. With more experience, my notes have expanded. They really help to review early in the season when the riding is relatively new and the weather can be extreme. Regardless the time of the year, on super long rides, I bring about the same. An old mountain biker saying, “All day hard. Bring it all!”

Now for the equipment breakdown for it comes down to being me as the weakest link of all! It doesn’t take much to slow one down or come to a complete stop. I will start from the contents in the front handlebar bag and work my way to the back.

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I wish this bag was still being made. It is a great size and I can fit my hands on the bars behind it whereas some prohibit this due to the attachment. The bag has several pockets and a raincover, if needed. Here are the contents, all in small amounts: The map, brevet card, cuesheet, pen, chapstick, eyeglass interchangeable lenses, lens cleaner, “reader” glasses, Bag Balm, Aleve, spork, sunscreen, hand/feet warmers, handi wipes, xtra small plastic bags, rubber bands, mini Leatherman, mini multi bike tool, toe straps, smartphone, toothbrush, tums, Gin Gins, wallet. Everything I have used repeatedly. Finally, I have a picture of my Babydoll who keeps me grounded and has supported me all along every ride of the way!

IMG_1336

Before I get started with the contents of this bag I must include a vital item, my Garmin Edge. I am constantly glued to this tool. It tells me where I am going and when I will get to my destination by mileage. I use http://www.ridewithgps.com. for mapping. I have a rolling screen feeding me tons of information such as temperature, battery life, pulse, rpm, mileage, average mileage, my pace, climbing grade, elevation, topography, weather data and of course turn by turn navigation.

The above top tube bag is full of electronics and quick foods. Inside there is a battery pack that will recharge my Garmin, phone, tail lights, ipod and secondary headlight. This gives me two days without a wall charge. Also, are the necessary charging cables and plug and ipod with earbuds when not in use. Again, I like the rolling accessability.

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I started using this frame bag this year. I have in it my reflective ankle bands, reflective vest, food stash. I can pull the vest on and off and quickly tuck it in here. I may use other items like arm and knee warmers. I fully utilize my jersey pockets and things may interchange where it is placed. Rolling along is key. Frequent stops are time killers when time matters.

IMG_1335

This tool bag is strapped to my saddle bag frame. It contains 2 spare tubes, Park spoke wrench, multi tool, Park tire tools, tire boots, and patch kit. Sometimes I use a mini pump on short rides and sturdier pump such as one from Lezyne. I like the tool bag roll method because I have easy access to get to what I need once it is unrolled, especially in the middle of the night. It is also easier to see because of the color instead of using a black bag at night.

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The Carradice bag is amazing! I like the way it is mounted on the saddle rails and away from touching the back of my legs. I hate that! The rack is worth it’s weight. This model is the Nelson Longflap. There is an additional flap that can over extend the top if you are carrying more. I have been through some bad storms and everything stays dry without having to put them in plastic bags. I can access to the side pockets while riding if I need too!

In this bag I will have: a compressed lightweight hooded down jacket, Enduro HiViz commuter rain jacket, Shower Pass rain pants, Sealskinz rain/thermal booties, toe covers, thermal arm & knee warmers, thermal gloves, mini chamois towel (for cleaning or insulative barrier under my jersey), 2 platypus 1 liter bottles, chain oil, varied zip ties, electrical tape, helmet light, backup headlight, tail lights, Spot Finder, thermal beany, cotton cycling cap, toe straps, bike pump, gallon size plastic bags, Goretex helmet rain cover, neck gator, emergency blanket or bivy bag and a 1st aid bag. All the clothing items are rolled up and wrapped with rubber bands. Nice and neat, easy to find.

As far as the foul weather gear, I want to note that I use bright colors, and highly reflective material. Usually riding in harsh conditions, the light is darkened and everyone’s visibility is hampered. The more I can increase the visibility with colors, Hi Vis material and serious taillights the safer all will be. It is quite a strange experience to have a motorist stop or slow down thanking me to be so visible!

Find what works for you. I thought that my contribution may save you a lot of time and money. It is a constant experiment with every ride! What’s your weak link?

PBP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 3Ps, Parlin Pitkin Preferred

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County Rd. 76 in my opinion is one of the best roads to ride nearby for anyone in Gunnison CO. The traffic is minimal almost non-existent. The scenery is wonderful. There are services available at both ends of Parlin and Pitkin (where the pavement ends but continues to even more stunning riding). However, this is the time of the year, mud season, when off road activities get pretty mucky unless you own one of these…

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County Rd. 76 is a great road for those starting out cycling for the first time and  with friends. You can go at your own pace, ride alongside and chit chat, stop and take in the views. It is almost like your own bike path. You can hear the occasional car coming from quite a distance because it is sooooo quiet. Since it is mud season, there is no tourist activity!

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I started my journey leaving Gunnison eastbound on Hwy. 50. Although it is our major thoroughfare, the traffic is not so bad and the shoulders are very wide and pretty clean of debris. I do like to be noticed by wearing a hi-visibility vest and lights. And I was noticed!

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It is just 11 miles from Gunnison to Parlin also known as the QT Corner. Quiet Time! If you want, you can drive out there and park and start on County Rd. 76. From Parlin to Pitkin, the distance is 15 miles. The QT Corner has a Post Office, always open and warm, and a new country store! You have to stop in!

Tasty treats, antiques, local meats, awesome company…and a bratty little Jack Russell terrier who is all mouth and will “greet” you coming and going!

As you head north up 76 the surface is a little old bumpy. I suggest that you do not have the air pressure of your tires so high. The road is a slow gradual climb with lots of relief of some descents so you can catch your breath, coast and take in the views.

What I like about 76 is that it is almost always clear of snow because it is 99% fully exposed to the sun on the entire route! Since it is an “out and back” route you see things twice and the way back from Pitkin is a sweet downhill. Don’t forget to slowdown and see this!

As you meander onward you will come across Ohio City. A thriving metropolis at a crossroads rich in history!

Some signs have a grain of truth!

Regardless, it is a nice place to slow down, look around and then head onward on 76 as the views become more breathless in more ways than one!

And watch for walkers. County Rd. 76 is not only your bikepath it is also a walking path too!

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So onward to the grand town of Pitkin.

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Once rich in mining history and timber, you will ride by the Pitkin State Fish Hatchery which produces 90,000+ tons of trout a year! If you have a bike equipped for off road riding you can continue either to Waunita Hot Springs or the Alpine Tunnel. Pitkin is very quaint with many original structures from the 1800s, still in use. I always stop at the Silver Plume General Store and catch up with the very friendly owners, Chris & Kandy Nasso. They just added a little café outside during the warmer times and the BBQ is delicious.

Pitkin is growing with places to eat and stay. So check it out!

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Hooligans!

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You just wanna hangout because you never know what or who is going to pull up! Unfortunately, you can’t stay too long. A fantastic descending ride back to Parlin or Gunnison awaits. It is a much quicker ride back unless you face a headwind. Always bring extra layers. You might need them as you know how quickly the weather changes!

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County Rd. 76 is a fantastic road to ride almost year round and I highly suggest you give it a try!

Ciao y’all

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The torment of Quit

htfu There comes a time in every brevet I ride, my body sends hard signals to my brain to quit, flat out stop, abandon, DNF, fuck it! It’s like a muscle cramp but in the head. It’s typically 5/8 of the way through the brevet. I am past the halfway point and I am in the purgatory because the finish is well out of sight. The devil called Quit sends out his minions of messages, such as, ” you’re fried, you’re feet are on fire, it’s freezing and wet, you’re hands are numb and your back aches, you’re legs are toast and you’re balls of steel have gone softer than your ear lobes! You are miserable, alone and it’s in the middle of the night.” And it goes on and on. It gets so bad I think of things that could take me out accidently on purpose!turtleGod, it sucks. Lord help me! This mental seizure happened to me recently on a 400k! It was my first time of the year in hot weather, the course was ass-cracking flat and moderate winds. Sounds ideal, really! Yes, but it was still a beat down of wear and tear after a while and the Quit devil was coming out to wreak havoc on my softened stubborn brain! How do I survive such a predictable symptom? The key is to keep rolling, further. I have read all about not thinking of the finish line of brevets. They are too far away to mentally obtain being 100 to 1000k away! Rather, it is best to focus on something more obtainable like one control at a time. However, when you are at a point when you want to stop the world and get off, you gotta drill it down further like to the next turn on your cue sheet, or the top of the next hill, or store, or a shady safe spot to get off your bike and take a mini break. Make that Quit devil recede back to it’s nasty cave in your brain. Drown that bastard with fresh water too! My defense against that tormentor Quit is to activate my memory of past victories overcoming worse demons of the sort. Quit has rarely won a battle! Randonnuering, you don’t win like in a race. You finish, but you are victorious over the rat bastard Quit! That is a huge prize with a lasting trophy to take to the next challenge! Another method to combat against the oncoming brain cramp of Quit is playing out the scenario if you do cave in and…..you know…Quit. How do you get home? Could be harder. What do you tell your friends and family in a face saving way? Good luck! Oh my, what will all your Facebook friends think of you now? Then what about the next time you decide to ride long? Quit is going to reveal itself. Always has, always will, again and again. Are you going to cave? It is said, once a quitter, always a quitter. You have a much bigger hurdle to overcome with that SOB now! And then there is the ultimate coup de grace, when your “pals” who are terminal quitters from long ago on the sideline will mutter in your ear, “Maybe you ought to do something else for fun, like us.” Yikes! The final weapon of suggestion in the fight against the devil called Quit is God himself! My favorite righteous tool is from the book of Romans 5..”.but we also rejoice in our affliction because we know affliction produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured in our hearts….”  Ride with all your heart and feel that Quitter whither away like Dracula under the noonday sun! Put that in your toolbox!

It’s time for me to shut and ride!

My “stuff” I pack to give you ideas as to the “shit” you take when you decide to go long.

2014-05-26 09.23.45ImageWhen I decided to go rando, I hardly had a clue as to how to prepare. I googled for bikes and read all the blogs. It was such a conversion from riding a minimalist racing bike for speed and shorter rides to converting to an old racing bike to be built for comfort, durability and to actually live on. It’s like going from the hare to the tortoise. I fortunately got an education while riding brevets and riding with randonneurs. Unlike the racing community, my new compatriots welcomed me and openly helped me immensely. Y’all know who you are, and I am truly grateful. This community is free of egos. It is truly riding with the adults who brave riding conditions at extreme levels for insanely long periods.

I have been asked several times when riding or from neo randonneurs as to what I take when I go long. I decided to share by stripping my ride down to the item. I do not weigh my bike, nor do I care. There have been times I have used or will use everything. Living in higher elevations, one needs to be prepared for anything. It is easy to be isolated. Being in a bad spot, can happen fast, especially when you are in the middle of nowhere. I am old and I get cold. One experience of hypothermia is enough. Fortunately, my babydoll, Andrea, has been the best soignor who knows me better than me and can work through my stubbornness and make sure I have the right equipment. I would’ve been buzzard bait long ago, if it wasn’t for her!

Let us begin by viewing the bike as a whole and work inward. The bike is a 54cm racing frame with no eyelets. I have padded bars underneath the Lizard Skin bar tape for a sticky grip. I prefer using  the Detour handlebar bag which is sufficient and does not weigh too much so I can ride with my hands off the bars or even rest my forearms on the top of the bars. I have a top tube bag to keep food for quick access and a Gomadic battery recharger for my Garmin. I used to have an Arkel bar bag and it was too much weight on the bars making the ride sketchy. The two bags make a good alternative. On the back is a Carradice bag and spare tire bag attached to a supporting rack. I do not like rear bags that rub against my legs and this is perfect and dependable. I use the SKS clip on carbon fenders to keep me dry. I added a little extra on the front fender using part of a plastic milk jug. My feet are a lot dryer now in the rain. I like the set up of the dynamo. It’s clean, out of the way and spots road conditions quickly. I use 2 Cygolite rear lights. They have intense brightness, long lasting, rechargeable and waterproof! Saddle is a Rivet which I can adjust the tension for stiff or cushy ride. The tires are Continental 25mm with stopleak and the bike is Campagnolo equipped Athena 11 speed compact.
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2014-05-26 09.30.27 Here on the left are the contents of my handlebar bag. Beginning from the upper left, I include, glasses, earbuds, glass cleaner, sunglass lenses, Tums, iphone charger, Princeton Tec Eos helmet light, cash, chapstick, pillbox of Aleve, pillbox with Bag Balm, multitools, spoke wrench and sunscreen. I also keep my iphone in the bag.

2014-05-26 16.39.24 These are the contents of my spare tire bag which is attached to my rear bag. From the top are Park tire tools (the best), Park tire boots, more cash, small knife, spare tube, Lyzene patch kit and a multi tool. Seems like a lot of tools, but not one is complete and sometimes you need 2 in order to get the right torque.

2014-05-26 16.52.59 The rear bag is used items that are needed but not while I maybe pedaling or for immediate access. From the upper left to right is: Shower Pass rain pants (incredibly efficient and visible), thermal vest, Enduro commuter rain jacket with a Gore helmet cover. Just below is a variety of plastic bags. On the middle left is a Shamwow cloth which I primarily wear under my jersey for insulation. Then there is a Spot finder ( cell phones reception is sketchy in the mountains). Then a RUSA wind rain vest which is highly visible and insulated booties. Below on the left are an assortment of zipties, an extra tire tube, a Cateye rechargeable back up light, cleat protectors, hand and feet warmers and thermal knee warmers. In addition on the left again are RUSA ankle reflectors, thermal cap, gloves and arm warmers. Finally, on the bottom row is an emergency blanket, first aid packet, neck gator, chain lube and yellow electrical tape.

And when I ride I usually wear besides helmet, cycling shoes & gloves, a cotton cap, sleeveless technical base layer, wool undershirt and jersey (sometimes wool) as well as bib lycra shorts and wool or coolmax socks.

The past issues of American Randonneur used to publish a rider’s bike and I gleaned them for all I can get. I would think my bike was “dialed in” repeatedly, but after each brevet, something had to be tweaked. Once again, I think I am dialed in again and I hope this contribution may help you.

It’s time for me to Shut Up and Ride!

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Romans 5:3 (The essence of Rule 5)