Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Shifter's elbow?" What the @#$%?

I tried my best not to scream...

I began to have pain in my left elbow until finally the pain was so intense I took myself to the ER.  I could not lift my arm to face level.  Even touching the area around my elbow caused intense pain...I've never in my life felt anything like it. The PA started to lift my arm and I asked for a wooden tongue depressor to bite down on so as not to scream and disturb the rest of the ER.  I was in serious pain.

From the X-rays she diagnosed it as medial epicondylitis (say that three times quickly) AKA tennis elbow or golfer's elbow.  I had to mentally process that diagnosis.  And then it hit me, I have..."Shifter's elbow"!  Here's a snip from the Mayo Clinic website.

From (C)

I was prescribed a tube of Voltaren, a local non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel to be applied several times per day.  Over a week it's gotten much better and I've since ridden.  I made it a point to relax my arm as much as possible when riding and to then keep my arm/wrist rigid when I shift.  There is still some sensitivity in my elbow...

On my Catrike Dumont the handlebars are vertical with paddle shifters operated by the thumb.  I typically shift up and down from the first through to the sixth position many, many times over the course of a three hour ride.  Since I'm chronologically challenged, and my body is out of warranty, somehow I managed to over-stress the elbow enough and....

If you encounter these symptoms you'll have a good idea what the problem is.  I can imagine this also brought on when using vertical or horizontal grip shifters.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Seen it all? No way...

Now this is a mystery...

This morning started out to be a normal early Sunday morning ride until I reached the trail head on the Rillito Trail at Camino de la Tierra.  There's nothing there but a covered veranda, water fountains and restroom facilities.

Here's what I've never seen before just lying there on the concrete about eight feet from a restroom stall door.

Yep, that's exactly what it looks like, four large soda bottles, tops cut off, filled with gravel.  They're just lying there on the concrete.  I have never in all my life seen anything like it.

There must be a purpose to this whatever, but I can't figure it out.  Anyone out there have a theory?  It's a mystery...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Ajo Bikes in Tucson

...only dealer in Southern Arizona

I give a big shout out to Brian and Melissa the new owners of Ajo Bikes.  Ajo Bikes has been here for decades.  For these photos I stood in awe of all the things available here.

Ajo Bikes at 1301 E Ajo Way in Tucson is the only dealer for recumbent trikes in Southern Arizona.  It's where I have DP (Deep Purple, my Catrike Dumont) serviced.  And anything in the way of accessories you can find here.

They have recumbent trikes, recumbent trikes, adaptive bikes, BMX bikes, Cruisers, road bikes, mountain bikes, you name it.  If you're in the area stop by and check them out.

Excellent service department.  And I was photo bombed by a plastic Flamingo, can you believe that?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Arizona Heat! How I Cope, Part 2

"... but it's a dry heat," said the skeleton to the vulture.

Preparation of your equipment is important.  In places the Loop Trail System around Tucson/Pima County has convenient places where facilities are available, but in some places you're more isolated and the only help might be a passing cyclist or jogger.  It pays to be prepared for contingencies.  We do have venomous critters in this area, just sayin'.

My most important item is my RoadID.  I wear my wrist band whenever I leave the house.  It contains information including emergency contacts and critical  medical information should I be in a situation where I cannot speak for myself.  Riding the trail, walking, driving, shopping, partying, whatever, one of these devices could well save your life.  Use them for yourself, your family, your pets...  I can't say enough.  Please check out the link.

I would suggest using a tracking system of some sort.  In my case I use Strava which I have send a tracking beacon to a friend of mine where he can see me moving real time.  You might also notify a friend or family member of your route and when you expect to return.  Planning for you should be geared to your personal situation.  Be safe.  Do some research on software and/or devices that would work for you.

Here's DP (Deep Purple) at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park located on the The Loop trail system along the Rillito River Trail.  There are restroom facilities, cold water fountains, shaded verandas all perfect for one to rest and refresh when riding the trail.

I have chosen to equip myself with just about all of those things that I might need or encounter on a ride.  The yellow Arkel trunk bag contains the following:

  • Small amount of cash (have yet to use but you never know)
  • Repair stuff:  spare tubes both 20" and 26", tire levers, patch kits, CO2 inflation device with spare cylinders, hand tools, chain breaker with spare links, vinyl gloves  (NOTE  Pushing a trike home is out of the question!)
  • First aid stuff:  elastic wrap (sprains), band-aids, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wash (road rash), chew-able aspirin, glucose liquid, vinyl gloves  (NOTE  I probably won't need for myself but I might be called upon to aid another).

In the red Arkel side bag (I love this thing!) I usually carry:

  • My Android cell phone
  • A high capacity power cell for my cell phone (Running Strava to track my rides demands extra power)
  • My amateur radio equipment (HT radios, batteries, etc.)
  • My keys
  • A stick of lip balm (good for this dry climate)
  • Some mint life savers (I find the menthol seems to open up my sinuses helping me breath more freely, plus it's opinion)
  • A couple of snack bars and sometimes some corn chips (I've shared with a pair of Roadrunners and some diminutive ground squirrels)
  • My digital camera or a GoPro
  • Extra batteries
  • Anything else I think I might need especially on longer rides.
On the trike itself I carry a 24 oz. water bottle.  In this climate the rule is drink before you feel thirsty and top off the bottle and drink more every chance you get.  Dehydration is dangerous in a desert climate.

Suggestions?  Experiences?  Comments?  Bring'em on... 

Arizona Heat! How I Cope, Part 1

"... but it's a dry heat," said the skeleton to the vulture.

To that quote imagine what comes out of the back end of a cow after it's been eating massive amounts of hay.  You got it.

Yesterday was a record setting 112 F (44.4 C) in Tucson, Arizona.  When I returned from my 18 mile ride at 0930 HRS my trike thermometer showed 106 F.  Mid afternoon had the thermometer in my carport showing 114 F.

During these hot summer months I make it a point to leave the house no later than 0600 so I can be home before I roast.  Generally, 18 to 20 miles is what I can get in.  When it begins to cool or the weather permits I'll do much longer rides.  Another four months maybe?  Hmmm...

Yes, it's a dry heat but it's more like being in a convection oven I'm inclined to imagine.  Even a breeze, if there is one, is h-o-t.  Being in the shade is good but let me tell you it's still h-o-t!  I've learned to cope with it and still enjoy riding even during the hottest part of the year.

First off, let me say that my Anglo/German ancestry has given me rather fair skin.  I sunburn easily so I always wear white long sleeve compression shirts and white compression pants to protect my body from direct sunlight.  On a recumbent my legs and chest are particularly exposed to direct sunlight.

A quick note here on a personal experience.  Even dressed in white I got a severe rash on my legs through the pants one rather hot day.  I could even feel it happening real time.  On a hunch I switched to a perfume/dye free detergent and that seems to have taken care of that problem.  I wear white and only white.  (There's another trike rider on the trail who now calls me the Ghost Who a$$).

And, I might add, over the years, about once a year, I pay a visit to a dermatologist who tortures me with a small spray container of liquid nitrogen.  He/she burns off little patches of my ears and face to prevent skin cancer from developing.  It stings like hell but it's the price to pay...  I last visited about three weeks ago...ouch!

I have developed a new strategy for protecting my face, neck and ears.  It's called a neck gaiter.  It's like a long cloth tube which I wear around my neck.  Here's what it looks like.

The cloth is thin and quite porous so breathing through it is not a problem.  Together with my sunglasses and helmet the gaiter does an excellent job of shielding me from the sun.  In addition I saturate the gaiter with water frequently which in this dry climate works much like an evaporative cooler.  It's bunched up around my neck which helps to keep me feeling even cooler.  It's nice.

I also wear a nylon beanie under my helmet because I burn through the holes in the helmet!  Likewise, I saturate the beanie with water as well.  C-o-o-l...

That's how my body deals with the heat while riding during the hot summer months in sunny, warm, Tucson, Arizona. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

It's in the bag...

... side bag, that is.

I just installed a new Arkel handlebar bag as a side bag on my Catrike Dumont.  The mounting bracket came from Terra Cycle (  I took a 24 mile shakedown cruise to see how it felt.  Ooooh, I like it!

It rode very well, caused no problems and I really couldn't tell that it was there.  My only concern was fitting through barricades which are placed to prevent any larger vehicle from getting onto the multi-use path, but I discovered there was plenty of room.  If I encountered a problem I could simply remove the bag, go through, and clip the bag back on. (Easy to do)

What I have decided from the ride experience is to:
  • move the bag to the right side of the trike.  Why?  My left shoulder has bone spurs and reaching around, then tugging on the zippers was very uncomfortable.  Actually, it was painful.  I wasn't thinking straight and I'm on antibiotics to cure a painful sinus infection.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
  • I'm seriously thinking of mounting the bag a couple of inches closer to the trike.  I'll just have to see how it feels. (UPDATE: Moved the bag to the right side.  It's outer edge is even with the edge of the side mirror.  Issue resolved and I'm happy!)
The side bag is really convenient.  In it I have plenty of room for my digital camera, my plastic container of snacks, a chapstick, my cell phone and a power pack to keep the phone charged (I'm typically out 4 to 5 hours and I'm running Strava to track my ride).  The zipper pouch on the outside is where I keep extra AA batts for the camera as well as an extra power pack for the phone.  Each end of bag has an elastic mesh pouch, one is where I keep a shoulder strap.  

The bag has slide mounts that clip and hold the bag securely to the mount.  The bag detaches and can be carried with a shoulder strap.  The top flap of the bag and the inside of the bag are waterproof and the top flap's zippers have overlaps which discourage water from getting inside.  The zippers, because of the overlap, are a bit difficult to pull around but I can understand why.

Not pictured is the clear, sealable map pocket that goes over the top of the bag and attaches with Velcro (TM).  The pouch will hold 8" by 10" documents.  Nifty for maps or directions.

Pros:  It is so, so convenient.  I can reach everything right there while sitting on the trike.  The bag, with frame, is not heavy.  The bag is of very, very good quality.  It's rugged.  Tiger Lily bought all the stuff for me.*

Cons:  It's pricey, but for the convenience I like it and it's worth it. (Arkel bag)

The mounting bracket from Terra Cycle was $111 with shipping to AZ.

Also in the photos you will see my new Arkel trunk bag.  I like it too, especially the nifty strong Velcro (TM) mounting straps that have a nice reflective stripe and it has a built in rain cover.  In it are my repair supplies, first aid gear and a few other things I don't use often.  The bag is easy to install and remove.  It too has a lug for a shoulder strap.  (Arkel trunk)

*This is my family, Tiger Lily.  Like me she is a senior.  We think she is probably 16 years old and the origin of her name is lost to history.  I like to say she bought the new gear for me.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sunny Arizona...

... and how I keep from scorching!

Because of my fair skin I'll burn to a crisp if I'm not careful.  As a kid growing up in Tucson I turned as brown as a berry, but now as a senior I face the prospect of skin cancer.  Indeed, over the past several years even living in Arkansas I've had to periodically visit the dermatologist.  I wonder if some of the damage actually occurred as a youngster and if it's catching up with me now.

Various spots on my scalp, face and ears have had to be burned off with ye olde liquid nitrogen bottle.  Let me tell you, that stings like h*ll, but those precancerous growths had to be removed.  I have to be careful.

Now, living permanently in Arizona, I'm more conscious than ever of the problem. I've had to further address the issue.  If you look at my photo on the right side of the screen you'll notice I was wearing white compression pants that shielded my legs from the sun.  The photo was taken mid-November of 2016 as I approached the finish line of El Tour de Tucson after riding 37 miles (Noon til 1630 in a cloudless sky).  In the photo my long sleeved top is a medium blue, but I should have been wearing white as well.  I sunburned my face.  No sunscreen.  Hindsight... 

A time or two riding in the hot sun over this summer I could actually feel the heat on the fronts of my legs and was noticing how hot it was feeling.  Even clothed in white I got a rash on my legs.  I made it a point to ride even earlier and get home before it got that hot again.  I was learning.

Riding is my fun as well as my exercise.  Tucson and Pima County now has more than 120 miles of trails in the Loop System and I can easily get in a ride of 30 to 40 miles right from my home.  In the wicked heat I ride no more than 12 to 15, and I've no intention of stopping what I really love to do.

Here's what I do:

  1. I wear a white helmet that has a visor that can be pulled low to shield my eyes if I'm riding into the sun.  I searched high and low to find one that worked well.  I did a post in May, 2016: My Kingdom for a Visor  The link to the Giro website is non-functional but you can do an Amazon search for "Giro Feature mountain bike helmet".
  2. After removal of cataracts I noticed the world was suddenly a much brighter place so now I wear sunglasses all the time when I'm outside.  I chose glasses that are gray tint, UV protected and polarized.  I want to see the beauty of the desert landscape.  When the cacti and wildflowers are in bloom it's beautiful here.
  3. I wear both compression pants and tops that are white.  I wear high top white socks with my Shimano cycling shoes so my legs and ankles are covered.
  4. In the warm weather I wear Bell Ramble Half-Finger cycling gloves (Middle two fingers have pulls on the back that make removal a snap).  I like to have hand protection just for safety.  The ends of my fingers have become tanned but not burned.  Go figure.
  5. In my bag I carry some spray-on spf 50 sunscreen from Walmart to use on my face, ears and neck.  According to the label it's good for kids (Doesn't rub off easily).
  6. I now use a neck gaiter.  A what?  I found this one collection on Amazon.  A lot of the reviews say they are thin, but that's what works best here in the heat.  Other items are available on Amazon.  Heavier gaiters make good neck warmers when it's cooler.

    Mine was given to me at a vendor tent as a promotional item by a local medical clinic during Cyclovia Tucson.

    The cloth is very lightweight and breathing through it is easy and comfortable.  If I'm riding into the sun I pull it up over my nose and ears to block the sun.  If it's really warm I'll soak it with water and it acts just like an evaporative cooler.  It works great.

    You may notice the visor on my helmet is not the original white.  I called Giro and they sold me a colored visor.  The white visor let too much light through the visor itself and I wanted a bit more shade.