Saturday, March 29, 2014

Where's My Health At?

It's official.  I made a new category of 'Health' here at Manarea because mine is probably going to become something I get to deal with from here on out.  I'll probably be learning a lot about whatever it is I actually have and I'll probably need to vent from time to time.  Your welcome.

So here's where I'm at currently:

Wrists - Just finally wrapped up my diagnosis with the Ortho Doc this past week.  After some X-Rays and MRIs his take is I am suffering from some sort of arthritis.  My carpal bones are all very upset, more so in the left than the right.  This was both good and really bad news.  Good in that all my other soft tissue appears to be intact so I don't have to worry about doing any permanent damage to anything in that realm with any activity that I want to do.  Really bad in that the damage has already been done and I'm probably looking at a life sentence of dealing with my #shittywrists.

So right now there are three main possibilities:

Osteoarthritis - This is just the 'wear and tear' form of arthritis and is more common to appear when you are older after a 'lifetime of use'. But if you jam a lifetime of use into 1/3 of a lifetime...voila!  This is what I'm hoping it is because that would limit my issue to just my wrists.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - This is the auto-immune kind.  I was tested for this last summer when I was all messed up and it felt like every joint in my body was off the rails.  That has since calmed down and my blood tests were negative but the ortho Doc told me about 'seronegative' forms of RA that don't show up on tests.  So that is still in play and I'm going to have to wait a bit to see what my symptoms do.

Lyme - One of the most common symptoms of Lyme is joint pain that mimics arthritis.  I was also tested for this (twice) and both times it came back negative.  But both times they did the most common Lyme titer blood test which I've read is basically crap and very commonly gives false negatives so that is also still technically in play.  Again, going to have to wait to see what my symptoms do.

So its into pain management mode.  Therapeutic dose of Advil basically around the clock.  Lots of ice.  Recently did some research on wrist support specifically made for riding and luckily motocross and DH has all kinds of options that don't limit the range of motion you need for riding but provide a good amount of support.  I went with the EVS WB01 due to stellar reviews on MTBR.

They have rigid foam pads you can mix and match to get just the amount of support you want and people seem to love them.  They seem a bit bulky but they are designed so you can still wear gloves and grip bars without issue.  Should have them in about a week.  Fingers crossed they work well for me.  Review post coming after some use...

Foot - Been in 'The Boot' now for almost 3 weeks.  Made a bunch of progress so far.  Swelling on the top of the foot is down and I am basically pain free.  I had always thought this came about due to walking on the ball of my foot a lot due to urchin spines but I guess now there is an off chance that the issues with my metatarsal joints is also arthritic in nature so I'm going to have to keep an eye on this as well.  WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

So it looks like my joke from last year that 80% is the new 100% is now permanent.  Which sucks but I can at least work with that.  I'll eventually figure this out and get to making my 80% as good as my 100% used to be.  Onward and Upward.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Macho Man Disc: Initial Ride and Review

Filth Prophylactics!

Ok this ride was a tad forced and very messy and it probably would have been a way nicer day to go skiing but I was REALLY wanting to ride a bike and this one in particular and getting my foot into a bike shoe is currently way easier than getting it into a ski boot and cycling is way less impact on my foot as well.

This was a full fledged shakedown ride on just about every front.  New bike build, questionable wrists and foot.  Legs that have been completely dormant for a month and for good measure just coming off a stomach bug.  BIKES!

I was lucky enough to remember that years ago I had bought some clip on fenders for one of my early commuter builds back when we lived in Ashland.  I somehow managed to find them in the shed and slapped them on.  They didn't work as well as full fenders but it was a good thing I put them on or things would have been ridiculous.

I tried to time the ride so that it warmed up a bit so it was a bit more comfortable on the bike but not too much so that our road got soft.  I did an ok job, heading out wasn't too bad but it was getting pretty soft trying to climb back up to the house (which was awesome).

This initial dirt section of the ride was a big part of the test.  To date if I have wanted to ride road I would drive down to Tony's place and park and ride from there on all pavement.  I've really wanted to just be able to leave from the house and do longer rides but never really had an ideal bike for that...UNTIL NOW.  The 25c tires did just fine and the bike handles beautifully.  Stable and comfy even on Sanbornton's 'finest roadways'.

I think I nailed the fit just about perfectly.  Nothing felt out of place and I felt like I had ridden the bike 100 times before.  It felt pretty responsive climbing although I could feel the extra weight (or was that just my horrible legs? hard tellin').  There was a bit more racket from the discs than I would have liked but I think that was due mostly to all the mud and grit early in the ride.

I had no other qualms with the ride.  I've always been a big believer and lover of steel's ride quality and this frame is no different.  Stable but lively.  I really hope I get completely clear of my various joint issues because I really want to ride this bike a lot this year.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2014 Race Schedule

Lets assume I get my health fully on terms for this year.  The race season in New England gets more and more stacked every year.  Nowadays you can easily race every weekend (and burn yourself out by July) if you wanted to and could afford all those reg fees and travel expenses.

It's taken me a while to try and settle on what the hell I'm going to do this year.  Partially because I still don't really know what I'll be physically capable of yet and because I'm trying to balance my own personal goals and schedule with trying to also make sure the team has a good presence at a good amount of races and you really need to lead that charge by example.

I think I do a bit better at the endurance stuff but I'm probably going to be doing a bit more of the XC stuff this year as well because a larger percentage of our racers can/will go to those races so I want to try and coordinate a strong team showing at the summer series races this year.

I'm thinking I'll try and do some XC stuff early on to try and build my fitness back up.  I'll be starting a bit behind due to my lack of doing much of anything this winter.  Then I'll hopefully try a few new (to me) endurance stuff later in the year.

Here is what I'm thinking for 2014:

May 4th - Battle at Burlingame
May 10th - Treasure Valley Rally
May 18th - Willowdale
May 25th - Gnar Weasals or Coyote Hill (haven't decided yet)

June 8th - The Pinnacle
June 20th-22nd - NEMBAfest

July 19th - Carrabassett BC Challenge
July 26th - Meadow View Farm
July 27th - Moody Park

Aug 3rd - VT Ski & Snowboard Epic
Aug 17th - Millstone Grind (Marathon)

Sept 7th - Landmine (Marathon)
Sept 14th - Freetown 50 (Marathon)

This is pretty ambitious as it is but I've purposefully left some gaps for recovery but also hopefully for some epic (non race) rides and maybe some team racing here and there.  Great Glen is a possibility this year as well as Bradbury but I'm only really interested in those if I can get on at least a 3-4 man team.

But who knows I may only be able to handle half of this or maybe I'll want or need some time to just relax this summer. But as of right now I'm feeling pretty ambitious and if I can get my body working again I'm going to be pretty anxious to get back at it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2014 Race Bike Prep: X-Fusion Slide RL2+

OMG It's March.

Spring just became a bit more real and I also just got really worried about my body still not working with the first summer series races coming down the pipe in 2 months time.  Before we get into race bikes I'll give a quick rundown / update on my current health (bullshit) profile:

I've had all kinds of weird issues going on a year now.  I was actually tested for all kinds of stuff (mostly in the rheumatoid family as well as lyme)  this past summer due to all kinds of joint issues/pain and other random weirdness.  Basically I went from being a picture of health to a picture of epic dysfunction in a short period of time.  I battled through much of last year and I was able to get clear of some stuff but other issues have persisted through the winter and I'm still feeling 'off'.  To date my biggest two issues are my #shittywrists which are probably some combination of ulnar nerve issues (impingement along Guyon's Canal is my best guess) and maybe some chronic bursitis thrown in for good measure.  As well as a sweet Morton's neuroma in my left foot, most likely due to having to walk on my forefoot for a few weeks due to urchin spines in my heel from my gnar surfing incident.

I used to heal somewhat decently but that has been out the window recently and it seems like any little issue I run into turns into something much worse that seemingly never heals.  Just recently I've gotten myself a bunch of referrals and I'm headed to all kinds of specialists to get all this crap figured out.  Podiatrist, Orthopedic, gonna get tested for Lyme again because early tests are very typically negative even if you do have it.  Then if western medicine fails I'm going to stick myself with needles (acupuncture not heroin) and get hooked up with some Voodoo priests through Jomo.

Ok enough of my boo-hoo the race whip!

Due to my continued wrist issues I decided this off season I had to get suspension.  No way around it.  So the research began.  I had somewhat resigned myself to having to spend a bunch of money to get something worthy of the amount I ride and the demands I was going to put on it even though I don't really like dropping ridiculous $$ on things like a fork.  But as I poked around I kept hearing little rumors about this 'up and comer' and the farther I dug the more good things I heard.

In fact I had a hard time finding one bad word about what these guys were up to.  And not only that, their models were priced more like budget stuff but by all forum and shop talk accounts the value was more in line with some of the best stuff out there.  Built simple and tough.  All metal internals, no plastic.  Good customer service.  Only thing they are missing is a name that everyone knows.  I'm thinking that might change in the not too distant future.

X-Fusion. (you heard it here probably 4th or 5th by this point I'm guessing)

I think this is one of those scenarios where a few of the top engineers from one of the big companies (Fox in this case, I think) left and joined a smaller company with less of an 'overlord' presence.  I'm hoping the forums don't lie and its as good as everyone is saying.  I'm liking what I see so far anyway but ride time will be the true test.

Front end in wuss mode.

The action is real smooth.  According to their chart I should run it at 70psi at my weight.  I'm gonna try that but it wouldn't surprise me if I ride it a tad stiffer for steering accuracy.  Lots of fine tune rebound adjustment.  The knob has 38 total clicks, I went with the halfway point for now because I have no frame of reference really for what kind of rebound speed I would prefer.  Its got a simple cable actuated remote lockout.  Came with an inline barrel adjuster which I thought was a nice touch.  The actual remote seems a bit on the chinsy side and I'm questioning its durability but we'll see how it goes.

The additional clutter on the bars kind of annoys me, but I can think of just a few too many times this will come in handy so I'm gonna deal with it.

I wasn't a huge fan of their decals. I can't really put my finger on exactly what it was that I didn't like.  I guess they were just kind of bland(?).  I pulled them off and I much prefer the fully clean look, I think it complements the frame better.  We really need to come up with a white equivalent term for 'murdered out' though.  That's gonna bother me a bit until I can get that figured out.  Fresh and Clean'd? Whiteout?  I'll keep thinking...

Squishy Spot