Terii’s Cycling Babble


Plodding February
February 13, 2017, 4:31 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Ho-hum.

Despite my best intentions, February has turned into no small dud. My goals and hopes for it were modest, no more than those I had for January though with 3 fewer days. Just 100 miles broken into 25 mile blocks over four 7 day periods. Yet, the goals of the first 2 blocks came up so very short that the month goal is pretty much blown.

That said, I’m oddly not feeling particularly stressed about it. Not at the moment any way. Maybe I’ve just mentally decided to roll with the punches rather than let them hit hard.

A lot of the missed miles comes down to Loke. When he limps as much as he’s been and has also decided to go quite slow, it just makes it harder to accumulate the distance. I’ve had problems too. So many rides just feel like massive struggles. Legs that have absolutely no strength or vitality and every turn of the pedals is an accomplishment of the highest order. Then of course, there were a few days at the beginning of the month that had highs of 2 F. That is not a typo. I really do mean 2 F (-17 C). Even without the foot thing still giving me fits at times, I’m not sure if I’ve got the gear to brace single digits for a ride.

It’s meant low mileage and it’s not likely to change for this week either.

The furball is still limping quite a bit. He has his good and bad days, but at least it doesn’t seem to be related to foot sores and infection with increasingly resistant bacteria. The skin between his paw pads actually looks pretty good right now. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a combination of age and long-term inflammation that he’s probably had for years. Allergic responses that are finally catching up to him.

When we went to see the general vet about Loke’s nose, she noticed he was stiff in the feet and ankles. She recommended a kind of treatment for him. Did I mention that in the last post? Or the one before? Can’t remember. Well, any way, it’s a series of shots that are supposed to help joint pain and function. 1 injection a week for 4 weeks and then follow up shots every 3 or 6 months as needed. It supposedly has had very good results.

On my side of things, other than the strength and difficulty of pushing the trike along, I’ve been arguing with my hip a lot. It’s not a new thing, though the intensity of it is getting problematical again. It doesn’t generally bother me when I’m actually pedalling the trike, but getting up and walking after a ride was sometimes a lesson in pain. Getting my right foot in the pedal made me see stars at times as well.

It was especially bad this week. I rode on the 11th and was hobbling badly to get from the storage to the car after an 8+ mile ride. Yesterday, February 12th, I was still in a lot of pain. Limping and lurching around. More on that, but I want to talk about socks first!

 

Oh, yes! The foot warmer conundrum. Anyone who’s read more than 3 of the most recent posts would know that the batteries of my Hotronic footwarmers are on the way out. Every time I use them, it’s a gambling game of ‘Will They, Won’t They Work?’. Admittedly, even when they do, they’ve seemed kinda limited of late.

So, during the first week of February, I was furiously researching alternatives. That was slap in the middle of those days we had single digit temps for our highs. Finally I found something that made me kinda excited to see. Electric socks. Unlike most electric socks though, these didn’t just have a cluster of heating under the toes and hope for the best for the rest of the foot. No. These socks proudly proclaimed that their heating went around the toes and up the top of the foot. That honestly sounded sooooo much better than a little disc of heat situated under the toes like the Hotronic heating element set in a shoe sole.

Before, I made the plunge and bought them, the weather shifted. Around February 4th or so, the temps climbed well above freezing and it looked as if it was set to stay that way. To me, it suddenly made buying the electric socks redundant. Get them just so the battery could sit and age until late October, early November?

Naturally, just to trip me up, the temp did an about face and we got cold again. Jens was nice and ordered the socks for me on the 7th. Would you believe we got a notice that the package was ready to be picked up on the morning of the 9th? Jens told me to take his passport to see if the point of pickup would let me have it. It’s just a hop-skip-and-jump from the apartment. Actually, almost dead center between home and storage where I keep the trike.

It seemed fitting then that I fetch it via trike.

And they did let me have the package! When I took it, I was dubious that it was the full order as it barely felt heavy enough for electric socks let alone socks with a battery and charger. I texted Jens I thought they’d forgotten the battery as I walked out to the trike and dropped the envelope in the trailer and pushed on to fetch dog food from the vet clinic. Naturally, the hubby had me stop and open the package.

It wasn’t even socks! It was little round balls of black rubber with bolts in the end of them. No clue what they’d be used for. Utterly baffling.

That is, until I actually gave the the invoice more than a passing glance. It was an order for a Jens Sturnberg rather than my hubby’s last name. Jens laughed when I told him, ‘What are the odds there’d be an order from 2 Jens in the same day?’. I gave my hubby the order number on the invoice to call about the mix up.

I put it back in the trailer and toodled on while Jens apparently worked things out with the guy we’d ordered from. Apparently, it’s one guy running the webshop. Jens called me back to tell me he’d been extremely apologetic and had flung another package with socks and battery together. He was going to dash out the door to chase down the delivery truck which had _just_ left his location. He later emailed Jens to say he’d caught it.

As for Loke and I, we made it back to the storage with a 17 lb of dog food in the trailer. 6-something miles. It would have been more if I’d taken the kibble to the apartment first, but I was feeling so weak and wiped, I just wanted to get the ride done. Even now, the kibble is still sitting in storage, in the trailer. I just haven’t had the oomph to lug it from storage to the car.

Loke and I went out again on February 10th. One of my glove liners has gotten threadbare. Literally. A spot on the thumb has worn so thin that the loops of yarn are no thicker than a human hair. By some miracle they’ve not broken and officially become a hole. The errand to encourage a little more distance was to shop a replacement. We’d also gotten notice that in less than 24 hours, the replacement package was ready to be picked up. I did that with the car on my way to the storage, instead of looping around extra with the trike.

We covered over 8 miles for the loop. Loke did amazingly good. Slow, but pretty much no limping, which was a win in my book. Sadly, no glove love. The shop was making its shift from winter to spring/summer, so the glove selection had dwindled and nothing was suitable for my fingers or my needs.

Oh, but how I hurt. The car was less than 100 yards away. Could see it easily from the storage, but it took me several minutes to hobble over to it. The pain, trying to lift and swing the right leg in as I tried to get into the driver seat left starbursts in my vision. While I’d been pedalling, I was fine. Nothing horrible, but getting up at the shop and then, of course, when putting the trike away was a completely different story.

Usually it eases up after a little bit of time. Nope. I was lurching painfully around on the 11th too. Even though the battery had been charged and my new socks were ready for their test run, I just hurt too much to take the trike elsewhere in the car for a ‘trial by ice’.

Since I wasn’t going anywhere on Saturday, we had a semi-spontaneous dinner gathering planned with my husband’s family. His youngest sister came over early to vacuum up Loke fur since I could hardly move across the room let alone push a vacuum around. Doesn’t help Loke’s been blowing his coat like mad for the past 2-3 weeks either. I swear, he’s dropping enough fur to make another husky every hour.

R also happens to be training for a career in Physical Therapy. I asked for some advice and she had me lay down and do some moves while she poked at my hip. She said she thought it might be that I’m sitting wonky when I’m pedalling the trike and that it’s pulled some muscles tight while putting a strain on others. Perhaps something about the alignment of my leg with the hip and it’s letting the muscle on the outer thigh get stronger while the inner muscles weaken letting the leg get pulled into an uncomfortable position.

As she said it, I imagined me pedalling and what might happen with the inequality of muscle strength she described. I sat on the couch and put my feet on the coffee table in a semi-approximation of feet on pedals. Sure enough, my knees wanted to pull to the outside.

Her recommendation was a series of stretches twice a day, some gentle exercises to try and correct the imbalance of muscle strength. Also, she actually wants me to keep riding, maybe even try to go every day. BUT, she wants me to take it slower and only go for about half an hour at a time for at least 10-14 days. The goal is for me to be mindful of the position of my knees during the pedal strokes and keep them in the proper alignment as much as possible while the muscles adjust and it moves into muscle memory so I don’t have to keep thinking about it.

Honestly, it was better than I expected to hear. I was dreading that I’d pay to go to a physical therapist and have them tell me to stay off the trike. I think Loke and I both would have been clawing at the walls inside a week. Even 30 minute ride restriction is better than nothing. Hamster tracks or not.

Yes, I really said that.

So, yesterday (Feb 12th), I started dressing. I wanted to test the socks and our (mine and R’s) theory about my bad pedalling habit.

The socks. Well, that turned into a bit more of a challenge than anticipated. It’s a good sized battery first of all. Second, there was no way to carry it. It has to stay around the general waist area thanks to the length of the cables, but there was no clip to fasten it to belt or waist band. I looked on the web site to see if there was some accessory I’d missed, but nope. I used to have a fanny pack, but couldn’t find that either. Jens recommended I tape it to my leg or waist. Ummmm… no.

Finally I had the brilliant idea of pulling on a base thermal layer, then pulling on a sport bra over that. Then, I tucked the battery in the front of the bra with the nice, snuggly wool underlayer to act as a buffer in case it got overly warm. Because I’m so short, there was just enough length to still run the cable from battery to socks!

Finally! A real use for an otherwise annoying woman’s garment.

I limped out the door with Loke for a short ride. My hip felt only a little bit better with just 2 stretching sessions, but I was determined. I’d plotted on a map for about 1.7-2 miles, figuring at the current pitiful speeds Loke and I have been averaging that should be about 30 minutes. Slow and steady. Loke was fine with that. He was a tiny bit limpy and quite happy to go slow. My cadence was way down, about 60-63 RPM as I focused more on keeping my knees, especially the right one, in more. I tried to align it properly between the ankle and hip.

The results were shocking. Truly. Less than 200 yards from the storage, Loke stopped to… ahem, do business right there in the middle of the street. I fumbled around for a bag and, completely without thinking, rocked to my feet. I stood there, dumbfounded for a good 5 seconds, waiting. No pain. It was just like a switched flipped somewhere. I honestly can’t recall the last time getting up from the trike had felt so natural and… painless. Months easily without at least some level of significant discomfort that would make my steps awkward or give me pause.

I warily shifted my weight and stepped over the bike frame to go to Loke’s mess and still, no pain.

Honestly, I hardly noticed the tedium of the rest of the 1.8 miles hamster track loop. I couldn’t stop grinning or staring at my knees to keep them positioned properly.

There was a bit of very mild ache in my legs after the ride. Most of it felt like muscle fatigue as if some of them were working for the first time in a long while. It still was uncomfortable a little when I went to get into the driver’s seat, but still the easiest time I’ve had in months and the least amount of ‘owie’.

As for the socks and the carry arrangement? Just fine! To check the battery and the settings, all I had to do was tug back the neckline of the outer layers to see it. My feet were snug and warm just on setting 1. Admittedly, I wasn’t out for very long though at least it was in the 20’s for the ride.

Of course, the weather promptly turned. Today’s 30 minute ride, to send back the stuff accidentally shipped to my Jens instead of Sturmberg, it was 46 F. 42 F with windchill. Needless to say, I didn’t need the electric socks or my heavy duty wool.

Oh, forgot to mention that for the past 4-5 days, the weather has been GORGEOUS. Okay, so most of them quite cold, but clear with a cheerful sun. Even today was mostly clear, just thin clouds that did nothing to noticeably diminish the sunshine. Very little wind. It’s been a wonderful change over the dismal murk we were having. A bit frustrating that I’ve not been able to ride further, but hopefully with R’s advice and me being more aware of the bad knee habit, that might change…

Oh, and Loke goes tomorrow to get the first shot of that treatment. Yep, on Valentine’s Day because I love him. Hopefully it will give him some relief. His limping now isn’t due to tender, raw skin between his paw pads. The skin looked pretty good actually. Not red or angry at all. So, it must be the stiffness and discomfort in the joints that the foot specialist commented on last year.

Then on the 15th, it’s off to the groomer. Just in time. We’d be up to our knees in husky fur otherwise. Though if my hip continues to improve, at least I can vacuum without killing myself.

Sorry. No photos. Just round and round on the hamster tracks with not much of interest to see.