It’s two days before the Waves to Wine 2010. I’m a little worried because even though I’ve got 2400 miles under my belt this year and I’m in good cycling shape, my knees have been bothering me the last several weeks.
Oddly enough it srarted on a flatish ride from Walnut Creek to Sunol and back which is the traditional warm up ride for Monterey. I started to feel some pain in my right knee, just a little twinge at first, but by the end of the ride, it felt like someone was trying to drive a spike through my knee on each pedal stroke. Not very pleasant.
Walnut Creek/Sunol was a 50 miler. So how the knee going to hold out on the 120 miles from Pacifica to Monterey? Not too bad in fact. Not sure why, but I didn’t really have any problems. It’s strange because the next day on a 17 mile recovery ride around Carmel and Pebble Beach, it was back. Not good, but at least I had gotten through Monterey without any trouble.
So when I was on the bike, it was excruciating. I found myself doing all the pedalling with my left leg. This helped, but it’s not exactly efficient. Off the bike, there was no pain at all. I iced it some, but it really didn’t seem to do much.
Last weekend, the club did a 20 mile climb up Mines Road in Livermore. I was totally fine going up, but coming back down fighting a fierce headwind blowing up the valley, the pain was back. Again, not good.
I got myself a neoprene and did a little 8 mile test ride around Berkeley yesterday. It seemed to be fine, but it’s impossible to tell on such as short ride. The brace is a really nuissance though and I’d much prefer not to have to use it, of course.
The first day of the Waves to Wine is pretty challenging. Not only is it 100 miles, but there’s fairly severe climbing, most notably up to the Muir Beach overlook. This is get out of the saddle and grind up the mountain stuff and it’s going to be a real test for the knee. For most of the ride, I plan on sitting at the back of pacelines, doing a pull if here and there, but mostly letting others doing the bulk of the work. But you can’t do this on climbs.
On the positive side, if I’m not feeling up to the whole 100 miles, there are several places where I can choose to bail and take a shortcut. I hope not to have to resort to that, but I will if necessary.
5 days after my own cat sunk his fangs into my left hand, it’s is still all jacked up. No surprise there. But it’s getting better. I’m on the mend.
It’s no longer infected, which is the most important thing. A course of antibiotics, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and neosporin has seen to that. The punctures are healing up nicely. No longer septic, but still haloed with reddish inflammation. Seems no amount of Ibuprofen is going to fix that quickly.
The only real problem is the swelling. I don’t know exactly what damage Makkie did to the soft tissue of my hand. Ligaments. Tendons. Blood Vessels. All fragile stuff living just under the skin. After the incident, my hand was severely swollen and puffy. The swelling has come down, but it’s still causing me pain and restricting my motion.
Eventually it will be fine and I’ll make a full recovery. But I’m supposed to ride centuries tomorrow and Sunday. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with it. Squeezing my hand is painful and I’m going to need it to shift gears and brake. I could just leave my bike in the low chain ring for the whole ride and then I wouldn’t have to shift with my left hand. Then I only have to deal with braking. If I’m careful, I won’t have to brake much.
I’ll still have another 14 hours to heal before rubber hits the road, so I could be totally fine. Or the pressure on my hand during the ride could impede or reverse the healing process. We’ll just have to see.
I’m supposed to have a follow up appointment at Kaiser on Monday to check on my progress, but for 85 bucks, I think I’ll pass.
I’m happy that the Health Care Reform (HCR) bill has finally passed and will be signed into law by President Obama tomorrow. I’m happy even though I’m unlikely to be a beneficiary myself and I don’t really like the bill. I’ve gone for long periods of with no insurance or heavily underinsured (like now), so I have a healthy amount of empathy for those who need care and can’t get it. And no one should ever go bankrupt because their health insurance won’t cover the care they need, which is all too often the case these days.
First, I think we should have universal, not-for-profit health care in the US. The current scheme, with insurance companies reaping billions in profits by denying coverage and claims to people who need care, is hideous. Insurance companies provide little or no benefit to system. They just graft money out of it. They all need to die a slow death. With any luck, this bill will the first step along the path to eliminating them. This is a decent first step in that it eliminates (or is supposed to eliminate) some of most egregious offenses of the insurance industry.
Second, this bill is going to help millions of people, including many of those who have been railing against it. If you look at the individual aspects of bill, people are widely in favor of them. It’s when taken as whole, that the bill has been perceived with some antipathy. And can almost all be attributed to politicking and the media.
People were just simply scared to death by the absurd calls of “Death Panels” Sarah Palin, Fox News and others. And the whole government takeover of healthcare is such a red herring. It’s just not happening. However, people were frightened to death by hearing doomsday speeches from right-wing pols and pundits. The fact that the Democrats were able to pass this bill despite this type of fear-mongering is a great thing. I’m under no illusion that beating voters over the head with the fear club is going to stop, since it really is so effective. This bill really is very centrist, bust many Americans don’t think that because the Republicans and their cohorts at Fox decided to treat it as the second coming of fascism.
But now the law is passed. It will be signed and we’ll see what, if any, outcome this has on the 2010 mid-term elections. Republicans will run on repealing it. I think they might have a hard slog once Americans understand the ramifications and benefits of the bill. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, I used my health insurance today for the first time since I became insured again, in December of 09. I went to Kaiser to have my eyes checked, not because I really need to, but because my Rx is out of date and I couldn’t order new contacts.
I had Kaiser before when I worked at CNN, but I had to visit the doctor once—I returned from a trip to Venezuela with flu-like symptoms that the doc thought might be pleurisy, but turned out to be nothing—so I don’t have much experience with HMOs.
I made the appointment through the automated system on the phone. Annoying, but it worked. I got a confirmation call over the weekend. Nice. I found the hospital, parked and made my way to the Optometry wing. It was empty. I arrived a few minutes late and the doc saw me within a few minutes. They have a new computerized machine which the doc explained is new that can tell your prescription. These machines are new technology and still in their infancy, but it’s not hard to imagine seeing these things in pharmacies and getting your Rx for a few bucks in the not too distant future. The doc did a standard eye exam and the results were not quite, but almost identical.
Except for that, the appointment wasn’t notably different from any optometrist that I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been in and out of eye doc’s office since I was six. The only notably exception is that, even with insurance, the eye exam cost me $110. Seemed expensive so I went online when I got back and found this. Hard to believe. What’s the point of this insurance anyway? To me, it seems, if you have insurance, the basic eye exam should be free. It’s preventative.
My Rx barely changed, which is good. But I need new lenses in my current frames because they’re chipped. So I went into the Kaiser optician and found out that my insurance gets me a whopping 20% off the cost of news lenses. If want Kaiser to put them in, it will cost me around 225 bucks, plus a 15 dollar charge for bringing in my own frames, which makes no sense to me. I’ll be going somewhere else.
When I disembarked from the flight yesterday, we were given to orders over the PA to report to health authorities if we had a fever over 100 degrees. Then as we hit the jetway, we were handed a slick pamphlet about the H1N1 virus with instructions about what to if you’ve come or are headed to an infected area (is California included? Don’t think so). At immigration there were people walking around with surgical masks. I laughed the whole thing off. I’m strong, right? I don’t get sick. Hardly ever.
This morning I woke up feeling not so great. A little headache and a minor chest cough. I don’t think it’s anything. I don’t feel warm and Raquel took my temp and I don’t have a fever. I chalk it up to a combination of jet lag and wearing myself out on wednesday’s long ride.
I drank some OJ, some coconut water, ate some toast and took a couple Ibuprofens and feel better, just a little fatigued.
The sun is shining here. Time to make some hay.
Gus and Gels that athletes use to have been around for almost a decade now, but I have mostly been spared them because, well, there’s no reason for me to have used them. They are consumed by athletes looking for quick energy when the are competing or training. But since I’ve started cycling in earnest this year, goos and gels have been an increasing part of my training nutrition diet. I almost always bring one with me on a ride and when I do a supported ride, like Waves to Wine or any of the Century rides, they are usually available at the rest stops. Since they are easy and quick to consume and provide a well needed energy boost, goos are very welcome.
However not all goos are created equal. They come in a rainbow of “flavors” and brands. For me, there’s little difference between the brands. At their core, they are all a same—a viscous jelly-like substance similar in texture (and often taste) to tree sap. I tend to stay away from any of the fruit flavors which taste like Elmer’s glue and stick to the chocolate, mocha, espresso spectrum, which are far more palatable.
On the first day of the Waves to Wine ride, I made a huge mistake and, at the last rest stop, ate several goos with a fistful of pretzels. Big mistake. The combination of the viscous goo and the flour from the pretzels creates a mortar like substance that could have been used to build the pyramids. It sat like a brick in my stomach for the last 15 miles of the ride. It was terribly uncomfortable. On the plus side, I probably won’t have to shit for a week.
Here are some sample goo varieties:
The Corn Refiners Association must be shaking in their collective boots that the dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup are finally getting some attention. They put together some laughable propaganda videos to convince the hoi polloi that their product is safe and “natural”, when it is anything but.
Their propaganda sites are here and here.
“Made from corn, has the same calories as sugar and is fine in moderation.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement from the people who make it. I was stunned when I first saw these ads on TV. The truth, of course, is a little different. I avoid this stuff like the plague.
The Corn growers like to claim that “it’s natural”, but looking at the production process, you can see that it’s anything but. There’s a hilarious scene in King Corn where the film makers try to make HFCS in their kitchen after not being allowed to film the process at the manufacturing plant. It’s simply disgusting how it’s made.
Americans are already fat enough because of over-comsumption, but HFCS isn’t helping at all. Since it’s ubiquitous, it’s very difficult to avoid. It’s not only in soft drinks and other beverages, it’s in ketchup, used in bread to assist in browning, used a preservative in hundreds if not thousands of other products. It’s dangers. It should be avoided at all costs.
The interesting fact about fructose is that it is metabolized in a totally different way than other carbohydrates. It does not stimulate or require insulin for transportation to the cells. Since there is no need for insulin release, there is also no secretion of leptin. Therefore the feeling of satiety is altered—you continue to eat and possible overeat.
–Becky Hand, Diet Danger: High Fructose Corn Syrup
There are plenty of places online to read about the dangers of diet with high amounts of HFCS. And if you want to learn more about the dangers of corn in general in our diet (corn grown to feed cows, chicken, fish, etc.) check the documentary King Corn. Here are some more articles:
- The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup
- The Double Danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Diet Danger: High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Stop HFCS
- Corn is Making Us Fat
- The Google
There’s a great spoof video (from where I draw the title of this post) on YouTube.
These days, I don’t just ride outside, I joined the gym downstairs and have been taking spin classes for about a month.
The Spin trainer Rachel (who also owns the gym), is incredibly hard core. She’s in great shape (so much so that’s it no big deal for her to teach the spin class and then turn around immediately and teach the core class. She’s done Ironmans and ultra-marathons. Basically she’s nuts, but in a good way. Don’t beleive me? Check out her bio.
Rachel also runs a serious state of the art fitness program for cyclists. It helps that there are so many Schwab employees who are into cycling and training for various rides. In class, we ride CycleOps Pro 300PT bikes. I know that doesn’t mean much, but just know that they are top of the line. The basic difference between these bikes and other spin bikes is that they tell you what your output is in watts so you can tune your training not to your heartbeat which is variable but to wattage which is testable. Each class is geared to your personal threshold. There’s a chart on the wall where you can find your 100% threshold and then see what output you should be at during various parts of the class.
Just heard about this story of fat fine being imposed on Japanese companies who have obese office workers over 40.
Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.
Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.
Sounds a bit authoritarian for a democracy (re-education?). All in the name of health though, so it’s hard to really complain (re-education? really?). Of course, being Japanese, they have a cute propaganda cartoon to promote the policy. Presumably Sumo wrestlers are exempt.
What’s scary is that we Americans are so fat. 39 inches is the average waist line for American men? I bet that’s an underestimate. It might be a problem in Japan if they eat shit like this. If Americans ate the same healthy diet that the Japanese eat (fresh fish, seaweed, fresh veggies, not much deep fried and very little packaged food), we’d be much better off.
This is the advice from Michael Pollan in his new book, In Defense of Food. The basic idea is that most of what Americans buy at the supermarket and consume is not food, but food-like substances created in the labs of places like General Mills. Most of this crap is sold in the middle aisles of the market, so if you want to eat healthy, stick to the perimeter where you’ll find dairy, meat, fruit and veggies. Sound advice.
Comedian Lewis Black, on the other hand, thinks it’s all bullshit. You can’t believe what the experts tell you because they don’t fucking know anything. Instead he offers his wisdom on health:
- The good die young, but pricks live forever
- If you masterbate 20 times a day, you’ll never make it out your front door.
Hard to argue with either of those.
So, I managed to get through a week of flinging myself around Vail and Beaver Creek with nary a scratch. I skied hard and i skied fast and I had tons of fun. I almost got away unscathed, but on get away day (a day we didn’t even ski), I almost managed to destroy myself.
We were playing around and taking photos on the pirate ship that sits at the base of Vail Village. The deck of the ship is covered with snow and it’s super slick, but I got it in my head anyway that I was going to take the slide that escapes from the bow and I managed to slip off the side of the ship where the webbing leads up to the deck. Fuck that hurt. I jammed my left thumb trying to keep myself from going ass over tea-kettle, which I did, but I scraped the shit out of my left calf along the gunwhale, or what there was of one.
I felt like a fool. It’s a good thing very few people were around to see it.
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