November 2022 – Crawling through Fall

The leaves are all but gone, save for the dreary brown ones on our oak tree. The helpful trees on the farm next door dropped a blanket on our backyard only after I “finished” raking for the year. Raking leaves beats shoveling snow, I suppose. More to do.

It was a long foliage season around these parts. We now look forward to weeks of gray and dark, and cold winds. Of course, it’s not like Saskatchewan or anything, but the contrast to the oppressive heat and humidity of July and August makes it seem so.

Biking (and Walking)

This month’s miles: I only rode 747.5 miles this month, my first sub 1,000-mile month since April. I took six days off. A couple of days to attend an uncle-in-law’s 70th birthday party in southern West Virginia. This past Sunday and today were rainy and gloomy, good for sleeping in and napping. My mileage for the year broke 10,000 on November 2. A few weeks later I hit 10,000 outdoor miles, a pointless point of pride, riding another 500+ miles to account for my cellar recumbent rides last winter. I’m at 10,713 miles and counting. My Cross Check turned 25,000 miles and The Mule turned 69,000 miles this month. My longest ride, 62 miles, was the day of WABA’s Cider Ride.

The Mule, my 1991 Specialized Cross Check, turned 69.

Fender benders: Somehow during my rides I managed to destroy both fenders on The Mule. The back one went first when I ran over a small fallen tree limb. A week or two later I ran over an even small branch, the kind I’ve ridden over countless times. It got sucked up by my front wheel and that was that.

Medical mysteries: I did a follow-up trip to my doctor to see if my dietary changes since my August physical had produced any measurable benefits. To my utter surprise, my blood cholesterol dropped 50 points. My weight dropped eight pounds to 190. I had hoped the weight loss would help with my back problems so I experimented with long walks. For a while my progress seemed promising. I managed to go four miles without back pain. Then, after Thanksgiving dinner, the joined the other overstuffed diners for a post-prandial walk around the hilly neighborhood. I felt completely fine for about 1/3rd of a mile but the second half of the walk was pretty unpleasant. I’ve tried to get a hold of the back surgeon that Dr. Pain recommended back in May but the helpful communications infrastructure at his office has thwarted me. I even looked into a different surgeon, one who practices in the orthopedic clinic down the street from my house. It turns out he is out of network for my insurance. Maybe the gods are trying to tell me something.

Speaking of doctors, I made an appointment for a colonoscopy next month. I’ll post the video next month.

Just kidding.

Next year’s tour?: My mind is already turning to thoughts of a summer tour. I guess my brain has forgotten about all those crappy motels last summer. To add to my motivation, I recently found two long-forgotten poly shirts in my closet. Man, I wish I had them this past summer.

I had planned to ride 400+ miles to my 50th high school reunion in upstate New York in May. Last Spring, I bought tickets to a September 2022 Crowded House concert (probably their last tour). The drummer injured his back (karma, no?) and the concert was rescheduled to the Sunday after the reunion. Ack. Now, instead of riding to the reunion, I face the prospect of driving 800+ miles in two days and missing half the events. It’s all a mess. Regardless, next summer’s tour will start May 23 or thereabouts. DC to Bar Harbor and back. There are many interesting route options.

Plan B is to do New Orleans to DC. That can actually happen next fall as the weather between here and there is likely to be ideal.

Watching and Listening

The Crown: We watched the fifth season. Maybe it’s my familiarity with the events but it was my least favorite season so far. Flashback scenes of Claire Foy as the Queen back in the fifties only reminded me of how much I enjoyed the earlier seasons. Maybe it was the writing but Imelda Staunton’s Queen didn’t hold up to either Foy’s or Olivia Coleman’s. Also, the impending death of Diana made me dread each new episode. (They saved it for season six. Oh, joy.)

Andor: We watched the remaining episodes of Andor, a Star Wars prequel miniseries. I liked it a lot. Diego Luna, Stellan Skarsgard, and Andy Serkis are superb. The good guys are bad. The bad guys are evil. It lacks the cartoonish aspects of all the other Star Wars products. No Yodas, Grokus, light sabers, or wide eyed Jedis-to-be.

Ultra: I finished listening to this podcast. It’s the forgotten history of the politics of white supremacy in the United States in the 30s and 40s and how the Nazis infiltrated American politics. It is not American politicians’ finest hour. Well worth listening to.

Also, I finished watching the World Series. No more sports for me for a few months. Maybe I’ll watch the World Cup final and the Super Bowl.

Reading

The Young Terrorist by Nabil Khouri. This is a (I think) self-published memoir of how a Lebanese boy somewhat miraculously escaped the chaos of the middle east in the 1970s and realized the American dream. He was hardly a terrorist, just a misguided (and often terrified) 11-year-old boy who signed up with a Palestinian militia group in his hometown in Jordan. With a facility with mathematics, dogged persistence, and some lucky breaks, he made it to a college and a peaceful existence in the U. S.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I read this a long time ago and just couldn’t get into it. It’s depressing as hell. McCarthy description of a father and son making their way through a post-apocalyptic landscape (presumably American) is chilling. I couldn’t help but picture the barren areas of the U. S. West (particularly the forest burn zones and the high desert of Wyoming) that I’ve ridden through on my last three bike tours as I read McCarthy’s description of the landscape.

12 thoughts on “November 2022 – Crawling through Fall

  1. Unsolicited medical advice (the best kind;): If you’re contemplating back surgery, think twice. If you’re contemplating a fusion, think again after that. When you are in pain, a surgical “fix” can be mighty tempting. I came perilously close to surgery 30 years ago and have worked with (dozens? hundreds?) a lot of people after surgery. I call spinal fusion “the gift that keeps on giving”. After the surgical pain goes away, many people have a year or even a few years of relief, then the pain becomes unbearable and they return for another surgery to buy them another few years. Each time you fuse a portion of the spine you increase the stress on the joints above and below. If you fuse, say, L2-3, in a couple of years that might be extended to L1-4, then T12-L5. The pain relief seems to get briefer each time. If you haven’t yet, try seeing a physiatrist as well as a surgeon.

    1. I have already seen a physiatrist who recommended the surgeon. Your description is exactly why I am hesitant. I did have back surgery 35 years ago without fusion and it worked like a charm. My general impression from people who have had fusion is negative.

  2. We’ve given up on the Crown after 2 (maybe 3?) episodes. Yes the story is more recent, we all lived through it, but I find the acting below par compared to previous seasons. Andor was very good.

    I look forward to following your 2023 adventure 🙂

  3. I wonder if the extra food on Thanksgiving, mixed with food you have likely been avoiding aggravated your back? I know my back pain flairs up when I eat more inflammatory foods. I’m curious if it’s still bothersome as the days have passed. Unless of course you are up to your nose in leftovers like the rest of us. Either way, I’m sorry you are yo-yoing with that. I hope you get some clarity and relief ASAP.

    I am more excited than I should be for a 2023 tour here on Rootchopper.

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