Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bike vs. Car Report: June 16-30

Half the year is over and I'm happy with my bike versus car number. I have a high end goal of riding and driving less than ten percent of the days for the year. I've come to the realization that when you have a family, sometimes you have to drive or ride to some things. I expect that to get worse as the kids get older as well. Still, the thought of only being in a car around twenty percent of the days of the year is pretty amazing in this day and age.

MRI Results on My Back

Man did I cause a stir by Twittering about the fact I was on my way to get an MRI last week. Nobody really knew and it was one of those "Hey I got you an appointment and it's like NOW" appointments. I have been struggling with radiating pain and general low back pain. It was getting pretty bad.

Now I'm used to dealing with back pain. Most people have no idea how I struggle, but I still continue to bike but not much else because of it. I can't take the pounding of running, basketball, and such sports anymore. As much as I want to, and no matter how much I love them, that part of my past is just that, my past.

I've already discussed my results with a couple of people who say that it helps them understand my pain. Stuff that without explanation would make no sense to me. The one that my wife caught was "moderate bilateral neuroforaminal stenosis" which she explained to me perfectly and I believe is what is causing most of my pain. You can read about it on WikiAnswers HERE. Another thought is possible early onset of arthritis in the area. Great news there.

I had a "tube" MRI a few years ago that came back with a diagnosis of a spondylolisthesis. You will notice that with this new "Open" MRI that I am not diagnosed with that anymore which is a good thing. Unfortunately, I'm still dealing with the pain, but hey, life goes on and you'd be lucky to ever hear me complain when I'm out riding unless it's really bad.

Anyhow, I'm releasing ALL my info here for you, the experts, to analyze and comment on. Now you can't tell me that you don't know EVERYTHING that's going on in my life.

MRI Lumbar Spine
Technique: Multispin echo study of the lumbar spine obtained with images acquired in the sagittal and axial planes.

Positioning: Sitting neurtral, flexion, extension and standing.

T12-L1: The intervertebral disc is normal in morphology and signal characteristics. No evidence of disc herniation or bulge.

L1-2, L2-3 and L3-4 demonstrate minimal degenerative changes anteriorly. The thecal sac is normal.

L4-5: There is desiccation of the intervertebral disc. There is a small centeral protrustion. There is minimal impingement on the thecal sac. No focal disc herniations. There is moderate impingement into the bilateral neural foramina. Mild retrolesthesis L4 on L5 noted with flexion.

L5-S1: The intervertebral disc is normal in morphology and signal characteristics. No evidence of disc herniation or bulge. There is bilateral spondylolysis of L5. There is no evidence of spondyloisthesis. No subluxation in the standing position. Moderate bilateral neuroforaminal stenosis.

The vertebral bodies are unremarkable. No evidence of fracture or dislocation. The vetrebral bodies and posterior elements are well aligned.

The cauda equine and conus medullaris are normal in morphology and signal characteristics. No intrathecal masses or fluid collections.

Mild degenerative disc disease as described. Spondylolysis of L5 without evidence of spondylolisthesis.

There you have it. Comment away with what you know/think you know.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 Tour de Kota Day 4 – Gregory to Chamberlain

Leaving Gregory you instantly start climbing with some decent rollers. Again I got a late start from camp, but at least I was out by 8:20 or so and I wasn’t the last one to leave camp. I caught many people on the rollers north of Gregory and some were walking a couple of the tougher rolls. If they knew what was upcoming, they probably would have sagged in right then and there. When we turned back towards Platte, the real climbing fun was about to begin. There were a couple of hills before the river that had me in my lowest gear (36 x 23) BEGGING for a couple more gears. Uphill at about 6.8 mph and about 40 rpm’s is not my idea of fun. They were definitely a couple of long challenging hills. The sad part is that it was hard to enjoy the decent on the other side due to the cross winds whipping through the valley.

I caught up with quite a few familiar faces at Snake Creek across the river and rode with Tammy W. all the way to Academy. At Academy I hooked back up with CDV, Triple G, and Duane B. It started to spit a little rain at us again and it was still a little chilly but we found refuge in the middle of a long stretch of lonely highway with a stop on a gravel road that included grilled burgers and watermelon. I fueled up and we were off to Puckwana. We had a brief stop at the side of the road where we were QUITE pleased that one of the ladies there had decided early in the day that it was cold so she grabbed the church coffee pot. A couple cups of coffee and we were off on the last stretch into Chamberlain for the night.

Laura had called me on the road somewhere after Academy telling me that she was sick of being cold and wet on this trip. That, and remembering how cold the wind could be at the campground in Chamberlain by the river, the thought of camping didn’t excite her. Taking the hint well I told her to check into rooms at Chamberlain. She found a Best Western that had reasonably priced rooms and would take our little dog and….wait for it…had a hot tub!! Sold. We picked up a room for CDV as well.
When we pulled in we got unpacked and headed for the hot tub to get our core body temperatures back to normal for the first time all week. After getting comfortable in our room, CDV and I discussed that we too were sick of the rain and cold. Looking at the weather it appeared that more of the same was on the way. There was talk that if the weather was bad in the morning of forgetting the rest of the tour and going home. Luckily the weather was better, albeit cool in the morning.

The funny story of the day was when I walked through the lobby and noticed that the breakfast room didn’t open until 6:30am. Knowing that many bikers would be getting up early and be gone by that time due to many people choosing the century (100 mile) route to Pierre, I called down to the front desk to ask the possibility of opening a little early due to the fact that most of us would be gone. The kid at the front desk seemed less than willing to make a command decision, or work at all for that matter, and said that it would be better if I talked to the lady who came in at 10:00. So I did.

I called down at 10:00 and explained our plight and she said that nobody would be in until 6:30. I thought all was lost. Then she said the most amazing thing to me: “…but I can just give you the key to the Breakfast Room if you’d be willing to set a few things out and watch over the place a little and drop the key off at the front desk.” That’s right, somebody delivered the key to the Breakfast Room to me. If I’m ever in a need for a room in Chamberlain in the future, guess where I’m going! Many bicyclists got a chance to eat before taking off and it was a super cool gesture on the staff’s part.

2009 Tour de Kota Day 3 – Wagner to Gregory

After the tent fiasco of Day 2, I was pretty drained. I woke up somewhat early, but heard light rain outside. I rolled over and went back to sleep with the family in our new (Wow I’m not wet!) tent. Then when I finally did arise, my motivation to move quickly and get on the road just wasn’t there.

I was beginning the thought process of getting on the road when Laura said she would like me to help take the tent down the first time to make sure she could do it on her own after that. That process is a long one when you have to get the kids up and motivated to help pack the van. By the time the van was packed and ready to roll, I was the last one out of camp…by a long ways. It was 9:20.

It wasn’t until the Ft. Randall Dam that I finally even caught of a glimpse of another bicyclist and I was hammering along pretty good to catch up too. A couple tough climbs started bringing a few people back to me so I didn’t feel deserted. Sometimes solo days are good days to have as I just did my own thing most of the day. I did catch up with the world famous Dr. Spiderman and his wife and rode with them a bit. It wasn’t an easy catch either. Once I had them in my sights, it was a good five mile catch at 20+ mph to run them down. They are good strong riders and it was fun to share a little road time with them. I probably would have rode into Gregory with them, but I stopped off at Burke for a piece of Strawberry Rhubarb pie, my personal favorite.

Gregory was another stop that the whole town seemed to show up to greet us. Food everywhere, a plethora of local entertainment, and people who seemed fascinated by the variety of bikes that they got to see. Triple G – Gregg Drube – provided the local kids entertainment as he let them set in his recumbent trike and he pushed them up and down the street.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

2009 Tour de Kota Day 2 - Yankton to Wagner

Better late than never. It's been a couple busy weeks so I'm trying to catch up on my blogging about Tour de Kota and other things. Thanks to my wife driving to Bike-A-Palooza in Sioux Falls today, I was able to catch up on a couple days of Tour de Kota blogging on the way. Here is day 2 of Tour de Kota, also known as the crazy tent day.

Waking up with water in far too many places in our tent was just the beginning of an eventful day/ride for us. No matter what I tried, I could not get my Garmin Edge 305 to turn on. I was devastated to think that my new Garmin had just bit the dust. I put it on the bike anyway and met up with Cycling Cathy, Ride Vermillion, and Jim Wynia at Hy-Vee for a large order of Biscuits and Gravy and some Starbucks coffee.
After breakfast we rolled out of town and it was very evident that it was going to be a pretty decent headwind on the ride. As we dropped down by Gavin’s Point Dam I noticed that The Owner was assisting another cyclist on the side of the road so I handed him my Garmin, explained the situation and rode off to catch my contingent. I caught them on the big climb back to Hwy 50 and suffered along with them during the climb.

On the road to Tabor for their world famous kolach’s , The Owner went by us on the road and pulled over ahead of us. He held up my Garmin and had it working again. Apparently it’s a common issue as it was the number one hit on Google. So, if you ever have issues with a Garmin not turning on, hold down reset, mode, and the power button to reset it. Tip of the day. You’re welcome.

After Tabor – and eating kolach’s and getting to see the Czech Day’s Queen -- we rolled into Tyndall where there not much was going on as far as welcoming the TdK into their town. There was even a report that the owner of the DQ refused to open before his appointed opening time even though there were many bicyclists outside and he was there anyway. Um…DUH!

We received the opposite reception in Avon where it seemed that half the town was in the park to welcome us in. Food vendors everywhere, reusable grocery sacks made special for the TdK, and people everywhere striking up conversations. The only issue was the temperature as we had worked up a decent sweat by now and the cold wind was definitely making our body temperature drop quickly.

Leaving Avon into the wind, we tried to keep a pace line together but young Master Wynia was out front and soon looking back our line was down to three. A couple more miles in, Bald-n-Surly said he was going to back off as well, leaving me to get dogged by the youngster. We took a quick break at the last rest stop before Wagner and fought our way into the wind through the last eight miles.

Now for the drama of the day. Laura called me as I told her to check various places in Yankton for a better tent since ours definitely seemed far less than rain proof. I received a call saying that nothing really met what we needed for and wanted for a family tent. I told Laura to just come to Wagner and I’d go to Cabela’s in Mitchell and get a new tent for us once she was there. And so I did.

The lady at Cabela’s was really good at explaining the tent features and after discussion found a Cabela’s tent that worked for exactly what we were looking for. So it was purchased. I noticed a set of poles in plastic on the outside of the tent box and while I found that strange, I didn’t put much thought into it. Back to Wagner – about a 150 mile round trip – to put up our new buy.

While putting it up, the excitement was mounting. The tent seemed so huge compared to our old one. Down to the last couple poles we realized that the poles seemed really long. CDV and I determined that they must be the top poles so we replaced the poles we already had in place and started to stand it up. Um…something is wrong here. There is no way these poles are going to fit in their appropriate notches. We tried to bend it to make it work, being the manly men that we are, but we realized that the poles were simply the wrong size. Almost on cue, as we looked puzzled at each other…. RIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiipppppppp went the seam that the pole went into.

I called Cabela’s and explained my quandary. It ended up being that some of the first boxes of this tent were minus a set of poles and that’s why they put them on the outside of the tent. After some discussion, I was offered the “opportunity” to meet them half way, which initially they wanted to be Parkston (about 25 miles from Mitchell) and I quickly offered a point considerably closer to halfway (Tripp).
I’m happy they righted the issue, but I have to admit, I was a little more irked when the lady (whom I DO appreciate) showed up with a single box with no poles on the outside. Now tell me, if you have a tent you know has everything in it, wouldn’t you sell THAT one first? I understand wanting to rotate inventory, but this little mix up cost me another 70 miles of driving and about three and a half hours of frustration. While their customer service to make it right was stellar, I’m not sure I got the best end of the stick on this problem.

Back in Wagner, the tent went up perfectly fine with the right poles, and I had time for a couple quick beers and conversation before crashing for the night.

The day from my Garmin, starting a good distance in due to my Garmin issues noted above. This chart missed out on the good early climbs leaving the river valley.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bike vs. Car Report: June 1-15

For those who actually follow this crazy little report, I apologize for being late. We had a "few" extra people in and out of our house this week and I'm behind in all aspects of blogging including my need to catch up on Tour de Kota blogging. I'll be trying hard to get caught up on that as well. Due to Tour de Kota, my numbers were far from stellar this period.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

2009 Tour de Kota - Harrisburg to Yankton

On Sunday of the Tour de Kota, the tradition of rIdE_wIth_ thE_kErnEl Day was kept aloft on day one of the 2009 Tour de Kota as many folks met up at the Casey’s in Harrisburg at 8:00 am – thE kErnEl is not one to get on the road too early – for adventures in biking and camaraderie. As was going to be the norm for the week, it was chilly, overcast, with spots of rain. The beauty of the day was that the winds were out of the northwest and we, thankfully, were headed southeast.
After a “Premium” Grain Belt at Worthing, we rolled towards Beresford at a decent clip and then the fun began: A tandem came by and kicked up the speed to the 25-28mph range. Many fell in behind the tandem and we zoomed along clicking off the miles. Doug from Pierre was wheezing so loudly behind us that he had us worried that he was in cardiac arrest. He decided that the pace was a smidge fast so he dropped off a bit and caught up with us at the breakfast stop in Beresford as did many others.
After the breakfast stop the large contingent of riders broke into smaller groups and we enjoyed the wonderful tail winds as we pressed onward to Yankton. First up was a quick stop at Hub City, hosted by Pastor Kwen Sanderson (fellow Lane Hog) and congregation. From there we soldiered on to Volin where I got a piece of my favorite Strawberry Rhubarb pie at the Volin Café.
We made quick work of the remaining miles to Yankton and without even pressing very hard we averaged 20 mph for the day. However, once in Yankton and the tents were up, the rains started in. By morning we realized that our tent wasn’t going to cut it anymore due to its inability to keep us and everything dry and we would need another one if we were going to continue. That story an more in the Day 2 of Tour de Kota posting.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Tour de Kota - Day 0

The packing process has begun and Oh Great and Powerful Steve (aka the Ford Freestar) is in the process of being filled up. The dogs are getting their baths in preparation for the week. Buddy is going to Grandma Brady's and Deeohgee will be partaking in the Tour de Kota festivities with us. Marissa and Carson will be coming with so the number of bikes the Brady family will be bringing is 5 and a 1/2. They will not be riding the route, but the plan is to get a few "bonus" miles in during the tour.

This is probably the worst part of the week -- packing and getting ready. Let's get this show on the road!!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

How to Plan a Group Bike Ride

Here is how you plan a group bike ride in Vermillion: Don't let your "hammerheads" plan it. Usually when BiTeBiLLy, Cactus-Eyed Joe, or myself plan a ride, we get the usual crowd -- those expecting to go fairly fast no matter if we post a slower pace or not.

Enter Cycling Cathy who puts out an email to our list about a "No Spandex Required" ride and a slower pace. The result:

Photo Credit: Dan Letsche

That's right, instead of 3-5 riders, there were 15 (plus or minus) last night who did the 30 mile Meckling Loop, including Mrs. Biking Brady who was doing her first group ride that didn't include me (can you tell I'm the proud husband?). Also included were some who have never partook in a Lane Hogs group ride before. Where was I? Being the good husband, I took Carson to T-Ball and allowed Laura her time on the bike.

Good things are coming to the Vermillion Bicycling scene....stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

T-Ball Never Ceases To Amaze Me

Last night was Carson's first game of T-Ball. Now understand I've seen it all during the years as I watched my older two play as well. I've seen kids try to run bases the wrong way, gloves on the wrong hand, playing in the field in foul territory, and many more oddities too many to mention.

That was until last night.

Imagine if you will a plethora of little four-five-six year old people already on the field with half of them chasing after every ball that is hit. Now picture base runners on the field at the same time. Got that mental picture? Good. Now see the ball come off the bat "screaming" towards the outfield followed by about six little people playing the field and...wait...what the...the kid from first base, helmet and all, has diverted the base path and is chasing the ball too! Not just chasing mind you, diving in the pile to get the ball. Now there's something I will never see again. Until the next inning when it happened all over again. Different kid, same great laughs.

Moral of the story: If you are bored with nothing to do during the week, go find a T-Ball game. You need the laugh. Trust me.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bike vs. Car Report: May 15-30

This is more like it. One blemish where I got all my driving out of my system in one day on a trip to Lincoln to drop off my oldest for a trip to Denver for a month with his Aunt/Uncle and Cousins and driving back from Yankton on that same day. I'm not quite at all three of my target percentages, but I'm at two out of three. Still shooting for 90% days biking, < 10% driving and passenger.

Bunyan's To Bob's 2009

For some reason, this was about as nervous as I've ever been hosting a ride. Even though I have one of the best friends a man can ask for in BiTeBiLLy (newly ordained this weekend) asking me how he could help, in my mind I had it all taken care of. For the most part I did too. I forgot maps for the newbies and the directionally challenged returnees, maybe a cool B2B banner for the front yard, but other than that, it was under control. Shirts made it in plenty of time, Bunyan's and Bob's were notified of our arrival, even let the Dixon Co., NE sheriff knew that we would be riding on their no shoulder Highway 12 hoping that they could patrol a little closer -- props on the way down as I saw on Deputy in the three short miles that I spent on it before taking the gravel route. All that was left to do was ride.

About 0815 in came the onslaught of cyclists, most of the out of town people coming to my place. The MOST WONDERFUL Mrs. Biking Brady made a trip to the store for donuts, OJ, Milk for the early arrivals along with the fixings for the after ride gathering. I also forgot to warn all my neighbors except one about the influx of visitors on Saturday morning...oops. I'm sure that many awoke to the sounds of bikes being removed from bike racks, back of pickups, and trailers.

After getting everybody tires aired up, we stopped by Bunyan's for the quickest Bunyan's Bomber ever as we were already late...so late that some took off when we got there. Oh well, nothing was going to stop us from our bombers! After pounding one quick, on the road we went. I'll spare you the details of the ride other than to say the few of use that chose the gravel route were the real animals (substitute stupid, idiots, crazy dudes, etc) of the ride. The route was challenging as always.

Upon hitting Bob's we ate ourselves into a coma as always. Ginormous burgers, fries, cheese balls, were consumed and we made our way back. That, followed by a ride home with FULL stomachs, set us up for the celebration that followed. More food (thanks Laura and Bonnie!) and wonderful Hopluia beer (thanks eDLoNNie!) was consumed until around 10:00 pm. It was a great ride, great friends, and great camaraderie. As nervous I was going into the ride about everything going right, I was quite pleased with the result.

Below are some pictures that I scored from T-BiLLy of some of the festivities. I'm sure there may be more pictures popping up on other blogs, but at this point, I could only find a nice slide show on the Hooterville Mayor's site.

Bunyan Bombers - The pre-ride drink of champions!

thE_kErnEl ends his gravel stretch in style with the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

Your's Truly (aka k-BiLLy)

BiLLy's @ Bob's

The last fifteen miles is all downhill. Um...sure..

Ride is complete...Tap the Keg already!! The Beer Box protects the keg of Hopluia from Spilker's in Cortland, NE.

Arguably the best part about riding: The party afterward!