Monday, April 25, 2011

(un)Comfortably Numb

It was a great ride. My flow was finally coming back. Gone was the obsessive braking and the jangly cornering. I was finally riding faster and smoother, a combo pack not seen since my return. L.W.B. was not up for the ride and I was enjoying being alone and stopping to see the lake, at my favorite over looks. The nagging voices from the last month, the doubts, the over thinking, were finally melting away as I forgot the bike beneath me and found something resembling a center. Whenever things come together, and I am on the verge of delight, the McCortian, Irish warning light starts to blink on my dash.

On the way back into Tom Brown I became aware of a dull numbness in my right leg. The new trail improvements lower the need to get out of the saddle, so I chalked it all up to needing to stand on the pedals. On Blairstone I really started feeling tired. I lowered the pace and settled in for the climb back to the hood.

Easter with the In Laws was good. We watched the little ones look for eggs. Everyone (but me) had cake and ice cream. Just as I was reaching the edge of my tiredness we headed home. An uneventful dinner drifted unceremoniously by and soon I was by myself in the kitchen, lit only by the dim white of my lap top. As I typed out a vapid review of my great day, my cheek began to feel a little tingly. Nothing alarming just enough to notice. I am hyper aware of all ticks and changes (post stroke) and as this development occurred, I immediately started talking myself out of any bad possibilities. I decided to give in to sleep.

This morning I woke up rested, got dressed turned on the news, and lost feeling in my right arm and left cheek. It felt exactly like it was asleep, right before the blood rushes back in with life. The punchline in my case is, I never got the payoff of the feeling returning. I have a bizarre cold limb that responds to touch but has the added bonus of phantom chills and faint pins and needles.

After seven hours at T.M.H. with "I'm trying not to look like you are going to die" expressions of the fine heath care providers, and an MRI with dye, I am home. The diagnosis? Hemipalegic Migraine. I had a little preview of this thrill ride about a month after my heart surgery....(I can't recommend it in good conscience). It feels just like a stroke (to the uninitiated) and carries all the same fear, without the brain damage. Good times. There is nothing like a karmic bitch slap to get you back into a "live in the now" mentality. They say the numbness will go away in one to five days. The only upside is, I never went into to full blown "oh shit I'm going to die" mode.

Some things you don't want to get good at, and this was in that category. See ya out there when my arm wakes up.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thursdays Child

I am working on something that I may or may not post. A romantic look back at a period of my youth that introduced me to tragedy. It could go over like a fart in church so like my riding, I will have to take it easy till my mojo returns.

On the riding front, I have been doing a lot of it and mostly badly. One week ago today I crashed on a leafy corner at Tom Brown. I went into the corner too hot, braked (broke?) badly and went down hard on my left side. I jacked up my shoulder, hip and ribs. Since then I have started over. I had the squeaky brake rotor replaced, put on some tires with more knobs. I spent the next week riding slowly and thinking of things I haven't in years. I went out and rode sections with LWB over and over, till I knew exactly where the lines were. It has revitalized my way of thinking. We frequently go out and ride things several times now. It is a good exercise, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, I joined the Worm on "Joe's" road ride. I was sweating it like a race. All day long I looked for great reasons to get out of it, but dammit, it was the big mans birthday. Like always he sensed my nervousness, got me on his wheel and pulled me to safety on the sprint. After that I felt loose and more confident. It turned out to be the ride that broke my bad streak. I didn't want to do the ride and it was exactly what I needed.

Try new stuff. Hang in there when it sucks. Sooner or later all slumps end.


Sunday, April 3, 2011


Bicycles are delicate things. Even the ones made for rough terrain, need constant attention and upkeep. They are fine tuned and expensive and like old cars, they rarely run right. If you love them you learn to deal with the knocks and creeks.

There are many different types of cyclists but my favorite type is the ignoring kind. They ride in the rain. They ride if their clothes are dirty. Their bikes rarely work well but they never seem to mind. They are more likely to wear non cycling material because they don't care what you think.

Then there is my group. This group hears everything. The group that worries about failing parts. We see every little thing the bike is doing and we can't ignore it. We look at the weather. We make sure all the laundry is done. We arrive early.

I am not the same cyclist I once was. I have been reminded what I felt like when I first started. The sounds of the woods. The wind. That feeling of being anxious to get out there. My fitness is at an all time low and I hate to hold up rides, but even when I am riding terribly, I am glad to be there.

I am starting to think the rough days are the best. I am starting to see that the days you ride really well are rare, and unless you enjoy the tough time, the good time has no meaning.

I will be able to stay on group rides soon, but if I go off the back, don't worry. I am just earning my reward.