Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thanks for asking, both of you

I am recovering, …. perhaps obsessing about it.  I really regret not having ridden that 200K event Feb 2nd, but of course, one never knows how things might have advanced had we taken the other fork in the road.  A little more on that later. 
I had the operation on February 5th, and the doc advised that I should have recovered sufficiently in two weeks that I could once again ride the bike.  My hand seemed to take the slow road to recovery in the first week:  steady swelling, and little finger flexibility without sharp pain.  After that first week there was a breakthrough: my fingers got rapidly more flexible with less pain.

And now another slump.  I am sure I am still healing but once again the progress seems glacial.  Frustrating; it seems as if the days on the calendar are outstripping the progress with my mitt. My two biggest concerns are about my finger flexibility and the specific circumstances of the wound in my palm.  I have the flexibility to now grip a handle bar, and the pain on making a tight grip does not seem enough to preclude hanging on.  But the incisions are strategically placed to cause problems.  There is a small incision with four stitches right in the middle of the palm of my hand, in line with my ring finger.  This is healing nicely, yet when I recently made a short practical test on the bike I found that riding on the ‘tops’ will generate lots of pressure in this area.  OK riding down to the end of the lane and back, but not sure how workable this will be riding for 10 hours or so. On the ‘hoods’ the two incisions below my index finger will make shifting on the right side a challenge.  Yes, the right shifter, the one that commands the cassette (the 10 gears on the rear hub) and this is where most of my shifting takes place.  OY! 
It turns out that once he opened me up the doc discovered a little more work needed doing which resulted in an additional incision which runs up across that big fleshy pad in the palm of my hand just below the index finger.  So in that area there are now two incisions which form a vee pretty much cutting up that big pad with 7 stitches (4 now, two came untied so I pulled the thread out and one that was causing a lot of irritation like a big sliver so I cut it out).  I’ve learned that this is an area that absorbs lots of pressure in daily life and as suspected, it will take a beating on the bars. 
I am due back at the Doc’s to have the remaining stitches removed on the 21st.  Which leaves one weekend, the 23rd and 24th to get my 100km, and 200km perms in to keep my string(s) alive.  I am committed to doing this but on the other hand (get it?) I am also committed to a complete recovery of this little hand carving adventure.  So it is up in the air as to which will come first; the end of the month or the end of the string(s).  From a randonneurs perspective, especially those of us who reside in the northern reaches of the country, it would be an awful shame to ride through the winter months and then have to break it off just as more favorable weather comes along.  
About that aforementioned other fork in the road.  You might wonder how this came to pass.  I had strategically planned to ride a 200Km Perm on Saturday, Feb 2nd.  Then have the surgery the following Tuesday, giving me essentially almost 7 weeks (the last week in March) before I would absolutely, positively have to ride another 200K to keep the streak going.  What a plan eh!?  But I didn’t ride on the 2nd.  I had come down with a cold a week or so before, and even though I felt like I was getting better, I was still feeling pretty sickly and thought that riding that event, with a cold, might have been somewhat less than optimum preparation for this minor surgery.  I’m sure I could have finished the ride.  It would have been a slog but it was an almost perfect day for a ride.  So here I am, reminded of Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse:  
“But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy”  
Really, no grief (some frustration) and little pain, nothing compared to the mouse whose nest Burns plowed up those many years ago.  But, I still have lingering effects of that blasted cold!  
In other news, plowing season is nigh:

Recently I’ve seen flocks of Grosbeaks at the feeder: 


The fish are stirring in the pond, waking up to hunger,

night feeding
 and the spring bulbs are popping up with alarming energy. 


Not sure if this is a record, but on Friday, February 1st I mowed the lawn.  Nothing fancy, I set the blades high and just knocked it down a bit.  Now it looks like it needs real mowing, however March weather is conducting a trial run; anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours of brilliant sunshine, followed by a sprinkle, a downpour, or just normal rain for a similar, indeterminate period.

Speaking of time, I have had ample opportunity to contemplate my relationship with time.  With one hand out of commish there are many things I would normally be doing that I can’t.  I realize I think of weekends as an opportunity to ‘get things done’ (not sure what that says about my perception of time at work!) Can’t ride a bike (obviously), can’t bake (one handed kneading I don’t care to attempt), typing was mostly off limits for a week or so.  I spent a lot of time reading.  A couple so-so books and a couple terrific books! 

I highly recommend The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, another testament to my eclectic taste in literature.  A realistic (read non sci-fi or fantasy) post-apocalyptic tale (thankfully devoid of zombies) but with a twist.  This book has both devastating accounts of man’s hardened, heartless inhumanity as a force for survival, but also something akin to a love story.  The plot is a bit of a yawn until the protagonist takes a leap of faith in a world unlikely to reward faith.  The character development is excellent; he takes you by steps into the heads of several offbeat survivalists (offbeat? What am I saying here, that there are ‘normal survivalists?) as well as the sentimentally flawed main character.  This book does not end with doom and gloom.  On the other hand it is far from a ‘happily ever after’ finish.  One of those books I ripped through and wanted to slow down as I saw the end of the pages coming.  A great read; something that will have you thinking like Hig, the main character, in first person singular for a few days after.  By the way, the writing structure will put you off at first.  If you’ve ever read Kerouac you will know what I mean.  Work through the first 20 pages and you will be hooked.
The second good book is A Patch of Ground: Khe Sanh Remembered by Michael Archer. A first person remembrance of the Siege of Khe Sanh by a young marine who was there.  This is a story not fit for Soldier of Fortune magazine, too ‘real’ but not bloody or dramatic enough. Poignant as well as humorous, this reminded me of a very important time in my own life.  If you step away from the story and consider the larger message, it reveals, this whole Iraq, Afghanistan mess for the absolute and pointless waste it is.  I am not sure there are wars worth fighting, but these three certainly were not.


  1. Can you borrow a bent? That would keep the weight off your hands.

  2. How about some of those strong SIR types (MT & VM come to mind) captaining a tandem for a ride each this coming weekend while you stoke?

  3. I checked your RUSA results -- I see that the R-series and the "continuous"-P-series each bit the dust in February. Bleh.