Monday, April 4, 2016

New Bike Bell: The Results of Winter

Freezing Saddles really achieved its goal of forcing me to face my fears of winter commutes. I've started tacking extra miles on to rides now that it's nice enough to meander.

Strava has also proven that my commute really is uphill both ways.  Friendship Heights is a lie.  That place is a valley.

There's been no major bike mishaps.  Bikes@Vienna fixed a kink in my brake line (which might have stemmed from a minor crash earlier in the fall on a section of the Sligo trail that is so tricky it takes out strollers and runners and bikers every day!).  And then the shop taught me how to fix a flat tire.  The culprit was a staple.  I love it when the culprit is legit.

I don't love that the staple in my tire came from the awful construction around Friendship Heights.  It's so dreadful!

One casualty of the winter was my lovely teapot bell.  The striker snapped off.  Ironically, this occurred not during a ride, but when I was bringing it back in after the staple-removing trip.  I stopped at a place called H-Mart to get some groceries (it's the best place for ethnic groceries).  I had too much to carry, so I hung the bags from my handle bars as I rolled my bike in.  Note to future self: do not hang bag with large-size rice in it from handlebars.

At any rate, the teapot had a very loud, very obnoxious ring, like a *#%@!SHRING!@*#&%!!  It was a horrible tone that had at least one pedestrian tell me, "Man, your bell sounds AWFUL!"  It was so brilliant, because it could cut through most people's headphones while they leapt away in terror.  It did its job so very well.  Farewell, late lamented teapot bell!

I replaced it with a seasonally appropriate baseball.  This one might be even louder, but it has a nicer tone.  It's a bright cheery !!BRRINGGGG!! I also like that the striker is shaped like a tiny little baseball bat.

Picture pending, I guess!

I also finally found a small thermos for my morning coffee.  Other experiments using the travel mugs I had on hand were... precarious.  We had no major mishaps, but I did have to stop many times to re-close the travel mugs.  Travel mugs are made to keep things accessible while driving.  I wanted something I could put hot coffee or a cold drink into, and at work, sit down and drink my drink at the appropriate temperature. I finally found a nice thermos with a  screw top that I can toss in my basket.  AND it's only 9 ounces, which is proper drink size.   Many thermoses were 24-32 ounces, and that's just too much.

Another picture pending: my upload speed is SUPER SLOW!

Here's a little trivia: I prefer to shop local when I can.  I bought my S'well from Core 72, a little shop near my home.  I have stopped in a few times and not bought much because they have high-end expensive things.  The S'well was right in the price point I was looking for, and as it turned out, S'well has a nice company store.  But Core 72 didn't tell me about the S'well story.  She did tell me about the features of the bottle, but I kept researching on my own.  If I had known about the do-good properties of the thermos, I'd have bought it on the spot.  So small business owners, make sure you tell us the cool stories behind the stuff you carry!

Team 11 Has Won 2nd Place and The Normalizing of Lactose Intolerance

Over the winter, I did Freezing Saddles.  My team, by virtue of one long rider and a lot of dedicated commuters and a few sleazers, has come in second place!

I learned a lot:

-I like Strava.  It was really fun to "get to know" my team over Strava.  I liked seeing the team names and feeling the camaraderie.  Now that it's done, I miss it.

-I hate Strava.  I mean, let's be real.  I'm getting smoked by these guys going 20+ mph, and I know- I KNOW!- they are riding these space age carbon fiber machines with no load.  Meanwhile, I'm noodling along home from work loaded down with a pannier full of groceries (or once, heavy books), in normal clothes, on a folding bike.  So I look REALLY SLOW when in reality, I'm just on a particular type of bike.  So. Demoralizing!

On those days, I have to look backwards to Eugene to see that I was once that sort of a fast person in the hills.

-I built up a crazy cold tolerance.  As the temperatures warmed, other riders came out of hibernation. One day, I saw a guy coming towards me, wrapped up in thick lobster gloves with a balaclava and goggles.  He looked like he had consulted the Eskimo Almanac for the weather.  I was bare-faced, with just a jacket and a t-shirt under that jacket.  And it was in the 40s!  I needed gloves, sure, but I realized then that commuting through the snow definitely built my tolerance for cooler temps.  Hopefully, it'll work the reverse way with the heat!

-I experienced my first bike-related theft.  I left my grocery pannier on my bike while I was at the gym, and when I came out, it was gone.  Some weirdo stole my grocery pannier!!  SO WRONG!

So, health wise:

-Well, I struggled a lot over the last two years.  A LOT.  I just transcribed to my Evernote the essential points of the whole damn journey.  I'd kept a written journal of doctors' appointments and treatments from the time I came home from Mexico where the whole problem started.

Let that be a lesson to us all.  If you get a big illness, start a journal, in some form.  Written, computerized, engraved in stone, whatever works.  Just keep records!  Do NOT rely on the doctors!

-Why should you not rely on doctors?  The first doctor I had (who was awful) just wrote "Upset stomach" in her notes, for months!  She even implied that I was having psychological issues with my constant complaining of stomach problems.  That certainly delayed appropriate treatment, and allowed what could have been a minor problem to get much worse.

-Break the rules!  I found out about the horribleness of the doctor when she left the room during an appointment, and I snuck over to the computer to read what she had written.  The practice did not allow me to see my patient notes.  Yeah, I broke that rule.  And I'm glad I did. I walked out of that appointment, told the front desk to never schedule me with her again, and demanded a new appointment with a different doctor.

-It's worth it to try a different doctor.  Three days later, I was seen by a doctor who was Asian.  He was the first one to say, "You know, I see you've been complaining of stomach pain for as long as you've been a patient here.  Yeah, you do have e.Coli and we'll treat that.  But these stomach problems look like something else to me."

A few years later, I wonder if getting e.Coli (and all the subsequent testing) was the thing that uncovered my lactose intolerance.  Maybe e.Coli made it worse when it rampaged through my body doing so much damage.  Would we have uncovered it if it hadn't been for all the testing?

-Fire someone who isn't working out for you.  I was so, so angry the day I saw the first doctor's notes and learned she'd been dismissing my pain for months, while telling me to do things like very restrictive diets in order to feel better.  She wasn't backing her words up with science.  She didn't believe me or take me seriously.  She misdiagnosed a serious illness.  She didn't prescribe proper preventive care.
I learned from that. It took two practices to find the right doctor here in DC, but I'm better now.  I no longer have to take medications to regulate my blood sugar.  I don't have to take special multivitamins to help my body recover from a deficiency because I don't have anymore deficiencies.  I'm all normal again.  But it took finding the right doc!

-Well, I miss cheese.  Sometimes, I get grumpy when I have to ask about ingredients.  I wish I could just snag a croissant.  I keep hearing about people who let their guts recover and who eventually get back some ability to eat some limited dairy- like, they don't have to worry about the milk in a brioche, they can eat a croissant, and they can have clotted cream.  I really hope that is me, some day.

But overall, I'm happy to have the mostly untroubled gut these days.