Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Tour de Pike

On Saturday, March 16th Susan and I, along with 40 or so Southern Crescent Cycling club friends, participated in the long anticipated 16th annual Tour de Pike.  We both participated in the 15th annual Tour de Pike so we really were really to do it again.  The area is very rural and the roads (all but two in the century route) are really good.  Susan rode the 33 mile route with her Women on Wheel friends.   I rode the 100 mile route.  Just like last year it was a great ride.  The weather was perfect, except for the wind which was hellacious.  The temperature ranged from the mid-50's at the 8:30am start to the mid-70's at the finish around 2:00pm.

Before the ride some of my SCC riding partners stopped for a minute to take a picture.

We got the bagpipe player to take a picture with the group.  You gotta respect a man who has the courage to wear a kilt.

The ride started out with all the groups together.  Most of the riders where wearing several layers.  I wore three layers on top but nothing but bike shorts on my legs.

I ran into my 2011 Ironman Florida teammate Richard just before the 100/66-mile split.  Endurolytes tablet powder in my bento box got onto my camera lens and blurred the two pictures below.

The coolest rest stop at the 100/66 mile split at the 32.5 mile point.

Josh and Obie were the strongest riders of our 6 man group.  The others were Peto, Jason, Steve, and me.  Every now and then we'd pickup or drop another rider.

Steve and Peto with another rider.  I think he was one of several ultra-distance riders who were on the course.

Peto got a picture with one of the volunteers in Gay, Georgia.

Steve and Peto took a break at the 67-mile rest stop in Gay, Georgia.  We were only there for 10 minutes but it was long enough for my body to start to seize-up.

After the ride we met up with some of our friends at the SCC tent while we waited for others to finish

The map and splits from my Garmin show, thanks to Josh, Obie, Steve, and Jason were really good for the first 85-miles.  I intentionally left out Peto.  I love ya man but you didn't pull for shit!  I suppose I was guilty of that too.  I do recall after Steve pulled for about 10 minutes, I took a 30-second turn at the front.  Sorry Steve!  As I rode that last 11 to 15 miles by myself I saw the route turn to the right but one of the riders that had joined our group and passed me had gone straight.  He was half a mile ahead of me and much too far to yell - hey you're going the wrong way.  I wasn't sure that the turn I had made was correct.  I spent the next 5 miles wondering if I was still on course and if Peto was in front of the wayward rider.  Just as I debated turning around, the event marshal rode up on a motorcycle.  I flagged him down and he confirmed that I was on the correct route.  That sealed it for me, Peto and ultra-guy were lost.  I continued on figuring we'd be getting a phone call soon before or after I arrived back in Concord.  When I got there Peto was comfortably seated with the other SCC riders who left me for dead, just like last year!  
My moving time ended up at 5 hours and 5 minutes.  I still haven't broken the 5 hour mark.  The Tony Serrano Century on April 13th will be the next test.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Call me Flush Gordon

I'm over 50 now and it's time to take my health seriously, including the less desirable parts.  That said, I headed up to Decatur on Monday, March 11th for a meeting with my gastroenterologist.  I never thought I'd have one of those.  After my appointment the receptionist told me there was a cancellation for a "procedure" the following Friday.  I said sign me up!  I'm guess I'm just lucky that way.

With my next appointment scheduled and a list of items to buy in-hand Susan and I stopped at the store to stock up on the way home.  I could eat broth, chicken or beef, popsicles, Gatorade, and Lime Jello.  Yummy!   I'd use this wide assortment of delicious treats to wash down 2 Dulcolax laxative tablets at 3pm, 8.3 ounces (238 grams) or 14 once-daily doses of Miralax in 64 ounces of Lemon-Line Gatorade at 5pm, followed 20 minutes later by a bottle of Magnesium Citrate, and topped off with 2 more Dulcolax tablets at 8pm.

The last thing on the list was Charmin.  I wouldn't want to run out of that.

And when the Charmin just won't cut it anymore, the bidet will come in handy.  I sure am glad we have one of those.

I'm only a few hours into the fasting and I'm already starving.  I put a piece of chocolate in my mouth before I even realized it...but I spit it out.  The big question is how will this affect my performance during the Tour de Pike century ride on Saturday.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Hives!

The incident referred to in this article started in May of last year.  It is only after 10 months that I feel confident enough to publish.  Confident in that whatever it was that manifested itself has, over the course of these months, not gone away completely but subsided significantly enough to not be alarming.  That being said, please read on.

Athletes often complain about sore muscles or back aches.  Runners have got the ever present threat of blisters, IT band and Plantar Fasciitis issues, and worn-out knees.  Cyclists have their own host of ailments to contend with.  Throw a bike wreck in the mix and the list of potential problems goes through the roof.  Swimmers, other than drowning, usually have fewer injuries.  Although, I do hear of some people giving various reasons as to why they performed poorly during the swim segment of a triathlon.  The reasons usually are tied to some chronic injury.  The description of these injuries are usually limited to "I pulled something".  Most injuries are an annoyance but some are worse.

I think I've had an illness, I suppose it's more like an affliction, for the past few months that is definitely annoying.  I feel like I'm falling apart.  Hopefully that's not the case.  After two races and swimming in Lake Peachtree, Lake Spivey, and Lake Hartwell I'm left with an odd malady.  Whether it's related to the lake water I don't know.  If you were ever a kid growing up in the southern United States then you've probably experienced Ringworm, also known as Tinea which I've learned means fungus.  Well, that's what I thought I've been experiencing and trying to treat.  Tinea presents itself as an itchy red and slightly raised skin rash which is surrounded by a red-ish ring.  I tried all the recommended over-the-counter ringworm/antifungal medications.  They seemed to help at first but the medications weren't able to cured the spreading itchy red spots.  I visited a dermatologist and got a wide assortment of prescription meds.  None of them worked.  I suppose that's partly because the dermatologist diagnosed it as eczema (or possibly ringworm).  That's what I get for finding a doctor on the Internet.  I was desperate for a quick appointment.  The doctor said my skin was dry due to all the recent swimming and exercise.  He recommended that during subsequent showers I should use a milder bath soap and should use lotion to keep my skin moist. 

A faint red ring on my left wrist
A bright red circle on the same wrist
My Meds
In addition to the anti-fungal meds, I've got an assortment of cortisone and steroidal creams.  I've even got eye drops for a bump on my left eye which is unrelated to the Tinea.  I did say I was falling apart, didn't I? The eyeball thing isn't a big deal and I've been to the doctor recently for that too.

The results of an over-zealous effort to stop the itching and kill the ringworm with a can of Lotrimin Anti-fungal spray when half asleep.  I believe it's frostbite!
Desperate for relief I contacted my primary care physician, Dr. Elliot Royston, in Tucker, Georgia.  His staff got me in to see him within a few days.  He's an awesome doctor and hooked me up for prescriptions for two new meds,   I flew to the pharmacist and waited for them to fill my order.  I was in business - a cure was at hand!
My new prescription of Fluconazole and other meds.
With my new drugs at home, I started my week long regiment of tableted relief.  Within 12 hours I was feeling better.  I thought I'd won the war.  However, as my regiment of meds diminished the rash returned with a vengeance.  By the 6th day I was crawling out of my skin.  The rash was almost everywhere, legs, arms, stomach, back, etc.  I made an emergency call to Dr. Royston's office.  He called me back about two hours later.  He hooked me up again with another regiment of Fluconazole and, this time Prednisone as the other drug.  Susan ran to the pharmacist before they closed for the evening as I tried to take a nap before going to work late.  I wouldn't be sleeping so I might as well work.  I spent the next ten hours until 6:30am in terrible shape.  I finally got home early in the morning, took my second regimen of drugs and took a hot shower scratching.  It felt so good that I fell right to sleep.  I felt even better when I woke up.  The red spots where still here and there but they weren't as bad as they had been the day before.

I met with a second dermatologist the following week just as my second course of meds ran out.  I was unable to show him any itchy circles.  The medication was still working.  He was still able to tentatively diagnosis my condition as being related to my body's release of histamine and not Ringworm at all.  So, I'm allergic to something.  Great!  What is it?

This is my lot in life.  The more fit I get the more my body seems to break down.  The itchy red spots started in June.  It's now the end of September and they're still a problem.  What have I learned from my health issues?  So far all I can say is "Do not stop taking the Zyrtec" and have good doctors.

I'd like to thank Dr. Elliot Royston for helping treat me and getting me in touch with a good dermatologist.  I suppose my next course of action is an allergist.

Thanks for reading!

Update (1/6/14):  I'm 4 weeks into my second bout of hives.  I've tried all the stuff shown below.  The only thing that seems to work somewhat is Zyrtec and prednisone.

Update (1/23/14):  As anyone with hives will likely attest, a cause is rarely identified.  That is the case with me as well.  After a litany of blood tests no reason was isolated for my hives.  I'm pretty sure that they'll just go away on their own in a month or so.  In the meantime, the doctor has me on a regiment of one 180mg Allerga tablet in the morning followed by two 10mg Zyrtec tablets during the day.  The Zytrec doesn't make me sleepy so it's okay to take when I work.  I hope this helps anyone else in the same "itchy" situation.  

Tony's at Brentwood

Southern Crescent Cycling gained a new club sponsor the other day, and Susan and I thought we'd check it out.  Tony's at Brentwood is a local pizzeria only a few miles from our home.  The bike club had a board meeting at Tony's on Thursday night.  I was unable to attend.  The next day Susan informed me that she was unwilling to make me lunch.  As anyone who knows me knows, I can't feed myself so, undeterred we both went to Tony's for a quick bite before I left for work. 

When you open the door you're immediately struck by the warm smell of pizza baking in the oven.  Susan had the caprese panini and I had the cold cut panini.  It was delicious!  Tony makes the panini bread with pizza dough in-house.  Susan also remarked the pizza she had the night before was top notch.  Tony's is also known for his mama's Lasagna with homemade pasta noodles.  You've got to try it, we plan to.

Antonio "Tony" Bortone was there with his daughter, so we had a chance to talk to them a little. Tony, a native of New York, is retired from the US Army where he was a musician.  He got interested in cycling when he was stationed in Korea.  When Tony returned to the states he often rode a bike to work at Fort Gillem.  Now, with the restaurant, he has less time to ride but still has a stable of bikes ready to go.  Not just a road biker, Tony has ridden his mountain bike at The Beach in Jonesboro, the Georgia International Horse Park, and Dauset Trails in Jackson.

Tony's at Brentwood
Italian Cold Cut Panini
Antonio "Tony" Bortone
Tony's at Brentwood is located at 1005 Brentwood Pkwy., Stockbridge, GA 30281.  They deliver to about a 3-mile radius from the restaurant.  Tony's also serves wine and beer.

Thanks Tony for supporting the club.

Thanks for reading.

Another Trip to The Shed

Susan and our friends Jim and Mary Ann ate at The Shed at Glenwood again a few months ago.  It has taken me a little while to write about it so I thought I'd try to get it done today.  We've eaten at The Shed several times before and have always enjoyed it.  It's probably mine, and Susan's favorite Atlanta restaurant. It's not too stuffy or expensive, and we think the food and service are really good. 
Jim shows off the wine he brought
A sampling of a creamy soup the name of which escapes me
Wedge salad
Caprese Salad
Beet Salad

Thanks for reading.