Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to the Doctor

As most of you know I've been seeing doctors alot more than I'd like this year. I broke my femur in January and now carry a titanium rod and a couple of screws in my leg. I feel I've recovered fully from that and I've been back on the road logging as many miles as I can work into my schedule. I thought I'd seen the last of doctors for the rest of the year, but I was wrong. While on vacation in Canada earlier this month with my daughters I noticed a new growth on my face an inch or so under my left eye. Since I have a cousin who died from melanoma, I watch my skin carefully and go to the dermatologist once a year. I've had many skin tags removed over the years, mostly on my face and neck. I know what the harmless ones look like and this new growth was different. As soon as I got back home I saw my dermatologist. He removed it and told me to call back in ten days for lab results. Ten days came and went and I didn't hear from him so I began to assume as was well. On the eleventh day, reason prevailed over my assumptions and I forced myself to make the call. The doctor called me back within five minutes to tell me that the growth he removed was a squamous cell carcinoma. The next day found me back in his office where he enlarged the original wound with some additional cutting, scraping and burning. I must return in six weeks.

Squamous and basal cell carcinoma are the two most common skin cancers and rarely spread. Squamous cell carcinoma is the more dangerous of the two since it can metastisize if not treated. Both of these skin cancers are most common on areas exposed to the sun. I've been using sun screen these last 10 years that I've been riding regularly, but the doctor tells me my skin cancer is the result of 60 years of sun damage. I'll be fine, but I worry about my riding friends who don't use any sun screen at all.

For more information on skin cancer go here. WARNING: some of the pictures are graphic.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

HHH Pics

See some pics of the 2008 Hotter N' Hell Hundred from the Times Record here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hotter N' Hell

Another Hotter N' Hell is over. This year was quite a different experience for us. We usually get a room in Duncan, OK for the ride. It's 60 miles from Wichita Falls and rooms are plentiful and cheap. This year Z was unable to attend the ride and offered us his room in Wichita Falls. We accepted. The room was affordable at $113, even with the two night minimum.

Aimee and Liz and I shoved off around 9am Friday morning and had lunch at Woody's in Centerville. I remembered the smoked pork chops from last year and had them again. Delicious! Ken, Jim and Danny were about an hour ahead of us so we didn't see them until the trade show.

My plan had been to ride the Flevo this year, but in the end I opted for the Seavo. With three of us in the Tahoe, it would have been a stretch to load the Flevo into the back of the truck. I could have trailered it, but I was concerned about finding parking the morning of the ride since I would need two spaces.

The trade show was alot of fun, as usual. We had a quiet dinner at the Olive Garden with just a 45 minute wait. the last time I tried to eat at an Olive Garden during Hotter N' Hell, the wait was 2 hours, but that was 7 years ago. We were in bed by 10pm. The Fairfield Inn kindly let us stow our bikes in their break room which is locked at night, so i didn't have to worry about them getting ripped off.

Since we didn't have to drive the 60 miles in from Duncan on Saturday morning we were able to sleep a little longer and still arrive at the parking lot by the Civic Center almost an hour ahead of start time. We had both bikes on the start line by 6:30 for the 7am start. Starting positions were changed this year. Early registrants had the location of their starting point printed on their bib number. We registered late so we didn't have this. We managed to get to the front of the start line since we were on a tandem. Nevertheless, a group of 100 milers lined up on the block ahead of us. They started early so that we had empty road ahead of us as the national anthem started and the usual 4 jet flyover thundered overhead. Before the anthem had finished the ride starter told us to shove off so we did. Being old school, I would have preferred to wait until the anthem was over, but I did not want to be caught in a sea of riders on the tandem, at least not on the start line.

The weather was as good as I've ever seen it for a Hotter N' Hell. Moderate temps and light winds.

Our ride was great headed for rest stop one. For some reason we always ride faster on this stretch. I guess there's a certain crowd psychosis that makes you pedal faster in a fast moving pack. There was an awful accident on this stretch last year involving multiple DF's and we saw the same thing happen this year. Three or four bikes went down in front of us and as we passed the wreck site another bike went down on top of them. Aimee saw this biker make an unsuccessful attempt to get up after he fell. I try to stay on the right edge of the road to avoid this danger as much as possible.

Our ride came to an end at mile 7. I felt my seat give way a little to the left. We stopped and found that the sprint brace for the captain seat had cracked right at the weld. As much as I wanted to continue the ride, we were done. We turned around and limped back into town at reduced speed. It's difficult to describe how disappointed we were. Still, I suppose we were lucky that this happened on level ground and not on a climb or on a fast downhill run. What's infuriating is that this is not the first time a weld has given way on this bike. Last year the same sprint brace gave way at the same location but on the other side (see below). I returned it to Rans who told me it was a bad weld. They replaced the brace and sent me an extra, but I never dreamed it could happen twice. I'm writing Rans tomorrow.

Liz, who was riding her first HHH and her first organized ride on a single, finished the 50 mile route as planned and in great time.
As for me and Aimee, well, there's always next year.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fulshear Weekend

This is the last weekend before the Hotter N' Hell 100 in Wichita Falls next Saturday so all of us were intent on getting a good long ride or two to warm up for the big ride. Liz and I trailered the Flevo out to Fulshear for what we thought would be a 50 mile+ ride this past Saturday morning. It was not to be. As soon as we mounted up and shoved off I heard an odd noise coming from the front wheel and got off to check it out. My heart sank when I saw the problem...a broken spoke. Master builder and mechanic Danny was with us and said he could save the ride for us by removing the broken spoke and retruing the wheel. Alas, we had no spoke wrench so the ride was over for us before it began. Lesson learned. After getting the broken spoke replaced, I bought a couple of extra spokes and added a spoke wrench to our tool kit.

Aimee and I got 30 miles in today with Liz, David and Joni. We sighted Ken and Mary Ellen on their tandem trike. I'm going to try and ride some more this week.

Below are a few of Debbie's pics from Saturday's ride:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Derek's SUT (Sport Utility Tandem)

I discovered Derek's very cool Electra Tandem with Xtracycle Conversion over at Bike Forums. Check out the awesome night lighting. For more info on this bike and the rest of Derek's stable, go to

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"She's not pedaling in back"

Anyone who rides a tandem around other people has gotten this comment or something similar hundreds of times. Some of my friends over at Bike Forums have suggested a number of witty responses:

"Who? There's someone on the back?"
"She has to. We're chained together."
"She better, because I'm not."
"Your bike is missing a motor."
"I steer. She pedals."
"Whatever route I take, she's right behind me."

Then there is this sign, which nips the "she's not pedaling" comment in the bud:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seavo Travel Case

When Aimee and I did the Oklahoma Freewheel last year we looked high and low for a container to ship the Seavo back to the start point of the ride. I found a cardboard box designed for DF's and was told the Seavo would probably fit it, but I decided not to take a chance. In the end, my GF stayed for the whole ride and followed us each day.

Now Angletech has listed a Seavo travel case:

According to Angletech:
Designed for the Rans Seavo TR tandem, the Angletech Seavo TR Transit case is meticulously hand made and designed to protect your Seavo TR in your travels on the planet.
An attractive Tuba case look, the Angletech Rans Seavo TR Transit case features heavy duty Cordura fabric outside with ballistic nylon in areas of greater impact. A solid floor with fork anchor, removable casters to roll your Case along in the airport with detachable pulls for maneuvering. Nice rubber external handles, business card/ID sleeve, and large shipping document sleeve. An assortment of protective envelopes for your seats, wheels, handlebars, and S&S Coupler sections. Sacks for pedals, chain, casters. This semi hard case design is fully padded and lined w/ reinforced zones like the rigid floor, yielding a more stowable case at your destination. This philosophy of Transit Case design has proven less likely to be tossed or buried at the bottom of the stack.
Dimensions: 57" long, 16" wide, 27" high.
Due to the hand made nature of this item, allow up to 4 weeks for delivery.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Photo by Gregg Bleakney

Here is a beautiful little back to back tandem recumbent I found on the web. It's obviously set up for touring. The stoker position has interesting reverse gearing. If anyone knows anything about this bike, I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Graduation

It's been almost seven months since my broken femur. Since then I've ridden more than a thousand miles. Today my handicap tag expired. The recovery is complete.