April 7, 2014 Ride: Return of Rideblog!

First off, I would like to dispel any rumors that I am dead. T’was only a flesh wound!


In fact, I have not been on a bike in a very long time… probably over six months. This will seem odd, as I run a bicycling website and own three-and-a-half (still counting The Shogun, darnit!) bikes. But a combination of things is responsible for this sad period of inactivity, and like many difficult situations, everything sort of built upon itself as time went on.

First off, I got sick. Now, if you have spent several years following me (and who hasn’t, really? At least in spirit?), you know this is not an unusual occurrence. I have described a few whopper-doosies of illnesses before, including dedicating a page of this site to my chronic illness. So what was different this time? Well, let’s start with that chronic illness.


I should note, before I go any further, that my disease name has changed. I used to have “Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome.” Now I have “Joint Hypermobility Syndrom/Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type.” Because that just makes it so much clearer!

Among the many things that JHS/HEDS (no, really) causes are subluxations. This is sort of like a dislocation, but less severe because it mostly corrects itself. Think of pulling your joint out of the socket and then immediately popping it back in, like snapping the shoulder joint on an old-fashioned doll whose joints are connected with rubber bands.

I’m showing my age, aren’t I?


I’ve had a few subluxations over the years, mostly to my fingers and toes. They resolved quickly, leaving just bruises and swelling. But this winter, something new happened. I threw my left shoulder out… in my sleep. Unlike past subluxations to minor joints, this didn’t resolve itself. I had to have it popped back into place (which makes it a dislocation? I think?). Then it popped out again. And again. For several weeks, my shoulder dislocated or subluxated every night.

My disease comes in phases. After a few weeks of popping out constantly, my shoulder decided to stay in place. But then the numbness began. My entire left arm started tingling and then loosing sensation. My right hand soon joined in the fun, though it was never as bad. I lost feeling in my fingers, particularly my thumb. My feet also began to experience long periods of burning and numbness. The area between my shoulders became a wall of burning pain. With the pain came chronic fatigue, nausea and lethargy. I found it hard to get up in the morning and get going. I stopped doing any exercise, for fear of more pain. I gained nearly 15 pounds over the winter, sitting on the couch and moping (okay, I was working, too). On the plus side, I watched a lot of British television!


They look vaguely disapproving, don’t you think? Like: “Bloody Americans, wasting their lives away like stupid twats.”

As the numbness and burning increased, so did my sense of physical dislocation from my body. This began as a vague surprise that my hand was responding to my brain’s commands, and progressed until I felt as though my brain were the only “real” part of myself, and the rest existed only as a sort of fleshy suit.

At no point did this remind me of Silence of the Lambs, or anything.


Needless to say, it was unnerving. I spent months dealing with all of it, including visiting several doctors. In the end, no one was sure what was going on (it was not the result of an obvious candidate, like MS), but the symptoms have eased up a bit the last few months. I started to feel better about a month ago. The fatigue lingers, but even that is slowly lessening as the seasons change. The fact that this has been one of Seattle’s rainiest winters has not helped.


So it took awhile, but I was finally ready to ride. I’m working odd hours: part-time at a local high school and part-time tutoring privately. This leaves me with lots of daylight to burn. I first tried to go for a ride a week ago, but after spending 45 minutes angrily tearing up the garage looking for my pump, I discovered that it was in the trunk of The Handsome Fella’s car. Since he was at work, this was not good news. I drove to the store and bought another cheap pump, since I have always found my current pump hard to use. Then I drove to the trailhead, and learned that my new tires and tubes… had Presta valves. I couldn’t find an adapter. I decided that the Fate I Don’t Believe In was conspiring against me (shut up, I know it’s illogical!). I drove home and sat on the couch. I may have watched a movie featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. I don’t actually remember what I did, but statistically, that’s a reasonable guess at the moment.

Today, however, I had new adapters from REI (a reputable source!) and a sunny day and time. I set out to pump up my tires.


The new pump broke within seconds, collapsing into a ridiculously twisted hunk of useless metal. I probably should have foreseen this, as it cost less than $12, but I live in eternal cheapness and optimism. Fortunately, I had the old pump back, and as it was not $12 to begin with, it held up to, you know, pumping stuff. But then, I couldn’t get the adapter to work. I was perplexed. Was I doing something wrong? I tried YouTubing what to do, but the video tutorials were surprisingly involved for such a simple operation. I found myself more confused than when I started. Again, forty-five minutes later (I could have ridden The Raleigh, you understand, which has Schrader valves like any sensible bicycle should, but I was On A Mission by this point), I was shrieking with frustration. Were all my pumps broken? Was there something wrong with the valves? Was I destined to sit, alone, on the damned couch, watching poncy English actors?

Then it occurred to me that it might be the adapter. Now, many of you will have seen a Presta adapter. It looks like a screw, essentially. There are no moving parts or rubber gaskets to fail. It screwed neatly onto the valve, like it was supposed to, and fit neatly into the pump. It just seemed unreasonable that the adapter was the issue. But the REI pack came with two, so I figured it was worth breaking out the other one.


Five minutes later, I had pumped up both tires and thrown away the faulty adapter. Then I opened up my saddle bag and my Emergency Zip Lock Full of Crap… and there was another adapter. I had owned one all along.

There may have been some anger.

At this point, there was nothing for it but to head out onto the damn trail and let bicycle bygones by bygones. I chose the Cedar River Trail, as it was close to my house and flat and I was a: 45 minutes behind schedule and b: pathetically out of shape.

It was beautiful. The bike performed perfectly, the trail was near empty, and the sun shone the entire time. There was nothing to complain about, and nothing really to note. I didn’t have any trouble hitting sixteen miles (though I noted that I was significantly slower than in My Prime), and my butt only hurt a little bit at the end. My saddle had not grown magically less annoying, but I suppose that after six months, I had to expect some level of discomfort no matter what. Otherwise, it was the same trail I remembered, with a few added smiles from the rider in question.


It was glorious and vaguely anti-climatic, all at once. Much like my blog! And my life!

Most importantly, the tires stayed pumped!


About rideblog

Love to ride my bikes!
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15 Responses to April 7, 2014 Ride: Return of Rideblog!

  1. Paul Glassen says:

    Sorry to hear of your health troubles. I am sure spring riding will do wonders for you. It always does for me (and I’m pushing 70). This last weekend I joined my seniors’ group ride on my new bike – my first new bike in 22 years. I think you’d like it; sort of retro, to fit in with my collection of classy old timers like yours. It’s a Soma Grand Randonneur – nice cushy 38mm tires, handlebar bag on spiffy little front rack, etc. Incidentally, I still prefer presta valves over shraeder because they require a smaller hole in the rim, hence, stronger rims. Good riding!

  2. john h says:

    A good quality pump is something that makes life a lot happier. Love REI for the return policy as all pumps and adapters are not created equal. Good to see your back. =)

  3. Nathan says:

    The rumors of your demise were greatly exaggerated! I know very few people who were not happy to see the backside of this winter, and I hope the warmer temps help with some of the joint issues. When setting people up on a road bike for the first time, I’m always nervous about presta valves. I love them, they’re just an added complication to the simple joy of riding a bike.

    I know I’ve said it before, but that is a lovely bike.

  4. Erin says:

    Yay! You’re back!

    I bought two Presta adaptors and just leave them on my valve stems.

  5. The DC says:

    Wow,my friend my heart hurts for what you’ve been dealing with-as someone whose had his own health issues (all injury related mind you,but not the least of which a right shoulder that’s been dislocated several times since 2008,most recently 2 weeks ago-the problem is,with each time it’s dislocated,unfortunately,becomes easier to do/more likely to happen again).

    I am happy to see you posting (and riding!) again,and hope you continue to feel better and better each day,especially with Spring having sprung 😀

    Like John H said,a good pump just brings happy when you need the thing,LOL! The last pump I bought (a Blackburn,I think) was over a decade ago,but I got lucky in that it’s proven over the years reliable (if not a fast pumper,LOL,takes forever to pump a fat 29″er tire 😛 ) ^_^

    The DC

  6. Chris Andress says:

    At least you are back on the bike. Glad you are healthier.

  7. Larry says:

    Sorry to hear of your health issues but welcome back.

  8. rideblog says:

    Thanks everyone! It’s great to be back!!!

  9. Lucky Chow says:

    So very glad to hear from you!! I hope you’re on the mend. That lovely Gazelle needs some face time with us here on the blog. Don’t despair about not riding much this winter. That makes two of us. We just have to make up for lost time (and found pounds —- at least in my case). Good to have you back in the saddle.

  10. Becky says:

    I am so happy to have come across your blog! I am a used to be runner, busy mom of four, and newly diagnosed with hypermobility ( after years of assuming I had the opposite problem as all the other women in my family). I am also in the Northwest, wanting desperately to be able to run (and sleep, and make it up and down the stairs) again, but have had a hell of a time finding anything other than offers of steroids and pain meds. Any local resources would be so greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  11. rideblog says:

    Hi Becky! I just went to see a doctor who specialized in something called Dysautonomia, which encompasses problems to do with the Autonomic Nervous System. He diagnosed me with something called “small fiber neuropathy,” and it was an amazing breakthrough for me, at least in the fact that I clearly have this. I haven’t received treatment yet, but at least I now have a name for it. I’d see if there’s a neurologist in your area who specializes in it (just Google it). Depending on where you are in the NW, I may also have a good geneticist for you!

  12. Lizzie says:

    Great to hear you are back on a bike. I’m having to wait until later this year as I was in a bad auto accident [in my car]. It’s so hard not being on a bike for a long period of time. I do hope treatment greatly improves you health.

  13. velovoiceblogspot says:

    First time commenting here. Just wanted to say, I’ve enjoyed your writings. Hope you are feeling better and that things are going more smoothly. If you’re thinking of perhaps blogging again, there is an audience still here. If not, that’s okay – Be Well.

  14. Kristina says:

    Hello.. Stumbled on your blog while doing a Google image search for Basil racks, of all things.. and up popped up your photo of your Rootbeer Raleigh. I have a Rootbeer Raleigh too, though it’s the Sprite Mixte frame. I totally need new grips for mine, it has the originals and they have little fins that bite into your hands. (ouch) The Cedar River trail looks great. We just moved to the Seattle area and will have to try that one out this summer. We tried out a bit of the Centennial Trail in Snohomish last summer enjoyed it. Hope this winter is being kinder to you…. I’m one of those that spends most of December sick also, and this year was no exception.

  15. welshcyclist says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing, go on and get many more pedal miles, cheers.

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