When It Rains, It Pours

03.17.2008 | 8:42 pm

I’ve got a poser of a question that very few people could answer. Which is more dreadful: the eve of your first six-month course of chemo, or the eve of your third?

On the night before your first-ever injection, you’ve got the terror of not knowing what’s ahead of you for the next six months or so. That’s pretty bad.

On the night before the beginning of your third six-month course of chemo, on the other hand, you’ve got the terror of knowing all too well what’s ahead of you for the next six months or so. Is that worse? Who knows.

Neither of them is great, that’s for sure.

Anyway, Sunday night was not a great night, especially considering that on Monday, in addition to Susan starting chemo, I’d be finding out what kind of surgery my wrist was in for.

A Piece of Good Luck
Considering Susan’s chemo and the shape my wrist was in, I had pretty much relegated my riding season to just goofing off. Forget training. Forget dieting. Just have some fun.

So imagine my astonishment — and delight — when the wrist surgeon checked over my wrist, read my MRI report, checked my wrist some more, double checked the MRI, did some X-Rays, and then said, "The radiologist who did this report was a little overeager to find problems. If you had sustained the kind of injuries described here four months ago, your wrist would be collapsing in on itself right now."

He continued, "But your wrist is very strong. Unusually strong," he said. "In fact, you may be the most awesome specimen of manliness I have ever seen," he concluded.

OK, I made up that last part.

Still, his point was that while I was sore, I have a reasonable range of motion and excellent strength. He gave me a brace and prescription for some serious anti-inflammatories and told me to come see him again in six weeks. "Soft tissue often takes a lot longer to heal than a broken bone," he said. "Give it some time."

No surgery for me!

Susan’s Visit to the Oncologist
"Hey, I don’t have to have surgery," I told Susan over the phone, as I was driving home. I was taking over with the twins (getting them off to school) while she took her turn at going to the oncologist.

Then, strangely, just moments after I got the girls out the door and was getting ready to head to the office, Susan came back in the house.

She was screaming.

I ran over to her, imagining the likely news that would be making her scream — more surgery? a stronger dose of chemo? something even worse?

No, something much better. I could tell as soon as I saw her huge smile.

"I don’t have to start chemo!" Susan yelled. The tumor markers in her blood work continue to be low. Susan is in less — not more — pain in her bones, indicating things are going well there. The oncologist says Susan’s doing better than expected, and there’s no need to start chemo right now.

Again: Susan’s doing better than expected, and doesn’t need to undergo chemo right now.

I’ve been blindsided by news before, but never by news this good. Suddenly, instead of expecting another summer of fatigue and pain, Susan has a summer of feeling good, of walking, of having hair, to look forward to.

Suddenly, I can see how it could very well be possible that we’ll be able to take that trip to Italy in 2008.

We’re aware, of course, that this is just a delay — eventually, Susan will have to start chemo again. But being able to wait for months — maybe six months, hopefully more — just feels like a huge gift.


PS: Oh yeah, the wrist surgeon says my x-ray shows I have a good batch of arthritis in my left wrist. That will go well with the batch I’ve got in my right shoulder.


Point / Counterpoint: Fatty’s New Superfly

03.16.2008 | 5:43 pm

A Note from Fatty: Last Saturday, I got a chance to take my new Superfly out for its first ride. I will now give my first impressions of this bike, but want to be certain I’m fair about it. So, for the first time ever, today’s post will be in point / counterpoint format.

IMG_0230 Point: My New Fisher Superfly Feels Just Like My Old Paragon 
by Elden Nelson

Even though last Saturday was cold, the wind was blowing, and it was starting to snow, I went on a mountain bike ride. I just had to. I really wanted to try out my new Superfly, which had been sitting in the garage for the two weeks since I’d bought it.

Well, after my first ride, I’m happy with it, but I can’t yet say whether I’m in love with it.

For one thing, it’s a light bike — under 23 lbs, according to Racer’s scale — but I didn’t really feel like I was climbing all that strongly. I guess I kind of expected a "shot out of a cannon" experience, but instead I got a "drop into the granny gear" experience on the climbs.

Next, I guess I expected the Fisher 2.0 geometry to be some kind of wild revelation, but instead, I felt pretty much the same as when I do when I was on my old Paragon. That’s not a complaint — I really loved the geometry of the Paragon and was frankly a little bit concerned about having it change too much.

And then there’s the fork. Truth be known, there wasn’t much in the way of trail to give a suspension fork a real test; I had to stay on low trails where the snow has melted, and there’s nothing very technical ’til you get up higher, so it’s hard to say whether I’m very happy with the Fox fork or not. I can say that it feels peculiar to have suspension again, after having gone without it entirely last year. And I was able to ride without a lot of wrist pain, which maybe means that I should actually be giving this suspension a very positive review.

I don’t want it to seem like I’m giving the Superfly a negative review. I’m just — so far — unable to give it much of a review at all. I’m sure that once more trail is clear (or when I sneak away to Moab for a day of riding, if I just can’t stand the wait), I’ll be able to give a more comprehensive rundown of what I like — and don’t — about the new Superfly.


Counterpoint: Elden Nelson is a Fat, Out-of-Shape Goofball Who Is Totally Unfit to Pass Judgement on Me
by the Gary Fisher Superfly

You, gentle reader, may be surprised to learn that — like humans — carbon fiber has hopes and dreams. Most carbon fiber hopes to grow up to be a really light, sexy road bike.

Not me. I wanted to be a mountain bike. I love dirt. I love technical rock ledges. I yearn for wet roots at the apex of a sharp hairpin turn. I dream of cross country racing.

As you can imagine, then, I was pleased to find I would become a Fisher Superfly. I would be on the vanguard of mountain bikes, from geometry, material, and wheel size points of view!

As I was built, I became increasingly excited. My cranks, front derailleur and saddle were all upgraded. I was built with expert attention. I was ogled by envious bikes and people as I sat in the store.

And then — to my chagrin — I was brought home and left in the garage for two weeks, without so much as a cursory ride.

Then, finally, Elden — who has a nickname of "Fatty," for crying out loud — took me out for a ride Saturday. Even before he swung a leg over me, I could tell the dude was about twenty pounds overweight.

Within the first few turns of the cranks, it was clear that he was not going to exactly test my limits. He dropped into the granny gear on the first climb — a climb that screamed for the middle ring, third cog.

Then, on the next climb, he crosschained. What a dork.

If his climbing was sad, though, it was at least offset by his comical descending. He dodged every rock and rut as if my fork were not perfectly capable — eager, even — of absorbing them, no questions asked. He kept his fingers on my brakes at all times, feathering them to slow down when he should have been pedaling to go faster.

This guy is as timid as they come, I tell you.

After a short two-hour ride on fire roads and wet singletrack, Elden took me home and put me, unceremoniously, back in the garage. Did he wipe me down and clean me as befits a new, top-of-the-line mountain bike? He did not. He just parked me on his bizarre do-it-yourself PVC pipe rack contraption (tacky), and left me — caked with mud — to dry off.

I do not want to seem judgemental, but I am far too nice of a bike to be ridden by this appropriately-named "Fatty."

PS: A few people have called my attention to The Awareness Test. This is the best PSA I’ve ever seen. Go take a look and tell me how you did (I did poorly, to my shame). (The comments section of today’s post contains spoilers, so don’t read today’s comments until you’ve taken the test.)

I am Now an Expert at All Things Disneyland-Related

03.13.2008 | 8:03 am

Having now spent three days at Disneyland, I can safely say I know enough to offer advice. As a public service, I hereby offer this wisdom to you.

  • Be certain to injure yourself or a loved one before going: The best way to avoid long lines is to have someone in your party be riding a wheelchair. You generally get sent in through the exit line, and then do the ride, during which time people not in wheelchairs have moved forward in line approximately nine inches.
  • The best rides: The best rides, according to a very scientific poll I took of my children yesterday during dinner, are:
  • California Screamin’: It’s a traditional roller coaster with a loop-the-loop in the middle. The classics are classics for a good reason. We’ve done this one twice so far.
  • Tower of Terror: You’re seated in an elevator that rockets upward and downward in an unpredictable manner, often in the dark. Great special effects and the Twilight Zone theme that leads up to and through this ride make it not just exciting, but hilariously entertaining, too. We’ve done this one four times so far.
  • Soarin’: Your hanging chair is lifted up so the giant curved screen you’re facing completely fills your vision and then you’re taken on a virtual flight. A little wind machine and smell-o-vision (orange fields, pine trees, ocean air) add to the feeling that you’re really flying as your chair tilts and surges to match the camera’s angle. We’ve been on this one three times so far.
  • Indiana Jones: If you were to close your eyes, this ride would actually seem kind of mild. Your car jerks around the course about as much as an average teenage driver. However, the dark ambience and good humor of the ride make it one of my kids’ favorites.
  • Star Tours: If you loved Star Wars as a kid, you’ll love this ride. The line is as great as the ride itself.
  • Space Mountain: This is a very old ride — I’m pretty sure I rode this when I was a kid — but it holds up great. A roller coaster set in the middle of a planetarium. It’s great.
  • The worst ride: Why do Ferris wheels even exist? I mean, I understand that they’re big and call attention to the amusement park, but they’re just awful rides. Simultaneously boring and need-to-barf-making.
  • A lame ride posing as a good ride: The longest line at Disneyland these days is the “Finding Nemo Submarine Adventure.” It’s about an hour wait, even during weekdays. Yesterday, we went to try it, just to see what the fuss is all about. Even with Susan’s magic wheelchair, we still had to wait half an hour. And you know what? The ride is just the same as it was when it was some other Submarine Voyage, except now it has built-in ads for the Finding Nemo movie sprinkled throughout. I found myself checking email halfway through the ride. I then asked my children if it would be OK for me to walk along the line telling people it wasn’t worth the wait, but they begged me not to.
  • Three days is just about right: On day one, we went to Disneyland park. On day two, we went to the Disneyland California Adventure park. On day three, we hopped between the two parks, doing the rides we liked best from day one and two. The thing is, we have another day here, and I’m not all that excited to do any of the rides again.
  • Eventually, the music will make you insane: The soundtrack they play at certain places along the park never varies. Along one path, for example, they’re always playing “California Girls.” Along another, it’s “I love LA.” If I were an employee of Disneyland, I would almost certainly gouge out my ears within a week.
  • At Disneyland, you pay in dog dollars: After a while, you stop recoiling at the fact that lunch for your family of six — a McDonalds-esque lunch, but with clever names — just cost $98.00. Each day, I have brought $150 in cash with me into the park. Each day, I have come back with change and a few $1 bills. ($1 bills are not legal tender in Disneyland, since nothing can be purchased for that little money.)
  • It’s been a great vacation, but I haven’t slept in my own bed in about two weeks. I’m looking forward to going home. And to riding my bikes.

    And to writing in this (award-winning: ha!) blog about riding my bikes.

    Carrie, Jasmine and Aladdin

    03.12.2008 | 2:33 pm

    Carrie, Jasmine and Aladdin

    Originally uploaded by Fat Cyclist.

    Only moments before, we came across Pocahontas. I told my 14-year-old
    he should go get his picture taken with her. “As you pose with her,” I
    said, “tell her that her name should be ‘Poca-hotness’.”

    He declined.

    Snapshots from Yesterday

    03.12.2008 | 8:50 am

    A few pictures taken while we were at the “California Adventure” part of Disneyland yesterday:

    Katie, cooling down at one of the water fountain play areas. Temperature here was about 75-80 (F) yesterday.

    Brice, Nigel, and my Mom (sorry about cutting you out of the picture, Mom!) on the Ferris wheel. This has got to be the coolest-looking Ferris wheel ever. It’s huge. Unfortunately, it’s as lame to ride as every other Ferris wheel.

    Carrie and Susan in the Ferris wheel. Isn’t Susan looking great? (Both Susan and I got seriously motion sick from the start/stop motion of the Ferris wheel, coupled with the random rocking motion. So far, this is the only ride I have not enjoyed.)

    Carrie gives Mickey a big hug. Katie would not go near any of the characters; she finds them disturbing. As do I.  

    3D Glasses. AAAAAGGGH!

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