Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Catharsis

Merry Christmas to you all.  ( all 3 or 4 of you who read this…)

This year has had me trying to decide if I am the grinch,  or just "was Grinched".   Not been a great year,   and certainly not my favorite Cross season.  Did spot a new hybrid out there,  the Santa Grinch.  Maybe my year was just his idea of a joke.
Bo Bickerstaff   -
So a whopping 2 weeks after getting my heart probed,  thinking I was PROBABLY safe from "Pulling a Cedric Gracia" I went ahead and jumped back in a race.  Figured if being a good little cardiac patient and not stirring up my heart arrhythmia led to it not happening while I was probed,  I just as soon change the operating point,  and start getting it to go nuts more often.  So,  racing at states seemed like as good a plan as any.

Turns out that HURT.   A LOT.

After NOT getting my heart issues fixed,  I kinda went through a low point,  got a little whiny,  felt sorry for myself and the like.  Strange,  just 45 minutes of searing agony seems to have cleared a lot of that up.

John Hailey has put in a back-breaker of a course down there,  killer hard,  but also really fun.  My "race" was a bit of a blur,  made very cloudy by a searing haze of pain.  I do seem to remember having some fun sliding around in some greasy mud over ice,  you know,  kinda like cross should be.  After weeks of sitting around,  avoiding heart tachycardia in the vain hope that all that would soon be fixed,  and 2 weeks after getting my heart probed,  racing there induced levels of pain & suffering I am struggling to ever remember matching in any other bike race.  And all that for 30th place out of 36.  At least I did not get lapped.

It went about as well as one would expect from someone who was not really even ON a bike for weeks prior to the race,  after even longer of not ever riding hard.   You can get the idea by the HERDS of people who pass me (probably thinking "what the hell is wrong with THIS guy…" as they went by.) in the first couple of minutes in the video.

2013 Colorado State CX Championships - 45+ 4 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

I'll give my team credit,  they are a fun bunch and managed some creative heckling for may way back in the pack suffering.  We had the plan in place that if I was looking "Really Bad",   either side could call for a "Code Brown" and start the beer hand ups.    Not all that good of a sign when they started offering that "Code Brown" on lap 2.

High Peaks Masters Heckle-cam from John Deibert on Vimeo.

So,  with the Cross season "over" for me,  outside of maybe torturing my malfunctioning heart again at the Pre-nationals race,  and crewing and spectating at Nationals,  it is time to look ahead,  reflect back,  and see what I can do to completely avoid another year like this one.  Really,  I am kinda sick of this shit.  Tired of being broken.  Old I'm used to,  but not old AND broken.

We are off to the normal Christmas insanity,  going to go do a bit of Family holiday stuff, then some skiing and tourist-ing with some out-of-town folks coming in.  Then time to re-group,  re-arm and get a new plan in place with the Cardiologist,  which is the day after Christmas. (Merry Christmas to me…)

I did manage a bit of a milestone this year,  internet-blogger-video-trending-kinda wise.  My video from  Mile High Urban Cross went to over a THOUSAND views.  Almost 1100 now.  A first for me.  Since I started this yammering here in October of 2009,  I've only had about 37,000 hits TOTAL,  so it takes a bit more than my few readers to get 1000 hits on a Video in a couple of weeks.  Thanks 303 Cycling and MUCCY for the help there,  by putting my vids up.  What is the definition of "internet famous",  anyway?

Mile High Urban CX Chaos from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

I wish all of you out there a great holiday.  If you are done racing,  have a good beer for me.  If you are peaking up for Nationals,  keep pounding.  Thanks for reading.  I'll try and find some more entertaining stuff to write up.  I hope Santa has some nice stuff under the tree for you.

Merry Christmas,  and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Nice Try

Sometimes,  things just don't go the way you want.  

Not.   Even.   Close.

Fear.  Fear of loss can make you go a bit mad.  Just spent a good part of a long and sleepless night staring straight into the eyes of that fear,  that loss.  The sleeplessness came from being thrust into thinking about loss,  and thus the fear.  While the loss contemplated could be seen as minor to many,  silly by some,  and certainly ranks low on the scale of actual human suffering in the world,  the fear remains real.

Forced to look at something unimaginable,  something never really considered or contemplated will keep you awake in the dark of night.   Denial and optimism can be blown away like morning mist,  replaced quickly by stormy clouds of realization and doubt.

This night of dark contemplation,  realization and yes,  fear was brought on courtesy of my arrhythmic heart and the joy that is modern medicine.  Went in to get my long awaited and even anticipated Electrophysiology study and (hopefully) an RF ablation to bring my mis-behaving heart rates back under control.  The Doctor's cheerful "70-80% confident we would get the issue and fix it on the first try" (foreshadowing…) ringing clearly in my head.  

After a long day of no eating,  no water,  prepping & waiting,  I woke up from the General anesthesia,  became cognizant enough to remember where I was and what I was doing.  First thing I asked my wife after becoming aware enough to ask was….. "did they fix it?".    And of course the answer was…..


NO?    Shit.

Of course,  while not out of the realm of possibility,  was NOT what I had In mind.  They were not able to reproduce the failure in over an hour of trying.  Apparently he was able to provoke a whole three (3) lousy Tachycardic beats out of my heart,  not nearly enough to map the defective paths and do an ablation.


Thus,  while getting to lay still for the desired 6 hours,  and on to my overnight stay in the place where no sleep is had,  being "observed",  I managed to descend into a rather deep,  dark funk.   What the HELL am I going to do if I can't get this fixed?  That kept running thru my head.  Racing?  Yea,  I guess I can even see giving that up,  since I pretty well suck at it anyway.  But not being able to ride hard at all?  Especially on the Mountain bike?  Unimaginable.  I like to ride places you just can't "ride easy" up.  I ride with a bunch of folks who don't really race  but still go FAST.  Riding our tandem is HARD.  I don't really want to be that putz-y,  ride the easy stuff rider.  I literally can not imagine NOT riding.  It's too big of a piece of me.

After the requisite time of depression & self-loathing,  I have pulled out a bit.  We are FAR from done here,  at the least there is the option of an additional try at the EP Study/Ablation,  probably without the general anesthesia drugs depressing my system responses,  and for that matter a slew of drugs to look into.  Not done,  but was not really planning on more months of waiting & trying here,  I was ready to "be Fixed".  

With my next Doc talk the day after Christmas (Merry Christmas to me!),  we'll have a new plan in place in a couple of weeks.  Whee.  Till then,  I am going to go ahead & "participate" in states again.   Figure it can't hurt to get the arrhythmia "warmed up" and popping before the next attempt.  Seems resting and being good didn't help with getting it to repeat,  so we'll try and completely change the failure environment for the next round.  What the hell.

See ya at states.  The season end approaches.

Sorry for the self-centered ranting/whining.  It just needed to come out.  We return you to your regularly scheduled gibberish soon.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Well,  no matter what,  I'm thankful.

With all the Crap that's come my way this year,  I'm sure I could get away with NOT being all that thankful,  but all in all I still am.  After the calorie-fest that is thanksgiving,

it is finally time for me to go get my heart re-wired.  Sitting here the night before getting a probe threaded up into your heart can make a person look back in a very "Thanksgiving like" frame of mind.  Even with getting slapped with yet another heath issue,  and getting the cross season I put off all LAST season pretty much ripped out from under my legs AGAIN,  I still have little to be that mad about.  All in all things are OK,  and while I miss racing,  it is "just a hobby" and I got "participate" a bit and keep from loosing my mind.

Tomorrow I'm off to see if the Docs can fix my "broken" heart,  and get me back on track to ride,  both on the mountain bike and for next cross season.  I am looking at a great reward for myself,  If I can get back to racing.  Everyone needs a carrot to pull them past the hard parts of life,  and I have mine.

Some might question how much being able to ride and race as poorly as I do could mean so much to someone.  The truly competitive "cat 2" types out there probably can't understand why middle of the pack Cat 4-45+ finishes could really mean so much to anyone,  why it occupies so much of one's thoughts.   Some out there will understand how much riding and racing bikes,  even with such mediocrity can mean to someone.  

I am backed up by an amazing group of friends & teammates,  and a strong & loving wife.  This makes it all easier,  and makes me strive,  not only to ride & race to my ability,  but to strive to get back "into the saddle" and be there for them,  to be worthy of that support.

I'll be back soon,  and by January I plan on starting to ride,  and ride HARD again.

I can't wait.