Monthly Archives: November 2014

This Week in Flowing Freely, part 3

There are 3 types of muscles in the human body and at a count of over 650. Some folks will estimate there are over 800 muscles; let those geeky anatomy wonks debate and decide.

Here is some Amazing: we think about what we want to do, our muscles take over and accomplish the task.

Read my previous adventures in Part 1 and Part 2

I want to drink that beer so my brain says to many muscles all over my body, move my arm while maybe counterbalancing a load with my feet and perhaps engage some stability with my abdominals and some spinal muscles, then grasp the can/glass/container without crushing or cutting my hand and lift it to my mouth so I may use other muscles to slurp up the elixir known as Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (insert your favorite beverage) and various other muscles will begin digestion.

When I think about what happens while drinking a beer while riding my bike, well, our brains and our bodies are fairly miraculous.

This week at pelvic therapy, after some examination of more liquid diaries it was suggested that I consume too much liquid and then wait too long to break the seal.

Here’s some cursory Human Biology 101. When you consume a liquid, something happens in the stomach and then the kidneys secrete liquid waste through some tubes to your bladder. The bladder is surrounded by a muscle that expands and at some point this muscle, the Detrusor, is supposed to contract, squeezing your bladder in that ever glorious action of relief known in alleyways and cornfields around the world until no more internal liquid remains.

That’s how it’s supposed to work.

If you’re like me, apparently, you drink and drink and drink and the red light saying “Empty Me Soon” is slow to ignite or you may have had to train yourself to ignore it, to hold it in because you’re not wearing extra capacity Depends that day and you have no time to get to that glorious porcelain Honda.

Like a limp rubber band that’s been stretched beyond it’s limit of elasticity the Detrusor has lost some ability to contract so even though you may find yourself peeing for minutes on end, your bladder, dear friend, ain’t empty.

Distended Detrusor, why do you hate me?

Kegels, for godssakes, Kegels! is what you might find yourself yelling at me. True, Kegels and exercising the muscles of the pelvic floor are just as beneficial for men as women, however in this case, my therapist mentioned that Kegels are good for stopping the flow through the garden hose (her words, not mine, I swear).

I had been scheduled for four more weekly visits after my initial visit and physical exam. It was suggested I don’t need to be seen weekly, as apparently I was successful during my exam. No, I didn’t enjoy having a strange finger up my butt, but I was able to achieve the desired muscular relaxation through some diaphragmatic breathing and conversation with my new friend, the Gray Wall. Not a proper cocktail in sight at the time.

My current homework consists of more detailed liquid diaries and paying closer attention to Z amount of ounces in = Z amount of ounces out with the knowledge that the average human bladder holds between 13 to 20 fluid ounces.

Again, we’ve all heard 8 glasses of water per day throughout our lives. I prefer to use the guideline of using my current weight in imperial pounds, dividing that by half, using that figure in fluid ounces, hence, I need 107.5 ounces of fluids per day, 107.5 oz is my “X”.

For years I’ve been consuming on a regular basis just less than twice X every day. Clearly, something is out of whack.

I have two more sessions.

This Week in Bikes and Booze, 15 November 2014

Some sort of weather bomb went off somewhere to the west and all I know is it’s too freaking cold for this time of year in this location of the earth. At least we don’t have the snow and ice that some folks are suffering through.

I rode a bike on some errands yesterday. There are clothing/shoe strategies to riding in frigid weather and countless words have been spilled on this very topic. I have the proper gear but not really the proper footwear, unless I want to put the awful platform pedals on my bikes and then I’m bullet proof against any weather. At times I’ll take a flask with me.

There’s a swarthy bunch of bike riding folks that I’ve fallen in with, people who ride all year in all weather, with all manner of anti-freeze.

“Swarthy” That’s a good word.

I reminded myself of a drinking adventure a little over a year ago; several friends wanted to travel a few miles south to a reputable watering hole for some draws of one of my favorite breweries, Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer, MI. Surprisingly, we don’t see many of their delicious products on tap.

A little corruption, a little contamination, that’s all it takes to influence an event. In this case, on the ride to beer, that corruption was black ice. At one point, one of my companions on this several mile jaunt commented the riding was scary. I was too busy concentrating to reply and nodded agreement to myself. I recall sitting in the bar on the 3rd or so pint, thinking I’d be fine with sticking my bike on the train for the few short miles home. I would have reminded myself that I hate those people who do that very thing. We rode home but I don’t recall it being as frightening.

Long ago in a past life I brewed beer in my kitchen. I had a few decent recipes and I was most proud of a hoppy coffee porter. My damn roommates forced me to hide my beer and 18 or so months later I discovered a hidden six-pack; it aged surprisingly well. Learning to brew, the importance of proper sanitation was brow beaten into me.

NO corruption/contamination otherwise the hours spent brewing will have been for naught! Therefore, I spent hours bending over a bathtub full of bleach solution sterilizing fermenting vessels, racking canes, tubing, bottles and other brewing paraphernalia.

Primitive, yet effective back-aching work. I can honestly say not one bottle of my beer ever corrupted.

On a Full Moon Fiasco of several years ago I brought a 6 of a beer that I hold in the highest esteem: Ska Brewing’s ESB. During a park stop, I popped an ESB and was met face on with the aroma and taste of a can of apple cider vinegar.

The batch of ESB had soured.

Recently I was commenting to some friends about the day after an evening’s bike riding revelry of celebrating The Full Beaver Moon.

I’ve ridden RAGBRAI 15 times and I’m on a team with a modified school bus. I was sent a photograph taken in some fine drinking establishment in the tiny northwestern town of Rock Rapids, IA after a day of treacherous travel in the team bus. I’ve heard stories how the passengers, myself included, of our bus fell out the door at a fuel stop. I believe these to be stories of exaggeration as nothing but some light social libations flowed among friends during the 5 or so hour journey.

Bad ice. Our cocktail ice had been corrupted.

Some of our team couldn’t talk after the bus ride. I needed some help setting up my tent. Apparently I was dancing and while uncommon,  none of these events are alarming in themselves. What is alarming is how easily the ice was tainted.

The next day teammates were nearly incapacitated but rode on courageously. I’ll admit to the copious amounts of vodka consumed, however, the corruption of ice knows no boundaries in the harm inflicted.

Weakened from bad ice, I consumed a breakfast of biscuits and gravy the next morning. I’m sure my breakfast was contaminated.

The other day, doing a stretch at my physiotherapist’s office, my knee popped so loudly it was heard six feet away. Currently, I am frequently wrapping that knee in ice and limiting my activity with the exception of some light bike riding as mention earlier. Just a little bit of corruption in the movement and my knee told me it had had enough. I did, however, need to visit my storage area and found an errant 6 pack of Bell’s Hopslam ale, so, perhaps not all was lost.

Just a little bit of corruption can put an unforeseen kink in one’s day.

Freely Flowing, pt. 2

8 glasses of water a day!

Or was it, 6 – 8 glasses of water a day!

Episode 1 of My Adventures in Undamming can be found here.

I doubt it would be much of a gross generalization to say that we’ve all heard this, that the human body needs that much water a day, that we’ve heard since we were first squeezed out of our mamas.

I was a tike when I first tried to accomplish the theory of all that liquid, but then with all the different sizes of glasses in my mom’s kitchen cabinets, what size glass should I use?

Minor confusion reigned for a while but then as an always very active kid and bike rider, I always drank a lot of liquids.

But wait!

Don’t wait to drink until you’re thirsty because you’re already dehydrated by then and may keel over dead of thirst, like a desert wanderer!

I over exaggerate to be sure.

But wait!

Don’t consume too much water because you might keel over dead from Hyponatremia!

Part of my homework from last week’s pelvic therapy was to keep a diary of liquids I consumed and evacuated in several 24 hour periods. If you’ve never done this, a liquid diary along with a food diary is quite enlightening; just what does into your body can be startling.

The waiting room for this therapeutic establishment is quite comfortable and staffed with employees eager to greet upon arrival. For some odd reason, I always detect a faint smell of urine everywhere, perhaps it’s by mental suggestion.

I can’t make eye contact with anyone else in the waiting room, I don’t want to imagine what they’re waiting for and will endure, but then, isn’t this similar to waiting at any health practitioner’s establishment or embarking into any public washroom?

I did my homework, complete with liquid logs and I wore my best knickers in case there was another physical exam.

Once again I was met by my very cheerful and always professional physical therapist and motioned towards the by-now familiar room. My friend, Gray Wall, stood impassively, lonely almost, waiting for friends.

I’ve been to scads of physical therapy appointments over my lifetime. This was the first appointment where no physical therapy was actually done as instead we talked about ideas in consuming and evacuation, or rather “voiding.”

The average human bladder holds between 13 and 20 fluid ounces. This is something I’ve never known nor ever thought about. Looking at my liquid diaries there were questions about the amount of “voiding” going on relative to the amount of consuming.

As a general rule, it was mentioned I should think in terms of X amount of ounces in = X amount of ounces out in a consistently timely manner.

Dear reader, please don’t inundate me with variables such as amount and type of physical activity present or other bodily issues at the time of the record keeping, these variables were discussed. When I consume a 12 oz beer, well, I should put out 12 oz. I should have asked if there is a real physical condition known as “Breaking the Seal.”

There are those of us with jobs that preclude any type of timely evacuation and I’m one of those folks so when I do get a chance, in those few seconds of freedom things should go as fast as a firefighting tanker plane releasing a dump of flame retardant liquid, but this isn’t the reality of how things do go.

Somewhere somehow men seem to learn the concept of “thinking about baseball” during intimate moments with their partner and hopefully said partner will be forgiving if they know their partner is thinking about baseball rather than being entirely in the moment. Is this why the obscenely boring spectacle of baseball is “America’s Pastime”?

In those times when I have little time to do what I need to do it was advised that I think about relaxing, perhaps sitting in a quiet field of wheat with the sun on my face and do some diaphragmatic breathing to prepare myself and then when I do get to go…hang on, this sounds all well and good but what about at the trough at any ballpark and Husky McBroseph is drunk and and obnoxious and trying to high-five every guy around while he’s doing his job.

This does happen.

Yeah, thinking of baseball or that field of wheat ain’t gonna work.

I have 3 more sessions.

This Week in Bikes & Booze, 5 November 2014

I like to think that I’m not a sucker for marketing, that I like certain brands because of form/fit/function/taste/experience/whatever and not because of their marketing.

I can be an addict to anything very quickly. Currently, I’m a hop addict chasing that high of overly hopped beers, my favorites balancing out that hoppy altitude with a warming cozy malty embrace.

One of my favorite brewers was promising me beer so freshly hopped that they’ll hop it as I’m drinking it. Get it! Get it now, before it’s gone and we’ve not distributed it yet!!!

Monday, I went searching on my bike for this beer. Not able to find it in several stores I bought a couple of meat pies from a Middle Eastern bakery instead.

So delicious.

That’s a thing about living in a vibrant city, being able to grab some grub from a different culture and while eating it on the sidewalk at a busy intersection, running into bike riding friends.

There’s a bar in that area that I’d briefly thought about dipping into. Turns out I did as one of the friends I saw on the street came running from that bar so I can’t pass up a chance to visit and enjoy some proper suds.

I had a pint of the beer I’d been in search of and I was expecting a brewer to hop it as it was poured. It was good and well made, just not worthy of the hype. I was glad I didn’t find a 6 pack.

Serendipity.

Before searching for beer, I’d spent some time in a local bike shop that I’d not been to in years.

I have two custom-made steel bike frames from the same builder. I love riding these bikes, every time I take one out, it feels like a new bike, almost like that high of riding a bike for the first time. One of these bikes has had problems with the seat post slipping. After years of frustration and several emails exchanged with the builder, I was sent to this local shop who is a dealer and I went with trepidation considering the troubling experiences I’ve had over the years with various people within this shop.

I think we devised a solution that will cure the slipping seat post in the future so why on earth wouldn’t I be in a bar with some well made beers to celebrate?

This week is filled with opportunities/excuses for escapades with bikes and drinks.

Thursday my favorite local bike shop is having a bike fit clinic. I’ll go, because I’m a bike geek. I’ll bring some beer, cause I’m a beer/hop addict/dork.

An evening in a bike shop talking bike fit? It’s one of those esoteric subjects that I enjoy learning about. Every bike shop, every bike dork/geek/enthusiast has their theories on bike fit. Many bike companies have their systems of bike fit. There are studios dedicated to bike fit and I just learned there are freelance bike fitters moving from bike shop to bike shop plying their craft. I had no idea.

Why? Look at how many bike styles there are. Your road bike, mountain bike, triathlon bike, cyclocross bike, gravel bike, coffee bike, bar bike, city bike all have different geometries and different riding positions. Well, maybe not all those frames. How many people have exactly the same limb lengths, torso lengths and flexibility/mobility? Bike fit sessions rise in price proportionately to the expense of the bike and they should.

Frame size and geometry, stem length, crank arm length, saddle height, saddle fore/aft adjustment, handlebar width/height and the all important Q-Factor add up to an incredible amount of variables for bike geeks/dorks/enthusiasts to consider when offering up unsolicited bike fit advice to their bike riding friends.

Drop Q-Factor into a conversation with bike friends and watch your street cred soar, or tumble in flames.

Saturday is the 6th Annual Guy Fawkes Bonfire Night Tweed Ride. Rather than me telling you about it just go here.

Sounds great doesn’t it, dressing up in natural fiber finery and slowly riding about the city on a preferably British-made leaky city bike while consuming road treats.

I’ve often thought I should dress in synthetic fibers, ride behind the group and hurl epithets in German or French.

A Tweed Ride is evil. I couldn’t find my way home after the last Tweed Ride I rode some years ago. I may “attend” for a few hours Saturday after FBC. Attend a Tweed Ride at your own peril.

Yes, another Friday FBC Full Moon Fiasco is upon us in celebration of The Full Beaver Moon.

Once upon a time, one could reliably predict this to be your basic shit-show of boozing while riding and in some lucky dive bar or two afterwards. In the past year, for whatever reason, the Fiasco hasn’t been as popular as in years past. Without shame, I look upon those rides of decadent alcohol abuse almost wistfully.

Last month’s FBC was an unexpected joy, with a surprising amount of old-timers who’d not graced the ride in several years. After way too much riding and a park stop we attended one of my favorite local dives where they sell very good beer, inexpensively.

Considering the waning popularity and attendance of FBC in the past year, I can’t predict how Friday’s Fiasco will go, however, I will be there with road treats to share as Beer Karma is Good Karma. One thing I won’t be bringing is a flask of Malort, the official drink of The FBC. Contrary to many of the weak, I like Malort, it just has a deleterious effect that I’d like to keep at bay this weekend.

Cheers!

This Week in Being a Human – Flowing Freely

I’ve dropped my pants in many places over this earth; sometimes it’s a necessity.

I’m 50 years old and with that age comes a slew of “middle-aged man” issues that require visits to various health practitioners and perhaps some medications that may or may not work. I was placed on a certain drug to help combat those personal conditions that that certain drug is supposed to combat.

That certain drug did nothing for me. I’m grateful for this as I don’t like taking pills, endless amounts of pills.

This year I’ve met and surpassed my absurdly high health insurance deductible, which means, yes, health care for all for the first time in forever. Due to the aforementioned middle aged man issues I asked for a referral to a urologist and scheduled an appointment.

I grew up a not all that strict Methodist in semi-rural, smallish town Nebraska, as a wee lad it seemed we aren’t supposed to know that we have terrestrial bodies, much less acknowledge or discuss bodily functions.

Through the luck of the draw, I found an awesome urologist. I was put immediately at ease, which I feel is important when your pants are around your ankles and your junk is being inspected, close up and dispassionately. After some Q & A and said inspection, this doctor told me she didn’t believe in immediate medication to solve a person’s issues. The idea was floated that I hold too much stress in my pelvic floor and that I should seek some pelvic floor physical therapy before any type of medication is administered.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy. Who knew this existed? I made an appointment and I have entered the world of pelvic health at a well respected local rehabilitation institute.

I’m an active person. I ride my bikes a lot, I lift heavy weights and I indulge in frequent mobility work and I think I have good posture. In March of this year I had 3 hernias repaired (apparently I have the insides of a walking cheese grater) and since that time I’ve been experiencing muscular pain from my right groin reaching up through my hip muscles to the tip of my Iliac Crest. This has made my active life, not debilitating, but uncomfortable. Is holding too much stress in my pelvic floor contributing to this?

Imagine if I told you that you probably don’t know how to breathe properly, walk properly, stand properly, that you don’t know how to pee or poop properly. You’d label me an elitist lunatic who doesn’t know squat because you’ve been doing these involuntary actions all your life, thank you very much.

I went to this rehabilitation place and I was met by a physical therapist specializing in the area of pelvic health and the muscles/functions therein. After some friendly interrogation, it was explained how the program was to work and what was to happen next. Several times, a physical exam was briefly mentioned.

The room is filled with the accouterments of physical therapy, including a lonely exam table, in the corner, surrounded by a curtain. It was there I was instructed to disrobe from the waist down, lie on the left side with a sheet over my lap.

Aces! another opportunity to drop my trousers but again not a cocktail to be found.

When a person you’ve just met, becomes a voice over your shoulder telling you she’s going to test your rectal reflexes, you realize your good fortune for facing a wall. When this same voice tells you that after the reflex text, she’ll be inspecting your, ummm, anal walls, you thank the heavens for facing a wall, while lying on your side, while this person is stroking your nether regions and watching how the muscles surrounding your anus are reacting.

Reflexes, anal reflexes, people and who knew, but I got’em!

The Gray Wall, that plain, blank, dull featureless gray wall is now my friend while I’m told to strain, relax, bear down, relax, is this what a gynecological exam is like? Yes, Gray Wall, thank you for being my friend “…now I’m going to insert my finger into your anus and if you can, umm, you are too tense…”

“Yes, I am tense, you have your fingers in my butt.”

Gray Wall, breathe and concentrate on the grayness and never mind the strange fingering sensations taking place and breathe in and breathe out and yes I know you’ve told me I need to relax and never mind your finger in my butt, and … okay, I can feel how that relaxation is supposed to feel.

Diaphragmatic breathing. It’s important for our health and few practice it properly. Diaphragmatic breathing, read all about it.

The exam over, I was told to get dressed and meet the very professional therapist back at the desk. As a reformed Methodist, I’m glad I’m able to talk fairly bluntly about topics such as this, now face to face with the therapist who just minutes ago had her finger in my butt, commenting on how my anal reflexes were reflexing.

Walking me out to the waiting room, the full waiting room, I couldn’t help but wonder who else will be dropping their knickers and when another patient was called, let’s just say our eyes didn’t meet.

The ability to control one’s body, learning how to control various functions of one’s body, it’s so fascinating and if it keeps me off medication, then this is a very good thing.

I have homework to do and four more sessions.