Saturday, August 29, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
After the Tour of Nevada Classic I resumed my life going to work 40 hours a week as a carpenter and running my dog team on weekends. Billie, my wife usually comes to Tahoe in the summer from our other home in Sacramento. My work is at the Lake . Because I am a carpenter I can get higher paying work at Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe economy is a little more immune to the outside world. Billie works for IBM and has to work in Sacramento. We traveled 2 hours to see each other when we were dating and when we married we continued to do the same. So far we haven't been able to break from this scenario and live together.
In the spring and fall I spend more time in Sacramento. I love riding the American River bike Trail. I use my old Colnago that I bought in 1979. The trail is flat so I can ride with an intimidating tight gear ratio. I often get a lot of compliments about my old bike. Of course like any self respecting road cyclist I wouldn't show up anywhere without my bike being sparkling clean and oiled. Sacramento has a bike subculture going strong and the bike trail has a lot to do with keeping it thriving. I can ride 50 miles without encountering a car. I am accompanied only by other cyclists and a few joggers that usually behave by running off the pavement. This past spring I hadn't been making much time for riding the bike trail. My legs were still hairy and I didn't feel like my old self.
At my work I started to notice that I was slowing down and starting to get out of breath when carrying weight or climbing stairs. I just ignored it and kept on working. I had a cold that wasn't going away. Usually a cold lasts about a week and then I'm fine. This was weird. I came down with some painful canker sores in my mouth. This was unusual because I hadn't had a canker sore since I was a child. The sores went away after about ten days but then I got another sore soon after.
About this time we had visitors to our Tahoe house and Billie and I played host to two old friends. On Sunday we all decided to go on a short hike at Tahoe Meadows. There is a beautiful trail at 9000' elevation with a sparkling creek and a wide open mountain meadow teaming with song birds and wildflowers. We ended up hiking about 2 miles and I found myself hardly keeping up with our two 60 year old friends. I didn't say anything. The canker sore in my mouth had grown into something much worse. It was growing fast and opening a huge crater in the roof of my mouth.
That next week I tried to get an appointment with my primary care physician but it had been so long that my records were somewhere else. I was told that I might be able to get an appointment sometime the next month. I worked a full forty hours that week in the hot high altitude sun. My appetite was fading. I did not feel like eating much. Food didn't taste good. I was out of breath climbing stairs in my house.
When Billie arrived for the weekend she was alarmed. We made an appointment the next day at a doc in a box that was in our medical plan. That morning we were at the Urgent Care Clinic in Carson City NV first thing in the morning. The doc there looked at my urine which looked normal and peeked at the sore in my mouth. "That could be cancer" he said. He gave me a few numbers to call of a few local ENT specialists and sent me on my way.
That night my sister Marti and her husband David arrived to spend a few days in our Tahoe house. Billie suggested I call my sister in law in Anchorage who was a nurse for a little medical advice. She said, "You need to go to the emergency room!". I knew that the emergency room at the local hospital was a zoo on Sunday night filled with mountain bikers with broken elbows. I decided to go there first thing Monday morning.
Early Monday morning I told Marti and David that I could drive myself and I would probably be back in a few hours with a prescription for antibiotics.. That was the last time I saw my house at the Lake.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The snow melts earliest on one of my favorite trails for mountain biking. By then I am ready to hang up my XC skis. This past winter I skied a lot less because I don't like to ski without dogs. I wasn't skiing at night. I barely did any skiing on weekends. Out of character for me, I had let myself go a little.
I can ride out my house and be on the singletrack after one block of riding pavement. It is my dream to ride that early in the spring at Lake Tahoe. As usual I try to get on my bike at the first possible moment after the snow melts.
I was just a little out of line with my usual fitness goals for the early spring. The first mountain bike ride was not that unusual. I had to push over a few patches of snow. I had to push up a steep pitch that I would be riding up in a few weeks because that was the way it always was in early spring. I shed my ski legs and put on my riding legs.
In a few days all the snow had melted on my trail.
My three dog team languished a little towards the end of the ski season because of my diminished program training them. Soon though, my team was up to top speed riding a fast four mile trail in the Martis Valley near Truckee. The rig of preference is a scooter with 26 inch wheels and front suspension. Three dogs was above the maximum I would allow my self to scooter behind. I rotated my little team so that I always ran at least two dogs.
So far, my early riding and dog scootering season was progressing like any normal year.
Last winter I decided that after the first night skijor that my dog team was too strong for me to control. I was 56 years old and I didn't want to do it anymore. My oldest lead dog "Flash" was still alive at almost 16 years. I remember he was 11 years old when he told me he didn't feel like racing that day. He decided to stay in the car and I let him because he had never before refused to jump out of the vehicle and be instantly ready to go. I raced with only one dog that day.