Living and Biking with EIAE

Introduction

EIAE is the medical acronym for exercise-induced arterial endofibrosis, a fancy and medical-sounding way of saying “there’s something thickening the wall of the artery bringing blood to your leg and we think you caused it by riding your bike too much.” This is also sometimes called iliac artery compression, a similar name that specifies the artery (iliac) but not the cause of the compression.

I’ve mentioned this issue before, but I have learned some things since then, and I wanted to keep a record for myself and share with whoever might be interested in what it’s like living with this diagnosis right now. Continue Reading >>

Light in a Dark Place

Sometimes God gives us opportunities above and beyond our everyday choices, chances to shine as a bright light in a dark place. Yesterday I took one of those opportunities, and I’m still reeling from it.

Thursday, February 21, we pushed out our first release of 2019 at work. With President’s Day on Monday and all the snow the previous weeks, I didn’t feel as comfortable as usual. Every working day that week I put in 10-hour days and still felt less well prepared than I like. But that evening I left work at about 6:25 PM relieved and ready to enjoy a slow, dry, “warm” bike commute home before really nasty weather pummeled us again. Continue Reading >>

Open Letter to Specialized

Having run out of options to get financial recompense from FedEx, BikeFlights.com, and USAA to replace my S-Works frame, I’ve sent Specialized the following letter. I don’t expect it to make any difference, but it can’t hurt.

(In case you missed this story, here’s the background:
Crushed, Frame Damage Update, Acceptance, Bike Update)

Dear Specialized,

My name is Katie Ferguson. This June my family splurged on an S-Works Tarmac disc to replace my 2015 Cannondale SuperSix Evo. The full-price S-Works was a huge financial stretch for us, but worth every penny. The crisp responsiveness, zippy power transfer, and incredible lightness combined with the unbelievable comfort made it a joy to ride, by far the most wonderful bike I’ve ridden in my almost 15 years of cycling. I told my friends that it offered all the benefits of the best race bike combined with the comfort of my long-time commuter bike. I named it Swift, after the bird.
Continue Reading >>

Cold, Dark, and Rainy

At last the weather has entered the classic Washington pattern of short, dim days, heavy cloud cover, and copious rain. Not that I prefer these conditions, but as a Washington native, it doesn’t feel like winter until the rain starts.

Well, yesterday the rain certainly started… And didn’t stop. By the time I got home, nary a square inch of me remained dry. That’s no big deal, but it was also quite windy, which I don’t care for.

Because of the wind, and the difficulty of seeing in dark, rainy conditions, I opted to take the Burke-Gilman Trail home from Seattle, rather than going across the 520 bridge and up through Kirkland. Especially lately, I’ve felt really nervous about riding down Market Street. At every intersection, cars turn right across the bike lane, and they never stop or seem to notice me. It’s very anxiety-inducing.

Plus, riding in the dark with car headlights blazing into my eyes, with raindrops refracting their light, it’s nearly impossible to see what’s ahead of me. I have super-powerful lights, but they don’t help when my vision is obscured.

So I took the Burke.

In the summer I don’t care for the Burke: too many other people, too flat, too boring, and a couple miles longer.

But in these conditions, there aren’t many other people, and flat and boring mean predictable, which is exactly what I want. Plus, with no cars, it not only feels safer, but it’s much easier to see.

When I got home, I realized something else: going across 520, I have 14 stoplights from the time I leave the UW to the time I get home. But riding on the Burke, I have only two stoplights.

Here’s a typical across-the-520-bridge commute:

Here’s the on-the-Burke around the north end route:

As a result, when I checked my times at the end, I had the odd experience of having a longer moving time (1:22 for 21.4 miles, versus 1:16 for 19.5 miles… Don’t judge me! It’s December, it’s dark, wet, windy, and nasty. You try riding faster.) but a shorter overall time (1:23 versus 1:29). I spent almost 15 minutes stopped when I went through Kirkland, compared with only one minute stopped going on the Burke.

So that’s interesting. My take-away: I may mix up my commutes more, especially on those dark, wet days when riding in traffic is extra-dangerous.

A Little Bike Commuting Math

Today, for the first time all week, I didn’t get soaked by rain on my commute home! I’m not complaining about the rain; not really. We’ve had an exceptionally dry November, with an unparalleled number of beautiful Saturdays that let us keep riding our fast bikes far later than usual. I expect to commute home in the rain most days between November and April, so I’ve just enjoyed all these bonus dry days.

Of course, that all changed this week, which we kicked off with 1.4 inches of rain on Monday. I had forgotten how difficult it is to see in the pitch dark in the rain, with raindrops on my glasses and car lights refracting and my glasses fogging up every time I stop. Continue Reading >>

Poem to the Rain

I’ve been more wet —
showering.

I’ve cycled to the sun and under the harvest moon
The hum of tires, the shussssh of the wind 
singing counterpoint to my joyful heart-tune.

I’ve been more wet —
swimming.

I’ve fought, dug deep, eyes on a wheel
Discovering strength through pain, 
a core of ever-forging steel.

I’ve been more wet —
bubble-bathing.

I’ve ridden the miles that build
A firm friendship foundation,
reward of valuable time fulfilled.

I’ve been more wet —
But I’ve never been more happy.

Continue Reading >>

Bike Update

Let’s see, what’s happened since I last updated about this mess?

I filed a claim with FedEx. They wrote me a check, and I was briefly really excited… Until I learned it was only $100, again, the full extent of their liability since I didn’t buy extra insurance.

All I need is another 48 payments like that and I’ve got the frame replacement covered!

So, that finishes off any possible claims with people who did the shipping. They agree that I have a legitimate claim, but they just don’t have to pay fully to make it right.

Meanwhile, our homeowners insurance has rejected the claim unless I can prove somehow it was one of the 16 perils listed in our policy. Which is impossible. I can’t imagine how I, or anyone, would determine exactly whether something was dropped on to the box, or whether the box fell off a truck, or what.

I have contacted John Duggan, a lawyer specializing in bike issues, to get some advice. But lawyers are expensive, so I don’t want to waste a lot of time and resources going down that road. I suspect all the parties involved–BikeFlights, FedEx, and USAA–all are thoroughly covered with impenetrable armor of legal language absolving them of any responsibility.

It’s so frustrating. I made one possibly wrong choice–to not get shipping insurance–and now even though I did nothing wrong, my family suffers the consequences. The insurance was super expensive (relatively) and I thought my box would protect it. I guess I feel like I’m not the one who crushed the frame. Why am I the one who gets punished? Why do we pay for homeowners insurance if they can just weasel out of paying for personal property damage?

I’m just disgusted with the whole system, and resigning myself to not replacing the bike. I have my old Cannondale. I can’t justify spending that much again on what is ultimately a toy.