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 >>

Cyclistically Speaking

I haven’t been blogging as much because I’ve been super busy at work, and — this may be shocking, so sit down — after day in front of a computer screen writing I don’t feel much like spending the evening in front of a computer screen writing. But I’m going to break that today, because the Seattle Times published an article that infuriated me so deeply, on so many levels, I have to address it.

The article: “Spokane woman is standing up to cyclist who yelled ‘Hot pizza!’ and then smashed into her on trail

OK, let’s set aside for the moment the fact that The Times used some pretty emotionally charged language in the headline — “smashed” and “standing up to” both carry some notable emotional connotations — and let’s take a look at the article.

It describes this scenario:

A lady and her friend were walking side-by-side down a shared-use path where other people were also out walking, including some moms with strollers and people with dogs. As the lady walked along, a guy riding his bike approached from behind and yelled, “Hot pizza!” Then the cyclist hit the lady, who had kept walking along the same way she’d been going. The cyclist started cursing the lady for not getting out of his way, although there was plenty of room to her left to pass around her. The lady suffered a fractured elbow, and the cyclist re-broke a recently healed broken wrist and broke his nose.

The cyclist apparently yells “Hot pizza!” because people misinterpret “On your left,” the traditional salutation of cyclists passing slower trail users. The cyclist seemed to expect the walking lady to interpret “Hot pizza!” as a request to move out of his way, and he kept riding as if she was already out of the way… and then got angry at her for not moving. Other witnesses affirmed that there was plenty of room on the trail to go around.

The cyclist said he didn’t slow down because he doesn’t like to slow down.

Let’s break this down from a cyclist’s perspective.

First, I wasn’t there, but based on what I read, the cyclist was unequivocally in the wrong. When riding on a trail, cyclists have responsibilities:

  • Be predictable.
  • Ride at speeds appropriate for the conditions. If there are lots of other trail users, slow down.
  • Be prepared to stop at any time.
  • Yield to ALL other trail users. As the fastest-moving vehicles on the path, we have the greatest responsibility for all users’ common safety.
  • Pass other trail users with at least a couple feet between. If you’re passing people walking or riding two abreast, wait until the trail is completely clear and then go around after clearly communicating with the other trail users.
  • Ride single-file. (I appreciate when slower trail users, who hear me call out, move from two abreast to single file, but it’s not necessary.)
  • Use some kind of auditory signal well in advance of passing slower trail users. Call out with plenty of time for the person you’re passing to figure out what’s going on and respond. If “on your left” doesn’t get a response, try “coming up behind you” or, better yet, ring a bell — you don’t even have to speak English to recognize that sound! It’s the cyclist’s job to communicate clearly, and calling out “Hot pizza” definitely doesn’t communicate clearly.
    NOTE: “On your left” does not mean “Move out of my way,” or “I have the right of way.” It’s a polite notification that you’re going by and a request that the other trail user doesn’t move into the space you’re about to occupy as you pass them. It’s 100% appropriate for slower trail users to just keep going on in a straight line having heard you; it’s extra-courteous if they choose to move right a bit. The only thing they shouldn’t do is dodge to the left unexpectedly.
  • Continue Reading >>

    Living In My House

    Day’s Verse:
    Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancĂ©e, who was pregnant…
    Luke 2:2-5

    If you lived here, this is what you would see.
    Living in My House
    And it would be normal.

    Ashland Bike Ride Media

    Day’s Verse:
    Run to me, dear lover.
    Come like a gazelle.
    Leap like a wild stag
    on the spice mountains.

    Song of Solomon 8:14

    If I picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a video worth? Here are some videos I took of riding in Ashland, Oregon. This blog post will give you the impression that I went to Ashland for biking. Although the biking was exceptional, we were actually there for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I’ll put up another post about the plays and that experience, so stay tuned. Meantime, on to the media from the two hill climb rides I did in Ashland.

    The first ride, I went out to the delightfully-named Dead Indian Memorial Road and did hill repeats. I guess you can call it a repeat if you do it twice, right? The interesting thing was going from down low, which has these sere hills, some scrub oak, and various other similar dry, hot-weather plants, up to higher elevations that are populated with gorgeous pines and evergreens. Here’s a video from lower down.

    And here’s a video of the same road, a few thousand feet higher.

    The next day, I rode up Mt. Ashland. The metrics don’t sound that impressive — 50 miles roundtrip, 5000 feet or so of climbing — until you realize almost all the climbing was in 15 miles going up the mountain. I now understand how different climbing 5,000 feet spread out is compared to all at once. Anyway, the ride was truly spectacular. Here are videos from that ride. They really don’t capture it; I kept getting these amazing glimpses into the valley all the way to Mt. Shasta off in the distance.

    Here’s the lower-down video:

    And here’s the video a few thousand feet higher up.

    Definitely go take a look at my Flickr set for some cool pictures of Ashland and our drive down Highway 101. There are some very neat pictures there. Here are a few I just have to share.

    You don’t see these at home. I cautiously walked across the cattle guard, not trusting myself to ride across it safely. How dumb would it be to crash on a cattle guard?
    They Don't Have These At Home

    This was the road lower down, heading toward Mt. Ashland. There was no traffic because partway up, one of the bridges was closed. Happily for me, the closure was for paving, which was essentially finished — they just still had equipment sitting around. I went around the road-closure barriers without any trouble. The result of that, though, was virtually zero traffic on that road, before or after the bridge. People saw the road closure signs and avoided it. Great for biking!
    Mt. Ashland Road: Lower Down

    Here’s the view from the top of Mt. Ashland facing…um, I guess south. That’s Mt. Shasta off in the distance.
    View from Mt. Ashland

    And finally, a vignette and accompanying picture. The story: When I got to the top of Mt. Ashland, I rode by a little boy who enthusiastically hailed me. There was nobody else up there — just me, this little boy, and his mom. And their black lab, Joy. Anyway, I stopped and asked the boy’s mom to take my picture at the top. The boy, who was incredibly gregarious, immediately gravitated to my bike and started examining it with great interest. He talked nonstop. I quickly learned that his name was Ian. He really wanted to be in my top-of-the-mountain picture, so here it is: Me and Ian at the top of Mt. Ashland.
    Katie & Ian at the Summit
    After that, he got fascinated with my bike pump and I let him carry it off in order to get a picture by myself. Turns out his little bike had a low front tire, and he immediately cottoned on to the idea of using my pump to put air in his tire. Unfortunately, the valves were incompatible and I had to leave without putting air in his tires. I rode down, taking one hour what had taken me two and a half to do going up. Boy it was fun.

    Sometimes I really wish I could just ride and never stop.

    Commute Conversations

    Day’s Verse:
    Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
    Ephesians 4:2

    One thing about commuting by bike: You can have conversations with your fellow commuters. In a car, communication consists of turn signals, honking, and maybe gesturing. I, on the other hand, rarely have a week go by without having cordial conversations with other bicyclists. Every week or two, I’ll encounter somebody and we really hit it off, and end up riding for anywhere from 3 to 10 miles together. It’s fun and community-building, and it’s something that keeps me coming back to bicycling day after day.

    I mention this because this morning a guy rode up next to me as I rode on the I-90 trail. Here’s our conversation in its entirety.

    Him: Hello.
    Me: Oh, sorry. [Moving to my right, thinking he wanted to pass me]
    Him: I’ve seen you commuting, and I just wanted to say…I like your style.
    Me:[Surprised] Thanks!
    Him: Happy riding! [Turns off trail]
    Me: You too!

    I smiled for the entire rest of the ride, until I saw the car with a license-plate liner that said “You people make my a** twitch,” after which I probably looked puzzled.

    Actually, I was a bit puzzled anyway. What did that bicyclist mean by “style”? Did he mean clothing*? Or behavior? Or bicycling technique? Or my bicycle’s look? Clearly he meant something good, and at first I assumed my bike, which is pretty stylish. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if he meant that my good manners on the trail — always giving an audible signal before passing, signaling turns, slowing (ahem) at stops — or something else entirely. I’m still not sure, but nobody’s ever accused me of having style before, and I kind of liked it. Not enough to become actually stylish, mind you, but enough to wallow in the compliment for a bit.

    * Given that I was wearing black Spandex pants with neon yellow reflective ankle bands, a neon yellow vest, a teal short-sleeved jersey, white-and-pink Fat Cyclist arm warmers, and my reflective helmet, it’s hard to imagine he meant clothing-wise.

    What I Saw and Didn’t See

    Day’s Verse:
    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
    Galatians 3:26-28

    This Porch is Comfy!
    I think Carmel likes laying on the step because it gives her something to lean against and it’s just the right height to perch her head on.

    Riding home on the Burke this evening, I saw three astonishing things.

  • I heard, but didn’t see a car crash on Montlake Blvd. There was a shout — and then the distinct crunching noise of a bumper meeting another bumper. I didn’t turn to see this particular event, being distracted at the time by #2.
  • A shirtless, well-muscled guy pushing a grill up the trail from Pend Orielle Road. Not just a little grill, either. This was a full-sized, man’s dream grill, and he was moving it along at a good clip. The guy I was riding with, Mark, and I commented to each other, “You never know what you’ll see on the trail!” I wondered what grill-man said when he passed people — “Burgers on your left”?
  • A fistfight. Seriously. Here’s what I saw happen. Mark and I are riding along behind a couple of slightly faster cyclists just past 40th Ave NE. Then one of the faster riders moves over onto the graveled pedestrian path that parallels the paved path at that point. The next thing I know, the guy on the gravel path (Cyclist A) has stopped and is standing there, shouting. The other guy, Cyclist B, slams on his brakes and skids to a halt perpendicular to the trail, which brings me and Mark to quick stops. Cyclist B picks up his bike off the trail and heaves it into the bushes — and hurls himself at Cyclist A. Or maybe A rushed him. I didn’t see clearly. The next thing I know, they’re literally punching each other in the face, yelling, calling one another filthy names; then they’re on the ground, rolling around in the gravel, pummeling each other, gouging eyes, all-round attacking each other. Mark and a couple other guy bicyclists hurl themselves into the fray and pull the two fighters apart, with no small difficulty. The guys continue yelling at each other until Mark’s repeated shouting “Break it up! This isn’t worth it!” penetrates their skulls. Cyclist B says, “Let me just ask you one question,” but Mark says, “No. Just keep riding or I’ll call the cops.” One of the cyclists says, “This is a free trail!” and Mark overrides their protests, very firmly repeating, “Keep riding or I’ll call the cops” a couple more times. Cyclist A and B exchange parting insults (“Put some ice on that, b*tch!” “See if you can catch me, old man!”); Cyclist B rides off and we take off after him.

    The kicker: They were fighting about Cyclist B’s riding through stop signs and Cyclist A’s chastising him for it. They yelled “Red means stop!” and “I stopped at every f*ing stop sign!” “You did not!” etc. Both were well over 30 years old.

  • A strange tandem. The front seat was a recumbent holding a little kid with very short legs. The back was what I assume to be the kid’s dad. This contraption (pictures of similar bikes here and here) pulled a trailer with another kid inside. Mom (I assume) followed on a battered mountain bike and she didn’t seem to feel the need to put her hands on the handlebars. Continue Reading >>