Big Spill 2014 – Broken Arm – Update 3

I am very happy to report that the broken arm is healing fairly well.

I’ve been going to physical therapy twice a week for several weeks. Arm strength is increasing though my tricep is still incredibly weak.  Range of motion is still rather poor but improving.  I can now touch my face which is helpful. Arm extension is pretty limited.

I still use lots of ice packs in an effort to eliminate the swelling which, I think, will help the range of motion.

The arm is feeling good enough that I broke out my mountain bike a week ago and went for a short ride (four miles). After two days, there were no ill effects so I went for a ten mile ride.  Yay!!  It felt wonderful to be back in spandex and on a bike! :-)  Of course, I was pretty shaky and the weak left arm caused the right arm to compensate – that was about the only thing that was sore the next day.  If I hold my arms just right (kind of elbows down), you cannot tell anything is wrong.  With an elbows out position, the left arm doesn’t straighten so looks a bit odd.

I am very thankful for all the prayers that I have received, my surgeon, hospital, ambulance folks, all those that helped as I laid in the middle of the road, physical therapist, and the successful healing process – THANK YOU!!thanks god praise grateful

It is far from over but at least I feel semi-capable again.  It is amazing to me how much one’s life can change in an instant.  Please do not dismiss or waste good health – not everyone has it and it doesn’t last forever!

Note from JD: Update 1 is here, update 2 is here.

Big Spill 2014 – Broken Arm – Update 2

Sadly, there just isn’t much going on right now so not much to post about.

I can tell you that having a broken arm (humerus) really stinks.

I’ve been making frequent trips to the doctor so he can keep tabs on the healing process. He seems happy with progress so I am too.

All of the staples have been removed and I am now in a brace that allows some movement of the elbow.  The x-rays are always interesting – still plates and screws, guess that won’t change.

broken arm humerus screws titanium plate Physical therapy starts later this week.

broken arm humerus screws titanium plateMy friends and neighbors have been HUGELY helpful!  I had meals delivered for the first couple weeks after surgery – thank you so much!!  Several friends have made grocery store runs for me and have been shuttling me around to doctor appointments. Thank you – thank you – thank you!

Except for not being able to do any of my hobbies – flying, cycling, kayaking, etc… things are reasonably normal now. Work, read, sleep – and sleep a bit more. I do a lot of sleeping these days, except for when I am unable to sleep and then I just toss and turn.

My bikes stare at me all day long. They desperately want to get outdoors and run but I am unable.  I have very limited range of motion and nearly no tricep strength, never mind pain.  Cycling is simply not possible right now – I apologize my dear bikes.

The big slice is looking better. It will probably be a conversation piece for some time to come (this photo taken just before half of the staples came out).

broken arm humerus suture staples cut

Big Spill 2014 – Broken Arm – Update 1

I’ve had my first checkup. It went pretty well and was quite shocking at the same time. The “how I got here” post is here. In short, a broken humerus in my left arm.

The tech’s removed the splint which was really stinking. It was blood and goo soaked and it felt wonderful to have it off!!

I wasn’t sure if my arm would just crumble to the floor in a hundred pieces but it did not. It actually felt reasonably stable.

The first surprise was the size of the slice in my arm!!!

broken arm humerus staples suture sliceThere are 38 staples holding that thin together! It should make for a killer scar!

Next, they took x-rays.


broken arm humerus screws elbowbroken arm humerus screws elbow
I had no idea I had a whole hardware store in my arm! Fifteen screws and enough Titanium to build a small ship. I didn’t understand til this visit that the elbow/end of the humerus had basically exploded when it hit the road. I must have really hammered it down.

Overall; the doctor thought it was looking good so they wrapped it back up and told me to return in five more days. I think that is better than starting a discussion with me about amputation!

I have the 100 Miles of Nowhere race this Saturday – will I make it!?!?

Big Spill 2014 – Broken Arm

What a bummer!  Shortly after posting my 1000 mile ride carbon bike update, it happened, The Big Spill of 2014.

It was a leisurely Saturday ride on my road bike. I was about twenty miles in and decided to climb a small hill that a friend had told me about. The route takes you thru a high school parking lot. Of course, there were a mess of speed bumps. I went around or over them, no biggie.  On the way back down, at about noon, I did the same. Near the bottom I hit a speed bump that I hadn’t seen and it nearly threw me. That really got my attention and then BAM! I hit another that I couldn’t see and this one tossed me.

It happened incredibly fast. I sorta half remember hitting the road and feeling/hearing a very nasty sound.

I attempted to move and the pain coming from my left arm/shoulder was far worse than anything I had ever felt. I thought about reaching for my phone in my back jersey pocket and there was no way to get it. Too much pain.  I even thought that maybe I could walk a block or two to an urgent care facility.  No way was that happening either. In fact, getting out of the middle of the road wasn’t even an option.  So, I waited – bleeding and in terrible pain. It wasn’t very many minutes before a car came by and asked if I needed help.  They called an ambulance, put something under my head, and shielded my eyes from the sun until the ambulance arrived – a true good Samaritan.  I do not know who you are but THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Getting loaded into the ambulance was incredibly painful – there was lots more of that to come. The ride to Presbyterian hospital in Albuquerque is not short – 30 mins perhaps. They filled me with all the pain killer they could, got the ok via radio to give more, and I was still in bad shape.

Once to the hospital and squared away it was off to x-ray.  Ya, lots more pain.  The technician was very good but any movement was nearly unbearable.  The results??

Something was wrong.

Broken arm humerus compound fracture
Can you see it? It’s kinda hard to see but is a compound fracture of the humerus just above the elbow.Broken arm humerus compound fracture

It was a bad one so surgery was the only option. This meant waiting for a slot.  Thankfully, with diagnosis in hand, the morphine could start flowing, Oh what a relief!!!

At about 8pm I am wheeled down to the operating room.  I met with a super nice anesthesiologist – Dr. Garcia, I think.

I’ve heard the stories about counting in the OR and how fast the anesthesia works. Well, they are right – it happens mighty quick! The next thing I knew, people were trying to wake me up.  Three hours had passed and it sounded like the surgery had went well.

I then spent the next two days in the hospital taking Percocet and morphine before they let me go home. Apparently it is very unusual for a middle aged male to live alone and/or be able to take care of himself.  The “care providers” simply could not understand that this was the case and kept asking questions like “You prepare your own meals?” and “You do your own cleaning?” and other similar/insane sounding questions. Perhaps I am a novelty that should be in the freak show – I suppose that would surprise no one. It seemed they did not want to release me back into this crazy situation but finally did so.

The next few days at home went fine. Everything happens very slowly. The schedule revolved around an every four hour dose of Percocet, trip to the bathroom, and change of ice packs with sleep in between. It was very quiet and peaceful.

Sadly, it could not stay that way forever so I started working (my job) in small blocks at a time.

Today is a big day – my first follow-up with the surgeon. Hopefully, he will have positive news for me.

Idaho Backcountry 2014 – Part 3

Once again, we were blessed with warm overnight temps so I slept well.  An early departure to the north took us to Big Creek for the lodge rebuilding fund raiser.  Interestingly, we got there before they were ready to serve breakfast!  Apparently those Idaho folks are not early risers like we are! :-)  Rebuilding the Big Creek lodge is a really great cause – please check it out and consider helping.

We departed Big Creek (U60), flew over Cold Meadows (U81), and made a pass over Chamberlain (U79) before landing there.  My buddy did some hiking while I rested my feet by sitting and talking to a group of campers.  Super nice guys and my feet were so thankful!  Word was that a small bear had visited them overnight and had to be run off.

After departing Chamberlain, we flew up to Shearer (2U5) and wondered how anyone can land there.  It sits at the bottom of a fairly narrow canyon – once again, a spectacular setting.  Then a quick hop over to Moose Creek (1U1) where we landed from the north.  We didn’t stay long and were soon sailing down the canyon to the south of Moose Creek which is, again, gorgeous country!

Saturday night dinner at the event is sponsored by CubCrafters. Even more spectacular, the CubCrafter staff drove the entire food operation from home base to Johnson Creek and served it!  Ya – this was not a hired out operation were they simply (???) wrote the check – this was THEM actually doing it!!  VERY IMPRESSIVE!!  They did a fabulous job and put on a wonderful dinner of lamb stew, a super tasty BBQ vegetable kabob, homemade ice cream, and Jim’s home brewed beer.  I didn’t try the latter two items but heard they were very good.

Sunday morning we broke camp and high tailed it for home.  After several “light” departures, taking off with a heavy airplane (camping gear) is always an eye-opener.  The weather was fantastic and we were over Jackpot, NV (06U) before we knew it.

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Landing there was uneventful and we parked and walked to the casino for breakfast.  The foot was good but not as inexpensive as I have come to expect from casinos.

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping Jackpot Gambling

We then made a shot hop to Wells, NV (LWL) for fuel. Departing Wells to the east took us over Wendover and the salt flats. What a huge area this is!! Amazing after being in the rugged mountains for several days.

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping Salt Flats

Another stop at Richfield, UT (RIF) and then home!  As usual, flying over southern Utah and New Mexico during the heat of the afternoon is a sure recipe for a bumpy flight.  Even at 12,500′, we were bounced around.  The sites over southern Utah are always spectacular.

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Utah Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Descending to into Mid Valley was like walking into a blow torch – HEAT!  I flew the entire return using full throttle and lean of peak (barely) operation.  The reduction in fuel consumption was quite noticeable putting me at between 6.2 and 6.5 gallons per hour at approximately 150 kts ground speed – this is down about 1 gph at the same speed.  The engine is not exactly smooth but it is tolerable.

The trip was as spectacular and enjoyable as always. I am very thankful for a safe trip and fine running equipment.

Carbon Bike Update

I now have approximately one thousand miles on my self-built Chinese carbon bike so I thought an update was in order.

Firstly, I’ve seen some on the net refer to these bikes as a Chinarello, a play on the brand from which the design was obviously taken (Pinarello).  Worth a chuckle, at least to me. :-)

VeloBuild R-028 carbon fiber road bike bicycle buyer beware review

Problems… or not problems:
– Loose spokes.  For many miles, various spokes on the rear wheel kept loosening.  I finally made a pass around the entire wheel tightening and relieving.  This seems to have stopped the issue.
– Derailleur hanger alignment.  A purchased the alignment tool from Park Tool and finally got this right.  I think the episode of breaking the hangar (here) may have bent the derailleur cage.  I did a lot of tweaking trying to get it right and never did until I purchased a new Shimano 105 rear derailleur.  With the hanger properly aligned and the new derailleur, it seems to be right and working very nicely.
– Front derailleur. Regardless of the above, I’m still not entirely happy with the front derailleur operation. Specifically, cross-chained operation is pretty noisy – lots of grinding.  I know not to ride cross-chained but it seems more adjustment is necessary.  I may let the LBS take a crack at this.
– Clicking noise.  Fighting an intermittent clicking noise.  It is only annoying to me. It seems to be two quick clicks and then a bit of silence, constantly repeating.  If I stop pedaling for a moment, it stops for several minutes.  I originally suspected the drive train but have now tightened my cleats, crank, spokes, rear quick release, and most everything I can find.  If it doesn’t stop soon, I’ll have to conclude that it is something in the cassette or free hub.
– Seat post slippage.  After several adjustments, I think it is now staying in place.  When it slips again, I’ll get and use some carbon assembly compound which appears to be the correct solution from my research.
– Headset slop. The shim solution that I implemented for the play in my headset turned out to be a bad idea.  A large amount of creaking started during my last ride (lots of climbing) and I decided to take it apart for another look.  Some water had gotten in there, caused some corrosion, and that was causing the creaking noises.  After removing the shim, I was able to tighten the headset and eliminate the slop that had previously existed.  I do not know why I was unable to do this previously but can guess that I didn’t have sufficient adjustment space with the steerer tube spacers??  I dunno…
– The 110cm stem that I ordered with the frame proved to be too long and had me stretched out.  A carbon 90cm replacement was ordered and installed.  This was a good change. In addition to a better, more comfortable fit, this seems to have livened up the steering a bit.
– Loosening fasteners.  This may simply be a fact of life with carbon, I’m not sure. I’ve had numerous fasteners loosen over time – particularly the stem.  It seems a once-per-month check is in order.
– Broken spokes.  Two separate times, I’ve felt a pop from the rear wheel and found a spoke broken at the hub end.  The first time I was able to ride home, the second time I had to get a ride. I am fairly certain this is due to damage that the spokes received when the rear derailleur got hung up in them (here).  What is somewhat interesting is that it happened some 800 miles after the initial event and both spokes broke during the same week.

I am still very impressed with the weight.  I actually got around to putting her on a quality scale.  With self-healing tubes, puncture resistant tires, bicycle computer/sensor, and LED front/rear lights; she weighs exactly 18.2 pounds.

I am also still in love with how much road buzz/shock she absorbs for me and makes the ride so much more comfortable.  I’m still a happy camper/builder/cyclist!

Idaho Backcountry 2014 – Part 2

Note: This is part 2 of this trip. Part 1 is here.

Arriving in the Idaho backcountry is always a thrill for me.  The beauty is simply unbelievable and the rush of landing at these airstrips – even Johnson Creek (which is a pretty mild place) gets the blood pumping.

Idaho Backountry Camping Flying Vans RV-3

Our arrival at went smoothly and there weren’t too many folks there yet for the weekends event we picked a reasonably good camping spot on the west side of the runway.

It never takes too long to setup camp and after a long day of hiking and flying, I was bushed!  Early to bed and I slept like a baby.  Thankfully, it did not get very cold.

Friday morning came quickly and we made an early departure from Johnson Creek.  The plan was to head north but rain showers laid waste to our plans.  Instead, we went east and took at a look at Mile High on our way to Flying B.

Idaho Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

I really enjoy the Flying B Ranch!  Landing along the river on the gorgeous green grass runway buried deep down in the mountains is spectacular!  This landing was exciting as ever due to the number of aircraft parked at the south end of the runway.  Here we were fed a great breakfast and bought some keepsakes from the gift shop.

Idaho Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Departing to the south took us over Lower Loon (C53) on the way to Upper Loon (U72).  We landed at Upper Loon but, do to my friends concern with a starter problem, we just spun around took off.  The approach to Upper Loon is a very kewl – it up stream in a very pretty wash that has a huge chunk of granite sticking out of the side.  You aim to be right beside the mid-point of this granite protrusion which will put you right on glide slope.  The departure takes you right past this rock.  Lots of fun!!

We then landed at Thomas Creek (2U8) and shutdown.  Indian Hot Springs are not too far of a hike up the river so off we went.  This hike really wasted my feet.  The blisters that developed the day before really went wild today.  I eventually fell behind and never did make it to the hot springs.  I limped back to the plane in a fair amount of pain.  That was the end of hiking on this trip – a big disappointment.  For those interested in this hike, you simply start hiking up the road from the building at the south end of the runway.  After crossing the bridge, take an immediate left onto a foot path that follows the edge of the river upstream.  The hot springs are just after a spot where the trail is semi-difficult to follow (lots of rocks) and is right at the waters edge.

Idaho Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

Idaho Backcountry Johnson Creek Vans RV-3 Camping

From Thomas Creek, we departed to the west and landed at McCall for fuel.  We arrived back at Johnson Creek at a relatively late 4pm.  I took some time to nurse my poor feet.  Draining the blisters and cleaning them up helped relieve the pain.

Friday night is the dinner at which we were treated to Brats. One of the reasons we love this event is not having to worry about bringing much food since two dinners are provided and breakfast isn’t too hard to find at nearby airstrips.  Thanks very much to the folks that provided the fixin’s and were doing the preparation!

… to be continued.

Road Ride – TORGV

The 2014 “Tour of the Rio Grande Valley” (TORGV) was recently held in Albuquerque and I decided to give it a whirl.  I’m glad I did!

Not knowing anyone makes these types of events very difficult for me to get involved with. In spite of that, I forced myself to give it a shot. After all, you’ll never meet anyone if you don’t engage, right??

The TORGV rolls from the north side of Albuquerque to far south of Belen.  I elected to take the sixty mile route which had me turning around at Los Lunas and very near my home.  Someday, I’m going to do the 100 mile ride but not this week.

Lance Armstrong stage 18 2009 Tour de France cycling metric centuryThe route was well marked and there were several aid/refreshment stations.  It was somewhat surprising to me but there are a BUNCH of SAG vehicles along the route.  I had a puncture at about the twenty mile point. One vehicle had stopped nearly as soon as I got stopped, another was there within five minutes.  Of course, the riders are all very nice and many asked if I had what I needed to make the repair.  I did and the tube change went very quickly, I was back on the road in no time.

Leaving Albuquerque early in the morning was very enjoyable.  Riding back into town close to noon was not quite so enjoyable.  The automobile traffic had really picked up – I am just not a big fan of riding with cars.  The organizers did a good job with a route that avoids the busiest roads but occasionally one must just deal with it.  In spite of all that, I still missed a couple of turns and added a couple miles to my total.

I am pleased to report a moving time of 3:48 and a 16 mph average (for 60 miles).  Not quite at the pro level but far better than the 12 mph average for two miles that I started with a couple years ago!

Thank you to the TORGV organizers!!  You did a great job with the event and I really enjoyed the ride!

Idaho Backcountry 2014 – Part 1

My annual trek to the Idaho backcountry is something that I really look forward to. This year, the plan was pretty much the same as previous years. An RV-4 friend and I (me in my RV-3) would motor up north and spent a few days exploring the beauty of the Idaho backcountry as well as exploring the fantastic flying opportunities that are available due to the work of the fabulous aviation community that exits there.

To mix it up a bit, we decided to fly to Bryce Canyon, Utah (BCE) and hike for a few hours as part of the trip up north.  I had never been to Bryce Canyon and it is a spectacular place.

Of course, the flight over is mighty spectacular as well! Flying over the Carrizo Mountains, Canyon De Chelly National Monument, and Lake Powell is something that will NEVER be forgotten!!

Idaho Backcountry Vans RV-3 Flying Camping

Idaho Backcountry Vans RV-3 Flying Camping

Idaho Backcountry Vans RV-3 Flying Camping

Idaho Backcountry Vans RV-3 Flying Camping

Idaho Backcountry Vans RV-3 Flying Camping

We took the hotel shuttle from the airport to town and then jumped on the park shuttle to Bryce Point.  We then hiked the rim of the canyon to Sunset Point.  There, we dropped into the canyon and hiked the Queens Garden Trail.  This took us to the Sunrise Point where we jumped on a shuttle back to the hotel.  My new boots were really messing with my feet and, once again, I developed several blisters.  Ugh! Really frustrating.

Bryce Canyon National Park Hike Hoodoo

Bryce Canyon National Park Hike Hoodoo

Bryce Canyon National Park Hike Hoodoo

Bryce Canyon National Park Hike Hoodoo

Getting back to the airport was very quick and easy – thanks to the shuttle folks!  After departing Bryce Canyon, we flew to Gooding, Idaho for fuel. From there, onward to Johnson Creek (3U2) via Smiley Creek (U87).   During this leg of the flight, I was experimenting with power settings and think I found a new mode of operation (high-ish altitude cruise).  Leaving full throttle and leaning allows me to run lean of peak – not possible with partial throttle.  I was able to stay in cruise formation by use of mixture to vary the rpm/power.  Fuel consumption dropped way off while running in this fashion.

To be continued….

Kayaking at Night

Last week was a full moon and I just happened to be near a lake.  What else could I do!?!?  I had to give night kayaking a try.

Was it fun??  Check out these photos.

Necky Manitou Kayak Dark Full Moon Bluewater night

Note: For the review of the above Stohlquist PFD, see here.

Necky Manitou Kayak Dark Full Moon Bluewater night

Necky Manitou Kayak Dark Full Moon Bluewater night

Necky Manitou Kayak Dark Full Moon Bluewater night

Necky Manitou Kayak Dark Full Moon Bluewater night

Necky Manitou Kayak Dark Full Moon Bluewater night

It was an absolute blast and thing of beauty.  Seeing the sun set from the water is always great.  The water was still and smooth. I don’t usually stay up very late at night but this is one event for which I will happily change my routine. It was a wonderful experience that I will most certainly be repeating in the future!

There are no real requirements for a kayak on the water at night, at least that I could find.  The USCG recommends a flashlight “at the ready”.  So, I had one at the ready.  My friend had a couple small strobe lights that he attached to his PFD which I thought was an excellent idea.  Otherwise, using common sense and simply being safe is the bomb.  Obviously, I would not try this on a lake or waterway that has a lot of power boat traffic.