Sunday, December 11, 2011

December's Essence

Fancy title for a blog post.  But after this weekend I'm thinking about the essential definition of December - cold.  This weekend we finally had the ground freeze, with temps in the low teens Friday and Saturday night.  I guess we're really lucky to have had such good weather so far (virtually no snow yet) but the temps are starting to lower and the inevitable is sneaking up on us.

I took off the cervical collar for good last week on Monday.  My neck was pretty sore at first, after 6 weeks of relying on the collar for support.  But after three or four days of wearing it an hour on and an hour off the strength returned enough that I felt comfortable without it.  So now I have another medical appliance to put up in the top of the closet with the rest of the collection.

I'd hoped to get out on my bike this weekend.  Saturday afternoon I had a little bit of time, and despite the 35 degree temperatures I thought I'd go for a short ride.  I got my helmet and pack together and went out to get on the bike.  I rode about 3 feet before it was obvious something was wrong with it.  I'd checked it out a day or two after I got out of the hospital and thought it was fine.  I must have been pretty heavily medicated to make that judgement, though I didn't actually get on the bike at that time.  But now that I got on it I could tell that I bent the hell out of the front fork.  The tire was way up under the handlebars, making it nearly impossible to steer, and my toes would hit the front tire when my pedal stroke brought them to the front.  So now I have four bikes in the garage and basement and every single one of them is broken.  I'm going to get at least one of them in the shop this week so that I can ride next weekend.

Kenny and I were on our own this week for trail work  - not another person showed up.  Of course it was 22 degrees, so that might have had something to do with it.  Anyway we decided to try to dig up some more rocks from our little cache in the gully.  We added another half dozen good sized rocks, mostly around 150 - 200 pounds, but with one backbuster that had to be at least 300 pounds.  We also rigged up the block and tackle to see if we could use it to help haul the rocks up the embankment.  It took a lot more effort than I'd hoped, and didn't work that well.  But if we can't come up with a better way to move them it will have to do.  I'll have to check with Bernie and see if he has a come along - that may be a better solution.

I went out to West Branch to walk around on Friday and on Sunday, and I went and did trail work on Saturday and on Sunday.  Then I went for a nice brisk 4.5 mile hike with my brother down Hell's Hollow in McConnells Mill State Park over by New Castle, PA.  It's just so good to be out of that damned collar, and I'm so glad to have been able to recover in two months from such a scary event.  I hope to be able to return to my previous habits, riding and paddling whenever I get the chance, but right now I'm still on the rebound and need to get body and mind together and ready to hit it again.  I hope to get a bike out on either the trail or road by next weekend.

Ten days till the winter solstice - and then the days start getting longer again.  That's always a major psychological thing for me - to see more daylight coming each day.  Of course it's also the first day of winter, so the bad weather is still mostly ahead.  But that's usually not too bad, and we seem to manage to find a way to have fun.

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