Called Up to the Big Leagues! (Officially a Medical Outcast)

After 2 full years trying to diagnose and treat my heart so it provides blood, oxygen, and beats normally, I finally received a definitive conclusion from my cardiologist.

Dr. I Don't No

Dr. I Don’t No

Actually my cardiologist is awesome and he does know. But what he thinks I need, cannot be done in his hospital… or many others for that matter.

Turns out, an epicardial ablation has only been around for about 6-8 years at most. This means that there are only a handful of doctors who have done it, and an even more selective number who are considered ‘experts’. Thankfully, I’m only 90 minutes away from (as I learned) one of the best hospitals in the US [Edit: THE best, according to many], and one of the few doctors worldwide who have successfully done this procedure and has been published in medical journals and books numerous times on the topic. So all my cardiologist could say was (effectively) “I know what needs to be done. I can’t do it, but we know a guy who can”. One might think getting cardio surgery in the rural venue of Bangor, Maine would be something out of a Steven King novel, but I actually had a great experience.

Bangor native Stephen King's Misery.

Bangor native Stephen King’s Misery.

The way that this heart condition works is that you have rule out the “easy fixes” first, before attempting the bigger fish. So we ruled out the easy fix not once, not twice, but three times… and the doctor(s) in Bangor were first-class. I heard stories about 2 or 3 hour procedures where the doctor gave up. Not here. If I remember correctly, my three procedures were 6hrs, 6:30hrs, and 8:30hrs in duration. These guys hunted and fired as much as they could. Lots of respect and applause for that. However, at the tipping point they had to say it was time to get called up to the big leagues. Although Maine is fairly rural, the medical mecca of Boston is just 90 minutes away.
Mass General Hospital

Mass General Hospital

I drove down to Boston for my 2pm appointment not really knowing what to expect, other than I’d be meeting with a cardio guru – one of the best in the world at treating this kind of arrhythmia – so I wasn’t sure to bow, nod, curtsy, or pledge allegiance when meeting him. Maybe it was the drive, or the build-up, but I as uncharacteristically quiet. I let him thumb through the data, charts, and summaries of my previous 3 surgeries and numerous tests as I felt they were more scientific than any utterance that emanated my from my mouth.

Then he said, “I don’t know. Still something tells me that this is endocardial.”

You may remember that endocardial is burning the heart from the inside, something that has been done 3x already.
He then added, “Because I’m afraid you might not be educable [into V-Tach] under general anesthesia, and based on these charts, it might be possible that it could be cured with an endocardial ablation.”

After spending 6 days in the hospital and 3 surgeries for endocardial ablations, I tried to respond (will all due respect as I don’t know even 0.01% of what he knows)… and without rolling my eyes… or shouting, “Come ON!”

So with respect, I just paused for a while and tried to think of what my cardiologist in Bangor would want me to say:

Me: “Yes, you could. However, I feel I need to say that a big effort was made in my 3 prior procedures. Each ablation was over 6 hours and the final ablation was 8.5 hours and they could not correct the arrhythmia.”

I realized that 6hrs+ for a simple endocardial ablation is not typical (I saw many accounts online with people saying it took 3-4hrs) and then the 2nd lasting 7hrs and a third at 8.5hrs… someone had to say that…

I Wondered if I offended the guru with typical patient idiocy caused by too many Google searches and WebMD.com page views. But, it’s hard to judge another hospital or doctor unless it’s your own facility or your own hands doing the work. I’m a perfectionist too at certain things so I get it. Picking up on this fact, I tried to convey the extreme lengths that the cardiology ward at EMMC made leading me to his office. It’s probably not the best way to make friends… but at this stage making friends wasn’t the point.

He picked up his pen and scribbled down “8 1/2 hrs”, sat back. and took a deep breath and was silent for a while. He then flipped through the stack of charts for the 5th time like a comic book flip-pad.

Dr: “Ok, so I think we can do epicardial but I would like to try endocardial first, incase you are not inducible and then switch if needed. We will need all-day.”
Me: “Sounds like a plan.”
Dr: “I would like to see a Cardiac MRI though to get a good picture of your heart, to see any scarring or abnormalities.”
Me: “Yes I had a Cardiac MRI, it’s not in your folder? Perhaps I can have it sent over…”
Dr: “What were the results?”
Me: “Just that structurally everything look great. I even specifically asked about scarring and they said they found none.” (I read a medical study about endurance athletes who tend to have cardiac scarring which can lead to complications when combined with other factors). “But I only get the watered down patient version, so that’s all I know.”
Dr: “I would like it done here. We have a guy who can take images that few people in US can.”

The MRI lab looked exactly like the lab in my city with the familiar white MRI machine made by GE. It look similar to the MRI here:

GE Open Mri

GE Open Mri

Then the MRI guru walked in and started saying the same exact things I heard before.
“Yup, Yep, Ok, Sure, Yes.” It was basically the same. Until he said,

MRI Dr: “So you’ll be lying on your stomach the entire time.”

Last time I was on my back, and simply had to hold by breath for 20 seconds at a time, then recover and do it again. For about 1 hour. I’ve never been able to lie on my chest… it just feels like a slow suffocation to me. There were other differences with this MRI, or at least the patient setup. One was that they had a device that measured my breathing… or at least the volume that my chest was inhaled or exhaled at.

They also did a better job explaining that the MRI would only take pictures when my heart wasn’t beating. This may seem like a small detail, but active people like cyclists, this is when your low heart rate comes back to haunt you. If you have a waking HR of 60bpm, no big deal… simply hold your breath for 30-35 seconds while 20 – 30 images are taken. But for those in the 38-45 hr zone, prepare to hold your breath for 37-47 seconds. Combine the fact that I (for some reason) am the worst breath holder in history of adolescent pool games with the fact that lying on my chest constricts my breathing and heart beating… and well…

MRI Dr: “If you have a slower HR, this could take longer than an hour since we need to get the all the images required.”
MRI Dr: “And I cannot stress enough how important it is to not move at all during the session. If you move 1cm, we will need to recalibrate and start over.”

Inside the small white tube with the knocking and banging about done by the MRI I am usually fine. But I start to freak out whenever I hold my breath. How much longer? Will I burst out in need of breath? Is it over? Now? How about now? Oh geez, what if I exhale an screw the whole thing up!”

It’s funny how being in an enclosed space with the simple repetitive instructions of “Inhale, Exhale, Inhale… and hold!” over and over and over 100x has an effect on your psyche. I was having trouble with the breath holding so I tried to focus on a “happy place” I guess, although I didn’t intend to.

I know that being locked down in a small claustrophobic area is makes the time pass slowly but nearing the end I was thinking that this might be going over the 1 hour mark. I began to dream less and focus on the machine more. Noticing how it only took images when my heart wasn’t beating. Often my heart would skip a beat, prolonging the entire process and wasting precious seconds my inept breath-holding capacity.

Finally, I was backed out of the MRI tube and was told it was over. After several minutes of untangling wires, IV’s and other equipment I had to ask:

“I know time doesn’t pass quickly in there, but it seemed longer than 1 hour?” I said.
The technician simply smiled and said “Yes”.
Me: “So… how long WAS it?”
Technician: “2.5 hours”…

New PR for me for lying on my chest for sure. And I didn’t move 1 cm… and have the bed & wire chest wrinkles to prove it.

Bed Wrinkles Hall of Fame

Bed Wrinkles Hall of Fame

Posted in Heart Arrhythmia | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fixing the Pump… 2eme Etape: Focusing, Fidgeting, and Fiats

Last we left off, the process of a simple cardio ablation was covered and although it’s an amazing procedure pioneered in the last 20 years or so, it really is a simple procedure for the patient. If you’re reading this blog and fretting about your first ablation, don’t be. You’ll be up and at ’em in no time. This post will focus on what happens after the surgery and you get up and at ’em, but you heart is still “broken”.

I had heard it was possible to experience arrhythmia shortly after and ablation. After all, it’s not used to being burned from the inside. I took it very easy after the ablation, but did a short hike with the Mrs. & the puppy about 5 days later (I got dropped). About 10 days after the surgery I tried riding the bike indoors with my Tacx Genius. After 1 minute 50 seconds I went into full V-Tach with my heart rate skyrocketing over 210bpm. A few days later I tried again, this time lasting about 4 minutes into the San Sebastian ride before I went from 120bpm to 210bpm. I stopped immediately , put away the trainer, took a shower, got dressed, and did some work on the computer but I was still in V-Tach around 220bpm for 90 minutes.
Tacx Session
After this episode, I decided to try the beta-blocker my doctor prescribed as a preventive. I tried the trainer again and actually got a full 2hr+ ride in. However, no matter how hard I pushed, my heart rate was usually around 100bpm and if I really suffered I could get it up to around 120bmp. I ended the trainer session not from fatigue or demotivation but from bordom. Even though my wattage was fine, the subdued heart rate also subdued all those great hormones that make you feel good about exercising. Turning the pedals never felt like such pointless work.

Still thankful that I can remain active I tried riding the Tacx trainer again on beta-blockers. The result was the same but I was prepared for the sensation. I struggled to hit 100bpm. Then suddenly I went into V-Tach at 210bpm… while on beta-blockers! It’s my opinion that all good things in life happen between 100 and 200bpm so skipping over the good stuff is… well… again pointless. So I stopped taking beta blockers. They didn’t stop the V-Tach, and without them I could at least ride for a small amount time in a normal HR range.

The second ablation was approaching in late February, about 14 weeks after the first ablation. The cardiologist cited that the combination of being conservative and discovering that my “athlete heart” was a little larger than he assumed meant that he would be a bit more aggressive and informed this time around. I learned a few tricks after the first ablation as well. I had no problems with the incision on my right leg and felt fine throughout… except for one thing. The worst part for me was the urinary catheter. As soon as I woke up I was wide-eye and beging for it’s removal. I learned that lesson and tried to be a dehydrated as possible going into the procedure this time. Wise? Healthy? Probably not. But they do tell you not to eat or drink after 7pm the night before anyway, so whats a few more hours of fluid abstinence? The other improvement on the second procedure was that my cardiologist learned the nuances of my arteries. Apparently, he struggled during the first procedure to enter the artery in my right leg because it was so small (sounds bad right?, but I guess it’s typical with younger folks and active people and probably isn’t bad) and the second challenge was that the artery and surrounding area was constricted by the large amount of muscle mass in the upper thigh (Sartorius and most likely the Abductor Logus) The incision point was quite swollen and bruised after the first surgery as a result.leg-presses

For the second surgery, I arrived promptly at 5:30am and by 7:30am I was checked in, changed up, vitals checked, and transported to the cardiology waiting room. This is an interesting room at 7:30am because it’s a line-up of “Who’s Who” for heart operations during that day. In this hospital, there were about 7 bays occupied out of 8 total and the room was buzzing with interns, nurses, and other staff in the medical hierarchy that I’m not familiar. “Buzzing” is the right word because at 7:30am, they just got in no less than 30 minutes ago and have plenty of caffeine in their systems. I think I counted 30 blue-robed staff people for the 7 of us with busted hearts waiting for our mechanics. Who doesn’t have caffeine in their system? Me for one. Nor anything else. I was getting sleepy on the gurney in the cold room. I was the first arrival and got plenty of attention but once a nurse who was doing either paperwork or vitals said “You might want to take a nap, I’ve never seen a cardiologist get in here before 8:30am”. I had only slept a few hours the night before so the proposition was intriguing, but not congruent with my “let’s do it!” inner voice. I counted ceiling tiles.

My cardiologist is a really great guy and a fantastic doctor who had a few tricks up his sleeve for the second time around. He upgraded our OR to a different lab with different equipment and different computers. It was apparent when two new nurses (one with some experience teaching the other) how to administer the stickers on my chest. The stickers are for the mapping process and software to capture a real-time 3D view of the heart. During the first procedure I had 4 or 5 stickers, each about the size of a hand on my chest. This time… mega-stickers! There wasn’t a centimeter on my chest that didn’t say “3M”. #Sponsored. The larger stickers were used on the new upgraded OR mapping system. Things were different this time around.

I was then introduced to the young anesthesiologist with a southern twang and her side-kick as well as a half a dozen other nurses and technicians. I was losing track of names and even the count of the number of people that I was introduced to. At around 7:45am, my cardiologists arrives and extends a handshake. He’s outdoing himself by 45 minutes according to the pessimistic nurse but I expected him about now. We chatted for a while and then it was game time. I was wheeled out of the bullpen and on the way to the big show… and that’s all I know.

I awoke at around 3:30pm. My first thought… urinary catheter… none! Success!! Well, I did my little part anyway. Even after being awake for 30 seconds, I feel completely fine and together. Then I notice a projectile coming my way! My mom is sitting next to me and immediately thrusts a phone in my face after dialing a number. I put my ear to it. It’s ringing. My wife answers. In the conversation I say it’s done, I’m fine, feel ok and I’ll Skype her later when I get into my room. At least that’s what I think the phone call was about because 1 hour later I don’t remember talking to my wife. #Anesthesia

The incision on my upper thigh which they used to gain access into the heart was much better than before. It was clear that the cardiologist had adapted to my “weird” legs and arteries. To this date, he’s the only one who’s ever used the words “large amount of muscular mass” when referring to my legs.

I’m roomed in the cardio ward with another gentleman, about 82 years old. I have trouble sleeping just like the first stay but this time I brought earplugs and asked for some weak over-the-counter sleep aid (such as Tylenol PM). Still restless, I struggle with the IV in both my elbows, impeding on my slumber-style. Just when I start to doze off, a crash-cart rumbles into the room to take vitals on my roommate. Every 45 minutes. Finally, around 4am, I fall into the ..best …sleep ….ever.

1 minute later, I awake immediately with a jolt! My whole body is shaking… because the nurse is shaking me!
Nurse: “Are you OK?”
Me with bleary-eyes: “Yes… ahh, … yeah.. sleeping. That’s all.”
Nurse sounding very alert: “Well we noticed your heart rate was very low!” She starts to take vitals from the familiar crash cart.
Me: “Oh?”
Nurse: “Yes, 41”
Me: [raised eyebrow]
Nurse: “And.. it just went even lower to 37!”
Me: “Yup. 41 is normal, I’ve never taken my pulse sleeping but 37 doesn’t seem far off”
Nurse: “Oh…. Ok, we’ll keep watching it then.”

I never did get back to sleep fully.
Breakfast came around 7am and I felt fantastic. It was like I had been driving around a beat-up old Fiat and someone decided to upgrade the engine to a Lamborghini overnight. Everything was smooth! I didn’t realize how run-down I felt the past 2 years until that morning. My cardiologist arrived and said the procedure was long (about 7hrs) but at the very end they tried to stress my heart into V-Tach by pumping me with adrenaline for 45 minutes (that’s much longer than they usually do) and it worked perfectly.
However, as we know from before, the truth with cardiac ablations is not fully known until the weeks after.

We shook hands and I went home. Zoom, Zoom!

The next day, I was a Fiat.

Up next, 3eme Etape…

Posted in Heart Arrhythmia | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fixing the Pump to Drink from the Well… (a primer)

I’ve always thought health stories are a bit of taboo, like an old lady telling you about her bunions or gall bladder – it’s not a necessary or a desired story that most want to hear. However, I have found other blogs that depict the situation I’m in and have been thankful that they shared the information. Ironically, this cyclist has such a similar path to my own that it’s a bit eerie (although his is much more involved and complicated than my situation thus far). At the very least, finding and correcting this issue will lead to much more activity on this blog… which as you probably know has recently sounded more like a field of cigales rather than a flurry of freewheels.

After going to the cardiologist, I was given an “Event Monitor” which you connect to 2 electrode stickers on your chest. When you feel a heart arrhythmia, you press the button and it records 30 seconds before you pressed the button (constant 30 second buffer on the SSD drive) and then another 30 seconds after. I headed out on a few bike rides and tried to catch a few episodes:
HeartrakSmart

Here is what a normal ECG should be with a normal heart rhythm:
NORMAL EKG
__________________________
When my doctor handed me my ECG I actually mistook it for an old Calculus 3 cheat sheet:
IMG3

There are not a lot of ECG images like this online so I’m happy to share if it helps someone.

The sensation is quite unsettling. It usually starts with a missed beat or breath while exercising and after that, it’s off to the races! You feel a bit annoyed or anxious and in my case, the heart pumps such that you can easily see it just by looking at my chest, even if I’m wearing several layers of clothing and a very thick ski sweater. If I’m riding the bike, my heart rate monitor immediately ignores the rhythm and dismisses it as noise or some other technical problem since a heart rate above 210 bpm isn’t possible under normal circumstances. Sometimes, I’ll feel a flutter and hope that it’s just a little cardiac bump in the road, but then I’ll look down at my Garmin and it simply displays ” – – ” confirming that my heart rate is now somewhere above 200bpm. At this point, my power output drops from comfortably spinning out 300 watts to suffering at 40 watts in a matter of 1-2 seconds. This phenomenon is called Ventricular Tachycardia (or “V-Tach” if you want to sound cool).

You might think that with the heart beating so fast, the blood and oxygen being circulated through your system would be impressive. However, V-Tach beats are so fast that the heart does not allow enough time to properly fill with blood, so it’s pumping away with abandon while hardly moving any blood at all. Some people become very dizzy at this point but in my case it just feels like you took a sip of wine. Probably something strong like a nice white from the village of Beaumes-de-Venise which was the start line for

The Start in Beaumes-de-Venise

The Start in Beaumes-de-Venise

this ride.

My V-Tach episodes can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 90 minutes. For me, the 10 second bouts are insignificant and the 2 minute episodes are the most typical. I’m usually very happy with a 2 minute V-Tach run because it just requires a quick stop and then I can resume riding (or whatever I was doing) after that. It’s the 20-90 minute V-Tach runs that are really no fun. Standing around that long at 200bpm in an agitated state while you get cold and your muscles bathe in an ocean of lactic acid isn’t intolerable, but I can think of better things I’d like to be doing.

So what really is going on here?

After visiting the cardiologist, my case looks very classical and surprisingly common for people in their late 20’s to late 30’s. I was diagnosed with RVOT-VT, a type of Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) which originates on the Right Ventricular Outflow Track (RVOT) of the heart. This leads to the question that just about everyone says to themselves after the doctor sits you down with any diagnosis:

“Geez, what is that?”
“All these acronyms can’t be good.”
“I wonder what I did wrong?
“I bet it was that apple I ate yesterday that I forgot to wash before eating it. Stupid, stupid.” (facepalm)
“… or what if I ate the sticker!”

Turns out, RVOT-VT has no known cause and is ideopathic. It’s not genetic. It’s nothing you did, or didn’t do. To understand what’s happening, you have remember that biology class you had in grade school that you actually spent gazing out the window and doodling pictures in your notebook. Normally, with each heartbeat, an electrical signal spreads from the top of your heart to the bottom. As it travels, the electrical signal causes your heart to contract and pump blood. The process repeats with each new heartbeat. The problem with Ventricular Tachycardia is that a small spot in the heart misbehaves. It thinks it should be running the show, telling the heart when to beat. So now the heart is getting TWO signals telling it when to beat. It’s the biological equivalent of the current situation in Washington. The end result is complete gridlock, nothing gets done, but it sure looks like it’s trying hard.

So How Does It Get Fixed? Do Nothing? A Filibuster?

The protocol for “fixing” RVOT-VT is actually proactive with a catheter ablation procedure. Since all blood vessels are basically roads to the heart, the doctor generally selects a large vessel such as one in your upper thigh or arm uses it like a highway to the heart with several flexible catheters being pushed through until they finally arrive inside the heart. One catheter has a special electromagnetic tip and is used to first create a 3D image of the side of the heart that it’s in (Right or Left). Here are some images I stole from a few different internets:

Ablation Mapping

Ablation Mapping

1-s2.0-S1547527108006231-gr2

Next, (I’m not 100% sure on the order here or if my info is correct) but as I understand it, you are pumped full of adrenaline to try and trigger a V-Tach episode. The sensor can then report back to the computer mapping system which spot in the heart was sending the bad signal… it’s like purposely sending the children outside unsupervised to see which kid is the bully. The image created is like a heat map, with red being the area where the little bugger is hiding out.

Once the red spot is found, the doctor uses another catheter with a special radiofrequency tip that can burn the heart tissue if it comes in contact with it. I’m not exactly sure how the doctor is able to position this flexible string-like catheter in the exact spot, but eventually he does and once in position with the right pressure, he burns the heart tissue in that area to kill it. On the 3D map, these show up as little pink spots. Here’s my map, you’ll notice the misbehaving red area and the pink polka-dots where the catheter burned the heart tissue:
3D Electroanatomical Heart Map

IMG-sm

Typically the surgery lasts 4-8 hours depending on the patient. After it’s done, you have to stay in the hospital overnight for monitoring. To keep a close eye on your heart rhythm, they place 6 electrodes or leads on your chest, connected to a big beige brick and stick it in the pocket of your fashionable hospital gown.
DSC_0844Meanwhile, down the hall there is what looks to be a computer lab with a few people gazing into several computer screens for 24 hours straight, watching real-time ECG output of every patient on the floor. And boy are they quick when something goes wrong! I’ll talk more about this when I get into the specifics of my experience.

So that is the general idea.
Catheter Ablation, however, is not 100% effective. Just about any overview of the procedure will say “some people who have the procedure may need to have it done again. This can happen if the first procedure doesn’t fully correct the problem.”

And that’s where we’ll pick up next time.

Posted in Heart Arrhythmia | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Post-Op Relaxing

Turns out, overnight at the cardiology ward isn’t half bad:

Nurse: “Would you like some more water?”
Me: “Yes, please”
Nurse: (Looking at the waterbottle full of ice) “Would you like it mixed with anything?”
Me: “You mean you have cocktails back there?”

DSC_0836 - Version 2
Currently, my roommate and I are checking if the small ledge outside the hospital window secretly opens up into rooftop patio with sunset view.

I just hope the next doc doesn’t come in and ask me when was the last time I had something to drink.

Could get awkward.

Posted in Heart Arrhythmia | Leave a comment

Post Pre-Op Cruising

After a pre-op on Friday and the 3rd (and hopefully final) heart surgery on Monday, it was nice to escape on a long solo 100 mile ride to collect thoughts, or lack there-of.
P1030789

P1030791

P1030797

P1030812

P1030818

DSC_0792

Posted in Heart Arrhythmia, Maine, Ride Reports | 1 Comment

If Cycling Had A “Blue Screen Of Death”, This Is What It Would Look Like…

HR Data

HR Data... 1st green spike (climb) is l'Hourquette d'Ancizan, 2nd: Col du Tourmalet, 3rd: Col d'Aspin


This is my HR (red), altitude (green), and time (x-axis) data from the sportive in the Pyrenees. You may notice that everything seems nice and familiar until about 7 minutes into the climb up Tourmalet when the HR data hits the floor (around 20bpm) which obviously isn’t right. I remember the moment. I caught a group of good cyclists at the base of the climb and even felt good enough to think I could continue passing them… as I pulled to the left a sudden malaise came over me and I immediately knew that within 2 pedal strokes I’d be going a very different speed. Windows has their “Blue Screen” but I’d actually equate it more to Macintosh OS X crash where things pause for 1 second, then the screen slowly turns to black from top to bottom, then you get a nice message in Chinese, English, and German that basically, this game is over.
Screen of Death

Mac OS X Screen of Death


I managed to pull back all efforts and arrive at the top, crushed and dejected. Even a 20 minute descent wasn’t enough to get a reading on my HR which was still producing strange readings (205-220bpm) but it actually was accurate. At some point during the flat section on the way to Col d’Aspin, things turned back to normal, if you consider riding mountains for the past 90 minutes without cellular oxygen “normal”.
You can re-live the action here: https://waywardcyclist.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/video-from-the-pyrenees/
[Note: This was a draft that was written over a year ago, never published, but might as well]

Posted in Heart Arrhythmia | 1 Comment

Off Course, of course

Off Course, of course

Off Course, of course

Whales need Rehab too, and you should always report a deadbeat dolphin:

“Lights? Very last century. You’ll figure it out.”

Puncture:
Puncture

Puncture:

That’s all I suppose. 8 miles short of a century. :noidea: spring + headwinds = lazy

The highlight of the ride was when a pickup truck misjudged me and pulled out in front on me a 30mph (tailwind).
That pissed me off.
So I Hang on to his tailgate as he sped up from 30mph to 50mph which pissed him off.
The fact that it was a 25mph zone pissed the local police off.
Why does everyone in the US with a pickup and a sticker with the words “Thrush” have to be so weird and sketchy?

Image | Posted on by | 1 Comment

The Addict is Dead. Long Live the Addict.

Addict R4

Addict R4

Power Cordz

Power Cordz

Posted in Equipment & Parts | 2 Comments

Sobering Diagnosis for the Addict

This fall I noticed a small crack starting from the front derailleur tab on my Addict SL. Immediately following the “this isn’t cool” moment, I tried to be optimistic… “it’s just the clear coat” I tried to convince myself. It’s funny how often you see people asking if the crack on their carbon frames are simply clear coat or paint cracks as every instance ultimately points to a structural failure and the death of the frame. It’s never the clear coat.

Bean Boots
I took the bike into L.L. Bean in Freeport, appropriately wearing my new Bean Boots that every new resident is issued during their first Maine winter and ensuing mud-season. I was introduced to Tim who also recently moved to the area.

It wasn’t clear due to the shop counter, but I’m sure he had on his newly issued Bean Boots as well. He took a few sad photos to send to Scott.

Rehabbing at the Shop

Sobering Scene at the Shop

The Addict had about 1.5 years of solid riding before I noticed the crack and started riding the R4. Here’s the Addict SL by the numbers from it’s first ride in February 2010 to October 2011:

Year Distance (mi) Time Ave Speed (mph) Max Speed (mph) Climbing (ft) Descending (ft)
2010 10423.35 mi 601.6 hrs 17.3 mph 51.5 mph 508,479 ft 510,502 ft
2011 8087.95 mi 456.3 hrs 17.7 mph 48.8 mph 447,790 ft 444,286 ft
Total 18,511.3 mi 1057.1 hrs 17.5 mph 51.5 mph 956,269 ft 954,788 ft

The shop contacted Scott’s US distributor who demanded so much documentation, I’m actually thinking an IRS audit would be a nice change of pace. Scott refused each submission, forcing me to dig deeper into what little paperwork I’ve held onto over the years of moving. With the airlines tightening their luggage belts, you’d be amazed at all the stuff you throw out fearing you will be over the 23kg / 50lb limit. I arrived in the US with everything I owned (or that survived my airline cleanse)… 2 suitcases, 2 bike boxes.

Luckily, Westbrook Cycles in the UK was fantastic. They were happy to help me out in looking up my information but Scott US still shook their heads. “We can only give you a HMF frame and it will cost you $1000” was their repeated reply. LLBean suggested that Westbrook help in proving that the frame was purchased from an authorized dealer and followed the correct distribution channels. Paul over at Westbrook was great. A few emails later and it looks like everything will be sorted out and the broken frame does not even need to be sent to the UK… provided we send a photo of the frame cut open with a saw! Gruesome!

At this point, it looks like the replacement will be an Addict RC (also HMX) in the loud yellow/white/black team paint scheme. Not crazy about the color, but it would be great to have something to ride. In case anyone is in this same situation, I inquired about “upgrading” to a Foil (err, FO1L) and they said that was not an option.

Scott Addict RC

Scott Addict RC

Posted in Equipment & Parts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

You call it a Mancave, I call it a Turbo Trainer Theater

Although there is a lot to do when moving into a new house, I finally got some time today to work on the theater.
The new projector (replacing our trusty 6 year old projector that traveled the globe… we never had a tv) arrived as well as the sound system a few weeks ago, but today the exciting part…
The screen!
Assembly certainly was required on this 150″ acoustically transparent screen handmade in Virgina and sent in a compact box via UPS.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 3

Step 4

Step 4

Step 5 (Crescent wrench on floor shown for scale, or I'm just lazy)

720p via YouTube

720p via YouTube over Wi-Fi


Images are directly from YouTube in just 720p quality with the Apple TV. The projector is capable of 1080p when I connect my laptop (which I usually do). Lumix point-n-shoot cameras are not that great at low-light indoor photos, but hopefully you get the idea.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Retrospective: On The Road In…. Les Pyrénées

I received an email the other day for the 2012 rendition of La Pyreneene Cyclosportive and couldn’t help myself from clicking the link. A few clicks later, I found a photo of myself from the 2011 version. It’s a miracle I even made it to the start line that morning in Saint Lary. The day before, I could not open my eyes, I stumbled around the village center, and coddled into bed at every excuse, even wearing sunglasses inside even though I have yet to even visit California, let alone adopt their fashion sense. My face and eyes were swollen such that when I awoke at dawn for the race, I stumbled to the bathroom door and turned the doorknob pleading that I would recognize the vision that awaited in the mirror. It was that bad. My eyes looked as wrinkled as an 80-year old. I felt horrible. I looked worse. I also knew this would be my last cyclosportive in France for a while… the show must go on. Or that is what I said to myself in the mirror when I brushed my teeth while I talked to the stranger on the other side.

I also discovered at 9pm the night before, that my tubulars would only hold air for 1 hour. It was a 6-8 hour ride. A minor detail given my current state. I couldn’t possibly last a full 60 minutes anyway.

At the start line when the gun whet off, I said “I’m going to be in bed in 20 minutes for sure”.

Six hours later I crossed the line. Far from my best, but it was one of those days when you pat yourself on the back for just getting out of bed.

I recorded video of the cyclosportive
, but there are not many pictures of my state that day on my personal camera. But there is 1 photographer who didn’t get the memo… at least I have glasses on!

And if you plan on having 1 allergic reaction in your life, the Pyrenees does provide the distractive backdrop necessary to make you forget about your ailments.

Go ahead and reserve your spot for the 2012 Pyreneene, or… hold fast and get some fitness under your belt until 2013 – that’s what I’m planning! And pack some antihistamine for good measure.

Enjoy the rare opportunity when you see the source of the videos on WC and the lens is flipped on me…

Forging Through The Pyrenees (Climbing the Hourquette d’Ancizan)

Forging Through The Pyrenees (Climbing the Hourquette d’Ancizan)


Forging Through The Pyrenees, Deux

Forging Through The Pyrenees, Deux

Posted in France, Pyrenees, Ride Reports | Leave a comment

Toullie @ The Beach

Toullie @ The Beach
Welcome the newest addition to the WaywardCyclist pack! Introducing Toullie… named after the hard working mountainous city on the French Riviera where her parents used to live (her official name is “Toullie Le Champion du Mont Faron”). The word Thule, Thula, Thila, or Thyïlea – is highlighted in European literature as the area to the far north and more specifically, on the “borders of the known world” in Latin.

Our Toullie is exploratory at heart and sure footed by nature. Who says you can’t do motorpacing intervals on singletrack? With a young gait like this, only time will tell!

Image | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Q: Hey, Where Have You Been?

Arrival in Boston

Arrival in Boston

A:

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to catch up with friends, and extended family….

Hopefully I can fill in some gray areas with bits of color here… It certainly has been a long, long journey for both of us. The organization, paperwork, and red-tape are enough to drain any excitement from the transition. 

I arrived at Logan under a wintery mix of rain and ice but luckily temperatures remained above freezing. For he next 40 minutes I waited and waited.  The sign said “International Arrivals”… the only one in Boston….  other families and people started showing up.  Each with their own story.  Maybe they had a story like ours, I thought. It was so great to see Linda again.  As if nothing had changed.  Together again.  One excitement after another, the next stretch was to drive to our new home… a home we both decided on using Skype, YouTube house tours, etc.  Something that is only possible this day and age…

It was only 5 months ago when I was in her position… being introduced to American culture after 6 years (for me) emerged in our own little European world.  Even being a native to New England, that drive from the airport to Maine was completely crazy.  I was trying to facilitate conversations  but also raising many eyebrows at the strangest things:
A mailbox.  Normal.  Unless you haven’t seen one in several years.
A truck on the highway looks like a farm vehicle without the traditional European “flat front”.
Wide roads.
Weird signs.
Diners.
“Monster” Cars.. SUVs…
“Weird” suburban Boston architecture.
It’s all so strange if you haven’t seen any of it in years. 
We made the short 1:45 trip back home successfully but it was fun seeing her reactions to all the things that I had the same reactions to just a few months earlier.
We’ve spent the last week shopping and making sure we have everything in our new house.
And it only took 7 days until we reserved a puppy to add to the family.
We become ‘parents’ on Wednesday…!
Too much?  Too soon?
Maybe.  But we like like what we’ve seen and what’s to come….

Home, day 1

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hiding in the Woods

Since I’m temporarily homeless now that I’ve arrived in the USA, I’ve decided to lay low until I know where I’ll eventually end up. The jury is still out. In the meantime, there is some mountain biking to summon.

Mountain Biking turned out to be wicked easy.

Of course, getting to this point required a bit of maintenance, albeit surprisingly little:
– Wipe frame and wheels with rag
– Lube chain
– Reflect on a job well done

I think the coated Gore Ride-on cables helped to keep things in tune over the years.
Here are some photos before it got christened:

Homegrown in the Garden

Homegrown in the Garden

Rear End

Rear End

Enlight'ned

Enlight'ned

Posted in Equipment & Parts, Maine, USA | 1 Comment

Garage Archeological Dig Discovery: Schwinn Homegrown Limited

After being away for sometime, I ventured into my parent’s garage and noticed a bike lodged between a lawnmower, an outboard motor, and a decommissioned wood stove… my old mountain bike. It’s been remarkably preserved in the second millennium catacomb as if it were frozen in time from it’s last ride which is estimated to be around the year 2003 based on the carbon dating samples. The bike seems to originate from 2000, a bygone era when some bikes were made in the USA.

Note that what you are about to see is not dirt from the trail, I put the bike away clean… any dirt or artifacts are due to 7-8 years of storage.

I don’t have a photo of it, but my blue Shimano MTB shoes were completely full of pine cone shavings courtesy of the local field mice.

The durable black anodized aluminum does not have a single scratch on it, plenty of dust and spiderwebs though:

I seem to remember that the crank would come loose often. Looks like I’d need to change the chainrings anyway given the state of corrosion. Any recommendations?

Appears to be Gore-Ride on for everything except rear brake

Posted in Equipment & Parts | 4 Comments

On The Road In… The USA!

My 3rd ride in the last 30 days 😦 … Still looking for a place to live in the US… this area doesn’t seem to bad…
Got one of these phones that is “wicked smart” that can take photos too. Since I destroyed 2 Panasonic Lumix cameras recently due to rain and I needed a phone, I decided on a waterproof model. I thought the photos might look like blurry phone photos, but it wasn’t too bad:
Fore River
This basically threw off my plan for the entire day. Great.
Hunting With Shot Gun Only Sign

Maine

Some of the roads around here are so smooth I want to bring my ice skates:
Smooth Roads

Entered some state park along the ocean (Garmin > Where To > Attractions) and did some off-roading, Cyclocross anyone?
Ice Skating Roads

Positively sure I caught some air on the speed bump leading onto the pier, but don’t tell anyone ok?

No Jumping

No Jumping

Posted in Maine, USA | Leave a comment

On the Road in…. ????

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On the Road in… Czech Republic and Germany

Krušné Hory Mountains, Czech Republic

Sheep in CZ

Of course, the major news of the day was the rain. Despite my solid preparation of placing the Panasonic Lumix TZ5 in a plastic bag…. the rain was so hard that I was literally gasping for breath amongst the raindrops. I’m not a very good swimmer, but I feel I’ve improved my technique after this ride. Also when it was too wet to take photos, I took video!!! Bring your wetsuit and I hope to have that uploaded in the coming weeks… stay dry readers!

Posted in Czech Republic, Germany | 2 Comments