1st Lancaster Ride Report: Slow Ride’s Under the Sea Ride

It’s been a little quiet on the Bikeleptic front this year. It’s been a busy freaking year, between transitioning career opportunities, moving across country, stress, anxiety, cycling bouts of depression, manic and otherwise childlike wonder of new experiences; it has been difficult to juggle everything.

Two months into our new lives, things are finally beginning to settle into a routine. I am beginning what may turn into the nightmare that is applying for new healthcare after being without insurance since May.

But if you want to hear more about daily happenings, you can follow us at Carpenter and Weaver.


Greasing the seat post in the hallway

Long story short, it’s been business as usual and I was itching to get out and stretch my legs. Having been digging deep into the local active transportation scene here, I had found a few different groups that did regular rides. Not the deeply developed and intricate calendar system of Portland, Oregon that you basically need and so was thus developed, an app to merge the various cycling events that transpired throughout the area.

Lancaster does have a dedicated group of cyclists. Everything about Lancaster has seemed dedicated and community-orientated.

I found out about Slow Ride Lancaster from Facebook several weeks ago, but because of conflicting errands, the last couple of rides that they have offered just haven’t meshed up. The same thing can be said for the other four or five groups I’ve been following.

Finally I said, no more!


So, I changed my status from “Interested” to “Going” on this Facebook’s event page and stared at our stable of still packed up bikes. Of all my bikes, the easiest ones to prep for the ride the next day was going to be one of my two freak bikes since we didn’t break them down when we packed them. Otherwise it would be scrambling for pedal wrenches in tool chests and making various adjustments that just seemed unnecessary at that moment. Tall bike it was!

I just had to put the seat post back on and turn the handlebars back up, which we had to fold over to fit (barely) into the U-Haul we pulled with the car so we could bring the cat tower and my freak bikes across country while the rest of the steeds rode in the POD.

Foreshadowing; I’ll just tell you now, I didn’t raise the seat high enough and had to stop a little less than a mile away from the house and didn’t have the handlebars tilted far enough forward, having to borrow a multi-tool (because I didn’t have/couldn’t find) my own tool kit before the ride. You definitely know when things aren’t right when you’re riding a ‘tall-bike mile.’

My sound system bucket was a bust. After getting everything charged (which requires two different units plus the iPod) and buying a new 9 volt for the receiver – I also found out that the Apple Driver was broken on my laptop and so I fixed that during my breaks at work and was able to upload some fresh beats. . . at the end of the day, I find out that I am missing the stupid $1 1/4 Inch Male Plug to 1/8 Inch Jack. You know, the thing that I NEED to plug either the bluetooth transmitter or the iPod to the system so it will actually work? I have no cables that will do that. I looked. I looked a lot. I tore a lot of boxes apart over the course of 30 minutes after getting home from work prior to leaving for the ride just “looking” but mostly fuming.

So, I gave up.

Fuck the sound system.

Fuck it!

I left the house in a tizzy, but I got out of the house by myself for the first time since we’ve moved, and that was an accomplishment. About half a mile down the road, my handlebar bag fell off because it wasn’t clipped down all the way. Damn my myalgiasic hands!

New experiment is this bluetooth hearing aid-like earbud I got. Used it to run my directions on my phone, since I had no idea where I was going. It was nice to be able to hear the directions clearly since sometimes when I’m riding I can’t hear my phone when it’s in the map case or my hip bag and because if you’ve been a long time reader, you may have read about my anti-headphone policy. Since I’m in a new place and may be picking up some new traffic, basically it’s that I believe that cyclists should be held to the same standards as drivers and since it’s illegal to wear headphones while driving, I believe that anything that hinders you ability to hear the sounds of the road around you is dangerous. There’s some gray area on that, because some people say that they wear one earbud or that they wear them low enough to hear sounds, etc – but I’ve pulled up to other cyclists enough times to warn them about upcoming hazards and had them not hear me or have to pull out their fucking plugs with my standing next to them. This is all anecdotal of course and if I felt like writing an entry on the research, I would – but I have better things to do than telling people that common sense like “hearing your surroundings” is going to keep you safe.

Regardless, you can pick up a cute little clip-on personal speaker for $10 that takes batteries and an iPod or non-Apple product at any big-box store. They’re not shoved in your ear, and you can clip it on your backpack or handlebars. That’s what I ride with when I don’t have my sound box. Except I didn’t this last Friday. I took absolutely no music.

End rant.

slowride_augustThe ride was amazing. I was told that they had a counter and there was approximately 165 people there. I arrived just as the group was leaving the start location, which was fine as I just merged with the group. I think that was the best way to make an entrance! The ride leader, Jason, worked with the local fire department to have them open a hydrant at a cul-de-sac down town so that we could make a couple loops and get sprayed down by a glorious stream of water before heading out into the neighborhoods. There, we were met by about a dozen families; kids with water soakers, sprinklers lashed to the side of cars, adults arcing hoses in glorious rainbow arcs. I don’t think I have ever been that happy to be sprayed down.

After dealing with two months of humid, muggy, stuffy heat – this was so great to just be splashed. None of my weird “getting splashed with water” neurosis kicked in; even when a little kid hit me down the side with a water pumper – I just laughed and pedaled and talked with all these wonderful and friendly strangers, a big wave of cyclists as we wound through the city for about three hours.

Afterwards, at the end location, I met a great lady named Joclyn that, no shit, is a midwife for Amish ladies. She does a bunch of nutrition and natural care stuff. She also rode a really cool, early ’90s BMX cruiser the entire ride, used to be a bike messenger in Philly and all over; knows a ton of people in Portland including Sharky – and if you’re up on your Portlandia trivia, Sharky used to own Hungry Tiger Too when it was still good. I had a fan-girl moment with Joclyn, so excited to find someone that I might have some threads to build upon with.


Photo by Chad Harnish

I hung out at Tellus 360 with a bunch of The Common Wheel crew after the ride. Tellus 360 is first an Irish pub and second an ever-evolving event center. The guy that created it wanted it to be a place that things happened in, so you could go there one day for a cornhole tournament, yoga on the roof the next,  mayoral state of the city the next and techno goth rave the next. The Common Wheel is like the Community Cycling Center from Portland!!! (Except from what I can tell, there’s no pick & pull Sundays, not that I need to be tempted…) They have earn-a-bike programs, community partnerships, adult repair classes – heart be still! I’ve only met a few of them, but I already love them. (I still love you all, CCC folks!)

I think I found some good advocacy roots.

 My favorite part about the ride, though – was coming home at 11pm. It was a perfect temperature, the cicadas roared. I could smell people’s gardens, so alive and fragrant and wet. Garlic, from someone’s cooking filled the air for about half a mile. What few streetlights there are on the way home are shrouded by trees and I was thankful for my two headlights and sitting 8′ about the ground, rutted and patched from recent roadwork. It’s slightly downhill all the way from downtown to my place.

When I got home, I wasn’t sweaty, I was muggy.

Bikeleptic Leaving Portland!


1st Portland bike! Ross Custom from Community Cycling Center

I moved to Portland in January 2008 after only visiting one afternoon the previous summer. After living in Salt Lake City for three years, I traded my mountain bike to a friend for a road bike that was too tall for me because I figured that I would be able to get a better trade-in value in this temperate bike-friendly city for a bike my size. Long story short, my boyfriend at the time, Nate, ended up keeping the road bike and I bought a heavy steel 3-speed “as-is” from a non-profit shop.

That bike was my vehicle to a new lifestyle. When we arrived in Portland, I had a job lined up that fell through. We were homeless and my car’s fuel pump went out just a week after arriving. I sold my car for a song just to get rid of it and with the caveat that the new owner was going to have to apply for a salvage title. Why didn’t I have the title to my car? My divorce had just finalized a month after I arrived in Portland and realizing I didn’t have it, I called up my ex-husband to have him mail it in April. The day after I called him, he fell into a coma, was diagnosed with acute leukemia and passed away three days before my 22nd birthday.

So, I never got my car title.

After a few months, Nate and I had wore out our welcome at the church we had been both working and sleeping at. I’m sure the pastor would have let us stay longer, but it wasn’t zoned for residential and we had been helping prepare the building for some really fantastic programs to assist with community outreach so the fire marshal and other organizations were wandering the halls. It was too much to have a room that obviously looked like a sleeping space. I went up to Washington for a few months and Nate stayed in Portland to continue looking for housing. I was able to obtain employment with friends I knew up north through lifelong connections, which allowed me to save up a little bit and do some soul searching. I returned to Nate’s new apartment in the late fall and we had grown apart but continued to live together for a few months while I looked for housing.

Typical bike load Uploaded with the Flock BrowserDuring that time, I was playing harp on the waterfront one afternoon and met a stranger whom I began talking with about bicycling and music. Nate was with me and we talked about wanting to get a trailer to be able to tow the harp back and forth from my favorite busking spots. He said that he had an old bike trailer in his back yard that he would be willing to just give me. It needed new tires, but the frame was solid. I ended up getting new tubes and tires right away, but rode with a jerry-rigged seat-post clamped (out of plumbing parts and bike tubes) for about a year.

I talked with my dad about upgrading my trailer for a long time. He is a a very calculated woodworker, whom I’ve inherited a lot of his traits from. He told me the measurements he needed over the phone and I measured the steel square frame beneath the polycarbonate shell to let him know what would fit and gave him the dimensions of what I was looking for as for my ideal “sled” and he built it up over 300 miles away and brought it down, full constructed, along with a set of tools (hammer, screwdrivers, etc) for me to have for my needs. Seeing as all I had was a cheep, low-speed power drill and a very light weight ball pin hammer, this came as a wonderful surprise! Also, my dad’s sled’s measurement’s were perfect within half an inch! We we able to take off the plastic bin and put on the new, perfect harp sled with no issues at all.

A year later, I was dating Adam George, an accomplished bamboo bike and trailer builder here in Portland, Oregon who then surprised me for my birthday and converted my trailer for my birthday by replacing the seat post hitch with an axle mount and hitch. (Much safer and easier to attach!)

It has been a very strange and wonderful experience here in Portland. One of the things that I initially loved the most was the cycling infrastructure. After moving from Salt Lake City (prior to their many, many improvements in the last five years), I was tired of advocating for better pedestrian, mass transit and cycling infrastructure, only to have it not taken seriously by SUV-driving bureaucrats. When I initially moved to Portland, I could just commute and not have to get involved in policy.

I broke in this city like an old pair of shoes, though. At first you love them and they fit so perfectly. They’re so comfortable and you can wear them all day long. After a while, though, the sole starts to break down. Maybe they start to squeak when you walk. Maybe the rubber begins to peel. A lace snaps when you’re trying to tie them. Maybe they start to rub on your heel. Who knows. We’re really not talking about shoes, are we?

Just a few days before my birthday in April, there was an incredible offering at my agency. It would not only be a fantastic promotion, but I would also be able to serve the community in a way that I have been striving for years. I agonized over my resume and cover letter. About two hours later, my phone rings and Brad tells me that he was offered a once-in-a-lifetime position managing a bike shop. . . almost 3000 miles away. And that we had three days to decide before they offered the opportunity to someone else.

I barely even thought about it.

Yes, I screamed over the phone as I was pulling up my email to rescind my application, before Brad “calmed my livah” and said that we should have a real conversation about it that evening. And when we talked? All the things that we had loved, both individually and mutually had disappeared or been ruined. With the housing market more than quadrupling in prices since 2008 and business interests migrating to the area from other places similarly affected due to their own environmental, saturation or socioeconomic issues, Portland has become less weird, less artsy, unique and eclectic and more of a mass produced cookie-cutter replica of every gentrified “pop-up shop” street in the US.

Am I bitter?

Not at all. I love the memories I have of this city. I still remember the first time I visited and fell in love with Portland. I will always remember all my first-times here. Unfortunately, we’re experiencing many, many last times.

I ended up rescinding my application and shortly following, provided my employer with a 5-week notice that I would be leaving. It was heart-breaking, having worked for the same agency for nearly 7 years. I was sad to leave the tenant education program that I had been building. I was sad to leave my participants. At the same time, it felt like the right time.

cowtownOver the last three weeks, I have been working in warehouse at Brad’s bike shop, learning the ins and outs of shipping and receiving. Have I left a 10 year career in social services to work in a warehouse? Yes and no. One could say it like that, but I had the revelation while out doing “moving errands” that it wasn’t the case at all. My job was difficult and I worked long days – sometimes longer than I could tolerate both emotionally and physically. When I returned home, I was tired, antisocial and void of creativity. My job sapped everything out of me just to keep me running at 100% all the time. I hadn’t burned out yet, but as Lao Tzu says, ‘a flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.’ I think I was just running on fumes at times. That camp fire with the hot coals deep in the ash, dangerous to relight though looked long dead.

Instead, I’m choosing to view it in a much more positive perspective. I’ve left my career to focus on my music and art. It’s been almost seven years since I could put my attention into my harp playing and painting. Now I can do that. But I can’t in Portland where the average income needs to be approximately 60k/year for a one-bedroom apartment.

Brad and I are packing up the cats and moving to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He’ll be opening up a bike shop in July and I will be helping him run it. I couldn’t be happier. We visited for a week in May to find an apartment and check out the shop space. It was bitterly cold and rainy. When we arrive next week it will be hot and humid.

Look forward to more adventures from BIKELEPTIC, but from the opposite coast!

Beta Testing Empatica’s Embrace “Seizure Monitoring” Watch

embraceboxI was lucky enough to never have to take home economics in high school. I don’t really know what was taught in those classes, but I’ve read enough books and have watched enough television to know that there was a possibility that I would have been saddled with an egg, flour sack or an electronic doll for a week to practice being an unwed teen mother.

And I would have failed horribly.

I began beta-testing Empatica’s Embrace seizure alert watch at the end of February and since then have gotten lots of response, questions and comments from other Empatica funders, those with seizure disorders and otherwise, trying to figure out how I got this sweet gig and how they can get a hold of one of these babies themselves. First of all, let me explain what beta-testing is and why you shouldn’t be jealous of me.

Being a beta tester has been more of a commitment than I realized that it would be, but I have been absolutely committed to my uncompensated position. Why? Because the better they are able to make this product, the closer they can get to get it recognized as a medical device and not just as a wearable technology. As I am writing this, they have just begun the clinical testing to begin the approval process to have this device recognized by neurologists and medical institutions all while the beta-testers like myself are fumbling through the clunky beta software and giving feedback when applicable.

I have adjusted my lifestyle to accommodate being tethered to a Bluetooth-dependent watch, but it hasn’t been a completely terrible experience!


Being codependent and sending texts without being cognizant of it!

This is basically a “protoype” or kind of like a “dress rehearsal” so to speak. It’s not yet ready to be available on the market, but the company needs live testing with people who have the disorders in which they are trying to assist and monitor so they can improve the software. Because it’s not a finished model, it doesn’t have the battery capacity of a normal wearable and generally needs to be charged twice a day. I was definitely warned about this when I began the testing process, but it has still taken a little adjustment to get used to the charging cycle, and have killed it on numerous occasions.

I was told that because it’s a test model, I am not allowed to change out the thick, gray elastic strap the watch came with, which loosens with wear so I am constantly cinching it back up. If it is too tight, the diodes rub my skin until raw and peeling. Also, the elastic strap is a silvery gray, porous elastic material. IT might as well be white and velcro as it was begging to become filthy from the day I took it out of the box.

Empatica hasn’t pushed the finished app and I don’t even use the “teaser app” that they released on their blog for people that are waiting for their watches to arrive this summer/fall. I am using a special “beta app” which doesn’t allow me to see any of my own biofeedback. There’s a blurb about the “Empatica Mate” on their website, and that’s what I’m most excited about being able to use once I receive the finished model. This allows the wearer to see how their stress levels fluctuate throughout the day depending on their activities “like commuting by car vs. bike, meeting with your boss vs. a friend, and physical activity.” The final version of the watch will allow the wearer to customize a gentle vibration when their stress level is rising, for instance. I don’t get any of that.

What I have is constant vibrations when I get too far from my cellphone. The watch, like, I assume all wearables, is connected to your smart phone by Bluetooth and you need to have internet access for it to work. I don’t generally carry around my phone with me all the time. This has been a learning curve for me. However, I have made a positive discovery:


So there’s that. My loss of items has been greatly reduced since I have been wearing this watch over the past six weeks. The Bluetooth range on this model is. . . not so great. Not that Bluetooth has more than a 60 – 100 ft radius anyway. I find that the watch can’t see through skin or walls, so if I’m in the next room the quality of signal decreases dramatically or if I have my wrist tucked under my arm or am sleeping on top of my wrist, I can lose signal just from having body on top of the watch.

A lot of things can set the seizure alert off. And I have the patience and good nature to mark down which ones are false alarms and which ones aren’t. I’ve had to stop in the middle of working with my clients in the middle of workshops due to flailing my hands too grandiosely to excuse myself and text Brad quickly, “Not a seizure” due to an alert going off.

On my birthday, we went mountain biking and the watch sent Brad and called him 17 times with alert messages due to the off-road vibration simulating monoclonal seizures. If my breathing is slightly labored, for instance if I am somewhat agitated or have been running for a short period of time, I’ve had false positives reported. I have even had a false-positive sent when I had secretly gone to 7-11 to get a slurpee one hot afternoon during a long break from work while I was standing in the store tapping the air bubbles out of the frozen confection. So, the device is still a work in progress.

I’ve never been a person to have my cellphone on me at all times. Usually when I’m at work my phone stays on my desk or in my bag unless I need to check it.

Because I’m a damn good employee.

Damn it.

However, over the last several weeks, I have been finding that if I leave my office, even to go to the restroom which is right across the hall, I will go “out of range” which is only slightly annoying as if I’m out of range for too long, the watch will go into “Error” status which won’t auto-restart when I come back in range, unlike the “out of range” status. When I’m in “Error” status, I have to manually go onto my phone and turn the app off and on again and get the watch to reset.

Like I said, not a big deal, but just annoying.

The only feature that is usable by me on this beta watch is the actual “watch” feature. It’s very futuristic with a single white light illuminating the hour and a slowly pulsing blue light showing the minute. Even a co-worker, whom is color-blind was able to read it once I explained the hour vs minute feature.

You may be asking, does it work? Despite my jokes and tales of false positives, I was on vacation a couple weeks ago, walking down a sidewalk on a street in a city I was unfamiliar with, hungry, dizzy and disoriented – next thing I knew, I was being held in Brad’s arm as he was holding my VNS magnet to my hand to help me “swipe” myself for the umpteenth time.

My watch called Brad and notified him that I was going into an partial or absence seizure and was no longer keeping up with him during our walk. He was able to immediately turn around and retrieve my magnet from my ankle to assist me and after a few minutes of postical phase, I was able to continue on!

Am I thrilled?

Yeah. A little.

Product Review: Ibis Mojo HD

IMG_1055This is kind of a cheat as far as product testing goes. Holy cow it was a while ago; but some of you loyal fans may remember back around Christmas 2014, I won a pretty substantial prize from Fat Cyclist. Unbeknownst to me, for every copy of his latest book a person pre-ordered, they were entered into a drawing sponsored by SRAM and Ibis Cycles with proceeds of the book going to World Bicycle Relief. I failed to notice any of this going on as I just wanted to order the book for Brad for the holidays.

Long story short, I won my choice of any bike from the Ibis stables. After a ridiculous amount of deliberation, I decided on the Mojo HD, mostly because it would be a bike that I would never purchase for myself. Then, I went through the painstaking task of browsing the SRAM catalog and deciding on my components, wheelset, fork, etc.

Like a kid in a freaking candy store.

It took a few months for everything to get settled and delivered, straightened out and all. My health declined. I changed meds and I then I found myself a few days before my 30th birthday eating burritos with my good friend Todd at TFK Wheels here in Portland, Oregon while he ran the internal housing for the SRAM XX1 groupset. Brad and I had the majority of the bike built up, but there were a few things that we didn’t have the tools readily available. Todd’s knowledge and expertise makes me comfortable to have him work on any bike in my stable.

We go out to ride on April 17th. Here in Portland it ended up being a gorgeous, cloudless day in the high-60s. For my first full-suspension ride and to work out any of the kinks, Brad and I decide to head up to Powell Butte Nature Park, which is just 12 miles from downtown Portland (or 7 miles from my place, which is really more important.) I was stubbornly sure that I had been there before, but when we arrived at the parking lot, all that certainty went down the drain, because it was obviously unfamiliar. This then led to awkward feelings regarding the fact that I have lived in Portland for as long as I have and not been to this fantastic park I immediately fell in love with.

So, how was the ride? 


Brad surveying the route ahead

You have to remember it was my first time out on this bike. There was a lot of stopping for adjustment. We didn’t install the Rockshox Reverb Stealth seat post for my first ride, so I just ended up using a post I dug out from our parts bin. That probably wasn’t the best idea as it wasn’t keyed in to my specific height. I ended up stopping about half a dozen times to adjust my height and do saddle adjustments alone.

I am in love with the XX1 groupset. There was a slight shifting learning curve, but I have to tell you – the only other SRAM shifter I’ve used in the last couple years is the Apex, that albeit are road shifters, but comparatively – the XX1 is so much easier to understand and remember – smooth and rapid transitions, which are super important when you’re mashing through gravel and dirt.

It’s super nice.

Good suspension starts at the wheels and this bike is decked out with a set of carbon-tuned ROAM 60 wheelsets, mounted with a set of Maxxis Minions provided by Ibis. Once I got the ‘air pressure-to-terrain ratio’ figured out, the riding was comfortable and smooth. Despite my personal comfort, the seizure alert watch I’m beta-testing for Empatica alerted Brad 17 times of an “unusual activity” – yeah, it’s called physical exercise.

More on this newfangled seizure alert watch in another blog post, so stay tuned for that.

Nothing about the bike wasn’t amazing. (Did that make sense with the double negative? Uhhhh. yeah.) I tire a little easier than I used to, and am a bit out of shape, so we only did a couple hours or riding, maxxing out at 4.73 miles, according to Brad’s Apple Watch. We stopped a lot so I could fiddle things. We didn’t bring any water with us, not realizing that the parking lot is actually kind of a hassle to get to from trails.

What I need to tweak: my pedals. I love iSSi pedals and have been in the process of upgrading a lot of my older clipless pedals over to them. I personally purchased a set of the Off-Road Warriors to complete the bike. I did not adjust the spring tension at all after or before they were installed. That’s a typical thing for me to realize when I’m panicking downhill at high speeds on switchbacks and unable to brake because I can’t unclip.

It’s the little things.

I was given a saddle from Ibis which I ended up using. First and maybe last time for off-roading. I personally like narrow saddles with little to no padding. This saddle just seemed a little more like it would enjoy life on one of my road bikes instead of pummeling my crotch. Though this situation may be alleviated once the dropper post is installed.

Looking forward to bring you more bikey news from BIKELEPTIC HQ as the weather gets nicer to stay tuned!

BIKELEPTIC’s Colonoscopy Adventure – SFW Edition

(This article has nothing to do with cycling or epilepsy. It does have to do with physical health, especially a genre that no one talks about and that everyone should go through at some point; especially to get regular screenings after the age of 40. Cyclists may be more susceptible to issues “down there” due to long duration of sitting, inadequate air flow and humidity, infections, rashes, cysts, etc.)

“Liquid diets” are an excuse to eat nothing but jello for days.

As many of my articles begin, if you’ve been a long time follower, you will know that I’ve whined over my ailments for quite a while. A few years ago my primary care physician sent me to an allergist. That had done wonders in alleviating many of my earlier symptoms. This last year, however, my dietary issues have gotten worse.

I have tried everything.

I went back to an allergist to get a full panel this time and to see what other options were available to me. I have learned that the allergist is basically useless to me. After stabbing my arm 40-something times and sitting there for half an hour, so itchy. . . so very itchy. . . the allergist concluded that the entire test was INVALID! “Inconclusive,” he declared, and asked if I had ever been diagnosed with dermatographia. Pretty much the exact way I found out that I had Raynaud’s Disease.

So there’s that.

I even went to a naturopathic doctor. And you know what I got for the two hours wasted on the NPResque consultation? $120 in homeopathic remedies and the recommendation to take baths with epsom salts. For those of you that don’t know what homeopathic remedies are; they’re a gazillion times water to point-zero-trillion whatever it says it is. It’s like putting a drop of mercury in the ocean and saying it will heal everyone in the world of mercury poisoning. Homeopathic remedies are snake oil – and I don’t know how it is even legal for that quack to be working at my hospital.

Maybe I should take a soothing bath to zen out after my hippie-doctor rage, but instead I was determined to find out what was wrong with me so I kept pestering the doctors. I thought maybe it had to do with my fibromyalgia, which I still wasn’t receiving any medication for, six months after being diagnosed. Some of my rage stemmed from my neurologist; whom upon my rheumatologist deferring my fibro meds to my neurologist due to my polypharmocology, flat out refused to provide me a medication that would not only alleviate joint and muscle pain that is crippling and debilitating to me on a daily basis, but could also eliminate my seizures or reduce my ridiculous amount of anti-epileptics I take. No. No. Instead, this neurologist wanted me to come in for a week-long ‘epilepsy monitoring unit‘ stay, despite the fact that my seizures have been stable and my focus has been on my fibromyalgia pain and my possibly related dietary distress; which up until then I had decided was a byproduct of my fibro. This was really the third strike of lousy, unsympathetic, shitty moves this neurologist made, so I decided to seek other opinions. It took me two months to get into another neurologist. In that time, I met with my rheumatologist again, who went ahead and put me on a fibro med, actually understanding the absurdity of taking a week off of work without pay. (For the record, my new neurologist wasn’t much better – and I am pretty sure he isn’t actually an epileptologist at all.)


Poster I stare at hypnotically the entire time the GI doctor is talking to me. (Click to download PDF)

I finally made an appointment with a gastroenterologist! It took me about a month to meet with this doctor, and the day before I went to go meet with him, Portland got hit with the most incredible snow storm. (Don’t make fun of us, Minneapolis! We’re not equipped to deal with anything more solid than rain!) The roads were blocked. It was a shit-show. Dejected and in pain, barely able to (literally) keep my shit together, I called and rescheduled. Thankfully they didn’t charge me for a cancelled appointment under 24 hours, which my insurance and the clinic loves doing. I believe the weather allowed for some flexibility in scheduling that day. Soooo. .  .three weeks later, I met with the GI specialist. . . and that day, I went home with some, ummm. . . ‘sample cups.’

Hilariously, but not really in a “ha ha” way – the day before my actual appointment, we ended up going to the emergency room. My gut pain was so bad, it was akin to when I was in the hospital for my appendix, except on my lower left side. I didn’t know what was going on, because, if you know anything about anatomy, except for the intestines, there’s nothing there! So, I have all sorts of speculations going through my head from worms to ulcers to cancer. Four hours of sobbing and writhing in the waiting room only to go back and have the doctor tell me that I’m dehydrated, my potassium is low and then give me something to help with the cramping and nausea. I could have stayed home for that. I have drawers full of meds for that. I was hoping for a CAT scan. I was hoping for an ultrasound. Something. I didn’t need to waste a bunch of money (not covered by insurance) to go to the ER to be told stuff I already knew, sitting for six hours in pain and not get any help. Time and energy wasted.

GI doctor also suggested we do some exploring. A little hands-on rotor-rooting to inspect for issues. He noted that if they find what they’re looking for in the “cups” (very gypsy-esque) then we can cancel the colonoscopy, otherwise he highly recommended it. I’m all for it. I’m desperate at this point. I couldn’t eat anything but broth without getting sick. I still can’t really eat anything but broth without the gut pain.

We set the date.

I pick up the tonic from the pharmacy for the “procedure.”

The scheduler gave me the option of various times ranging from morning to afternoon for my lower endoscopy. She said that some people like to do a half-day at work before coming in. Here’s a pro-tip. Schedule it in the morning. You will NOT be able to work in the morning, unless you work from a home office and your office chair is veritably a toilet. Once you go on that clear liquid diet and drink that horrible cherry-flavored, bitter concoction, you have about a 30 minute lead time do whatever it is that you need to do before you will be abruptly dismissing yourself to the washroom.


“You can’t have a superb bowel without Suprep Bowel!” – Morgan B. (Facebook comment)

I believe the only saving grace about having the procedure done in the afternoon is the time that you must take the bowel prep solution. Because my procedure was scheduled for 10:40am, my first dose was at 6pm and the second was set for 4:45am, with no more eating (which is a misnomer, because eating means broth, gel desserts, etc) or drinking after 6:30am. I ended up sleeping on the couch after my second dose as you have to chug 32oz of water within an hour and then will find yourself up and down a dozen times “cleansing.” I was able to nod off in half-asleep lucidly bizarre dream states for about 10 minutes at a time for the next few hours, waking every 20 minutes or so with an urgent need.

There was nothing said about “pre-procedure-showering,” but. . . you know. . . I kind of wanted to cleanse myself on the outside since my inside was as empty as I felt. So I stood there in the shower an hour before we needed to leave and let the hot water wash over me, staring at my fuzzy legs, neglected over the cold winter months and suddenly felt ashamed. I don’t know why. I have gone years before without shaving. I’ve had long, silky armpit hair in the past, such is the “hispter-feminist” trend presently. But for some reason, I felt awkward. I mean, traditionally if you’re going on a date and expecting “something more” out of it, you do some personal grooming – and though I shouldn’t care – I’m not going to see these people ever again in my life. . . but they’re going to see more of me than I have or will ever see in my life. . . I pulled out a razor and the shaving cream and hacked away at my legs.

Long story short, the next day I realized I missed the entire back (haphazardly so) of both my thighs – the exact place you pretty much didn’t want to miss as that’s exactly where they were staring at for the entire hour. But you know, you win some, you lose some. At least I made an effort.


Guests aren’t allowed in the back, so this is Brad’s all too familiar view.

Clinics are always amusing to me. I assume that they have the entire grocery list of allergies and medications that I take – especially if it is a place that I have worked with before, but alas. . . I have to lay there, trying to go through everything off the top of my head, curled up on a gurney, in a gown, cramping, wondering if there’s anything left in me. Wondering if it is possible that it will come out of me when I am unconscious. Pre-embarrassed by that thought, even though I would be unconscious and have no idea if it would happen or not. Having anxiety over thinking about that. Overcompensating for my panic by laughing too much and cracking stupid jokes with the nurses. Then the anesthesiologist comes in and finds out that I am allergic to eggs, which is an ingredient in the monitored anesthesia they use. So we have to go through the whole, “What happens when you eat eggs? Is it a real allergy or do you just not like them?” conversation. I’m already hooked up to an IV and what I assume is oxygen, but possibly nitrous oxide. Maybe I’m just nervous.

I don’t really remember a lot of what happens after that. The doctor comes in, asks me what my name and birthdate are. What I am there for. (All those cognitive questions.) Then the anesthesiologist pops up again on the other side of me and shows me a big ol’ syringe full of what looks like white frosting. He asks me if it looks familiar. The nurse is in the corner trying to look up what I have used in the past for previous operations. Then I remember him putting it in the IV, I’m looking down at it and he asks, “Are you waiting for it to start working?

Then a nurse opens the curtain my room as I’m waking up. It’s surreal. I’m back in the processing room. She gives me paper. I’m shaky. I’m confused. She tells me to get dressed, but I don’t really register it as I’m looking at the paper. Plus, she hasn’t lowered the bar on my gurney. I stare at the paper without really reading it. A few minutes later a nurse comes back and asks if I’m ready. “I forgot.” I mumble. She opens the curtain and lowers the bar for me. I hastily get dressed and half open the curtain to signal that I’m ready to go.

She let’s me use her arm to walk out. I’m wobbly. I’ve got the spins. No silliness anymore. I just want to sleep. And eat. I want to eat everything in the world. But I realize they still don’t know what’s wrong with me so I still have that going on for me.

Initial discovery was inflammatory bowel disease by way of the sample cups. After they did all the little biopsies and all, the formal diagnose is lymphocytic colitis. This is apparently a rare disorder and generally affects men and women in their 50s and older. Plus, there’s not a treatment for it – just another handful of pills.

Returning in March!

After a four month absence with absolutely no explanation – I didn’t call, I didn’t write, I didn’t post witty quips, I’m freaking back! Stay tuned for amazing tales of adventure, medical follies and as usual, all around BIKELEPTIC awkwardness.

UPCOMING EVENT: Powell’s Bicycle Small Press Night

11221701_1622357441322302_8289999210343437640_nBicycle Small Press Night
7:30 pm at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland OR

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Join Elly Blue, April Streeter, Jessie Kwak, Katie Proctor, Cat Caperello, Halley Weaver, and Gretchin Lair for the fourth annual Bicycle Small Press Night. This year we’re celebrating three new books:

The Culinary Cyclist (by Anna Brones, illustrated by Johanna Kindvall)

Pedal Zombies (edited by Elly Blue, featuring 13 feminist bicycle science fiction stories)

Our Bodies, Our Bikes (edited by April Streeter and Elly Blue, featuring over 50 authors and artists), a resource for women who ride bicycles and others.

More information on the Facebook Event page!

Review: Tonik Cycling Jersey

IMG_0158_1e5ce05f-a67d-4609-984c-a3204d1478fe_largeOne of the things that is an ongoing problem with being a woman for me (I promise I won’t go down the BIG list) is regarding athletic gear. When I purchase clothing from the major cycling companies that won’t be named in this article, I often feel like it’s just men’s clothing that has been altered according to generic schematic. “Oh, a woman has a shorter and narrower torso. They have skinnier arms. Also, let’s go ahead and make it pastel and slap some flowers on it. Because that’s what those baby makers like, right?” I don’t know who does the marketing and development for those male-centric companies, but I have personally sat in on several product development groups and have seen just how out of touch some of these agencies are. At the same time, I have seen how on par others are.

What excites me is finding products that are created, designed and developed by women and for women. This is not a huge conglomerate that sells bikes, components, and all matter of accessories. They sell jerseys, arm warmers, socks and their newest product which I haven’t seen in person yet; the “flip belt.” I’m talking about a great two-woman show called Tonik Cycling.

I ran into these lovely ladies last September at Interbike and came home with their “Abbey Tank” in lime/heather. I first want to mention that I have a small soft spot for them as they come from Whidbey Island, WA a mere 15 miles from my hometown of Anacortes, WA. A little island pride. Gotta give that love.

Photo Sep 11, 1 46 58 PMAnyway, I stopped to look at the jerseys because they didn’t look like jerseys. I soon found one yanked over my head right over my blouse. Though it was pretty snug over my other shirt, it felt really good. I already liked it then. Well. . . I’ve had a lot of time to take it for a test ride and let me tell you how I feel about it.

  • I generally overall love the color options that Tonik picks for their jerseys. This is no exception. I love the piping on the front.
  • On the back there is scalloped silver hi-vis trim running down the vertical seams. A little flattering tidbit.
  • I like the ruching on the front. It makes me look like I have abs. And the ruching on the side hides my elastic band wrinkles. So, those are all positive attributes!
  • On the back is a decent sized, open center pocket. It’s narrow at the top and wider at the bottom. The angle of the jersey and the cut of the pocket really makes for an elegant sweep to get into it. And then on the front of that pocket is a smaller zippered pocket. You know, for the important items. It’s just big enough for a smaller, normal sized cell phone (not a crazy plus model or anything ending.)
  • I thought I wouldn’t like the round collar and that it would sit awkwardly while riding. So while flexing the mirror, I realized that it is true – it does occasionally sit funky. . . when my posture is incorrect and I my shoulders and thrown forward improperly. When I arch my back and actually position my arms like they’re supposed to be when I’m riding in a properly fitted bike, the collar lays perfectly flat. This jersey is absolutely genius. Standing straight or in any position considered “good posture” it stayed flat. Rolling my shoulder and the collar buckled…etc.
  • No zipper. I mean, there is on that outer back pocket. But no zipper to get in and out of it. It’s basically just a blouse. Which means that you could also potentially go from riding to going inside to a meeting or dinner with just throwing on a light sweater. I think it’s that flattering. The fabric is also really soft and wicking. It’s some sort of anti-bacterial fabric and has 50 UPF Sun Protection.
  • My one issue, but it’s kind of a non-issue if you remember that this is a jersey. When it’s hot enough to go sleeveless, I usually just wear these tankini deals. I’m used to having a built in sports bra and I’m not that well-endowed. This is just a jersey and so leaves nothing to the imagination. However it has an empire seam so may trick you into thinking it has support. I find a bulky strapped sports bra ends up catching up with the natural shimmy of the shirt fabric movement since the arm holes cut out towards the back and most sports bras tend to be the racer back straps that rub towards that. However it’s surprisingly non-intrusive.
  • Last note; it’s long. It’s long and comfy. Why do most companies make women’s jerseys so short?? And it is loose around the hips but not baggy. Just comfy. I know sometimes when I’m wearing athletic gear I feel self-conscious and exposed. I feel perfectly comfortable wearing this top. Fuck the judgey-judgers anyway.

So there you go. I love this top. Love it. I feel great about supporting Tonik!

Event Review: Salsa Bikes Demo Day


Halley with 2016 Cutthroat Carbon Rival 1

Last weekend I had the awesome excuse to get out of Portland to check out Salsa’s 2016 models in their natural habitat. That’s right, I got to go hang out in the woods for the day up at Sandy Ridge. For those of you that didn’t get my memo or didn’t get the chance to check out my write-up about last year’s demo – this is really a fun opportunity to go out and try out the bikes that you already know, love and want to buy but may have some performance questions about. Well. . . if you had been there, you could have gotten them answered by a truly bonafide Salsa rep, various bike shop representatives (different shop people on the different days) and most importantly – got to shred some dirt.

The event ran from 2pm – 7pm, but since it was both of our day off, we were planning on rolling up there for a lazy afternoon of playing with bikes and chatting with folks. It was a little before 2pm when Brad got a call from a friend and rep that we were expecting to be up there asking when and if we were planning on being there. Turned out he was unable to make the trip due to a family emergency and the Salsa rep was left all by his lonesome. . . so. . . we tossed our stuff. . . and our absentee friend’s bike (which he had left at Brad’s work) in the car and were on our way in a slightly more speedy trajectory. When we arrived around 3pm we were greeted by Eric, “The Salsa Ambassador,” holding down the fort pretty awesomely.

We created a clunky system of Eric doing most of the work and Brad talking to people with me mostly getting in the way and underfoot, kind of helping people fill out the waivers, taking and giving back their IDs, and taking off the pedals on the demo bikes. (Or at least trying to. Some of them got wrenched on a little snugly and I didn’t feel comfortable mashing at them.) It was steadily busy all day long. I mean, it was work. Like, real work. Like a job. There were still bikes in the van when we got there because Eric had gotten mobbed by people right at the beginning so I helped pull out the rest of the Beargreases, which Brad and Eric ended up putting together because I got distracted or something. They are pretty big bikes. I mean, not unwieldy or anything. I mean, I hauled two of the Carbon SUS XO1 models out of the van without the front wheels over my shoulder like they were purses. And they were the larger sized models. Their considered racing fat bikes and I’d believe it. They’re slick. Decked out with the SRAM XO1 drivetrain, the Bluto fork and not to mention that wicked tequila sunrise fade-job from pink to orange. What’s not to love? If that’s not your thing, there is a red/black or purple/blue option. . . but that really seems a waste when pink/orange is an option. (Not to mention the aluminum black.)

KODAK Digital Still Camera

2016 Salsa Pony Rustler Carbon XO1

You’re not here to read about models that already existed, though. You want to hear about the new rides. One that everyone was stoked to try out was the Pony Rustler. (Not to be confused with the Horsethief.) People loved this bike and wanted to try it so much that my small size was constantly out on the trail. All day long. Seriously. There was not a time during the day that I could have stopped what I was doing and taken it out for a moment. It just wasn’t there. And the moment that it came back, it was gone. So elusive. Just as a rustler should be. But what I did get to do is TALK to the people that got to go out with the Pony Rustler and get their feedback on the bike. I didn’t get any negative feedback. Everyone loved the more upright feeling of it. They loved the amount of suspension and the feedback that the bike gave them. The great thing about this bike is that it’s a 27.5+, but has the space for 29ers so if you have the inclination to build up two wheelsets, you basically have two bikes in one! (This is not a revolutionary idea. I just thought it was worth a mention. Because it’s cool. And it may make the price tag easier to swallow if you realize you can use the frameset for so many different terrain opportunities.)

The bikes that I was stoked about weren’t full-suspension. The first of which was the “Deadwood.” This is their 29+ dropbar mountain bike. It is fully rigid. Deadwood is sexy. I would totally get it if I met the mininum height requirement. Unfortunately for a small, recommended height is 160cm – 175cm and I fall short at 152cm. If I hadn’t been so darn busy I would have tried to at least stand over one at the event. (The one pictured in the slideshow is a medium.) There was a guy that took it out on a test ride and he said that it rode nicely on the trail, but while Salsa does consider it “mountain bike ready” he would have preferred a little more cushion. Technically, it’s more for off-road touring like the Oregon Outback or the Tour Divide. Maybe not careening down a rocky mountain bike trail complete with berms.

Speaking of the Tour Divide, the Cutthroat was another hot mama I was eyeing the entire afternoon. This hot carbon 29er is the sexiest race bike that ever came to race town. I don’t even care that I’m too short for this bike. I wants it with a passion that is fiery burning.


Then there is the Marrakesh. This is fun in a different kind of way. But then, so is Marrakesh (the place). I was excited about this because I love touring and touring bikes. I am always interested in how different companies decide to put their spin on their specific touring bikes. This one comes in two different models; a flat bar and with their new “Cowchipper” drop bar. I really wanted to see that one in person. I am kinda “anti-dropbar.” It hurts my hands and back to reach down to dropbars and so this newer, squished version interested me. I had seen different forums talking about a couple different brands recently which have also piqued my interest. These might be usable for me and not just wasted space. Marrakesh also comes in five different sizes starting at 147cm (4′ 8″). The only downside is that it comes with the Brooks B17 and doesn’t seem to have any option to swap it out with a cruelty-free cambium version.

All in all, I think the Pony Rustler won the “amazing bike” of the day award. If there had been an award for best bike that day.

After we got the van packed up; Eric, Brad and I headed back into town to get snacks and rest after the long day. Brad, who is a big fan of brew pubs, found a sign at Sandy Ridge that there was a very science-themed one right in Sandy, Oregon called Bunsenbrewer. Let me tell you, this place is amazing. Also, if you have a GPS system or Google Maps on your phone, etc – you should use it. It’s kind of tucked back there. It’s right on the main road, but it’s in a business warehouse area and is kind of inconspicuous. Once you’re there, it’s fantastic. There’s a stage area where about a dozen instruments from cellos, drums, violins, guitars, tamborines, etc were available for people to experiment with. There’s also a corner full of board games as well as a Nintendo 64. They have quite a few beers on tap (many they make in-house) including rootbeer! And while their menu is limited as far as food, they have a little something for everyone including hummus, quinoa salad and soft pretzels.

UPCOMING: Salsa Demo Days – August 3rd & 4th

2014 Sandy Ridge Demo Day

2014 Sandy Ridge Demo Day

If you’ve been a follower of the blog, you may remember that last summer, I went and ripped it up with my friends from Salsa over at Sandy Ridge. I’m stoked to find out that they’re doing it again!

If you’ve been eyeing a Salsa bike, want to see the new 2016 models or are interested in their performance off-road, this is a great opportunity to come out and check ’em out!

You’ll have two different days to choose from and I’ll link you to their corresponding Facebook events.

Monday, August 3rd, 2pm – 7pm

Tuesday, August 4th, 2pm – 7pm

Both days are expected to be gorgeous, in the 90s. If you want to ride with specific pedals, bring your clipless or whatever – otherwise they’ll have flats available there. Make sure you bring a helmet and photo ID so you can check out a bike.

Hope to see you out there!