Thursday, May 15, 2014

Entertaining a Question:

The Decision to Ride

To Ride Or Not to Ride

That is the question

I used to write about this question occasionally, but usually the subject concerned the weather. Was it going to be smart to ride in today's weather. Sometimes I'd be mad because I missed a day of riding because I thought the weather would be bad, but turned out not to be so, or vice versa.

At Burnett's Mound in Topeka Kansas

 But today I'm actually contemplating something different

To Ride or Not to Ride



In other words, I'm beginning to question whether it is smart for me to ride at all given my health condition.

Like Hamlet, Here's the Rub,

You may not be aware, You may not care, but there are some subtle and sometimes wicked after-effects that result from a cardiac arrest.You might think that it's all about the heart, but the brain can be also affected by a cardiac arrest. A lack of fresh oxygenated blood to the brain during the arrest can cause a lot of symptoms such as memory loss and coordination problems including the ability to perform very basic functions. Some of these symptoms are severe, some minor.

So, what's the problem......

I believe I am continuing to experience some symptoms of brain anoxia (lack of oxygen) that occurred during my cardiac arrest. In my case, it's not extremely serious. I function just fine, most of the time. But 3 1/2 years later, I still have some minor symptoms, and they do not appear to be going away. I believe some of these symptoms affect my ability to effectively operate a 2 wheeled motorized vehicle. I say "might" because most of the time I think I am just as competent as before. But other times I know that I am not as alert, mentally,  as I should be. I am afraid that I might not be able to recognize and react as quickly as I should to certain situations that could be encountered on the road.

And I'm the kind of person that feels that if I'm going to do something, anything, then I'm going to do it right, and safely, and competently. Otherwise I'm not sure it is worth doing at all.

A beautiful day near Eskridge Kansas

So, I'm wondering.......

And it's not easy.

It's a bit difficult to think about it.

I hadn't ridden in about 6 weeks. But 2 days ago I started Max, expecting him to balk a bit because it had been a few weeks since I had even started him. Of course, he started right up on the first touch of the starter. What a good friend he is. And I've ridden the last couple of days to work with no incidents, even got a couple of nice waves from other riders yesterday. Weather has been spectacular. Upper 40's in the morning, maybe a bit cool, but about 70 for the ride home.

It's nice to be riding again.

But in the back of my mind I'm beginning to wonder......

I know one thing.... A long day ride, hours long, is probably out of the question. I don't have the stamina, mentally, to do it anymore. So short trips it will have to be. My romantic dreams of long distance motorcycle touring are probably gone.

I'm not selling Max, at least not yet. It will still be fun to take some fun rides here and there. And when I don't think I can safely accomplish that, well another decision might have to be made. I'm not there yet.

In the Flint Hills of Kansas about 60 miles northeast of Wichita

Ride On and Carpe Diem,my good friends,

And if by chance someday that I decide to cease my riding on,,,,,
I guarantee that I will continue Carpe Dieming!


  1. Jimbo/cpa3484.9999999999999999999999999998721:

    We will all come to the same crossroads, one day. some later and some sooner. I am nearly there, thus my quest to meet all of you whilst I am able. I think you are lucky to be where you are, as compared to what could have happened. Even riding for a few hours is better than nothing.

    Just do what your heart fancies, we will still be here

    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Bob, I knew you'd understand the thought process. Thanks for being such a good friend!

  2. Only you know the answer to that question as it's all about risk. An additional question that could be answered first is whether the condition would make it unsafe to drive or ride a bicycle.

    I have a chronic condition that made me wonder whether or not to even start riding let alone head out on solo multi-week trips. In the end, as long as you are acutely aware and conscience of your physical limitations and watchful for symptoms, I don't think that there is an issue. For me, it may be more cut and dry as I can get a quantitative value from my glucose meter if I'm feeling "off".

    1. Richard, I don't think the bicycle is an issue as much because I generally ride only on residential streets, sidewalks or bike paths anymore. I don't seem to have balance issues either.

      In my case, some of my symptoms are unpredictable. It's like good days and not so good days. My alertness suffers and I'm a little slower in processing as well as not having as much mental stamina.

      And the symptoms are all generally minor, but when it comes to riding, the risk is much higher than in an automobile or even, for me, a bicycle.

      And I appreciate your thoughts also

  3. This is the hardest thing to decide, I work in a neurology office and we sometimes make recommendations for people not to drive due to decreased cognition. I would start first by seeing your family doctor or cardiologist and see what they suggest. If your are having concerns then you should get it checked out. A referral to a neurologist or neuropsychologist to assess cognitive functioning and executive decision making processes might be helpful for you to get a clearer picture of what's going on and may be a worthwhile undertaking. You probably will need and MRI scan (unless you have a pace maker) an electroencephalogram (EEG) which measure your brain rhythm for abnormalities which you might see due to anoxic brain trauma. It would be void to go about this medically and see if there are any hard findings that will dictate whether you should be driving or not.

    1. crazy spellchecker turned "good" to 'void' in the last sentence. UGH I hate autocorrect.

    2. Dar, You probably know a lot more about it than I do and I much appreciate your insight. Here's the short version of what I think is going on in terms of symptoms:

      The doctors are all aware of my symptoms from my regular family practice Doc to my cardiologist to a psychologist. In fact, they say, considering what happened, that I'm actually doing fantastic. They had expected me to have more problems than I did.

      And I did serve a driving restriction for a year, which I was really mad about (but only for awhile). I quickly realized the reasons for the restriction and I obeyed the restriction pretty faithfully. Today, it's really not like I feel like I shouldn't be riding or driving at all, but more like I'm not sure I can drive or ride "well".

      And when it comes to riding I don't think it is a good idea to ride if I can't do it "well"! That essentially is the dilemma for me. To me, it's not safe if I can't do it with a high degree of competence.

      I suppose I could have more tests done, but in essence, there's not much that can be done, so I sort of say, why bother. I keep track of how I'm feeling, Some of these symptoms that I thought would go away are not going away. Not getting worse either, just not getting better and after 3 1/2 years, well the handwriting is appearing on the wall.

      Thanks again

    3. It seems you have done all you can be doing to sort this out, you've spoken to the docs you should. I think this is going to be more about your comfort & risk level and what you find acceptable. Keeping it simple on low volume roads may be where you want to ride from here on out and use the car for higher volume traffic because of the protection the car offers you. What I have noticed with patients with brain injuries of all sorts is test their tolerance levels are lowered and it can be pretty stressful at times, particularly when they are feeling low ebb, just don't ride on those days. The wisest rider is the one who knows when to hang up the keys. If you still want your riding fix take your scoot to the track :)

  4. I'd check with the wife. If she sees cognitive failure creeping you know its real. I exercise everyday more for fear of lack of riding through seizing up than a desire for longevity.

    1. Michael, Yeah, the wife......

      Actually, we have made a series of changes in certain lifestyle habits. The work flow at the office is different and we both realize what some of the limitations are. For instance, the family doesn't like me to drive through areas with lots of traffic. I can do it, but have a tendency to get frustrated easily, so they rather that I do not do that anymore. And I don't necessarily mind.

      But some of it is sort of a multi-tasking issue. And riding is definitely multi-tasking in nature, scanning the road, managing the machine, SIPDE, all those things. I seem to do better if we can keep things simple. That's just how it is for me.

      And keep up that exercise, for whatever reason. I'm trying to do more myself. It's good for us all,

      and please say hi to Layne for me.

      I fear I probably won't ride down the coast of Florida to Key West to see you someday even though I have long dreamed of how much fun that would be.

  5. I think you are wise to question how or when you should be riding or sitting it out on some days. I also think that this issue comes along as we get older or we tire more easily because of life circumstances, illness, etc. as well.

    I look at it like this: I may not be out there with the speed demons, tearing up the "ribbon of tar" (as one blogger puts it) or traveling across country, but I am out riding "in my own way".

    "Riding" means many different things to different people. For some it's the touring, for some it is fast riding, for some it's tooting around the neighborhood in the evening just to feel the wind in your face and experience the smells and sounds of it all. Whatever. There's all kinds of "riding".

    Whether it's 20mph or 60mph, 5 miles or 500, you are out there on a scoot, little or big, just messing around. Even with some mild physical limitations most of us could manage a little "messing around".

    I plan to "mess around" unless I get a balance problem or loss of vision or something that absolutely keeps me physically off a little scooter. Even then I might have to putz around on a small ATV!

    My ramblings are all just my way of encouraging you to be open to "thinking outside the box" when it comes to future riding aspirations. There's ways to get out there in the fresh air at a much more limited and slower pace, but just as enjoyable!

    1. Deb, you are very wise about there being all kinds of riders and perhaps I have forgotten that. What little riding I have done lately has been mostly commuting, which is okay, but repetitive and I'm a bit tired of it.
      You've reminded me that maybe I just need to get out there on a more "fun" type ride, even if it is only 10 to 20 miles. And hell, the number of miles isn't really what's important, is it.
      Thanks for excellent thoughts!

    2. When I first moved back here to the burbs I planned to eventually commute to work on my scooter. Once I got my bigger scooter I realized that I did not want to do that for a variety of reasons having to do with time involved, heavy traffic, but mostly with how it would affect the "why and how" that I ride.

      I ride to relax, to get away from stress, to enjoy and immerse myself in nature, history, and local sights. Commuting would "kill" all that joy in me and detract from why I ride.

      My thoughts, for me. Anyway, gotta go ride now!

  6. Cpa3484.9999:

    Riding is a risk for all of us, whether it is commuting, having fun on a weekend, going to the store for an errand or touring the world. If your mind is not alert or you are not feeling in the best shape, then don't. Then if you somehow don't feel like it, then don't

    I have lost enthusiasm for commuting to work. The ride to work is fabulous but the commute home is hot, full of traffic and stupid drivers who cut in front, don't signal and tailgate and it's not enjoyable. The serious riders don't commute. They only use their bikes for touring and that's what I'm gravitating to.

    For you I think you should take some pleasure rides and forget about commuting to work. Just enjoy and turn left or right whichever strikes your fancy when you get there. Or just find a nice spot to sit and enjoy the scenery. This is what I have been doing lately. Slow down and enjoy breathing

    A weekend photographer or Riding the Wet Coast