Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stress Test and Cardiologist

I got a call last week from Dr. Hourtovenko's office. He is my cardiologist. They told me I was booked for a stress test yesterday. Most of you know this measures the reactions of the heart under load by putting the subject on a treadmill and increasing grade and speed until a target heart rate is reached. This is maintained for thirty seconds while the array of electrodes attached to the subject's body relay all manner of cardiac information to the machines.

I showed up at the doctor's new office downtown and was ushered into the room with the treadmill. The technician shaved a few spots on my chest and attached the electrodes. Then there was a baseline taken while I laid on the table and she got an opening blood pressure. My target heart rate for the day would be 134 beats per minute. This number varies with age and gets lower as you get older.

The treadmill started slow and but increased every three minutes. The 3rd level was a 14% grade at 4.2 MPH, at which point my heart rate reached 112 BPM and the angina pains started. This was exactly the same level and HR that I experienced angina with the last blockage. The test was stopped and I got off. Although there is quite a wait to get an appointment with Dr. H., the tech left for a few minutes and said he would see me tomorrow (today) at 10:00 AM.

This morning, the nurse practitioner took a whole lot of information and recorded my vital signs. Then Dr. H came in. His first words were "You're back". He said it looked like there was no need for further testing and that they would book me for the Cath Lab and an angiogram as soon as possible. I asked why a new blockage would appear so quickly. He replied that smoking and diabetes were the two major factors.

One point I did raise was the difficulty he had getting the line into my right femoral artery last time. I thought it was because I had forgotten to mention my right inguinal hernia repair back in 1996. The doctor said that, if that was an issue, they would be able to go in through the left side. I did not know that.

I went home to wait for a call.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Freedom Riders Memorial Run

Every spring, the Freedom Riders Motorcycle Association holds its annual Memorial Run to remember fallen members.

It was -2C this morning (that's right, MINUS) when Leo came over. We set out together at 9:00 AM on the bikes for Fielding Memorial Park in Lively. Sandy opted not to go due to the cold.

The turnout was excellent. Father Jolicouer from Christ The King Church conducted our remembrance ceremony and blessed us for the upcoming season. He has been doing this for us for years and, in return, this year we presented him with a club patch and informed him that he had been inducted as a Honorary Member of the club.

Nepper and Ray

President Rob and Fr. Jolicouer presiding

The assembled multitudes

Everyone listening intently

I guess they will trike anything:-))

Following the service, we all rode over to Mr. J's Roadhouse in Lively for brunch. There had been an issue last year with their not being ready for us, This time, all was set and ready to go. I found the food and service to be excellent.

The crowd at Mr. J's Roadhouse

The food line

Some were slower to get their food

After brunch, most of the members followed President Rob for a ride to Manitoulin Island. I decided to skip the ride and head back home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Visiting My Doctor

I made a call to our GP's office today and mentioned chest pains. The receptionist told me to come right in.

I described the burning pressure to Dr. Dube and suggested it felt like another blockage. He said it could be that or the stenosed aortic valve, and that he would book me for a stress test ASAP. He growled at me when I said I was till smoking, but was pleased when I said I would be starting by Champix (Chantix in the USA) prescription right away. I didn't want to before traveling due to possible side effects.

Regardless of outcome, my pre-existing condition is no on the books as unstable and my regular travel insurance won't cover anything heart related for six months after it becomes stable again. The June Wisconsin trip and the July California/Idaho trip won't be happening.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Erie Pennsylvania to Sudbury Ontario

We got off to a slow start today. I read my Kindle for a while after waking up. We didn't leave until 7:30.

As I went through the NY Thruway toll booth just across the state line, I reflected that my new EZ-Pass transponder should be waiting at home. This one is for a pickup truck and one-axle trailer so I won't have to go through the manual toll booths in NY to allow the operator to set the vehicle class.

We stopped at the Angola Service Center for the first bathroom break of the day and so I could top the tank with cheaper US gas. Although prices here are above what they are further south, they are still way below what we pay in Canada.

The exit to the Peace Bridge off I-190 in Buffalo is a mangled mess of construction, but we found our way to the border. Traffic lines were light but I still reported to the NEXUS lane. We got the usual questions. How long away, do we have alcohol, tobacco or firearms and what's in the trailer? We were on our way in less than a minute.

Welcome home

NEXUS lanes are great

QEW traffic started out light, considering it was Victoria Day, but it started to get a little weird after Niagara Falls. The temperature, which was 20C at the border, had dropped to 13C by the time we reached St. Catherines. This was a big change for a short distance. As we approached Burlington, I decided I didn't want to be bothered with traffic and took the ramp to the Express Toll Road 407, opting to pay the exorbitant fees to bypass Hogtown. It was uncongested all the way to 400 north.

Once we were heading north on Highway 400, we spotted what looked like an OPP blitz on the southbound side. Three cruisers were sitting at Major Mackenzie Drive, leading me to believe there was a spotter somewhere north of them. This is not unusual for a long weekend as the mass of cottagers head back into the city.

We stopped at the King City Service Centre to get lunch to go. Sandy got three cookies while I took a late breakfast sandwich combo (cheddar sausage biscuit). Plus coffee. Always coffee.

Southbound traffic was still light up to Highway 89, where the truck odometer rolled over 90,000 miles. That means we have put almost 60,000 miles on it in a little less than three years. Not bad when you consider that we only travel during the summer months. It hasn't been a trouble free vehicle but I do like driving it.

As we approached Barrie, the southbound traffic picked up and then jammed up. It is one of the perks of living in the north that we can see these masses of stopped vehicles while cruising by the other way at highway speeds.

Highway 400 southbound

Approaching Barrie

North of Barrie

We stopped at the Tim Horton's south of Parry Sound where it was crazy busy. Even north of Parry Sound, the southbound traffic was solid indicating that the citiots from the Big Smoke are traveling further afield in search of weekend adventures. Going northbound towing the trailer, I once again realized that traveling the 90 KPH speed limit on two-lane Highway 69 was staking one's life in one's hands as impatient drivers take risks to get by and maintain their twenty-over pace.

We arrived home at 3:45. I had the bike in the garage, the trailer unhooked and the truck unloaded by 4:10. We were unpacked by 4:30. It was a good trip. Now, off to see the doctor as soon as I can get in.

Today's Route (435 Avalanche miles):

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Maggie Valley North Carolina to Erie Pennsylvania

Sunday morning. Time to head home.

I didn't mention it in the last few posts, but it looks like my angina problems have returned. After not having any issues since the stent was placed in my circumflex artery in November, 2013, Sandy and I were walking back from Country Vittles after supper on Wednesday when that familiar burning started in my upper chest. I had to resort to my nitro spray, which stopped the pains. Unlike the last time, I told Sandy right away.

I had a second attack while riding The Tail of the Dragon on Thursday (not surprising since stress usually caused my attacks in the past) and another yesterday while loading the bike (something that always happened last time). The most recent happened this morning as we were getting ready to leave. I guess the number one priority when we get back will be to call the doctor, although I don't like what this portends for the trips this summer. Now that a pre-existing condition is unstable, my travel medical insurance won't cover it and I won't travel to the US without coverage.

By 6:40 AM, we were packed and ready to roll. Bass Man and Laura had already left, as had Cargo. Willie Wonka and the Lovely Carlene were still packing, so we said our goodbyes to them and hit the road.

Maggie Valley Sunday morning

Traffic was light as we headed east on I-40 towards Asheville and then followed I-240 to I-26 north. We stopped at a McDonald's in Weaverville for breakfast to go, which happened to include over toasted, chewy buns. Although quality is supposed to be consistent in chains, you can never tell. We finished the breakfast off with Wanda's cookies, a special gift from a very nice lady.

I-40 traffic is non-existent

We have I-26 all to ourselves as well

The trip up I-26 into Tennessee to I-81 and then east into Virginia was uneventful other than an east wind adding to our fuel consumption. We stopped at the Travel Center of America in Wytheville, Virginia for fuel. The price was just $2.35 per gallon, so I towed 316 miles for a mere $54.00. That's half what it would cost at home, even allowing for the difference in exchange rates (which are getting uglier).

Traffic was a bit heavier as we headed north on I-77 through Big Walker Mountain Tunnel. I was past the exit ramp for the last Rest Area in Virginia when I saw Billy Bob and Linda stopped there. He was riding their Kawasaki Voyager while she was driving the car. Traffic eased a bit after we climbed to East River Mountain tunnel and entered West (By God) Virginia.

Big Walker Mountain Tunnel

East River Mountain Tunnel

Bob and Linda passed us as we were climbing the long Camp Creek grade, on their way back to Pennsylvania. I'm not sure if they noticed it was us. We got back ahead of them at the WV Turnpike toll booth where our EZ-Pass allowed us to zip right through without stopping, but they soon rolled back by us again. This time, Linda waved.

The motorcycle in the distance is Billy Bob

Linda passes us the second time

We departed I-77 and took US 19 in Beckley. This route is so very familiar now. We made a brief bathroom stop in Summersville before continuing along the Mountaineer Expressway to connect with I-79 north.

Summersville Lake

Once on I-79 near Sutton, we got hit hard with a sudden rainstorm. Some folks were pulling over but I didn't find it that bad. I slowed and put the four-way flashers on until it eased. We did wonder how old Billy Bob made out on the bike. Fortunately, it didn't last too long.

Rain on I-79

And more rain on I-79

As we approached Morgantown WV, traffic ground to a halt. I wasn't sure if this was a temporary thing but, rather than taking a chance on getting stuck, I took the exit to I-68 east and then got off at Exit 4. We stopped for gas and another bathroom break at a Speedway while I consulted the GPS to find a street level route that would put us back on I-79 north of town.

I managed to plot a route that led right through the heart of town. Morgantown is a big college town and it seems our arrival coincided with the West Virginia University commencement exercises. In the north part of town, cars were parked everywhere, but not many were moving so we got back onto a free-flowing I-79 without incident. I did note that the potholes on some sections of the town roads were worse than Sudbury.

The streets of Morgantown

Downtown Morgantown

WVU commencement parking

Overflow parking but no traffic

The highway was moving nicely past the Pennsylvania border but ground to a halt as the highway was shut down to one lane near Waynesburg. To keep people from jumping ahead, I ran a rolling road block up to the merge. This meant I stayed in the merging lane but remained even with one specific vehicle, preventing latecomers from driving ahead and then cutting in. At the merge, someone always appreciates the move and lets me back in. Semi drivers do this regularly. The funny thing is that, for all the orange barrels, there was no construction equipment in the blocked area. Maybe they are starting tomorrow? Or maybe they just like messing up weekenders returning to Pittsburgh.

Before the bottleneck

We stopped at the Grove City Rest Area so I could call ahead and reserve a room at the Super 8 in Erie. Then we stopped at a McDonald's at Connaught Lake to get food for Sandy. I had been munching on leftovers from Pop's yesterday and was stuffed. It was sunny now and in the high 20's (C), but felt a lot warmer.

We arrived at the Erie Super 8 at 7:00 PM after covering 633 miles in just over twelve hours. The room was fine,as usual, but the WiFi was slow. It didn't take us long before we were in bed and asleep. Blogging could wait.

Our home for the night

Today's Route (633 Avalanche miles):

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Maggie Valley North Carolina - MR Cycles BBQ (Asheville)

Jax asked me a few days ago if I would lead the ride to MR Cycles in Asheville this morning. I thought I was done with my leading chores after Thursday, but was honoured that he thought of me and agreed to do it. Rain or shine. The ride would go via the Blue Ridge Parkway, so he suggested a 9:00 AM departure time to make it to the dealership for noon.

Sandy and I were up at 7:00 AM and hit Pop's for breakfast with Bass Man and Laura by 7:15. Then Willie Wonka and I rode to the Shell station to top off our tanks for the ride. By 9:00 AM, we were ready to roll. Willie and Carlene took up the sweep position on their one-of-a-kind D1 Kawacade because they were CB equipped, providing contact between the front and rear of the group. We were on the way a few minutes after the appointed hour with 26 bikes. Sandy followed with Linda in the Buick.

Saying goodbye

I coasted through town while the group formed up behind me, and then we headed up the hill to Soco Gap where we caught the Blue Ridge Parkway north. Flip on his Wing and Tony D on his ST1300 were right behind me until I waved them around to go and play. As I did on Thursday, my plan was to hold to the speed limit, which was 45 MPH on the BRP. The first leg was quite a bit slower than this. Approaching Balsam Gap, there were four Porsche's getting on the Parkway so I checked up for a bit to let them get out ahead of us. It turned out that they pulled off soon after to wait for a bunch more of them.

BRP riding

Willie passed on Cheap B's request that we pull over for a moment, so I hauled the group into the Licklog Gap Overlook (yes, that is the name). He had been concerned about the other Porsche's behind us but they also pulled over to join the others, so we rolled on.

Licklog Gap Overlook

Flip and Tony D were waiting for us at the Richland Balsam Overlook, the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We got in an excellent group photo courtesy of Linda. While we were posing, the Porsche's (now numbering more than a dozen) howled past in a low gear. I'm not up on the latest model but someone said these went for about $200,000 each.

BRP group photo
 (photo courtesy of Linda)

BRP Panorama
(Photo courtesy of Jason)

Flip and Tony headed out first again. I made a little change in the riding order that resulted in the group being able to move along at 45 MPH. Everyone kept together for the next 32 miles to our exit in Asheville, and we all pulled in to MR Cycle at 11:20 AM.

MR is a big shop that sells all the metric brands. They had agreed to host a BBQ for us today, the whole purpose of the ride. Many thanks to the management for their kindness.

MR Cycle - Asheville NC

Tony D and his new ride

Tbone wondering if this could replace the Meanie

A couple resting their feet in front of a supercharged monster

Dickey's catered the BBQ

It was very good

Some had tables

Bass Man dining with his friends:-))

Most were looking for shade from the hot sun

Everyone looked out for Caleb, as usual

Tony D and I in deep discussion

This fellow brought his wheelchair behind his Spyder

With the BBQ done and MR not having any Joe Rocket or HJC equipment, we decided to head back to Maggie Valley with Billy Bob and Linda. We took the direct route via I-40, and were concerned at first about a nasty black cloud ahead of us. As we moved along, it became apparent that the cloud and its associated rain were south of us and that anyone on the BRP was probably getting the worst of it. Later reports proved this to be true. We got back to the motel at 1:30 dry as a bone.

A little later, the ladies mounted an expedition to the Purple Store. I don't know what it is really called but Sandy and Carlene went along. This left the guys with nothing specific to do, so the WHORE's (We Haul Our Rides Everywhere) among us decided to load our bikes in preparation for early morning departures.

Willie Wonka, Cargo and Badger plotting

Bass Man loaded first

I went second. There weren't any photos of me loading but, for the first time in quite a while, I forgot to put the antennae down first. And I had specifically mentioned to Willie that this was one of the few things I needed to remember.

Willie went third

Cargo attached his helper straps first

Cargo safely on his trailer

Pop's normally closed right after lunch but they agreed to stay open late for us today. After Sandy got back from the Purple Store and a follow-up trip for ice cream, a few of us wandered over about 5:30. Sandy wasn't very hungry and just settled for the world's largest cinnamon bun. I had a huge club sandwich and had to take one quarter of it in a to-go box.

After supper, everyone settled in for the raffle. We won a couple of prizes, one of which included a bag of Wanda's chocolate chip cookies. Many thanks to her, Tina and Southern Draw, who all contributed to the items we won. The winner's portion of the 50/50 draw was over $400 and the amount donated to the Heywood County Sheriff's Department DARE program was well over that due to additional donations. The Godfather won the draw and SERGEANT Heidi (promoted in the last year) was there to accept the  donation.

Did I mention Maxxx and Mar were here? (with Caleb's Dad)

Set up for the drawing

Caleb before they asked him to pull tickets

The prize table

The raffle officials - Mikey, Linda and Jax

A great place to eat if you are in the New River Gorge area

2nd Amendment?

Sergeant Heidi and The Godfather

After the draws were complete, Jenny played and sang a bit. She has an awesome voice. This year, it was just her. After dark, she played a lot more and Southern Draw did a few songs about the attendees.

Southern Draw and Jenny

Wrong Turn and KT shimmying as Sandy watches

It was a mellow evening. I circulated talking to as many as I could and then made a round of goodbyes before heading to our room about 10:45. I set up part of the day's blog to the strains of Jenny's voice and then turned in.

As with all good things, the 2015 SEVROC had drawn to a close for us. Many thanks to Jax and all those who helped him in his 10th year of organizing. It was good to meet Gabbie and Rob of A Holiday Motel and know we have great folks running our new home. Thanks to MR Cycle for the BBQ. Thanks to the weatherman for the best SEVROC weather I can remember. Most of all, thanks to our very special VROC family for just being themselves.

Our reservation has been made for next year.

Today's Route (109 motorcycle miles):