Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

A Delayed Return, But I’m Back

Since last summer I have not posted on this blog as frequently as I usually do.  And there’s a reason for that.  Sadly, that reason was not retirement.  Although I am eligible to retire and could afford to, I have a couple of daughters who cannot afford for me to.  So my current plan is to work for a few more years while I pay for their college tuition.  And then when I actually retire I’ll buy myself another retirement gift like I did when I became eligible to retire last fall.

The reason I have not been riding and posting in this blog is because early last summer I started experiencing intermittent stomach pains, and sometimes nauseau and various other symptoms.  This would occur at different times, but especially when riding a bike.  Neither I nor my medical team were initially able to determine the cause.  Because the symptoms would come and go it was like taking a car to a mechanic because it was making a strange noice, but my the time the mechanic takes it out for a test drive the noise had stopped.  By the time I could go to see one of my doctors the symptoms would subside.  And you can’t fix something when you don’t know what to fix.

We were eventually able to determine that it was a tear in my abdominal wall at one of the seven incision locations made during my previous cancer surgery.  Thankfully, the cancer was not back.    But the tear had become so large that additional surgery became necessary.  So I had surgery again this past fall to repair the problem.  And I am please to be able to say that the surgery was successful.

However, by the time I had recuperated from the surgery and was ready to get back in the saddle, the government incurred a partial shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations.  And I got furloughed, which means I was sent home from work without pay, for what turned out to be the longest shutdown in American history.  As you may know from reading this blog, I have been working for the Federal government for over thirty years.  So this was not my first furlough.  In fact, I have been furloughed more than a half a dozen times.  But this one was the longest, lasting from before last Christmas until January 25th of this year, around five weeks.  It turned out alright in the end, and I received back pay for the work missed during the furlough.  But the furlough time kept me away from my lunchtime bike rides for even more time.

And then when the furlough finally ended, to coin a phrase, “when it rained it poured.”  Since returning to work after the government shutdown, we have been experiencing numerous closings, delays, and early dismissals from work due to severe inclement weather here in the D.C. area.  This further delayed returning to my routine lunchtime bike rides.

It’s been around six months since I was in the habit of riding every day, so I will have to transition back into riding and posting about it on this blog as frequently as I used to.  I got out of shape and gained some weight during “the incident.”  But I have two goals to getting back to the way things used to be.  The first is to get fit again.  And the second is to stop referring to allowing myself to gain weight and get out of shape as “the incident.”

I have adjusted and tuned up my bikes.  So they’re ready.  And I’m now ready too.  Every journey has to start somewhere.  Or in this case, restart.  So it’s time to start riding again.  So please keep an eye out for me on the streets of D.C.  And keep reading this blog.

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An Early Retirement Gift to Myself

I recently completed thirty years of service with the Federal government and became eligible to retire.  And although I am not retiring quite yet, I decided to buy myself an anniversary gift to celebrate the milestone.  And when I saw this bike on eBay I knew what the gift to myself should be.

The newest addition to my collection of bikes is a Surly Disc Trucker.  Surly‘s Long Haul Trucker (LHT) enjoys a reputation as one of the best riding and most value-packed touring bikes out there.  It’s been around long enough to be tested in the real world, in all kinds of places, with all kinds of loads on all kinds of roads.  My 2012 Surly Disc Trucker is an LHT but upgraded with disc brakes to provide a bit more braking performance than the standard rim-brakes that the LHT provides.  Other features of this bike include:  thicker-walled and larger-diameter 4130 CroMoly steel frame tubing than standard sport-touring frames;  a longer wheelbase than you’ll find on a road or hybrid bike, making for maximum stability, comfort and responsive handling under load, and all the braze-ons you could want, from rack mounts to water bottle cage bosses to spare spoke holders.  And the componentry includes:  a Cane Creek 40, 1-1/8˝ threadless black headset;  a Shimano UN-55 square taper interface; a 68 x 118mm bottom bracket;  a Shimano Sora FD-3403 silver front derailleur and Shimano XT RD-M771 rear derailleur; an Andel RSC6, 26/36/48t. square taper interface crankset, and; a Shimano HG-50, 11/12/14/16/18/21/24/28 /32t cassette.  Finally, and with all due respect to Surly’s limited factory available colors of Super Dark Green or Blacktacular, the color of this bike has also been upgraded to custom powder-coated Hi-Vis Neon Yellow.  Combined with matching Deda bar tape and Hi-Vis yellow Ortlieb waterproof front and back panniers, the bike will be almost impossible not to see when I’m out touring.

And going on occasional long-distance bike tours is something I’m looking forward to doing after I retire.  I’ve already planned and mapped out a few different bike tours I will be doing.  One is a tour of the lighthouses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which would involve riding from north to south down the coast, and then looping back around on the mainland and ending up back at the northern-most lighthouse again.  I also will being doing a tour of the Great Alleghany Passage and C&O Canal Towpath, a 336-mile route without any cars or motor vehicles that connects Pittsburgh with D.C.  Along the way it also allows riders to take in a number of small historic towns, state parks and other attractions along the way.  A bike tour along the lower coast of Florida on down to Key West is also on my list.

While there are plenty of other bike tours I would also like to do here in the United States, I would also like to do a bike tour across Northern Spain.  The route there is called El Camino de Santiago.  Also referred to in English as The Way of Saint James, it is a network of spiritual pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Greater in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

It’s been a long journey to get to the point of being eligible to retire.  And I look forward to finishing this journey one day soon, so that I can start more journeys in the future.

Another Anniversary

Posted: February 6, 2017 in Events
Tags: , , ,

toureasyathome01

Today this blog is three years old.  And on this anniversary of when I began writing about the daily bike rides I take during my lunch breaks at work, I find myself still having as much fun as I did when I started.  In fact, I’m having as much fun as when I was a kid riding my first bike, which was a bright green Schwinn Stingray coaster bike with a vinyl banana seat, U-shaped handle bars, a medium height sissy bar, chrome fenders and white-wall tires.  The bikes I ride now are different than the one I rode then.  And so am I.  But the enjoyment is still the same.

My original goal when I began this blog was to try to find and write about at least 365 different monuments, statues, memorials, and other places and events in D.C. that I think are interesting.  I thought that number would make it a compilation of one year’s worth of daily attractions for people to visit in the D.C. area.  But the D.C. area has so much to offer that even after I reached my goal I continued riding and writing.  As of today there are blog posts about 441 bike rides to different places.

And there is no end in sight.  There are literally hundreds of more monuments, memorials, statues, places or events that I have either already visited and not yet written about, or have identified and am planning to visit in the future.  In fact, I already know of more places I still want to ride to than the number I have already written about.  So I should be able to keep writing for the foreseeable future.  I just hope to be able to go to all of them before I retire, because I am eligible in only 571 days.