High On Bike

A Bellinghamster On Wheels



‘Cronage’ (krone-ej): The physiological process by which a woman enters her third stage in life—that of the Crone, representing wisdom and repose. Okay, so cronage isn’t a real word. It’s one I made up to describe my personal journey through menopause. Interesting, amusing, and absurdly unpredictable, cronage is a wild ride. Just about the time I think I’m almost through the process, Mother Nature reminds me: “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.”
July has been particularly brutal. After having gone 6 months without a period, I’ve had two already this month both with excruciating cramps that turned me into a whimpering mass of misery that even Ibuprofen couldn’t quite tame. I can take and laugh at the night sweats, hot flashes, and hard to come by sleep. I can even deal with the unpredictable periods. But those sadistic cramps I could do without.
The Janus StoneYesterday was day three of said cramps and I’d had enough. I had a couple of books to pick up at the library and even though all I wanted to do was curl up in a fetal position and wait out the cramps, I decided to hop on my bike and ride to the library. Seven and a half strong miles later, I felt great. My cramps were nonexistent during the ride and while they did show again a little later, I was still on an emotional high from the ride. I used to have a male gynecologist whose only answer for cramps was to exercise. He was unsympathetic and unapologetic. I didn’t like him much for it but he was right to a point—exercise does help. I had a few hours respite after my ride, felt better for it, and had a new book to read.


Breathing Easy

Asthma ChartI’ve just been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. No surprise really, two weeks after my severe allergy attack, I was still coughing a lot which is one of the first signs of asthma. Once I was back to cycling and working out, I noticed I coughed more and heavier exertion left me panting and tired. Plus, both during and after periods of vigorous activity, I’d cough more and I felt like I had to expend more effort. Then there were the insidious coughing spells when I talked a lot (par for me) or laughed. Not one to mess around when it comes to my health, I went to see my doctor. The good news is, I’m in great health. My blood pressure was excellent even after two big cups of coffee—something I’m always happy to see since there is a family history of high blood pressure. My lungs were clear despite the coughing and I rocked the spirometer—a gadget you blow into to measure breath output—scoring over 100 points higher than the norm for my age. My one and only issue is my allergies… ergo the asthma.
So my doctor sent me home with an Albuterol inhaler with instructions to use it about 15 minutes before exercise. Let me tell you, it has made a world of difference. For the first time since my allergy attack, I was actually able to take deep breaths and fill my lungs completely which in turn made the activity less difficult. I’m much stronger pedaling up the hills with less huffing and fatigue. Sweet! I get a little jittery after using the inhaler but it doesn’t last long enough to be an issue.
Although my doctor thinks my asthma is probably temporary she cautioned that there are no guarantees. So the plan is just to take it a day at a time.


Junuary and A Cough

We woke up this morning to another Junuary day—heavily overcast, threatening rain, and chilly. It would definitely be a fleece pullover kind of day except that I’ve been waylaid by a nasty cough probably brought on by allergies. The good news is I’m not sick. The bad news is I feel like I’m sick. So instead being in a fleece, I’m tucked in under several blankets, surrounded by my cats, my knitting, and a good book. Except for the cough, I can’t really complain (even though I’m probably vying for the Most Pathetic Award as it is). It could be a lot worse. We could be having a gorgeous summer day (summer is never a sure thing here until after July 4th) where I’d feel even more pathetic because I’d want to be on my bike.


Starting the Day Right

Steel Cut Oats

Five years ago, if you’d asked me if oatmeal would be a morning staple, I would have wrinkled my nose and rather impolitely exclaimed, “Yuck.” Childhood memories of being force-fed Cream of Wheat (a perennial favorite of my mother’s) still gives me the “herks” some four decades later. (Yes, I know that Cream of Wheat is not oatmeal but it’s that whole instant hot cereal texture thing.) Then when oatmeal became a cholesterol-lowering super food, I tried the flavored instant variety and all it did was make me absolutely ravenous about 30 minutes later due to the high sugar content.
Three or four years ago, though, my stepson, Dan, turned me on to steel-cut oats and it’s been a different story ever since. I love the chewy texture and the way it sticks with me all morning. It’s a great fiber source and when I add some chopped apple, toasted almonds, and raisins, I don’t need a lot of sugar. If I use any at all, it’s only about half of a teaspoon or less. It’s a very healthy, delicious start to the day. Ira and I enjoy it so much we eat three times a week. It’s almost a ritual now.
As an added plus, it’s super easy to make: bring 1 1/2 cups liquid (I use 1 cup organic soy milk and a half cup water) to a boil, add a half cup of steel-cut oats and some raisins, and simmer on low for 20 minutes. I add the chopped apple and almonds after I’ve dished up.