I Had Another Last Night…

…adding to the countless this past year and a half or so, where I’m juuuuust at the crest of that wave about to plunge me down into slumber when suddenly I’m yanked back into a random sadness for any one of our beloved animals no longer with us.

This time the image was Jig in our arms at the moment he ceased last Thursday. On Tuesday it was Pepper enfolded by us, purring to his end. Tomorrow night on the one-year anniversary of Buster’s horrible death, it might very well be me finding her lifeless body on its carapace near the top of our backyard walkway, as if the raccoon involved in her destruction then playfully knocked her lifelessness around the yard.

With some of these as if by a miracle (and increasingly of late with the help of an AdvilPM… or two), I’m able to catch that wave and escape into sleep. More often though I find myself suddenly pulled back to full consciousness , wide-eyed with a sharp inhale as I lay there in a visceral sorrow until I finally rise and come downstairs to occupy my mind with television or the internet until exhaustion finally drops me.

I’ve Got Some Nerve

Given my (increasingly distant) past of pedaling 6,000 miles-plus a year, I  had a totally doable resolution for 2015 last January: bike 2,015 miles. As of today I’ve logged… 38.39 miles. To put that in perspective, the last time I placed ass to saddle was January 6.

That few number of miles and that amount of time between rides is essentially criminal to me. To call it embarrassing is an understatement, but it’s not without a reason.

Fast-backward with me to December 2012. I was hip deep in my academy training Rio Hondo College. Lean and mean. Under 200 pounds. Going on four mile runs like they were walks around the block. At the same time the Glendale Trail Patrol for which I’d volunteered was about to have its official debut so I added in mountain biking to the physical activity equation via a series of practice rides in the Verdugos. I was thrilling myself making it all the way up the Brand Motorway from Brand Park without stopping.

SciaticaIt was at some point then that I tweaked my sciatic nerve, and I’m guessing it was from the sudden uptick of hard trail riding I was doing on a bike I hadn’t been on in awhile and whose geometry was far different from my street bike — and maybe aided by all the running, too. At least that’s the best explanation I could come up with.

Here’s the thing though, I didn’t notice the tweak until returning to the academy after a holiday break and getting back into physical training. There wasn’t actual pain so much as a deadness to my left leg. Running around the track it was like the foot was asleep and it took a concerted effort to minimize the amount of flopping around the foot would do as I’d run.

Quite disconcerting, to say the least.

I remember breaking off from a run and reporting the weird sensation to my training officer and he very gruffly thought I was using it as an excuse. “You either get it examined by a doctor and bring a medical diagnosis or you get your ass back on the track,” was the gist of his response.

Sir, yes sir. I got my ass back on the track.

Long story short, it got worse before it got better, leaving me fearing for a brief spell that I might have to withdraw from the academy. Not that such a thing was going to happen even if my leg fell off, but thankfully the numbness plateaued and was manageable going forward (and yes, that’s my excuse as to why I’ve never sought actual treatment for it from on o’ them medical perfeshunalz).

But a side effect was that I reeeeeeally minimized the mountain biking — and the road riding, too, to the point of quitting by attrition the Glendale Trail Patrol. I did jumpstart things by embarking on a “50 rides in 50 Days” crusade in the summer of 2014, but roughly six rides in that horrid dead-foot/leg sensation returned and I jumped off the bikes as quickly as I jumped on them. It didn’t help that I was no longer sub-200 pounds and/or not in the best condition of my life.

Then at the close of 2014, itching to ride and my leg feeling better I decided I could no longer stay away from my favorite way of commuting and exploring the city, and made that resolution.

Two commutes in, 38.39 total miles, it came back. Ultimately manageable as ever, but also as maddening as hell.

This past weekend I decided that maybe my 15-year-old 24-speed road bike might be the solution. Perhaps it was time to quit single-speed biking all over town as I’d proudly done these last nine years and instead retire to enjoy the luxury of being able to downshift on uphills rather than just grrrrrrrind it out and thus potentially anger the nerve. So Sunday I pulled my dust-covered  Giant OCR-3 roadster off the garage rack where it’s hung untouched for at least three years thinking I’d dust her off, tune her up and ride her to work Monday… only to find the front derailleur hanger that attaches to the seat tube had inexplicably cracked in half leaving the derailleur dangling and the bike unrideable.

Fortunately I found a bike website that sells replacement hangers and it’s been ordered, hopefully to arrive this weekend wherein I can install it and go for a test run around the neighborhood making sure everything is in working order — both bike and nerve. Fingers crossed.




This Sunday is the next CicLAvia, in which a route through the city is closed off to motor vehicular traffic and open only to the wide variety of self-propellers: cyclists, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, skaters, and the like.

I’m looking forward to this one in particular because of a couple firsts. The first first is that the course is brand new, spanning between downtown and the beach mostly via Venice Boulevard (click the graphic below for the bigger picture).


The second first is that contrary to every one of the past five CicLAvias I’ve participated in, I actually don’t have the day to myself and instead have someplace to be. Fortunately that place is down South Bay way and thus I’m relieved that I can avoid missing my first CicLAvia by incorporating it part of my overall roundabout outbound commute.

Specifically, I have to be in Hawthorne by 1 p.m. ready to participate in an spcaLA-offered beginner dog training class. So my plan is to roll downtown around 9 a.m., and just get meandering west until I arrive at Venice and then make my way around the marina and across Ballona Creek onto the bike path that winds its way alongside the sand out of Dockweiler State Beach. From there I’ll bail inland and back onto the streets via Imperial Highway, working my way onward via a staircase of eastbound/southbound/eastbound/southbound streets until I arrive at my destination, like so:


Depending how I’m feeling about pedaling the entire distance home afterward, I may head up Crenshaw to Leimert Park and roll back home across the basin, or I’ll just ride the rails back into downtown by intersecting with a Green Line train to the Blue Line (perhaps working in a stop at Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers since I’ll be in that area).

Backyard Workout: First Set Of Ten

With the scheduled physical training component of my public safety training coming to a close, it’s time to open up on my own and be my own drill instructor (minus the yelling). So I set out this morning to do a three-station set of simple and effective exercises: jump rope (100 reps), sit-ups (25 reps) and push-ups (15 reps), followed by 60 seconds of recovery before doing it again.

Times 10. It took about 30 minutes and succeeded in getting my pulse rate elevated while working my lower, mid and upper body:

A half-hour after I started this first set, I’dcranked out 1,000 jump rope reps, 250 sit-ups and 150 push-ups… just the kind of warm-up I needed to for  2.5-mile jog.

I swear I’m beginning to like this stuff.

Physically Fitting

In my ongoing public safety training, physical fitness and ability is an important component. We are nearing the 36th of 36 scheduled PT  (Physical Training) classes during Module 1 and yesterday we had our final assessment known as the PFQ (Physical Fitness Quotient) test comprised of:

  • Sit-ups (in one minute)
  • 300-meter sprint
  • Push-ups (in one minute)
  • 1.5 mile run

It is a replica of the test administered to LAPD cadets. But it is not to be confused with the other physical abilities test that I’ve done and written about, known as the Work Standard Test Battery (WSTB). That one involves the 99-yard obstacle course, solid and chainlink fence climbs/sprints, 165-pound dummy drag, and a 500-yard run — and must be passed in order to graduate. The PFQ is simply a benchmark with no grade attached… just personal significance.

Though I ended Module 2 of my training in November with a 12:19 time in the 1.5-mile run, the five-week layoff during the holidays coupled with nagging aggravation to my sciatic nerve brought on by an increase during that period in mountainbiking on a poorly positioned bike seat saw me finish the 1.5-mile run in  first PFQ in Module 1 in January a full 40 seconds slower at 12:59.

The second PFQ done about six weeks later saw me shave about 35 seconds off that time to 12:24.

My goal yesterday was not only to eclipse my previous 12:19 best but to finally pushpushpush myself and come in before 12 minutes, something I haven’t done since high school.

I’m happy to report that I succeeded in turning the dream of me being able to sustain a sub-two-minute lap throughout the entire distance into reality.

My results are as follows with improvements from the previous PFQ in February (results from that in parentheses):

  • Sit-ups: 52 (48)
  • 300-meter sprint: 0:52 (0:56)
  • Push-ups: 24 (22)
  • 1.5-mile run: 11:51 (12:24)

As a way-back point of reference, my 1.5-mile test done during the first PFQ at the beginning of Module 2 last August was completed in 14:12. So, in the eight-month arc from beginning to end, my overall time in that event has improved by 2:21.

Not too shabby for a granddaddy.



After getting my scores last month for the “Work Standard Test Battery” (WSTB), comprised of five timed and scored physical events,  I proudly wrote about the progress I’d made between the 17 months that transpired from when I first took it.

Event August 26, 2011 January 26, 2013
99-Yard Obstacle Course 19.4 seconds (179 points) 18.3 seconds (193 points)
Solid Fence Climb/Sprint 13.6 seconds (87 points) 7.3 seconds (177 points)
Chain Link Fence Climb/Sprint 8.2 seconds (75 points) 7.7 seconds (80 points)
Body Drag 5.2 seconds (55 points) 4.5 seconds (57 points)
500-Yard Run 129 seconds (25 points) 103 seconds (33 points)

Well, me and my fellow classmates did it all again on March 9 as something of a mid-term, and I’m even more proud to report I bettered my January scores, like so:

Event January 26, 2013
March 9, 2013
99-Yard Obstacle Course 18.3 seconds (193 points) 17.6 seconds (202 points)
Solid Fence Climb/Sprint 7.3 seconds (177 points) 6.9 seconds (183 points)
Chain Link Fence Climb/Sprint 7.7 seconds (80 points) 7.1 seconds (87 points)
Body Drag 4.5 seconds (57 points) 3.9 seconds (58 points)
500-Yard Run 103 seconds (33 points) 99 seconds (35 points)

We do it all again next month, and that WSTB will differ in that these first two were basically practice runs. That one will be our Final. When we do it in April it’ll be pass and continue or fail and get kicked out of the program. Frankly, I’m confident I’ll pass (hell I had more than the required 384 total points to pass when I first did it in August 2011). My goal instead is to beat my March 9 times.

Rollin’ With It

With the running I’ve been doing these past few months, I’ve been negligent in allowing the resultant lactic acid buildup to overstay its welcome in my upper thighs. I’ve tried stretches and a large but ungainly foam tube to work it out, unsuccessfully. But not anymore. With a simple rolling pin and some clenched teeth I decided it was high time to exorcise that demon juice squattin’ in my quads. And for lack of a legitimate topic I figured I’d share it with you. Oh, but it hurts so good…