Lend Me Ten Pounds, and I’ll Buy You a Drink.

There is a gentleman I pass quite regularly on my cycle ride to the pool who appears to be picking herbs from the grass on the roadside. I’ve often wanted to stop and ask what he is collecting. I almost did so this morning, but it occurred to me he may be collecting cigarette butts discarded by people using the path. I am probably wrong. He is there so often, I doubt there would be that many butts for him to pick up by now. Nevertheless the thought was enough to deter me from stopping and asking. He might be embarrassed.

Whenever something like that happens I get the feeling I am losing an opportunity to hear an interesting story. Is he picking penny royal to make a decoction to induce abortion? is there some psychotropic weed growing here that no one other than he knows of? Is he a harmless nut herbalist, or a derelict with no money for fags? Is it any of my business?

Almost as if to answer the psychotropic theory, I next came upon a much younger man who appeared to have dropped a plastic carrier bag of possessions and was bending over to retrieve them. I was about to stop to help, until I heard what he was saying, or rather the language he was using, and his tone. It was a loud, angry, incoherent rant full of effing and blinding and the colourful C word. He seemed to be referring to one C in particular, up which he proposed to insert various objects. Whoever he was talking to was not visible to me.

Nor, it seems, was I visible to him. I pedalled by on my bike with its bright yellow trailer sporting a pirate flag on its mast. His rant at the invisible person beside him did not change at all as I rode through his line of gaze. I have seen those crazed, dilated-pupil red-rimmed stares before. Not weed. Ice. Move on. Quickly. Before those eyes focus.

The clear water of the pool was warm. It did not feel particularly refreshing. The only energy burnt there today would be in propulsion, not in maintaining body temperature. It was so warm I wondered if I was sweating as I swam. How can one tell?

The MP3 player gave me a particularly good choice of random music today. My 90 minutes of laps passed very quickly. A bit of Zydeco, Sinead O’Connor, Pink Floyd, and Afro-Celt Sound System. I managed to keep up a vigorous stroke rhythm most of the time except during the more languid sound of O’Connor’s Danny Boy. Not my favourite version, nor my favourite of her recordings.

An estimated 4,740 kJ burnt, I had a cold shower and shampoo. Then, after a quick visit to Aldi for salad vegetables, I headed home, pedalling into a freshening breeze from the NNE. Practicing my long neglected nautical assessment skills, I estimated the wind to be between 18 and twenty knots, and bringing rain.

I checked my apps when I got home. 20 knots, NNE. And the radar showed approaching storms. The rain and lightning began within half an hour. It hasn’t changed the heat or humidity.

It still hurts when I pedal. More when I walk. The exercise is not helping, and may even be making things worse. I can’t keep increasing my painkillers. I need a new strategy.

On a completely different note, Richard in Quebec may be interested to hear I have been told there has been a rare (for Bribie) sighting of a small flock of Oriental cuckoos down at Buckley’s Hole. If the weather and my legs permit, I may toddle off down there tomorrow to see what I can see.

Pain

I can’t stand the pain
Spondylosis
Pinching back vertebrae
I can’t stand the pain
Knee arthritis
‘Cause I’m not who I used to be
Hey bloody knees
Tell me, do you remember
How sweet it used to be
When I could walk for miles
Everything was groovy
Now my joints are grating
And that’s one sound
That I just can’t stand
I can’t stand the pain
Of spondylosis
Aching thighs, aching knees
I can’t stand the pain
Of gravity on me
‘Cause I’m not who I used to be
When I was a young man
Everything was so grand
Now that I’ve grown old
There’s just one thing
That I just can’t stand
Can’t stand the pain
I can’t stand the pain
Of my leg muscles
Taunting me with memories
Of when I could walk free
I can’t stand the pain
And I can’t walk far
Unless my walking stick’s with with me
When we are together
I can make it round the shops
Like Woolworths. Oh sweet memories
But it’s just so wrong
That I just can’t stand
I can’t walk alone
Without a trolley to lean on
I can’t stand the pain
The spondylitic pain
That just keeps on haunting me
Hey hey pain
Get off of my back, please
‘Cause I can’t stand the pain
I’ll jump out a window
‘Cause I can’t stand the pain.

A Good Night’s Sleep

It is remarkable how much better one feels after a good sleep. I have not been sleeping well lately, something I ascribe to a combination of my state of mind and the weather. The days and nights have been hot and humid. Any slight breeze is a blessed relief. My daily swim at the pool, though giving me the exercise I need, and the heavenly release from the pain that plagues my gravity-stressed muscles and bones, is not as refreshing as before because the water has become too warm for my preference.

I have been going to the pool earlier in the morning to get there when the water is coolest, but it still feels more like a warm bath than a fresh dip. Maybe I should switch to the sea and risk the jellyfish and imaginary monsters. I’ve never understood why Australians, who claim to be so hardy in their sunburnt land, won’t swim in water cooler than their skin temperature. I still recall how astounded I was when I learned Katanning Shire would close the public pool if the temperature of the water was below 20 degrees.

On Saturday, I had completed my 90 minute swim and ridden my bike home again by 9 am. That left me nothing to do for the rest of the day but lay under my fan, nap and watch Netflix. The day was supposed to be one of my vegetarian days. I was planning to have dal and rice. On a whim I rode around to the butcher to seek out some more substantial sustenance. I’ve not had red meat in an age. I found a plump lamb shank, already marinating in a red wine sauce, just begging to be cooked and eaten. It fit perfectly into my 12V slow cooker with some celery, onion, tomatoes, and a large sweet potato, cut into chunks. By 7 pm it was perfectly cooked and ready to be deliciously overeaten.

In the afternoon the sky became increasingly overcast and the breeze cooled noticeably. The rain started in the early evening and continued all night. By Sunday morning it was still pelting down and the camp roads were all flowing streams of stormwater. The morning walk to the ablution block was also the morning shower. I had to towel off and change my clothes when I returned. I don’t have a raincoat. I should get one.

I did not ride to the pool. Nor did I drive. I spent the day reading Ursula Le Guin. I was so inactive that my self-winding watch actually stopped. I couldn’t understand why I was so hungry when it was only two pm and I had eaten brunch at eleven. But it was nearly seven. Time flies when you are reading a good book. I hadn’t even noticed how dark it had become as I lay under my reading lamp.

The rain continued. Then the wind came up. It buffeted the caravan until it rocked and creaked. It felt like being in a small boat in a storm. It felt wonderful. The breeze coming through the insect screen was cool and damp. For the first time in weeks I pulled my duvet over my body rather than laying uncovered on top of the bed under the fan. With a full stomach and snuggled in like a child, I had the best sleep I’ve experienced in a long while.

This morning, the outlook seems a little less bleak, though the weather hasn’t improved at all.

On the plus side, this amount of rain means the fire risk has been significantly reduced.

Meds and Booze

Frequent visitors may have detected a slightly surreal turn in some of my recent blog entries. Usually I let some whimsy into my posts deliberately, but lately I have been experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Not in order to get high, but in order NOT to get high. I was aware the recent increase in pregabalin dosage would affect me, and despite joking about getting stoned, I took care not to mix drink and drug until I had adjusted to the new dose. When I first stated taking Lyrica i had three days of being pleasantly stoned, to the consternation of my neighbours and employers. Being a sensible chap I did not drive or interact with my community kids until I adapted. Being in a dry community at the time meant I did not have an alcohol interaction issue.

Pregabalin has been an incredible help in managing the pain in my legs caused by the spondylosis in my spine. I cannot manage without it. I know. I tried. Recently the pain has been returning. Walking any distance, or carrying weighty objects exacerbates it badly. To the point of tearful suicidal thoughts.

The new dose gave me a pleasant buzz after the first couple, though nowhere near as much fun as when I first started on it. So I foreswore alcohol until the effect subsided. I also did not drive my car, though I did ride the bike to the pool. The pool is my real drug these days.

Once I thought I was used to the dose, I tentatively tried booze by putting a drop of Baileys in my coffee. That seemed ok. Next day I had a wine with my evening meal. Later, while talking on the phone with a friend I had a whisky. Or two.

It hit me like a hammer. I fell into bed and immediately weird sleep. Next day I knew I was incapacitated.

Queensland cops are the most rabid in Australia, and besides, even stoned, I am a responsible person. I didn’t even ride the bike to the pool. But I had a weird day. The blog tells it all.

This is an explanation, not an apology. To be perfectly frank, I enjoyed the experience, but not enough to want to keep repeating it. I’ve missed too much pool time. I tried a whisky nightcap last night with no ill effect, so maybe I’m back to normal, whatever that is.

You can still expect some weirdness on occasion. I don’t need drugs or booze for that.

Sunrise Over Moreton Island

After my evening meal yesterday I thought I’d take a little nap. I was asleep in an instant. I didn’t wake until half past midnight. Wide awake and full of beans. I worked a little on one of my craft hobby projects that have gone unattended for some time.

At 04:30 I was really hungry so I had an early breakfast. Feeling more spry than I have for a while I then took the bike to the beach and watched the sunrise. Not a particularly photogenic one, but all the same it was most pleasant to listen to the surf and the birds in the early light.

The tide was halfway out. It would be low at 08:15. There was enough hard sand exposed for a morning ride along the beach. So I rode down the wheelchair access mat and through just a bit of soft sand then along the beach for a few km. What a great way to start the day. I was not the first. Someone had already set out in a 4WD. I passed an elderly couple who had already walked a couple of km, and a man fishing.

Good Customer Relations

This exchange shows how good customer relations works. The company was prepared to replace an expensive unit because of the failure of a small component. My problem with this was that the replacement part was likely to fail in the exact same manner if I continued to use the bike in the same way. I thought I had a better solution. It turned out well, and it also turns out, I suppose, that I am a good customer to have relations with.

Anyway. Apart from replacing the saddle with a more comfortable one to suit my fat arse, and this little issue below, the bike has been excellent, and the service from the company exemplary.

I love my bike, so Leitner deserve a plug on my blog. I hope both my readers buy one.

Read the emails from the bottom up.

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your message.

I’m not sure if or when we will make Leitner stubby holders, but if we do, there will be one with your name on it!

Thanks again and we hope that this resolution holds up and please let us know if you have any issues.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Leitner team!

Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes


On Sat, Dec 14, 2019 at 8:50 AM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Once I pulled the old rubber out, I could see it was more to protect me from being pinched by the spring than to protect the spring itself. Incidentally, the rubber was very brittle. It tore very easily and clearly does not like the Queensland sunshine. My fix seems to work fine. I cut down a neoprene wetsuit material stubbie holder and glued and taped it into a cylinder just tight enough to cover the piston. I clamped it one end only with a strong cable tie then ran a bit more Gorilla Tape around it. I’ve been out for a few rides, and hit some speed bumps at a good lick. It is all holding together. I’m satisfied.

So, if you ever produce a Leitner stubby holder, you owe me one!

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Alan

On Fri, 13 Dec 2019 at 13:47, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Dear Alan,

Thanks for your message.

We look forward to your modification. Hopefully, it will work and will be great. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.

Have a lovely weekend ahead Alan!

Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Kitty
Leitner eBikes


On Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 2:36 PM Alan Freshwater

> wrote:

Cheers Kitty. I will try out my clever idea and let you know how it went. I’ll even send a photo if it turns out as brilliantly as I hope.


Have a nice one.

On Fri, 13 Dec 2019 at 08:13, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Dear Alan,

Thanks for your message.


From our knowledge, the rubber is used to protect the inner springs and there is not structural function of the rubber cover. If you have an idea of replacing this cover with another more durable material and is comfortable doing so, let us know how you go. If you have any questions or trouble, feel free to let us know. We are happy to assist until this is resolved.


Thank you for your patience and effort in working through this with us. We look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Kitty
Leitner eBikes


On Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 4:43 PM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Thanks again Alex. I appreciate your consideration. Before we go to the inconvenience and cost of replacement of the whole fitting I’d like to ask again how essential is this rubber boot to the continued operation of the bike? I’ve already thought of a repair I could easily undertake using neoprene material as used in wet suits. If the design is just to keep out dust and water with a flexible cover, I’m betting I can make a repair as good as the original with a more durable material. Which I happen to have on hand. My only concern is whether this part as fitted has some other important purpose that may affect the safety or functionality of the bike. If it is just a flexible dust cover I can sort it easily.


CheeRs


Alan

On Thu, 12 Dec 2019 at 2:24 pm, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Hi Alan,


Thanks for your reply and for the additional information. We are glad to hear that you are getting plenty of use out the bike!


This is very strange and is definitely the first we have heard of this happening. We are happy to cover this under warranty, but please note this would be a once-off coverage as it appears to likely be a result of prolonged exposure to the sun/heat and not necessarily manufacturing fault. While we understand that you have always placed it under the shade where possible, we would recommend that you continue to do this. Also, another option could be a bike cover or a tarp to place over the bike if it will be exposed to high levels of heat.


So that we can raise a warranty claim, could you please provide us with some photos showing the serial number of the bike (located above the front forks engraved around the frame). You may need to take two photos to cover the whole number.


In addition, could you please provide your preferred shipping address to have the replacement sent out to.


Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes


On Wed, Dec 11, 2019 at 6:46 PM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Hi Alex


I’ve been riding my bike to the pool every day for 5 or 6 days a week and locking it on the bike rack with the side that has perished towards the sun. That’s the only time it is exposed for any length of time except when I’m riding. When I go shopping I find shade. I usually swim for 90 minutes at a time. That and the cycling has helped me lose a heap of weight.
But I digress. I noticed the deterioration last week but I forgot to follow up with you until this morning, I assume that daily exposure is the cause.
Cheers
Alan

On Wed, 11 Dec 2019 at 12:19, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Hi Alan,


Thanks for your message.


Usually with this part, we would just replace the entire rear suspension as we do not typically stock the individual rubber part.


So we can have a bit of a further look into this, do you mind telling us how this happened?


Did it occur while riding? or did you just notice that it had started to peel after a while?


Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes

https://www.leitner.com.au/

https://www.productreview.com.au/b/leitner

https://www.facebook.com/LeitnerDirect



On Wed, Dec 11, 2019 at 11:54 AM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

As you can see from the attached photo the rubber cover on the suspension shock absorber is deteriorating badly. How important is it for protecting the bike and can I replace it myself? Are you able to supply a new one?
Best regards


Alan



Thank the Kraaken for Kodiene

Yesterday was overcast, and relatively cool until the storm broke later that night. I made significant progress on the list I compiled two days ago. I then went on the bike to deliver outsize trousers and shirts to the hospice op shop in Bongaree. After that I extended the ride, exploring further around the poncy canal-side suburbs until I noticed my battery was going flat. I had forgotten to charge it after my last ride. I hadn’t plugged it in after the ride because I thought it might rain, and even though it is undercover, water flows through my area. Evidently I didn’t plug it in at all, even after the rain didn’t eventuate.

Pedalling home became increasingly strenuous, made worse by a fresh on-shore headwind. At least I got some exercise, but this morning I awoke in severe pain. I could not ride. I took the cruiser to the ATM and coin dispenser for dollar coins for my next laundry loads. Then to Aldi for fresh vegetables. By the time I returned to the car I was in severe pain. It’s not my knees, but my thighs and calves so I know it is my spine that is the cause. Just climbing into the car brought tears to my eyes. I needed Codeine. I hoped I still had some in my medicine drawer.

I did. Four left of twenty prescribed by Mehdi on 14/12/2018. Almost exactly a year ago. Mental note to request more next visit.

Not much else is going to happen today. I hurt.