Everything is on hold and other updates.

The Jones at my favorite local overlook a week ago.

Everyone’s world has changed in 2020. Here’s an update on me. I haven’t worked since March 18th and was eventually laid-off. I worked at a non-profit. One third of Minnesota’s non-profit work force has been laid -off. The non-profit sector is the largest employer in the state, followed closely by the government sector. The major employers in this city of 85,000 people are the regional medical providers and the tourist industry. Both have suffered a staggering number of job loses. The employment outlook is grim for the foreseeable future as long as there is a need to maintain Covid-19 social distancing protocols. The bright side personally is that the other person in our household has maintained her employment. We’ll be okay for the time being. I would like to return to my previous employer, but no way to predict when they’ll post my job. It may not happen until next year.

Checking out the lakefront construction on the A-train.

What have I been doing with my time? I started off my lay-off with a lot of anxiety caused by the pandemic and the uncertainty with what would happen next. I spent my days unable to focus on things. In May I started to feel somewhat less anxious and discovered staying busy was the key to getting through my days. I did numerous projects around the house and yard. Checking off a long list of overdue projects. In years past I would have spent all day on my bicycle. In the past few years that has become less of an option. I’ve never been able to recover from activity well. That has gotten worse year by year. I’m 57 now. I also haven’t fully acclimated to heat the past several summers. This limits how far and how often I can ride. I usually feel okay on the ride, but need a full two days to recover from even the shortest rides. I discuss this with my doctor every year. He connects it to my hypertension and doesn’t seem that concerned as long as we’re addressing that. My attitude is, as long as I can get out for bike rides, hikes, or walks, I’m okay. I limit the length and frequency. I’m grateful for the times I do get out.

Trying out my new tent on an overnight backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail.

I bought a new tent in May in hopes of being a able to get out more. I was able to purchase a new $300 Big Agnes solo tent. It was on clearance at REI. That combined with another 20% sale and my yearly dividend, it came to $64. I did get in one overnight backpacking trip in June to try it out before the heat reached us. I hiked in 6 miles and back out the next day. It did wonders for my head, but my body took a few days to recover. Right now I doubt I could do more than a two day trip of any kind. My energy level doesn’t bounce back when out for consecutive days. It’s frustrating, because up until about 2015 I could go non-stop for as many hours and days as I wanted, as long as I could go at my own speed.

Before and after pictures from the major upgrades I made to my motorcycle.

I bought this motorcycle new back in 2015. I was still car-free at the time. I hadn’t owned a car since 2002. I bicycled to work everyday, but even then I was having trouble recovering. Five days in a row of bike commutes left me with no energy to ride bicycles on the weekends. The plan was to commute a few days on the moto and a few days on the bicycle so I could spend some time riding my bicycles on the weekends. I ended up leaving that job a few months after getting the motorcycle and eventually replacing that job with a job I needed to have a car. I bought a car in March of 2017.

Since owning this motorcycle I’ve known about a company based in the UK that made a upgrade kit for my model of motorcycle. The companies name is Rally Raid Products. It essentially converts a reliable, high mpg, street bike into an all-road capable bike by replacing the entire suspension and wheels/tires. It increases suspension travel and increases the front wheel diameter from 17″ to 19″. A bike that would be perfect for exploring the hundreds of miles of forest service roads located in two nearby National Forests.

I did all the wrenching myself.

I did all the work on the motorcycle myself. In the process I flared up the tendinitis in my elbows. Tendinitis that was already flaring from all my busy work in May on home projects. I was so excited to complete this project. A project that started in February when I made the decision to spend the money and ordered all the parts. I even took out a personal loan and put a lien on my motorcycle to pay for it. Something I never do. Then Covid-19 hit the world. The 4-6 week turn around time on my order turned into an agonizing 15 week wait for all the parts to arrive. I was so eager to get out on the motorcycle. Ironically I have the time. But now I can’t operate the throttle for more than an hour without the tendinitis flaring up. I’ve learned from past experience the only thing to heal the arms is rest, often times it takes months.

So, I have all the time in the world, yet my motorcycle sits idle and my bikes get used once or twice a week. Looking at the big picture, I don’t have anything to complain about. We have a home, we’re paying our bills, and we feel safe. All of that is priceless to me.

I’ve been pondering a non-bike related post. I’ve had a list going in my head for several years of the top 10 greatest concerts I saw. The list is so difficult to rank. It’s expanded to a top 20 list with a list of honorable mentions. The rankings change often. Well, except for my top three. The top three finally settled in after a lot of contemplation about a year ago. They haven’t changed. In this time of social distancing I’ve been thinking about all the things we used to be able to do, like go to see live music in both large and small venues. That brings back memories of some of the great concerts I’ve been to and the amazing artists I’ve been able to see in person. Would anyone be interested in this? Maybe it would inspire you to make your own top 10 or top 20 list.