Bimanual activities beyond comfort zone - bike tour over Stelvio Pass [yoo hoo]
Usually, the simple and bare if not almost violent beauty of hard work gets forgotten. This is, when one focuses only on "bionic" arms which seems to be a current societal and academic obsession.
Prosthetic arms are only really needed, however, and that is if one does a truly bimanual activity. That is something one can not really do that well with one arm. Given that other bikers bike one armed, my aging body does a lot better with posture correction on the bike (link) and a more rather than less symmetric posture. With that I use a Mert arm (link) to ride my bike(s) (link) which I do entirely recreationally (link). Recreationally does not mean this is easy, or easy to accomplish, or, mild, or boring, or in any other way accessible for the average pansy boy equipped with the average myo arm. Just so we got that out of the way.
So, last week, I biked up, from Prad (South Tyrolia / Alto Adige, Italy), to the Stelvio Pass (from Wikipedia: the Stelvio Pass (Italian: Passo dello Stelvio; German: Stilfser Joch) is a mountain pass in northern Italy, at an elevation of 2,757 m (9,045 ft) above sea level. It is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps, just 13 m (43 ft) below France's Col de l'Iseran (2,770 m (9,088 ft)), over the Umbrail Pass, via Santa Maria, Mustair and Glurns back to Prad, where we then attended the swimming pool.
Preparation contained a number of days spent biking steep slopes of rural cow pastures.
When we went biking on the hill opposite the Stelvio Pass, I photographed this great view on Prad, at the bottom of the Stelvio Pass (which is high up towards the back, seen in the picture below).
Day of the ride
We chose a day with perfect weather. The sun was brimming and the air was (at least up there) relatively cool.
Up on my way, on the passroad, I made many short stops to drink, eat or stretch.
The landscape was absolutely stunning. The wrinkled line down there in the valley, yeah, that is the passroad below that I had already left behind at the time I took that picture.
The curves are all numbered, and they are numbered backwards, starting from 48 (down there) counting back to 1 (last curve before pass).
That is the view ahead, up, from hairpin curve 15. You can see how the passroad winds and goes up, with not a lot of shade to hide.
Looking back at the road behind me I took a picture that shows the world if one assumes that "riding that puppy is a piece of cake as really it is all in the mind". If one takes the picture at an angle that shows the passroad to be "flat", then the rest of the world seems tilted.
And, hey, I made it to curve 15 alright.
Stilfserjoch / Stelvio Pass top reached selfie
Made it : )
We then raced down to Prad again, via Umbrail pass, Mustair, and so on and so forth. We took a break somewhere down from the Umbrail pass.
Chill out zone
Back in Prad, we started recovery at the outdoor pool.
So really, I did not go fast at all. At least not uphill. I took breaks, to eat, drink and stretch - and to take photos. This trip was so graphical, so visual, it would have been a pity to rush it.
I used a 2011 Cube Limited mountain ("mountain"!) bike, equipped with a Kindshock Dropzone Remote seat dropper (yeah I mounted it myself, no, was not even wearing a prosthetic arm for the installation). For this trip I put on street tires, not wanting the extra resistance of my Maxxis WetScream tires that I usually have on for downhill biking. I wore a gel glove (on my left hand) and I used a Mert hand (prosthetic adapter) on the right side. I wore Rudy Project "Noyz" prescription bike glasses for UV and (downhill!) wind protection. I had a 3L Camel Bak backpack that I had filled with plain water and a 0,5 L bottle mounted on the bike frame with some isotonic sports drink that we happened to have standing around that morning. Prosthetic arm built by me and Balgrist Tec with Puppchen wrist, Ossur Icelock pinlock, Ohio Willowwood Alpha gel liner, Molynlycke tubular gauze (size indicator with a green stripe) worn under liner to avoid friction rash, patend pending cable setup and custom shoulder anchor. My prosthesis is built to sustain and cover that type of work, and my stump is used to that type of relatively extensive strain, so no particular damage or injury was to be expected, and, no particular damage or injury occurred. Also I train regularly and relatively hard, maintaining a degree of well greased heat regulation, circulation and muscle performance as well as coordination. I also train core stability, currently with regular swimming, at a relatively high level of performance (this year, I qualified for four races of the 2015 FINA Masters World Championship in Kazan, without wearing a prosthetic aid, this being a "non handicapped athletes'" competition), and such. All of this is done with previous serious testing, setup modification and adaptation, taking health and safety precautions and training, and this is not to be seen as an accidental overshoot in any way. And so while the bike functioned well, the bike (itself neither being particularly light weight or particularly high tech) may not really be the reason why that all worked out so well and why that was so much fun in the end. If you try this, and you are not well prepared, there might be serious risks or serious injuries. Just like in other sports.