Wooed by a pedorthist

By the time I mailed the packaged I’d come to a decision. The knee only bugged me aboard the bike. I could feel it walking around but it wasn’t bad as long as I didn’t lift the leg too high.

Yesterday while riding I’d already been on the rampage for another idea should biking the country prove undoable.

With the knee hurting this bad I figured I could keep going to Port-Aux Basques and that’d be it. Somehow I’d get a Greyhound for Halifax. There I could box the bike up, buy a back pack and walk home. If I ever got to Ontario I could even get a canoe an paddle across the lakes to save some time. Sound crazy? Don’t put it passed me.

This much I’d determined: The country was getting crossed, and on my own power. Get rich or die trying.

It would change everything. Plans for the winter would be wiped. Skip patrol would be out. I’d even done time/distance calculations and concluded on inevitably wading through snow. Skiing at least part of the way home was beginning to have a purchase on realism.

Other ideas had been to bike the whole trip standing up. That would be possible but brutal. What about a BMX? Comical and time-costly, but possible. What about a skate board? No way in hell was I roller-blading, though I’m told it’s been done.

Whatever I did, it would wait a day. Corner brook was alright, despite the fart smell of the mill, but more importantly, it was the only place to stay. Stephenville was far down the road and 30K off the highway.

That morning I’d woken up by rays coming in through the branches. The long grass was swinging in my face to a gentle ocean wind and the small brown slugs crawled everywhere leaving trails on the wet outer surface of the bivy bag. But as I left the post office the sky was bruised like a pole-dancers ankles. By the time I got back to The Lair, the rain was licking at my heels. Would this ever stop?

When I’d sat too long sending pointless emails, chatting, surfing, going to the washroom, I walked outside into the storm. It was like one of those days when you feel drunk even though you’re not. The world fades and tunnel vision sets in. You wonder if your sick.

There was a hiking store across the street and I went in. It had caught my attention yesterday because of a weird set of double doors, camping paraphernalia on one end of the store and shoes and purses on the other. Like someone from reno had knocked out a few walls and combined two totally different venues.

I’d been standing there dripping for two minutes when a lady asked what was up and I spewed some questions about a new bivy bag just to fake her out. Then I asked if she’d heard a weather report. I’d checked it on the net twenty minutes ago and tomorrow was supposed to be fine. But I asked anyway.

Here’s a journal excerpt:

… she shrugs and points to man named Dave who seems to have all the answers. He promptly rattles off a column about the weather saying it will improve by tonight.

Okay. One down. Then I ask him if the uni here rents rooms during the summer and he says yes.

We fall into conversation about the bike trip and I mention the problem with the knee…Dave tells me that in addition to owning this store he is also a pedorthist and has a clinic.

“A what?”

“A pedorthist. A foot specialist.”

I see. Dave actually looks like doctor. He is round from head to toe, but not fat. He looks like the stout type of man who’d wear a black vest and have small spectacles on a chain, maybe a stethoscope, and ride through blizzards to enter small cabins and shake his head slightly, out of view of the person dying of cholera. He just seems like that type of guy. This is what you get from reading too much Little House On The Prairie as a kid.

Now here’s the wikipedia definition:

A Certified Pedorthist, or C. Ped. is a specialist in using footwear – which includes shoes, shoe modifications, foot orthoses and other pedorthic devises – to solve problems in, or related to, the foot and lower limb.

He tells me to sit and remove my footwear…

“Trust me,” I say, “that’s a bad idea.”

I’ve been wearing these socks, soaked, then drying on my feet as I pedal for three days. Or four. He doesn’t seem to mind. I guess foot-doctors have seen their share.

…Examines both my feet, pushes a bit, and immediately recognizes that one naturally twists more than the other, meaning, he explains, that when I thrust downward on the pedal i put some sort of bad pressure…

He explains that the knee cap slides in grooves. When my foot twists naturally, under all that weight of pedalling the bike, the knee cap tries to run out off its groove, explaining the pushy-uppy feeling I’ve been having, like it’s about to explode out the top.

We pull out the insoles and Dave shows me where the wear is most intense – the inside of my right foot.

Hmm. Interesting. I think of the bones of animals and know now what grooves he’s talking about.

But I’ve bike toured before and never had this issue, I say to Dave. But with this this amount of weight, he asks.

No. I think about when Natty and I went over the Rockies from AB to BC in 2007. It was so damn hot we didn’t even have sleeping bags, just hoodies. We slept in the day and pedalled at night and footwear was flip-flops.

Today, add equipment I’m not used to and the problems begins to look like an equation. And equations can be solved.

There could be a fix for this Dave says, and tells me to wait a sec while he disappears downstairs. He returns shortly with a two millimetre half-moon-shaped insert to go beneath the insole of my shoe. This will off-set the extra twisting.

“Normally I’d tell you to stick around for a day, but I guess you want to get out of NL.”

It’s like I said, this guy has all the answers. “Tell you what, I hope it works, If it doesn’t you can probably find somewhere else along the way to get better help.”

“What happens when it wears out?” I say stupidly.

“It won’t. Look at it. It wont wear out. Its plastic.”

I’m flabbergasted. Guess I know where God’s been hiding. He gave up the Stan four thousand years ago and moved to NL.

Dave and I talk a long time and he gives me a business card. We talk various hikes, East West and North coast trails, The Yukon river and the traverse across Gros Morne. I ask about possibilities of distance and direction for paddling the Churchill but he doesn’t know much about it. He has another store in Happy Valley Goose Bay and they deal a lot with NATO…

He told me how Happy Valley is really a desert covered in trees. Sand – a thousand feet down in the ground it’s all sand. A bulldozer can be used as an excavator and a house foundation put in in one day.

I ask him about the large informal trailer parks, like communes, I saw on the way from S. Brook and he tells me they’re descendants or legacy-riders of gravel-pit campers, hippies who formed campsites in the massive gravel quarries used during construction of the TCH.

He also tells me about the re-settlement that occurred in the fifties to seventies which is why there are so many ghost towns along the coast of NL.

We bid farewell and I got to he uni and rent a room. I’m exhausted and and from 1730 to 2230, get up shower, do a few things, read, fall asleep.

Tomorrow I’ll see about the insert. Inside the shoe I don’t even feel it.

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