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Back Training Again, Recovered From Illness — well, not so fast: Contaminated Turkish Apricots?

Update: how crazy. Less than 24 hours after I wrote the text that follows below the logs, terrible abdominal bloating, extremely uncomfortable left side chest ache/pain, right side localized pain, feeling hot as if feverish. Same deal as what I fought for 6 weeks so I'm quite concerned.

Terrible flatulence night of 7/12, so something 7/12 kicked off a strong reaction all over again, the one I fought for weeks. Food reaction or infectious? Is it the food or is it something else like a certain type of wheat?

Scared that the problem is gonna persist as before.

UPDATE: the apricots that I suspect as the root cause are from Turkey, which is signficant, see quote and link to scientific paper below.

UPDATE 2 July 20: stomach isn’t right yet and the localized right side pain persists on and off (I call it RSG = “right side gurgle” because of highly localized air bubbles; I can massage the area and make gurling noises there, something ain't right in that spot). But my training has not been interrupted in spite of my abdomen remainins unsettled and carrying water weight. To be clear, this is something very different from conventional food poisoning (no diarrhea).

daily food log

See comments that follow.

daily food log

Organic turkish-style dried apricots suspicious: have caused severe gas before. I am an idiot or eating them. Could they be contaminated (who could test them?) or some kind of food reaction? Or could it be a certain type of whole grain wheat as per 7/13 diet? Or the pecans or nut bar? Had not eaten pecans in July until 7/11 (35g).

Update: the apricots I strongly suspect as the cause are from Turkey, which dovetails neatly with the mite contamination theory that follows.

The apricots are not too far-fetched, as this article makes clear (mite contamination including mycotoxin- producing fungi). I will have to find their source. As an organic product, this seems even more possible than treated apricots (presumably no multispectral fumigant methyl-bromide). So it’s a long shot, but as this article states, the question of intestinal acariasis or other issue has a real scientific basis for considering it:

The introduction of live insects into human food is rare in developed countries. However we report, for the first time, an emerging risk that exists from dried fruit in Central Europe.

Recently, massive and frequent infestation of dried fruit imported from the Mediterranean region by the mite Carpoglpyhus lactis L. (Acarina: Carpoglyphidae) has been found. In 180 samples taken from supermarkets, 13% were contaminated; the contamination levels ranged from 0 to 660 mites per g of dried fruit. The contamination was found in dried apricots, figs, plums and raisins.

...

Because mites are well-known allergen producers (Colloff 2009), house dust mites are a primary concern because of their proximity to humans. However, recently, there has been an increasing number of reports describing the sensitization of humans not only to Dermatophagoides mites but also to stored-product mites (Fernandez-Caldas 1997).

The consumption of pest mites may cause allergic reaction and also direct infestation in the form of intestinal acariasis (Li et al. 2003). Allergy risk is heightened by the limited options available for effective mite chemical control using traditional pesticides (Hubert et al. 2007).

The second risk is associated with the vectoring of mycotoxin-producing fungi. The association of mites and mycotoxin-producing fungi such as Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp. has been reported (Aucamp 1969; Franzolin et al. 1999; Hubert et al. 2004). The contamination of dried fruit by aflatoxins and ochratoxin is a common event (Trucksess and Scott 2008). During their migration, mites can disseminate the fungal spores. The risks associated with C. lactis are possible allergen production and vectoring of mycotoxin-producing fungi. Although there is no evidence of this for C. lactis, evidence does exist for related species of mites. The contamination of dried fruit is directly correlated with the risk of direct consumption of hazardous mites.

Or they could be radioactive (see nih.gov Chernobyl's radioactive contamination of food and people or this piece realizing that reality and fear-mongering are often two different things). I do not have a geiger counter to test for radioactive contamination or even know if it could test for Cesium-137:

In many European countries levels of I-131, Cs-134/137, Sr-90, and other radionuclides in milk, dairy products, vegetables, grains, meat, and fish increased drastically (sometimes as much as 1,000-fold) immediately after the catastrophe. Up until 1991 the United States imported food products with measurable amounts of Chernobyl radioactive contamination, mostly from Turkey, Italy, Austria, West Germany, Greece, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Sweden, and Denmark. These products included juices, cheeses, pasta, mushrooms, hazelnuts, sage, figs, tea, thyme, juniper, caraway seeds, and apricots.

Generally felt OK in morning through about 13:00, but then mild symptoms start to build steadily to considerable discomfort at 17:00.

The following was written about 24 hours prior to the above

Two months shot from an unknown 'bug', which I suspect was an internal infection, hard to kill, perhaps something E. Coli like. I was able to ride over that period with varying success, generally (in June) rides at 1/3 and 1/2 distance at low power, and skipping some days.

After nearly two weeks of a course of Clarithromycin antibiotic and continuing internal left-chest and right-abdominal pain, and a show-nothing ultrasound and X-ray, I inadvertantly took 3 antibiotic pills on the 29th of June day instead of two.

The very next day the fatigue vaporized, the pain retreated, and I had a good hard ride. I repeated that dosage the next day. Over the next ~5 days the pains steadily diminished and then disappeared. I think I had a pernicious hard-to-kill bug internally. All it took was a higher dose. It could have been a wild coincidence, but that’s sure the way it looks to me.

I've had good strong workouts now since June 30, so I think the bug is finally killed off. While it made me miss all my planned late April through late June events, I am elated to be back to normal again.

LOOK 595 Ultra with DuraAce Di2 For Sale

The LOOK 595 Ultra is a fantastic bike— see my review of the LOOK 595 Ultra including build details and image gallery.

This is the 'Ultra' which is more stiff than the regular version, but actually a more comfortable ride due to the carbon used for the frame—highly recommended versus monocoque “dead wood” carbon frames.

But I am selling the 595 Ultra because its role was that of a spare, and I find that I just always ride my Moots Vamoots RSL. In fact this bike is all but brand-new. It has a minor scratch on the frame (as it did when I bought). Of course, never crashed or abused in any way.

The bike has about 1500 miles on it. Seriously— I keep detailed records for every ride and that’s what it adds up to.

  • Size large (see chart below).
  • Includes ZIPP 404 rear tubular wheel with DuraAce cassette (no front wheel).
  • Shimano DuraAce Di2 electronic shifting with battery and charger.
  • Includes brand-new Shimano DuraAce 53 X 39 crank (10 speed). Optional: SRM DuraAce 50 X 34 crankset for +$1400.
  • Can include saddle (several options).
  • Serious local buyers welcome to come see the bike.
  • Can ship at extra cost of $100 for partial disassembly, boxing, shipping.
  • Includes Shimano Vibe Pro handlebar with nice fresh double bar wrap (comfort).
  • Does NOT include pedals.

See the build notes for build details, though it now has the Shimano Vibe Pro handlebar on it.

This is a superb ride in superb condition. Low mileage (lightly used spare bike), never crashed, never abused.

Contact me to inquire. Asking $3300.

FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large, size chart
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large, size chart

As I had built it below:

FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large, size charge
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large

FOR SALE: Moots Frosti FAT Bike (snow, sand, beach)

It’s a gorgeous one-of-a-kind FAT bike essentially brand new (less than 50 miles). I just am not going to get up in the snow as envisioned.

This FrostTi has a custom Shimano XT triple for its drive train—rare indeed. Sale includes bike as shown with an extra set of tires and tubes.

Review of the the Moots FrosTi, including gallery images.

Contact me to inquire. Asking $9100.

Moots Frosti for sale
Moots Frosti for sale

The Fatigue Clears, At Least for a Day

Whatever was weakening me, even as recent as yesterday has granted me a reprieve from a month of frustration with the strongest best ride in a month, one approaching the best efforts of the year (subjectively and objective power in watts).

Being me and noticing the radical difference today, I stomped on it hard, feeling that it’s better to have one great feeling day to savor than play it safe. So I rode hard, loved it, and no fatigue. Tomorrow... well we’ll see but my wife and kids have a drippy-noise virus, so I’m hoping not to be next even as my nose feels a little itchy.

So thrilling to think the fatigue might be passing, though it’s clear that something continues to rile my digestive system at regular intervals (atypical stuff very hard to pin down). So that’s an ongoing study project, now having avoided wheat and peanuts for some days. as what I though were the most likely offenders.

But maybe the issue has reallly been sinusitus and the Amoxicillin is finally killing it, including the inadvertant double-dose 48 hours ago. My sinuses are more clear. Or maybe the extra chocolate or the 15,000 IU Vitamin D 72 hours ago. Or Inscrutable Stuff, the Biological Tax Code.

This is a strong ride for me as shown below, averaging 253 watts for 77 minutes, half of it into a strong headwind.

Graph showing heart rate and power (watts) when finally stronger
Graph showing heart rate and power (watts) when finally stronger

Power Meter Shows Weakness Clearly

Whatever is weakening me, here is what a near worst case ride looks like for me; power output about 50 watts low—starts out OK, then steady decline until last 20 minutes just dragging. Heart rate commensurate with effort level; not showing signs of illness. I can have influenza and ride about as strong as this.

After 10 days of Amoxicillin, I am deeply skeptical that sinusitus is the cause, chest xray and CBC are all normal. As I steadily detrain from near all time best levels in March, I am unsure what the 'lemonade' might be. Going on a strict diet now of gluten-free oatmeal, whey protein powder and similar innocuous (had another bloating episode).

Graph showing heart rate and power (watts) when ill

Graph showing heart rate and power (watts) when ill

Wear a Helmet or Not?

The article is addressed at commuter-style riding (no concept of fast descents, racing, or even an inkling of mountain biking), but worth a read. I’m going to keep wearing my helmet.

Stop forcing people to wear bike helmets

Helmet or not for a 6000' descent?

Right Maxillary Sinusitus the Cause of Fatigue?

Referring to the previous Bloating/Fatigue: Diet or Infection?, the oscillating “almost strong then back to very weak” symptoms—a CT scan of sinuses came back as “right maxillary sinusitus”. I am advised to continue antiobiotics for a few weeks.

A key month of training has been mostly marginalized, so I hope that this is the answer, and that it starts to clear. I remain skeptical that it could be caused entirely by sinusitis and I just had another bloating episode which is how it all started—checking my food log for clues. Peanuts are suspicious.

I don’t have the viewer software to view this series properly (PC based, I use Apple OS X), nor do I know how to interpret the images. But it’s sort of interesting I think.

Click for larger.

CT scan of sinuses

Bloating/Fatigue: Diet or Infection?

I’ve been suffering from bloating and fatigue for almost 3 weeks. I’ve been trying to pin it down to diet or infection, but so far I am stymied. It’s damaging my training, as I am pretty wiped out trying to do even a standard ride; I was forced to skip the Devil Mountain Double Century this year; it was hopeless. It’s really frustrating being in peak condition but unable to train much at all.

I’ve tracked my food intake for years (to the gram), and yet I can’t seem to pin down any specific cause. At present I have eliminated wheat, peanuts, licorice and red wine (for sulfites) but as that does not seem to help. I suspect an infectious cause, presumably viral. My doctor had little to add to my own analysis.

While bloating and fluid gain are clearly involved, so is fatigue and there is nothing unusual to note (stool or otherwise, including poster-child perfect lab results on every metric for an annual physical). A little stuffiness (seasonal allergies, seems minor), slightly headache at times, and just generally fatigue, generally setting in around 3PM. Adequate sleep too. I am just hoping it goes away soon and doesn’t cost me any more training time at a key part of the season.

Update May 13

Saw two internists and an allergist. Allergist says turbinates swollen, so nasal spray and steroid sinus rinse applied for 4-5 days. A little clearer up there, no change in energy, but head seems clearer (sense of pressure mostly gone). Taking Amoxicillin for 5-6 days now from internist as precaution. Energy remains low, cannot handle average ride without pooping out. Riding every 3rd day, weaker than after a double century finish.

Physical exam with blood work makes me out as a poster child for perfect health in spite of all this. EKG normal, blood pressure normal, HR normal resting as low as 41, though +10 beats or so higher on “high fatigue days”. So no metrics to point to anything.

I’ve cut wheat, peanuts and licorice out of my diet (to rule out any suspects in the bloating thing). Ironically now that I’m not training more than fractionally, my weight is hitting new lows. Something seasonal there every year I guess.

The chest ache— about a decade ago, my left lung was damaged (maybe scarred) from pneumonia (I still remember doctor’s words were “a big ball of puss”). To this day, bugs like to camp out there. My main symptom now aside from the fatigue is a dull general ache at left of chest, right in that troubled area, with pain extending all the way up to my left collarbone at times. Not too overt, but steady and unrelenting. I suspect a low level infection down there, even if my lung function tests as normal (tested), since I sense a slight crunchiness down there under full exhalation. Might have to get an X-Ray or CT scan, but wouldn’t a lung infection be more prominent? Dunno. Just about out of hope of doing Four Horsemen of the Solstice as the detraining continues.

Update May 16

See Right Maxillary Sinusitus.

Beware Ebay Scams

Andrew F writes:

I am about to buy a 2011 Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL off of eBay from a seller who is claiming to be you.

The pictures that are posted are the same shots you have of the bike on your blog. I am sending this email to confirm that the seller I have been communicating with on eBay is in fact you.

I apologize if this email inconveniences you in any way but this is the safest way for me to know.

WIND: This site (Lloyd Chambers) does not sell on ebay. Nor did I ever own a 2011 Trek Top Fuel SSL—that was a bike on loan from Trek USA for the Trek to the Summit of White Mountain Peak.

This particular ebay seller sold a bike using copyrighted images from this site, thus showing a bike he clearly could not be in posession of, thus committing both copyright theft and fraud (misrepresenting the item, if it exists at all).

Moreover, the seller was representing himself as me—yet more fraud.

ebay.com is scammer habitat—like a dog has fleas. Buy only from trusted sellers with long positive histories.

After some digging, I found ebay’s intellectual property infringement page (VeRO) and I reported the infringement.


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