I’ve been writing this piece (along with the budget post) for a while, editing and changing as I tweak the plan. I was prepared, but still surprised at the level of overtime when I calculated hard numbers of hours. Then I showed my draft of this article to Russ. He read it. I waited. He didn’t say anything. So, then I asked “Were you shocked by the time commitment?” He said “Yes”, (and that was before I added in another 5 hours for 2 (active recovery) walks the day after each ride). Russ didn’t say any more, so I asked if there was anything that he thought I overestimated. He said “No”. I asked if he was still on board. He said “yes” and asked some questions. Actual questions in full sentences with nouns and verbs were a relief at this point.
The most predictable part of this project is what will be the most surprising to some potential supporters, that the time commitment will be immense. Those top search results in Google say that the Silver Comet alone takes 1-2 days for the “ambitious” to cycle. Guides like that in countries like the US where public transportation is the exception rather than the rule tend to weight estimated timelines toward people who don’t walk a few blocks or more every day. On the other end of the spectrum, some athletes could do both trails in half a day, in fact the 2020 record for a (drafting) century ride is 2 hours 20 minutes and 26 seconds. Those conditions are completely different from the trail, and obviously, we’re not world record class athletes drafting a minivan on a track. While you can speed up the video if you are one of those doing inclement weather training indoors, we’re not making video designed for that speed. Our ride speed will sit in the middle between both extremes.
So, here it is, a big picture snapshot of what I expect our start, then our regular weeks to look like. This is the scenario for the super stretch goal, riding there and back while filming both the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails in each direction each week for at least 52 weeks. We will lead up to that by training up for the full ride and working out the bugs in our filming set up, and we’ll taper off afterward, and do our best to fill in any weeks that didn’t go according to plan.
The Weather, It’s Always Out There
We have weather parameters that, while workable, will be the unpredictable part, at least on a day to day scheduling basis. The weather limits for riding are basically temperature and precipitation, AKA keeping body temperature in the functioning range. The weather can be wet, or cold, but not both. Hypothermia is not good. If the chances of rain are above 20% and the temperature is in the 50s or below, that’s not going to be a ride day. It’s harder to find a hole in the weather for a full day of riding but if we’re confident conditions will pass before we get to a section, we’ll go ahead and ride.. We don’t do thunderstorms (lightening) though. The only riding we do in thunderstorms is to the closest shelter.
If there’s snow, maybe we ride. It depends on the temperature. I’ll ride in some sludge, but when there’s slick solid ice on the ground that’s a no no. Ice tires for bikes exist, but we don’t have enough of that weather in Georgia buy cold weather tires. We can work around it. We probably won’t even choose a bike with a fork wide enough to accept ice tires. In fact, in Georgia, we are more likely to unrideable days due to heat. Hyperthermia is the “no fun” on the warm end of the spectrum. The high temperature isn’t as set as the cold temperature. If I’ve been overheating at a certain temperature, I’m going to have to ride when it’s cooler. The high temperature is rising for me because I’m growing more fit, but Georgia summers are hot. We’ll plan a two week break at the peak of summer temperatures, and we’ll have to be careful about other heat days on top of that. Both temperature extremes will be where our fill in rides are most likely to fall.
Funding and Set Up
When the funding comes in, we’ll start coordinating the equipment and pressing the training harder. We’ll double check that the gear choices we made are still the best and still available. We’ll have some short to medium test runs with the equipment as we work up to full century rides and adjust our set up. We can really start much of it as soon as the lowest level funds. Because some of our expenses and equipment fund at the first level, we will be committed as soon as it funds, and can start front loading our workload as much as possible.
The first ride or two that cover both trails in both directions will be backed up by car. One of us will ride in one direction, the other on return. We’ll have designated spots to meet. After that, hydration will require a little more planning. During the pandemic and in the winter trailhead drinking fountains are turned off. Leaving the trail while filming is not optimal. We’ll be carrying a lot of water on some rides and making sure we buy any necessary water at the places close by the trail as we pass them
We will stay in a hotel the first time we do a full ride. After sleeping the ride off, we’ll be looking to see if we can find an efficiency apartment that fits into the hotel and storage budget. If we can do that, logistics becomes much easier. It would eliminate the time, stress, expense and hassle of switching accommodations when the weather changes. It will also make leaving supplies and battery chargers for use on the next visit possible. A whole host of other things will become markedly less trouble. It will also make actual expenses more predictable. The more expenses are predictable, the better the project will run. Renting a room or even a camper also gives us the option of staying additional nights without additional cost if we need to for any reason like a small injury or unexpected changes in weather or other conditions. Every piece of the project is its own little cost benefit analysis and being open minded about changes that fit inside the budget will always be worth a look.
Hopefully car backup will only be needed once or twice, 4 times at most. After that we should have accomodation and other questions answered, and any gear that we can leave on the other end transported. We’ll be settling into a procedure and a schedule.
Where will the Hours Will go in a Typical Week of Video Riding and Reward Making?
We have two kinds of time commitment once we’re up and running. One is time away from home (which matters because we are away from family and family obligations), the other is the amount of time spent actively working.
I expect time away from home (excluding still photography day trips or other work accomplished in a single day away) to be 3 days a week on a typical week. A day out, a recovery day, a day back. It’s possible that the recovery day on the other end might not be as important late in the project, but keeping it throughout the program, even if we become able to do back to backs, will spread the physical burden out, if only just a little, and it’s more likely that we’ll get other work done efficiently on that day away if we have fewer distractions.
There could be additional time away as well. If the Landscapes and Covered Bridges Screen Wallpaper reward gets 2000+ supporters, we will be away from home an additional 2+ weeks making the photography for all 16 of the covered bridges in Georgia. If that reward gets more than 4000 backers, we’ll be doing all of the covered bridges in Alabama too. That work “burden” will be fun, so we don’t plan to drop it, and I hope the bridges in both states fund.
Human Hours of Work Per Week
Starting with the hours that are identical for both of us, we will each be on the trail 20+ hours per person per week. That’s figuring 15 miles per hour (a low end speed for distance riders, but the recumbents won’t be fast and we want to be fairly consistent with travel speed while filming). We won’t get a lot faster. 20 hours, or 10 hours per ride day also allows stops for tasks like changing or checking battery packs, memory cards and other equipment as well as things like rest/water, restroom and lunch breaks. That’s 40 human hours
We will both write for rewards categories 2 and 3. Those are estimated at 5 hours 45 minutes each for 11.5 human hours, that’s if all of those rewards find supporters. We’ll start that as soon as we’re funded at the lowest level (while we’re acquiring equipment) to front load the work and free up time on the back end if possible. Obligations met free up brain space.
Commuting to and from the trail on each end, 3.5 hours x 2 people. That’s calculated on experience. If we are staying at the lodge on Ft McCLellan, that commute will be on bicycle. 7 Human Hours.
Strength Training at the Y (not at the pre-pandemic levels when I’d skip for months sometimes, or the pandemic levels- nothing) this would be on a serious, keep us healthy and riding, go twice a week level. 7 hours each. Sadly, that’s just over 50% commuting time. We may have to change to a different gym to reduce travel time. I’ve avoided changing because the Y offers free or reduced memberships to those in need, and because I’ve been a member at this one for 30 years. All gym related decisions are on hold until we figure out about Omicron and whatever wave arrives on its heels though. We could be able to reduce this time block by doing what we can for strength training at home. Proper equipment is clearly better for strength training though, so for now the time block stays at this level in the plan. 14 human hours.
Et cetera (I always hear that in the voice of Yul Brynner as the King of Siam BTW). We need to do things like wash and dry our bike clothing, check weather, and check it again, fill or clean drink bottles, make sure streaming is ready, organize everything, move things to where you need them next, make and use checklists, pack lunches, gear and kit, repair, replace and organize or store the little things and the side things, make any appointments, plans and reservations necessary, all those things that suck up the time you don’t know where went and would hire an assistant to do if you could. I’m optimistically allowing 2 hours each per week for that. 4 human hours
Total 76.5 human hours of project work done by two people, or 38.25 hours of project time each.
The work that Russ will do exclusively is:
He’ll maintain bikes, recumbents and… by doing things like adjust, store, repair (or take in to be repaired), air the tires, clean and lubricate after every ride, check brakes, check video, safety, communication and other equipment. He’ll also do things like update software. 4 hours a week.
Upload video. We won’t edit heavily, or even much, but we won’t just throw it up either. We expect to upload 1 ride, around 7 hours of trail video, per week and anything else we shoot for fun or sharing the project, along with anything else we’re interested in sharing. I’m only allowing 4 hours for this activity, so that means that we’re not carefully looking at all of any trail video, just clipping the start and end points, quickly assessing quality and editing out any of those things we said we’d edit out if we noticed them while recording.
The 38.25 hours each of us works plus his individual hours gives Russ 46.25 hours of project related tasks and activities per week.
One day a week, I’ll have a still photography day when I go out and get the photos that will make the screen savers. Hopefully that will fit in a single day. I’d like be able to fit editing photos into this time block because my hours are high, optomily I would split the day somewhat equally between taking and editing photos, but I’ll likely spend more time taking them than editing them. 8 Human Hours
One day a week I’ll write for the website to keep backers up to date and share the project. I’ll have to get faster, but let’s say 8 Human Hours. If you read something I’ve written and think I’m an organized writer, then I’ve edited it repeatedly. If you’ve seen something and don’t think that, I haven’t. Maybe I’ll get over myself and drift toward video/vlog rather than writing. I’d like to have a 40 hour work week when I can and trimming by 14+ hours won’t be easy.
My 38.25 hours that each of us works, plus the 16 hours only I work gives me 54.25 hours per week for Karen. I’m going to have to work on that ol life work balance. If I’m working more than full time on this, the rest of my life isn’t going to stop, and if I’m going to ride 2 centuries per week, I have to sleep.
To help us keep up this schedule and give our bodies time for repair, we’ll be taking quarterly 2-week breaks. They will likely be 1.) December/January, 2.) Spring Break as listed on the Fulton County School Schedule, 3.) The peak of Summer Heat, and 4.) Fall Break, also as listed by Fulton County Schools. Weather permitting, we’ll ride immediately before and after these breaks so that only 1 make up ride per break will be required the following year to complete the set of videos. If it turns out that there is support for making those rides up in the most popular seasons, spring and fall when there are spring flowers and fall colors, we may complete the videos at those times.