Tuesday Trippin’ July 20

The weather hasn’t been completely peachy. Last week we had siding replaced on the back of the house, soffits and fascia underneath the gutters with Hardie board and it’s rained enough that there hasn’t been a paintable day since. Fortunately, It’s easier to get a rideable day than it is to get a paintable day. I got up this morning to see if the forecast was as grim today as it was last night. I clicked and got excited, then realized it was showing me Panama City Beach. We visited my Mother for the first time in a year and a half a few weeks ago and went a little out of the way to drive through Wewahitchka for some Tupelo honey and walk down the beach. I’m not sure why the widget reverts back to the fun thing you checked once or twice instead of going to show you the place you’ve checked dozens of times since, but I’ll choose to be grateful for the reminder that I got a walk on the beach and a long awaited visit with my mother

The morning percent chance of rain moved inside my parameters here too, and the thunderstorm forecast disappeared completely. The grim bedtime forecast converting into a bike ride happens often enough that I never rule out a ride until the morning of, and really kick myself if I forget to re-check. More to be grateful for.

The ride was nice, not too wet. I was dragging at first, but energetic and getting my head into the right place before it was over. The Y was more crowded last time I went. I hope that was a reflection of the time of day rather than changing norms. I didn’t get the muscle soreness after, so I’m getting used to being back. My bike feels like it could use tightening up, tuning up and adjustments everywhere. For that matter, so did my body earlier this week.

I’ve been writing a good bit, things for this blog, both published and not, as well as other things. I’ve also started getting ready for the seasonal uptick in sales for the Etsy store. I need that to flow smoothly for at least the next 6 months and everything I do now will save some really irritating oops from happening later.

That’s it for today. Have a glorious day, and try to remember what you’re grateful for.

Cameras Part Deux

Sometimes I chide myself for focusing on the wrong thing, but making some camera decisions now does seem like the thing to do. I have to get funding before those decisions matter. At the same time, I need credibility as someone who has what it takes to get the job done. My blog pictures need to start looking better.

I’ve spent some time now and then over a few months considering what to carry instead of the Nikon for stills while riding the trail. Once there is a recumbent, I may take the Nikon from time to time, but as a rule, it’s just too risky, and you know those amazing things will happen too fast on the days on the days I have it, and there will be really glorious moments on the days don’t have it.

I thought there was a nest in the hydrangea this spring. Some people working on the house damaged it and now the empty nest is exposed. This is the first thing I photographed with my new phone. I should go back out in the endless rain to take another photo. I bet the shiny mylar ribbon would really pop.

I love the Samsung Galaxy 8 Active that I had, but it was tired before I ran it through the washer and the dryer in my yoga pants pocket. The $9 a month I’ve been paying in insurance since it was new was going to get be a Galaxy 9 (not active). After the deductible, it was going to be half the retail price to get a dated phone. I’ve mentioned my luddite tendencies, but that’s just because the budget is king in my life. The current Galaxy phone is a 21 and I want to do a project that needs a good quickly accessible camera at the touch of a whim. A lot of the tech savvy people who participate in funding crowdsourced projects won’t relate to this, but buying the Galaxy S21 Ultra was a leap of faith, especially since the reviews said it wasn’t even as rugged as the S20. My last 2 phones were active because I am going to drop it. The temptation to get rid of the overpriced and useless insurance was tempting, but the phone was really expensive. I couldn’t quite do it.

One of the things I love about this phone is that you can turn on “Make a RAW copy”. That means that you can use the .jpgs for all those things that .jpgs are good for, but if you want to play around with RAW, you have that option. I haven’t bought the software for that yet. I’ll probably go with Lightroom because it is widely used, but I did see some software that was rated higher and was a one time fee, not subscription. Decisions!

Tuesday Trippin’ July 12

It’s not just hot, it’s been hot long enough that people are tired of it, especially here in the south. and in some places we are breaking previous heat records for highest (“reliably measured”) temperature on earth, and other extremes regularly, including highest lows.

Locally, there’s been a small respite. Hurricane Elsa, the fifth named storm of the season passed south and east of us bringing rain and some cooler temperatures, a bit of an irony, because warmer ocean temperatures favor storm formation. Elsa was the earliest named 5th storm in history.

The weather made riding hit or miss, with a few good hits. The knee pain was medium to mild, but still around, then almost gone by the time I posted this. It turned out not to be caused by the strength training. I didn’t see how it could be, but the timing made me wonder and I couldn’t think of any other reason at the time. I discovered it was actually because we didn’t get my seat height and angle properly adjusted after the musical bikes. That’s all better now. I’m still liking the new flat bike shoes and pedals, but they’re not 100% at taking care of the tingle and cramps I get in the right foot. I got rides four days in a row. After giving it a rest for a bit, it could be that no shoe would help. Irregular activity levels irritate my problem.

On one of the earlier rides, I saw a newborn fawn. It was the first time for me. As I was approaching, I thought it was a thin sick dog, but then I saw the wet, vibrant dark red brown fur with the bright white spots and thought “Oh dear, where’s Mama? I hope she knows I’m not gonna hurt her baby.” Then the fawn ran away more awkwardly than Bambi on ice. Just afterward I bought a new “flagship” phone. It might give me some better options for getting the unexpected images while riding pre “official” project start time. It’s definitely going to give me better stills without having to carry the Nikon.

I’ve been writing a lot, mostly some of the (not yet finished) posts that should be up when I launch the kickstarter. I’ve also been applying to jobs. It’s not that I can do both the project and a job. I can’t. The project is more than full time for both of us and I’m still trying to get my expected project hours per week down much closer to 40. And, it’s certainly not that I have given up on the video project. Doing something that fits my need to make a difference could be the most important thing I might do next. And, Russ could use a break from his current life to do that as much as I could. What he could really use is about 20 hours a week when he gets plenty of exercise and doesn’t have to manage the expectations of a dozen people in an hour. Really, the reason I applied is that some of the jobs I once wanted very much came floating across my laptop. They did that now. I don’t know that I’d even get an interview for any of them, but back-up plans are pretty important, especially when you’re chasing a long shot, and I may have and answer on this project before any of those companies are ready to interview, so it’s not irresponsible to apply for a job I might not be able to take. If I ever get myself into consideration for the positions in the first place, I can responsibly take myself out as soon as appropriate.

In fact, some people, people who care about me might ask why I’m even thinking of spending another year and a half pursuing unpaid work. It’s really hard to explain. Money is important. Everybody has expenses, and the more money you have, the more options you have. Options are good. I’d like more of them. At the same time, money isn’t what motivates me most in life. It’s the pursuit of whatever I’m following at the moment that lights my fire. I get it. In the world we live in, that takes money, which is why I’m planning a kickstarter. But, my great pleasures are thinking and doing and giving. I don’t get so much pleasure from earning money, I get pleasure from earning opportunities. The distinction may sound trivial, but I’d be a happy clam in a Star Trek Universe where money isn’t really a thing and science, discovery, connection and truth are not just valued, they are the whole point.

I’m thinking about these things at the same time I’ve reached that place in this project where I sometimes give up on myself. That’s not related to those back up job applications I just mentioned. Those were just the choice to have backup potential. It’s related to refining an idea so well, while at the same time keeping most of it in my own head, (and some of it here in these posts). I believe in this project strongly, but I haven’t shared many details, even among some of my closest people. Part of that is because I’m accustomed to caring deeply about more things than most of my people are even interested in knowing exist. I have written 40+ Tuesday updates, but not even Russ has read many of them. When I tell my granddaughter I need some time to work on the computer, I suspect my children assume I’m typing furiously in a FB group (which is only true sometimes :).

The isolation I feel is partly because it’s my MO to be self contained about my ideas, and it’s partly because things are so busy and stressful too. All that stress I mentioned in one of those Tuesday updates? So here’s the thing. I’ve both applied to jobs and hit my wall, both at about the same time. I probably understand my strengths and shortcomings fairly well, and I’m still spending all the time I can pursuing this project. It must be what I am supposed to do next. So, for right now, I’ll just keep plugging along and make it work.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 29

New Bike Shoes, Flat, Stiff and Wide

I ended up buying new shoes just before the century. My go to pair is getting worn, making my tingly toes worse. Breaking in a new pair of shoes is not something I’d normally do for a big event, but it was time and I don’t really remember noticing a “break in” period on bike shoes.

I don’t like clips. I’m afraid I’ll forget to release in an emergency and wrench an ankle. My MTB riding grandson had mentioned I might like flats a while back. Then when we stopped by the recumbent store, the owner showed us extra large flat pedals and said that that they were good for preventing tingly toes. I hadn’t even mentioned that was an issue for me. They look a little clunky. Apparently he recommends them often and his customers love them. They’re not sleek, but I’m all about functionality and plan to follow his advice.

Flat pedals for the recumbent bike

I was already thinking about flats when I ended up using my spare shoes. I keep my, new old stock Keens that are too narrow for me in my car for emergencies and noticed that they are wide enough in the summer with no socks. The stiff sole feels good too, but if I wear them a few times in a row without socks, they’ll start to leave rub damage on my skin. All signs were pointing to flats.

I asked the REI sales rep for something stiff and wide. I expected him to show me flats, but I was leaving the door open to learn something new. Flats it was. I needed to buy the pedals as well. These are much more comfortable to walk in too. Ask me how I know!

New flats after the flat. The cleats on the new flat pedals are sharp!

Training and the Hospitality Highway

I decided early in the week before the century (link is not my video) to give the Y a shot. I was riding down the Greenway thinking about driving to the Y nearest the house when I got home, but I was almost at the Y on the Greenway. So I parked my bike and went in. It was time to start going, or to stop paying for the membership after a year and a half of not using it. (It did open back up months before I decided to go.) Under current conditions (the crowding level I experienced this week, combined with the risk level of the current Covid variants status locally and my status being fully vaccinated) I plan to go weekly, hopefully 2-3 times. And, I’ll try not to get too burnt out on the chore keeping up to date with current conditions (has a variant blown through the vaccine?). I’m looking forward to getting back to strength training. It should help my shoulder, back, knees and hips, and keep me riding through more adverse circumstances. I was surprised that my knees hurt after the workout, I didn’t push it at all. I wondered if strength training after so much time without it was part of what made me feel so bad through the rest of the week, but I think it’s more likely that I took my opening to ride almost every day all month in climbing temperatures without having managed to reach an optimal weight. I’ve been busy too. I hardly know which thing to write about.

Highway 400 is apparently called the Hospitality Highway. I learned that when we picked up our t-shirts. The ride (link is not my video) was fun, the week leading up to it was not. I had a flat on Tuesday, a really difficult and draining ride on Thursday and felt bad Friday and Saturday. It wasn’t my best training week at all. I had spasms in my leg, which according to the internet could have been stress, exhaustion, dehydration or the beginning of rare and horrible things. I’m leaning toward stress and exhaustion because I’m pretty good at hydrating.

I was a bit nervous at the start of the ride. It was raining just enough to make the roads slippery. This crowd was full of energy, but crowds in general aren’t my favorite riding situation and the busy roads in areas with high population density aren’t either. I was having a little bit of that nervous feeling I had just before that time I was getting ready to rappel off the side of a waterfall. “Am I really going to do this?” was floating around in my mind, and I was remembering the time I flipped over my handle bars. Flying through the air, I wasn’t scared, I was angry. I thought I was about to miss things I had planned to do because I did something stupid. If I were to have a wreck in this pile of 1650 people, how hard and long would it be to recover? That’s the thing. It’s not the immediate pain, it’s the time you loose.

Near the start line, pre-crowd compression. Our email from the organizer said there were 1650 riders, including some who did volunteer work so they could ride for free.

There was a young man in a Georgia Tech jersey going over safety rules with a man I soon learned was his father, saying things like “Go across the seams between lanes at an angle, don’t let your tire get a tire stuck in the crack).” I was tuned in to hear what ever I might have forgotten to think about. It was a family activity. The parents were celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary, on the day of, by participating in the ride with their sons.

The ride was good. Were were in a midlin’ good position. As we went under the overpass that was in about the middle of the freeway section, there were already large numbers of riders crossing it, and by the time we got to that place ourselves the police cruisers were pulling up the rear, one to each lane. I didn’t see this effect in any of the videos I watched, but, where I was, there were large numbers of riders with bright tail lights ahead and, from a bright red lights standpoint, it looked much like rush hour with cars on the road. I heard other cyclists remark about it too.

We crossed the Chattahoochee River twice. It was beautiful. The rain wasn’t falling at that exact moment and the early morning fog was rising from the water. I didn’t feel at liberty to give it more than a seconds worth of attention, but I made sure to appreciate that it was there for longer. There were plenty of cool sights to file away. At least one person did wreck. Russ saw a cyclist who had an accident and said there was a lot of blood coming from her head. That really surprised me because helmets usually keep that from happening.

I went up some hills with confidence building ease. We loaded the instructions for the 43 mile ride. It would pass nearby our house at the 30 mile point and we could stop if we wanted, or ride it on in if we didn’t. The last hill before the nine mile route ended is called “Mother-in-Law” (no, none of these named hills were named for men). I walked half way up Mother-in-Law and asked Russ at the top what he wanted to do. The conversation took a little longer than necessary because neither of us wanted to say it, but, we were wiped. I stuttered around and said “I only got 4 hours sleep last night.” We went home and showered and napped, then went back to listen to bands and cheer the 100 milers in. Like most things I start thinking “Am I really going to do this?”, I was glad that I did. After I work my way through this video project, it would be fun to look for some other challenging centuries to ride. I’m sure this particular century will have a new home by then.

Mom! Why is My Skin Red?

Mom wasn’t an anti-vaxxer, she was distracted. I had received my smallpox vaccine at school in Texas. I remember lining up in a huge lunchroom, but after that we moved back to the small rural town in Alabama where she and a few more generations of my family had grown up. I really don’t know what happened, but the ball was dropped somewhere and the rest of my vaccines didn’t happen at school, or the health department or my doctor’s office. My vaccine card was also missing Polio, maybe something else as well, but Measles and Polio are the ones I remember. I test positive for antibodies of all the childhood diseases that doctors over the years have ever had a reason to check, including ones I don’t recall having.

I was in the 5th grade when it happened. I noticed the rash in the bath at home. I don’t remember how quickly the shift from “not that sick” to “nearly dying” happened or how long I was sick. I remember lying on the sofa in front of TV (no remote, black and white) drifting in and out while Mom was at work. I lost 40 lbs. I remember Mom telling me if I didn’t eat they’d take me to the hospital and stick a needle in my arm. For a long time I remembered the weird hallucinations I had, and the delirious nonsensical conversation I was told about later, but those are lost to me now. I remember my hair falling out like a cancer patient, but only about half of it. Some of it never came back. I wore my hair in braids and they were never as thick again. No one else in my class got it. I ate a lot after I got well and became chubby for a few couple of years afterward.

I remember Mom telling me I had a really close call, but just how high my temperature got was a little fuzzy. The mercury was up in that tip of the old glass stick thermometer where the numbers end and just a little bit of tube allows the liquid to continue to expand into the twilight zone of guessed the temperatures. As an adult I wondered if there is a way to figure out how high it got. I looked up the symptoms and things that happened to me to see if they happened at a specific body temperature. It was disquieting. The phrase “denatured proteins” was in what I saw and it wasn’t very far from the temperature range I’d been led to believe my body and brain might have reached. The article likened denatured proteins to scrambled eggs for those who weren’t familiar with the term. In fact, the only reason I’m sure my temperature didn’t get all the way to that level is because I’m alive.

Shortly before I had my first child, I read an article about an unvaccinated farmer who contracted Polio when his daughter was vaccinated. When I took my son in to the pediatrician to get his Polio vaccination, I asked the Dr to vaccinate me as well. I told him about the article and about getting the measles after missing that vaccine. He laughed and gave us both the drops. I didn’t mind the laugh. I wasn’t going to get Polio from taking care of my child and that’s all that mattered to me. They don’t give Polio drops in the US anymore. This article from the CDC explains that the liquid drops vaccine can lead to what happened to the farmer and that’s why those drops are no longer allowed in the US.

Catching the measles isn’t quite straightforward. There are some after effects. I wonder sometimes what new research could mean diagnostically to my health in the future, so I try to keep up with it, but I don’t dwell on it. From time to time, when someone teases me about being distractible or forgetful, I wonder if I did experience some brain damage. I don’t really remember if people started teasing me about my distractibility before that illness, and no one else does either. In some respects it doesn’t matter. This is the one life I have and it’s had some pretty awesome moments that I’m grateful for.

I do tell the story fairly often though. Measles is dangerous and the effects can compound. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to others. I hope that sharing my story will help people to avoid it.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 22

Crickets

Crickets, the word is commonly used as a term to indicate that someone has heard nothing. Shortly after moving back home for a bit, my son asked me if we were playing crickets in the bedroom. I laughed. We are. I’ve been falling asleep to the sound of crickets for months now. At our old house, only 8 miles away, they were really loud. Loud enough that when we had an exchange student once, she asked what the noise was. The background noise was so constant that she had to take me outside and point at nothing in particular before I understood.

At our current house, where the phrases “front yard must be bermuda grass” and “open like a golf course” are in the HOA Guidelines, the neighbors use yard chemical services and the crickets are now on a meditation audio. (The reasons I moved here were good, but the fit wasn’t perfect).

Russ and I have been skipping around with guided and unguided meditations. His default often goes to unguided abstract music, but as I’ve read more articles about the benefits of nature sounds and coming across articles about forest bathing I thought about crickets. They are the background music of my life. And, I have been sleeping better.

The Rides

I’ve been riding at Big Creek because the streambed is cooler and it allows me to ride at more different times of day. The leftovers of a tropical depression are drifting by though, and the weather service flood warnings started 2 days before the rain actually got here. Urban flooding is a problem in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Really it’s a problem in all places where there is a lot of impervious pavement. It’s a problem for Big Creek too, and, while many people who walk short distances will get to use the Greenway there sooner, I won’t ride there or even check the conditions again for at least a week after the rainfall stops. It takes that long for the waters (which during flooding sometimes contain sewage overflow) recede in more places.

Watching the weather is something I didn’t come by naturally. I’ve alway been the “Yes, there’s weather.” girl who didn’t pay much attention, but it’s something Russ and I both do frequently now. Russ does it for his work. I started when I got into ballooning, continued through a few Georgia droughts, and I do it now for the bike rides. Often the local weather forecast will be for more rain or greated chances of rain when I look the day before a ride, and by the morning of the ride, things have changed enough to meet my parameters for a ride. I recently had a week when I didn’t think I’d be able to ride at all, and rode nearly every day. They weren’t all dry rides, but it was fine. Not getting rain that was in the forecast has been something I’ve noticed frequently over the years. Forecasts that that always seem to change in the same direction make me wonder if Heat Island effects on precipitation are being fully accounted for in the model.

Regardless, today I’ve got the weather when it wasn’t expected, so, I can write about everything else later. It’s time to stop writing and start riding.

The Sisters, 400 and Me

There is the matter of that century I signed up for… the 400 Century. The first 3 miles are on a large limited access divided highway. That’s what even the 9 milers are signed up for, to get to go faster down that stretch of concrete on their bikes than they do in their cars. Those who finish the whole ride will also do 97 miles of local roads that I choose not to ride on under any other circumstances, after having made a few exceptions over the last 30 years. If getting chased by the Great Dane was the worst of it, I might ride these roads normally. It’s more the near misses and the times I got yelled at because drivers don’t want to share the road (and you know the kind of profane ugliness that comes with the road rage of the frustrated American driver). I only signed up for the century because it was the last time there would be a ride on 400 due to construction and it’s on that pesky bucket list of mine. It’s so hard to watch a bucket list item go away and do nothing.

In truth, conditions have improved with the advocacy of groups like the ABC, Bike Cobb, Bike Alpharetta, Bike Roswell, and others, but it hasn’t been too long since I went to a town meeting where a planning official was being abusively berated at length by an angry driver that didn’t want bike lanes. We still have far to go. Rage is a dangerous thing, more dangerous when you’re not the one in a 3000 lb vehicle. I’ll be safer in a large group activity with support, but riding these roads is not my comfort zone.

To prep for this discomfort that I not only willingly signed up for, but also dragged Russ into, I decided that on days when I don’t ride (the trail), I should go out and practice “the sisters”, those challenging hills on the century that are right out my back door. So, I went over to Big Sister. Usually when I’m on that hill, I’m walking and it’s easy to forget how long the hill stretches out. I ride flat rail trails and stream beds. I deal with hills by building momentum. But, you lose momentum at the stop sign, and even if there wasn’t one, momentum doesn’t last through a long slow grade.

After walking up Big Sister with my bike, I came home to check published elevations to see if I was initially wrong when I guessed the Big Sister was not a higher climb than Trash Mountain (The biggest elevation change on the Silver Comet, graced by the scent of the adjacent landfill. It’s built in a place where railway right-of-way wasn’t available during construction, so it’s the “real hill” on the Silver Comet). The Big Sister and Trash Mountain are comparable in elevation gain, the whole difference (to me) is in the distance the incline is spread across on Big Sister.

I noticed something else while I had the elevations up. The Sisters didn’t really stand out so much on the graph. There are a lot of hills on the ride. It’s just that the sisters come nearer the end when riders are tired.

When I first started to write this piece, I was talking about needing to train a lot and maybe even completing the whole century. I haven’t really done that level of training. I kept riding through the family trip and the musical bike repairs pretty well, but it turned out to be maintenance, not century training. In most ways, this century is irrelevant to the video project. The timing and requirements are different, but I thought throwing it into the mix would make me a stronger rider. Now, I’m looking at the ride being next weekend, and it’s taken a lot of effort just to ride at all. On top of that, there’s time of year. If you look at a temperature graph of Atlanta, the highs peak right about when the ride is scheduled, stay high through July and start to break around the first week in August. Heat is not my comfort zone either.

Of course, I knew this, and was remembering this, when I signed up. Awareness doesn’t keep it from being a pretty big deal though. I can’t just ignore it. My biggest limitation in riding is heat tolerance. When I get overheated, I get a migraine (unless it’s actually heat stroke, IKR?). I have a tell. When my face looks red, I’m still fine, but when it feels red, when I feel intense heat on my face, that’s when I need to quit and take aspirin, or suffer. I got right up on the edge during a ride a few weeks ago. I stopped when I needed to. It happened to be at the end of my ride. I didn’t take the aspirin though. My face had just started to feel red. I didn’t feel like the terrible symptoms were coming. They didn’t. That made me feel pretty good. I hope it was because I’m more fit (or maybe I just stopped at the right time).

Regardless, I’ve been pushing my heat tolerance all month because the century will be hot. That push is beginning to wear on me. Some days I’ve been tired enough not to do anything very physical except my ride. It’s time to go back to riding in the cooler temps and quit pushing the heat limits. This century will be cool at 7AM when it starts and will heat up later when I’m tired. I’m going to have to treat this as a fun diversion and make sure I don’t stress my body on a level that will cost me in the end. It would have been nice to make this last (and my first) 400 Century Ride a full century for me, but as I look at it from a week out, I’m having to face that for this ride on this day, that’s not going to be the smart choice. That’s ok. It will still be a glorious day.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 15

It’s been a musical bikes week. The Hybrid just needed adjustments. The stem had been tightened down so much that it interfered with the bearings. That was a relief.

We found a chain for the road bike on the internet and took it back to the shop, then they finished earlier than the earliest date we had been given. That was a pleasant surprise. More down time passed between switching bikes in the past. I was without the road bike for some time before I went down to get the hybrid back from my mother’s house. When I was down there, I was on hilly roads, so I expected it to be harder. This time it was back and forth without even a day between riding one and riding the other, and I really noticed how much easier a ride the road bike is.

I also noticed that the Brooks saddle isn’t for me, again. Perhaps it’s because it’s a men’s saddle. There isn’t supposed to be any difference between the men’s and the women’s Brooks saddle except for the length of the nose. Maybe that difference made the difference. The discomfort though is going to make me give things a rest for a few days, and I’m not going to be excited about exploring Brooks possibilities in the future. I’m afraid I may have had some vein pressure, and that could get ugly.

Russ finally got new handlebars for his bike (the crash last November bent them badly and he’s bee riding at an angle ever since. The really big guy at the bike shop told Rus to get a wider bar than what he had, and he’s enjoying that advice. He watched a video and did the replacement himself. It was good to see us (him) moving in the direction of being able to do more ourselves. We took a class on bike repair and maintenance several years back, but I didn’t use any of the information soon enough to remember it.

The weather has been hot. I’ve been riding at warmer times in prep for the century. Overheating is a significant risk for me though. Riding has been draining, but manageable. I’m not feeling very confident about this hilly suburban century I signed up for near the peak of summer heat. I’m not sure whether I should push it as hard as I can, or just enjoy getting to ride down an interstate type highway with 1 or 2 thousand of my closest strangers for, probably, the only time in my life. When I ride through the hottest months of the summer for the project, I’ll have been riding centuries for months (if I’m riding centuries at all), and I’ll be able to start very early.

This week has been a long line of obstacles, both mentioned here, and not, but we managed. The obstacles have been tedious, but the continuous movement forward in spite of them felt good.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 8

I bought mascara for our family trip last week. I don’t know how long it’s been since I used any and it was the 4th day, the actual day of the graduation celebration before I put it on. Literally, I don’t know the last time I wore even the smallest amount of makeup before that. It might have been that family generations photo after my granddaughter was born, so 4 years max. In some ways, I was SO prepared for the pandemic.

I’ve been following Stephanie while she knocks around in places I would go and rebuilds her family’s business Stuckey’s. I always wanted to stop for a praline on family road trips as a kid, so I’d love to see her succeed.

I noticed this tweet Sunday morning. It made me think. Every photo of me that I post for this project shows me at 60 without makeup, that is, until they start showing me at 61. I wonder every now and then what effect my age will have on the level of support I get. I can think of ways it might help, or challenge, potential supporters ideas of who gets support and who doesn’t.

On the one hand, is grandma what you think about when you go to Kickstarter looking for a project to support? On the other, how many Grandmas decide to do a project that will require more physical stamina than anything they have ever done before? People might want to see if I can actually make it (for laughs or inspiration) And, Grandma is only one of my roles as a person. There are plenty of people successfully funding Kickstarters well at my age and older. They may not be as open about their age as I am, but they’re there. All I really know is that I’m going to continue being myself and hope that’s enough to be able to do what I want to do.

Jerseys and Other Things Revisited

I’ve decided to have a project jersey, or shirt. Russ does like jerseys, so he at least will be in a jersey, but we’ll probably both want t-shirts when riding the recumbents. The recumbents will have more storage places, and more upper body contact where the pockets in jerseys are.

The reason I’ve decided to have a jersey is that guy who used to wish me a glorious day every time I rode by. Thinking about how he annoyed me while he was a smoker making me breathe his smoke as he wished me well, and then how I was able to better accept his message once he quit smoking made the decision. And, now he’s gone. I haven’t seen him in months. I ride a little further on a lot of occasions to see if he’s come back to his spot. Maybe everyone knew the guy because for a time he was always there. Maybe I just happened to catch him several times and very few people have run into him. I don’t know because by the time I decided to stop and talk to him, he was gone.

The experience could sound like a small thing, but it’s really the struggle of our time. In a way it is the struggle of all times, to connect with people who are different. Sometimes the reasons we don’t connect are rational, like the avoidance of taking in 40 carcinogen filled breaths while I’m breathing deep and wanting fresh clean air. His habit slowed me in responding to the wish as he intended for it to be received. Sometimes the reasons people don’t connect are not rational though. People make assumptions every day based on isolated experiences and stereotypes. Our lives are richer when we can connect whether our challenges to that connection are rational or not.

The back of my shirt/jersey will say “Have a Glorious Day!” I’m sure there will be a day when I’m so tired I don’t want to do anything but scream, and someone will remind me what my shirt says,Iand that will be alright. That will be why it’s there. I don’t know about the front. I’m thinking the best way to phrase a sentiment. I haven’t found the right words yet. We will see.

This Week’s Riding

There’s been a lot of rain in the forecast this week, all day, every day, the chances of rain are high, but the quantity of rain hasn’t been. Yesterday the forecast was for a high percentage chance of rain nearly every hour, but the rain gauge said only 3/4 of an inch fell and when I planted a calla lily in a spot that gets drenched when there’s much rain, it was dry an inch below the surface. So, while I was expecting to miss a lot of riding, either because of the rain, or because of my equipment failures, I’ve actually been able to find a time and place to ride every day.

I thought I would take the hybrid in on Sunday to see if the steering problem was a quick fix, but I didn’t expect it to be quick and the shop was closed. I’m expecting the chain for my road bike to come in 3 more days. I’ll take the hybrid in then and decide what to do. I had planned to let it become my gravel bike with slightly larger tires and whatever else I need to do to it once I had the life that allowed me to need a gravel bike. But, it’s getting pretty old, and it will be older still if I ever get around to graveling it. It feels like an old friend when it rides right. It definitely needs new handlebar grips. I need to educate myself on when metal fatigue happens to alloys. This one was my first.

It’s been a pretty good week and the challenges have been more manageable than they looked like they would be. I’ll keep on writing and riding and see you next week.

Public Transportation for Everyone

Like many people, I’ve experienced fast, efficient, clean, safe and pleasant public transportation in Europe and Asia. Back home in suburban Atlanta it’s different. There are no bus routes that would take me to the northmost (closest) MARTA station if I wanted to “Be smarta, take MARTA”. The 3 , yes, three, bus routes in my town don’t come near me. I need to drive 30 minutes first if I want to go in to Atlanta on public transportation. At my last home the closest bus was 2 miles. That sounds so close by comparison, but the result was even less satisfactory. Cobb Transit was/is separate. The transfer station isn’t close and it takes longer. The trip downtown was a three hour venture (if you drive, not walk to the bus). Who has 6 hours to devote to a daily commute? Even with notorious Atlanta gridlock, only people who have no other choice would do that.

Routes were and are limited in each of the places I lived OTP (Outside the Perimeter) because of low ridership, and ridership is low, at least in part, because of limited (or unavailable) routes. I wanted, and still want, the freedom to read, check out, do needlework, or use my phone while using fast, efficient transportation with a smaller carbon footprint. Some people define freedom as being the driver. “That’s fine” I would say to them. “But, if I am using public transportation, I’m not on the road competing with you in traffic. Supporting public transportation for all of the people like me, makes your life better too.” Maybe I’d have reached them better if I’d had some photos like those below handy.I could put them next to some of constant road construction. I’d like to see those DOT dollars building infrastructure for tomorrow, not gobbling land paving it.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cycling_promotion_fund.jpeg
https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/09/cycling-promotion-fund-reminds-aussies-cycling-advantage/

So, why is this in the middle of my KarenGoes.com push toward the cycling video project? Well, because it’s important, there’s a cycling component and, because everything’s connected. Not to mention, the need to repair and update our infrastructure makes the news every day.

The pandemic complicated already challenged US commitment to high speed public transportation, really, to public transportation at any speed. But, demand is building and things will change. We’ve learned some things and, there are enough ideas being implemented for me to link to existing projects and research for everything I want to talk about incorporating in my vision. It’s time to win the next era, and making public transportation desirable, efficient and highly effective while giving it a sense of place is a significant piece of that.

If You Build It

These are the things I would put together to design a multi-use, multi-level public transportation system centered around a high speed public transportation core. This system will increase options, improve public transportation and reduce traffic on roads. It will fit in existing landuse, reduce heat island effects, hide currently visible utilities infrastructure with increased safety, provide public and ecosystem services, help stabilize the natural environment, reduce and in some places reverse habitat loss, remediate significant factors driving climate change, beautify public spaces, promote public health and greatly amplify public transportation utility while making it all more inviting.

For Starters

Begin in an area with medium to high density residential population (so there will be abundant local potential users). Build a multi-use transportation corridor in, under and above the median of a road or highway.

First, dig the median out to make a utility tunnel. Put in all feasible public utilities and transportation facility utilities. The tunnel will contain things like fiber infrastructure (phone and other telecom). Put in any systems needed to manage and run the transportation system. Put as many ugly power lines that fall on people during earthquakes or wind and ice storms in the utility tunnel, no more digging up underground utilities for maintenance, go to the access tunnel. There can be additional areas underground for auto parking (with charging stations), bike parking, delivery lockers, maybe even auto services like tire stores. This will improve viewscapes and viewsheds while improving ease of access for maintenance and major repairs

As utilities move into underground spaces, easements on the roadside will become available for moving lanes out or creating green space. Power companies and the DOT have entire departments to work out the easements for changes in roads and lines. I worked in a power company department once doing exactly that for. As the high speed lines move out to areas with less population density, the number of things that are practical to put underground will decrease. Dirt from the tunnel can be used to build up other areas.

Ground Level

The first or ground level (level with the road) will be open with mixed-use, including some street level car parking. A few businesses can be incorporated in the support structure (those providing the goods and services you see in train and metro stations worldwide for convenience and transportation services, perhaps including bicycle storage, bicycle rentals, locker storage and delivery or parcel lockers). And, being ground, or street level, it may also include turn lanes and cross streets as needed for people who using the original roadway.

First Transportation Level

The next level above ground will become the first transportation level with high speed public transportation, such as high speed rail. Why high speed rail? Travelers in Tokyo (the largest city in the world) can make a trip in a small fraction of the time it takes to make a similar trip in a city like Atlanta where the population is much, much less dense. A public transportation user can occupy themselves in any self contained activity instead of being frustrated by drivers, and (if it’s high or even medium speed rail) get there sooner, safer, at lower cost and with less negative environmental impact.

Like many systems, where space allows, the high speed level will also have parallel slower local transportation lines with more frequent stops. Where there isn’t enough space to build a local traffic line parallel, those lines will move to the level above. Waiting areas and seating compartments will be well ventilated with air circulation, filtration and cleaning systems that reduce modern (as well as ancient) health risks. I see this high speed/local speed architecture as incorporating all of the smartest and newest technology, but I don’t see it being visibly very different than the best modern transportation systems that already exist.

Other Commuters

The second level above ground (or the level above powered commuter lines) will be commuter bike path. Where this level is sandwiched in the transportation column the commuter bike space will have sides that let in light and air for physical and mental health. The support structure will have public art. It will have bike parking or storage and rentals, unmanned bike repair stations for self repair, sales or vending machines for drinks, snacks and bicycle repair items like tubes or other wear parts and equipment. Where the bike path does not fit in the transportation column, it can have loops or elevated access trails directly connected to existing systems so that, in some places, this level can be accessed without going through the other levels, transforming commuter and pleasure cycling to a viable option for more people. There could be kiosk coffee shops with balcony seating near an overlook or park, perhaps with a green roof.

The Winding Path

The level beside or above the bike paths will be for walkers, skaters, families with young unpredictable children, handicap scooters. It will be for the people who want to move along on their own power, but for whatever reason, won’t move as quickly, or as predictably as a commuter cyclist. Where there is room, half of this corridor could be dedicated to hover boards, skaters and other users that don’t mix well with pedestrian traffic or commuter cyclists. Where there is room, there could be skateable architecture side features where bikes, boards and skaters could detour from time to time for acrobatic distractions. This can come out into an adjacent built up area maybe in an extension like a rink area and could be designed as public art to provide visual interest to non-users as well as users. These areas will be connected to the public use areas of the complex.

Up on the Roof

The roof of the transportation column will be a green roof linear park with the features that local communities ask for. It might include children’s sports fields, water features, public art, native trees and plants, some edible plants, possible community gardens, space for public meetings, green space for group or individual exercise or meditation, outdoor exercise equipment, story teller’s square, entertainment, etc. This is the space that is used like a local public park, not really intended to provide additional transportation alternatives, a space that increases available land for public use and reduces heat island effects and remediates stormwater management problems.

In locations important because of adjacent habitat or parks, the linear park on the top level will connect to adjacent land to become a habitat greenway or wildlife bridge where animals can move across the transportation column from habitat on one side to habitat on the other reducing road kill and other negative effects of fragmentation. The earth for this can be sourced with the material dug out for the underground utility corridor.

Throughout the system I see a lot of structural, functional, system, environmental and social integration similar to the way this park was designed, almost as though it were a living organism. The more natural systems that can be used to provide services the better. Note that they use a lake for irrigation and even have gardens in the underground parking structure!

In areas where hard surfaces are required, pervious pavements will add to resilience in dealing with stormwater management.

Solar and or wind power generators will be incorporated into the structure where appropriate. Solar may be in multiple forms, perhaps in windows, in canopies, perhaps in horizontal structures that will shade the original street and auto traffic below.

There will be low maintenance green or living walls with local native plants where appropriate providing shade and other cooling as well as ecosystem services and landscaped beauty. If this is what you think of when you hear “living wall”, there should be places for that too.

Any level other than the green roof might have delivery service lockers, coffee kiosks, vending, small unique restaurants and chains, financial services, convenience businesses, emergency services, etc…

Existing power easements become available for expansion if needed to replace lanes of traffic, as connecting greenway, or as low maintenance landscaped areas with plants chosen to provide native habitat that will reduce stormwater management burdens and reduce flooding.

Moving up and putting this in existing transportation corridors, will preserve the opportunity for land that would otherwise be gobbled up in new roads to remain available for higher and better use. At the same time, filling and covering the transportation center with living green roofs and linear parks takes land that would otherwise contribute to heat island effects and turns it into temperature mediating spaces that provide multi-use public space as well as transportation.

Incorporating solar and wind power generation features will improve efficiency and reduce costs while saving even more land for other uses.

Covering this transportation system with native plants and green spaces where possible will improve appearance, reduce the effects of Urban Heat Island, improve stormwater management, reduce flood risk, reduce climate change effects, and be inviting.The green roof with linear parks and public use areas will draw people in to local and community use of the facility, provide hard to find space for all kinds of parks, and so much more.

At the end of the line, before a transportation car turns to go the other way, it will move into an enclosed area that will quickly disinfect with UVC light, or other appropriate technology.

As the line moves out to less densely populated areas, the speed will increase, the stops, services and amenities will spread out and the wildlife bridges will become more frequent as they begin to look more like green overpasses.

I can see dollar signs in the eyes of many readers. The money is going to get spent. It’s just a matter of how. I look at this Billion dollar project and see the 100 year flood zones being redrawn a few times. We can spend it better, to serve more people better with fewer expensive side effects and more services. The ideas I’ve shared, and more are out there. People are making them work. We can make them work.