Tuesday Trippin’

Do you have a mental file of pictures you didn’t take?

We had storms this week. Normally “thunderstorms” in the forecast is an absolute no go for me, but Russ called from work and said that the weather was spotty and I might give it a try at Big Creek (Greenway) because that’s the closest trail. I wanted the ride and was eager to go.

I parked in Alpharetta because boardwalks in Roswell were closed for repairs. The lot was empty, but the Greenway is an urban trail with parking lots and access points around every turn. There were some people out, mostly walkers. I wasn’t riding for long before I heard thunder behind me. It was between me and the car. That’s my automatic turn around signal, but I’d have to be turning toward the thunder. The Y was up ahead. I’m a member. I could shelter there if I needed to. In fact, I’d expect them to let non-members shelter there too.

When I got to the Y, I’d only heard thunder once more, and it still didn’t sound close, but I knew I was now headed toward it. Still, I called Russ, told him I was headed for the car and to check on me if he hadn’t heard from me. As soon as I hung up, I nearly changed my mind and went for shelter. I’ve never ridden through a storm before. I never saw the lightning, but the thunder was close by and it got worse before I got back to the car.

I saw a party balloon on a ribbon. It was a pale pearl pink, almost white, gently rocking on the ground in the rain. I thought about what a poignant photo it might make, but I sped on by. I’m not sure I could have taken the image in my head if I’d had the Nikon with me, but the thought of it was a welcome distraction. The wondering if I’d pay for my choice was peaking with the rumbles in the sky.

As I approached my parking lot, things were beginning to settle. I came over a bridge and saw the muddy orange water roiling. I thought it would make a good snippet of video. Because the Greenway is in a stream bed, it floods often. Because that streambed is in an urban area it floods even more often. The low spots on the Greenway are pretty evenly distributed and they often bring sandy silty mud with them. Mountain bikes are more adventurous, but it’s not ideal for road bikes. So, when it floods, riding is interrupted until the water recedes. Then it’s still slippery till the maintenance crews scape the mud away. Just about the only time a cyclist on a road bike sees the water roiling like that is when they do exactly what I did, try to make it out before the storm moves in and fail. My foot lightened on the pedal and I was reaching for my phone. Then the thunder grumbled and I pushed on. This time it was behind me. I was considering that it might mean the storm had passed, but I wasn’t slowing while I thought about it.

The ride was short and fast. A sprint is a good ride. It leaves you feeling energized. So, does being alive! I looked at my texts. I saw one from my son who had also been out in the area. “I’m seeing lightning. Be careful.” Since I made it through unscathed, I’m glad I went. But I wouldn’t have if I’d seen that text when he wrote it.

The next day the storms were due to return, but the morning window was longer and safer, so was my ride. I started the week happy that I’d been able to ride on days I might not have. It felt really good, that sense of being out ahead of things, especially after the challenges of recent months. I’m now at two solid weeks of being happy with my mileage and I’m back to pushing for longer individual rides.

I signed up for a century scheduled for the end of next month. It will be my second ever.

Signing up for the century was another thing I wouldn’t have normally done. My first century was the flattest century you could imagine. This one has 5000 feet of climb, or at least the 2019 route did. But, a woman in a car stopped me in the parking lot at Big Creek one day. She called out her car window “Have you heard about the bike ride?” It was so random, I reached for the most likely thing I could think of. Since I was on a road bike, I said “You mean the 400 Century?” and was stunned when I had guessed correctly. She said “Yes. This is the last year…They cancelled last year for Covid and they’re never going to do it again after this year.”

The 400 is a ride that was on my list, if only for the part that goes down 400, a limited access 4 lane highway that’s a major commuter artery for Atlanta. Now, I was hearing that this better be the year, if ever. “Why? I asked. “Their about to do construction on 400 and the DOT said they won’t issue any more permits after that. The date was the end of June.” I said “I’m not sure I can be ready.” She said “You don’t have to ride the whole thing.” I was thinking about what construction was likely to do to my Big Creek Commute. Big Creek is now back on my ride rotation list, but the intersection with 400 is the reason traffic makes the 18 mile round trip take almost as long to drive as the 52 mile round trip that takes me to the closest spot on the Silver Comet (SC).

But, as I drove home, I was thinking. “You better be ready.” The only big hill on the SC is Trash Mountain, so named because it’s beside a landfill (right when you want to breathe deep, is also right when you’d least like to). The “sisters” are the challenging hills on the $00 Century. “Big sister” is behind my backyard, literally. I found out about this ride asking passers by if they were part of an event. I can sit in my backyard and hear riders groan as they come up Big Sister (or talk about how pretty that lake they just passed was if they’re doing fine). Middle sister is in the neighborhood adjoining mine, and little sister is in the neighborhood after that. I passed by an “Avoid the Sisters” directional that never got picked up for months after the last ride. If I’m willing to dodge traffic, I can practice the sisters without ever putting my bike on the back of the car.

I signed up as soon as I got home. There are serious athletes in Atlanta. I’ll be at the back of the pack, so traffic will be more of a frustration for me. But, I’m hoping that the worst I can do is to walk up Big Sister and into my neighborhood to get a ride back to my car. I eventually talked Russ into it as well. Well give it a shot together. All of the websites for the ride are out of date, but there is a link that works to sign-up and a live link to a 2019 Jersey (the registration doesn’t come with one). For all of my lack of interest in Jerseys, this one is not more expensive that what I’d pay for any other jersey. If they update it to artwork that makes it a last ride jersey, I’ll probably order it.

Tuesday Trippin, May 4

I haven’t given actual numbers on my mileage for a while. The good news is that my weeks are back over 100 miles and that feels good. I’ve had draggy days and while pushing to get back to where I was, I’ve had some of the physical problems that come from inconsistency in training (like muscle cramps, the beginning of tendon and nerve issues in the feet, and endorphin ups and downs). I’m not really sure how fast it is recommended that you build mileage back if you were recently at a higher mark. It seems like you might not need to stick as strictly to the 10 percent per week of someone who’s venturing out in new territory, so I’ve been pushing as hard as I can. The 10% recommendation is certainly an “average person” number and the physical issues are settling down before they got very bad.

My child care obligations will stop being full time once pre-school starts in the fall. Thinking I was going to start this before that happened wasn’t exactly insanity, but the stress levels it would have created wouldn’t have been pretty and the number of rides that had back up footage would have been fewer. Take into account all the illness of last year, and I’m thankful that we did not pull the trigger and submit a video/project sooner. Riding for a goal has made all the difference in the world to me/us through the last year, emotionally and physically. But it might have been too much if we had tried before we were ready.

Russ trains up faster than me, which is good. He’s been working too hard on myriad obligations to ride much with me. Thankfully, now that we’re both fully vaccinated, I can ride in places that are safer to ride alone, meaning places that are less remote, more crowded, have more frequent patrols, more frequent access points and trailheads and some trail cameras. So, my current discomfort in riding alone is that Russ really can’t become any more prepared to support the project while working full time. His help with gear, equipment and technology to provide safety, moral support and backup camera footage makes the project a great deal more likely to be a success. Ideally, he would be able to make complete rides soon after we get the kinks worked out of our set up. The sooner we’re both optimizing our resources, the more reliable the project becomes, and the more likely we are to finish in closer to a year instead of 18 months. By the end of May, the biggest renovations to the house should be complete and he can take advantage of the long summer days more often.

This post came up in my memories. I’ve worn out a few tires since then, and I can’t tell you how many. But, I pay better attention now. I change them out before they look like this! It was funny to see that goal. I didn’t ever expect to actually meet it when I wrote that, but (if we meet our top goal) can do most of our support by bike, who knows? It’s possible.

The first time I rode through the rubber on a tire (and the last time I let that happen)

Cycling Jerseys

For all of my lack of attention to the finer points that cycling aficionados care about, I’m a little picky about jerseys (and tights). In general, I don’t like jerseys. It’s the pockets.Russ loads his up, I don’t like to have anything sliding around on my lower back. I didn’t like it before I started slinging my camera there, and I don’t want to wear anything tight enough to keep that from happening. I like the extra length a jersey gives in back, but I don’t want much of anything in the pockets. That renders jerseys pretty much useless to me. If I had one that fit, it’s possible I might like one. I have some merino sport shirts with small side pockets and they are fine, but fit is a challenge for me. That goes for bike shorts, tights and knickers too. I’m a little heavier than most serious cyclists, and more athletic than most heavy cyclists, so my shape/size combo isn’t the common.

My favorite Smartwool as baby moth food. That sleeve with all the loose thread had never been out of the package before I washed it to make sure I wouldn’t store it for the summer with moth eggs.

I don’t worry about it too much because I’m all about Smartwool, or some other brand of merino. 100% wool is so comfortable. The range of temperatures when it’s good to wear it is much larger than people who don’t wear it would suspect, and it breathes so well. It doesn’t give me the prickly heat type rash that nylon tends to put on my upper body. I see ads for bras and panties made of merino, and if I ever decide to spend $80 for a bra, I’d like to give one a shot. Bras, panties, undershirts, tights, you name it, I’d like to give them all a try. I thought I wanted silk long underwear at one time, but I’m always doing something that damages my skin, whether its creative, dishes or gardening. Silk just sticks on my hands and reminds me that my hands have little roughnesses that I didn’t notice until I rubbed them across.

There is a problem with wool though. Moths love even better than I do. Last week I washed some of my heavier pieces. I wanted to make sure there were no moth eggs in them before I put them away for the summer. Some had damage that didn’t show, and after washing it did, big time. I now have 4 pieces lost to moths. They are Smartwool pieces I bought all about the same time from REI. The holes showed on the first wash for each garment. I wondered if they were damaged before purchase. There were pieces in my closet, in the same drawer with no damage that were older, but there is no way to know really. Regardless I was crushed. I pay the money for Smartwool because it lasts for years, except for when it doesn’t.

I am thinking more about color than I normally do. One day I was behind Russ while he was wearing a bright green jersey. It disappeared into the nearly glowing vibrant trail foliage. I thought about how useful it might be to go with chroma key colors for the bikes and kit. We’ll ride together, but, if we have the cameras, we’ll both recording and separate enough to be out of each other’s video (but not so much that we are guaranteed never showing up in each other’s video). Matching the background, or being a color that is easily removed could be useful if we ever go on to edit any ot the footage for future projects.

Fantasy Island

A cedar storage closet for my merino? I really need a Tardis so I’ll have a place to put that closet (and all that stuff in my basement too). I thought about designing a project team shirt/jersey. Decent T-shirts are pretty easy to get at reasonable prices, I lean toward raglan three-quarter length sleeves during the comfortable seasons, that’s doable, and t-shirts are fine for both of us while riding the recumbent. Jerseys can be ordered printed too, though I don’t have experience with brands on those, so getting a quality jersey with the right fit could be an experimental bother.

It’s probably worth it though. In my mind, the design will be custom created by Don Moyer who started Calamityware with a Kickstarter (no, he doesn’t know me, or anything about this. I just love his art and this is the Fantasy Island part of the program). I see a design that reflects both of the trails. The first thing I came up with is a comet with a feather tail or coma). When you look close, you’ll see it’s made of robots and Pterodactyls, a mosaic of “things could be worse” or, maybe done in a way that is somewhat reminiscent of something Salvador Dali would do with ants and lilies, probably a mash up that includes some small images tailored to the trail would work best. The Chief Ladiga Trail part of the imagery is the challenge, finding something appropriate that also communicates that trail, there’s just one image of Chief Ladiga that people are familiar with. Maybe the design could have that image of Chief Ladiga inside the ball of the comet. Yes, I think I like that. It could be a single color with glow in the dark ink for safety. It would be on the front so it didn’t interfere with the potential to use the chroma key idea (if you catch your riding partner on video, it will be from behind). Yeah, that’s it. That would be pretty cool.

Tuesday Trippin’ April 28

I got to ride every day for several days. It was great. I rode mostly on the Greenway because I was trying to get some pictures.The crowds are moving off of the trails and back on to the roads just in time for the summer ozone counts. I’ll be continuing to prioritize photos for at least a couple of weeks. I need to take some shots that will make people want my digital calendars.

I have several posts I’m trying to get out at once, and while writing them, I remember something that causes me to go back and edit old posts to make them clearer, or add in something forgotten. Writing is constant editing for me. Maybe with more practice, I can get my brain organized enough to say things better on one of the first 10 versions. I’m going to have to. The blog is important to the project, but it isn’t the project.

I lost the photos I took last week. I thought the folder had been assigned a different name by the camera, so they didn’t turn up in my searches. I spent several hours organizing my combination of personal and project photos. I’m glad it’s done, but it wasn’t scheduled time. I’ll be coming back through and adding some pictures to the last few posts, while trying not to let a 100th edit on any given post eat up too much productivity.

And now, I’m off to ride and take pictures.

Tuesday Trippin’ April 19

I’m happy to say that a lot of things are looking up. My strength is back to normal, though my distance is not yet. My appetite is back to normal (wanting too many calories, especially when exercising vigorously). I got out and took some photos for the calendars, that felt good. I did some riding on the Greenway this week and a Great Blue Heron flew just over my head less than 20 feet in front of me. The pressure of things that were put off is weighing heavily though. Some family members still need to make it through some health issues and we’ll be finishing some major renovations that were necessarily late. in 5 weeks or less those things should be behind us. It will feel good to focus.

Calendar Photos

This is a videography project with photography supporter rewards. The part of that that I need to be doing now, before I find out if I’ll get funding, is the still photographs for the digital calendars. Spring calendar shots need to show spring scenes. Some of those stills may be taken with a camera phone, but there will need to be a reason I couldn’t get a better shot. Usually, the reason is that training for the video portion of the project is not compatible with walking around, camera in hand. Time for both will be a little freer ove

We were on the trail, almost in Alabama, that day in December when we found out we were about to isolate for Covid. There was a guy with an old school SLR film camera slung over his shoulder. He didn’t have a lens cap on. I could even see when the sun hit his lens that he didn’t have a protective filter either. It struck me so. The camera was so vulnerable, so vintage. It was beautiful. It’s the other thing I remember about that day. The problem with NOT carrying the good camera is that you don’t get the shots if you don’t have the camera and most of the shots I want to take aren’t near the trailhead.

I’ve been stressing over missing some shots I wanted to take. I have no good shots of the daffodils covering the forest floor because I was sick and didn’t get back out to Brushy Mountain Rd while they were still blooming. So, last week, I got up my gumption, put the camera on my shoulder and went out in search of some just past peak dogwoods and native azaleas. The camera bag is waterproof and slides off my back some, but I was fairly comfortable, too comfortable. The camera cost more than the bike.

The bulk of the calendar photos will be taken with the Nikon D-810. The last time I bought a camera, it was 35mm. I think 6 months or a year later, I would have bought digital. For this camera, 6 months or a year later, I likely would have been comfortable going mirrorless. If there is a point where I’m funded past a goal level, but not to the next, camera equipment might be a potential upgrade for the project. Unless I do have an accident while carrying it, there are likely other things that would happen first. Potential camera upgrades might be a zoom lens and/or a mirrorless camera. Possibly some professional instruction. I have a good eye, but I’m not a professional photographer…yet.

Becoming comfortable with the camera on my bike will make some photographs possible, but it is increasingly clear that the rewards and the videography project are separate time commitments. Riding my bike for photographs is slow and distracted. When I’m taking video, that won’t be compatible. It’s not compatible with training to be able to take video either. I’m not rethinking my commitment to either though. Putting free video with seasonal changes out there for people is the point of my project and offering rewards to supporters is a necessary part of the venture.

I’ll be updating these last 2 posts with some photographs soon.

Tuesday Trippin’ April 6 & 13

Pine branch, Polk County, GA

Another “Trippin'” post that covers two weeks here, I don’t think it will become the norm. Leading up to April 6 was a whirlwind, shifting into better rides again (while dealing with those incredible spring pollen counts) and then back into sickness again. The first illness with the weight loss that I mentioned last post really kicked me. I kept thinking I was better then realizing I was not at regular strength, and before getting there, the second illness hit. First Russ got it, then me. It felt like rhinovirus (a cold), but no shortness of breath, so I didn’t seek a Dr. or a test. They just treat for symptomatic relief anyway. We each had about 3 miserable days surrounded by less miserable days on either end, timed perfectly to blow away some free that time we planned to use better.

We have tried to be careful. Last week I got a flat on the trail and chose to walk 2-plus miles back to the car. The skin on my hands is thin and fragile from washing and I just didn’t want to hurt them. Getting something contagious is maddening in the age of ‘rona if you’re among those taking that good ol’ “abundance of caution”. Repeatedly getting something contagious feels defeating. During the pandemic of the century, the last thing a person wants is evidence that they haven’t been careful enough, or that their immune system isn’t strong enough. Whatever the contagious thing that got you is, it could have been Covid-19 instead. Being high risk without healthcare makes that so scary. The morbidity rates most quoted are based on the general public, and it’s less clear what odds a high risk person has. They don’t really quote odds on people for whom a lengthy hospital stay is not possible at all. The reasons for that aren’t pretty.

Trying to see it from a cool distance, the uncontrollable nature of the spread underscores the interconnected nature of life. Our house is a microcosm of everything complicating the spread. With “essential workers” and multiple generations in our house (including young children with shared custody). Our bubble has multiple households and is oh so penetrable, with every person reliant on the choices every other person. Georgia’s executive orders preventing any Covid based changes to custody arrangements took away any semblance of self-determination to risk levels. A pandemic bubble is only as strong as the weakest link and the utter lack of control over our own fate was more than a little stressful. We really have been together/apart in so many more ways than the obvious ones, and not just with corona virus either. I’m sure countless people will write long tomes exploring their particular insights into what was, what wasn’t, and what could have been. Mine would begin with some of the many reasons this was an exceptional time to internalize “Tragedy of the Commons” in new ways and how we could achieve such a truly beautiful future if we did.

Chronic stress suppresses the immune system. It’s not such a surprise this was the worst year for illnesses I’ve had for a while, maybe forever. even with the extra precautions. I still believe the riding and the project prep has made a tremendous difference for us. On that first day that we ventured out after the stay at home order, when so many of the trails were closed I had no idea how unfit I’d become in such a short time. Back when deciding to drive almost 100 miles distance to reach open trails seemed crazy, it took me only a few miles to realize it wasn’t. I don’t really want to think about where I/we would be without the cardio, the escape and the release that has come from making it a priority to get out there and prepare for this project. I’m counting this as another time that the trail has saved me from lesser fates.

Pollen Season

The warmer temps brought pollen. As I drove up to the trail one day, I could see yellow air down the path and started fishing around to find a neck gaiter. Every time I mention the Atlanta counts to a particular family member, she suggests that hers are worse because there are more trees in her rural location. However, this article about the 3 decades of research done by Tom Ogren suggests that, as usual, we are our own worst enemies. In the US, landscapers and urban planners like to plant male trees to avoid messy fruits, but…well.. read the link, and then share it with your HOA, allergist or garden club. This is only one of the many reasons you hope your urban planners are getting their continuing education. Our Atlanta counts are high, but Islamabad is reported to be the worst in the world. Their reason is manmade too, but caused by the choice to plant paper mullberries. If you’d like to know what you should plant, natives are almost always safe. These people, or your local librarian (yes those guys are still around and way cooler than you suspect).

I have so much to say and things are looking up, but I’m going to stop and save it for next week and beyond

Tuesday Trippin’ March 22 & 29

Loropetalum (pink) and Forsythia (yellow) along the SCT

I lost weight during the sickness I mentioned in my last post. Some of the loss was digestive system contents and some of it was fueling the fever. I took in my after-illness calories slowly and carefully. Partly because my stomach still didn’t feel right, but also because I wanted as much weight as possible to stay off. That second part is not the best thing to do to a recovering body, but losing weight while exercising hard is a pretty big challenge for me, and it’s also important for me to lose some weight. Two weeks later, and eating normally, I remain 9 lbs lighter than when I got sick. That is a first. Normally I go fairly quickly back to pre-illness weight.

Recent body stresses include significant illness, weight loss at a higher than recommended rate, and….drumroll please…… vaccination! That’s a lot, I know. I might have waited a bit longer on the vaccination. But, I was anxious. I fully expected to be skipped over, to get my eligibility with the last group. In terms of actually getting it, I was in the last group. Georgia dropped the eligible age to 55 and up to include me. The next week they opened some locations to vaccinate any Georgia residents 17 and older. All state residents were eligible and being vaccinated before I actually got my stick. I was so excited, and bummed at the same time. I was finally eligible. I even got an appointment. Some people who were eligible in the first wave hadn’t managed that yet, but, I didn’t recover from what was probably the hella-flu as quickly as I expected. I still had to wait. Canceling that appointment was so hard, so very hard. I didn’t know how long it might take to get another.

The second appointment was available on my first attempt to schedule though, and I started to feel the weight of Covid fear lifting as soon as I had it. I felt safer just knowing the shot was in my near future, and I was about to shift away from the US mortality rate that peaked at just over 6% back when the trails were closed to a less than 1% chance of contracting a milder case of the disease and virtually no chance of death. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t any safer yet, not for a few weeks.

Now, I’ve had the first shot. I had to drive to North Georgia, which I was more than willing to do. It was not much further than I drive to ride my bike! I’m going to admit this right here. I cried. It’s not that it hurt. Vaccinations sticks don’t bother me. I don’t think, even when I was a child, that I had much, or any trepidation over little needles. Those honkin’ big blood donor needles making scar tissue in my veins bothers me, and I still suck it up do that anyway.

The reason I was so verklempt as I sat in an overcrowded waiting area (with part of me itching to get out) is that I haven’t known for a year plus if I’d be among those who made it through. I was never presumptuous enough to assume I had whatever it is that defeats Covid-19 naturally without any assistance from medical science. And, facing that without healthcare coverage is scary. I scanned faces for signs of emotion. Most faces were pretty blank and hiding what was going on underneath. The woman sitting right beside me as we waited to go to our health care workers was the only emotion I could detect. She had been watching them, and hoped she would get the one she thought looked gentle. I forgot to check the time when I sat down. I don’t know how many extra minutes that cost me.

The day after vaccination, I was really dragging. It was likely a reaction, but my body has had some significant stresses recently, and those were preceded by other significant stresses. In fact, I’m not sure when I remember things being what most people expect “normal” to look like. Who knows really. It could have been something else.

The day after that I was feeling okay and deprived of rides so I went out to ride in the rain. That was a calculated risk, I know. “I got my vaccination the day before yesterday” is not synonymous with “I’m fully vaccinated and safe.” Wet air transfers Covid-19 (and other diseases) really well. The mitigating factor was the lack of other people who also wanted to be out in the rain. There were very few kindred spirits out there. At the first sign of lightning, I would have turned back and gotten off the trail. It was a short ride and I didn’t push much.

What about that Stress Bomb?

This all brings up a very good question about my project. What if my stress bomb full of hurdles continues? I started posting here to show a certain level of seriousness and show a track record that supports the project. It hasn’t gone at all how I intended. What does that mean?

Well, my rewards are completable regardless of how well the filming goes. So, I can deliver on every reward. The project itself, the video of the rides and the free uploads, that should be manageable through significant adversity as well. Cameras on both bikes in both directions builds in a huge margin for error as far as technical and mechanical failures go. And, because I won’t stop those century rides cold turkey, fill-ins for missed rides during any given month will be pretty easy, up to a point. I can’t financially sustain the project indefinitely, even if it’s fully funded because the budget is based on a timeline. But, as long as nothing catastrophic happens, making up a missed ride during the same week of the next year will accomplish the goal of the right number of ride videos spanning the seasons. It sounds like a long time, but it’s a long project and it will produce a lot of video, and there will be plenty of video to enjoy in the meantime if I have to fill in gaps.

There may be some hard choices. I am personally committed to doing the project on pedal power, but there could come a point when that doesn’t make sense to the project. If there is an illness or injury that will cause us to miss half, or more of our ride videos for a month or more, and we could make those videos if we were to convert to electric assist, as bad as I’ll hate that, we’ll have to consider it. I don’t anticipate that will happen, but I’ll bet I haven’t anticipated every little (or big) thing that’s going to happen and the project goal will have to take precedence over the personal goals.

One risk factor just decreased in two ways. The vaccination makes me less wary about the crowds on the trails. I’ll still avoid crowds as best I can. That will make nicer video as well as lower risk of new variants, but soon I’ll be more comfortable in situations that weren’t at all comfortable last week. One of the most exciting parts of getting my vaccination is that I can probably put strength training at the Y back in my plans soon. Strength training is crucial to reducing the risk of injury. The CDC page doesn’t currently address gyms and the vaccinated directly, but pre “we have the vaccine” they mention that indoor gyms are among the highest risk activities, so I’ve stayed home, even though my gym has been open for some time now. Between the drive and the work out, 2 visits will be another 6-7 hours I have to fit in my schedule, but it will well worth it to reduce chances of injury.

All in all, the pre-project prep hasn’t been anything like I expected. But I feel optimistic, and so far the planning has accommodated the unexpected. This project is as sound and completable as any.

Tuesday Trippin’ March 16

This was the week that I have 4 full days free from childcare responsibilities. The weather was not just beautiful, it was gorgeous, and I spent all of that time tossing cookies and checking my temp (except for that night when Russ had to check it for me because I was shaking too hard to be able to push the display button just once). I had not experienced that before. It was scary. For 3 days, I didn’t feel good enough to pick something to run as background noise. I mostly slept.

The real defeat in that was not that I missed riding, I carried myself to the trail in my mind, even when I wasn’t awake (or even trying to distract myself). The frustration is that, once I felt good enough to function, and started to write, kind of like the Amy Adams Character in Julie and Julia, I’m here writing this stuff and wondering if it’s just a dairy. I don’t really have time for a diary right now. They’re supposed to be rewarding if you take the time, but now is not my time for that. And, I’m afraid to hook up the analytics and find out, just like I’m afraid to finish that video.

I don’t honestly know how much of not having submitted the application is my aversion to standing up in front of others with “a feeling I could be someone, be someone”, and how much of it is that life blew up with essential worker overtime instead of work from home, and dozens of other emergencies flowing out of control since the pandemic (since well before then really).

I do find it so much easier to put myself forward if people are looking at my work instead of me. I can fill out the application and wait, but that other part. You know, it’s not like in the movies. If you’re even still using paper for what you applied to do, you don’t have to open the envelope to know if you were accepted. Acceptance comes in a fat envelope full of next steps. Denial comes with just one sheet of condolences. Emails have subject titles. You open it to confirm, but you know. Instantly. I guess showing a hopeful character opening an envelope is a good way to communicate anxiety and suspense to the viewer though.

The Kickstarter will be different. I’ll be watching and responding daily as it makes, or … perhaps I shouldn’t speak that into existence. 🙂

Tuesday Trippin’ March 9

Training-wise, the struggle goes on. stress-wise, we’re beginning to level out after the recent rash of health scares. Daylight Savings Time (DLS) is just around the corner. The logic of DLS has always eluded me, but in a 9-5 world, it means longer rides after work, and for Russ, that means catching up on his training in the lengthening and warming days of the coming months. I’m choosing to be optimistic about a break in all of the uncontrollable garbage life keeps throwing our way, and when I stress over progress, I keep reminding myself that I’ve designed the tiers of the project to fit the level of funding. We won’t have to do more than what we already can until we get the funding, and when we get that funding, we’ll be able to rise to meet whatever level of commitment that requires.

Roadside Daffodils on Brushy Mountain Rd

The most remarkable thing about our training this week was a trip down Brushy Mountain Rd. I had been riding through the tunnel one day quite some time back and heard voices above. It was a little startling in a place where we never hear traffic, and I’ve been wondering about it every now and then since. So, we did our Google Maps version of the old timey Sunday drive after our ride, checking to see if we could figure out where the tunnel was from above. It’s a forested area with deep hills and even deeper cuts through the slopes at the entrances to the tunnel. So, the road is hidden from the tunnel and the tunnel is hidden from the road, even when there are no leaves on the trees. We were following along in high resolution looking for the spot where the road intersected the trail on the map when we saw this gorgeous sight. These daffodils were scattered through the understory and out toward the right-of-way on both sides of the road. The unexpected beauty was breathtaking, and at most other times of the year we wouldn’t have even known it existed.

I wish I could display the photo all the way across the screen, instead of just the column width, but in many respects it was one of those “You had to be there” moments, being totally surrounded in spring blooms with dappled sunlight streaming through the trees and cool early evening air. I’ll try to get back out there soon with the better camera for a calendar shot.

Department of Natural Resources Land
Marker

We stopped to take pictures, and were so close to the location that was showing on maps for the trail, we just walked toward the intersection. As we did, I saw this marker. Collecting photos of survey markers is one of my “things”, so I snapped a shot.

All along this area the road is posted with high visibility markers. We had a couple in a truck pull over to ask us if we needed help, and there was another truck that passed by in one direction and then immediately passed us again in the other direction (without enough time or a location nearby that would make that seem like a natural thing).

I stayed in what should have been the right of way, and even when I took the photo of the DNR marker am pretty sure that my feet were still in the right of way. I’m glad my curiosity about what was above me brought us out to look. But, this is an area where I very highly recommend taking nothing but pictures, leaving nothing but footprints (and be sure to leave those in the right of way) without even considering a trespass.

Racking it Up

Racks are pretty quick and easy to talk about. Through the years, I’ve tried a variety of different kinds of options. As a kid growing up in the rural south, riding my bike always started at home. I never went somewhere else to ride. But then traffic became more crowded and less likely to yield, even in the country, and the distance I wanted to ride grew longer.

Strap on Racks

I started with the inexpensive type that you strap to the trunk or the rear door on a van or hatchback. The benefit to that is cost and the are usually compact to store. The drawbacks are that it takes time to install. Futzing with the straps is time consuming, and if you use it very often, it can become irritating.Some bikes, especially mountain bikes don’t fit very well and can fall of, and they eventually leave dimples in the car body. If you don’t strap it exactly the same every time, there will be dimples in more than one place. So, it’s the low budget option for infrequent use, for the owner who is willing to get a couple of new dimples in their auto body.

Hitch Mount

After growing out of that variety, I moved to hitch mount racks. First I only used them when I was going to use the truck. Later I started putting trailer hitches on my cars. I don’t tend to drive cars that are designed to tow, so I’m really protective of them. The car bike rack hitch only holds bike racks. I never tow a trailer. I never even put on a cargo tray. Why? Because cargo trays get overloaded. Bike racks have only enough space for the bikes, so they will never be loaded over the weight of those bikes. Ours ar not the super light carbon bikes and they weigh quite enough.

I never consider anything other than a hitch mount any more. I had the kind with an arm that swings out and the bike hang from it. That rack was a Thule similar to this one, well loved, but not as great at Interstate speeds due to vibration and the resulting movement. The bicycle tie-down straps seemed to disappear for a while too, but replacements weren’t expensive and eventually the disappearance seemed to slow. The hanging racks aren’t good for mountain bike frames though. The bike crossbar is at too great an angle and we’ve had to stop to secure my grandson’s mountain bike multiple times of the same trip to a race.That’s not relevant to this project because a mountain bike will never be the right bike for the job. It is relevant to my grandson though, and to date, we’ve never budgeted the cash nor the space for more than one bulky rack. In fact the hitch mount rack only comes off my car when I’m getting it serviced, driving through the carwash, or putting in on the truck instead. The nice part about selling the Thule with the arm though, it brought almost half of what we paid for it.

We’re now pretty committed to hitch mount tray racks. Russ got one at a thrift store for $20. We really liked that rack, but someone in a parking lot backed into it and ended it. We had to replace it really quickly because the mountain bike season was on. My dream rack is the 1 UP aluminum rack. I’ve wanted one since the first time I ever saw it. They’re the high quality, low weight, easy option with fast on and off. People I know who have one say that they don’t know why they waited so long to get it, and no one I know has ever complained about anything related to them. We were considering finally getting that dream boat that every owner loves. Spending almost as much on a rack as I did on a bike was a sticking point though. I know that says more about the cost of my bike than it does the cost of the rack, but still, that was the only reason we don’t have my dream 1 Up, that and the REI Garage sale.

The Garage sale is when REI sells returned merchandise. There are often missing parts, but they will allow you to assemble whatever you’re considering to find out and sometimes the deals are awesome. Clothing is usually not the great deal that some other things can be. I’ve seen things with big holes that are not marked down much. I’m not sure why anyone would purchase that. At this sale, I didn’t even head to the bike racks because missing parts are common and I wasn’t expecting a discount that reflected whatever the condition was. Also, I had that 1 Up on the brain. Russ found a Kuat tray rack, and it was a huge discount. At the time, his idea was that he’d buy this one, and when we found a 1 UP second hand, we’d sell the Kuat for near what we paid. Well, it’s not the 1 UP, but it’s a solidly good rack and we haven’t found the 1 Up second hand (could be that’s a pipe dream, I’ve never met an unhappy owner). If I were spending full retail and making a new purchase decision, I’d probably go ahead and get the 1 UP because there isn’t so much difference in the full retail prices, but when the less expensive rack is selling for half price… The Kuat is a nice rack, but when you use it frequently, that little extra bit of extra effort in putting the bike on the rack adds up over time. The Kuat isn’t extendable either. That hasn’t mattered as much over the pandemic, because we’ve been avoiding the crowds on the Greenway at Big Creek. We used to all go out together and we would ride the Greenway while my grandson rode the MTB trails. Eventually, hopefully soon, we’ll all be going out together again soon. It better be soon, else he’ll be driving himself and he’ll have a job. I’d like to think we’d give him the Kuat and we’d finally get the 1 UP, but the reality is, he’ll get a job and say no thanks. He’ll buy the 1 UP, and we’ll still be using our temporary find.