Tuesday Trippin’ December 8

The push to get things done has been real lately, dividing my time between physical training, other elements of the project, family, Etsy and getting ready for Holiday time with the grandkids over school break, I’ve grown to really appreciate that when my rides become limited to 2 days per week, so will my commute to the trail, or at least it will after we move away from car based Support and Gear (SAG).

When we bought our house, we bought space for 4 people with room for the occasional guest. We now have 7, and another on the way. I’m loving that I get to see my children and theirs daily, but there’s never a dull moment… It’s temporary. It will be over in a blink and I won’t know what to do with myself when there’s no one invading my space, leaving a mess for me to clean and sneaking up on me for hugs and kisses at bedtime. Getting ready for #8 we moved furniture the other day and the missing GoPro Hero 4 showed up. It can stream, and we’ll be checking to see if it streams well enough to replace the phone camera. I expect to find that we’ll want to replace the phone camera with a GoPro for streaming, but one with the motion control of the Hero 10.

We had a bit of warm weather last week. I’m kicking myself for not using it more for training, but the other things I did were equally important. I recently found out there were a couple of extra miles completed on the Greenway. I feel a little behind the curve for not realizing that happened sooner, but the extra miles are not showing as complete in Google maps or their satellite images. North of the Marconi Trailhead, the sidewalk along Marconi Dr and Windward Parkway was widened to trail width and it meets the dotted line in the image below. The dotted green line represents what is now finished trail.

That little bit of extra trail makes the Greenway more desirable for a training ride. Especially since the summer burn bans have lifted and people near the Silver Comet are burning leaves. That gives an advantage to the Greenway. It’s not that the suburbanites in the denser populated areas have gone green and decided to return the nutrients from whence they came. They just tend to sack them for pick up instead. This week choosing between the Greenway and the Silver Comet a matter of which negative you want though. The gnats and other bugs are out at the Greenway because of the warm spell and the low lying wet areas. My new helmet with the goggles is the best protection I’ve ever had from insects in the eyes. The goggles fogged for the first time on yesterday’s ride so it wasn’t complete perfection. I rode just before rain that was expected. The temperature was near the dew point and the lenses fogged a few times.

As usual, we’re making progress, and wishing we had made more. Hope all is well in your world, and until next time, have a glorious day!

The Work Week

I’ve been writing this piece (along with the budget post) for a while, editing and changing as I tweak the plan. I was prepared, but still surprised at the level of overtime when I calculated hard numbers of hours. Then I showed my draft of this article to Russ. He read it. I waited. He didn’t say anything. So, then I asked “Were you shocked by the time commitment?” He said “Yes”, (and that was before I added in another 5 hours for 2 (active recovery) walks the day after each ride). Russ didn’t say any more, so I asked if there was anything that he thought I overestimated. He said “No”. I asked if he was still on board. He said “yes” and asked some questions. Actual questions in full sentences with nouns and verbs were a relief at this point.

The most predictable part of this project is what will be the most surprising to some potential supporters, that the time commitment will be immense. Those top search results in Google say that the Silver Comet alone takes 1-2 days for the “ambitious” to cycle. Guides like that in countries like the US where public transportation is the exception rather than the rule tend to weight estimated timelines toward people who don’t walk a few blocks or more every day. On the other end of the spectrum, some athletes could do both trails in half a day, in fact the 2020 record for a (drafting) century ride is 2 hours 20 minutes and 26 seconds. Those conditions are completely different from the trail, and obviously, we’re not world record class athletes drafting a minivan on a track. While you can speed up the video if you are one of those doing inclement weather training indoors, we’re not making video designed for that speed. Our ride speed will sit in the middle between both extremes.

So, here it is, a big picture snapshot of what I expect our start, then our regular weeks to look like. This is the scenario for the super stretch goal, riding there and back while filming both the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails in each direction each week for at least 52 weeks. We will lead up to that by training up for the full ride and working out the bugs in our filming set up, and we’ll taper off afterward, and do our best to fill in any weeks that didn’t go according to plan.

The Weather, It’s Always Out There

We have weather parameters that, while workable, will be the unpredictable part, at least on a day to day scheduling basis. The weather limits for riding are basically temperature and precipitation, AKA keeping body temperature in the functioning range. The weather can be wet, or cold, but not both. Hypothermia is not good. If the chances of rain are above 20% and the temperature is in the 50s or below, that’s not going to be a ride day. It’s harder to find a hole in the weather for a full day of riding but if we’re confident conditions will pass before we get to a section, we’ll go ahead and ride.. We don’t do thunderstorms (lightening) though. The only riding we do in thunderstorms is to the closest shelter.

If there’s snow, maybe we ride. It depends on the temperature. I’ll ride in some sludge, but when there’s slick solid ice on the ground that’s a no no. Ice tires for bikes exist, but we don’t have enough of that weather in Georgia buy cold weather tires. We can work around it. We probably won’t even choose a bike with a fork wide enough to accept ice tires. In fact, in Georgia, we are more likely to unrideable days due to heat. Hyperthermia is the “no fun” on the warm end of the spectrum. The high temperature isn’t as set as the cold temperature. If I’ve been overheating at a certain temperature, I’m going to have to ride when it’s cooler. The high temperature is rising for me because I’m growing more fit, but Georgia summers are hot. We’ll plan a two week break at the peak of summer temperatures, and we’ll have to be careful about other heat days on top of that. Both temperature extremes will be where our fill in rides are most likely to fall.

Funding and Set Up

When the funding comes in, we’ll start coordinating the equipment and pressing the training harder. We’ll double check that the gear choices we made are still the best and still available. We’ll have some short to medium test runs with the equipment as we work up to full century rides and adjust our set up. We can really start much of it as soon as the lowest level funds. Because some of our expenses and equipment fund at the first level, we will be committed as soon as it funds, and can start front loading our workload as much as possible.

The first ride or two that cover both trails in both directions will be backed up by car. One of us will ride in one direction, the other on return. We’ll have designated spots to meet. After that, hydration will require a little more planning. During the pandemic and in the winter trailhead drinking fountains are turned off. Leaving the trail while filming is not optimal. We’ll be carrying a lot of water on some rides and making sure we buy any necessary water at the places close by the trail as we pass them

We will stay in a hotel the first time we do a full ride. After sleeping the ride off, we’ll be looking to see if we can find an efficiency apartment that fits into the hotel and storage budget. If we can do that, logistics becomes much easier. It would eliminate the time, stress, expense and hassle of switching accommodations when the weather changes. It will also make leaving supplies and battery chargers for use on the next visit possible. A whole host of other things will become markedly less trouble. It will also make actual expenses more predictable. The more expenses are predictable, the better the project will run. Renting a room or even a camper also gives us the option of staying additional nights without additional cost if we need to for any reason like a small injury or unexpected changes in weather or other conditions. Every piece of the project is its own little cost benefit analysis and being open minded about changes that fit inside the budget will always be worth a look.

Hopefully car backup will only be needed once or twice, 4 times at most. After that we should have accomodation and other questions answered, and any gear that we can leave on the other end transported. We’ll be settling into a procedure and a schedule.

Where will the Hours Will go in a Typical Week of Video Riding and Reward Making?

We have two kinds of time commitment once we’re up and running. One is time away from home (which matters because we are away from family and family obligations), the other is the amount of time spent actively working.

I expect time away from home (excluding still photography day trips or other work accomplished in a single day away) to be 3 days a week on a typical week. A day out, a recovery day, a day back. It’s possible that the recovery day on the other end might not be as important late in the project, but keeping it throughout the program, even if we become able to do back to backs, will spread the physical burden out, if only just a little, and it’s more likely that we’ll get other work done efficiently on that day away if we have fewer distractions.

There could be additional time away as well. If the Landscapes and Covered Bridges Screen Wallpaper reward gets 2000+ supporters, we will be away from home an additional 2+ weeks making the photography for all 16 of the covered bridges in Georgia. If that reward gets more than 4000 backers, we’ll be doing all of the covered bridges in Alabama too. That work “burden” will be fun, so we don’t plan to drop it, and I hope the bridges in both states fund.

Human Hours of Work Per Week

Starting with the hours that are identical for both of us, we will each be on the trail 20+ hours per person per week. That’s figuring 15 miles per hour (a low end speed for distance riders, but the recumbents won’t be fast and we want to be fairly consistent with travel speed while filming). We won’t get a lot faster. 20 hours, or 10 hours per ride day also allows stops for tasks like changing or checking battery packs, memory cards and other equipment as well as things like rest/water, restroom and lunch breaks. That’s 40 human hours

We will both write for rewards categories 2 and 3. Those are estimated at 5 hours 45 minutes each for 11.5 human hours, that’s if all of those rewards find supporters. We’ll start that as soon as we’re funded at the lowest level (while we’re acquiring equipment) to front load the work and free up time on the back end if possible. Obligations met free up brain space.

Commuting to and from the trail on each end, 3.5 hours x 2 people. That’s calculated on experience. If we are staying at the lodge on Ft McCLellan, that commute will be on bicycle. 7 Human Hours.

Strength Training at the Y (not at the pre-pandemic levels when I’d skip for months sometimes, or the pandemic levels- nothing) this would be on a serious, keep us healthy and riding, go twice a week level. 7 hours each. Sadly, that’s just over 50% commuting time. We may have to change to a different gym to reduce travel time. I’ve avoided changing because the Y offers free or reduced memberships to those in need, and because I’ve been a member at this one for 30 years. All gym related decisions are on hold until we figure out about Omicron and whatever wave arrives on its heels though. We could be able to reduce this time block by doing what we can for strength training at home. Proper equipment is clearly better for strength training though, so for now the time block stays at this level in the plan. 14 human hours.

Et cetera (I always hear that in the voice of Yul Brynner as the King of Siam BTW). We need to do things like wash and dry our bike clothing, check weather, and check it again, fill or clean drink bottles, make sure streaming is ready, organize everything, move things to where you need them next, make and use checklists, pack lunches, gear and kit, repair, replace and organize or store the little things and the side things, make any appointments, plans and reservations necessary, all those things that suck up the time you don’t know where went and would hire an assistant to do if you could. I’m optimistically allowing 2 hours each per week for that. 4 human hours

Total 76.5 human hours of project work done by two people, or 38.25 hours of project time each.

Russ

The work that Russ will do exclusively is:

He’ll maintain bikes, recumbents and… by doing things like adjust, store, repair (or take in to be repaired), air the tires, clean and lubricate after every ride, check brakes, check video, safety, communication and other equipment. He’ll also do things like update software. 4 hours a week.

Upload video. We won’t edit heavily, or even much, but we won’t just throw it up either. We expect to upload 1 ride, around 7 hours of trail video, per week and anything else we shoot for fun or sharing the project, along with anything else we’re interested in sharing. I’m only allowing 4 hours for this activity, so that means that we’re not carefully looking at all of any trail video, just clipping the start and end points, quickly assessing quality and editing out any of those things we said we’d edit out if we noticed them while recording.

The 38.25 hours each of us works plus his individual hours gives Russ 46.25 hours of project related tasks and activities per week.

Karen Only

One day a week, I’ll have a still photography day when I go out and get the photos that will make the screen savers. Hopefully that will fit in a single day. I’d like be able to fit editing photos into this time block because my hours are high, optomily I would split the day somewhat equally between taking and editing photos, but I’ll likely spend more time taking them than editing them. 8 Human Hours

One day a week I’ll write for the website to keep backers up to date and share the project. I’ll have to get faster, but let’s say 8 Human Hours. If you read something I’ve written and think I’m an organized writer, then I’ve edited it repeatedly. If you’ve seen something and don’t think that, I haven’t. Maybe I’ll get over myself and drift toward video/vlog rather than writing. I’d like to have a 40 hour work week when I can and trimming by 14+ hours won’t be easy.

My 38.25 hours that each of us works, plus the 16 hours only I work gives me 54.25 hours per week for Karen. I’m going to have to work on that ol life work balance. If I’m working more than full time on this, the rest of my life isn’t going to stop, and if I’m going to ride 2 centuries per week, I have to sleep.

To help us keep up this schedule and give our bodies time for repair, we’ll be taking quarterly 2-week breaks. They will likely be 1.) December/January, 2.) Spring Break as listed on the Fulton County School Schedule, 3.) The peak of Summer Heat, and 4.) Fall Break, also as listed by Fulton County Schools. Weather permitting, we’ll ride immediately before and after these breaks so that only 1 make up ride per break will be required the following year to complete the set of videos. If it turns out that there is support for making those rides up in the most popular seasons, spring and fall when there are spring flowers and fall colors, we may complete the videos at those times.

Tuesday Trippin November 16

I had a week with a lot of prep and grunt work and not as much riding as I would have liked. We’ve done test runs for live streaming and concluded that we can’t do anything about the poor cell coverage in many areas, but we’d still like to offer it to supporters. There will be big gaps, and some of the quality will be low, but it will be extra footage and it will help keep supporters who like live streaming up to date. Real time updates are cool. We won’t be conversational on this streaming. Talking may be cool while streaming, but it would be on the videos too, and it does not matter how good it sounded when you said it, most people get tired of the talk when they play something repeatedly, especially if they like the nature and other ambient sounds.

We don’t have a good mounting system yet, for the streaming.The phone vibrated enough in the Otterbox frame to shut the camera off. Then the GoPro Jaws clamp was what I was using when the phone bounced of the bike and under my rear tire. The jaws mount itself did a decent job, but the multipack of accessories we bought didn’t have enough of the right attachments to connect to the phone to the Jaws.

We’ll start going through some of the other offerings online. The mounts that look promising are $80-$300. It seems like a lot of money, but at the same time cheap insurance if we get something that actually works well and won’t let go. I’m just hoping that I can find a good solution in the front end of choices. Having to test several could be a lot more expensive than the just most expensive choice alone. So, I’d just start with that if I thought “You get what you pay for” was a complete theory on quality and utility. But I don’t. Sometimes the low end product works perfectly well, some times better than the one with confident pricing. Spending just enough money to reduce the chances that spending less will cost us more with repairs, replacements and failures is the story of my budget for this project. In some ways it’s the story of any project, but especially so for this one.

Temps are cooler more often. I’ve added exothermic hand warmers to my kit. We’ll see if the riding vibration sets them off. Some people would find the weight/utility trade off a fail, especially when we’re well above freezing for rides. But I have Raynaud’s, Syndrome and if the gloves ever fail to be warm enough, those hand warmers will be worth all the carries when I didn’t use them. It looks like I have just a mild primary case, but after that one time in South Dakota when I left my hands get way too cold… Well, I do learn.

I’m still wondering how much time to invest in “the busy season that wasn’t” for our Etsy store. I tend to think of the season as pretty much done by December 15th due to shipping realities for small home based businesses, and with all the DeJoy based delay expectation, really, I’m thinking that prepared customers will be done with online shopping from sites like Etsy by the end of November. Yesterday the Etsy platform was down for a while, and now shop items have been turned off for people who have ad blocker. There is no pop up window to deny access to the site or tell visitors why they don’t see items in anyone’s shop though. They just don’t show, and since the rest of the site does, it is doubly confusing. With no outside onsite ads, it’s a curious thing to do and the “busy season” is a curious time to do it. I’m sure that at least some aspect of that will change fairly quickly. I expect that this is a way of doing things that will affect their bottom line as well as sellers’. I was hanging on to hope that I’d be heading in to this video cycling project on the heels of having been wildly busy with the shop. But so far, I’ve had to cancel half of my few orders due to shipping costs. It wasn’t so big or so heavy, but just enough to be over a square foot and headed to Reno. Shipping was $76 for a $28 item. At one time I was slightly worried that when I ran this project with my Etsy link, people would check out the site to confirm that I was a person who worked for happy customers and, since they weren’t likely interested in vintage items, my conversion rate would tank. I’m shifting toward wondering if I should just let all my listings expire. I know a young person who’s about to buy a house, and he loves vintage. I’ve already put aside the things he would love to list later if he doesn’t take them. He might just get a windfall level wedding gift.

I’ll leave you with a quickie cell phone photo. It’s down here at the bottom because it was a gorgeous day when I took this, but it’s not a great photo. I usually think that I have a good eye but there were only these two trees to frame this with and there was an orange plastic construction/silt fence I was avoiding. I wasn’t supposed to step over it, and I didn’t want it in the picture either. I cropped this about 5 different ways and none of them made me any happier. It’s not the photo I’d like to have taken. I’m sure I could have found a good angle of some sort if I’d put time into it, but I was in a rush, and this does show what a truly beautiful fall day it was out at Coot’s Lake on the Silver Comet.

Coot’s Lake from the trail head parking lot.

Tuesday Trippin’ November 2

Did you know that there’s a natural lull in the average conversation at twenty minutes? I think it’s related to the average attention span being about that. I had a little bit of a lull recently. It was time, partly because I got this respiratory infection…not that respiratory infection. I’m slow to get well from those, really, really slow. Part of it is because I needed a break. I had a dip in my cycling mileage that was significant enough to miss the cardio endorphins and get a little depressed. It’s strange to me when I get depressed and there’s no emotional cause, feeling it in my body and being aware in my mind, but not having a situational cause out in the real world for the desire to cry. My depression was just a reduction in the normal flow of endorphins produced by exercise.

I’m a little back on track this week, but still not fully recovered. The trail is beautiful with the fall colors and the crackle of leaves has me running sound recording options around in my head while I try to plan the best option for recording fall sounds without ground noise. I may have to put calling the crews and finding out when they will clean the trails into my weekly mix of factors that determine ride days.

The temps have dropped lately. They’re in that range where it would feel warm if it were spring, but since I’ve spent months trying to adjust to the heat, it feels cold instead.

I’ve been using a Buff and other brands of neck gaiters in headband style to cushion the deep red marks left on my skin from my now properly fitted helmet. It’s working well enough that I don’t think I’ll seek a different option for several months. Well, when it gets really cold I’ll want fleece on my ears. Right now, I’m pulling the gaiters down over my ears at temps where I wouldn’t normally bother to cover them and it feels cozy and comfortable. I like it. When the temps rise again, I’ll want something breezier. I’m expecting my warm weather solution to be a sewing project.

We’ll get high resolution focus back on our goals soon, likely this weekend.

My Experience Buying and Using the Giro Vanquish Helmet

The helmet I’ve had my eye on for a while is a Giro Vanquish. Skip down to the features if what you’re interested in is how those features are working for me. And here is one of the reviews I used when considering the purchase. FYI, Amazon didn’t have the price quoted/linked in that review at anytime during the months I was looking, (with the exception of a small size in and undesirable color, which isn’t what the link directs to).

Delays in buying the Vanquish sooner were… well, cost slowed me by about 6 months. I’m price sensitive. Moving to the point of purchase is an easier decision in the lower end price range, but there were other things that slowed the decision too. 1. Stores. 2. The search for other options with a visor/goggles. Was there a helmet with eye protection and additional features? 3. Reluctance to be seen as a poser. And, 4. Venting slits over the eyes.

Stores

No stores had the Vanquish when it first caught my eye, so I couldn’t check fit, and once they did, none of them were marketing to me. The sales rep at one store said “I don’t remember the name, but the only thing we have with goggles is for racers”. The name is actually on the box, which was just a few steps away. Another store told me the Vanquish and a commuter helmet with goggles that they also offered were both primarily for velodrome riding (wrong on both counts according to their respective manufacturers).

I’ve benefited from some articles that say “X product is for X rider”, especially in trying to make sense of group set levels as a less knowledgeable rider in the market for a bike that suits the demands of a high mileage project well, and at the same time isn’t more expensive than necessary. It seems to me though, that there’s little reason to keep the marketing or the perceived market for the Vanquish as narrow as it appears to be. People do have to make tough price quality trade-offs, but I think that a lot of people who are not racers and not terribly price sensitive would also find the appeal in this helmet, especially in a market that sells to Silver Comet riders.

The Search

The rider I first saw wearing a bike helmet with goggles was wearing a teardrop helmet (which put the idea of not wanting to look like a poser in my mind). Nothing would look more like a poser than to have a less aerodynamic body while sporting the most conspicuously aerodynamic helmet available, the one that few people have seen outside Olympic level training and competition.

I did find other options with visor/goggles. The commuter version had a much lower level of cooling airflow. The MTB version had friction fit goggles and I like the magnetic option better. It seems more durable. I didn’t look at any of the teardrop “coneheads”.

As far as other features in addition to the goggles go, I didn’t find helmets with any. Features I have seen in other helmets that would also be desirable are fall detection and imbedded earbuds. If I ever start to ride on roads, the turn signals and lighting that Lumos developed would be nice too. The Vanquish is very light though, and those things would add some weight, so it’s not a surprise they don’t add it.

Vanquish Features

Weight

It’s super lightweight, and I will likely notice just how light weight it is if I ever go back to something heavier.

The Aerodynamics

It’s cool and breezy. It is supposed to be comparable to a teardrop helmet for reducing drag. Giro is pretty proud of it. I understand why. Some reviews do say that there are other helmets with more airflow. With my tendency toward overheating and the importance of temperature regulation through the head, I may look at some of the others if it seems like I need to when the Georgia heat season meets my century rides. This one is better than the last one though, so I’m expecting the goggles to still be the deciding feature.

The Goggles: The reason I bought it.

They’re everything I expected and I am happy. They do not rest on any part of my face and the lack of ear pieces feels pretty free, just like what I hoped for. The Zeiss logo is in my peripheral vision, just like reviews say. It would be nice not to see that, but I don’t always notice. The goggles do pop off fairly easily, but not so much in actual use, more as it is sitting it the car (unless I forget and try to scratch my nose). 

It would be nice if the helmet came with a helmet bag, mostly mesh for evaporation and airflow, but a padded pocket for the goggles (or at least a goggles bag). It’s not something I usually care about, but after my second ride with it, I placed the helmet carefully in the back seat of the car. Later, a back seat passenger later put it in the floor where it got jammed into the seat adjustment rails. My new helmet that I finally bought had gouged lenses in the first week. Replacement lenses are $80. I could take it in between rides, but rides are quite frequent, and the more things that go inside, the more opportunities I have to forget to bring it back out.

I’d like to see the helmet come with more lenses. The darker ones are a bit too dark for the speckled lighting on a treed trail, especially near sunset or sunrise. They have made a lense that is mostly clear, and those new gouges would be less noticable if the clear one had been an option rather than an additional purchase. Polarized options would be nice too.

The eye protection of the visor/goggles is good enough that I open my eyes wider and relax my face much more than with sunglasses. The wider area coverage of the UV protection is a bonus too.

Photo of the helmet from underneath. The two light colored areas are the air slits in the goggles that bring airflow inside over the eyes.

Air Flow Slits

The slits at the top of the goggles could prove to be an issue for me. The slits are there to wash your face in air. I’ve seen some reviews where the reviewer didn’t think the flow was enough. So far, I’ve just been using mine as the temperatures cool moving toward fall, but they do work pretty well for me. In fact, I have dry eye, so my concern is that they might work too well. My problem could be age related, or it could be the amount of riding that I’m doing. It may be manageable, but it’s something to pay attention to. The first time I built up to a century ride, we started in cold months. It caused some seriously dry lips and peeling skin that seemed way too serious to be caused by the riding. But, the dermatologist simply told me to use Aquaphor on my lips and skin. It took a while. I was doubting her, but it worked finally. I still use it.

Now I have drops from the ophthalmologist that I use before and after my rides along with some other treatments. Time will tell how well the drops work and whether or not the slits cause any more drying than I had with sunglasses. As a general rule, in the past, my vision has been better when I ride (with or without glasses). That’s probably the cardio benefit I’m experiencing. And, logically, it seems that if I’m relaxing my face and opening my eyes more, the air circulation isn’t causing a bigger problem than riding without the upper half my face covered. I looked for aerodynamic articles or video to see what the actual air flow of different configurations was, but everything I found was about reducing helmet drag for a competitive advantage and didn’t seem like information that illuminated my questions specific to air flow around the eyes. I do suspect that three slightly smaller slits, one over the nose and two over the temples might be better for me, maybe better for other people too.

The attached goggles, slits and all, provide another benefit that is, maybe, unique to me. I don’t personally like anything on my forehead, probably due in part to the sensitive skin. Since I was old enough to decide for myself, I haven’t even had bangs on my forehead. So, I tend to wear my helmet incorrectly. I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just uncomfortable and I keep inching it up, then it seems to fit there in that wrong place. People give me grief about it, from strangers, yes, strangers, to my grandson. When they do, I fix it, a little, temporarily. Now that I’m wearing a helmet with attached goggles in a fixed location, it’s easy for me to know how far down on my forehead the helmet should actually go. My eyes go in the middle between the slits above and the bottom of the lens. If I wear it wrong, it doesn’t cover my eyes and now that feels as stupid as it looks. So, this highly advanced helmet does have an unexpected advantage for this challenged rider with user errors.

Why would I be willing to share this embarrassing fact with people I hope will support my project? Well, partly because I hope you’re laughing with me, partly because someone might benefit or learn from my mistakes, and partly because I’m just a 60 year old grandma who’s not trying to be anything except who she is. I started riding a bike before riders were expected to wear helmets (and survived the resulting concussion) and now I’m a little better at meeting safety norma than I was before I got this new helmet. I don’t so much think there are many people out there making the same exact mistake as me, but I do hope that someone looking at me doing this will say “You know, if she can do that, I can do this thing that I want to do.” and that’s more likely if I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.

This is after about a 40 minute ride. The helmet was not tight, perhaps even on the loose side.

Now that I’m wearing the helmet properly and lower on my forehead, I’ll need to revisit the headbands I’ve been using. I had a variety for experimentation with my other helmet to relieve the pressure and related acne I was getting along the hairline. I don’t really want to wait to see if that also happens lower down where everyone can see it.

My goal is to choose a single best option to use always, so that the only times I will need to change the helmet fit adjustments will be in the winter when I need heavier fleece cold ear protection. I bought a huge supply of Buffs and Smartwool neck gaiters for riding masked early in the pandemic (before they were found to be the least effective mask to wear, and before masks outdoors were deemed unnecessary). Worn as headbands they are helping to reduce that after ride red spot on my forehead, and they are very easy to move forward of where a normal headband would go. Yesterday, the weather was cool and breezy. It was easy to move the buff down over my ears because I don’t have earpieces anymore. I wouldn’t normally have been looking for ear protection at this temperature, but I was more comfortable having it. The neck gaiters are so versatile, but I expect I’ll be hoping to find something breezier when the summer heat rolls back around.

Tuesday Trippin’ October 1-11

I was still going to write up last week a day late, but this week came along and blew it right out of me. Russ and I had a commitment to each other to complete the project video this weekend. Then my tech guy came along and suggested that I live stream for engagement. I think I like the word “engagement” in my life now about as much as I liked the words “on task” (as in “needs to be”) when my kids were in school. I said “But my budget is complete. What will it cost?”

I didn’t feel great in the first place. There was a week of rain expected, so we decided to get our second shingles shots while the weather was wet in case it was as bad as the first. The first was draining and caused the biggest reaction I’ve ever had to a vaccine. I hoped the second would be better. DENIED!

So, with bad weather, a miserable body and the holiday shopping season on the way, I was going to work on the Etsy store hard and strong. It’s the small side hustle that I dreamed would become a business one day. My conversion rate is usually good when I’m active in the store and I have a five star review average, but that alone isn’t an indicator of profit. My number of listings vary, depending on whether or not sales are coming in fast enough cover listing fees. If you carry 500 listings, it takes $100 net per quarter to cover the listing fees alone. Usually listing a bunch of items will trigger a sale or two, but during the low seasons it may not be a net gain after fees and expenses. Not being a fan of net losses, I let many listings expire in the off season and build back up for the holiday shopping frenzy. The problem is that the sales aren’t coming this time. I’m a “star seller” with 100 percent scores across all the metrics they use to decide the designation. But, there is a minimum dollar amount and number of sales needed to get/keep the designation and I currently have no sales for October. It is the first time I’ve built the shop up for the holiday season and not triggered sales while building. I’m at a loss, to understanding how I can make a future with Etsy. I’ve had to raise prices because shipping and other costs keep going up. I’ve been on the edge of closing for at least 4 years. I need to keep the store open while I promote this video project so that anyone can see that I’m able and willing to please customers, but I’m less certain than I’ve ever been that can justify being on Etsy next year at this time. Like too many other people, I’m there because I love the idea of what Etsy was and the dream of what it might mean for me if I could make it profitable.

It was while I was contemplating the potential death of my Etsy store that my tech guy brought up streaming. Some time back I was riding alone a lot and I wanted to stream my rides to a single person who’d show the video to the police if anything ever happened to me. It wasn’t feasible then, so it wasn’t on my mind for this, and I felt like it was a little late to be changing things. In truth this project will change constantly, even after it’s funded, but this was a change that interfered with my plan to get the project officially out there very quickly. He is probably right though. Engagement. If we can stream, it should help.

I was physically miserable from the “jab” and still not excited about the disruption in our existing plan when I went west to test stream through areas with low and no signal strength. The weather was questionable and I hadn’t really looked at my tech. I’m a Luddite, until I’m motivated not to be. Once I wanted to be part of a team attempting a world record length balloon flight. I got my HAM license and learned to send packet location data so that I could (we got the record BTW). I’d have to learn it all over again to do it now. I use my phone to call, text and photograph. It doesn’t have games, and until this week, didn’t have social media.

I felt pressure to get on with it though. I was grumbling about putting Facebook on my phone and asking if there wasn’t another way to live stream. I didn’t have good prep or mounting hardware for anything. It started raining at my first choice location just before I pulled up at the Tara Drummond trailhead and the scrape of my worn windshield wipers was grating.

I didn’t want to get the phone soaked and I’d driven too far to give up, so I drove out further where the rain was lighter. At Coot’s Lake the weather was misting and the trail was littered with slippery wet leaves. I had that brain fog that comes with trying to rise to the occasion when you just want to curl up in bed and sleep it off, but I didn’t drive for an hour just to emit greenhouse gases and fight falling asleep on the way home. I needed to accomplish something, so I took the bike off the rack.

I forgot my brand new shiny helmet with the goggles. I forgot to change shoes. I realized that near the car. I was wary of slipping on the wet leaves, but if I went back for them I wasn’t sure I’d actually ride. I left my cheap drug store readers trailside to pick them back up on returning. My bike bags were full. I was taking video of the inside of one bike bags so the phone would stay clean and dry. The plan was to compare any streaming gaps to the network signal strength tester I thought I was running in the background

I went to and through Brushy Mountain Tunnel describing where there were high rocks or open spaces on either side along the way, then just barely into the edge of the Paulding Forest. I stopped to turn around and check to see if I was still streaming. I was. I was streaming black screen with terrible audio to my personal profile instead of the private group we set up for the test. I was trying to fix it all without the glasses I left back near the car. This is when and where I decided it’s time for multifocal contacts. I need to just get over it and learn to stick my fingers in my eyes. I turned everything off and started back to the car. I resolved to pick up my glasses, take a deep breath and start again.

I was still riding very carefully because of the slippery leaves and lack of helmet. I passed a group of people with a Doberman. The person who was supposed to be holding the leash wasn’t. I sped up as much as I was comfortable in the wet leaves while the dog’s leash bounced on the pavement. I don’t know whether I was more afraid of the dog or a fall, but I was aware that it could be a double header. The dog got tired of chasing me while I was still upright and I learned first hand that adrenaline will completely wipe out the feeling of side effects from a vaccine.

I picked up my glasses as I neared the car. I rethought my second attempt. I didn’t want to go back toward the Doberman for a second try any more. After the Doberman, I didn’t want to go in the other direction where the St. Bernard that chased me that one time lives. I loaded up told my peeps I was in the car safe. I thought about going on out to Cedartown and riding even further west, but that’s a long way for someone to drive to rescue me if the day kept on getting worse. The adrenaline had charged me up, but my brain was spent. I just needed to get a handle on dealing with a delay that’s worthwhile. As I drove home, wide awake, the clouds cleared and the blue sky was glorious. I told myself to just enjoy the view and remember that the leaves on the trail still weren’t dry.

Next Try

I haven’t been happy with the sensitivity level of the glass screen protector my tech guy recommended. Pushing on the glass sometimes makes enough movement to ruin photos. I’ve been really tempted to try a flexible one instead.

Screen cap from the end of my feed for Sunday. Russ is watching me check my phone for damage. You can see him through the reflection in my goggles and the haze of my crumpled glass screen protector.

Russ and I went back out on Sunday together. We drove to Cedartown and rode west because it’s an iffy signal section of trail that’s really too far out for me to be riding alone. We confirmed that the signal is low in most places and the video quality is poor, but at least we were streaming to the private group this time. While we were out there I ran over a big green walnut with my front tire. The bounce caused my expensive new Galaxy 21 Ultra to dismount and I ran over it with my back tire. I may not like the sensitivity of that hard glass screen protector, but the phone still appears to be fine. I came home and ordered another one.

The broken screen saver left a fine powder of dust that I thought was the same kind of micro cracks that accumulated on my old old phone. Russ told me to wipe and the undamaged screen was a relief.

Tuesday Trippin’ September 27

A lot happened this week. My leg is healing well and only occasionally reminding me that I parted company with my bike while riding. I got in some decent rides and the injury was not my limiting factor for any of them, in fact I find myself going further than I expect. I start off thinking it will be a short ride because I don’t feel that good, and before I know it I’m wondering why I didn’t turn around sooner. I tend not to take breaks when I ride without Russ. That will change, not just because Russ will be with me, but also because we will need to check and maintain camera equipment often.

I ordered the helmet I’ve been considering for a while. I’m pretty happy and going to discuss that in a separate post, just so it’s easy to search. While writing something different this week, I wasn’t able to find out if I had talked about it before. I’ve been having technical difficulties with the page. It seems like I was previously able to search on text, but for now, I’ll make doubly certain it’s searchable.

I did some research on the new Hero Black 10.  I’m so glad this camera will be available for the project. I’ll take it as a sign that things are happening in the best way possible. A lot of the reviews seemed a little underwhelmed and looked at them from the perspective of “most users”. I can’t really speak for most users, but for myself, the new differences should matter to me quite a lot. I had hoped this model would allow access for auxiliary power with the battery door closed. It won’t. Hopefully it’s the same size door and I won’t have to wait for after market sources to make a door that allows this and fits the new model. The reason they don’t do that is that more people are interested in the waterproof quality than are interested in access to that port while in use. I do plan to ride in wet conditions if I can and still take good video, but getting the whole ride is the primary goal, and an auxiliary battery will make more sense than carrying enough batteries to change every hour, give or take.

I’m looking forward to a beautiful fall and October has come of the best riding of the year.

Tuesday Trippin’ September 21

Until today, I haven’t been on the bike since Saturday morning (when I went straight and the bike slid off to the right). A four day break will become more common as my rides stretch out to hundred milers. The training plan I linked to recently recommended a week off every month, but then called it more like 5 days off with a lighter ride after 4 days off the bike will become somewhere between a break, and the status quo later. But, Saturday my body was expecting a workout and the fall happened at the start of the ride, so the feeling of losing the training is bigger.

The Roswell section of the Big Creek Greenway has boardwalks, and the boardwalks are “slippery when wet”. I had just gone through some mud on concrete and was feeling good enough about recovering control quickly that I forgot to be extra on guard as I entered the boardwalks and rode through the same spot where I’ve fallen 2 other times. The other two times, riders in front of me caused my falls, but this time I was all alone. I was thinking shortly afterward that all three of my falls in the last 20 or so years had been right there in that spot, but I forgot falling in Louisville, so, it was 3 of 4 falls that have been in that spot.

The Greenway was flooded last week. This shot of the “Slippery When Wet” sign was taken from an overpass.

It was as painless as possible. I wasn’t riding fast because the boardwalks are slippery. One knee hit first, but the landing was almost on all fours, so impact was fairly evenly distributed. I caught myself with my arms on all three of my other falls and pulled my rotator cuff a bit with each one. I was really thankful for the way it happened with minimal pain and injury.

I walked the bike out. I walked a little more in the parking lot. It was a good thing that we took the time. We were planning to ride the trail at this particular time because my grandson had practice for his mountain biking team. Before we knew it, one of his coaches brought him back. He also slid down on the boardwalks, even with his low pressure knobby grippy MTB tires. I walked a short distance a few times on Saturday to help keep me from getting stiff, and a longer distance on Sunday in the rain. At least recuperating from the injury and not being able to ride because of the rain overlapped for both of us. If I had unlimited resources I’d re-build the boardwalks, raising them above flood water level and changing the material. They recently replaced part of the boardwalks. I was sad to see that they didn’t take the opportunity to raise them any at all, or to rework some of the sharp bends that cause problems.

My ride this morning was on the Silver Comet. There are some slippery boardwalks on the Comet too, but none on the section I used. The trails were really wet with puddles and a lot of tree debris, wet leaves, pine cones and dead wood sticks of varying diameter. I walked out without my helmet and it was the first post injury ride, so I was wary. I personally enjoy being helmet free, but I recognize that if I fall, I could regret not having one. I was beginning to feel better, but I cut the ride short. Pushing my body, trail conditions and my luck didn’t seem like the thing to do.

The Recovery Ride Will be a Walk in the Park

After looking for the really nice shot of Russ in the stream at the local park for 20 minutes, I settled on this random and unrelated photo of Russ being his larger than life and larger than BigFoot self.

We took our grandson to a Saturday practice for his mountain bike team on Yonah Mountain. Rather than wait, we went over to the hiking trail and did as much as we could in the seriously limited amount of time we had before returning to pick him up. The walk reminded me that one reason building up my cycling mileage was easier the first time is that I was hiking regularly at the time. I had been thinking about the negative reasons more, like aging, but that’s not the whole story.

Sometimes my lightbulbs are a little slow to switch on, but while hiking up Yonah mountain the lack of shoulder issues and the attitude of my saddle free hips brought this decision clearly into focus. The recovery cardio needs to be a true recovery in several senses of the word, and the focus needs to be physically and mentally restorative, not the opportunity for additional video footage I was thinking of at one time. One or two centuries a week will really provide quite enough video, and we need to vary more than just our body positions on the bike. We’ll get significant benefits that keep us riding if we vary the activity as well. Recovery should be the primary purpose of recovery cardio, and with the amount of time we’ll have in the saddle, cross-training is the way to do it best.

Leita Thompson Park in Roswell GA

There is a pleasant no drive option, so making the switch is not just ideal physically, it’s easily doable.There is a park with a trail near my house. Walking there and doing the loop inside then walking back is just under 5 miles. We may venture out to other places for some variety if there is available time. We live in the Georgia Piedmont Region with reasonable access to Lookout Mountain and Valley, the southern terminus of the AT and the the Blue Ridge. Some of those trails might be doable before or after a photography day which would open up some location options for the still photography.

That was the easiest decision I’ve made for the project.

Tuesday Trippin’ September 14

I’ll be breaking out the Smartwool soon. It is so nice for in between temperatures.

I’ve been heavily editing some of the future posts that will be the framework for our business plan and our rough schedule. It became obvious in the details that one of my plans was going to leave us with no time, not just no time for ourselves, no time to succeed.

The level we dropped was where we tried to do a smaller number of the long rides, but Russ continued to work full time. In trying to find enough training time for Russ over the past year plus, it became clear that the apparent “best compromise” level was really the “doomed to failure” level. I’m sad about that in some ways. I liked having the level in case our real dream didn’t fund. We could still shoot some full videos and do the project on a level that would suit the needs of many users. But, I’m also relieved. I can handle the small ways I might disappoint myself, but something big like a Kickstarter, it would really hurt to fail at that because I put in a level that wasn’t workable. So, in the end, I’m in “It was for the best” mode, and I’ll be looking with increasing scrutiny at other things I need to rework or remove.

We’ve had some hard rains. The Greenway flooded again and was closed to get downed trees off the trail. That cost us a ride. Last year there was a lot of flooding. It left some large stretches with piles of dirt removed from the trails, downed tree debris and scraped understory in a lot of areas. The path was not nearly as pretty as it has been in other years. I was just beginning to see it as largely improved and ready for photos, but with this last flooding, it is beginning to look less camera ready again.

I think that’s about what I have for this week. See you next week.