Tuesday Trippin’ May 17

The Training

Training has been average. The weather has been nice. I did some more reading on blood sugar and cycling (I’ll write a separate post). I Also read an article on cycling and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It has a positive effect on blood sugar regulation. I tried it out.

I was previously focused on evening out my riding speed for the purposes of the video. While giving the high intensity part a go today I learned that I can peddle much faster than I am comfortable riding. I got a significant cramp in my right foot toes, but it went away pretty quickly after the ride. I think the technique will be valuable for training and will keep experimenting.

Rewards

I added a reward based on HIIT and edited the reward post, again. Some of our rewards could be for any project. The last two rewards I added are better tied to the theme of the project. I feel really good about that. I was having difficulty choosing rewards in the beginning. I think these last two bring things together.

The Equipment

The wear parts are getting worn again and I’m really feeling how nice it would be to be doing half my miles in the seat of a recumbent.

The Trail

Privet (Ligustrum spp) is blooming and showy. We have 9 varieties introduced as ornamentals from around the world. It is pretty, very fragrant, awful and bountiful along trail edges where it takes the place of important native species and reduces the number of pollinators where it grows. People who don’t know about the harm it causes or that it is relevant to them are probably loving it right now. Even though I’d eradicate it if I could, I can enjoy its better qualities.

The Video

Today I finally got a useable turtle on the trail shot. When I first wanted one it was winter, and it’s only been warm enough for them to amble across the path recently. We did a sign language turtle shot too and I got a live snake video. We’ll put that on the Youtube Channel, but I think we’ll leave it out of the intro video. Slowly we’re turning, step by step, inch by inch. I think it is really going to happen…sometime this century.

We’re Doing a Safety Video

Normally, when I get up for the Sunday “twenty miles and home before anyone else gets up” ride, the crowd hazards are pretty light (now that the Pandemic overflow appears to be waning). Then, some rides I think if I only had cameras running already, I would have the entire safety video shot in one ride. Today was that day, the one with boat loads of opportunity for the video. If Russ had been with me, he’d have called out “DA alert” several times.

I said “Hello” or “Heads Up” intently to at least 3 adult riders coming at me in my lane without looking. The little kids who didn’t stay in their lane don’t count because It’s our job to look out for them. But, on that subject, there was the Mom who’s kids moved over right when she said, just like she said, but Mom didn’t have the dog on the leash under control, so I still had to stop and then Mom still fussed at her kids for “not getting over”.

Then, there was the guy who was playing music loud and weaving at first, but he got straighter as I approached. I called out “Passing on your Left” twice, really loud to be heard over his music. He straightened up in time for me to pass him and then turned left off the path right in front of me just and I pushed hard on my peddle for the pass then quickly followed with the brakes. I’d be surprised if he ever knew I was there.

And, there was the woman who was weaving and texting. She was all over the place and riding so slowly she was having trouble keeping the bike upright. I caught her on the fly and she was still on the phone, but had at least gotten off the bike. She gets kudos for that, but she was standing on a paved strip at a sharp “s” curve on a hill. It was right where people who get surprised by the curve turn out to avoid crashing into others. Some days…

So, the safety video will be our little thank you to everyone. Hopefully it will be fun and funny. All the people who support us will get a link with a short update when it’s done. Unless they opt out for some reason I can’t imagine, even the people who choose to support us with no reward will get this.

Tuesday Trippin’ May 10

Training wise, last week was significantly better than expected. Weather lined up for me to ride immediately before and after, and the break was only 3 days. In April the break was 4 days and we had 3 days of rain immediately before. We walked about 3 miles on a trail during the April trip, but I didn’t take hiking shoes. I ached from unusually low exercise when I got home.

I mentioned the need to shift over to walks for recovery exercise just before this trip. We ended up dong that. The Pensacola Bay Bridge is under re-construction, but the pedestrian-bicycle path on one side is complete. The bridge is 3 miles long. The first night we walked about a mile and a half. The second, we walked 5 miles.

Russ on the Pensacola Bay Bridge

5 or more miles is the length of walk I originally planned for recovery walks. That may be a touch on the long side, but I used to be able to do 5 miles pretty easy at any time without prep. Lately though, I’ve done more yard work, which technically qualifies as recovery activity I suppose. But, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve even walked around the neighborhood with my granddaughter on her scooter. I’ve been spending all my cardio time on the bike. The bike is awesome, but I need to make myself walk for the change in activity too.

I really wanted to walk the whole bridge in both directions, just because it seems complete, but when I looked back from the 2.5 mark at how far away the starting side shore seemed, I decided to turn back. I could have made the extra distance, but in the end, I was glad that I turned when I did and Russ was too. I expected soreness the next day, but there was none and my feet felt really good, like a bit of cross training was the thing I should be doing.

I’m not sure what I will settle on as the right distance for a recovery walk, but on the bridge with all the wind, it seemed more like a primary exercise day, which was fine for that week when I had less opportunity to ride. Some sources say 20-30 minutes is enough for recovery. But, more could be needed after a century ride than shorter forms of exercise. The key will be in how the rides are going. As long as my body feels better and my stamina is not reduced, it’s likely the right amount of recovery exercise.

If the recovery walk is shorter, it will fit better into a still photography day than I first anticipated. That may not reduce my project hours any, but it should improve the photography rewards. It is easier to carry a camera on a walk that only needs 20-30 minute intervals of elevated heart rate than one that needs 1.5 – 2 hours.

The Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails are not alone. There are beautiful hiking trails on both ends of our project, including portions of trail that may be added to the Appalachian Trail. I’m excited about the potential.

I’m going to leave it here for this post. I’ll put some of my other thought in separate posts. Have a glorious day and we’ll see yo on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ May 3

Cottonwood tree near the exercise pavilion at the Powder Springs Children’s Park

Cottonwood seeds in the grass

The honeysuckle is fragrant. The cottonwood sisters are doing their thing. The temps are warming and the rain has been a little light for gardeners, but just about right for cyclists. The dewberries, they’re blowin’ up all over the trail. Precipitation predictions are for lower than average rainfall over the summer, so there may not be much fruit. Maintenance crews use enough chemicals that I wouldn’t eat them from trailside or roadside anyway. You never know what chemicals they used nor how long ago.

On my last ride crews were cutting the grass, weeds, and lots of fresh green poison ivy. They’re nice and careful. They usually disengage the blades when passing trail users, but there was still enough debris blowing around that I pulled my shirt up over my face while passing and washed really well as soon as I got home.

I’ve reached a point in training where I need to convert over to those recovery walks I said we were going to do instead of recovery rides. I’m at a cross training failure point where people who might see me walk up the mountain could be skeptical as to how many miles I can actually ride now. That’s not all because of the difference between flat railways beds with little change in elevation and climbing a steep slope.

Remember all those times you were told that walking uses over 200 muscles back in school? Well, when you search on the number of muscles used for cycling instead, you don’t get a number. You get names. That’s because there are few enough muscles involved that it’s reasonable to name them instead of just counting them. It’s time for my recovery exercise to start using different muscles.

It’s been a pretty decent week, I’ve dragged at times and I’m adjusting my nutrition for the long haul. I’ll talk about that another week.

My mother had a fall and spent some time in the nursing home. We visited her twice on that trip we mentioned in early April, and will be going back down for Mother’s Day weekend, so next week may be a little light, but we expect to submit the Kickstarter very soon. The video isn’t perfect, but it wasn’t going to be. Russ learned a few cool techniques though and it has more features than I expected, so we’re pretty psyched.

Until then, have a glorious day and we’ll see you on the trail.

No, We’re Not Takin’ Care of That in Post

While seeking advice, I said to a geek that I wanted a mute button for the microphones. I want to put it right under the the handle bars near the headset where I can easily press it with my thumb.

Here’s how that went.

Him: Take care of that in post. (Could you sound more Hollywood please?)

Me: There’s not going to be any post.

Him: It’s too hard to do before.

Me: There won’t be time for post, not for this project. We’re spending more than 20 hours a week on the trail. Then we have to make rewards. We’re riding the equivalent of crossing the country, Portland to Portland, 4 times.

Him: Well, just leave it in then.

Me: I was riding the other day. This middle age guy was riding with an older man, probably his father. The middle age guy was going off on a political tirade. The father type looked like he was being tortured. I want to mute that.

Him: Keep it in. It will go viral.

Me: This is not about schadenfreude. This is about stress reduction, improving health and life.

Him: 😐

Me: Going viral is nice, but I really think that if we’re going to make it as a world, we’re going to have to build unity and stop getting our endorphins from feeling smart because we’re making fun of people for being stupid.

Him: (Looks sideways, not completely disapprovingly)

Me: Googling “best shotgun mics with mute buttons”.

I may have to learn and relearn some things, but if I can get a HAM license to go play with balloons when the windchill is -42º, I can figure this out, right?

If You Couldn’t Fail

What would you do if you couldn’t fail? It’s a big question, with all kinds of implications. You may see it in a self help, inspirational or life coaching context, a job interview or a Ted Talk. And, you would probably answer it differently for all those contexts.

The Big Things

My top answer, if anything really was possible, would be the altruistic beauty queen answer tweaked by my understanding of the world, and I’d mean every world of it it. I’d say things like achieve world peace and social justice. The latter, of course, results in the former. I’d want governance, business and manufacturing to have real truthful transparency so all interested parties could become an informed and knowledgeable invisible hand.

I’d want to achieve true economic and environmental balance and have equal access to the best healthcare and phenomenal education for all. Physical and mental healthcare would be so good that crime and bankruptcies would be greatly reduced. We would build thoughtful infrastructure planned for multi-use with wide range benefits for long term low impact sustainability everywhere. My ideas go on with more things than most people agree are good, but don’t know how to accomplish.

These are my top tier dreams. I know how lofty and nearly impossible they are. I can’t bring myself to say that they are actually impossible though because, while I don’t believe a lot of things are likely, I have to leave room for these things to be possible for our future selves, for our grandchildren and theirs. It would take 7.9 billion leaps of faith, but it could happen.

The Change

Laura Shultz and her unexpected response to saving her grandson’s life was mentioned in the first piece I ever read on this subject. The experience made her rethink and change her life. Rethinking what’s possible can change everything. Changing everything is big enough to consider often, so I chose a font, a color and a size and went to the local vinyl shop to have them cut the words for me. For at least 4 or 5 years I’ve had that question on my bathroom mirror reminding me to think bigger and stop putting things off for my future self. I see it (whether I think about it or not) several times a day.

A Medium Thing

I have dreams that are still big, but more realistic too. A year or more ago a vacant school for sale reminded me how much I’d like to bring my co-op idea into being. The site didn’t have enough land to do everything I wanted to, but it had some pretty awesome potential. I sat in the parking lot and imagined a green roof what could be done with other spaces. The location solved one of many reasons I put the idea aside. It was a reasonable commute. For family reasons it would be difficult to move to a better location right now, but I got so psyched when I saw it on the way to ride my bike from a different trailhead, and was ready to set my sights high. I spent the afternoon doing enough Googling to find out the school would be razed. There were already drawings of a chic high rent glass and steel building that would replace the school.

The sighting got me looking at the possible though. I had envisioned something built from the ground up, a new building in a rural area near an exit on a high traffic interstate. After I found out the building I looked at was already dead I looked for other abandoned schools or other buildings inside a commute. There were, in fact, some even better sights, with bigger prices to match. Maybe after the cycling video I’ll be more of a known entity. Maybe it could be a dream come true instead of a pipe dream. Maybe the message on my mirror is setting up house in my sub-conscious having the intended effect on my crocodile brain.

The Now Thing

Part of the point in answering the question of what you would do if you couldn’t fail is figuring out how to put your time and effort where your heart is right now instead of editing yourself for some lower level of purpose, success, or happiness while putting off joy and purpose until you feel ready.

While I’m learning not to put off my most important dreams, I also do have to work within the life I currently have. That’s where the cycling project comes in. It isn’t saving all the parts of the whole world right now, but It is consistent with my highest ideals and within my current stretching reach.

I feel encouraged by people like Marjory Stoneman Douglass, a suffragette, who was plenty accomplished before she started Friends of the Everglades at age 79, and continued to work to preserve the River of Grass for another 29 years, stopping only when she died at 108.

I don’t know what I’ll do next, probably not something nearly so as impressive or as impactful as some of the great people I admire, but I’ll just keep making Baby Steps in the right direction.

Have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ April 19

We saw a hawk in Big Creek bathing. Russ held my bike while I went for video. I was so psyched. I thought I got it, but I didn’t tap my phone hard enough. I was busy looking at the hawk and all I got was 2 seconds of path in the middle of the “turn it off” double tap I did to turn the non-existent video off. We did get some other photos for the intro video though.

Big Creek is really showing its spring beauty right now. It makes me almost forget all those very good reasons why the project moved and got bigger. Still, I’ll do bits of seasonal video and test runs there regardless of which level funds.

I rode 105 miles last week. Until we fund, I’m going to shoot for 100+ miles per week and expect that the mileage will slowly drift upward. Russ will be playing catch up when we fund, but that’s going to have to be okay. Until this is his job, he has to prioritize the current one. It doesn’t stress me as much as it might. He builds mileage faster than I do. The equipment will take time to put together and test, and the first few rides will need car back up anyway. We’re still lined up to make things work.

While riding this week, Russ went down a long slow hill “Look Ma no hands” style with arms out like Karl Wallenda. It looked so free and fun. I don’t have his balance. I can only go there in my mind. My mind was also hoping he would be riding during the following 6 months, not just for the project. I’m kind of fond of the big guy. His toe still hasn’t healed from the bike wreck he had two Novembers ago.

When he rounded the corner at the intersection I thought he would grab the handle bars, but no. When I caught up to him, I told him I was seeing visions of every movie there ever was with a shot like that. He said “Meg Ryan, but I was FLYin’!”. He knew what I meant. Meg’s scene was the slowest most painful version. That clip I linked is only 18 seconds, but I couldn’t bear watching it full length in the theater. I was thinking “Would you please just go ahead and get it over with?”

Taken at Big Creek while riding with the S21 Ultra in low light conditions

I took some bird sound audio with my phone on the Silver Comet this week and it gave me and idea for an additional reward for the project. I’m going to offer meditation loops now. The Silver Comet is a transportation corridor. It’s a former railroad flanked by major roads. The accompanying road noise made me think about traffic, which seems to be back up to pre-pandemic levels. I had a little pang of regret that I hadn’t been able to get the project ready to roll when traffic was low. But if I had, my video wouldn’t represent “normal” conditions as well. Everything is a trade off.

Etsy this week:

The Etsy strike was last week. I’m as frustrated with the press it got as I am with the changed focus, culture and cost structure at Etsy. Many people talked about the increased fee for a sale, but there was little discussion of the other Etsy costs of bringing our wares to eyeballs. I agree that there is much to lament, but I did not participate. Still, the shop may as well have had the vintage flu. I don’t remember how long my first sale took when I opened. It might have been more than a month, but this is the first time since then that I have had no sales for so long. The first time I’ve had a 0 conversion rate. I’ve had questions about items, but no sales.

One person in an Etsy FB group said that she had 5 sales in a day and attributed it to listing a lot of items recently. She said she had listed 300 new items, but she didn’t say she had other sales on other days or how much the items sold for. I also note a small boost in sales of existing items when I list a lot and so I sometimes think of listing fees as advertising fees, but the slight uptick doesn’t last if I continue to list heavily and the trade off is never a win. 300 listings costs $60 in listing fees. If what she talked about was the extent of her boost, she would need to net $12 per item to break even with no compensation for her time.

Every new listing is another opportunity for a sale, so it’s not straight math, and I don’t know her full picture, but 300 other listings is also a hefty time commitment above the time commitment to bring the items that sold to the point of purchase and listings only last four months. Overly optimistic sellers tend to leave out entire categories of the full picture when thinking about what it took to earn their sales, but I’ve taken more recently to adding up all the ways I can spend 20 hours and only generate Etsy fees. Listing new items takes bigger and bigger leaps of faith every time and I don’t know what to do about my Fibber McGhee’s Closet full of treasures.

I hate to end this on a depressing note, so I’ll list some gratitudes. I’m grateful for the ability to ride and for a partner willing to support me in this project. I’m grateful for all my beautiful grandchildren, from the teenager to the newborn. I’m grateful that, while there’s not enough time in any given day, I am able to do small tasks that I don’t think much about but are impossible for some people, like turning pages in a book. And, I’m grateful for my warm safe house overfilled with family and their stuff.

The weather is glorious out there right now. I’m going to go take some photographs with the fancy camera. Until next time, see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ April 11

This past week was Spring Break for Fulton County and it’s listed as a week that we will take off. We took off a few days. Before those few days we had a problem with a flat and a rainy few days, so it was like taking a week off, from riding that is. We still worked a little on other things. We had an awesome weekend at the beach, stayed at a nice rental and kept trying to get our own heron photo. We walked down a fishing pier and did get some decent short of a heron on a rail, but it was the Gulf behind us, not Georgia trails.

I’ve been riding Big Creek a lot lately. It is in the same direction as my granddaughter’s preschool, and I plan to be riding the Comet intensely in the future. On my first ride after coming back from our mini-vacay the animals came out to play and that elusive heron I’d been wanting to photograph was right there in the water looking for food. I stopped and walked as far into the muck as I was comfortable in my bike shoes while dividing my attention between seeing how close the bird would let me get and checking the ground for animal and vegetable hazards.

Heavily cropped photo of Heron at Big Creek Greenway

This photo clearly shows the limitations of my phone camera and the reason that some of the still shots I want will require being in the woods with the better camera at a different time. It’s not just that I won’t be stopping the video to snap a still. It’s also that I need the Nikon for some shots.

While I was standing there trying to pay attention to everything, I sensed movement and felt like I was being watched. I was. There were at least 3 deer in the woods behind the bird. This is the only one I located in the photo.

That’s about all the trail project news I have for this week. Have a Glorious Day, and we’ll see you on the trail!

Tuesday Trippin’ April 5

On the project side of things, the week has been about upgrading photographs without using to stock photos from someone we don’t know. I remembered that bit about loosing viewers in the first 8 seconds and those photos right there at 8 seconds, they were the weakest in the whole video. Then I remembered I had a childhood friend who takes beautiful bird photography. Saved!

Big Creek Greenway in Alpharetta, Ga, so fresh I smelled it from the path, taken on the ride after the windy one.

On the training side I’ve added another parameter to my go/no go criteria for rides. Wind speed. It’s been windy all week. I don’t know what the wind speed was for the ride I mentioned last week, but the next time I rode Big Creek, there were more trees down.

Fresh tree falls were all along Big Creek. No pictures from the blustery day though.
I don’t stop for pics when the trees are squeaking.

The next ride, two days later was also windy. I know my wind speed recommendations for ballooning, but until that ride I didn’t have a personal limit for riding. The forecast was 17 MPH, that was too much. There were a couple of times I got off and walked the bike for a small stretch to keep from toppling over. In one particular spot where the wind was blowing freely over the sewage treatment plant, it was funneling through the tree lined road leading to the plant. Right where I crossed that intersection with that road I was fighting to keep the bike upright and afraid to try to stop. I did stop at the rest spot just east of that.

This cutie with unclipped ears bounced out of the bushes down trail while I caught my wits. He paused, seeming to size me up, then came over to these plates. The food was covered in biting flies. He wasn’t interested. This was his last look at me before he took off. I think he was hoping I’d give him something a little fresher, though I hadn’t noticed it there on the way out.

I was maybe 20 yards from the spot where I’d been fighting to keep the bike upright and those paper plates were just sitting there. The wind currents were certainly curious. The wind was worst in the open areas and there were bushes and trees here, but this was a drastic difference in a short distance.

We don’t stop at these benches often. It is a good spot for a rest but you can often smell the sewage plant. Also, this and another bench at the top of a hill near the cow pastures are the only two places I’ve been bit by biting flies. The last time we stopped here we saw an armadillo. I wonder if he too was looking for a hand out.

After this week, I have a fresh respect for paying attention to wind speed. Normally it is attached to other weather that I don’t ride in, like thunderstorms, but I really need to look at it as a separate data point during weather like we had over the last 10 days or so.

For now, I’m gonna go with 12mph as the upper limit of a ride. I’l adjust from there. It could be that the gusts in the open areas were more than 17 mph. Those open areas will always be there though. Not only did the wind make difficult riding, It increases the risks that tree falls are coming across the trail while on it, and probably increases motion noise, possibly greater than what the auto-stabilization in the goPro corrects.

I’ll save the rest for next week.

Have a glorious day and we’ll see you on the trail!