Mom wasn’t an anti-vaxxer, she was distracted. I received my smallpox vaccine at school in Texas. I remember lining up in a huge lunchroom, but after that we moved back to the small rural town in Alabama where she and a few more generations of my family grew up. I really don’t know what happened, but the ball was dropped somewhere and the rest of my vaccines didn’t happen at school, or the health department, or the doctor’s office. My vaccine card was also missing Polio, maybe something else as well, but Measles and Polio are the ones I remember.
I was in the 5th grade when it happened. I noticed the rash in the bath at home. I don’t remember how quickly the shift from “not that sick” to “nearly dying” happened or how long I was sick. I remember lying on the sofa in front of TV (no remote, black and white) drifting in and out while Mom was at work. I lost 40 lbs. I remember Mom telling me if I didn’t eat they’d take me to the hospital and stick a needle in my arm. For a long time I remembered the weird hallucinations I had, and the delirious nonsensical conversation I was told about later, but those are lost to me now. I remember my hair falling out like a cancer patient, but only about half of it. Some of it never came back. I wore my hair in braids back then and they were never as thick again. No one else in my class got it. I’m guessing they were all vaccinated. I ate a lot after I got well and became chubby for a couple of years afterward.
I remember Mom telling me I had a really close call, but just how high my temperature got was a little fuzzy. The mercury was up in that tip of the old glass stick thermometer where the numbers end and just a little bit of tube allows the liquid to continue to expand into the twilight zone of guessed the temperatures. As an adult, I wondered if there was a way to figure out how high it got. I looked up the symptoms and things that happened to me to see if they happened at a specific body temperature. It was disquieting. The phrase “denatured proteins” was in what I saw and it wasn’t very far from the temperature range I’d been led to believe my body and brain might have reached. The article likened denatured proteins to scrambled eggs for those who aren’t familiar with the term. In fact, the only reason I’m sure my temperature didn’t get all the way to that level is because I’m alive.
Shortly before I had my first child, I read an article about an unvaccinated farmer who contracted Polio when his daughter was vaccinated. When I took my son in to the pediatrician to get his Polio vaccination, I asked the Dr to vaccinate me as well. I told him about the article, and about getting the measles after missing that vaccine. He laughed and gave us both the drops. I didn’t mind the laugh. I wasn’t going to get Polio from taking care of my child and that’s all that mattered to me. We don’t give Polio drops in the US anymore. This article from the CDC explains that the liquid drops Polio vaccine can lead to what happened to the farmer in the article and that’s why those drops are no longer allowed in the US.
Catching the measles isn’t quite straightforward. There are some after effects. I wonder sometimes what new research could mean diagnostically to my health, so I look it up every now and then. The linked article talks about a loss of antibodies to other illnesses after having the measles and uses chicken pox for an example. There’s a relationship between chicken pox and shingles. If you had chicken pox, you take one shingles vaccine, if not the other. While waiting for my Covid vaccine, I remembered that the age recommendations had changed I was now overdue for shingles.
My grandfather had shingles. The last 20 years of his life were marked by pain. He didn’t have the opportunity to take a vaccine. I owe it to his memory to do my best to avoid the pain he suffered, I almost took it first, but felt Covid was more critical (and there needs to be time between vaccinations). At a time when so many people were comparing Covid vaccine reactions, mine was practically nil, but when I got around to the shingles vaccine, I had the strongest reaction I have ever had to any vaccine. I rarely have side effects, but this was enough of an exception that it had me rethinking which vaccine I should have taken. I had the measles after chicken pox, so what if the immune reduction affected me? I finally decided I was ok. When my children got chicken pox, I didn’t get sick, so I must have had enough residual immunity to keep me from catching it again, therefore, the vaccine for people who had chicken pox was the vaccine for me.
In high school chemistry, the professor told us to look around the room at each other, then said “Before vaccines, all but two of you would be dead.” I have personal experience to what missing mine almost meant to me. From time to time, when someone teases me about being distractible or forgetful, I wonder if I did experience some brain damage. I don’t really remember if people started teasing me about my distractibility before that illness, and no one else does either. In some respects it doesn’t matter. This is the one life I have and it’s had some pretty awesome moments that I’m grateful for.
I don’t want to dwell on this, but I do want to learn from it and avoid as much sickness and pain as possible, and I do tell the story fairly often. Measles is dangerous and the effects can compound. All the diseases that have been worth developing a vaccine for are better avoided. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to others. I hope that sharing my story will help people to avoid it.
“Crickets”, people say that to indicate a lack of response. Shortly after moving back home for a bit, my son asked me if we were playing cricket sounds in the bedroom. I laughed. We are. I’ve been falling asleep to the sound of crickets for months now. At our old house, only 8 miles away (and almost every other home I’ve lived in) the real crickets outside were really loud. We had an exchange student once, she asked what the noise was. The background noise was so constant that she had to take me outside and point at nothing in particular before I understood her question.
At our current house, where the phrases “front yard must be bermuda or zoysia grass” and “open like a golf course” are in the HOA Guidelines, the neighbors use yard chemical services and the crickets are now faked on a meditation audio. (The reasons I moved here were good, but the fit wasn’t a natural one).
Russ and I have been skipping around with guided and unguided meditations. His default often goes to unguided abstract music, but as I’ve read more articles about the benefits of nature sounds and coming across articles about forest bathing I thought about crickets. They are the background music of my life. And, I have been sleeping better.
I’ve been riding at Big Creek because the streambed is cooler and it allows me to ride at more different times of day. The leftovers of a tropical depression are drifting by though, and the weather service flood warnings started 2 days before the rain actually got here. Urban flooding is a problem in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Really it’s a problem in all places where there is a lot of impervious pavement. It’s a problem for Big Creek too, and, while many people who walk short distances will get to use the Greenway there sooner, I won’t ride there or even check the conditions again for at least a week after the rainfall stops. It takes that long for the waters (which during flooding sometimes contain sewage overflow) recede in more places.
Watching the weather is something I didn’t come by naturally. I’ve alway been the “Yes, there’s weather.” girl who didn’t pay much attention, but it’s something Russ and I both do frequently now. Russ does it for his work. I started when I got into ballooning, continued through a few Georgia droughts, and I do it now for the bike rides. Often the local weather forecast will be for more rain or greated chances of rain when I look the day before a ride, and by the morning of the ride, things have changed enough to meet my parameters for a ride. I recently had a week when I didn’t think I’d be able to ride at all, and rode nearly every day. They weren’t all dry rides, but it was fine. Not getting rain that was in the forecast has been something I’ve noticed frequently over the years. Forecasts that that always seem to change in the same direction make me wonder if Heat Island effects on precipitation are being fully accounted for in the model.
Regardless, today I’ve got the weather when it wasn’t expected, so, I can write about everything else later. It’s time to stop writing and start riding.
There is the matter of that century I signed up for… the 400 Century. The first 3 miles are on a large limited access divided highway. That’s what even the 9 milers are signed up for, to get to go faster down that stretch of concrete on their bikes than they do in their cars. Those who finish the whole ride will also do 97 miles of local roads that I choose not to ride on under any other circumstances, after having made a few exceptions over the last 30 years. If getting chased by the Great Dane was the worst of it, I might ride these roads normally. It’s more the near misses and the times I got yelled at because drivers don’t want to share the road (and you know the kind of profane ugliness that comes with the road rage of the frustrated American driver). I only signed up for the century because it was the last time there would be a ride on 400 due to construction and it’s on that pesky bucket list of mine. It’s so hard to watch a bucket list item go away and do nothing.
In truth, conditions have improved with the advocacy of groups like the ABC, Bike Cobb, Bike Alpharetta, Bike Roswell, and others, but it hasn’t been too long since I went to a town meeting where a planning official was being abusively berated at length by an angry driver that didn’t want bike lanes. We still have far to go. Rage is a dangerous thing, more dangerous when you’re not the one in a 3000 lb vehicle. I’ll be safer in a large group activity with support, but riding these roads is not my comfort zone.
To prep for this discomfort that I not only willingly signed up for, but also dragged Russ into, I decided that on days when I don’t ride (the trail), I should go out and practice “the sisters”, those challenging hills on the century that are right out my back door. So, I went over to Big Sister. Usually when I’m on that hill, I’m walking and it’s easy to forget how long the hill stretches out. I ride flat rail trails and stream beds. I deal with hills by building momentum. But, you lose momentum at the stop sign, and even if there wasn’t one, momentum doesn’t last through a long slow grade.
After walking up Big Sister with my bike, I came home to check published elevations to see if I was initially wrong when I guessed the Big Sister was not a higher climb than Trash Mountain (The biggest elevation change on the Silver Comet, graced by the scent of the adjacent landfill. It’s built in a place where railway right-of-way wasn’t available during construction, so it’s the “real hill” on the Silver Comet). The Big Sister and Trash Mountain are comparable in elevation gain, the whole difference (to me) is in the distance the incline is spread across on Big Sister.
I noticed something else while I had the elevations up. The Sisters didn’t really stand out so much on the graph. There are a lot of hills on the ride. It’s just that the sisters come nearer the end when riders are tired.
When I first started to write this piece, I was talking about needing to train a lot and maybe even completing the whole century. I haven’t really done that level of training. I kept riding through the family trip and the musical bike repairs pretty well, but it turned out to be maintenance, not century training. In most ways, this century is irrelevant to the video project. The timing and requirements are different, but I thought throwing it into the mix would make me a stronger rider. Now, I’m looking at the ride being next weekend, and it’s taken a lot of effort just to ride at all. On top of that, there’s time of year. If you look at a temperature graph of Atlanta, the highs peak right about when the ride is scheduled, stay high through July and start to break around the first week in August. Heat is not my comfort zone either.
Of course, I knew this, and was remembering this, when I signed up. Awareness doesn’t keep it from being a pretty big deal though. I can’t just ignore it. My biggest limitation in riding is heat tolerance. When I get overheated, I get a migraine (unless it’s actually heat stroke, IKR?). I have a tell. When my face looks red, I’m still fine, but when it feels red, when I feel intense heat on my face, that’s when I need to quit and take aspirin, or suffer. I got right up on the edge during a ride a few weeks ago. I stopped when I needed to. It happened to be at the end of my ride. I didn’t take the aspirin though. My face had just started to feel red. I didn’t feel like the terrible symptoms were coming. They didn’t. That made me feel pretty good. I hope it was because I’m more fit (or maybe I just stopped at the right time).
Regardless, I’ve been pushing my heat tolerance all month because the century will be hot. That push is beginning to wear on me. Some days I’ve been tired enough not to do anything very physical except my ride. It’s time to go back to riding in the cooler temps and quit pushing the heat limits. This century will be cool at 7AM when it starts and will heat up later when I’m tired. I’m going to have to treat this as a fun diversion and make sure I don’t stress my body on a level that will cost me in the end. It would have been nice to make this last (and my first) 400 Century Ride a full century for me, but as I look at it from a week out, I’m having to face that for this ride on this day, that’s not going to be the smart choice. That’s ok. It will still be a glorious day.
It’s been a musical bikes week. The Hybrid just needed adjustments. The stem had been tightened down so much that it interfered with the bearings. That was a relief.
We found a chain for the road bike on the internet and took it back to the shop, then they finished earlier than the earliest date we had been given. That was a pleasant surprise. More down time passed between switching bikes in the past. I was without the road bike for some time before I went down to get the hybrid back from my mother’s house. When I was down there, I was on hilly roads, so I expected it to be harder. This time it was back and forth without even a day between riding one and riding the other, and I really noticed how much easier a ride the road bike is.
I also noticed that the Brooks saddle isn’t for me, again. Perhaps it’s because it’s a men’s saddle. There isn’t supposed to be any difference between the men’s and the women’s Brooks saddle except for the length of the nose. Maybe that difference made the difference. The discomfort though is going to make me give things a rest for a few days, and I’m not going to be excited about exploring Brooks possibilities in the future. I’m afraid I may have had some vein pressure, and that could get ugly.
Russ finally got new handlebars for his bike (the crash last November bent them badly and he’s bee riding at an angle ever since. The really big guy at the bike shop told Rus to get a wider bar than what he had, and he’s enjoying that advice. He watched a video and did the replacement himself. It was good to see us (him) moving in the direction of being able to do more ourselves. We took a class on bike repair and maintenance several years back, but I didn’t use any of the information soon enough to remember it.
The weather has been hot. I’ve been riding at warmer times in prep for the century. Overheating is a significant risk for me though. Riding has been draining, but manageable. I’m not feeling very confident about this hilly suburban century I signed up for near the peak of summer heat. I’m not sure whether I should push it as hard as I can, or just enjoy getting to ride down an interstate type highway with 1 or 2 thousand of my closest strangers for, probably, the only time in my life. When I ride through the hottest months of the summer for the project, I’ll have been riding centuries for months (if I’m riding centuries at all), and I’ll be able to start very early.
This week has been a long line of obstacles, both mentioned here, and not, but we managed. The obstacles have been tedious, but the continuous movement forward in spite of them felt good.
I bought mascara for our family trip last week. I don’t know how long it’s been since I used any and it was the 4th day, the actual day of the graduation celebration before I put it on. Literally, I don’t know the last time I wore even the smallest amount of makeup before that. It might have been that family generations photo after my granddaughter was born, so 4 years max. In some ways, I was SO prepared for the pandemic.
I noticed this tweet Sunday morning. It made me think. Every photo of me that I post for this project shows me at 60 without makeup, that is, until they start showing me at 61. I wonder every now and then what effect my age will have on the level of support I get. I can think of ways it might help, or challenge, potential supporters ideas of who gets support and who doesn’t.
On the one hand, is grandma what you think about when you go to Kickstarter looking for a project to support? On the other, how many Grandmas decide to do a project that will require more physical stamina than anything they have ever done before? People might want to see if I can actually make it (for laughs or inspiration) And, Grandma is only one of my roles as a person. There are plenty of people successfully funding Kickstarters well at my age and older. They may not be as open about their age as I am, but they’re there. All I really know is that I’m going to continue being myself and hope that’s enough to be able to do what I want to do.
Jerseys and Other Things Revisited
I’ve decided to have a project jersey, or shirt. Russ does like jerseys, so he at least will be in a jersey, but we’ll probably both want t-shirts when riding the recumbents. The recumbents will have more storage places, and more upper body contact where the pockets in jerseys are.
The reason I’ve decided to have a jersey is that guy who used to wish me a glorious day every time I rode by. Thinking about how he annoyed me while he was a smoker making me breathe his smoke as he wished me well, and then how I was able to better accept his message once he quit smoking made the decision. And, now he’s gone. I haven’t seen him in months. I ride a little further on a lot of occasions to see if he’s come back to his spot. Maybe everyone knew the guy because for a time he was always there. Maybe I just happened to catch him several times and very few people have run into him. I don’t know because by the time I decided to stop and talk to him, he was gone.
The experience could sound like a small thing, but it’s really the struggle of our time. In a way it is the struggle of all times, to connect with people who are different. Sometimes the reasons we don’t connect are rational, like the avoidance of taking in 40 carcinogen filled breaths while I’m breathing deep and wanting fresh clean air. His habit slowed me in responding to the wish as he intended for it to be received. Sometimes the reasons people don’t connect are not rational though. People make assumptions every day based on isolated experiences and stereotypes. Our lives are richer when we can connect whether our challenges to that connection are rational or not.
The back of my shirt/jersey will say “Have a Glorious Day!” I’m sure there will be a day when I’m so tired I don’t want to do anything but scream, and someone will remind me what my shirt says,Iand that will be alright. That will be why it’s there. I don’t know about the front. I’m thinking the best way to phrase a sentiment. I haven’t found the right words yet. We will see.
This Week’s Riding
There’s been a lot of rain in the forecast this week, all day, every day, the chances of rain are high, but the quantity of rain hasn’t been. Yesterday the forecast was for a high percentage chance of rain nearly every hour, but the rain gauge said only 3/4 of an inch fell and when I planted a calla lily in a spot that gets drenched when there’s much rain, it was dry an inch below the surface. So, while I was expecting to miss a lot of riding, either because of the rain, or because of my equipment failures, I’ve actually been able to find a time and place to ride every day.
I thought I would take the hybrid in on Sunday to see if the steering problem was a quick fix, but I didn’t expect it to be quick and the shop was closed. I’m expecting the chain for my road bike to come in 3 more days. I’ll take the hybrid in then and decide what to do. I had planned to let it become my gravel bike with slightly larger tires and whatever else I need to do to it once I had the life that allowed me to need a gravel bike. But, it’s getting pretty old, and it will be older still if I ever get around to graveling it. It feels like an old friend when it rides right. It definitely needs new handlebar grips. I need to educate myself on when metal fatigue happens to alloys. This one was my first.
It’s been a pretty good week and the challenges have been more manageable than they looked like they would be. I’ll keep on writing and riding and see you next week.
Like many people, I’ve experienced fast, efficient, clean, safe and pleasant public transportation in Europe and Asia. Back home in suburban Atlanta it’s different. There are no bus routes that would take me to the northmost (closest) MARTA station if I wanted to “Be smarta, take MARTA”. The 3 , yes, three, bus routes in my town don’t come near me. I need to drive 30 minutes first if I want to go in to Atlanta on public transportation. At my last home the closest bus was 2 miles. That sounds so close by comparison, but the result was even less satisfactory. Cobb Transit was/is separate. The transfer station isn’t close and it takes longer. The trip downtown was a three hour venture (if you drive, not walk to the bus). Who has 6 hours to devote to a daily commute? Even with notorious Atlanta gridlock, only people who have no other choice would do that.
Routes were and are limited in each of the places I lived OTP (Outside the Perimeter) because of low ridership, and ridership is low, at least in part, because of limited (or unavailable) routes. I wanted, and still want, the freedom to read, check out, do needlework, or use my phone while using fast, efficient transportation with a smaller carbon footprint. Some people define freedom as being the driver. “That’s fine” I would say to them. “But, if I am using public transportation, I’m not on the road competing with you in traffic. Supporting public transportation for all of the people like me, makes your life better too.” Maybe I’d have reached them better if I’d had some photos like those below handy.I could put them next to some of constant road construction. I’d like to see those DOT dollars building infrastructure for tomorrow, not gobbling land paving it.
So, why is this in the middle of my KarenGoes.com push toward the cycling video project? Well, because it’s important, there’s a cycling component and, because everything’s connected. Not to mention, the need to repair and update our infrastructure makes the news every day.
The pandemic complicated already challenged US commitment to high speed public transportation, really, to public transportation at any speed. But, demand is building and things will change. We’ve learned some things and, there are enough ideas being implemented for me to link to existing projects and research for everything I want to talk about incorporating in my vision. It’s time to win the next era, and making public transportation desirable, efficient and highly effective while giving it a sense of place is a significant piece of that.
If You BuildIt
These are the things I would put together to design a multi-use, multi-level public transportation system centered around a high speed public transportation core. This system will increase options, improve public transportation and reduce traffic on roads. It will fit in existing landuse, reduce heat island effects, hide currently visible utilities infrastructure with increased safety, provide public and ecosystem services, help stabilize the natural environment, reduce and in some places reverse habitat loss, remediate significant factors driving climate change, beautify public spaces, promote public health and greatly amplify public transportation utility while making it all more inviting.
Begin in an area with medium to high density residential population (so there will be abundant local potential users). Build a multi-use transportation corridor in, under and above the median of a road or highway.
First, dig the median out to make a utility tunnel. Put in all feasible public utilities and transportation facility utilities. The tunnel will contain things like fiber infrastructure (phone and other telecom). Put in any systems needed to manage and run the transportation system. Put as many ugly power lines that fall on people during earthquakes or wind and ice storms in the utility tunnel, no more digging up underground utilities for maintenance, go to the access tunnel. There can be additional areas underground for auto parking (with charging stations), bike parking, delivery lockers, maybe even auto services like tire stores. This will improve viewscapes and viewsheds while improving ease of access for maintenance and major repairs
As utilities move into underground spaces, easements on the roadside will become available for moving lanes out or creating green space. Power companies and the DOT have entire departments to work out the easements for changes in roads and lines. I worked in a power company department once doing exactly that for. As the high speed lines move out to areas with less population density, the number of things that are practical to put underground will decrease. Dirt from the tunnel can be used to build up other areas.
The first or ground level (level with the road) will be open with mixed-use, including some street level car parking. A few businesses can be incorporated in the support structure (those providing the goods and services you see in train and metro stations worldwide for convenience and transportation services, perhaps including bicycle storage, bicycle rentals, locker storage and delivery or parcel lockers). And, being ground, or street level, it may also include turn lanes and cross streets as needed for people who using the original roadway.
First Transportation Level
The next level above ground will become the first transportation level with high speed public transportation, such as high speed rail. Why high speed rail? Travelers in Tokyo (the largest city in the world) can make a trip in a small fraction of the time it takes to make a similar trip in a city like Atlanta where the population is much, much less dense. A public transportation user can occupy themselves in any self contained activity instead of being frustrated by drivers, and (if it’s high or even medium speed rail) get there sooner, safer, at lower cost and with less negative environmental impact.
Like many systems, where space allows, the high speed level will also have parallel slower local transportation lines with more frequent stops. Where there isn’t enough space to build a local traffic line parallel, those lines will move to the level above. Waiting areas and seating compartments will be well ventilated with air circulation, filtration and cleaning systems that reduce modern (as well as ancient) health risks. I see this high speed/local speed architecture as incorporating all of the smartest and newest technology, but I don’t see it being visibly very different than the best modern transportation systems that already exist.
The second level above ground (or the level above powered commuter lines) will be commuter bike path. Where this level is sandwiched in the transportation column the commuter bike space will have sides that let in light and air for physical and mental health. The support structure will have public art. It will have bike parking or storage and rentals, unmanned bike repair stations for self repair, sales or vending machines for drinks, snacks and bicycle repair items like tubes or other wear parts and equipment. Where the bike path does not fit in the transportation column, it can have loops or elevated access trails directly connected to existing systems so that, in some places, this level can be accessed without going through the other levels, transforming commuter and pleasure cycling to a viable option for more people. There could be kiosk coffee shops with balcony seating near an overlook or park, perhaps with a green roof.
The Winding Path
The level beside or above the bike paths will be for walkers, skaters, families with young unpredictable children, handicap scooters. It will be for the people who want to move along on their own power, but for whatever reason, won’t move as quickly, or as predictably as a commuter cyclist. Where there is room, half of this corridor could be dedicated to hover boards, skaters and other users that don’t mix well with pedestrian traffic or commuter cyclists. Where there is room, there could be skateable architecture side features where bikes, boards and skaters could detour from time to time for acrobatic distractions. This can come out into an adjacent built up area maybe in an extension like a rink area and could be designed as public art to provide visual interest to non-users as well as users. These areas will be connected to the public use areas of the complex.
Up on the Roof
The roof of the transportation column will be a green roof linear park with the features that local communities ask for. It might include children’s sports fields, water features, public art, native trees and plants, some edible plants, possible community gardens, space for public meetings, green space for group or individual exercise or meditation, outdoor exercise equipment, story teller’s square, entertainment, etc. This is the space that is used like a local public park, not really intended to provide additional transportation alternatives, a space that increases available land for public use and reduces heat island effects and remediates stormwater management problems.
In locations important because of adjacent habitat or parks, the linear park on the top level will connect to adjacent land to become a habitat greenway or wildlife bridge where animals can move across the transportation column from habitat on one side to habitat on the other reducing road kill and other negative effects of fragmentation. The earth for this can be sourced with the material dug out for the underground utility corridor.
Throughout the system I see a lot of structural, functional, system, environmental and social integration similar to the way this park was designed, almost as though it were a living organism. The more natural systems that can be used to provide services the better. Note that they use a lake for irrigation and even have gardens in the underground parking structure!
In areas where hard surfaces are required, pervious pavements will add to resilience in dealing with stormwater management.
Solar and or wind power generators will be incorporated into the structure where appropriate. Solar may be in multiple forms, perhaps in windows, in canopies, perhaps in horizontal structures that will shade the original street and auto traffic below.
There will be low maintenance green or living walls with local native plants where appropriate providing shade and other cooling as well as ecosystem services and landscaped beauty. If this is what you think of when you hear “living wall”, there should be places for that too.
Any level other than the green roof might have delivery service lockers, coffee kiosks, vending, small unique restaurants and chains, financial services, convenience businesses, emergency services, etc…
Existing power easements become available for expansion if needed to replace lanes of traffic, as connecting greenway, or as low maintenance landscaped areas with plants chosen to provide native habitat that will reduce stormwater management burdens and reduce flooding.
Moving up and putting this in existing transportation corridors, will preserve the opportunity for land that would otherwise be gobbled up in new roads to remain available for higher and better use. At the same time, filling and covering the transportation center with living green roofs and linear parks takes land that would otherwise contribute to heat island effects and turns it into temperature mediating spaces that provide multi-use public space as well as transportation.
Incorporating solar and wind power generation features will improve efficiency and reduce costs while saving even more land for other uses.
Covering this transportation system with native plants and green spaces where possible will improve appearance, reduce the effects of Urban Heat Island, improve stormwater management, reduce flood risk, reduce climate change effects, and be inviting.The green roof with linear parks and public use areas will draw people in to local and community use of the facility, provide hard to find space for all kinds of parks, and so much more.
At the end of the line, before a transportation car turns to go the other way, it will move into an enclosed area that will quickly disinfect with UVC light, or other appropriate technology.
As the line moves out to less densely populated areas, the speed will increase, the stops, services and amenities will spread out and the wildlife bridges will become more frequent as they begin to look more like green overpasses.
I can see dollar signs in the eyes of many readers. The money is going to get spent. It’s just a matter of how. I look at this Billion dollar project and see the 100 year flood zones being redrawn a few times. We can spend it better, to serve more people better with fewer expensive side effects and more services. The ideas I’ve shared, and more are out there. People are making them work. We can make them work.
We made our trip. We went to Chicago. It was our first post Covid travel for a family graduation. Riding on the way up was limited due to weather. Much of it was weather I would normally be willing to ride in (unless I was going to get in the car and be wet and grimy for 8 hours afterward). We pulled off to look at Kentucky Dam, then rode back and forth across the mile and a half that runs across the top a few times. We were staying in close proximity to the car in case the weather turned ugly again. You couldn’t really call it a ride, but it did break up the sitting and the smell of summer lake water was refreshing. The rain had been so recent that the pavement was still wet with puddles. A surprising number of people had walked large dogs without curbing them. That was not nice, and even the fairly stiff breeze couldn’t carry that competing bad smell away.
In Chicago (more accurately Wheaton) we rode the loop in Waterfall Glen, a nice short ride hills. I was glad to get some hills in.They’ll help prep for the century at the end of the month. On the way home we rode the B & O rail trail and the Ohio River Greenway in Louisville. I’ll write separate posts about those in more detail. It was certainly worthwhile to take the bikes. They provided a nice break from the driving and, while we didn’t get in enough exercise to call it training, at least it wasn’t a total break in training either.
I fell on the Greenway in Louisville. I was going near 0 mph, so the only problem was the road rash, or so I thought. Russ put the chain back on for me, and since the bike was working, I didn’t think to check anything out.
It was the ride after next, back at home when (according to the shop guy) the bent derailleur, hanger apparently turned everything in the vicinity into a crumpled mass. I was planning a “push it as hard as you can” ride, but ended up walking it to the car holding the back end in the air because the tire wouldn’t roll. I was near the bike shop and drove over to see if they still required appointments. No appointments or masks required, The shop had a lot more bikes than last year, mostly childrens though, and parts are still way limited. Unless I found the right chain on the internet, it would be September before I was riding again. Late September was when they were expecting the right chain to be in stock.
I felt beauty of a back up bike intensely, not just in times like these. Even under more normal conditions, getting back on the road isn’t always immediate. It took away all of the fear that having two different type bikes for the project could be seen as extravagant. I had been thinking of it primarily for the ability to keep up the schedule physically by alternating between the recumbent and the standard bikes, but the ability to keep going mechanically is equally important.
Russ found the chain and it is ordered. With the century in 3 weeks and the build up to project level rides I’m looking hard at the old hybrid now. It wasn’t riding quite right last time I was on it. I loaned it to someone who’s first love is mountain biking. I think that is what happened to it, but I don’t know what it will take to get it right.
We took the hybrid out yesterday. It is rideable by some standards, but I don’t know what is wrong, I think it is something in the steering or front wheel. The bike is a fairly simple machine, but I don’t know that much about it. If it were a car with a manual transmission and the clutch plate was slipping, I know what that feels like. If I had been the person riding it when it started to have the problem, I might have a guess. My fear is that it’s something that will get worse if I continue to ride it, going from a less expensive repair to a more expensive repair, or even something that could cause me to have an accident. It could certainly do that through behaving slightly unpredictably, even it it doesn’t happen with a catastrophic failure. It needed a seat post so we could mount a seat. Russ put the Brooks I haven’t been using on it, so we were at the shop yesterday to get the post, but didn’t want to ask someone to look at it until they could test ride it if needed. I’ll take it by for an assessment today, and the chain for the road bike should be in by the 11th. Riding isn’t cancelled, but it will be hard to ride as much as I’d like for a week or more.
The century is in 3 weeks. Unfortunately, a broken bike isn’t a suitable back-up. And the planned repairs on my primary bike are “just to get it back to the shape it was in”. That wasn’t delivered with a condescending tone. It was clear that more repairs are on the way. The clarity of goal was to ride as much as possible throughout June while my schedule was more open, for both the project and the century. That’s still the goal. It’s just not going to look quite like I envisioned it.
May is definitely a sublime month for riding. Here in Georgia the weather begins to have some pretty nice days in February, especially if you’re comfortable riding temps in the 50s. And, the number of nice days just keeps increasing through May when it’s not hard at all to schedule a beautiful day to ride. The best part is that the weather hasn’t yet cranked up to unbearably hot yet. The animals that were hunkered down for the winter have come out to play. The ones that left have come back from where they wintered and they’re starting their families. I’ve even been swooped by a couple of hyper vigilant birds protecting against a perceived threat to their nests.
The weather, blooms and animals make me wish we were in full swing photographically, taking video and calendar stills. However, hindsight being 20/20, I’m thinking it was insane to believe I could be trained, up, and running by last January, or even by now. I don’t really know in all honesty exactly how unrealistic it was. My childcare obligations were full-time spread over 8+ days over two weeks. Trying to make that work without being able to choose which days I had off, and knowing that weather doesn’t deliver rideable days on cue was the part that was predictably going to cause an inordinate level of stress. All the sickness (thankfully not Covid) wasn’t something I should have expected though. As time was passing, I felt stress to get the elements of the Kickstarter together and submitted, but, right now I can honestly say that it was for the best that it didn’t happen. The goal is to get large amounts of video over changing seasons to enrich the lives of low tech users and provide an alternate experience for people who can’t get out in real natural environments, but that’s not all I want. I’m training because I want to do it on low impact pedal power, and I’m researching how to do it best because I want to produce video of a quality that it could be used in subsequent high tech projects, and I want to collect the video in as regular and consistent a way as possible, in case it could be useful for scientific research (such as species counts or trail use studies, trail impact studies or economic impact studies, ecosystem services studies…).
The Weather and the Camera
There’s been an unusual amount of high wind on several of my rides. From my time ballooning, I know some of the signs that indicate wind speed, like a certain amount of movement in tree branches or how stiffly a certain size flag is standing straight out. So, while I was getting pushed around out there, I was looking at different tells and assigning approximate wind speed numbers. The Mountain Laurel had just bloomed. I thought I had more time to get a photo, but the wind was pretty constant and it dried the blooms. Not in a way many people would notice from a distance, but in a way that someone who had hoped to get a peak photograph would lament. As I’ve been stressing over pictures missed, I’ve been running scenarios through my head. If my best photo of a particular flower or other feature that exists on the trail comes from my yard instead of the trail, do I use the best photo or the trail photo? I want that best photo to be on the trail, but I also want to show my best work, and some calendars have subject matter that isn’t even on the trail in the first place. I’m personally fine doing either, and will say whatever it is that I decide in the end, but I want to make the choice that my supporters would choose.
I’ve also given a lot of thought is what to do about not having spring photos I’m happy with yet. I had thought of trying to keep the reward timing on 2022 calendars, but I’m not yet happy with my spring collection of photos. I have to have usable photos for all of the calendars for all of the months in case the calendars associated with different project levels make. The timing for delivery the rewards being significantly before the end of the project is what complicates production, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the rewards and the project will each take large amounts of time with little overlap.
I considered producing the calendars with my best available photos and then making better calendar pages available for the first few months. I think that carries the risk of disappointing. Once a first impression is made, it’s hard to improve. I also want the primary overlap (that time when I’m filming at the beginning and still filming during the same months at the end of the project) to be in better months. The better months (times when weather makes riding most fun and video will be more enjoyable) are April and May if it’s in the spring, or September and October in the fall. If I shift this to a “next year” project, my 60th year project becomes my 61st year project. It doesn’t have the same sound, but my calendars will be better from the start, and I can make sure those best months are well covered with lots of video. I’m near deciding my reward needs to be a 2023 calendar. As much as I hate to do that, I think it’s the solution.
We’ll be visiting family up north over the weekend, riding bikes on the way up, and on the way back. We also have an appointment with a recumbent shop. We’re looking forward to a much more cycling active June than I would normally have when we get back
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.
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.