Cycling Jerseys

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Island

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ April 28

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ April 19

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

Calendar Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ March 22 & 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about that Stress Bomb?

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ March 9

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

Roadside Daffodils on Brushy Mountain Rd

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

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

Department of Natural Resources Land
Marker

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

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

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

Racking it Up, Bicycle Racks

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

Strap on Racks

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

Hitch Mount

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ March 2

Reflection in the light at the end of Brushy Mountain Tunnel

The Ups

The week has been on and off, with big ups and downs. The up was that Russ signaled interest in the project beyond just being encouraging. He’s always supportive, but this is a BIG commitment, and I can’t do the project without support. While, in theory, a lot of people could do it, this will take a lot of hours, a strong commitment, and a lot of closeness. With recovery rides, time in the saddle alone will be over 20 hours per week. Add in rewards production, bicycle, gear, camera and other equipment maintenance, planning and weather management, getting to and from the trails, rewards distribution, website management, uploads and other things are we are both above full time hours every week. Plus, we’ll have at least two overnights away every week. Not only do I want to spend that time with someone I know and trust, I don’t want to spend that much time away from him. So, his reaffirming commitment is a pretty big up. All of those are the semi-personal reasons I want it tobe Russ in my corner, but the project reason is, I know his level of commitment. Russ won’t get tired or distracted and leave me looking for someone to fill his shoes.

The Downs

The downs have been very low. Did you know there’s a thing called an elastomeric pump? I learned about those this week. They’re also called medicine balls, home balls or grenades. They’re made so that sick people can be mobile, and/or discharged from the hospital while still taking IV meds. They come with a printed placemat so you can put the swabs, pump and a syringe in the right order. And, that was just one family member’s challenge. The week was full of loved ones in the fight of their lives. Scheduling was completely blown. As important as this project is to me, the outcomes to the health crises that too many of the people near and dear to me experienced this week are more important. That’s as much as I’m going to say on that subject, and now I’m going to move on like I didn’t even say that much.

The Weather

As the week started, the Texas freeze was still in the press, and then suddenly, the daily high was 70 and there was pollen on the car. As the week ended, it was cool again. I got in a quick ride late in the week. I was wiped out. The ride felt like I’d been pushing my training. I think it was actually that my life was pushing me. I think that I could have worked through it if I had just kept pedaling, but I didn’t have the time for that on that day.

Then I got in another ride, then another, none of them as long as I would have liked.

Recumbent Trikes

I’m really seeing more recumbent trikes on the trail. A link to one of the brands on the website for the recumbent shop I found in Murfreesboro says that there are 9 recumbent trikes sold for every 1 recumbent bike sold in the US.

I’m generally anti-trend. If I’m ahead of the trend, I feel a little put off once everyone else joins in. It’s like my choice becomes less about me, and more a fad once something I’m doing becomes popular. If I’m behind the trend (which happens most often when buying expensive tech) I like to make sure I I’m far enough behind to take advantage of what benefits there are to being a late adopter.

I’m not going to have any trouble being on trend for this though. The features that are currently making the trikes popular, are features we need for the project. It will be nice to talk to more experts to find out if my theory of three point contact with the ground will be more stable in the context of video stabilization. For fitness, I prefer a recumbent with two wheels to keep my core and balance working. I won’t be doing something trendy during pandemic market conditions unless it is completely supported by the parameters and the budget of the project.

Shock Absorption

I had more considerations on the road bike front as well. Sometimes I go along my way and forget to check things with fresh eyes. For instance, shock absorption in mountain bikes comes from having suspension with a lot of play in it, and it’s costly energy wise, so, not conducive to distance riding. Until I found a second hand bike for sale this week, it didn’t occur to me that shock absorption on a road bike could lead to just the opposite, more efficient longer rides. As I looked up reviews on the bike in question, I came across this article on shock absorption in road bikes. It has a phrase about noticing that your rides become longer effortlessly. That’s due to lower stress on the body from being shaken.

I’m not naturally very performance driven, at least not on a bike when it was for pleasure and cardio, so I’ve never been drawn into “better” more expensive bikes. But, as it turns out, doing distance and getting the smoothest ride for the video are both improved by the kind of shock absorption some of these road bikes offer. We will see where that takes us. I still want to alternate between road bikes and recumbent trikes for the physical differences and relief. The level of complication that ads (storage on both ends, switching video equipment back and forth, transporting bikes with completely different configurations) is manageable and the physical benefits will help to keep us strong and riding throughout the project. If it turns out we’ll be working a single bike option, it will likely be the recumbent trike. That’s the bike that will keep up riding through more adversity.

Road Bikes and Recumbents

Bikes are the big scary question mark right now. Not only do we have bikes in need of repairs (me) and an overhaul (Russ), but we’re also going to need recumbents to ride half time so we can vary our physical positions, body stresses and sit spots to stay healthy and riding. I’m not really sure what we’re going to be able to do about it either. In the comparatively low end bike price range, the repair or replace decision comes at a lower price point simply because it doesn’t take many parts to add up to a purchase price, especially when there are service costs as well. But, the photo above is the stock that was available when I took my bike in for repairs a few months back. It kind of makes the decision for you, as long as there are parts to be had. I haven’t been in super recently, but, I’m still hearing cyclists talk about waiting several months for ordered bikes.

There are certain maintenance activities we’ll need to be doing constantly. For instance, tires will last between 1,500 and 2,500 miles without road damage. That’s 7-10 weeks at the rate we will be riding when we’re up and running in full project mode. I’m keeping my eyes open in the used market. That search will likely be constant so that equipment never causes us down time. Unless we move up in price range, we will likely make several repair or replace decisions over the course of the project. It is harder to find second hand bikes that are compatible for riding together, especially with our above average height requirements.

To back track for a minute, our current bikes are Giant brand. They are good bikes when in repair, well above department store quality, but ours are at the bottom end of what good bike shops offer and serious cyclists expect. Giant is considered a pretty good quality in the lower price ranges, but a lot of brands make good bikes, and fortunately, we’d happy with any of them too.

I have two bikes. One is a hybrid that I was riding the first time I trained for a century. Later, I bought a road bike, to be able to keep up with Russ on his road bike. Speed is increasingly important the more mileage a rider does, not just because we’re riding together and pacing each other. It’s also about number of hours in the saddle.

Recently I was without the road bike for almost a year and I brought the hybrid back from my mother’s where I was using it when visiting. Riding it again felt like an old friend and early photographs of this project might have either bike. I need the faster bike though. So, I sucked it up and made the appointment to fix the road bike. Shop repairs where I bought the bike are by appointment through the pandemic.

I spent about three quarters of the original purchase price on parts and service. It was much closer to the repair or replace mark than I realized. I’ve broken spokes without obvious cause recently and it may need new wheels soon. That could be due to the rough riding surfaces when the trail was full of storm litter though. It could just be that the wear parts have worn. I’m riding it exclusively since the repairs. One thing I noticed when I got the road bike back is that it was quieter. Keeping the adjustments properly made and replacing the cassette as soon as it’s worn will be important to reducing unwanted ambient noise while recording (and it helps to keep the bike faster too :). We’ll need to get better at doing that ourselves.

Russ’ bike, was at the repair or replace point before he crashed it. I really think he would have replaced if they had any stock, or even had any on the way. Then the question is, would he have crashed his new bike, or would the new bike have handled the road trash better and kept him from crashing?

The pandemic rush on bikes could result in a flood of second hand bikes at just the right time. Our second hand search handicap is not knowing enough about bike brands and models to know which bikes/models might be better. Bicycle Blue Book could help to know what the right price should be, but I’ve heard some scepticism on it’s accuracy and we don’t know enough to have our own opinions. My pet peeve is quickly becoming people who sell bikes without listing the size.

Then too, I learned from experience that it’s easy to accidentally get a bike that needs a lot of repairs, and the shops don’t cut you any deals on repairs if you didn’t buy the bike from them. I’m afraid that the combination of Russ’ height needs (he’s 6’6″), current market availabilities, and our need to be on bikes that perform well and similarly enough for us to ride together will push us higher in price ranges.

Recumbents

Choosing a recumbent is daunting, and not just a little. Really. There are good guides, but many recumbents are order online propositions and we’re talking about the difference between book knowledge and experience. When I buy a regular bike, first, I have experience riding one and second, I’m at a shop where I can test ride it in the parking lot. They’re too expensive to experiment. I need to get it right on the first try. I joined some facebook groups to see what I could figure out, but they were different enough in focus as to be unhelpful.

We narrowed it down a little. We thought about tandems from time to time, but finding one of those in the right size is likely to mean custom, and I’ve always been a little afraid I’d be a slacker (without intending to) on a tandem. A tandem could be fun for a lark on some other occasion, but when I consider that one of us might need to go for help or the car, that settles it. Sticking with separate bikes/recumbents also leaves us open to put cameras on each bike, potentially doubling our videos without doubling travel cost or time.

So, bike or trike? I like to maintain core muscles and all things being equal would choose a two wheel recumbent, but I think the three contact points of a medium to long wheelbase trike will offer greater camera stability, and smaller micromovements. What I mean by that is the midpoint between all three wheels. Needing less camera image stabilization is a huge factor in producing good video and that is the point.

Fantasy Island

I don’t even know what Fantasy Island looks like for the bikes. There are so many uncertainties. Fantasy Island doesn’t include automatic shifting (I’ll never learn to do it better myself that way) or electric assist. I”d like for us to ride road bikes in one direction, store them, and ride a recumbents in the other direction. That way, we won’t need automobile back up and will get good temporal spacing on videos. I haven’t decided if I want to try to set up cameras at the same height for both bikes, or if I want to have two different perspectives. I’m leaning toward different perspectives for practicality and variety. Any helmet cams or chest cams will clearly be at different heights. But those things will sort once we see what we have to work with.

The bikes need to be strong, fast, quiet, stable, safe and comfortable. We’ll need panniers for the road bikes I don’t usually care about color unless it’s heinous. I did notice Russ riding in front one day in a lime green Jersey. It looked so much like chromakey green that I thought about coloring everything, kit and equipment in chromakey green so that they could be easily removed at some point if anyone wants. I don’t know that anyone would, but options sometimes turn into actions.

Helmets

I’ve crashed, but, I don’t have personal crash experience with helmets. The only concussion I ever had was from crashing a bike, but kids weren’t required to have a helmet back then, and no one ever suggested it, or, bought me one, so I didn’t. I was coming home from a summer program and thought this really big hill looked so very exciting, And, it was. I woke up in my bed and still have a coupla scars I could find if I thought about for a minute.

I also flipped over my handlebars as an adult a few years back. I was waving at my postal carrier and hit a curb. I was wearing a helmet that time, but it didn’t hit anything as far as I know. I didn’t feel or hear any hits and there were no scratches, not on the helmet anyway. I landed mostly on my bum and had some really impressive bruises on my legs too. Doing an unexpected flip is a kind of mystery trip. You have to look at the injuries to figure out just what happened. I was so angry while flying through the air. I had plans to be a race official for a balloon race the next week. It was the first time, and I was sure I had just ended them. I was stif to my core for a week, but I did get to go to my race.

There’s a newish safety system called MIPS to help me out should I ever go flying again. As of 2019, 100 plus brands use it, including newer versions of my favorite helmet. This seems like a feature that should be a part of every future helmet buying decision I make, but also, something that all the reputable helmets will adopt, so I shouldn’t have to worry too much.

My favorite helmet is a Lumos and we bought ours from their initial Kickstarter. We were thinking that we’d ride more centuries and roads and we really liked the turn signal and brake light concept they were developing. We stopped riding on roads though, and I left mine in the closet while using the old one for way too long. We supported the Kickstarter and bought the helmets for the added safety, visibility and communication on roads. I was so happy to see someone bringing that smart technology into the marketplace. I’m sure it has saved lives. But, that’s not why I’m currently wearing mine. It’s still my favorite even though we’re riding on trails now. The fit on my head is what I like. It’s that simple. I like the way it sits on my head and I also like the straps better than all the other helmets I have ever had. So, while I ride on trails and only see cars when I see security patrols, or cross an intersection, the Lumos is the helmet I want on my head. I’m really glad that they made a successful business out of it and are still producing helmets. It makes me feel good about the support and the product. My original Lumos doesn’t have MIPS though. I should probably replace it soon. For current riding choices the MIPS is more important to my safety than the smart features.

Other needs might cause me to drift from my first Lumos love though. There’s just too much going on around my ears right now. I’d like a helmet with goggles. I don’t really care for sunglasses. My sensitive skin breaks out where the glasses touch, even if it isn’t in constant contact. I need the protection though, not just the UV protection, but also the wind protection. And, believe it or not, I’ve had a pinecone fall off a tree and hit me right in the glasses while riding, Pine cones have points that are still really hard and sharp when they’re fresh off the tree. So, yes, I need an eye shield for freak impact protection too. The annoyance of the pine cone would have been a doctor visit without the eye protection, and possibly some loss of vision.

Something like this looks like it would be nice. Not only would that get the eyeprocection off my ears, cheeks and nose, it keeps the goggles or safety screen secure. The other day I was coming down one of the few places on the Silver Comet where there is a steep hill and a sharp curve together on the whole trail. And, I guess, really, thay by “one of the few” what I actually mean is “the only.” My glasses somehow became akilter, I had probably pulled them out and off my face a little. I needed my hands on the handlebars for control, but I couldn’t see very well. I was looking through and around the glasses at the same time. I had to wait to fix them until it wasn’t nearly so important for me to be able to see what I was doing. It was a difficult awkwardness in a tight spot that wouldn’t have happened with eye protection securely attached to the helmet. So, as much as I love my Lumos, I could venture out looking for that same fit from a helmet with attachable eye protection.

BTW, did you know Oakley has designed a helmet with a non-interference zone and clips on top for storage when you don’t want to wear them? The non-interference zone is pretty cool, but I’d need to see how it works to know if it’s relevant to me.

Fantasy Island

Beyond attachable eye protection, I’d like a little hook or button for a face mask. One that is the helmet equivalent of that button on a headband for masks. With any luck, the need for that will disappear before anyone could bring it to production. But seriously, for right now, there’s no warning before someone gets too close, and we’re all a little vulnerable to the unexpected. The ability to whip out a mask and hang it in front of your face is just not there when you’re wearing, glasses and a helmet and a headband under the helmet, especially if it’s a headband that warms and covers your ears. I’m going to be really happy to get my glasses on the helmet, but I’d like to find a way to mask up quick that does nothing to interfere with the effectiveness of the helmet or anything attached to it.. It would be pretty cool if there were a universal attachment that would allow people everywhere to mask up safely and quickly.

Getting Real About Gear

I didn’t expect to be so heavily into needing to make gear and equipment decisions this early on. It’s beginning to feel like my wax rubbing Kickstarter. Never heard of that? It was going to be the small Kickstarter that showed I am earnest and will deliver before branching out on bigger ones. Of all my many and various ideas, it might have been the most difficult to reward supporters, so it probably wasn’t the place to start.

The plus was that I learned a lot of what people learn on a first project, even though I never submitted it. I tried some experimental alternative products, read up on doing a successful Kickstarter, spent more money than I planned to ask for in the first place, then read something that advised to ask for enough money to be taken seriously. I could revisit and revise it sometime in the future, but I have a more timely and more important idea I think.

It’s video-riding project that’s jumped to the forefront. That might seem odd at first. I have an aversion to being on screen, especially if I have to talk. I like being behind the camera. I have things to say, but I have trouble bringing me along with all my ideas.

Staying mostly in my comfort zone works for the project, but it’s a big challenge for the kickstarter video. Not only am I camera shy, I’m also really intimidated by the extraordinary professional level of talent and expertise in some of the Kickstarters. Finding where I fit among the likes of them is intimidating. But, then there’s the potato salad guy. Kudos to him BTW. Supporters had fun and everybody got what they expected, or more, and some people got fed. I hope there’s a place for me, for us, somewhere in there. I think we have a solid idea with a good purpose and I know we have strong commitment. It should be fun for supporters too.

My vision for this project was that, at its lowest level, a small Kickstarter would make a big difference to the base project, and it might even fund the ultimate goal. That’s still the hope, in part. But with the pandemic there have been so many changes. My MO for buying equipment has gone awry. I am most often the antithesis of an early adopter. Early adopters are great because they fund R&D, but I’m your original clearance section girl. I ride the bike that’s high on value per dollar. I don’t know what I would ride if money were no object, but I am very comfortable not riding the bike that is the biggest target for someone to steal. If I have the latest anything, the store was going out of business, or it was one of those rare things that I wanted or needed enough to pay early adopter money. I was the first person among my user group to buy a particular model of Garmin once, and then took all the smart people who bought it next as confirmation I made a good choice. I can’t think of another time I spent new release money on anything. On the whole, I’m not looking for the cool factor. I used my last bike seat until the leather was streamering and the gel was oozing. Literally.

But, the age of our gear in miles caught us as unprepared as the pandemic and both have thrown a wrench in my normal purchasing habits. I just had a near overhaul and Russ is due for a complete overhaul. His crank has been damaged for some time, and he’s been putting it back together with Loctite every now and then for 2 or 3 years. He wasn’t riding so much and it stayed long enough for him to forget about it, so it was a real surprise when his pedal arm fell off mid-stroke recently. He took it to the shop where I’ve bought family bicycles for three generations. The repair estimate put the cost up around the range where you make the repair or replace decision, (a decision that comes at a lower price point when you ride an inexpensive bike). But, the shop sold out big time when hitting the trails was the only pandemic possible cure for cabin fever. They didn’t have a new bike for Russ’ extra tall needs. Some shops said that extra-large was the frame size that was still around, but of course, they’re not more plentiful than they ever were. They’re just still around in some places for the same reason they were hard to find in the first place. Not many people are 6″6″.

So, every gear decision is colored by what is available now at today’s prices.