The trail video project has always been a good idea. We’re so ready to do that. There’s the matter of paying for everything though. We’re not ready for the successful funding campaign that has to come first. Frankly, right now, we’re worried about paying for the basics of life.
There Wasn’t a T-shirt Option Before
We’re intentionally making the video project low impact, so when originally considering supporter rewards for the video project, we considered a t-shirt, but decided to go digital for all the rewards. There were several reasons. First, because “no reward” support levels are often close to the same price point as “t-shirt reward level” support options. That can cause a supporter to think “Well, it’s free, I might as well go ahead and get the shirt.” When a person chooses a shirt that way, they aren’t necessarily interested in wearing it. It may go straight to a thrift store, or worse, it might even get round filed before it ever gets worn.
As a frequent thrift store shopper, I see Kickstarter rewards from time to time. Don’t get me wrong. Just because a reward made it to the thrift store shelf doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t a worthy item from a good project. But, if a lot of any given item makes it into the mega dumpster out back, that, of course, would be a different story. For a T-Shirt, that would be the worst form of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion has big environmental and human costs so we didn’t want to offer clothing that might not be used.
On top of those ultimately financial and personal costs. There’s the real dollar cost of production to the project. For every t-shirt reward the project gives away, the price of the project goes up and it needs more supporters to meet the project budget, which produces even more t-shirts that may never be worn. The negatives compound.
Life Changed. When Russ lost his job, he broke the news with the joke that he’d have plenty of time to work on the video project. In truth, the newfound freedom could be a potential stroke of serendipity that would make everything work out for the best, and things may still work out that way, they just haven’t yet.
The job loss blindsided Russ, and we needed to reassess personal threats and potentials to see how much actual freedom we had for the project in stress mode. We went in a few directions all at once without knowing what to prioritize. It doesn’t help that I’m so overdue to be earning something myself. Ongoing family obligations, the pandemic and the project have tacked years on to what would have otherwise been a short time away from paid work for me. I don’t have any regrets about choosing family, or pursuing the project, but the financial downside to those choices has been life changing.
As much as I need focus, direction, progress and movement right now, Russ has needed time. It’s just a really good thing that we love each other because we’re not in the same place and it feels like love is all we have right now. We keep recommitting to the project, but the challenge is how to get there from here without having epic failure rock our world even more.
What’s Different About a T-Shirt Now?
The T-Shirt we’re thinking of now IS the point. It’s the product.
When our life changed drastically, we came to the idea of doing a t-shirt as it’s own project, one that people would buy because they wanted to wear it. That makes all the difference. A loved T-shirt that gets worn is entirely different, especially when we’re going to resource it as responsibly as we can.
We’re willing to offer T-shirts as a stand alone project because people wear them. People wear them a lot, and they ones they buy because they want the shirt won’t have the short life cycle that is the trademark of fast fashion. So we’ll do our best to create and offer a t-shirt that people will want to wear and use, responsibly sourced shirts that last well and can be recycled or up cycled.
I can’t wait till we have them ready to show you! They’re going to be great!
The helmet I’ve had my eye on for a while is a Giro Vanquish. Skip down to the features if what you’re interested in is how those features are working for me. And here is one of the reviews I used when considering the purchase. FYI, Amazon didn’t have the price quoted/linked in that review at anytime during the months I was looking, (with the exception of a small size in and undesirable color, which isn’t what the link directs to).
Delays in buying the Vanquish sooner were… well, cost slowed me by about 6 months. I’m price sensitive. Moving to the point of purchase is an easier decision in the lower end price range, but there were other things that slowed the decision too. 1. Stores. 2. The search for other options with a visor/goggles. Was there a helmet with eye protection and additional features? 3. Reluctance to be seen as a poser. And, 4. Venting slits over the eyes.
No stores had the Vanquish when it first caught my eye, so I couldn’t check fit, and once they did, none of them were marketing to me. The sales rep at one store said “I don’t remember the name, but the only thing we have with goggles is for racers”. The name is actually on the box, which was just a few steps away. Another store told me the Vanquish and a commuter helmet with goggles that they also offered were both primarily for velodrome riding (wrong on both counts according to their respective manufacturers).
I’ve benefited from some articles that say “X product is for X rider”, especially in trying to make sense of group set levels as a less knowledgeable rider in the market for a bike that suits the demands of a high mileage project well, and at the same time isn’t more expensive than necessary. It seems to me though, that there’s little reason to keep the marketing or the perceived market for the Vanquish as narrow as it appears to be. People do have to make tough price quality trade-offs, but I think that a lot of people who are not racers and not terribly price sensitive would also find the appeal in this helmet, especially in a market that sells to Silver Comet riders.
The rider I first saw wearing a bike helmet with goggles was wearing a teardrop helmet (which put the idea of not wanting to look like a poser in my mind). Nothing would look more like a poser than to have a less aerodynamic body while sporting the most conspicuously aerodynamic helmet available, the one that few people have seen outside Olympic level training and competition.
I did find other options with visor/goggles. The commuter version had a much lower level of cooling airflow. The MTB version had friction fit goggles and I like the magnetic option better. It seems more durable. I didn’t look at any of the teardrop “coneheads”.
As far as other features in addition to the goggles go, I didn’t find helmets with any. Features I have seen in other helmets that would also be desirable are fall detection and imbedded earbuds. If I ever start to ride on roads, the turn signals and lighting that Lumos developed would be nice too. The Vanquish is very light though, and those things would add some weight, so it’s not a surprise they don’t add it.
It’s super lightweight, and I will likely notice just how light weight it is if I ever go back to something heavier.
It’s cool and breezy. It is supposed to be comparable to a teardrop helmet for reducing drag. Giro is pretty proud of it. I understand why. Some reviews do say that there are other helmets with more airflow. With my tendency toward overheating and the importance of temperature regulation through the head, I may look at some of the others if it seems like I need to when the Georgia heat season meets my century rides. This one is better than the last one though, so I’m expecting the goggles to still be the deciding feature.
The Goggles: The reason I bought it.
They’re everything I expected and I am happy. They do not rest on any part of my face and the lack of ear pieces feels pretty free, just like what I hoped for. The Zeiss logo is in my peripheral vision, just like reviews say. It would be nice not to see that, but I don’t always notice. The goggles do pop off fairly easily, but not so much in actual use, more as it is sitting it the car (unless I forget and try to scratch my nose).
It would be nice if the helmet came with a helmet bag, mostly mesh for evaporation and airflow, but a padded pocket for the goggles (or at least a goggles bag). It’s not something I usually care about, but after my second ride with it, I placed the helmet carefully in the back seat of the car. Later, a back seat passenger later put it in the floor where it got jammed into the seat adjustment rails. My new helmet that I finally bought had gouged lenses in the first week. Replacement lenses are $80. I could take it in between rides, but rides are quite frequent, and the more things that go inside, the more opportunities I have to forget to bring it back out.
I’d like to see the helmet come with more lenses. The darker ones are a bit too dark for the speckled lighting on a treed trail, especially near sunset or sunrise. They have made a lense that is mostly clear, and those new gouges would be less noticable if the clear one had been an option rather than an additional purchase. Polarized options would be nice too.
The eye protection of the visor/goggles is good enough that I open my eyes wider and relax my face much more than with sunglasses. The wider area coverage of the UV protection is a bonus too.
Air Flow Slits
The slits at the top of the goggles could prove to be an issue for me. The slits are there to wash your face in air. I’ve seen some reviews where the reviewer didn’t think the flow was enough. So far, I’ve just been using mine as the temperatures cool moving toward fall, but they do work pretty well for me. In fact, I have dry eye, so my concern is that they might work too well. My problem could be age related, or it could be the amount of riding that I’m doing. It may be manageable, but it’s something to pay attention to. The first time I built up to a century ride, we started in cold months. It caused some seriously dry lips and peeling skin that seemed way too serious to be caused by the riding. But, the dermatologist simply told me to use Aquaphor on my lips and skin. It took a while. I was doubting her, but it worked finally. I still use it.
Now I have drops from the ophthalmologist that I use before and after my rides along with some other treatments. Time will tell how well the drops work and whether or not the slits cause any more drying than I had with sunglasses. As a general rule, in the past, my vision has been better when I ride (with or without glasses). That’s probably the cardio benefit I’m experiencing. And, logically, it seems that if I’m relaxing my face and opening my eyes more, the air circulation isn’t causing a bigger problem than riding without the upper half my face covered. I looked for aerodynamic articles or video to see what the actual air flow of different configurations was, but everything I found was about reducing helmet drag for a competitive advantage and didn’t seem like information that illuminated my questions specific to air flow around the eyes. I do suspect that three slightly smaller slits, one over the nose and two over the temples might be better for me, maybe better for other people too.
The attached goggles, slits and all, provide another benefit that is, maybe, unique to me. I don’t personally like anything on my forehead, probably due in part to the sensitive skin. Since I was old enough to decide for myself, I haven’t even had bangs on my forehead. So, I tend to wear my helmet incorrectly. I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just uncomfortable and I keep inching it up, then it seems to fit there in that wrong place. People give me grief about it, from strangers, yes, strangers, to my grandson. When they do, I fix it, a little, temporarily. Now that I’m wearing a helmet with attached goggles in a fixed location, it’s easy for me to know how far down on my forehead the helmet should actually go. My eyes go in the middle between the slits above and the bottom of the lens. If I wear it wrong, it doesn’t cover my eyes and now that feels as stupid as it looks. So, this highly advanced helmet does have an unexpected advantage for this challenged rider with user errors.
Why would I be willing to share this embarrassing fact with people I hope will support my project? Well, partly because I hope you’re laughing with me, partly because someone might benefit or learn from my mistakes, and partly because I’m just a 60 year old grandma who’s not trying to be anything except who she is. I started riding a bike before riders were expected to wear helmets (and survived the resulting concussion) and now I’m a little better at meeting safety norma than I was before I got this new helmet. I don’t so much think there are many people out there making the same exact mistake as me, but I do hope that someone looking at me doing this will say “You know, if she can do that, I can do this thing that I want to do.” and that’s more likely if I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.
Now that I’m wearing the helmet properly and lower on my forehead, I’ll need to revisit the headbands I’ve been using. I had a variety for experimentation with my other helmet to relieve the pressure and related acne I was getting along the hairline. I don’t really want to wait to see if that also happens lower down where everyone can see it.
My goal is to choose a single best option to use always, so that the only times I will need to change the helmet fit adjustments will be in the winter when I need heavier fleece cold ear protection. I bought a huge supply of Buffs and Smartwool neck gaiters for riding masked early in the pandemic (before they were found to be the least effective mask to wear, and before masks outdoors were deemed unnecessary). Worn as headbands they are helping to reduce that after ride red spot on my forehead, and they are very easy to move forward of where a normal headband would go. Yesterday, the weather was cool and breezy. It was easy to move the buff down over my ears because I don’t have earpieces anymore. I wouldn’t normally have been looking for ear protection at this temperature, but I was more comfortable having it. The neck gaiters are so versatile, but I expect I’ll be hoping to find something breezier when the summer heat rolls back around.
Sometimes I chide myself for focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time. I have to get funding before camera decisions decisions matter. At the same time, I need credibility as someone who has what it takes to get the job done. My blog pictures need to start looking better. So now is not too soon to make instant hand camera decisions.
I’ve spent some time now and then over a few months considering what to carry instead of the Nikon DSLR for expected stills while riding the trail. Once there is a recumbent, I may take the Nikon from time to time, but as a rule, it’s just too risky, and you know those amazing things will happen too fast on the days I have it, and there will be really glorious moments on the days don’t have it. For that quick access I’ve thought of a point and shoot or a better phone camera. I wasn’t sure. The phone cameras keep getting better and you’re more likely to have your phone handy when something happens quickly. My decision was partly made for me.
I love the Samsung Galaxy 8 Active that I had, but it was tired before I ran it through the washer and the dryer in my yoga pants pocket. The $9 a month I’ve been paying in insurance since it was new was going to get be a Galaxy 9 (not active). After the deductible, it was going to cost half the retail price to get a dated phone. The only reason I have the cell phone carrier that I do now is that it has good signal coverage in rural south Alabama where my mother lives.
I’ve mentioned my luddite tendencies, but that’s just because the budget is king in my life. If I had a more well funded lifestyle and didn’t avoid dealing with my current carrier like the pandemic, I’d update at least twice as often, probably. The current Galaxy phone is a S21 Plus. It seemed like the thing to have for a project that needs a good quickly accessible camera at the touch of a whim. A lot of the tech savvy people who participate in funding crowdsourced projects won’t relate to this, but buying the Galaxy S21 Ultra was a leap of faith, especially since the reviews said it wasn’t even as rugged as the S20. My last 2 phones were active models because I AM going to drop it. The temptation to get rid of the overpriced and useless insurance was tempting, but the phone was really expensive. I couldn’t quite make myself do it.
One of the things I love about this phone is that you can turn on “Make a RAW copy” (actually, I found out that I could have done that on my 8 Active too). That means that you can use the .jpgs for all those things that .jpgs are good for, but if you want to play around with RAW, you have that option. I haven’t bought the software for that yet. I’ll probably go with Lightroom because it is widely used, but I did see some software that was rated higher and was a one time fee, not subscription. Decisions! And, miles to go…
I hear that the next Galaxy will bring Active models back. It’s not the first time I waited through model after model to update, and finally hit critical mass just before the model that suited my uses better.
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 and the fit. 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 never wanted to wear anything tight enough to keep it 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.
But, I have some merino sport shirts with small side pockets. They were fine. The old phone even fit, but the new one doesn’t and fit is a challenge for me. I’m a heavier than most serious cyclists, and have a more athletic build than most heavy cyclists, so my shape/size combo isn’t the most common. That goes for bike shorts, tights and knickers too. An uncommon fit makes it harder to find clothes and especially hard to find them well priced.
I don’t worry about jersey fit too much because I’m all about Smartwool, or sometimes another brand of merino. 100% wool is so comfortable. The range of comfortable temperatures for merino 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. Decades back, I thought I wanted silk long underwear, but I’m always doing something that damages my skin, whether its creative, dishes or gardening. Silk just sticks and pulls 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 so sad. I now have 4 pieces lost to moths. They are Smartwool pieces I bought all about the same time from REI. I had been storing them in original packaging and 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 having the sales clerk look at you funny is uncomfortable, so I didn’t try to tell anyone I thought the unworn clothes came with eggs. 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 for clothing than I normally do. Normally I go for visibility, but 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 we’ll both be 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 of the footage for future projects.
A cedar storage closet for my merino? I really need a cedar lined 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 in good weather. 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 that I’m not willing to spend the money on.
It’s probably worth it though. IRL I have designed one I’m happy with in my mind. On Fantasy Island 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. Mine is a comet with a feather tail or coma. When you look close at his, you s would 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 cycling and 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. It could be a single color with glow in the dark ink for safety. It would be on the front or the sleeve. Yeah, that’s it. That would be pretty cool.
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.
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.
Up to now, I thought that at the first or lowest goal level, this project would be accomplished with the GpPro Hero Black I already own. But, when I went to remind myself if it was a 4 or a 5 while researching some options I discovered that my Gopro camera bag is full of accessories, but no camera. Until now, I hadn’t looked much at new cameras because I didn’t plan to buy one unless we got to super stretch (or beyond) level funding.
As I looked to see what the lost camera would mean to us in terms of dollars, I saw that the newer cameras offered newer options and better features, and there’s a “special” now, putting the price well below what I paid for the older one I lost. As a percentage of total expenses the cameras just aren’t that expensive. If I’m going to put in the kind of time I’m planning on putting in (at any goal level) I should produce the best quality video I can.
We’ll still make upgrades and additional purchases in stages, but one or more cameras is now a given in the lowest level of the project. If we make it past one level, but not to the next, I expect surplus to be spent on recording and other equipment and upgrades. The first priority would be to get cameras on both of us. It would be nice to have a back up for failures, and the extra footage under regular conditions. And of course it will be important to have those cameras be the best possible cameras within whatever price range we end up working. The last thing we’ll do with our video camera budget will be to add 360 degree cameras. If we can do that, it will keep the door open for doing a virtual project later.
The Video Challenges
Our three biggest video challenges will be battery life, eliminating sound noise, and finding stabilization solutions, that is, controlling shake or vibration. All three problems seem to have good attainable solutions, which will be a little different now that we’ll be working with different camera models than the ones I researched. But I expect the solutions to transfer.
There is a way to rig a power supply and it looks like it will work with the Hero 9 too, but I need to look at things anew to be sure. A power supply is good for all the reasons it was invented. Long lasting battery life will be a big improvement over carrying a stack of camera batteries. It will allow us to make stops in natural locations instead of when the juice is gone, and it will prevent us from having gaps if we don’t notice the battery running out. Battery usage can be monitored, but that mode uses a lot of energy. Opening up the camera to change the battery also risks introducing trash into the body of the camera, so fewer openings lead to longer camera life. The biggest importance though is in streamlining. This is a big project with a lot of details. We will be exhausted, and I’m sure to regret having the idea in the first place. The more I can streamline the project on the front end to create smooth easy processes, the easier it will be to manage the rough spots when they arise.
The recumbent trikes will be better for carrying extras like the power supply. They will also be lower to the ground, Since we plan to switch back and forth between road bikes and the recumbent trikes for physical reasons. We’ll be experimenting with different set ups before we decide how different the image height will be between the them. I do not anticipate finding a good way to raise the image taken from the recumbent to the same height as the image taken from the road bike. I think if we try to use something like a vertical selfie stick, the unwanted movement will be too much. Here is where I’d really like to have readers who like to film their ride chime in and tell us what we’re doing all wrong, and what we’re planning well. I like the activity of planning, but I’m very happy to learn from others.
I expect that we will stay close to each other as we ride, but not right on top of each other, especially if we both have cameras. We’re looking to make the trail the subject of our film, not either of us. If we’re not side by side, communication will be an important safety need. Russ or I might be only 20 feet apart, but if something happens to the back and the front rider doesn’t notice, that’s like riding alone. I’d like to use something like a Fly 6 or a smart watch that detects a fall and communicates distress immediately. There is also a new Kickstarter communication device called Milo. Sure, we’ll have phones, but the Milo truly is a hands free device. We don’t plan to be chatty in these videos, but being able to convey an emergency or a hazard immediately with hands free is a significant advantage.
Fantasy Island for the cameras and other tech is just being able to assemble or disassemble the great gear for the best possible images in 5 minutes or less. It would also be super cool if we found a way to upload remotely or live stream in real time as we shoot. The Hero Black 9 will do that. The impediments are battery power, signal strength in remote locations, and additional layers of complication.
This post has been edited. The missing GoPro has also been found, but isn’t part of the current plan. and the plan has morphed a little since the post was originally written. We plan to use Hero 10 cameras, definitely have multiple cameras on each bike and definitely stream, though the streaming will be spotty in remote areas.
Never underestimate the importance of footwear. It protects your feet, and they are your foundation. Feet are the metaphoric and literal means by which you take a step forward, and the point that transfers every foot-pound of torque your body can make into the pedals that power your trip to new places.
Russ has large feet to support his tall body. They are pretty typical in proportion, so it’s not terribly difficult to find a good fit for him. He likes to clip in, many riders of road bikes do. So while he’s at the top end of sizes, Russ can usually find a decent pair of cycling shoes in one of the many shops around on the same day that he decides he needs a pair. The challenge there is to remember that supply lines aren’t normal now during the pandemic, and there’s no telling what the situation will be next time he is ready.
My feet are wide. I have high arches and narrow heels. I’ve had some issues like pinched nerves and plantar fasciitis. I have to be careful to keep those in check because they could end my riding if I don’t. And, because, pain- not good.
I don’t want to clip in. I’m awkward and have mediocre balance. I may give it a shot for the efficiency, but I’m a wary reluctant bride who doesn’t want to invest in a fall. Shoes that work well for me don’t seem to stay in production for very long. Sometimes, I choose men’s bike shoes for the width. I’m not even sure if the Shimano shoes I have now ( pictured above covered in trail gunk) are men’s or women’s.
I walked into REI with the last ones picture above and asked “Do you still carry these?” The sales rep climbed a ladder and came down with my size. It was the first time buying shoes was easy, and may be the first time I got to wear the same shoes twice in a row. What I like about them first is that they are wide enough. Second, that they have an open honeycomb top sole and even though they look hot, they usually ride as cool as my Keen bike sandals did. And lastly, the sole and inner sole are stiff but comfortable. I forgot my socks once and was surprised to find that I could comfortably ride in these without socks. I didn’t feel any of that hardware I don’t use on the bottom, and I didn’t have any blisters. It wasn’t a very long ride though.
The love of my life, as far as cycling shoes goes, was that cool pair of Keen Cycling Sandals with a footprint like the ones on the left in this review. The big roomy closed toe box was great for protection and my foot shape. It even managed to keep my toes warm enough in cool (but not cold) temperatures. Back then I didn’t notice the softer sole mentioned in the review, but it might have caused me problems as I was using them to train for a century. (To be really clear here, I was training to complete the century, not to win it :). My great success was coming in last, just before they closed the kitchen and rolled up the sidewalks, and I’m not even embarrassed by that. We worked hard to accomplish it).
I must have bought those Keens at the end of their product cycle. I started looking for a back-up pair long before I finally replaced them. I couldn’t even find the ones on the right except in places that were selling New Old Stock at triple retail. I eventually found a pair at retail prices. I sized up. They were still too narrow. I have them in my car under the seat as back up for times when I forget to bring my shoes. I’ve used them only once since the initial ride. Having them changed a canceled ride into a short ride.
I love all the high tech socks woven specifically for cycling (or other sports). They feel so good when they’re new, soft and strong with a little extra strength in all the right places. While building mileage like I am now, though, what I personally I need simple toe-socks. The first time I worked through the pinched nerves, the podiatrist suggested that I put some separation between my toes. I did all the internet searches and tried all the toe separator suggestions. Most came with sticky adhesives and none stayed in place. Not even the home grown solutions suggested by coworkers did the trick.
Then I remembered thetoe socks I bought in Japan. I don’t know if it is because of the traditional tabi socks or if it is because they use public transportation and walk more in Japan, but what the signs called “five fingers toe socks” were something I needed to have, and I didn’t even realize that they would be so useful later on. The toe socks were a dream solution, plenty of separation and they stay in place without any sticky adhesives.
I like merino wool as well as some others that Injinji makes. They are thick and last well. The ones above are cute and soft. they are a little less thick than all my injinji socks. I got them to make my granddaughter giggle and can use them as long as my problems are under control. If they get worse though, I’ll be replacing these blue ones below. Sometimes these socks pull at my heel a bit. If you’re looking for some and on the edge for sizes, I’d size up, especially with the wool socks that seem to shrink a little over time.
Fantasy Island for Footwear
I’d love it if digital printing and maker stations made it to the bicycle shoe store at a price that’s competitive with mass produced economies of scale, IKR. Custom isn’t inexpensive. But, if people like me with atypical foot shape could get a great shoe with a great fit at the same price everyone else pays it would be so superfine. Perhaps customization of decoration could help to make “normals” want to buy them too. I do actually realize that there is sewing typically involved and this dream is not nearly so easy or practical, or even doable as it sounds. But a girl’s gotta dream, right?
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 keep 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 as 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. I’ve been shopping at this store almost since it opened, and I’ve never seen it like this. The situation kind of makes the decision for you, at least as long as there are parts to be had. I’m keeping my eyes open in the used market too, but it is harder to find second hand bikes that are compatible for riding together, especially with our above average height requirements.
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. Fortunately, we’d be happy with any of them.
I’m refining it a bit, but, I guess I see a bike as a frame with wear parts attached. Some parts wear out pretty quickly. 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. Since it’s actual production at stake, not a spoiled afternoon excursion, we’ll be doing repair on time for the project, and hope that it will be a lifelong habit afterward.
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 expected. 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. Or, it could just be that the wear parts have worn. I’m riding the road bike 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 teach ourselves to get better at doing that maintenance ourselves.
Russ’ bike, was at the repair or replace point before he crashed it in November. I really think he would have replaced if they had any stock, or even had any on the way. He rode with crooked handlebars way too long. The uncomfortable 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 advertise their bikes without listing the size. Reading through a whole write up to see if any of it matters is inconsiderate. Not everyone knows their size range, but some people do and it should be in the title.
Being the thrifter that I am, 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.
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. High end bikes are 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 could 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 the primary reason for back up, 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. All we have to do is buy more cameras, equipment, accessories and mounts.
Recumbents come as bikes or trikes. I want to maintain core muscles and all things being equal would choose a two wheel recumbent, but I don’t think all things are equal. I don’t have great balance (which is why I want to maintain what I have). I think there will be more sway evident in my video than I notice while riding. The three contact points of a medium to long wheelbase trike will offer greater camera stability with less sway and producing the best video we can is the point.
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 or electric assist. I”d like for us to ride road bikes in one direction, store them, and ride 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. 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.
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.