As we ramp up, hopefully to our full Super Stretch plan, flexibility is going to be the key to making all the logistics work. I have several plans for each level covering all of the situations that have occurred to me, and I feel like we can adapt to the ones that haven’t. The goal that we are hoping for is, of course, to do the full trail in both directions every week for 62 weeks. But, we’ll also be happy just to know the idea has support at any level.
Logistics isn’t complicated at the lowest level. We buy the additional photography, safety and other equipment as needed and use as much cycling and other equipment that we already own as possible. We check Maps and weather for current conditions and look at our checklists so we bring everything we need. We plan repair, maintenance and additional work to interfere as little as possible. When the shops are busy though, sometimes there is more than a week wait for service. We will do our 62 rides as evenly across 62 or more weeks as possible, then upload and work on rewards. At this level we offer 2 wallpaper varieties.
Stretch level remains fairly uncomplicated. We do the same, except for producing and uploading twice as much video. So, we record for twice as long, or twice a week. We’ll definitely move to a power supply set up at this level, but, will probably have already done so for the first level. These two plans just add a photography commitment and increased attention to timing to a number of miles that is not physically challenging. I say “just”, but I’m not implying that getting good video will be simple or easy. At this level, we might vary locations if conditions allow. We add one more calendar variety.
This is it, the dream, the mixed blessing of getting exactly what you asked for. We ride and record there and back again, from Smyrna, GA to Anniston, AL, 2 of us riding both ways every week for 62-ish weeks to record a year on the trail, taking in the nature and seeing how it changes through the year. The commitment is 3 full days of time away from home per week, plus another 20 or so other hours working on the rewards, the uploads, the website and posts, along with various other tasks and maintenance.
Our lives will be busy. We’ll be out riding and adapting to whatever happens. I may sometimes sound like I’m emphasizing the negatives, but I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t know what a challenge this project will be. For some true athletes, it may seem a small thing, but for me, I’m not an athlete, and I’m only young in my aspirations. We’ll come out on the other side of this project a different people in a different place, and hopefully sharing the project will allow others to have a piece of that too.
Our weeks will be ruled by the weather. When we expect the riding days to be good, we’ll start on the east end of the Silver Comet Trail in Smyrna, GA east of Nickajack Elementary School and ride out to the west end of the Chief Ladiga Trail one day, then spend a day in Anniston recovering. The recovery day in the middle will include a recovery hike of 5 miles of more and may also include still photography time for the reward projects. On the third day we’ll reverse and come home. 4th day we’ll have another recovery walk.
We will ride our road bikes in one direction, store them and ride the recumbents in the other, or if necessary, convert to the recumbents full time.
We’ll need storage on the east end. On the west end we’ll need storage and possibly parking. If the hotels closer to the trail are filled, we’ll need transportation and may consider leaving a vehicle. I don’t know though. My car is the family bus and Russ will have separation anxiety over leaving his. It is possible that uber and what I’ve allowed for parking are about the same cost, though an Uber with a car rack may be a pipe dream.
I considered a potential house sitting solution as a substitute for a hotel. It would be such a great cost saver, but after looking at the house sitting in Anniston it seems unlikely. Most of those positions are looking for pet care. Not only do I have a severe allergic reaction to dogs, we can’t arrange our schedule for pet care needs. We have to prioritize the project and ride when the weather is good. Then make sure the three days away are only three days so we can be home to meet family obligations when we’re not riding.
Another idea might be an efficiency apartment that is at or below the cost of a hotel. It would give a place to store food, gear and equipment (think battery chargers, food and clean clothes). With Anniston’s PCB history, I’d love to get a small but serious water distiller to keep there too. Here is the CDC write up. The ability to keep a few things that would be good to have on recovery day would be nice. A place with 100% availability would also save time with reservation complications when the weather changes. It wouldn’t come with those little soaps I love at the Longleaf Lodge on Ft MctClellan :), but streamlining the million small things could be the most valuable decision we make, and besides, we’ve been hanging out in camp chairs in our bathroom for Covid isolation. We can hang out in camp chairs in an efficiency in Anniston.
We could produce as many 4 videos per week (2 directions X 2 riders with cameras) if things go well. That’s 248 videos (twice that if we do 360 degree cameras as well). Producing videos almost 100 miles long at anything near that rate is something I could feel pretty good about.
We’ll be officially doing 62 weeks to make sure we get a full year’s worth of weekly uploads, but we could pick any number above 52 and adjust according to actual conditions. We picked 62 because this year was my 61st birthday and we will finish when I’m 62, so it seemed appropriate to mirror that number.
When this project is “complete” we’re not going to be able to quit distance rides cold turkey. Our bodies would hate us. Our bodies are likely to be kind of talking to us anyway. But, it should be fairly natural part of gradually decreasing the ride levels to fill in any gaps that occur.
The nice thing about budgeting all of this is that for many of the scenarios, the cost is similar no matter how we do it. That makes the unpredictable become very manageable.
For this section, what’s the point in dreaming small? Fantasy Island here is that someone has a pet free Spartan Carousel on Cheaha Mountain. It has a little detached garage or storage building and an electric truck. The owners are looking for someone to house sit a day or three per week. it’s really flexible, they just want someone around now and then for a year and a half or so.
They don’t mind if we leave some equipment there while we’re not house sitting. Shoot, let’s really dream big. They have a pole barn out back with room for our Boles Aero and a lot of tools and they be happy to see Russ working to restore it on his recovery day (after the 5 mile walk).
They also know a safe spot near the Anniston trailhead where we can park that truck of theirs (it’s a truck in the dream to make transporting the recumbents easier) so it will be ready to take us over to the trailer at the end of the ride.
Or better yet, since Rivian is coming to Georgia, they decide to spread around some promotional vehicles and they want to support projects that are intentionally low impact. The bed on the Rivian is short, but we can make it work with ingenuity and the tailgate down.
And, of course the most important part part of the dream is that the project gets the kind following that justifies that kind of support, because the more people who know about the project, the more can benefit from it, and the better likelihood that there will be an even more exciting follow on project afterward.
Who would have thought that lodging would be the area where I’d really go to town on Fantasy Island and there isn’t even a hot tub involved?
Edited with some updates and to remove a level because we realized it wasn’t practical and would fail.