As we ramp up, hopefully to our full Multipass 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 60 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 with spreading our 60 rides as evenly across 60 or more weeks as possible. We upload and work on rewards. At this level we offer 2 calendar 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.
Super Stretch Goal
At this level we’ll be recording the entire length of the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails once a month. Super Stretch Goal is a big jump up from Stretch in budgeting, planning and commitment. That’s because it moves to century plus length videos, overnight stays, equipment storage at both ends and a more complicated level of planning. We’ll need to start using new recumbent bikes for at least half of our ride time. We’ll be working with one of the two the weekends that we have available per month, so there’s no loss of employment/income required to complete the project at this level, but we will be giving up the ability to do anything else with our weekends for the duration of the project.
Our weather requirements are less limiting than those for a balloon flight. That probably seems random, right? But, the relevance is that when I was doing balloon festivals regularly, we expected half the scheduled flights would meet flyable conditions. So, it seems reasonable to guess that if we have 2 weekends available per month for a bike ride, 1 is likely to be rideable. The reason I say that we’ll be giving up doing anything else with our weekends is that we won’t be able to plan ahead. If something happens spur of the moment, and our ride for the month is not at risk, we will be able to do that.
The primary Super Stretch scenario would be for one of us to drive support for the other in one direction, and switch places the next day on the way back, or, we might even split our days and do 50/50 miles and back up each day in the beginning. We will spread the rides as evenly across the 12 or 13 months as weather and hiccups allow. If we get to make any of these rides on 3 day weekends, we can potentially have a rest day and both ride both ways. When we both ride, the project is lower impact, and, if we have the cameras, we get twice the video. By the time we’re done, we might be able to ride back to back centuries, but it seems imprudent to assume that at this point.
The drawbacks are 1.) This scenario is higher impact (carbon emissions) than we want. 2.) We won’t have as many chances to catch cool happenings as we would in our extraordinary Multi-pass plan. and 3.) The rides plus kickstarter obligations combined with full time employment and family obligations could make for a pretty stressful year.
The positives are that it will definitely get 12 long videos for upload (possibly more if we can do back to backs later in the year) and these rides will span changing seasons. It’s a fraction of what we want, and the opportunity to catch extraordinary wildlife is smaller, but it’s a decent accomplishment and worth doing.
If we can put some of these rides on 3-day weekends, then we could have a day of down time would give the day recovery that allows both of us to ride both ways on those weekends, and if we have two sets of photography equipment, for those 3-day weekends, we would be briefly operating at low impact while achieving our peak goal. We won’t have any control over which weekends are free ones though. Every other weekend is tied up with firm child care commitments. Sometimes that falls on 3-day weekends.
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 60-ish weeks to record a year on the trail, taking in the nature and seeing how it changes over 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 from now while the country is still ravaged by Covid-19 and its scary new variants through the decline of the outbreak (at least I hope the pandemic will end well before the project) and past when the hordes come out to enjoy all that they’ve been missing. Through all of that, we’ll be out on both trails riding and adapting to whatever happens. I may 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. I’ll come out on the other side of this project a different person 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 near 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 will be a still photography day for the reward projects. On the third day we’ll reverse that and come home. 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 safe parking and storage on the east end, and storage, lodging and possibly parking on the west end. If the hotels closer to the trail are filled, we’ll need transportation on the other end too.
I considered a potential house sitting solution. After looking at the house sitting, 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. We have to prioritize the project and ride when the weather is good. Another idea might be an efficiency apartment, possibly at or below the cost of a hotel. It would reduce risk of Covid-19 sickness, give a place to store food, gear and equipment (think battery chargers, food and clean clothes), plus the ability to keep a few things that would be good to have on recovery day. It 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 McClellan, but streamlining the million small things could be the most valuable decision we make.
The production level for “multipass” could be as high as 4 videos per week (2 directions X 2 riders with cameras) for 60 weeks that’s 420 videos (twice that if we do 360 degree cameras as well). That’s a huge difference. Some weeks we may need to revert to one of the simpler scenarios due to unrideable conditions, but producing 100 mile videos anything near that rate is something I could feel pretty good about.
We’ll be officially doing 60 weeks to make sure we get a full year’s worth of video, but we could pick any number above 52 and adjust according to actual conditions. We picked 60 because this year is my 60th birthday, 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. So, it should be fairly easy 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, Fantasy Island is that someone has a pet free Spartan Carousel on Cheha Mountain. It has a little detached garage or storage building and a truck. They are looking for someone to house sit a day or three per week for a year and a half or so and they don’t mind if we leave some things there while we’re not house sitting. They also know where we can park that truck that we’re free to use in a safe spot near the Anniston trailhead (it’s a truck to make transporting the recumbents easier) so it will be ready to take us there when ever we arrive.