As we ramp up, hopefully to our full 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 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 be happy just to know the idea has any support. So, let’s start with Baby Steps.
Logistics isn’t complicated at the lowest level. We buy the additional photography equipment needed and use cycling equipment we already own. We check Maps and weather for current conditions and look at our checklists so we bring everything we need. We plan repair and 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.
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 make it out twice a week. We’ll definitely move to a power supply set up at the level, if we haven’t 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 even vary locations if we get the chance.
Super Stretch Goal
Super Stretch Goal is a big jump up from Stretch in budgeting, planning and commitment. That’s because it moves to hundred plus mile videos, overnight stays, storage and a more complicated level of planning. We’ll need to shift into new recumbent bikes for at least half of our ride time. At this level we’ll be recording the entire length of the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails once a month. We’ll be working with one of the two the weekends that we have available per month, so there’s no loss of work/income required to complete the project at this level.
The primary 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. We will spread the rides as evenly across the 12 or 13 months as weather and hiccups allow. The drawback is that this is higher impact (carbon emissions) than we want. The positives are that it will definitely get 12 long videos for upload (possibly more) and they will span changing seasons. It’s a fraction of what we want, and the opportunity to catch extraordinary wildlife is much smaller, but it’s a decent accomplishment. Since there will be a car for back up in this scenario, we could even split our days and do 50 miles each per day.
If we can put some of these rides on 3-day weekends, then we could do two overnights. The 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 what you want. We go there and back again, riding both ways every week for 60 weeks. The commitment is 3 full days of time away from home per week, plus somewhere between an additional 15 and 20 other hours working on the rewards, the website and posts, along with various other tasks and maintenance. We will pretty much have all of our waking hours committed and our lives will be busy from now while the country is still ravaged by Covid-19 and the scary new variants through the decline of the outbreak and past when the hordes come out to enjoy all that they’ve been missing. Through all of that, we’ll still be out there riding and adapting to whatever it brings. At least I hope the pandemic will end well before the project. 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. I’ll come out on the other side a different person in a different place, and hopefully the project will allow others to have a piece of that too.
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. This day of rest will often 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 and lodging on the west end. If the hotels closer to the trail are filled, we’ll need transportation on the other end too.
Comparing the cost of a hotel plus storage against the cost of an efficiency apartment or a house sitting arrangement says dedicated place on the Anniston end is not more expensive than a hotel. 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. I won’t rule the possibility there would be some workable potential though, and and efficiency apartment is still at or less than 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!), 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 sounds like an extravagance, but it fits inside the cost we’d have to spend anyway. It wouldn’t come with those little soaps I love at the Longleaf Lodge on Ft McClellan, but it is an equal or lower cost option, and the better we can streamline the million small things, the better the project will go.
The level of production for “multipass” could be as high as 4 videos (2 directions X 2 riders with cameras) every week for 60 weeks that’s 420 videos (twice that if we do 360 degree cameras as well). Some weeks we may need to revert to one of the simpler scenarios due to unrideable conditions, but producing 100 mile videos a 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 today 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 if they 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 uncertainty very manageable.
For this section, Fantasy Island is that someone has a 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 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.