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.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 23

It’s been a week. I’m grateful that things weren’t worse, but I’m still ready for much better ones. The weather has been great, but I’ve only been out in it once. We had medical emergencies, including one that increased my childcare hours so that a Mom could be in the hospital with her child. Geographically distant relatives also got Covid.

The one day I did ride, was gorgeous, and crowded, at least for out where I was riding it was crowded. I saw a dozen Catrikes. I’ve never seen that many three-wheel recumbents on a single ride, ever. I wondered if it had demographic shift significance. It could have been a fluke, but I was still curious. Was it pandemic related? A wave of retirements related? Just a shift in popularity of cycle type? Some combination of those and other things?

I rode a little less long on that than I otherwise would have because I planned back to back rides and thought I’d get more overall miles if it was the second ride where I pushed harder “…best laid plans…” I don’t know what the coming week will bring, but it didn’t bring a ride today, which is the start day of my ride training report week. I’ll see what it brings and meet you back here, same bat time, same bat channel.

The exploration of equipment goes on. Second hand bikes still seem overpriced.The first bike I looked at this morning was probably the right size, but it reviewed as mediocre and was priced above manufacturers suggested retail. I haven’t decided if I should still comb the ad photos of listings that don’t give a size to see if there’s a photo of the size printed or stamped on the frame. I’m not sure why so few sellers list size. I’m a little afraid that those might be more likely to be stolen bikes, or the type of bike that someone who doesn’t even know that adult bikes come in sizes ends up with. I don’t know if the rush to sell that follows the rush to buy will coincide with my time frame either. That desire to clear out the garage comes after the sense of utility slowly fades and asking prices for serious sellers will come down over time, but I haven’t found a deal on a bike that is a fit for us, in any sense of the word.

I found a store in Murfreesboro, TN that deals in recumbent trikes. Their website says they are open by appointment. Going to Murfreesboro is 3.5 to 4 hours, so it’s doable, especially if they have several recumbent trikes in stock to try out for comparison, but a quick look at their website shows brands that are 3 and 4 times the cost of the brand that is available locally, and I don’t know what is actually in stock until I call, and that needs to be just before I’m free to go up there. There’s a real risk in finding out that one of those brands will actually make a significant difference to the success of the project. In theory, the better bike will have a smoother ride, which will result in less required image stabilization, which will result in less image loss. Better images are a totally worthy budget item, if the theory holds water.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 15

The first part of the week was nice, got in a couple of longer (for now) rides, but then the arctic blast showed up. It really wasn’t as bad here in Georgia, especially not compared to other places. A niece posted “It’s Hell Naw degrees outside.” That was actually true for Russ’ brother who lives in Chicago. The real disaster that others, especially in Texas, are experiencing is so fierce that I’d be embarrassed to say how warm it is if we weren’t talking about “Was it warm enough to ride?”.

“Hell naw degrees” comes at a lower temperature on a bike than it does for some activities. I’ve ridden in the snow, but, it was the slushy 50 degrees everything is melting kind of snow. Right now about 47 degrees is the coldest temp I’m happy ride. Every degree below that is twice as uncomfortable as the last. My ride temperature floor will likely lower through next winter when I’ve been riding harder for longer and I have a commitment to a project, not just a fitness regime. I really should be able to do most of my adjustments with paying careful attention to the weather though. Making adjustments throughout every week I should have only a few times when I ride in “Hell naw” conditions. I do realize that I’m a comparative wimp and what that means to me is a different temp than what it means to a NYC bicycle courier

I took longer rides earlier in the week, then the weather did cause me to take no rides. One confining restraint I will always have is hypothermia. If it is both wet and cold, riding is a no-go, and here in Georgia, because our winters are comparatively warm, more of our cold weather comes with wet precipitation rather than frozen precipitation.

The longer rides, then no rides week took me back to the yoyo endorphins. Longer rides across 3 days a week is the eventual plan for a 60 or more week time span. I think that it is reasonable to guess that my body will adjust and the effects will be less noticeable once that becomes the norm. If not I can mitigate the effects by sneaking in short rides. For those rides I spend as much time (or more) in the car as I do on the bike. Grrr, I hate that, but when I can sneak in a bandaid ride, I need to do that. As traffic is returning to something closer to normal, going to the closer Big Creek Greenway takes almost as much drive time, even though the mileage is a quarter the distance. Even though the crowding level there is also returning to normal, I won’t consider it If I’m not already headed that way. The longer drive is usually the safer ride experience.

I’m 2 for 2 on bad experiences at the Greenway. This is gross, so here’s your warning to skip to the next paragraph now if you like. Sometimes riders blow snot rockets. They never do it in proximity to others, and certainly never in proximity to people they don’t share a household and/or the same “If I’ve got it you already do too” status with. This is the second ride in a row when a stranger blew snot rockets inside a high risk distance from me. In 20+ years of being on pre-pandemic trails, this never happened to me. The first instance seemed like it could have been deliberate antisocial behavior directed at someone wearing a mask, and there were 8 other people inside the danger zone. The second was likely innocent because I was behind that rider and the only other person in the area. But, the bottom line is, that the acts shouldn’t have happened, but motive doesn’t matter to risk level. The new strains in my high travel community are a higher risk, and in two weeks when I haven’t gotten sick. I’ll breathe a sigh of relief. If I’m exposed like that regularly, the sigh of relief will never come. This will be a concern, and an influence on where I train for some time. I will be at the end of eligibility line for the vaccine in a state tied for last place in getting the vaccine into arms. Even though the crowds are normalizing at Big Creek, it is back on “only if I can’t ride anywhere else” status.

In summary, I’m reasonably satisfied with the training week. I got in some decent rides and the magnitude of the weather quelled my anxiety over performance. Each day will be a little longer than the last until the next solstice and I’m planning for each day to be a little better than the last.

Glorious Tuesday Trippin’ February 8

There’s a small older man with a small dog who used to sit on this bench, or the other one directly across the trail from it. He would greet people and wish them a good day. The first few times I saw him, he was smoking. The smell was strong, and while I wanted to feel differently, I wondered how the smoke could be so intensely strong and displeasing and thinking “Well, my day would be better if you weren’t smoking it up.” I would give him my best effort at a smile, but the irritation was probably evident in my body language.

In the spring and summer I would see him often, almost every time I rode by. Then after a while, he wasn’t smoking anymore, at least not when I saw him, and I found it easier to respond to him the way I wanted to. His hands now only holding a leash, he would shoot the empty hand up, his arm high and straight in the air, all five fingers planked tightly together as though there was nothing in the world that he could possibly want more than to have the teacher call on him. And, as he did this he would shout “Hello. Have a glorious day.” projecting strong sincere energy in high fidelity and sometimes saying even more.

I started looking forward to seeing him. I was even thinking of stopping to talk to him. I do this less in a world of masked and unmasked people than I did before. But, I haven’t seen him in a long while. As the temperatures dropped, I hoped it was the cold that kept him away, but there have been pretty days that were warm enough over the winter. Of course, it could be that he’s just there at a different time from me now, but as time passes, I fear it could be lung cancer or Covid or some other awful permanent thing. I miss him and his uncommon exuberance. I hope he’s okay. I hope he’s better than okay. I hope he’s having a GLORIOUS DAY! I hope I get to talk to him some day, to learn his story, to wish him well.

A lot of my rides have glorious moments. This week had fewer. It was on the cold side, and I was feeling pretty punk. I donated blood, but that wasn’t responsible for all of my low energy. According to the Red Cross, I still don’t have Covid antibodies. No surprise, but being higher on the risk side, and lower on the vaccine priority side, it would be welcome to learn I’d had that magical case that was so mild I didn’t know it happened, but for the antibodies. I did some of my riding indoors on the recumbent. I don’t usually count that in my weekly mileage, but this week I’m going to be happy with considering it part of my training. I can ride outdoors in the more miserable weather conditions once I’m filming.

I’ve re-committed to losing weight, so, I’m hungry. I find it hard to do weight loss slow and methodically, the healthy way, because it keeps you hungry, but it’s worth the effort. I think a better weight will be a part of helping me to see the glory in my days.

Until next time, here’s hoping you find it easy to feel the glory in your days, and… do, Have a glorious day!

Glove Grief

Gloves challenge my natural tendencies, but their absence can cause my body grief. That kid who doesn’t want to bother with a jacket still lives strong in my inner world, and she is interested in gloves even less. I may ride an entire summer without them unless I’ve been leaning into the handlebars enough to need the padding. Winter is different.

I’ve trained myself to look at a weather report before I walk out the door, not because it is natural to me to care, but because I’ve done so many things that require knowing, And the reason I wear gloves is to manage that Raynaud’s diagnosis I had sometime back. Based on what other people with that same diagnosis suffer through, I have a mild case, really mild. But, I still have a weak grip, lower O2 readings from a finger sensor, constantly cold hands and feet, and I will suffer frostbite before other people experiencing the same conditions. So, while I have low interest in the bother of covering my hands, I have high interest in the functionality. As soon as the temps drop, forgetting my gloves can prevent me from riding. One recent cool day, I forgot to retrieve my bike gloves from the clean laundry and I salvaged the ride by covering my hands in a thick pair of Russ’ boot socks that were in the car to be donated. I put my thumb in the heel. Fortunately, my sock clubbed hands didn’t cause me to wreck.

I’ve been known to wear everyday gloves for cycling sometimes too. For everyday use, I tend to like microfiber, but microfiber is a guilty pleasure. I’ll wear natural fibers when I can to avoid contributing to microplastics pollution that is so pervasive, it’s even in our bodies. That has me seeking Merinos like Smartwool first (but not their blends). The Smartwool blend I bought recently felt fine, a comfortable step above department store knit gloves, but, the fibers loosened and they looked old after the first wash. They were a merino synthetic blend, but after that first wash, they looked like old separating angora. How practical are gloves that don’t stand up to washing? I wanted to take them back because Smartwool isn’t low cost, but they looked like I had used them for months. So, the very reason I wanted to take them back, was the same reason that I didn’t actually. I didn’t want to look at the clerk’s face when I said they’d only been through a single wearing and washing.

The cycling gloves in the photo are my everyday riding gloves right now. What I like about the Wiretap body geometry gel gloves are the fit, the fabric, and the padding. The fit is nice. The fabric suits me throughout the wide range of the temperatures in which I ride. They keep my hands warm enough, and not too hot with good breathability. The pads are firm and they’re lasting well.

What I don’t like about these gloves is that they’re not good at the very thing they’re named for. They’re called Wiretap because of threads running through the fingertips that are supposed to make contact and allow the use of screens without taking off the gloves. But, I do have to take them off to use my phone. I had to take them off when they were new too. I rub and rotate and rub and the phone doesn’t respond, sometimes not at all, sometimes not consistently. Every time I miss a phone call or don’t get a picture of the biggest rafter of turkeys I’ve ever seen, I wish I was wearing fingerless gloves, which is crazy. Fingerless gloves expose the very thing I need to be keeping warm. This has been my experience with every pair of gloves I’ve had that were intended to work with phones while you’re wearing them. So, I just ignore the feature when deciding to buy a new pair. It is never a factor in my buying decision. I buy the gloves that look like they will give the best utility in every other aspect, and if them claim to work with screened devices, well, that won’t stop me from buying, but it won’t be an incentive either. If I ever get a pair that does work, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island for my gloves would be that I never have to keep up with any. When my hands need the warmth and padding, it will just grow out from my skin, silky and minklike, the same way Wolverine grows those frightful claws.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 2

It’s been a mixed week. I’m lucky to live in a place where I have the expectation of any riding through the winter, much less the expectation that I have a good shot at riding 200 miles frequently through the winter. But, I’m bummed that the cold fronts are when the skies are crystal clear and the warm fronts bring rain, but not usually enough warmth to avoid hypothermia if you end up getting caught in the rain.

So, I have rules I follow. They haven’t let me down so far. I have a max riding temp in the summer that shifts with my fitness level. Basically, if it feels like I’m triggering a migraine, I end the ride as soon as possible and drop the “it’s a go” temp down for a bit. In the winter there is less shifting. At certain temperatures, I don’t care if it rains on me. At other temperatures, I will get hypothermia if I get wet, and riding 15 MPH puts a wind chill on that temperature. Humidity matters too. I have a slide rule in my head. The colder it is, the lower the chance of rain has to be for me to ride. I don’t adjust that much. It seems to be working pretty well. Of course these rain predictions and the high and low temps apply to the entire ride, so the favorable forecast has to last at least as long as the ride will. The last ride I got in this week was in a small window. It wasn’t a great ride, but it made the difference between feeling good about my miles this week and not.

One of our rides this week was on the Greenway. There was a lot of flooding last year, 2020. I was noticing how some areas of the trail are showing the damage with a lot of felled trees and moved earth. When stormwater from the surrounding urban areas flows down to the stream bed, silt builds up on the trail. Little dozers come in and push it off in rows. That happened several times last year and some parts of the trail have rows of banked earth. They look a little like the war trench earthworks on Kennesaw Mountain, except that they are smaller. I wondered about the habitat disturbance.

There is Chinese Privet in some areas. It’s an invasive that was imported intentionally to make English style hedges, but it took over in the understory of edge habitats like beside a trail and/or a stream. It’s sprawling when not cut into hedges. Birds do like the berries. That is how the seeds get spread far and wide, but Privet crowds out native plants that would provide food for a more diverse number of animals. The berries on these bushes are gone and some of the privet has been covered in mud, so instead of being the year round green foliage that the plant was imported to be, it’s this mud grey color that would prompt some farm boys to crank up the tractor to pull a bush hog across it. As I rode along looking at some of the places, I thought that they looked worse than I had ever noticed, even during some of our more infamous droughts. This was where I was when I decided that filming through the seasons and changing conditions was the thing to do. I wondered how long it would be before these spots looked better. Don’t get me wrong, there are still pretty stretches, and they will look better in the spring, but if you are recording a smaller run, the less desirable spots matter more. Of course, capturing change over time is the plan, and I may not even end up working one of the scenarios that has me recording on this trail. All of the trails have less desirable spots, I’m just hoping that the less desirable changes don’t stick or increase

What to Leave In, What to Take Out

This project is for collecting a lot of video and uploading some of it to Youtube for other people to enjoy. It’s not a processing project. That doesn’t mean we might not take something out of a video we choose to upload. Here’s a list of how we plan to handle what to leave in and what to take out. This is, of course, for things we notice. There is going to be so much video. We won’t be able to look at it all, and we may not notice everything that gets captured off in the distance while we are riding. Of the things I’ve listed under “Take Out” the only one I’ve personally seen in over 20 years of riding out there, is the accident. I have seen a rider taken away in an ambulance from an accident that involved no foul play. And, I’ve also seen a rider that probably shouldn’t have gotten back on his bike. I edit everything constantly. It’s one reason I take so long to write anything. This is likely to be edited often for a while, but any edits after video starts will have a date and probably a reason as well..

What we will leave in

Creepy crawlies, including snakes

Hazards along the trail

The sewerage treatment plant

People who appear to be homeless

What We’ll Take Out

Serious illegal or criminal activities that get caught on video

Violence

Accidents that result in significant injury

Any intensely personal moments we notice that a person wouldn’t want to share with the world (like if we ever notice someone doing more than kissing and taking selfies up on that giant boulder where couples climb to kiss and take selfies.)

Any intentionally sensational or attention seeking behaviors

Intentionally offensive acts

Maybe, Maybe Not

If we have to walk up Trash Mountain (steep hills beside the landfill) because it’s not very interesting to someone using the video for a work out.

Politically motivated signs or activities (Because people will be using this for escape, not getting triggered).

Tuesday Trippin’ January 26

I’ve changed the name. I tend to write about more than just training, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Russ has been lucky to ride a little more than usual this week. That’s great for training over all, because he’s my riding video partner and if he can’t make the long rides when it’s time for them to start, then he’ll be doing support in the car. That won’t be low a impact start, and it won’t allow two camera set ups. So, it makes me pretty happy.

His big toe is still multicolor from the cycling accident he had in early November, but he says it’s pain free.

I’ve been pretty happy since the isolation break. Often the kind of foot problems that I have get worse with sporadic exercise. I was expecting to hurt, but everything’s fine, even on the longest ride I’ve had. That makes me feel good about my overall progress and increasing readiness, and I’ll be trying to remember my stretches to keep it that way.

The training ride at the Greenway was pretty crowded, and someone needed an ambulance. It was the first time we had to yield for an ambulance driving ON the trail there. I’ve seen a much larger than normal number of ambulances all over this week.

There wasn’t a lot of other excitement this week, other than that we got to ride plenty. The general goal over the winter has been to keep mileage around a hundred miles a week and to reduce the number of rides it takes to get there. I’ve been fairly on target with that with the exception of our two week isolation period. Today is my birthday, I’m 60 and this is the year of this 60 week project. I’m reaffirming my goal. From here until the official video begins I’ll do at least 100 miles a week, and by the end of February, I’ll be doing that in 2 rides or less. I’ll do that for the next year, riding a minimum of 5200 miles, even if the project doesn’t make.

So, I’ve changed the name, and written this week only about training. That’s ok. I had to make trips to train.

Logistics and Overnighting

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.

Goal

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 Goal

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.

Multipass

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.

Fantasy Island

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.

Training Tuesday January 19

When I’m riding regularly and I take a break from it, two things happen stamina wise. The first is that I have a few days of high energy. I’m using energy on a much lower level than usual and I have loads of energy to spare. The second is that my cardio fitness level immediately starts to decline, and it feels like I get booted back to my pre-training starting point. I didn’t notice much of the high energy boost that normally comes from time off this time. Things were hectic, stressful and I got sick (We were isolating for Covid Exposure, but I never had a temperature, so that’s not likely what I got).

On the whole, there were some benefits to the break that isolation forced, but my body has always seemed to lose fitness faster than most people in a similar age and fitness range and regain it slower. The third ride marked when things caught up to me. The first two were short and I had some residual energy. The third ride was when the residual energy took a nosedive and the reduced fitness reared its ugly head. I was working hard. I was really stiff, and tired the day after. I had an opportunity to ride that next day and I didn’t take it. I only felt a little bit bad about that.

The third ride also showed some excitement. A rafter of, probably 30, turkeys crossing the trail in front of me. I remember the first time I ever saw a 7 turkeys. I was so excited. Then Russ said “That’s nothing. Wait till I take you to Tennessee.” In Tennessee there were groups of 12 or 20 fairly often in the fields beside the roads. My grandson said “Well, if you think there were 30, then there were probably only 15” when I was telling about it. All I have to say about that is, he should have been there. This was over the top, and they were strolling leisurely when I first saw them. My phone wasn’t in my pocket. As soon as I hit the brakes to get it out of my bike bag they took off like a shot. I don’t know if it was my change in movement, or if the brakes made some noise I couldn’t hear, but they were scattered before I even had my hands on the camera and my gloves that are supposed to work with electronics don’t. I shot footage anyway, just in case I could catch any little bit of what I had just seen. No photo, it didn’t happen, right. Man, I wish I was filming already.

I first thought of the idea of filming rides to capture sights like this and other nature through seasonal changes for people who can’t enjoy them in person on the Big Creek Greenway. The Greenway has a lot more urban encroachment than the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trails do in most areas. It is built in a streambed. That’s good urban planning, to put recreational space in a flood zone. It protects the stream and habitat fairly well, and provides some flood water management in a place with no building potential. Because there is so much urban encroachment right up to the greenway, the animal population is more crowded and less skittish around humans. That sometimes makes for more individual sightings. The Silver Comet doesn’t have as much human pressure, but the animals are not as used to people constantly crowding into their space, so you may not actually notice the animals so much out there, even though the urban pressure is much lower. It’s also possible out there to get lost in the ride and miss the wildlife with the wide open stretches. In on the Greenway, the traffic of all kinds really prevents a responsible trail user from checking out mentally, even during non-pandemic crowd levels. I still think sometime that recovery rides on the Greenway would add a nice variety to the mix. Each trail has its benefits. On the Silver Comet you won’t get reliable nearly daily deer sightings. On the Greenway you’re not going to see a giant rafter of turkeys. That was a really awesome first.

Part of what makes this project perfect for Kickstarter is that the Kickstarter process will be in a sense a “market test” of sorts and that test will provide me some invaluable guidance, I will ride as much as I can regardless. As long as I am physically and financially able, I’m going to go out here and ride. How much that happens and whether or not I film it will depend on the Kickstarter. I believe in the video project, but people have to know it exists to make use of it. If the project gets support, then people will know and I will film and press for the max, if it doesn’t, i’ll know that the idea didn’t catch and people wouldn’t have seen it anyway. I have a constant flow of ideas. I have committed to this one, in part to make it through Covid-19 and beyond. In part to help others do the same.