Endurance Bikes 2023

Many project decisions have been clear and easy, but bicycles are the difficult exception. Until the project I never paid attention to bicycle features unless I had to buy one. Then I just went to a local bike shop and let them tell me what I wanted for my purpose and price range. That price range has never been top dollar. I like my current Giant Avail. In a trusted shop, asking the experts is not a bad way to go. For our purpose, I’ve confirmed with more exploration that our bikes are the best option in the price range. But, they are 9 years old, and everything is pretty worn, again. While it makes sense to keep it in operating condition for a back up, it doesn’t have the features that will make the project better. A new bike seems the way to go, but in a crowdfunded project, it’s not just the right decision that matters, it’s also how apparent it it that you’ve made a considered and appropriate choice and you can get that across. Pricing is a big part of that…and, there’s such a spectrum, in users, use, and price sensitivity.

Searching “How much does the average bike cost” returns this article suggesting an entry level quality used bike at $1,000-2500. But then, our use will be far from average. For instance: while trying to find out if my cables should need replacing now, I worded the search badly and got the answer that they should last 20 years, but that article also mentioned that the average bike was ridden 200 miles in the first 5 years and 200 more in the next 15. There was a time when I looked like that average, but my tires aren’t dry rotting in the garage anymore. I’m wearing them out. And, I’m adjusting to a new perspective. While it seemed like this set of cables was prematurely needed, I do have the 2-3000 miles on them that they are supposed to last. Mileage is the metric more relevant to the project and my current use. I’ll likely never reach that place where the cost of my bike eclipses the cost of my car, but over the next year or two, I may ride as many miles as many of the people who do.

Used Bikes

The pandemic, wreaked havoc with bike availability, so I’ve been watching things shift and considering every option. Now that wave of unavailability could produce a wave of used bikes from people who didn’t keep riding, or those who moved up into more expensive bikes. Reviews like this one have helped with information as simple as what size is available in a certain make and model. I liked the fit of my large women’s bike when I got the Avail, but not many bikes come in a women’s large. Part of my trouble in even finding a used bike was not realizing that my search criteria didn’t exist.

For size, going used probably puts me in a mens or unisex bike (which I might end up doing in a new bike as well). Another part of my lack of confidence in getting a used men’s (or women’s) bike is related, fit. Not having the knowledgeable advice of a local bike shop for fit is suboptimal, especially when we plan to spend so much time on the trail. That advice could probably be hired, but it would be a matter of taking someone with you and seeing if that one bike we went to look at fit well enough. There would be no “actually this other bike fits you better” in that scenario. Over the kind of miles we’re doing, the better fit is important to keep us riding. Small departures from the optimal fit wear on a body over the miles.

While in concept, I have no problem with used bikes. (My childhood bikes were second hand. I saved up in high school to get the first new one, a bike with “speeds” I got from Kmart.) The only second hand bike I ever bought myself was a Fuji to leave at Russ’s parents house to ride while visiting. I took it in for a check up and the bike shop recommended more in work than an entry level bike would cost. I didn’t intend to have that much in a stashed bike and ended up riding it only a few times just as it was. It was less trouble than carrying my own and less money than a rental or two, but I’m not sure the bike really needed that much. I know more now, but the experience made me leery of a repeat and project needs are quite different from “Getting a ride in while you’re away”. All these things together mean it likely that I’ll end up on a new bike.

New Bikes

I haven’t spent much time considering a belt drive. It’s not a competitive race so the 5% loss in efficiency does not bother me and the extra quietness is appealing, but there isn’t really any discussion on them in the groups and I just haven’t taken the extra time to explore the makers and the models.

The tubes or tubeless tire decision may be initially made by what ever comes on the bike we end up with and changed after those wear out if we feel the need. Five other criteria have really simplified the optimal endurance bike decision. 1. Full carbon frame for the smoother ride so that the cameras vibrate less. That’s easier on the riders too. 2. A fork that accepts wider tires in case we decide to smooth the ride further. 3. Disc brakes because the longer duration of our rides increase the chances of all weather rides. 4. Electronic shifting for smoother faster shifting and less noise on the video. 5. It has to be available in the right size. It’s obvious from a distance that Russ’s 6’6″ height makes fitting a bike a challenge, but it’s less so with me. I don’t feel so very tall. I spend plenty of time around men and women taller than 6 ft, but the average woman in the US. is 5′ 3.7″ inches. I’m almost 5 inches taller than that.

Those criteria pretty much narrow things to two bikes for me. The Cannondale Synapse, or the Trek Domane. The Synapse has some uniquely handy features, but also some I don’t want. I’m leaning toward the Domane right now. That little storage compartment on the Domane feels hyped and gimmicky, but I think it is actually pretty useful. Having my carry along bike pump tucked away (downsized and stowed in an anti rattle sleeve) out of the weather and trail grit makes it last longer. Even if I decide I still need the bigger pump, the compartment is pretty handy for tools and small electronics too. It’s not enough space for everything we’ll need to carry but it will help. They’re both good bikes. Small differences will make the decision.

Russ’ height limits him considerably in choices. I can move into a men’s or unisex bike and still have a lot of options, but he’s on the high end of humans.

All the bikes get a lot more expensive fast as features are added and my comfort zone is in not having the bike that thieves most want to steal and It looks like either bike with my chosen features will really push what I’ve allowed for a bike, as well as the extra I’ve allowed for the unexpected.

When looking at my trade offs, electronic shifting hits the cutting block first. Some people think it’s the future, and I hear that manufacturers plan to stop making the more expensive group sets (replacement wear parts) for bikes that don’t have it. I may adapt, but my feeling is that once the project is over, I’m not going to want a bike with electronic shifting anymore. The idea of having to charge a bike that doesn’t have pedal assist ahead of time in order to be able to ride seems impractical to me (and if it were the Synapse, the “always on” headlight and the integrated Garmin Varia will require even more energy). I know. There was a time when I thought seat warmers in the car were ridiculous too, but I sure have enjoyed them this winter, especially when my back aches or after a cold ride.

What ever bike I choose may be the best friend I can’t part with before this is over. Even if that happens, I see myself keeping a trusty simple mechanical bike that doesn’t require anything but pedal power ready to ride at any time. We’ll see how it all works out. Hopefully the search for comfort zone endurance bikes will fit our budget, bodies and needs.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 24

The Training

Training was good, as good as weather let it be. The weather had whiplash level change with the recent very cold front, and now the daffodils are blooming. It feels a little like spring is here early. There was intermittent heavy rain and mud on Big Creek trail, but we got in plenty of riding and plenty of mud on the bikes. Right now we’re commuting to the trail more often for shorter rides. It approaches the time commitment we’ll have later with longer rides and fewer commutes, especially with road construction slowing the drive. That feel sluggish on a productivity level.

The weather was a reminder of the effect of high relative humidity on southern winters. Most people think of high humidity combined with heat when they think of the south because it can cause heat stroke, but the humidity can also make you feel the cold temperature more in the winter.

When temperatures drop below freezing, the humidity will be low because the air can’t hold much water. When the temps are low, but not below freezing, humidity is a bigger factor. One day this week Russ rode in shorts and I rode in knickers fairly comfortably in the high 40s, but were really feeling the cold in the mid 50s with full length warmer clothing two days later. If there’s low lying fog, or you’re trying to get a ride in before the rain, high relative humidity is no surprise, but some days it can be almost that high with few visible signs. Relative Humidity is always good to add to the all season list of things to consider in your weather check when planning rides.

The Project

Russ did some work on the video, but mostly worked on the logo. Prioritizing our tasks is a balancing act between training, learning or remembering software skills, the importance of completion and managing short term non-project needs. None of this start up stuff is outside our capacity to do well, it’s just not as fast as we’d like it to be.

I pulled out old files and photos of the logo concept I began with and Russ started working with it. The original idea was to make something referring to the pair of trails in our top level of the project. Elements that referred to Chief Ladiga, one trail’s namesake, and the Silver Comet, the other Trail’s namesake were challenging to combine. It needed to be simple, scalable, appropriate, original and all those other things that make a good logo.

Trying to bring in a highly recognizable reference to the less well known trail named for a chief there are few images of and whose most well known act was to sign over the last Creek lands in the state was a challenge. Just when we had something we were working out, it occurred to me we were building a logo based on a project level we might not make. At the lower levels, we won’t be focused on these trails exclusively. If we stayed with the logo we were working on, but only made a lower level of the project, it could look off target at best, and misleading at worst.

Russ was completely on board with the about face. We shifted logo design toward the reason KarenGoes.com was chosen to replace UnlockingAtlanta.com several years ago, it’s something that can change directions when I do without requiring a new url.

Our finished logo will soon be the upper left corner of the website start page, but getting it there is requiring Russ to learn a little coding. It’s good for now and translates well for later. It’s clean, simple, and it will be scalable when we gets it vectorized. The graphics reflect interest in cycling, geography and mapping while remaining versatile and generic enough for direction, gear and chain elements to become abstract rather than literal. It also contains the url.

We’re Working on a Sale

My remaining time this week was put toward the big Etsy Stock clearance/ car repair/ new tooth for Karen/ anti-hoarding/ computer replacement/ new tooth for Russ (why does tension have to show up in the jaw?)/ kickstarter advertising budget/ repair the burst pipe/ empty the storage unit and get rid of that bill/ unemployment/ de cluttering/ take back my basement and my sanity sale.

I’ve actually been working on this sale for weeks, (and will be every week until I’m done) separating the things to sell now from home, putting them in boxes that are easy to take up and out for the sale, organizing what’s left. My previous work in Estate Sales helps, mostly in pricing confidence.

Best case is probably that we get rid of a lot of stuff and fund maybe one small need on that list of recent challenges. We have some big ticket items we’re willing, happy even, to part with, but some are only going at market price. In truth, hoping that this will finance more than the smallest single of those needs is more ambitious than funding the kickstarter itself. The greater Atlanta area is a tough market for selling these things because there’e so much competition from wealthy people downsizing and moving.

I have a friend who had a yard sale to raise money for a charity bike ride. She rented a trailer and took item donations to an alternate location because vintage and preowned sales don’t bring much locally. She cleared $1000, a nice donation, but she also worked pretty hard for it over a few weekends. She earns more IRL.

I don’t have an alternate location, so I’ll frame my sale as best I can to attract people who want vintage for 25% of what they would pay if they bought something I listed on Etsy. What many shoppers want here though (and a lot of other places) is to buy something “worth” $300 for a quarter so they can post it online and brag. I get it. I needed to buy these things that eventually sold on Etsy low enough to pay overhead and Etsy fees with a little something left over at the end or I was paying for the experience. Still, there’s nothing I’ll be selling that cost me only a quarter.

Until next time, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 17

The hits keep coming. The car died. I’ll get to find out sometime tomorrow if it is worse than a dead battery, and Ill get a second opinion on that 5K of work that the dealer recommended too.

If you ask me now how things were going to work out, I wouldn’t know how to answer, or even what to base my guess on.

We got more riding together this week than we have had in some time. That felt good, and helps to deal with stress but that wasn’t as much for me as I was getting a month ago.

We went out to the area between Coots Lake Trailhead and Paulding Forest to test signal strength. Ting was better than AT&T, but both were limited. I’ll probably put the images of the readings up next week.

I have no idea if our submission task list will be complete in a useful time frame. This week has been mostly more of the same as last week, but with continued intense frustration over wanting to be upbeat and positive, but not having bigger progress to report here.

Until next week, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 10

The Situation

Losing his job gave us some much appreciated freedom to spend team time concentrating on the project, but not as much as you might think. Job search is a full time pursuit as is running a Kickstarter Funding Campaign. One of us will need to be employed really soon. I’ve been out of the job market for a while, so Russ is more likely to be able to get something good enough soon enough.

The Tech

It’s been 5 days since Russ got the ax. He spent the first two getting all his personal data off the company phone and laptop and deciding what to do about a new phone and carrier. It wasn’t a simple wipe. He didn’t have a personal phone and only recently got a personal laptop. He almost never hits delete.

We looked at mobile carrier ratings. For now, he’s going to put an old phone we weren’t using on Ting, a Canadian carrier. We’ll go out and test signal strength in remote trail areas (with an app, not subjectively) . If there’s no significant difference, I’ll can AT&T with pleasure and join him on Ting. Signal strength in rural Alabama where my mother lives is why we kept AT&T past the first few terrible experiences, and fiber in our own neighborhood was why we kept them after the rest. If we still can’t get fiber at the house, at least we can downsize our mobile bill.


Russ has changed flats 4 times this week.1 new tire, 4 new tubes. All things considered, he showed amazing tolerance. In fact, he showed some pretty impressive tolerance just for a guy trying to have a bike ride with no goals or stress. We did finally get some good ride time in though, and some good recovery exercise walks too. One was at Kennesaw Mountain, and another was at a local park. I still got more ride time in than Russ, because of the flats. I expect we’ll have some good riding next week though.

Working The Plan

When we didn’t have weekdays to work together on the project, we were going to take off last weekend and use the office where Russ works (correction, worked) to get away from the distractions in the house and concentrate some long hard hours on the project. We stayed with the plan, but moved the location to the basement at my son’s new house. He spent most of the weekend out, so it worked as intended.

The work was slow. Russ had trouble finding files because he started the campaign video on my computer, where I was also working (and sometimes moving files that I didn’t know he needed to stay in the same file path). Then there was the whole musical computers game, we’ve kept working through introduction of 4 laptops and 2 external drives now (with hindsight instituted protocols). Finding all the parts to remake the video was frustrating, and not made better by “I just lost my paycheck” stress. We had far too much work left to have been successful over just the weekend. I don’t know where the project will go now, but it would be over had he not been let go.

We got an opening, and the void was instantly filled. That time that Russ has between what he was doing an what he will do next may not be enough for one thing, let alone all the things we’d like to fit in it. There are still more hopes and obligations than there is time. We’re still juggling, first optimism, then 20 other things. We’re still hoping it all works out for the best, whatever that may be.

Have a glorious day, and, see you on the trail

Truckin’ On in These Uncertain Times

Do those last three words in the title make you cringe the same way they do me? I have to poke fun at my life right now. It’s just the only choice I can make.

I am seriously grateful for so many things, from not currently living in a war zone to more small things than I count on a daily basis. So much of gratitude is wrapped up in expectation, and “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” right?

The project has been a long shot from the beginning and we’ve had some setbacks on top of that, a big rash of them lately. I don’t really know if what I’m about to do is just vent, or if there’s some value to others in sharing this. People struggle, and they aren’t alone, but sometimes they feel like they are.

In the last paragraph of my last post I listed several things from Covid to a burst pipe that hit us in the last six weeks of the year. I didn’t mention everything there. My uncle died. He had just agreed to go to assisted living, then fell in the bathroom. A friend and a family member each lost houses in different fires. There’s more.

We’ve taken some financial hits. The pressure for me to get a job instead of pursuing this project is real, and getting more so every day. Toyota wants $5K for repairs (no, the Highlander doesn’t have half the miles it’s supposed to sail through). All of my big ticket purchases in recent years were “unlucky” models. I don’t buy first year models, still these brands with the super reliable reputations let me down. How big a deal these replacements are is entirely dependent on whether one has a generous financial buffer or plenty of disposable income. I’m completely average in that respect… These last few years took my buffer. Choosing the “unfortunate” year/models of Toyota, MacBook Pro, Galaxy 21 plus, and Nikon stings. Getting the wrong DSLR camera was the least problematic and totally on me, but being 4 for 4 on a tight budget really stinks.

The Thing That Brought me to my Knees Wasn’t Any of That

Coping has a lot to do with expectations. If I was in a war zone, my coping mechanisms would shift into survival mode and positive expectations would disappear. How heavy things feel has so much to do with the status quo or what a person thought would happen. Sometimes it isn’t even that an event couldn’t have been predicted, but that a dreaded place in life has arrived.

Mom hasn’t kept “regular” wakeful daytime hours in decades and often stays up all night. My sister shares her driveway, so she’s right there, but Mom doesn’t always have good mobility or carry her cellphone. She decided to change the AC filter after everyone went to bed and sat on a low seat to do it. The knee bend required to get up was too acute and there were no arm holds. She couldn’t get up, so, she got on the floor and made her way over to her recliner instead, then got tired of trying to get in it, grabbed a pillow and a throw and slept on the floor. In the morning, she was rested enough to make her way over to her cellphone and call for help.

Mom didn’t seem to feel bad about it. She’s told everyone. We all felt terrible for her though. She was stiff after and had a few rough days. I remind her sometimes that she can come up here when she needs assisted living. She doesn’t want to come to Atlanta though, and she doesn’t “get” me. Mom says we shouldn’t talk about the things we disagree on, but you know how that goes. If I can get her talking about when she was young, our daily conversation can be pretty nice, and some times she tells stories I haven’t heard.

Mom was recuperating from her night on the floor during our short, late holiday visit. I thought we’d all spend time telling our favorite stories about my uncle who just died (and there are so many stories to tell about the biggest character in our family). But, we actually spent most of the time catching up on undone preparations for the gathering. There were so many needs and wants flying around it was more like like whiplash than a party. It had been that way the year before too. I wanted to think everything was going well. It was so hard to make it happen. I went home thinking that changing the date had secured a treasured family gathering, and by the time all was said and done, I was wondering if it would ever come together again. I still do. The car ride back was quiet. Even our granddaughter was quiet.

Russ and I had words on New Year’s Eve. I think we each needed extra tenderness from each other and were both too frazzled to give it. That night I cried after everyone was asleep. It was intense. I’ve talked a couple of times about crying on this site, and I’m not really embarrassed about that. If you need to cry, cry. Not at work, do it at home. It’s healthier than a lot of other coping mechanisms.

I may not be embarrassed about needing to cry, but, it’s uncomfortable to be with someone in pain when you can’t do anything for them. I didn’t want anyone to have to listen to me. I don’t know that I’ve ever cried like I did that night. When there’s someone in every corner of the house it’s hard to find privacy, but the dam needed to burst.

I’ve been meditating a lot and concentrating on breathing, so that had it’s influence. I was trying to inhale through my swollen nose to force the passages open and reduce the chances that I’d get a sore throat, Then I wailed, first into my hands, then into a pillow when my hands weren’t enough to muffle the sound. I don’t know how long I cried, but it was a long time. I failed at keeping it to myself. The next day, Russ said he couldn’t tell what was happening and it scared him. After all that, on New Year’s Day I felt physically exhausted and terrible… and I felt the need to cry again, as if it had been years since I’d had a cry. I didn’t though, and haven’t since.

So much has been piling up. I still haven’t put all of the woe causing events out here for public consumption. Of those things I’ve shared, I’m sure anyone going through any of it can fill in details at least as taxing as my own.

I’m having trouble treading water, much less getting where I want to go. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next year, whether I’ll have a successful high activity project I believe in, one that actually does make a difference to people, or a job that keeps me from getting even a healthy level of exercise. The stuff we’ve had to deal with swirling around with all our unknowns may be the problem that sent me over the edge, but, it was my mother I was thinking about through all the tears. Parents are the people who taught us about the world. They are the giants through whose eyes we learned to see. They give us more than genes.

And Then…

Russ called on the way home from work Wednesday. He asked me how I was doing. I said I was feeling a little bit rattled. He said he was going to rattle me a little bit more because he was going to have plenty of time to work on the project, he was now unemployed.

Keep on Truckin’. Have a glorious day, and I hope we’ll see you on the trail.

Is it a Leap of Faith, or the Leap of a Lemming?

When people take a big chance, succeed and talk about it later, they’ll often call it a leap of faith. When people fail they’re more apt to describe it as following fellow lemmings off the edge of a cliff.

I recently saw a quote attributed to Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Stardust, American Gods). It said something about having two choices: to make art, or not to. If you chose not to you might miss the opportunity to make a difference to someone. I’m all over that point of view. Making a difference is the point of doing this project. It might make a difference to someone, and for me, that makes it all worthwhile.

I like the quote and it sounds like Gaiman, but I still tried to confirm that it was in fact his, because, you know. You can’t trust a meme, and while it’s a great thought, misquoting someone is still spreading things that aren’t true. I wasn’t able to confirm the quote in the amount of time I was willing to put to it, but I did find this commencement speech where Gaiman gives other great advice with adorable impishness.

Some of the things he said made feelings of missing out resurface. Not in the sense that we’re the same age and he’s so accomplished, both in art and in having comfortable means. Comparing yourself to some of the most successful people in the world is a time tested recipe for unhappiness. But still, even without using him as my measuring stick, I did feel a sense of non-accomplishment that was mostly career related and completely about where some of my own choices led.

I’ve had a good enough life so far, and caught a lot of serendipitous wonder, but not much of that led to a coherent career or much income. I never had the chutzpah to fake it till I made it the way Gaiman did. I married the fall after graduating high school. My priorities always led me to choose family or the road less traveled, and while money can get you the opportunity to do some things, it’s the actual doing of things that I find so much more compelling. I would probably be a Renaissance Scholar, but for wealth required.

My only real regrets come when I’m trying to figure out what I should be doing financially to prepare for those “golden years” that are closing in so fast that I’m looking at some of them in the rear view mirror. I’m willing to buy into the theory that if you do what you love the money will come, but when people advise that, they’re not talking about being a stay at home parent, which I did a lot of, or a care giving grandparent, which I’m doing a lot of now. And, so far, I haven’t focused enough on money to see that my life or aspirations are appropriately funded. Not budgeting income for myself in the video project this website is about indicates a failure to learn in that respect. I’ve thought so many times about putting it in but, due to time, equipment and the nights away from home that keep the project low impact, I’m really nervous about how expensive the project is without budgeting an income for myself.

Deciding whether or not to do art is the question that sent me on the search that brought me to the commencement speech that danced so beautifully around all the issues currently at play in my life. I’m not a young new graduate, and there will be creative aspects, but I don’t know that you would call the main project “art”. Still I face so many of the same issues. How do you pursue the project that could make a difference and still make a living? My big difference is that I have less time to recover from mistakes that hurt my financial wellbeing.

The decision to do/be or not to do/be is easier if you didn’t make that family starting decision first. Eating Saltines (or nothing) till payday is so survivable if you’re only subjecting yourself to it. Asking children to do without so that you can chase a dream is different. It’s not that I didn’t realize that, but growing up in the rural south before so many glass ceilings were shattered, I just fell into what my mother did, marry young and start a family. When I could take chances with the abandon of youth, I took someone’s hand instead. That didn’t work out so well for me as it did for her though, and I keep finding myself at the center of a plot that nearly comes together and makes sense, then falls apart again. I get frustrated when a mini-series does that. Imagine how I feel with it being my life instead?

Right now with the litany of challenges and setbacks it is easy enough to believe that we will never get far enough with the project for it to ever be seen before current obligations and real life kills it. Getting the project ready is a full time affair, and the transition from full time current employment to full time funding mode, and then to doing the project, isn’t smooth. Those obligations overlap big time. It’s not just me doing the deciding either. We’re a team, and as such we both have to be fully in the game. It almost feels like the project itself will be easy by comparison, though I know it won’t.

We’re reserving next weekend for seeing how far we can get with all the ends and pieces. We’re leaving the house, going to an office and only going to answer texts if they contain the word “Emergency”. Neil’s obvious advice is to make the art, to do the thing, to be. I hope we make it. That’s what I want, to make a difference to as many someones as I can.

I’m willing to admit that maybe it’s something else that I’m supposed to be doing. I hope it’s the Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga project because I believe in it. What ever it turns out to be though, I hope I find which something I need to be doing soon because it’s not just the rounds with Covid and other illnesses, the burst water pipe, the series of computer issues, the newly discovered thousands I’m about to spend on my car, the unfinished renovation on our fixer upper house, the dilemma about what to do with the Etsy Store, the job and family stresses, or the effort to keep up with training. It’s the limbo that’s killing me.

Tuesday Trippin’ December 6

Ah, Covid, for some of us, the never ending story goes on. It’s been in the house yet again. This time it got everyone but me, and we’re not far enough along for me to declare myself free and clear. In truth, I could be one of those people who just didn’t test positive. I’ve certainly had more than my share of upper respiratory ills this season. Just no lower respiratory symptoms so far, and no positive tests.

I’ve been washing my hands like I do the dishes in a house filled with super spreaders. That’s because I am the primary dishwasher, and the one in kindergarten, like most kindergartener’s, observes no personal boundaries, and she’s regularly in two different households with pretty different rules.

The high schooler goes to school with 2000 students, many who are anti-vax, anti-mask, anti even wash your hands. Then there’s everyone else in the house, they have constant high traffic public exposure through work. I knew the pandemic wasn’t really over. Russ and I got every vaccination and are among those rare birds who are still masking indoors in public, but here we go again anyway. I’ve said that Covid was back in the house recently, but that was when it was just one of us and now I’m saying it again for all but one of the rest of us.

I wash so much, I use moisturizer with pharmacy grade lanolin levels. I’ve used it for decades, ever since I went to a dermatologist for the cracked red hands, but I’ve been using so much more lately. I’ve learned to keep my hands off my face better during the pandemic too, but I’ve had so much sickness in spite of following the rules.

It’s not possible to get too many hugs from your granddaughter, but all those other illness that were suppressed during the height of the pandemic are roaring back, especially through the schools and even more especially in kindergarten. That’s the likely explanation for being so careful, and still getting so sick so often. I wouldn’t give up a single minute with either of my grandchildren…well, okay, they’re not always peachy perfect. But, being there for those times is important too.

Other than hyper-vigilance, I don’t have an explanation for being the only one who didn’t get it (yet), except, well, I did take off to the beach when it became obvious that the only purpose my staying could serve was to infect me. It’s so much harder to isolate if you are normally the care giver/chief cook and bottle washer. The only way to be separate is to leave, and the beach is not that much farther away than alternative locations.

Before that sounds too cushy, we’re not talking beach umbrellas and salt rimmed glasses and the balmy temps further south. We’re talking driving to close beaches and through the National Wildlife Refuge, walking a little on nearly empty beaches, having strangers give you grief for wearing a mask, eating mostly frozen meals in the hotel room and dreaming of one day having frequent access to gulf or ocean blue spaces again. If you stay in a hotel away from the high traffic areas, it’s way less expensive to take off than to stay home and go to the doctor, or potentially the hospital, and way more appealing. In fact, nearly empty beaches, that’s my happy spot.

Russ has some underlying stuff and a lot of trepidation about getting Covid. I wasn’t leaving if it wasn’t ok with him, but he had all his vaccinations, seemed ok and we were keeping in contact. He had instructions to call me back if things escalated. I was confident that I would be able to tell, (or someone else would tell me if he needed me, even if he never did), Everyone else was either vaccinated at least once, on their second go with Covid or both. So, what I really expected was for Russ to tell me if anyone else needed me and someone else to tell me if Russ needed me.

The beach was pretty nice, I headed for the “forgotten” Florida, but was dragging with the upper respiratory junk that I still did have and pretty stressed too. There were plenty of bike trails, and conceptually I wished I had brought my bike, but realistically, I didn’t have any business using it. There are times when I can ride things off or burn them out. This wasn’t one. I didn’t really even have much of a walk down the beach until the last day.

I had gone a recent second round with the scary antibiotics, the ones that have aortic rupture as a side effect that is more likely in patients over 60 and also in patients who are exercising. I didn’t ride again until I’d been back home for almost 3 days and now we have drizzling all day rain with sub 50 degree temps. I did just buy some wet weather gear, but not a complete set, and I’m not trying it out on the heels of a stressful illness.

For all of us, we took a few days to take a breath and some naps. We all needed that before the Covid, and certainly needed it once it made the rounds again. So, we took it seriously and took the moment. As such, there’s been little to no progress in the project department. As much as that hurts and as badly as I want to be in ramp up mode, we won’t make it a success if we are as exhausted as we have been recently when we start the campaign.

So we’ll just do our best and keep putting one foot in front of the other. We’ll catch our balance. The last person to get sick still has positive tests. It will be at least a week before we know if I get to avoid this round of Covid for sure. I’m cautiously optimistic.

So, until then, I hope you have a glorious day, and hopefully in another day or two I’ll be back out on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ November 15

It’s been a busy two weeks since our last update, and there will be a lot more that will have o wait for some future update.

It’s really looking like we need a fund raiser to fund the kickstarter campaign. Every new fluke in the list of of unfortunate events feels like another hard blow. My tech guy was going to turn the MacBookPro into a desktop because it was a springy connection between the guts and the screen that topped working. He had a screen for me and it was going to make a good machine for anytime I was in my office or on my stationary recumbent. That is, until I knocked a can of carbonated water on to the laptop, not a nearly empty one either. It bubbled and bounced just like a commercial for a refreshing beverage.

Every project that gets funded, and some that don’t require heavy doses of tenacity. Because there is a big physical component to this project, I expected to hit walls, more than one, and still keep going. I didn’t expect to hit so many on the way to submission.

It was always going to be a big financial/job risk for Russ if we got top level funding because that would require a leave of absence. Until the delays, I perceived the employment risk to be worth the trade off for me. While it’s time for me to be employed again, I’ve been out of work for several years, and I figured under the category of “Yeah, but what have you done lately?” running a successful Kickstarter would look a lot better than “I’ve been on family leave…I had some gigs…family leave…pandemic…”

I still do, but it’s getting harder to justify this determination I have to make this happen and work. At times like these I’m really glad that I’ve said nothing to most friends and family about the project. Their doubt is so much harder to deal with than my own. The downside is that we don’t have the big following that pushes projects, so we need advertising, but it seems that advertising, even for this, has some pretty stiff margins.

In other words, getting seen, even in forums that are supposed to kickstart little guys requires the deep pockets of big guys. One of the favorite lines of advertisers is “You have to spend money to make money” But, there’s no guarantee that if you spend it, you’re going to make it, and these walls we’ve hit with the project, the seed money, the Etsy store and the personal life have really taken a toll, as well as increased the risk of continuing to put more time, energy, love and resources on the table. There are some new recently published tools to help beginners like me. I’ll study them soon, but at first glance I didn’t see anything I wasn’t already aware of.

So there’s a plan. Look at the tools, finish the submission and have a giant stock reduction sale. I think I can be ready for the sale on Dec1. In the mean time, it is still a very busy time right now, so, Have a Glorious Day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

My New Meditation

I’ve been using a particular meditation lately. I learned it watching this Ted Talk, but when I did a random search to get the words right, I saw so many similar versions of it. The Ted Talk is deep, personal and funny though, and it has other insights, so it’s a really good place to start.

The meditation is “May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be safe, may you live with ease”. You close your eyes and start the meditation thinking of someone easy to wish well. That’s usually Russ for me, but it is easy to wish well for everyone close to me, so it could be anyone I care about personally. Then you say this on your own behalf and move on to a mentor or someone who’s helped you, followed by a neutral person. You choose a neutral person because they often get left out. Next, a difficult person.

For me the difficult one is almost always the same person. At first I would occasionally sprinkle in some other people, but I was pretty quickly able to get them off my difficult person list (for this purpose anyway) because they are also people I care about personally. After all these specific people you say the meditation for all beings everywhere. I have been doing this methodically as part of my bedtime routine, part of my drive or part of my ride for a few weeks (but, I obviously don’t close my eyes while operating a vehicle). It’s making my life better, helping me to feel less stress and separation and helping me with some of the things that happen day to day.

At least a year ago I met a man at a trailhead. The entire parking lot was empty except for me. He drove up and parked badly right beside me, then took his folding bike off it’s bike rack in a way that caused me to have to wait on him to continue my own ride prep. He’s an older man who may well have reasons for putting a fold up bike on a rack, but I wasn’t thinking charitably about his logic or his process at the time.

He was wearing a big red, white and blue straw cowboy hat. At first glance it looks like a single truly unique hat, but it’s not. There is a rear facing ball cap on top of the cowboy hat with a message I don’t understand and can’t remember long enough to look up. He also wears a front facing ball cap with a conspiracy theory that has been proven false by valid non-partisan sources, but it’s a very popular belief among some very angry highly politicized people. It’s a position that I find particularly offensive, dangerous and completely unpatriotic.

I don’t really know how these push me pull you bill caps both show fronts in each direction while resting on the crown of the same cowboy hat. Maybe they’re sewn together in the middle so that neither has a back, or maybe the second message is actually embroidered on the back of a single cap and there is no bill pointing backward. Whatever is going on with this one of a kind headwear, it’s undeniable that he’d be better off with a helmet, one void of fringe political commentary.

While I was waiting for this man to get out of my way so I could finish getting my own bike ready he was looking at me as if to say “I just dare you to say something to me!” No one who’s thinking ever says anything to the angry person pushing an agenda about their lack of courtesy. You don’t know how they will react and the chances that it will be regrettable are high. I wanted to avoid a confrontation and get on with my ride at least as badly as he seemed to want one. He rode off in one direction, and I was happy to intentionally go the other way.

I see him often now, so often that I think he may ride pretty much every day. He’s always sitting straight and tall on the fold up bike wearing the ironic cowboy bill cap hat stack and sometimes a cowboy shirt too. He’s recognizable from quite a distance. He now greats everyone on the trail and wishes them a good day. The first time he did so, it was such a stark difference to our original meeting that I didn’t even respond before it was too late. In fact, it took me a few passes to start responding in kind and when I did, my enthusiasm was less exuberant than his.

It’s hard for me to understand how people can believe the message on his hat. Factually and process wise, I understand how people who believe what he believes came to it, but, factually, the belief isn’t true. It’s far from the patriotism his red, white and blue appears to convey. It’s damaging to the truth, to democracy, to the country and to the people in it, those that do and those that don’t believe his assertion.

Now that his demeanor and attitude are so markedly different from that first encounter, seeing him is still unpleasant for me. One day I thought he had ditched the messages and was just wearing the straw hat. I felt a little dread lift, only to realize that the hat was just older now and the writing didn’t have enough contrast to jump out at a distance.

Yesterday, I saw him both coming and going and responded in kind both ways. I was thinking about how I didn’t look forward to seeing him or his message and how distinctive he was, so you knew it was him from a distance, which gave you more time to think about it if you didn’t discipline your thoughts.

Then it suddenly popped into my head. “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live with ease”. It helped. Once I thought those words for him I knew that the next time I saw him it would be easier. I could meet his greeting and return it with more enthusiasm than before. Wishing him well sincerely made me feel better.

It won’t change the deep chasm between us in any real sense unless so many other big things also change, but it took some weight off of me, and that is something I can handle a lot more of.

The meditation is even helping with that one very difficult person who is stands nearly alone at the precipice of my difficult person list. That person is going to be painfully present for many years to come, and there’s nothing I can do to change it. So, focusing on this, choosing an action to help me deal with it better, that is the one thing that I can do make real change in my life.

I highly recommend this meditation. One name for it is “Loving Kindness Meditation”. The touchy feely name makes some people dismiss it before they try it. If you need some rational self-interested thought to get you to it, happy, healthy, safe people who are living with ease are not so vulnerable to outlandish conspiracy theories. They aren’t acting on the pain and fear that drives so much of what ails the world and they are less likely to dare you to act in ways that would bring things to a place you really don’t want to be. I don’t know if it works when you’re thinking in a circular self-interested way, maybe for some people, that’s the only way it works.

How ever you come to it, what ever your thoughts are, it’s worth a try.

Have a glorious day, and be happy, healthy, and safe with ease.

Tuesday Trippin’ November 1

I didn’t know it at the time, but Trippin’ is such a good title for this segment because every week is always such a trip, fortunately, or not, in so many ways.

Health Challenges

Covid came and went in our house, yet again, and once again, thankfully, it left the sick recovered and me and Russ untouched.

Computer Issues

Computer issues remain. On advice, I bought a second hand replacement, went with Lenovo because the lack of support for the manufacturer defect in my MacBook Pro left me unexcited about giving them more high end dollars, especially for a new model year laptop. I don’t like to buy new model year cars either. It’s not just that I’m feeling the sting of a design idea that wasn’t durable, high end dollars are also in short supply.

The Lenovo hasn’t solved the problem. The price was really good. but It was wiped, and it wasn’t evident that the computer needed a new battery. Even with replacement batteries, the replacement will fit inside a reasonable price for the machine, but the batteries are on a slow boat from China and I expect to still be using the loaner for at least 6 weeks.

The loaner had issues too. My tech guy waved his magic re-install and made that go away, but I’m sure every reader knows how Dead in the Water it feels to be in deadline mode and waiting on one laptop problem after another to resolve. I have better access to my files now and will be putting pictures in posts again.

We’re slowly but surely moving back into a place where we’re ready to take off should the project fund, considering all of the above, that feels like a big achievement. I’m thankful that I haven’t logged the hours we’ve put in up to this point. There have been personal rewards in getting out there with a goal. I’m going to say that it has been worth it no matter what happens, but it might be harder to stick to that outlook if I had logged our time and resources spent. I suspect it would be overwhelming to know.

I don’t expect to deal with many of the kinds of equipment failures and challenges we’ve had, especially recently, once started. We’ll have worked out the problems in out personal equipment and the project equipment is actually designed to be used the way we plan to use it.

The Rides

There’s been glorious fall color these past two weeks, but not as much photography as we will make sure to get when the project is running for realz. Saturday we had everything charged, but forgot the go bag with it all inside. We were late getting out and didn’t go back for it. We won’t

Halloween always seems to be a day when I get a “best ride of the season” kind of a ride in. I can remember way back, some years I know it was Halloween when I had that ride because I barely got back in time to hand out candy. This Halloween didn’t disappoint, the color was on fire. I expected rain to have knocked out a lot more foliage than it had. I didn’t take a lot of pictures. The one downer was more rain than I expected. I cut the ride shorter than standard.

One thing there has been a lot of the season is suspended leaves. Fall leaves hanging on a spider web used to be rarity. I remember the first time I got a shot like that with my camera,I was in Japan, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just looking. I was in a deciduous forest and the leaf was a Maple. There as nothing to differential it from a Georgia forest in the photo.

Now with the Joro invasion and their extra strong web silk, these kinds of shots are easy to find. It wasn’t the shot I was going for, but I got a great one of my granddaughter’s face when she realized why the leaf was suspended in front of her! Strands of web will be there for days or weeks and accumulate a string of leaves instead of the odd and fleeting singleton. Hope you enjoy the pictures, they will get better as we go along.

Joro silk string of fall leaves
The keep piling on

Have a Glorious Day and we’ll see you on the trail!