I’ve been writing this piece (along with the budget post) for a while, editing and changing as I tweak the plan. I was prepared, but still surprised at the level of overtime when I calculated hard numbers of hours. When I showed my draft of this article to Russ. He read it. I waited. He didn’t say anything. So, after a bit I asked “Were you shocked by the time commitment?” He said “Yes”, (and that was before I added in another 5 hours each for active recovery walks the day after each ride). Russ didn’t say any more, so I asked if there was anything that he thought I overestimated. He said “No”. I asked if he was still on board. He said “yes” and asked some questions.
Actual questions in full sentences with nouns and verbs were a relief at this point. He had envisioned part time work outside the project. In his head, and probably the heads of potential supporters, the job was to ride a bike two days a week.
In fact, the most predictable part of this project is that very surprise, that the time commitment will be immense. Top search results in Google say that the Silver Comet alone takes 1-2 days for the “ambitious” to cycle. On the other end of the spectrum the 2020 record for a (drafting) century ride is 2 hours 20 minutes and 26 seconds. Those conditions are completely different from the trail, and obviously, we’re not world record class athletes drafting a minivan on a track. We’ll be somewhere in the middle with video shot at a speed that could be sped up or slowed down to suit the user. While the video is the point,
So, here it is, a big picture snapshot of what I expect our start, then our regular weeks to look like. This is based on the scenario for the super stretch goal, riding there and back while filming both the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails in each direction, each week for at least 52 weeks. We will lead up to that by training for the full ride and working out the bugs in our filming set up, and we’ll taper off afterward, and do our best to fill in any weeks that didn’t go according to plan.
The Weather, It’s Always Out There
Our weeks won’t be neat and tidy like my layout below. We have weather parameters that, while workable, will be the unpredictable part, at least on a day to day scheduling basis. Not every week will look the same in practice as it does in planning. Our weather limits are basically temperature, precipitation and lightning. Go, no go decisions will be based on keeping body temperature in the functioning range and free from charges that would power your flux capacitor. The weather can be wet, or cold, but not both. Hypothermia is not good. If the chances of rain are above 20% and the temperature is in the 50s or below, that’s not likely to be a ride day unless we’re confident conditions will pass before we get to a section.
If there’s snow, maybe we ride. It depends. I’ll ride in some sludge, but when there’s slick solid ice on the ground that’s a no no. We don’t have enough icy weather in Georgia buy cold weather tires and probably won’t even choose a bike with a fork wide enough to accept them. In fact, in Georgia, we are likely to have more unrideable days due to heat. Hyperthermia is the warm side no no. Our high temperature isn’t as firm as the cold temperature. My personal high has been rising because I’m growing more fit with the training, but Georgia summers are hot. We’ll plan one of our breaks at the expected summer heat peak, and that should take care of most heat days.
Schedule During Funding and Set Up
When the funding comes in, we’ll start coordinating the equipment and pressing the training harder. We’ll double check that the gear choices we made are still the best and still available. We’ll have some short to medium test runs with the equipment as we work up to full century rides and adjust our set up. We can start as soon as the lowest level funds because some of our expenses and equipment fund at the first level and we will be committed as soon as it funds. We’ll start front loading our workload as much as possible at that first level.
I expect the first ride or two that cover both trails in both directions to be backed up by car. One of us will ride in one direction, the other on return, or at this point we might each do half days instead. We’ll have designated spots to meet. After we ditch the car and move to backing each other up by bicycle, hydration will require a little more planning. During the pandemic and in the winter trailhead drinking fountains are turned off. Before the pandemic, they were turned off well before the first freeze and stayed off long after the last. Leaving the trail while filming is not optimal. We’ll be carrying water for some segments and making sure we buy any necessary water at the places close by the trail as we pass them
We will stay in a hotel the first time we do a full ride. After sleeping the ride off, we’ll be looking to see if we can find an efficiency apartment that could be had for the same price as the hotel and storage budget. If we can do that, logistics becomes much easier. It would eliminate the time, stress, expense and hassle of switching accommodations when the weather forecast changes. It will also make leaving supplies, gear and battery chargers for use on the next visit possible. A whole host of other things will become markedly less trouble while making actual expenses more predictable. Smooth, manageable and predictable are the features that will make the project sing. Renting an efficiency apartment, room or even a camper also gives us the option of staying additional nights without additional cost if have a small injury, unexpected changes in weather or other conditions. Every piece of the project is its own little cost benefit analysis and being open minded about changes, as long as they remain inside the budget, will always be worth a look.
Hopefully car backup will only be needed once or twice, 4 times at most. After that we should have accomodation and other questions answered, and any gear that we should leave on the other end transported. We’ll be settling into a procedure and a schedule.
Where Will the Hours Go in a Typical Week of Video Riding and Reward Making?
We have two kinds of time commitment once we’re up and running on a “regular” schedule. One is time away from home (which matters because we are away from family and family obligations), the other is the amount of time spent actively working.
I expect time away from home (excluding still photography day trips or other work accomplished in a single day away) to be 3 days a week. A day out, a day of both active and passive recovery, a day back.
There could be additional time away as well. If the Landscapes and Covered Bridges Screen Wallpaper reward gets 2000+ supporters, we will be away from home an additional 2+ weeks photographing all 16 of the covered bridges in Georgia. If that reward gets more than 4000 backers, we’ll be doing all of the covered bridges in Alabama too.
Project Hours of Work Per Week
Starting with the hours that are identical for both of us, we will each be on the trail 20+ hours per person per week. That’s figuring 15 miles per hour. That’s a low end speed for distance riders, but the recumbents won’t be fast and we want to be fairly consistent with travel speed while filming. We may get faster over the course of the project, but we won’t get a lot faster. The 20 hours, or 10 hours per ride day, allows stops for tasks like changing or checking battery packs, memory cards and other equipment as well as things like rest/water, restroom and lunch breaks.That’s 40 project hours
We will both write for rewards categories 2 and 3. Those are estimated at 5 hours 45 minutes each for 11.5 project hours, that’s if all of those rewards find supporters. We’ll start that as soon as we’re funded at the lowest level (while we’re acquiring equipment) to front load the work and free up time on the back end if possible. Obligations met also free up brain space.
Commuting to and from the trail on each end, 3.5 hours x 2 people. That’s calculated from home on the front end, and on staying at the lodge on Ft McCLellan and commuting by bicycle on the Anniston end. 7 Project Hours.
Strength Training at the Y (not at the pre-pandemic levels when I’d skip for months sometimes, or the pandemic levels- nothing) this would be on a serious, keep us healthy and riding, go twice a week level. 7 hours each. Sadly, that’s just over 50% commuting time. We may have to change to a different gym to reduce travel time. I’ve avoided changing because the Y offers free or reduced memberships to those in need, and because I’ve been a member for 30 years. I joined when I lived closer to one location that I do to any location now. All gym related decisions are on hold until we Omicron settles though, and whatever wave arrives on its heels. Gyms are among higher transmission locations and new weekly Covid cases are at an all time high in Georgia. The National Guard is on call at testing sites and in hospitals. We could reduce this time block some by doing what we can for strength training at home. Proper equipment is clearly better for strength training though, so for now the time block stays at this level in hope that we can return to the gym for the better strength and preparedness. 14 project hours.
Et cetera (I always hear that in the voice of Yul Brynner as the King of Siam BTW). We need to do things like wash and dry our bike clothing, check weather, and check it again, fill, clean or store drink bottles, make sure streaming is ready, organize everything, move things to where you need them next, make and use checklists, pack lunches, gear and kit, repair, replace and organize or store the little things and the side things, make any appointments, plans and reservations necessary, all those things that suck up the time you don’t know where went and would hire an assistant to do if you could. I’m optimistically allowing 2 hours each per week for that. 4 project hours
Total 76.5 project hours of project work done by two people, or 38.25 hours of joint project time each.
Work for Russ Only
The work that Russ will do exclusively is:
He’ll maintain bikes, recumbents and… by doing things like adjust, store, repair (or take in to be repaired), air the tires, clean and lubricate after every ride, check brakes, check video, safety, communication and other equipment. He’ll also do things like update software. 4 hours a week.
Upload video. We won’t edit heavily, or even much, but we won’t just throw it up either. We expect to upload 1 ride (around 7 hours of trail video) per week, plus anything else we shoot for fun or for sharing the project. I’m only allowing 4 hours for this activity, so obviously we’re not carefully editing video, just clipping the start and end points, quickly assessing quality and editing out any of those things we said we’d edit out if we noticed them while recording.
The 38.25 hours each of us works plus his individual hours gives Russ 46.25 hours of project related tasks and activities per week.
Work for Karen Only
One day a week, I’ll have a still photography day when I shoot and edit the photos that will make the wallpaper screensaver rewards. My goal is to fit that in a single day each week and to spend more time taking them than editing them. My reality check for this is that people who do just photos as “youtubers” have said they get only 5 or 6 photos a year that they’d consider hanging on a wall and it is their full time job. I’ll be pushing myself for great photos while trying to keep my eyes on the prize (the video) and manage my own self expectations. 8 (I hope) Project Hours
One day a week I’ll write for the website to keep backers up to date and share the project. It will likely be chopped up across the week though. I’ll have to get faster, but let’s say 8 (I hope) Project Hours. I’m not a fast or organized writer. If you read something I’ve written and it looks like I’m an organized writer, then I’ve edited it repeatedly, and then again. If you’ve seen something and don’t think that, I tried to get it up quicker, or for some reason left it alone once published. Maybe I’ll get over myself and drift toward video/vlog rather than writing for updates. I’d like to have a 40 hour work week. But, the 38.25 hours that each of us works, plus the 16 hours that only I work gives me 54.25 hours per week. I’m going to have to improve on that. Trimming by 14+ hours won’t be easy. My other obligations and he rest of my life aren’t going to stop, and if I’m going to ride 2 centuries per week, I have to get some sleep too.
To help us keep up this schedule and give our bodies time for repair, we’ll be taking quarterly 2-week breaks. Weather permitting, we’ll ride immediately before and after these breaks so that only 1 make up ride per break will be required the following year to complete the set of 52 videos. They will likely be 1.) December/January winter break 2.) Spring Break 3.) The peak of Summer Heat, and 4.) Fall Break. 1,2 and 4 will be guided by the Fulton County Georgia School Schedule. 3 will be guided by historic data.