Tuesday Trippin’ June 15

It’s been a musical bikes week. The Hybrid just needed adjustments. The stem had been tightened down so much that it interfered with the bearings. That was a relief.

We found a chain for the road bike on the internet and took it back to the shop, then they finished earlier than the earliest date we had been given. That was a pleasant surprise. More down time passed between switching bikes in the past. I was without the road bike for some time before I went down to get the hybrid back from my mother’s house. When I was down there, I was on hilly roads, so I expected it to be harder. This time it was back and forth without even a day between riding one and riding the other, and I really noticed how much easier a ride the road bike is.

I also noticed that the Brooks saddle isn’t for me, again. Perhaps it’s because it’s a men’s saddle. There isn’t supposed to be any difference between the men’s and the women’s Brooks saddle except for the length of the nose. Maybe that difference made the difference. The discomfort though is going to make me give things a rest for a few days, and I’m not going to be excited about exploring Brooks possibilities in the future. I’m afraid I may have had some vein pressure, and that could get ugly.

Russ finally got new handlebars for his bike (the crash last November bent them badly and he’s bee riding at an angle ever since. The really big guy at the bike shop told Rus to get a wider bar than what he had, and he’s enjoying that advice. He watched a video and did the replacement himself. It was good to see us (him) moving in the direction of being able to do more ourselves. We took a class on bike repair and maintenance several years back, but I didn’t use any of the information soon enough to remember it.

The weather has been hot. I’ve been riding at warmer times in prep for the century. Overheating is a significant risk for me though. Riding has been draining, but manageable. I’m not feeling very confident about this hilly suburban century I signed up for near the peak of summer heat. I’m not sure whether I should push it as hard as I can, or just enjoy getting to ride down an interstate type highway with 1 or 2 thousand of my closest strangers for, probably, the only time in my life. When I ride through the hottest months of the summer for the project, I’ll have been riding centuries for months (if I’m riding centuries at all), and I’ll be able to start very early.

This week has been a long line of obstacles, both mentioned here, and not, but we managed. The obstacles have been tedious, but the continuous movement forward in spite of them felt good.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 8

I bought mascara for our family trip last week. I don’t know how long it’s been since I used any and it was the 4th day, the actual day of the graduation celebration before I put it on. Literally, I don’t know the last time I wore even the smallest amount of makeup before that. It might have been that family generations photo after my granddaughter was born, so 4 years max. In some ways, I was SO prepared for the pandemic.

I’ve been following Stephanie while she knocks around in places I would go and rebuilds her family’s business Stuckey’s. I always wanted to stop for a praline on family road trips as a kid, so I’d love to see her succeed.

I noticed this tweet Sunday morning. It made me think. Every photo of me that I post for this project shows me at 60 without makeup, that is, until they start showing me at 61. I wonder every now and then what effect my age will have on the level of support I get. I can think of ways it might help, or challenge, potential supporters ideas of who gets support and who doesn’t.

On the one hand, is grandma what you think about when you go to Kickstarter looking for a project to support? On the other, how many Grandmas decide to do a project that will require more physical stamina than anything they have ever done before? People might want to see if I can actually make it (for laughs or inspiration) And, Grandma is only one of my roles as a person. There are plenty of people successfully funding Kickstarters well at my age and older. They may not be as open about their age as I am, but they’re there. All I really know is that I’m going to continue being myself and hope that’s enough to be able to do what I want to do.

Jerseys and Other Things Revisited

I’ve decided to have a project jersey, or shirt. Russ does like jerseys, so he at least will be in a jersey, but we’ll probably both want t-shirts when riding the recumbents. The recumbents will have more storage places, and more upper body contact where the pockets in jerseys are.

The reason I’ve decided to have a jersey is that guy who used to wish me a glorious day every time I rode by. Thinking about how he annoyed me while he was a smoker making me breathe his smoke as he wished me well, and then how I was able to better accept his message once he quit smoking made the decision. And, now he’s gone. I haven’t seen him in months. I ride a little further on a lot of occasions to see if he’s come back to his spot. Maybe everyone knew the guy because for a time he was always there. Maybe I just happened to catch him several times and very few people have run into him. I don’t know because by the time I decided to stop and talk to him, he was gone.

The experience could sound like a small thing, but it’s really the struggle of our time. In a way it is the struggle of all times, to connect with people who are different. Sometimes the reasons we don’t connect are rational, like the avoidance of taking in 40 carcinogen filled breaths while I’m breathing deep and wanting fresh clean air. His habit slowed me in responding to the wish as he intended for it to be received. Sometimes the reasons people don’t connect are not rational though. People make assumptions every day based on isolated experiences and stereotypes. Our lives are richer when we can connect whether our challenges to that connection are rational or not.

The back of my shirt/jersey will say “Have a Glorious Day!” I’m sure there will be a day when I’m so tired I don’t want to do anything but scream, and someone will remind me what my shirt says,Iand that will be alright. That will be why it’s there. I don’t know about the front. I’m thinking the best way to phrase a sentiment. I haven’t found the right words yet. We will see.

This Week’s Riding

There’s been a lot of rain in the forecast this week, all day, every day, the chances of rain are high, but the quantity of rain hasn’t been. Yesterday the forecast was for a high percentage chance of rain nearly every hour, but the rain gauge said only 3/4 of an inch fell and when I planted a calla lily in a spot that gets drenched when there’s much rain, it was dry an inch below the surface. So, while I was expecting to miss a lot of riding, either because of the rain, or because of my equipment failures, I’ve actually been able to find a time and place to ride every day.

I thought I would take the hybrid in on Sunday to see if the steering problem was a quick fix, but I didn’t expect it to be quick and the shop was closed. I’m expecting the chain for my road bike to come in 3 more days. I’ll take the hybrid in then and decide what to do. I had planned to let it become my gravel bike with slightly larger tires and whatever else I need to do to it once I had the life that allowed me to need a gravel bike. But, it’s getting pretty old, and it will be older still if I ever get around to graveling it. It feels like an old friend when it rides right. It definitely needs new handlebar grips. I need to educate myself on when metal fatigue happens to alloys. This one was my first.

It’s been a pretty good week and the challenges have been more manageable than they looked like they would be. I’ll keep on writing and riding and see you next week.

Public Transportation for Everyone

Like many people, I’ve experienced fast, efficient, clean, safe and pleasant public transportation in Europe and Asia. Back home in suburban Atlanta it’s different. There are no bus routes that would take me to the northmost (closest) MARTA station if I wanted to “Be smarta, take MARTA”. The 3 , yes, three, bus routes in my town don’t come near me. I need to drive 30 minutes first if I want to go in to Atlanta on public transportation. At my last home the closest bus was 2 miles. That sounds so close by comparison, but the result was even less satisfactory. Cobb Transit was/is separate. The transfer station isn’t close and it takes longer. The trip downtown was a three hour venture (if you drive, not walk to the bus). Who has 6 hours to devote to a daily commute? Even with notorious Atlanta gridlock, only people who have no other choice would do that.

Routes were and are limited in each of the places I lived OTP (Outside the Perimeter) because of low ridership, and ridership is low, at least in part, because of limited (or unavailable) routes. I wanted, and still want, the freedom to read, check out, do needlework, or use my phone while using fast, efficient transportation with a smaller carbon footprint. Some people define freedom as being the driver. “That’s fine” I would say to them. “But, if I am using public transportation, I’m not on the road competing with you in traffic. Supporting public transportation for all of the people like me, makes your life better too.” Maybe I’d have reached them better if I’d had some photos like those below handy.I could put them next to some of constant road construction. I’d like to see those DOT dollars building infrastructure for tomorrow, not gobbling land paving it.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cycling_promotion_fund.jpeg
https://www.bicycles.net.au/2012/09/cycling-promotion-fund-reminds-aussies-cycling-advantage/

So, why is this in the middle of my KarenGoes.com push toward the cycling video project? Well, because it’s important, there’s a cycling component and, because everything’s connected. Not to mention, the need to repair and update our infrastructure makes the news every day.

The pandemic complicated already challenged US commitment to high speed public transportation, really, to public transportation at any speed. But, demand is building and things will change. We’ve learned some things and, there are enough ideas being implemented for me to link to existing projects and research for everything I want to talk about incorporating in my vision. It’s time to win the next era, and making public transportation desirable, efficient and highly effective while giving it a sense of place is a significant piece of that.

If You Build It

These are the things I would put together to design a multi-use, multi-level public transportation system centered around a high speed public transportation core. This system will increase options, improve public transportation and reduce traffic on roads. It will fit in existing landuse, reduce heat island effects, hide currently visible utilities infrastructure with increased safety, provide public and ecosystem services, help stabilize the natural environment, reduce and in some places reverse habitat loss, remediate significant factors driving climate change, beautify public spaces, promote public health and greatly amplify public transportation utility while making it all more inviting.

For Starters

Begin in an area with medium to high density residential population (so there will be abundant local potential users). Build a multi-use transportation corridor in, under and above the median of a road or highway.

First, dig the median out to make a utility tunnel. Put in all feasible public utilities and transportation facility utilities. The tunnel will contain things like fiber infrastructure (phone and other telecom). Put in any systems needed to manage and run the transportation system. Put as many ugly power lines that fall on people during earthquakes or wind and ice storms in the utility tunnel, no more digging up underground utilities for maintenance, go to the access tunnel. There can be additional areas underground for auto parking (with charging stations), bike parking, delivery lockers, maybe even auto services like tire stores. This will improve viewscapes and viewsheds while improving ease of access for maintenance and major repairs

As utilities move into underground spaces, easements on the roadside will become available for moving lanes out or creating green space. Power companies and the DOT have entire departments to work out the easements for changes in roads and lines. I worked in a power company department once doing exactly that for. As the high speed lines move out to areas with less population density, the number of things that are practical to put underground will decrease. Dirt from the tunnel can be used to build up other areas.

Ground Level

The first or ground level (level with the road) will be open with mixed-use, including some street level car parking. A few businesses can be incorporated in the support structure (those providing the goods and services you see in train and metro stations worldwide for convenience and transportation services, perhaps including bicycle storage, bicycle rentals, locker storage and delivery or parcel lockers). And, being ground, or street level, it may also include turn lanes and cross streets as needed for people who using the original roadway.

First Transportation Level

The next level above ground will become the first transportation level with high speed public transportation, such as high speed rail. Why high speed rail? Travelers in Tokyo (the largest city in the world) can make a trip in a small fraction of the time it takes to make a similar trip in a city like Atlanta where the population is much, much less dense. A public transportation user can occupy themselves in any self contained activity instead of being frustrated by drivers, and (if it’s high or even medium speed rail) get there sooner, safer, at lower cost and with less negative environmental impact.

Like many systems, where space allows, the high speed level will also have parallel slower local transportation lines with more frequent stops. Where there isn’t enough space to build a local traffic line parallel, those lines will move to the level above. Waiting areas and seating compartments will be well ventilated with air circulation, filtration and cleaning systems that reduce modern (as well as ancient) health risks. I see this high speed/local speed architecture as incorporating all of the smartest and newest technology, but I don’t see it being visibly very different than the best modern transportation systems that already exist.

Other Commuters

The second level above ground (or the level above powered commuter lines) will be commuter bike path. Where this level is sandwiched in the transportation column the commuter bike space will have sides that let in light and air for physical and mental health. The support structure will have public art. It will have bike parking or storage and rentals, unmanned bike repair stations for self repair, sales or vending machines for drinks, snacks and bicycle repair items like tubes or other wear parts and equipment. Where the bike path does not fit in the transportation column, it can have loops or elevated access trails directly connected to existing systems so that, in some places, this level can be accessed without going through the other levels, transforming commuter and pleasure cycling to a viable option for more people. There could be kiosk coffee shops with balcony seating near an overlook or park, perhaps with a green roof.

The Winding Path

The level beside or above the bike paths will be for walkers, skaters, families with young unpredictable children, handicap scooters. It will be for the people who want to move along on their own power, but for whatever reason, won’t move as quickly, or as predictably as a commuter cyclist. Where there is room, half of this corridor could be dedicated to hover boards, skaters and other users that don’t mix well with pedestrian traffic or commuter cyclists. Where there is room, there could be skateable architecture side features where bikes, boards and skaters could detour from time to time for acrobatic distractions. This can come out into an adjacent built up area maybe in an extension like a rink area and could be designed as public art to provide visual interest to non-users as well as users. These areas will be connected to the public use areas of the complex.

Up on the Roof

The roof of the transportation column will be a green roof linear park with the features that local communities ask for. It might include children’s sports fields, water features, public art, native trees and plants, some edible plants, possible community gardens, space for public meetings, green space for group or individual exercise or meditation, outdoor exercise equipment, story teller’s square, entertainment, etc. This is the space that is used like a local public park, not really intended to provide additional transportation alternatives, a space that increases available land for public use and reduces heat island effects and remediates stormwater management problems.

In locations important because of adjacent habitat or parks, the linear park on the top level will connect to adjacent land to become a habitat greenway or wildlife bridge where animals can move across the transportation column from habitat on one side to habitat on the other reducing road kill and other negative effects of fragmentation. The earth for this can be sourced with the material dug out for the underground utility corridor.

Throughout the system I see a lot of structural, functional, system, environmental and social integration similar to the way this park was designed, almost as though it were a living organism. The more natural systems that can be used to provide services the better. Note that they use a lake for irrigation and even have gardens in the underground parking structure!

In areas where hard surfaces are required, pervious pavements will add to resilience in dealing with stormwater management.

Solar and or wind power generators will be incorporated into the structure where appropriate. Solar may be in multiple forms, perhaps in windows, in canopies, perhaps in horizontal structures that will shade the original street and auto traffic below.

There will be low maintenance green or living walls with local native plants where appropriate providing shade and other cooling as well as ecosystem services and landscaped beauty. If this is what you think of when you hear “living wall”, there should be places for that too.

Any level other than the green roof might have delivery service lockers, coffee kiosks, vending, small unique restaurants and chains, financial services, convenience businesses, emergency services, etc…

Existing power easements become available for expansion if needed to replace lanes of traffic, as connecting greenway, or as low maintenance landscaped areas with plants chosen to provide native habitat that will reduce stormwater management burdens and reduce flooding.

Moving up and putting this in existing transportation corridors, will preserve the opportunity for land that would otherwise be gobbled up in new roads to remain available for higher and better use. At the same time, filling and covering the transportation center with living green roofs and linear parks takes land that would otherwise contribute to heat island effects and turns it into temperature mediating spaces that provide multi-use public space as well as transportation.

Incorporating solar and wind power generation features will improve efficiency and reduce costs while saving even more land for other uses.

Covering this transportation system with native plants and green spaces where possible will improve appearance, reduce the effects of Urban Heat Island, improve stormwater management, reduce flood risk, reduce climate change effects, and be inviting.The green roof with linear parks and public use areas will draw people in to local and community use of the facility, provide hard to find space for all kinds of parks, and so much more.

At the end of the line, before a transportation car turns to go the other way, it will move into an enclosed area that will quickly disinfect with UVC light, or other appropriate technology.

As the line moves out to less densely populated areas, the speed will increase, the stops, services and amenities will spread out and the wildlife bridges will become more frequent as they begin to look more like green overpasses.

These ideas and more are out there. People are making them work. We can make them work.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 1+

We made our trip. We went to Chicago. It was our first post Covid travel for a family graduation. Riding on the way up was limited due to weather. Much of it was weather I would normally be willing to ride in (unless I was going to get in the car and be wet and grimy for 8 hours afterward). We pulled off to look at Kentucky Dam, then rode back and forth across the mile and a half that runs across the top a few times. We were staying in close proximity to the car in case the weather turned ugly again. You couldn’t really call it a ride, but it did break up the sitting and the smell of summer lake water was refreshing. The rain had been so recent that the pavement was still wet with puddles. A surprising number of people had walked large dogs without curbing them. That was not nice, and even the fairly stiff breeze couldn’t carry that competing bad smell away.

In Chicago (more accurately Wheaton) we rode the loop in Waterfall Glen, a nice short ride hills. I was glad to get some hills in.They’ll help prep for the century at the end of the month. On the way home we rode the B & O rail trail and the Ohio River Greenway in Louisville. I’ll write separate posts about those in more detail. It was certainly worthwhile to take the bikes. They provided a nice break from the driving and, while we didn’t get in enough exercise to call it training, at least it wasn’t a total break in training either.

I fell on the Greenway in Louisville. I was going near 0 mph, so the only problem was the road rash, or so I thought. Russ put the chain back on for me, and since the bike was working, I didn’t think to check anything out.

It was the ride after next, back at home when (according to the shop guy) the bent derailleur, hanger apparently turned everything in the vicinity into a crumpled mass. I was planning a “push it as hard as you can” ride, but ended up walking it to the car holding the back end in the air because the tire wouldn’t roll. I was near the bike shop and drove over to see if they still required appointments. No appointments or masks required, The shop had a lot more bikes than last year, mostly childrens though, and parts are still way limited. Unless I found the right chain on the internet, it would be September before I was riding again. Late September was when they were expecting the right chain to be in stock.

I felt beauty of a back up bike intensely, not just in times like these. Even under more normal conditions, getting back on the road isn’t always immediate. It took away all of the fear that having two different type bikes for the project could be seen as extravagant. I had been thinking of it primarily for the ability to keep up the schedule physically by alternating between the recumbent and the standard bikes, but the ability to keep going mechanically is equally important.

Russ found the chain and it is ordered. With the century in 3 weeks and the build up to project level rides I’m looking hard at the old hybrid now. It wasn’t riding quite right last time I was on it. I loaned it to someone who’s first love is mountain biking. I think that is what happened to it, but I don’t know what it will take to get it right.

We took the hybrid out yesterday. It is rideable by some standards, but I don’t know what is wrong, I think it is something in the steering or front wheel. The bike is a fairly simple machine, but I don’t know that much about it. If it were a car with a manual transmission and the clutch plate was slipping, I know what that feels like. If I had been the person riding it when it started to have the problem, I might have a guess. My fear is that it’s something that will get worse if I continue to ride it, going from a less expensive repair to a more expensive repair, or even something that could cause me to have an accident. It could certainly do that through behaving slightly unpredictably, even it it doesn’t happen with a catastrophic failure. It needed a seat post so we could mount a seat. Russ put the Brooks I haven’t been using on it, so we were at the shop yesterday to get the post, but didn’t want to ask someone to look at it until they could test ride it if needed. I’ll take it by for an assessment today, and the chain for the road bike should be in by the 11th. Riding isn’t cancelled, but it will be hard to ride as much as I’d like for a week or more.

The century is in 3 weeks. Unfortunately, a broken bike isn’t a suitable back-up. And the planned repairs on my primary bike are “just to get it back to the shape it was in”. That wasn’t delivered with a condescending tone. It was clear that more repairs are on the way. The clarity of goal was to ride as much as possible throughout June while my schedule was more open, for both the project and the century. That’s still the goal. It’s just not going to look quite like I envisioned it.

Cycling Jerseys

For all of my lack of attention to the finer points that cycling aficionados care about, I’m a little picky about jerseys (and tights). In general, I don’t like jerseys. It’s the pockets.Russ loads his up, I don’t like to have anything sliding around on my lower back. I didn’t like it before I started slinging my camera there, and I don’t want to wear anything tight enough to keep that from happening. I like the extra length a jersey gives in back, but I don’t want much of anything in the pockets. That renders jerseys pretty much useless to me. If I had one that fit, it’s possible I might like one. I have some merino sport shirts with small side pockets and they are fine, but fit is a challenge for me. That goes for bike shorts, tights and knickers too. I’m a little heavier than most serious cyclists, and more athletic than most heavy cyclists, so my shape/size combo isn’t the common.

My favorite Smartwool as baby moth food. That sleeve with all the loose thread had never been out of the package before I washed it to make sure I wouldn’t store it for the summer with moth eggs.

I don’t worry about it too much because I’m all about Smartwool, or some other brand of merino. 100% wool is so comfortable. The range of temperatures when it’s good to wear it is much larger than people who don’t wear it would suspect, and it breathes so well. It doesn’t give me the prickly heat type rash that nylon tends to put on my upper body. I see ads for bras and panties made of merino, and if I ever decide to spend $80 for a bra, I’d like to give one a shot. Bras, panties, undershirts, tights, you name it, I’d like to give them all a try. I thought I wanted silk long underwear at one time, but I’m always doing something that damages my skin, whether its creative, dishes or gardening. Silk just sticks on my hands and reminds me that my hands have little roughnesses that I didn’t notice until I rubbed them across.

There is a problem with wool though. Moths love even better than I do. Last week I washed some of my heavier pieces. I wanted to make sure there were no moth eggs in them before I put them away for the summer. Some had damage that didn’t show, and after washing it did, big time. I now have 4 pieces lost to moths. They are Smartwool pieces I bought all about the same time from REI. The holes showed on the first wash for each garment. I wondered if they were damaged before purchase. There were pieces in my closet, in the same drawer with no damage that were older, but there is no way to know really. Regardless I was crushed. I pay the money for Smartwool because it lasts for years, except for when it doesn’t.

I am thinking more about color than I normally do. One day I was behind Russ while he was wearing a bright green jersey. It disappeared into the nearly glowing vibrant trail foliage. I thought about how useful it might be to go with chroma key colors for the bikes and kit. We’ll ride together, but, if we have the cameras, we’ll both recording and separate enough to be out of each other’s video (but not so much that we are guaranteed never showing up in each other’s video). Matching the background, or being a color that is easily removed could be useful if we ever go on to edit any ot the footage for future projects.

Fantasy Island

A cedar storage closet for my merino? I really need a Tardis so I’ll have a place to put that closet (and all that stuff in my basement too). I thought about designing a project team shirt/jersey. Decent T-shirts are pretty easy to get at reasonable prices, I lean toward raglan three-quarter length sleeves during the comfortable seasons, that’s doable, and t-shirts are fine for both of us while riding the recumbent. Jerseys can be ordered printed too, though I don’t have experience with brands on those, so getting a quality jersey with the right fit could be an experimental bother.

It’s probably worth it though. In my mind, the design will be custom created by Don Moyer who started Calamityware with a Kickstarter (no, he doesn’t know me, or anything about this. I just love his art and this is the Fantasy Island part of the program). I see a design that reflects both of the trails. The first thing I came up with is a comet with a feather tail or coma). When you look close, you’ll see it’s made of robots and Pterodactyls, a mosaic of “things could be worse” or, maybe done in a way that is somewhat reminiscent of something Salvador Dali would do with ants and lilies, probably a mash up that includes some small images tailored to the trail would work best. The Chief Ladiga Trail part of the imagery is the challenge, finding something appropriate that also communicates that trail, there’s just one image of Chief Ladiga that people are familiar with. Maybe the design could have that image of Chief Ladiga inside the ball of the comet. Yes, I think I like that. It could be a single color with glow in the dark ink for safety. It would be on the front so it didn’t interfere with the potential to use the chroma key idea (if you catch your riding partner on video, it will be from behind). Yeah, that’s it. That would be pretty cool.

Tuesday Trippin’ April 28

I got to ride every day for several days. It was great. I rode mostly on the Greenway because I was trying to get some pictures.The crowds are moving off of the trails and back on to the roads just in time for the summer ozone counts. I’ll be continuing to prioritize photos for at least a couple of weeks. I need to take some shots that will make people want my digital calendars.

I have several posts I’m trying to get out at once, and while writing them, I remember something that causes me to go back and edit old posts to make them clearer, or add in something forgotten. Writing is constant editing for me. Maybe with more practice, I can get my brain organized enough to say things better on one of the first 10 versions. I’m going to have to. The blog is important to the project, but it isn’t the project.

I lost the photos I took last week. I thought the folder had been assigned a different name by the camera, so they didn’t turn up in my searches. I spent several hours organizing my combination of personal and project photos. I’m glad it’s done, but it wasn’t scheduled time. I’ll be coming back through and adding some pictures to the last few posts, while trying not to let a 100th edit on any given post eat up too much productivity.

And now, I’m off to ride and take pictures.

Tuesday Trippin’ April 19

I’m happy to say that a lot of things are looking up. My strength is back to normal, though my distance is not yet. My appetite is back to normal (wanting too many calories, especially when exercising vigorously). I got out and took some photos for the calendars, that felt good. I did some riding on the Greenway this week and a Great Blue Heron flew just over my head less than 20 feet in front of me. The pressure of things that were put off is weighing heavily though. Some family members still need to make it through some health issues and we’ll be finishing some major renovations that were necessarily late. in 5 weeks or less those things should be behind us. It will feel good to focus.

Calendar Photos

This is a videography project with photography supporter rewards. The part of that that I need to be doing now, before I find out if I’ll get funding, is the still photographs for the digital calendars. Spring calendar shots need to show spring scenes. Some of those stills may be taken with a camera phone, but there will need to be a reason I couldn’t get a better shot. Usually, the reason is that training for the video portion of the project is not compatible with walking around, camera in hand. Time for both will be a little freer ove

We were on the trail, almost in Alabama, that day in December when we found out we were about to isolate for Covid. There was a guy with an old school SLR film camera slung over his shoulder. He didn’t have a lens cap on. I could even see when the sun hit his lens that he didn’t have a protective filter either. It struck me so. The camera was so vulnerable, so vintage. It was beautiful. It’s the other thing I remember about that day. The problem with NOT carrying the good camera is that you don’t get the shots if you don’t have the camera and most of the shots I want to take aren’t near the trailhead.

I’ve been stressing over missing some shots I wanted to take. I have no good shots of the daffodils covering the forest floor because I was sick and didn’t get back out to Brushy Mountain Rd while they were still blooming. So, last week, I got up my gumption, put the camera on my shoulder and went out in search of some just past peak dogwoods and native azaleas. The camera bag is waterproof and slides off my back some, but I was fairly comfortable, too comfortable. The camera cost more than the bike.

The bulk of the calendar photos will be taken with the Nikon D-810. The last time I bought a camera, it was 35mm. I think 6 months or a year later, I would have bought digital. For this camera, 6 months or a year later, I likely would have been comfortable going mirrorless. If there is a point where I’m funded past a goal level, but not to the next, camera equipment might be a potential upgrade for the project. Unless I do have an accident while carrying it, there are likely other things that would happen first. Potential camera upgrades might be a zoom lens and/or a mirrorless camera. Possibly some professional instruction. I have a good eye, but I’m not a professional photographer…yet.

Becoming comfortable with the camera on my bike will make some photographs possible, but it is increasingly clear that the rewards and the videography project are separate time commitments. Riding my bike for photographs is slow and distracted. When I’m taking video, that won’t be compatible. It’s not compatible with training to be able to take video either. I’m not rethinking my commitment to either though. Putting free video with seasonal changes out there for people is the point of my project and offering rewards to supporters is a necessary part of the venture.

I’ll be updating these last 2 posts with some photographs soon.

Tuesday Trippin’ March 22 & 29

Loropetalum (pink) and Forsythia (yellow) along the SCT

I lost weight during the sickness I mentioned in my last post. Some of the loss was digestive system contents and some of it was fueling the fever. I took in my after-illness calories slowly and carefully. Partly because my stomach still didn’t feel right, but also because I wanted as much weight as possible to stay off. That second part is not the best thing to do to a recovering body, but losing weight while exercising hard is a pretty big challenge for me, and it’s also important for me to lose some weight. Two weeks later, and eating normally, I remain 9 lbs lighter than when I got sick. That is a first. Normally I go fairly quickly back to pre-illness weight.

Recent body stresses include significant illness, weight loss at a higher than recommended rate, and….drumroll please…… vaccination! That’s a lot, I know. I might have waited a bit longer on the vaccination. But, I was anxious. I fully expected to be skipped over, to get my eligibility with the last group. In terms of actually getting it, I was in the last group. Georgia dropped the eligible age to 55 and up to include me. The next week they opened some locations to vaccinate any Georgia residents 17 and older. All state residents were eligible and being vaccinated before I actually got my stick. I was so excited, and bummed at the same time. I was finally eligible. I even got an appointment. Some people who were eligible in the first wave hadn’t managed that yet, but, I didn’t recover from what was probably the hella-flu as quickly as I expected. I still had to wait. Canceling that appointment was so hard, so very hard. I didn’t know how long it might take to get another.

The second appointment was available on my first attempt to schedule though, and I started to feel the weight of Covid fear lifting as soon as I had it. I felt safer just knowing the shot was in my near future, and I was about to shift away from the US mortality rate that peaked at just over 6% back when the trails were closed to a less than 1% chance of contracting a milder case of the disease and virtually no chance of death. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t any safer yet, not for a few weeks.

Now, I’ve had the first shot. I had to drive to North Georgia, which I was more than willing to do. It was not much further than I drive to ride my bike! I’m going to admit this right here. I cried. It’s not that it hurt. Vaccinations sticks don’t bother me. I don’t think, even when I was a child, that I had much, or any trepidation over little needles. Those honkin’ big blood donor needles making scar tissue in my veins bothers me, and I still suck it up do that anyway.

The reason I was so verklempt as I sat in an overcrowded waiting area (with part of me itching to get out) is that I haven’t known for a year plus if I’d be among those who made it through. I was never presumptuous enough to assume I had whatever it is that defeats Covid-19 naturally without any assistance from medical science. And, facing that without healthcare coverage is scary. I scanned faces for signs of emotion. Most faces were pretty blank and hiding what was going on underneath. The woman sitting right beside me as we waited to go to our health care workers was the only emotion I could detect. She had been watching them, and hoped she would get the one she thought looked gentle. I forgot to check the time when I sat down. I don’t know how many extra minutes that cost me.

The day after vaccination, I was really dragging. It was likely a reaction, but my body has had some significant stresses recently, and those were preceded by other significant stresses. In fact, I’m not sure when I remember things being what most people expect “normal” to look like. Who knows really. It could have been something else.

The day after that I was feeling okay and deprived of rides so I went out to ride in the rain. That was a calculated risk, I know. “I got my vaccination the day before yesterday” is not synonymous with “I’m fully vaccinated and safe.” Wet air transfers Covid-19 (and other diseases) really well. The mitigating factor was the lack of other people who also wanted to be out in the rain. There were very few kindred spirits out there. At the first sign of lightning, I would have turned back and gotten off the trail. It was a short ride and I didn’t push much.

What about that Stress Bomb?

This all brings up a very good question about my project. What if my stress bomb full of hurdles continues? I started posting here to show a certain level of seriousness and show a track record that supports the project. It hasn’t gone at all how I intended. What does that mean?

Well, my rewards are completable regardless of how well the filming goes. So, I can deliver on every reward. The project itself, the video of the rides and the free uploads, that should be manageable through significant adversity as well. Cameras on both bikes in both directions builds in a huge margin for error as far as technical and mechanical failures go. And, because I won’t stop those century rides cold turkey, fill-ins for missed rides during any given month will be pretty easy, up to a point. I can’t financially sustain the project indefinitely, even if it’s fully funded because the budget is based on a timeline. But, as long as nothing catastrophic happens, making up a missed ride during the same week of the next year will accomplish the goal of the right number of ride videos spanning the seasons. It sounds like a long time, but it’s a long project and it will produce a lot of video, and there will be plenty of video to enjoy in the meantime if I have to fill in gaps.

There may be some hard choices. I am personally committed to doing the project on pedal power, but there could come a point when that doesn’t make sense to the project. If there is an illness or injury that will cause us to miss half, or more of our ride videos for a month or more, and we could make those videos if we were to convert to electric assist, as bad as I’ll hate that, we’ll have to consider it. I don’t anticipate that will happen, but I’ll bet I haven’t anticipated every little (or big) thing that’s going to happen and the project goal will have to take precedence over the personal goals.

One risk factor just decreased in two ways. The vaccination makes me less wary about the crowds on the trails. I’ll still avoid crowds as best I can. That will make nicer video as well as lower risk of new variants, but soon I’ll be more comfortable in situations that weren’t at all comfortable last week. One of the most exciting parts of getting my vaccination is that I can probably put strength training at the Y back in my plans soon. Strength training is crucial to reducing the risk of injury. The CDC page doesn’t currently address gyms and the vaccinated directly, but pre “we have the vaccine” they mention that indoor gyms are among the highest risk activities, so I’ve stayed home, even though my gym has been open for some time now. Between the drive and the work out, 2 visits will be another 6-7 hours I have to fit in my schedule, but it will well worth it to reduce chances of injury.

All in all, the pre-project prep hasn’t been anything like I expected. But I feel optimistic, and so far the planning has accommodated the unexpected. This project is as sound and completable as any.

Tuesday Trippin’ March 9

Training-wise, the struggle goes on. stress-wise, we’re beginning to level out after the recent rash of health scares. Daylight Savings Time (DLS) is just around the corner. The logic of DLS has always eluded me, but in a 9-5 world, it means longer rides after work, and for Russ, that means catching up on his training in the lengthening and warming days of the coming months. I’m choosing to be optimistic about a break in all of the uncontrollable garbage life keeps throwing our way, and when I stress over progress, I keep reminding myself that I’ve designed the tiers of the project to fit the level of funding. We won’t have to do more than what we already can until we get the funding, and when we get that funding, we’ll be able to rise to meet whatever level of commitment that requires.

Roadside Daffodils on Brushy Mountain Rd

The most remarkable thing about our training this week was a trip down Brushy Mountain Rd. I had been riding through the tunnel one day quite some time back and heard voices above. It was a little startling in a place where we never hear traffic, and I’ve been wondering about it every now and then since. So, we did our Google Maps version of the old timey Sunday drive after our ride, checking to see if we could figure out where the tunnel was from above. It’s a forested area with deep hills and even deeper cuts through the slopes at the entrances to the tunnel. So, the road is hidden from the tunnel and the tunnel is hidden from the road, even when there are no leaves on the trees. We were following along in high resolution looking for the spot where the road intersected the trail on the map when we saw this gorgeous sight. These daffodils were scattered through the understory and out toward the right-of-way on both sides of the road. The unexpected beauty was breathtaking, and at most other times of the year we wouldn’t have even known it existed.

I wish I could display the photo all the way across the screen, instead of just the column width, but in many respects it was one of those “You had to be there” moments, being totally surrounded in spring blooms with dappled sunlight streaming through the trees and cool early evening air. I’ll try to get back out there soon with the better camera for a calendar shot.

Department of Natural Resources Land
Marker

We stopped to take pictures, and were so close to the location that was showing on maps for the trail, we just walked toward the intersection. As we did, I saw this marker. Collecting photos of survey markers is one of my “things”, so I snapped a shot.

All along this area the road is posted with high visibility markers. We had a couple in a truck pull over to ask us if we needed help, and there was another truck that passed by in one direction and then immediately passed us again in the other direction (without enough time or a location nearby that would make that seem like a natural thing).

I stayed in what should have been the right of way, and even when I took the photo of the DNR marker am pretty sure that my feet were still in the right of way. I’m glad my curiosity about what was above me brought us out to look. But, this is an area where I very highly recommend taking nothing but pictures, leaving nothing but footprints (and be sure to leave those in the right of way) without even considering a trespass.

Racking it Up, Bicycle Racks

Racks are pretty quick and easy to talk about. Through the years, I’ve tried a variety of different kinds of options. As a kid growing up in the rural south, riding my bike always started at home. I never went somewhere else to ride. But then traffic became more crowded and less likely to yield, even in the country, and the distance I wanted to ride grew longer.

Strap on Racks

I started with the inexpensive type that you strap to the trunk or the rear door on a van or hatchback. The benefit to that is cost and the are usually compact to store. The drawbacks are that it takes time to install. Futzing with the straps is time consuming, and if you use it very often, it can become irritating.Some bikes, especially mountain bikes don’t fit very well and can fall of, and they eventually leave dimples in the car body. If you don’t strap it exactly the same every time, there will be dimples in more than one place. So, it’s the low budget option for infrequent use, for the owner who is willing to get a couple of new dimples in their auto body.

Hitch Mount

After growing out of that variety, I moved to hitch mount racks. First I only used them when I was going to use the truck. Later I started putting trailer hitches on my cars. I don’t tend to drive cars that are designed to tow, so I’m really protective of them. The car bike rack hitch only holds bike racks. I never tow a trailer. I never even put on a cargo tray. Why? Because cargo trays get overloaded. Bike racks have only enough space for the bikes, so they will never be loaded over the weight of those bikes. Ours ar not the super light carbon bikes and they weigh quite enough.

I never consider anything other than a hitch mount any more. I had the kind with an arm that swings out and the bike hang from it. That rack was a Thule similar to this one, well loved, but not as great at Interstate speeds due to vibration and the resulting movement. The bicycle tie-down straps seemed to disappear for a while too, but replacements weren’t expensive and eventually the disappearance seemed to slow. The hanging racks aren’t good for mountain bike frames though. The bike crossbar is at too great an angle and we’ve had to stop to secure my grandson’s mountain bike multiple times of the same trip to a race.That’s not relevant to this project because a mountain bike will never be the right bike for the job. It is relevant to my grandson though, and to date, we’ve never budgeted the cash nor the space for more than one bulky rack. In fact the hitch mount rack only comes off my car when I’m getting it serviced, driving through the carwash, or putting in on the truck instead. The nice part about selling the Thule with the arm though, it brought almost half of what we paid for it.

We’re now pretty committed to hitch mount tray racks. Russ got one at a thrift store for $20. We really liked that rack, but someone in a parking lot backed into it and ended it. We had to replace it really quickly because the mountain bike season was on. My dream rack is the 1 UP aluminum rack. I’ve wanted one since the first time I ever saw it. They’re the high quality, low weight, easy option with fast on and off. People I know who have one say that they don’t know why they waited so long to get it, and no one I know has ever complained about anything related to them. We were considering finally getting that dream boat that every owner loves. Spending almost as much on a rack as I did on a bike was a sticking point though. I know that says more about the cost of my bike than it does the cost of the rack, but still, that was the only reason we don’t have my dream 1 Up, that and the REI Garage sale.

The Garage sale is when REI sells returned merchandise. There are often missing parts, but they will allow you to assemble whatever you’re considering to find out and sometimes the deals are awesome. Clothing is usually not the great deal that some other things can be. I’ve seen things with big holes that are not marked down much. I’m not sure why anyone would purchase that. At this sale, I didn’t even head to the bike racks because missing parts are common and I wasn’t expecting a discount that reflected whatever the condition was. Also, I had that 1 Up on the brain. Russ found a Kuat tray rack, and it was a huge discount. At the time, his idea was that he’d buy this one, and when we found a 1 UP second hand, we’d sell the Kuat for near what we paid. Well, it’s not the 1 UP, but it’s a solidly good rack and we haven’t found the 1 Up second hand (could be that’s a pipe dream, I’ve never met an unhappy owner). If I were spending full retail and making a new purchase decision, I’d probably go ahead and get the 1 UP because there isn’t so much difference in the full retail prices, but when the less expensive rack is selling for half price… The Kuat is a nice rack, but when you use it frequently, that little extra bit of extra effort in putting the bike on the rack adds up over time. The Kuat isn’t extendable either. That hasn’t mattered as much over the pandemic, because we’ve been avoiding the crowds on the Greenway at Big Creek. We used to all go out together and we would ride the Greenway while my grandson rode the MTB trails. Eventually, hopefully soon, we’ll all be going out together again soon. It better be soon, else he’ll be driving himself and he’ll have a job. I’d like to think we’d give him the Kuat and we’d finally get the 1 UP, but the reality is, he’ll get a job and say no thanks. He’ll buy the 1 UP, and we’ll still be using our temporary find.