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 it 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 and 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, and the next week they opened some locations to vaccinate any Georgia resident 17 and older. All state residents were eligible and being vaccinated before I got my stick. I was so excited, and bummed at the same time. I was finally eligible. I even got an appointment which some people who had been eligible in the first wave hadn’t managed 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.

But, still, I started to feel the weight of Covid fear lifting before I even had another appointment. I felt safer just knowing the shot was possibly in my near future, and had to remind myself that I wasn’t any safer yet.

Now, I’ve had the first shot. I had to drive to North Georgia, something 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 anyway.

The reason I was so verklempt as I sat in an overcrowded waiting area (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

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.

Tuesday Trippin’ March 2

The week has been on and off, with big ups and downs. The up was that Russ signaled interest in the project beyond just being encouraging. He’s always supportive, but this is a BIG commitment, and I can’t do the project without support. While, in theory, a lot of people could do it, this will take a lot of hours, a strong commitment, and a lot of closeness. With recovery rides, time in the saddle alone will be over 20 hours per week. Add in rewards production, bicycle, gear, camera and other equipment maintenance, planning and weather management, getting to and from the trails, rewards distribution, website management, uploads and other things are we are both above full time hours every week. Plus, we’ll have at least two overnights away every week. Not only do I want to spend that time with someone I know and trust, I don’t want to spend that much time away from him. So, his reaffirming commitment is a pretty big up.

The downs have been very low. Did you know there’s a thing called an elastomeric pump? I learned about those this week. They’re also called medicine balls, home balls or grenades. They’re made so that sick people can be mobile, and/or discharged from the hospital while still taking IV meds. And, that was just one family member’s challenge. The week was full of loved ones fighting serious health issues. As important as this project is to me, the outcomes to the health crises that too many of the people near and dear to me experienced this week are more important. That’s as much as I’m going to say on that subject, and now I’m going to move on like I didn’t even say that much.

As the week started, the Texas freeze was still in the press, and then suddenly, the daily high was 70 and there was pollen on the car. As the week ended, it was cool again. I got in a quick ride late in the week. I was wiped out. The ride felt like I’d been pushing my training. I think it was actually that my life was pushing me. I think that I could have worked through it if I had just kept pedaling, but I didn’t have the time for that on that day.

Then I got in another ride, then another, none of them as long as I would have liked.

Recumbent Trikes

I’m really seeing more recumbent trikes on the trail. A link to one of the brands on the website for the recumbent shop I found in Murfreesboro says that there are 9 recumbent trikes sold for every 1 recumbent bike sold in the US.

I’m generally anti-trend. If I’m ahead of the trend, I feel a little put off once everyone else joins in. It’s like my choice becomes less about me, and more a fad once something I’m doing becomes popular. If I’m behind the trend (which happens most often when buying expensive tech) I like to make sure I I’m far enough behind to take advantage of what benefits there are to being a late adopter.

I’m not going to have any trouble being on trend for this though. The features that are currently making the trikes popular, are features we need for the project. It will be nice to talk to more experts to find out if my theory of three point contact with the ground will be more stable in the context of video stabilization. For fitness, I prefer a recumbent with two wheels to keep my core and balance working. I won’t be doing something trendy during pandemic market conditions unless it is completely supported by the parameters and the budget of the project.

Shock Absorption

I had more considerations on the road bike front as well. Sometimes I can go along my way and forget to check things with fresh eyes. For instance, shock absorption in mountain bikes comes from having suspension with a lot of play in it, and it’s costly energy wise, so, not conducive to distance riding. Until I found a second hand bike for sale this week, it didn’t occur to me that shock absorption on a road bike could lead to just the opposite, more efficient longer rides. As I looked up reviews on the bike in question, I came across this article on shock absorption in road bikes. It has a phrase about noticing that your rides become longer effortlessly. That’s due to lower stress on the body from being shaken.

I’m not naturally very performance driven, at least not on a bike when it was for pleasure and cardio, so I’ve never been drawn into “better” more expensive bikes. But, as it turns out, doing distance and getting the smoothest ride for the video are both improved by the kind of shock absorption some of these road bikes offer. We will see where that takes us. I still want to alternate between road bikes and recumbent trikes for the physical differences and relief. The level of complication that ads (storage on both ends, switching video equipment back and forth, transporting bikes with completely different configurations) is manageable and the physical benefits will help to keep us strong and riding throughout the project. If it turns out we’ll be working a single bike option, it will likely be the recumbent trike. That’s the bike that will keep up riding through more adversity.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 23

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ February 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glorious Tuesday Trippin’ February 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glove Grief

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy Island

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

Tuesday Trippin’ February 2

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

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

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

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

Training Tuesday January 19

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

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

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

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

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