What to Leave In, What to Take Out

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

What we will leave in

Creepy crawlies, including snakes

Hazards along the trail

The sewerage treatment plant

People who appear to be homeless

What We’ll Take Out

Serious illegal or criminal activities that get caught on video

Violence

Accidents that result in significant injury

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

Any intentionally sensational or attention seeking behaviors

Intentionally offensive acts

Maybe, Maybe Not

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ January 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rewarding Rides

The rewards for this ride project will be many, both tangible and intangible, personal and shared, from Biophilia to entertainment, we hope to create rewards that just keep on giving, and you don’t even have to support us to get some of them. We also want to go low impact on as many different levels as we can, from all of the choices we make while doing the project, to helping people get some of the benefits of traveling for their ride without having to go anywhere.

We are doing this a bit atypical in that we want to give away what we produce at the goal level. But that’s really the point, to give people something to make their lives better regardless of the level of technology they have. We plan to make that easy by uploading goal level video to Youtube. There is some video already available to people on Youtube, but much of it has music audio instead of natural sounds, so it loses much of the effect and I haven’t found anything that is long like what we want to do, not in duration of the ride nor in the changing of seasons.

We will give three choices in rewards for supporters with an fourth that will become available as stretch goals are made. The rewards are: A digital photo calendar, an iNaturalist listing, or a small personalized bit of our writing talent.

The 2022 Calendar

We will use photographs taken before, after, and possibly during the rides to make several digital calendars to be used as a desktop wallpaper or phone screensavers. Using these calendars will, I hope extend the enjoyment of the trail and the project a bit beyond its primary goal. Every calendar will have 2 choices per month so that you can choose the one you prefer. They will be available for download in December of 2021. Most of the photography in this website was taken with one of our phone cameras. Photography for the calendars will be primarily taken by me with my Nikon D810. I think I could get lost enough in this reward to make it a project on its own. Well, it is, kind of.

The Calendar options will be:

Landscapes: Mostly viewed from the trail, but there are some pretty nice landscapes in the surrounding areas

Wildlife: The best of what we get

Signs: Odd street signs, graffiti, local culture

Sets and Scenery: Places that you may recognize from recent movies and other productions.

The Trail: Landmarks and special spots on the trail, like Brushy Mountain Tunnel and Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle.

Architectural Interest: Buildings or features on buildings that are particularly interesting, unique or beautiful.

iNaturalist Listings

The second choice for rewards is iNaturalist listings. Really, all of my rewards are additional side projects to some degree. I’m offering this one because I think the kind of person my project would appeal to would like this. Also because I know that once I promise it to someone other than myself, I will make the time and do it. It is worth doing. Last year I signed up when it was promoted in relationship to E. O Wilson and his Half Earth Project. Making it an offering in my project is a way of showing appreciation to supporters while committing myself to do the work. This will be limited to 365 listings. I’m calling that a limit of “one per day”. While the project itself will last well longer than that, I think trying to do more would be a mistake. I will do those as I can. I tried to think of a way to let people choose a species, but it seemed too complicated. I’ll be trying to limit the time I spend on any single species to 2 hours and, I don’t know how things will work on my side of this, but there should be a way for me to let you know which species was uploaded for you.

A Poem by Karen or Russ

Did you ever want to have a poetry written just for you? I’m not claiming to be any great talent, but maybe it will be fun. Give us a subject and we’ll try for at least a smile. The first poem I remember writing was:

I am so tired

I would have admired it

If I could have hired

Someone to be tired

For me

I think I was around 2nd grade. My parents were really tired. This popped into my head and out of my mouth. It made them laugh, agree, and tell me I was creative, so I was really proud of myself. I believe is is probably my most appreciated literary work (though I have actually had small works published here and there). Hopefully this will be some silly or sweet fun.

Training Tuesday January 5

Sign on the Equipment Room Door between the Men’s and Women’s Restrooms at Tara Drummond Trailhead

These signs are all over Georgia, on all the doors on all the buildings of businesses and public spaces glaring at you like the warning on a pack of cigarettes.

Isolation came into our lives. We have 2 adults in the household in “essential” work. The exposure that caused our isolation was not caused by their jobs, nor was it caused by any choice that a person in our household made, and while I feel like pouring my heart out (visualize Disney’s Thumper) “If you can’t say sumthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

It looked like we were going to get through our isolation with no symptoms, but I woke up in the wee hours this morning with a migraine level headache. I wouldn’t take NSAIDs because they can complicate Covid-19, but I wanted to so badly. Migraine Formula Excedrin is as likely as not to knock a migraine out for me. Soon I was running to toss my cookies, maybe it was the headache, but headache and vomiting are also symptoms of Covid-19 that some doctors think are underreported. I didn’t feel like it was Covid, but Russ and I immediately separated anyway. Later this morning I was glazing over while thinking about the details of my will, unable to concentrate on anything well, not able to go back to sleep either. I turned on NPR to get my mind off of dying. I mean really, I didn’t specifically mention my car in the will. I wasn’t planning to still have this car by then, but it would have been stressful for everyone if I had started texting people about the disposition of my property.

By mid afternoon I was able to hold down two tablespoons of fluid and by late afternoon I was eating the banana and crackers I had requested for later tonight and asking for a bowl of rice on top. I can’t wait for toast in the morning. When I get out of bed, I don’t have that awful flu feeling, the one where you feel fine laying there, but when you get up you wonder why you thought it was a good idea to move, even a finger. I actually feel like I could do more. Covid-19 is sometimes misleading, so who knows? It kind of feels like whiplash at the moment. Actually, the month, no, the whole year has felt a bit like whiplash, incredulity and roller coasters. During that brief two or so hours when I was beginning to think it could be Covid, there was a little piece of calm in the center of the storm, and a little of it stayed as I started to feel better. Hopefully, I’m about to sleep now and I’ll wake up better this time.

So, training this week was shot. Next week will be too. By Georgia rules, I can get out of Covid Purgatory if I take a test in a few days, but honestly, this has been so strange. I never even had a fever. I’m going to let them stick that swab up someone else’s nose and give it the no test time period.

Here’s a link from Cycling Weekly on healthy cycling. Stay healthy guys! And, make sure you have a will too.

Road Bikes and Recumbents

Bikes are the big scary question mark right now. Not only do we have bikes in need of repairs (me) and an overhaul (Russ), but we’re also going to need recumbents to ride half time so we can vary our physical positions, body stresses and sit spots to stay healthy and riding. I’m not really sure what we’re going to be able to do about it either. In the comparatively low end bike price range, the repair or replace decision happens at a lower price point simply because it doesn’t take many parts to add up to a purchase price, especially when there are service costs as well. But, the photo above is the stock that was available when I took my bike in for repairs a few months back. It kind of makes the decision for you, as long as there are parts to be had. I haven’t been in super recently, but, I’m still hearing cyclists talk about waiting several months for ordered bikes.

There are certain maintenance activities we’ll need to be doing constantly. For instance, tires will last between 1,500 and 2,500 miles without road damage. That’s 7-10 weeks at the rate we will be riding when we’re up and running in full project mode. More durable wear parts will also meet their doom and potential damage will surely happen. I’m keeping my eyes open in the used market. That search will likely be constant so that equipment never causes us down time. Unless we move up in price range, we will likely make several repair or replace decisions over the course of the project, and it is harder for to find bikes that are compatible for riding together, especially with our above average height requirements.

To back track for a minute, our current bikes are Giant brand. They are good bikes when in repair, well above department store quality, but they are at the bottom end of what bike shops offer and serious cyclists expect. Giant is considered a pretty good quality in the lower price ranges, but a lot of brands make good bikes, and fortunately, we’d happy with any of them too.

I have two bikes. One is a hybrid that I was riding the first time I trained for a century. Later, I bought a road bike, to be able to keep up with Russ on his road bike. Speed is increasingly important the more mileage a rider does. Not just because we’re riding together and pacing each other, it’s also about number of hours in the saddle.

Recently I was without the road bike for almost a year and I brought the hybrid back from my mother’s where I was using it while visiting. Riding it again felt like an old friend and early photographs of this project might have either bike. I need the faster bike though. So, I sucked it up and made the appointment to fix the road bike. Shop repairs where I bought the bike are by appointment through the pandemic.

I spent about three quarters of the original purchase price on parts and service. It was much closer to the repair or replace mark than I realized. I’ve broken spokes recently and it may need new wheels soon. That could be due to the rough riding surfaces when the trail was full of storm litter, or it could be that the wear parts have worn. I’m riding it exclusively since the repairs. One thing I noticed when I got the road bike back is that it was quieter. I noted that keeping the adjustments properly made and replacing the cassette as soon as it’s worn would be important to reducing unwanted ambient noise while recording (and it helps to keep it faster too :). We’ll need to get better at doing that ourselves.

Russ’ bike, was at the repair or replace point before he crashed it. I really think he would have replaced if they had any stock, or even had any on the way. Then the question is, would he have crashed his new bike, or would the new bike have handled the road trash better and kept him from crashing?

We’re both gladly open to second hand bikes, and the pandemic rush on bikes could result in a flood of second hand bikes at just the right time. Our second hand search handicap is not knowing enough about bike brands and models to know which bikes/models might be better. Bicycle Blue Book could help to know what the right price should be, but I’ve heard some scepticism on it’s accuracy and we don’t know enough to have our own opinions. Bikes in the shops that still have bikes are running 100% of “suggested retail”, and so are many of the bikes available second hand. There have always been people who asked full retail for their second hand bikes. Right now there are more of those than usual.

I’ve been unusually open minded, but the real deals are in things irrelevant to the project. For instance I found a trike that was a significant discount off of retail because it was an arm peddle, I’d love to have it and build the arm fitness I’m no longer getting at the Y due to the pandemic, but it’s not practical for this project. There are other more practical possibilities that could also be side steps down a rabbit hole. For instance, I could see the bike below being perfect for Russ, with the camera out in front, but following up on an advertisement like the one that accompanied this 4-wheeler saying “Custom built”, but saying nothing about size is likely to be a waste of time, even if it did provide a smooth enough ride.

Then too, I learned from experience that it’s easy to accidentally get a bike that needs a lot of repairs, and the shops don’t cut you any deals on repairs if you didn’t buy the bike from them. I’m afraid that the combination of Russ’ height needs (he’s 6’6″), current market availabilities, and our need to be on bikes that perform well and similarly enough for us to ride together will push us higher in price ranges.

Recumbents

Choosing a recumbent is daunting, and not just a little. Really. There are good guides, but many recumbents are order online propositions and we’re talking about the difference between book knowledge and experience. When I buy a regular bike, first, I have experience riding one and second, I’m at a shop where I can test ride it in the parking lot. They’re too expensive to experiment. I need to get it right on the first try. I joined some facebook groups to see what I could figure out, but they were different enough in focus as to be unhelpful.

We narrowed it down a little. We thought about tandems from time to time, but finding one of those in the right size is likely to mean custom, and I’ve always been a little afraid I’d be a slacker (without intending to) on a tandem. A tandem could be fun for a lark on some other occasion, but when I consider that one of us might need to go for help or the car, that settles it. Sticking with separate bikes/recumbents also leaves us open to put cameras on each bike, potentially doubling our videos without doubling travel cost or time.

So, bike or trike? I like to maintain core muscles and all things being equal would choose a two wheel recumbent, but I think the three contact points of a medium to long wheelbase trike will offer greater camera stability, and smaller micromovements. What I mean by that is the midpoint between all three wheels. Needing less camera image stabilization is a huge factor in producing good video and that is the point.

Fantasy Island

I don’t even know what Fantasy Island looks like for the bikes. There are so many uncertainties. I”d like for us to ride road bikes in one direction, store them, and ride a recumbents in the other direction. That way, we won’t need automobile back up and will get good temporal spacing on video from bike and on each trip. I haven’t decided if I want to try to set up cameras at the same height for both bikes, or if I want to have two different perspectives. I’m leaning toward different perspectives for practicality and variety. Any helmet cams or chest cams will clearly be at different heights. But those things will sort once we see what we have to work with.

The bikes need to be strong, fast, quiet, stable, safe and comfortable. We’ll need panniers for the road bikes I don’t usually care about color unless it’s heinous, I did notice Russ riding in front one day in a lime green Jersey. It looked so much like chromakey green that I thought about coloring everything, kit and equipment in chromakey green so that they could be easily removed at some point if anyone wants.

I’m not sure how that will all sort itself out, but I expect market conditions to improve. I hope I’m right.

Karen Goes, Cycling

Cycling on local trails in Georgia, I get to see nature that awes me. One day a pileated woodpecker flew beside me for 20 yards on the Silver Comet Trail. Before the pandemic I was riding more on Big Creek Greenway, a path in a streambed north of Atlanta. There a Great Blue Heron was feeding in the shallow puddle of a drying pond and I didn’t know there were otters at Big Creek until I saw them one day. One of the coolest sights was when a Great Blue Heron flew from the stream below to the bridge I was about to cross, and then, just as I approached flew on across right in front of me. Deer are often out on many trails. Oh, to have had a camera going for some of these sights.

Sometimes the interesting things I see are people, all kinds.  A person on stilts, on a pennyfarthing, on a stand up bike with no seat, even, once, a person walking with his head buried in a textbook. He never looked up as far as I could see. I don’t know why he didn’t walk into people. One day I saw a woman tethered to her phone (not as in listening to great music and working out in the zone, but, as in, really never letting go of being connected to the device). Do those people get the same benefits from being out on the trail as people who are attuned to their surroundings, or is it merely cardio benefits for them? And, where do the benefits of being in nature come from? I mean there are obvious things like vitamin D coming from the sun and the endorphins that come from the exercise itself, but what about things like your mind space? So, I read some things, including Nature Fix by Florence Williams and while I began as a skeptic about some things, like bird calls having a positive effect, she did convince me in the end that they do.

So, my next thought was; just as the person who is wired outdoors loses some of the benefit of being in nature (and some of the safety in being alert), maybe there’s a way for people who are home bound to gather some benefits of being outdoors. I don’t just manage to get myself back on the bike when the outdoors is part of the picture, I want to (most days) ;). How can people who would attend to nature and their surroundings if they could get some of those benefits? What if I video a large amount of trail time, capture some of the more extraordinary wildlife sightings as well as changing seasons and provide a varied distraction for people to watch while exercising?

Video isn’t the whole outdoor experience and can’t provide all of the outdoor benefits. But, maybe, at bare minimum, it could help people who can’t get out, or can’t get out as often as they need to, find a more enjoyable experience for exercise and help with the motivation to get back on that stationary bike or other cardio machine. I want to collect video that could be used to give a more varied experience for the homebound, or those who don’t get to travel for exercise as much as they’d like to, an experience that is closer to nature, or just enough different to help with motivation. Maybe it could even be a meditation guide for some.

When I first thought of this plan fitness centers were open and I used one. I’ve kept my membership to the Y current through the pandemic so far, but haven’t been in for months, not since the first Covid-19 cases came to town. When I did go, I primarily used strength training. I’d never really do cardio for more than short 20 minute span, sometimes less, usually on the water rower to give my arms some attention (maybe I’m a sucker for a gimmick, but I really like it better than traditional rowers). Back when I did use stationary bikes there was never a cycling video that provided variety, or even actual real scenery to watch, and daytime TV choices on other available screens fall way short of inspiring. If I couldn’t cycle outdoors, I’m not sure I’d have the motivation to keep going. If my video helps people who can’t get out there in person, get out there in spirit, that would make me pretty happy.

A base goal could be to film my roughly hour long ride 2 or 3 times a week for a year (originally planned on the Big Creek Greenway, a paved multi-use trail that goes north-south along the Big Creek stream bed in the suburbs north of Atlanta), but now more likely to be on more remote areas of the Silver Comet). Partly a photography or data/film collection project to capture nature and the changing seasons on, but there was/is a creative aspect too. At the lowest level of funding, the project would just subsidize rides that I already take and commit me to filming them. I would capture video that as long as some people want to work out, and it would provide an experience for people that changes weekly with the seasons.

When the Shelter in Place order was given, outdoors was one of the few escapes people had. The bike shops sold out and the trails were filled with crowds (on those trails that were open). The numbers of people wearing masks was, and still is, very low. The best research that seems to be available points to 20 foot distances being more appropriate for cyclists because of speed and exertion than the 6 ft recommendations for people who are stationary or moving slowly. That’s a nearly impossible distance to maintain on the Greenway. The base plan needed to be altered before I got it out in front of people.

I had been building up to my plan, researching successful Kickstarters, and working toward one of my own. But, now Big Creek was filled with so many people, and the Silver Comet was closed in the two closest counties. We went out to Big Creek in the early morning one Sunday, normally the slowest time there, to see if that was doable. Out of 100 or so people we saw spread out over 8 miles, one other couple had masks on, and many were walking 2 or 3 abreast, so that didn’t allow safe passing distance. As that ride ended the numbers of people on the trail increased markedly.  That was an unpredictable risk too, choosing to start a ride with conditions at one level, and finishing at another level. I thought my plan was on indefinite hold. I settled into sheltering. And, I thought I was doing fine. I was so wrong.

A friend posted about going out past the two closed counties to ride the Silver Comet (SC) where it was open. She’s someone I’ve worked Support and Gear (SAG) for on overnight rides for the entire length of Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trails. Together they make the longest paved paved path in the Rails to Trails (RTT) system. I had ridden my bike out as far as she was driving, and I had driven out there if I was working SAG for her, but I’ve always tried to limit the amount of gas and transportation expense I was willing to use in order to cycle. It seemed too much to drive that far for a bike ride, and to spend more time in the car than I do on the trail. But, we did it. Russ and I went out there for what turned out to be a ride that was both pathetic and necessary. 12 miles was all we had in us. But it was a very important 12 miles. I felt alive again after not having realized how far from that I had drifted. I said to Russ “If I get sick, you need to remind me that there are things I still want to do.” I didn’t know that my voice was going to tremble when I said it. I started going out often, and as I did, I realized that my project is more important now than ever, and that I have to build back up to spending more time on the trail than I do in the car, even when I have to drive this far.

So, now my base goal is to get an hour of video per week at the most sensible place, whether it’s the Silver Comet, or the Greenway. I’ll stay flexible as conditions change.

This will be a stretch in many ways. I’ll be happy enough to have the base goal fund, but the big dream is to make the stretch goal. At a higher level of funding, I will film the entire Silver Comet and adjoining Chief Ladiga trail in two directions weekly. For this, I will have to reach a level of physical output that I have never before sustained. I’ve done a century before. I’ve done the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga together before, but not repeatedly twice a week. And, though the goal is to get a year’s filmed record of the longest paved RTT trail in the country, I really expect it to consume me for 2 years. While building up, increases in mileage of 10% per week are recommended. I may have good weeks, but I’ll likely suffer setbacks if I try to build up faster than that over time. I won’t be able to stop that level of riding abruptly either. I expect to fill in weather or other unavoidable gaps that may happen by continuing to film as I slow my level of riding gradually.

I’ll be sharing my best film shots with supporters and making some digital wallpaper calendars with different themes. Some of the unbelievable things I see while riding are wild life, and some of them are crazy stupid. I also hope to get some good footage for a multi-use trail safety video. I do understand that this will be grueling at times and there will be days when I wonder what I was thinking. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and working through it to the other side.