Tuesday Trippin’ September 7

It’s been an up and down week. Georgia schools started in mid August, so we’ve had plenty of time for the fall sniffles and crud to mix and redistribute (along with Covid). We have a new student in the house, and little fingers go everywhere. So, I’m fighting off the crud, but thankfully, it’s not Covid, yet. I’m really self conscious about the cough though. I want to spontaneously volunteer to strangers through my masked face that I’m thankfully both vaccinated and Covid free.

Georgia is solidly in 4th place for total numbers of cases, and for deaths, due to Covid-19. That’s for overall numbers as well as 28-day numbers, not a place you want to be consistently outpacing 46 other US states. The trails and everything else remain open regardless. My commute out to the closer spot on the trail is taking about as long as it did to go 2 counties out for open trails early in the first year of the pandemic because traffic is heavy again. It’s a strange situation and how people are dealing with it (or not) is even stranger. People are ready for “back to normal” no matter what their stance is on any of it. I hope the vaccine will remain protective for me, and I’ll do what I can to prevent passing anything I can’t detect to anyone else. Based on policies I see now, I don’t anticipate any closed trails over Covid in the foreseeable future.

Weather has been a challenge too, but riding has been nice. Today’s ride was slow to warm up my muscles, then I had a faster finish. I was a lot hotter when I stopped than I realized while riding. That surprised me with the overcast sky and cooler temperatures. It makes me wonder how fast my finish was compared to my average. We will record all the metrics we expect to be relevant to this and future projects once videos begin, but I don’t usually bother to start up any devices to measure ride stats for personal knowledge. Today I would have actually looked at them if Russ had been with me because he does.

We stuck to the gradual 10% (or less) per week build when we first started our pandemic rides. We were in such reduced fitness at the time that it was hard to understand how we got there. This week I found a plan for working up to a century in 12 weeks. I think it’s interesting. We never could have done that last year and the 10% recommendation for gradual pacing is important. It’s basic to maintaining long term stamina. But, we laid firm groundwork over the last year and I think we can adopt a little bit from this second plan too. Our current rides exceed the front end of this 12 week plan, but we’re not doing full centuries yet. Russ works more than 40 hours a week and, being in landscape, his busy seasons are the best riding seasons and his hours ease up when the days shorten and it’s still difficult for him to get in rides on weekdays. I forgot that when I expected the training prep to be more workable for longer than it actually is.

One thing I found nice about this 12 week plan is how doable it feels and there also seems to be some good solid general advice on the page. That reinforced my sense that we did enough training over the last year to be able to swing into century mode on cue. One difference though is that this is a training plan to do a single century at the end of 12 weeks, not a plan to do weekly or twice weekly centuries at the end of 12 weeks. I’m still pretty comfortable though. Our plan we be more like stretching the back third of this plan over the same amount of time and working it to the higher goal. It will fit nicely into our set up needs at the beginning as we prepare everything and get set on both ends of the trails. It’s feeling pretty good to be looking at a big daunting project like this with a healthy, but shrinking level of fear.

Tuesday Trippin’ July 12

It’s not just hot, it’s been hot long enough that people are tired of it, especially here in the south. and in some places we are breaking previous heat records for highest (“reliably measured”) temperature on earth, and other extremes regularly, including highest lows.

Locally, there’s been a small respite. Hurricane Elsa, the fifth named storm of the season passed south and east of us bringing rain and some cooler temperatures, a bit of an irony, because warmer ocean temperatures favor storm formation. Elsa was the earliest named 5th storm in history.

The weather made riding hit or miss, with a few good hits. The knee pain was medium to mild, but still around, then almost gone by the time I posted this. It turned out not to be caused by the strength training. I didn’t see how it could be, but the timing made me wonder and I couldn’t think of any other reason at the time. I discovered it was actually because we didn’t get my seat height and angle properly adjusted after the musical bikes. That’s all better now. I’m still liking the new flat bike shoes and pedals, but they’re not 100% at taking care of the tingle and cramps I get in the right foot. I got rides four days in a row. After giving it a rest for a bit, it could be that no shoe would help. Irregular activity levels irritate my problem.

On one of the earlier rides, I saw a newborn fawn. It was the first time for me. As I was approaching, I thought it was a thin sick dog, but then I saw the wet, vibrant dark red brown fur with the bright white spots and thought “Oh dear, where’s Mama? I hope she knows I’m not gonna hurt her baby.” Then the fawn ran away more awkwardly than Bambi on ice. Just afterward I bought a new “flagship” phone. It might give me some better options for getting the unexpected images while riding pre “official” project start time. It’s definitely going to give me better stills without having to carry the Nikon.

I’ve been writing a lot, mostly some of the (not yet finished) posts that should be up when I launch the kickstarter. I’ve also been applying to jobs. It’s not that I can do both the project and a job. I can’t. The project is more than full time for both of us and I’m still trying to get my expected project hours per week down much closer to 40. And, it’s certainly not that I have given up on the video project. Doing something that fits my need to make a difference could be the most important thing I might do next. And, Russ could use a break from his current life to do that as much as I could. What he could really use is about 20 hours a week when he gets plenty of exercise and doesn’t have to manage the expectations of a dozen people in an hour. Really, the reason I applied is that some of the jobs I once wanted very much came floating across my laptop. They did that now. I don’t know that I’d even get an interview for any of them, but back-up plans are pretty important, especially when you’re chasing a long shot, and I may have and answer on this project before any of those companies are ready to interview, so it’s not irresponsible to apply for a job I might not be able to take. If I ever get myself into consideration for the positions in the first place, I can responsibly take myself out as soon as appropriate.

In fact, some people, people who care about me might ask why I’m even thinking of spending another year and a half pursuing unpaid work. It’s really hard to explain. Money is important. Everybody has expenses, and the more money you have, the more options you have. Options are good. I’d like more of them. At the same time, money isn’t what motivates me most in life. It’s the pursuit of whatever I’m following at the moment that lights my fire. I get it. In the world we live in, that takes money, which is why I’m planning a kickstarter. But, my great pleasures are thinking and doing and giving. I don’t get so much pleasure from earning money, I get pleasure from earning opportunities. The distinction may sound trivial, but I’d be a happy clam in a Star Trek Universe where money isn’t really a thing and science, discovery, connection and truth are not just valued, they are the whole point.

I’m thinking about these things at the same time I’ve reached that place in this project where I sometimes give up on myself. That’s not related to those back up job applications I just mentioned. Those were just the choice to have backup potential. It’s related to refining an idea so well, while at the same time keeping most of it in my own head, (and some of it here in these posts). I believe in this project strongly, but I haven’t shared many details, even among some of my closest people. Part of that is because I’m accustomed to caring deeply about more things than most of my people are even interested in knowing exist. I have written 40+ Tuesday updates, but not even Russ has read many of them. When I tell my granddaughter I need some time to work on the computer, I suspect my children assume I’m typing furiously in a FB group (which is only true sometimes :).

The isolation I feel is partly because it’s my MO to be self contained about my ideas, and it’s partly because things are so busy and stressful too. All that stress I mentioned in one of those Tuesday updates? So here’s the thing. I’ve both applied to jobs and hit my wall, both at about the same time. I probably understand my strengths and shortcomings fairly well, and I’m still spending all the time I can pursuing this project. It must be what I am supposed to do next. So, for right now, I’ll just keep plugging along and make it work.

Mom! Why is My Skin Red?

Mom wasn’t an anti-vaxxer, she was distracted. I received my smallpox vaccine at school in Texas. I remember lining up in a huge lunchroom, but after that we moved back to the small rural town in Alabama where she and a few more generations of my family grew up. I really don’t know what happened, but the ball was dropped somewhere and the rest of my vaccines didn’t happen at school, or the health department, or the doctor’s office. My vaccine card was also missing Polio, maybe something else as well, but Measles and Polio are the ones I remember.

I was in the 5th grade when it happened. I noticed the rash in the bath at home. I don’t remember how quickly the shift from “not that sick” to “nearly dying” happened or how long I was sick. I remember lying on the sofa in front of TV (no remote, black and white) drifting in and out while Mom was at work. I lost 40 lbs. I remember Mom telling me if I didn’t eat they’d take me to the hospital and stick a needle in my arm. For a long time I remembered the weird hallucinations I had, and the delirious nonsensical conversation I was told about later, but those are lost to me now. I remember my hair falling out like a cancer patient, but only about half of it. Some of it never came back. I wore my hair in braids back then and they were never as thick again. No one else in my class got it. I’m guessing they were all vaccinated. I ate a lot after I got well and became chubby for a couple of years afterward.

I remember Mom telling me I had a really close call, but just how high my temperature got was a little fuzzy. The mercury was up in that tip of the old glass stick thermometer where the numbers end and just a little bit of tube allows the liquid to continue to expand into the twilight zone of guessed the temperatures. As an adult, I wondered if there was a way to figure out how high it got. I looked up the symptoms and things that happened to me to see if they happened at a specific body temperature. It was disquieting. The phrase “denatured proteins” was in what I saw and it wasn’t very far from the temperature range I’d been led to believe my body and brain might have reached. The article likened denatured proteins to scrambled eggs for those who aren’t familiar with the term. In fact, the only reason I’m sure my temperature didn’t get all the way to that level is because I’m alive.

Shortly before I had my first child, I read an article about an unvaccinated farmer who contracted Polio when his daughter was vaccinated. When I took my son in to the pediatrician to get his Polio vaccination, I asked the Dr to vaccinate me as well. I told him about the article, and about getting the measles after missing that vaccine. He laughed and gave us both the drops. I didn’t mind the laugh. I wasn’t going to get Polio from taking care of my child and that’s all that mattered to me. We don’t give Polio drops in the US anymore. This article from the CDC explains that the liquid drops Polio vaccine can lead to what happened to the farmer in the article and that’s why those drops are no longer allowed in the US.

Catching the measles isn’t quite straightforward. There are some after effects. I wonder sometimes what new research could mean diagnostically to my health, so I look it up every now and then. The linked article talks about a loss of antibodies to other illnesses after having the measles and uses chicken pox for an example. There’s a relationship between chicken pox and shingles. If you had chicken pox, you take one shingles vaccine, if not the other. While waiting for my Covid vaccine, I remembered that the age recommendations had changed I was now overdue for shingles.

My grandfather had shingles. The last 20 years of his life were marked by pain. He didn’t have the opportunity to take a vaccine. I owe it to his memory to do my best to avoid the pain he suffered, I almost took it first, but felt Covid was more critical (and there needs to be time between vaccinations). At a time when so many people were comparing Covid vaccine reactions, mine was practically nil, but when I got around to the shingles vaccine, I had the strongest reaction I have ever had to any vaccine. I rarely have side effects, but this was enough of an exception that it had me rethinking which vaccine I should have taken. I had the measles after chicken pox, so what if the immune reduction affected me? I finally decided I was ok. When my children got chicken pox, I didn’t get sick, so I must have had enough residual immunity to keep me from catching it again, therefore, the vaccine for people who had chicken pox was the vaccine for me.

In high school chemistry, the professor told us to look around the room at each other, then said “Before vaccines, all but two of you would be dead.” I have personal experience to what missing mine almost meant to me. From time to time, when someone teases me about being distractible or forgetful, I wonder if I did experience some brain damage. I don’t really remember if people started teasing me about my distractibility before that illness, and no one else does either. In some respects it doesn’t matter. This is the one life I have and it’s had some pretty awesome moments that I’m grateful for.

I don’t want to dwell on this, but I do want to learn from it and avoid as much sickness and pain as possible, and I do tell the story fairly often. Measles is dangerous and the effects can compound. All the diseases that have been worth developing a vaccine for are better avoided. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to others. I hope that sharing my story will help people to avoid it.

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.

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 6 & 13

Pine branch, Polk County, GA

Another “Trippin'” post that covers two weeks here, I don’t think it will become the norm. Leading up to April 6 was a whirlwind, shifting into better rides again (while dealing with those incredible spring pollen counts) and then back into sickness again. The first illness with the weight loss that I mentioned last post really kicked me. I kept thinking I was better then realizing I was not at regular strength, and before getting there, the second illness hit. First Russ got it, then me. It felt like rhinovirus (a cold), but no shortness of breath, so I didn’t seek a Dr. or a test. They just treat for symptomatic relief anyway. We each had about 3 miserable days surrounded by less miserable days on either end, timed perfectly to blow away some free that time we planned to use better.

We have tried to be careful. Last week I got a flat on the trail and chose to walk 2-plus miles back to the car. The skin on my hands is thin and fragile from washing and I just didn’t want to hurt them. Getting something contagious is maddening in the age of ‘rona if you’re among those taking that good ol’ “abundance of caution”. Repeatedly getting something contagious feels defeating. During the pandemic of the century, the last thing a person wants is evidence that they haven’t been careful enough, or that their immune system isn’t strong enough. Whatever the contagious thing that got you is, it could have been Covid-19 instead. Being high risk without healthcare makes that so scary. The morbidity rates most quoted are based on the general public, and it’s less clear what odds a high risk person has. They don’t really quote odds on people for whom a lengthy hospital stay is not possible at all. The reasons for that aren’t pretty.

Trying to see it from a cool distance, the uncontrollable nature of the spread underscores the interconnected nature of life. Our house is a microcosm of everything complicating the spread. With “essential workers” and multiple generations in our house (including young children with shared custody). Our bubble has multiple households and is oh so penetrable, with every person reliant on the choices every other person. Georgia’s executive orders preventing any Covid based changes to custody arrangements took away any semblance of self-determination to risk levels. A pandemic bubble is only as strong as the weakest link and the utter lack of control over our own fate was more than a little stressful. We really have been together/apart in so many more ways than the obvious ones, and not just with corona virus either. I’m sure countless people will write long tomes exploring their particular insights into what was, what wasn’t, and what could have been. Mine would begin with some of the many reasons this was an exceptional time to internalize “Tragedy of the Commons” in new ways and how we could achieve such a truly beautiful future if we did.

Chronic stress suppresses the immune system. It’s not such a surprise this was the worst year for illnesses I’ve had for a while, maybe forever. even with the extra precautions. I still believe the riding and the project prep has made a tremendous difference for us. On that first day that we ventured out after the stay at home order, when so many of the trails were closed I had no idea how unfit I’d become in such a short time. Back when deciding to drive almost 100 miles distance to reach open trails seemed crazy, it took me only a few miles to realize it wasn’t. I don’t really want to think about where I/we would be without the cardio, the escape and the release that has come from making it a priority to get out there and prepare for this project. I’m counting this as another time that the trail has saved me from lesser fates.

Pollen Season

The warmer temps brought pollen. As I drove up to the trail one day, I could see yellow air down the path and started fishing around to find a neck gaiter. Every time I mention the Atlanta counts to a particular family member, she suggests that hers are worse because there are more trees in her rural location. However, this article about the 3 decades of research done by Tom Ogren suggests that, as usual, we are our own worst enemies. In the US, landscapers and urban planners like to plant male trees to avoid messy fruits, but…well.. read the link, and then share it with your HOA, allergist or garden club. This is only one of the many reasons you hope your urban planners are getting their continuing education. Our Atlanta counts are high, but Islamabad is reported to be the worst in the world. Their reason is manmade too, but caused by the choice to plant paper mullberries. If you’d like to know what you should plant, natives are almost always safe. These people, or your local librarian (yes those guys are still around and way cooler than you suspect).

I have so much to say and things are looking up, but I’m going to stop and save it for next week and beyond

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.

Tuesday Trippin’ March 2

Reflection in the light at the end of Brushy Mountain Tunnel

The Ups

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. All of those are the semi-personal reasons I want it tobe Russ in my corner, but the project reason is, I know his level of commitment. Russ won’t get tired or distracted and leave me looking for someone to fill his shoes.

The Downs

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. They come with a printed placemat so you can put the swabs, pump and a syringe in the right order. And, that was just one family member’s challenge. The week was full of loved ones in the fight of their lives. Scheduling was completely blown. 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.

The Weather

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 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.