The Work Week

I’ve been writing this piece (along with the budget post) for a while, editing and changing as I tweak the plan. I was prepared, but still surprised at the level of overtime when I calculated hard numbers of hours. Then I showed my draft of this article to Russ. He read it. I waited. He didn’t say anything. So, then I asked “Were you shocked by the time commitment?” He said “Yes”, (and that was before I added in another 5 hours for 2 (active recovery) walks the day after each ride). Russ didn’t say any more, so I asked if there was anything that he thought I overestimated. He said “No”. I asked if he was still on board. He said “yes” and asked some questions. Actual questions in full sentences with nouns and verbs were a relief at this point.

The most predictable part of this project is what will be the most surprising to some potential supporters, that the time commitment will be immense. Those top search results in Google say that the Silver Comet alone takes 1-2 days for the “ambitious” to cycle. Guides like that in countries like the US where public transportation is the exception rather than the rule tend to weight estimated timelines toward people who don’t walk a few blocks or more every day. On the other end of the spectrum, some athletes could do both trails in half a day, in fact the 2020 record for a (drafting) century ride is 2 hours 20 minutes and 26 seconds. Those conditions are completely different from the trail, and obviously, we’re not world record class athletes drafting a minivan on a track. While you can speed up the video if you are one of those doing inclement weather training indoors, we’re not making video designed for that speed. Our ride speed will sit in the middle between both extremes.

So, here it is, a big picture snapshot of what I expect our start, then our regular weeks to look like. This is the scenario for the super stretch goal, riding there and back while filming both the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails in each direction each week for at least 52 weeks. We will lead up to that by training up for the full ride and working out the bugs in our filming set up, and we’ll taper off afterward, and do our best to fill in any weeks that didn’t go according to plan.

The Weather, It’s Always Out There

We have weather parameters that, while workable, will be the unpredictable part, at least on a day to day scheduling basis. The weather limits for riding are basically temperature and precipitation, AKA keeping body temperature in the functioning range. The weather can be wet, or cold, but not both. Hypothermia is not good. If the chances of rain are above 20% and the temperature is in the 50s or below, that’s not going to be a ride day. It’s harder to find a hole in the weather for a full day of riding but if we’re confident conditions will pass before we get to a section, we’ll go ahead and ride.. We don’t do thunderstorms (lightening) though. The only riding we do in thunderstorms is to the closest shelter.

If there’s snow, maybe we ride. It depends on the temperature. I’ll ride in some sludge, but when there’s slick solid ice on the ground that’s a no no. Ice tires for bikes exist, but we don’t have enough of that weather in Georgia buy cold weather tires. We can work around it. We probably won’t even choose a bike with a fork wide enough to accept ice tires. In fact, in Georgia, we are more likely to unrideable days due to heat. Hyperthermia is the “no fun” on the warm end of the spectrum. The high temperature isn’t as set as the cold temperature. If I’ve been overheating at a certain temperature, I’m going to have to ride when it’s cooler. The high temperature is rising for me because I’m growing more fit, but Georgia summers are hot. We’ll plan a two week break at the peak of summer temperatures, and we’ll have to be careful about other heat days on top of that. Both temperature extremes will be where our fill in rides are most likely to fall.

Funding and Set Up

When the funding comes in, we’ll start coordinating the equipment and pressing the training harder. We’ll double check that the gear choices we made are still the best and still available. We’ll have some short to medium test runs with the equipment as we work up to full century rides and adjust our set up. We can really start much of it as soon as the lowest level funds. Because some of our expenses and equipment fund at the first level, we will be committed as soon as it funds, and can start front loading our workload as much as possible.

The first ride or two that cover both trails in both directions will be backed up by car. One of us will ride in one direction, the other on return. We’ll have designated spots to meet. After that, hydration will require a little more planning. During the pandemic and in the winter trailhead drinking fountains are turned off. Leaving the trail while filming is not optimal. We’ll be carrying a lot of water on some rides and making sure we buy any necessary water at the places close by the trail as we pass them

We will stay in a hotel the first time we do a full ride. After sleeping the ride off, we’ll be looking to see if we can find an efficiency apartment that fits into the hotel and storage budget. If we can do that, logistics becomes much easier. It would eliminate the time, stress, expense and hassle of switching accommodations when the weather changes. It will also make leaving supplies and battery chargers for use on the next visit possible. A whole host of other things will become markedly less trouble. It will also make actual expenses more predictable. The more expenses are predictable, the better the project will run. Renting a room or even a camper also gives us the option of staying additional nights without additional cost if we need to for any reason like a small injury or unexpected changes in weather or other conditions. Every piece of the project is its own little cost benefit analysis and being open minded about changes that fit inside the budget will always be worth a look.

Hopefully car backup will only be needed once or twice, 4 times at most. After that we should have accomodation and other questions answered, and any gear that we can leave on the other end transported. We’ll be settling into a procedure and a schedule.

Where will the Hours Will go in a Typical Week of Video Riding and Reward Making?

We have two kinds of time commitment once we’re up and running. One is time away from home (which matters because we are away from family and family obligations), the other is the amount of time spent actively working.

I expect time away from home (excluding still photography day trips or other work accomplished in a single day away) to be 3 days a week on a typical week. A day out, a recovery day, a day back. It’s possible that the recovery day on the other end might not be as important late in the project, but keeping it throughout the program, even if we become able to do back to backs, will spread the physical burden out, if only just a little, and it’s more likely that we’ll get other work done efficiently on that day away if we have fewer distractions.

There could be additional time away as well. If the Landscapes and Covered Bridges Screen Wallpaper reward gets 2000+ supporters, we will be away from home an additional 2+ weeks making the photography for all 16 of the covered bridges in Georgia. If that reward gets more than 4000 backers, we’ll be doing all of the covered bridges in Alabama too. That work “burden” will be fun, so we don’t plan to drop it, and I hope the bridges in both states fund.

Human Hours of Work Per Week

Starting with the hours that are identical for both of us, we will each be on the trail 20+ hours per person per week. That’s figuring 15 miles per hour (a low end speed for distance riders, but the recumbents won’t be fast and we want to be fairly consistent with travel speed while filming). We won’t get a lot faster. 20 hours, or 10 hours per ride day also allows stops for tasks like changing or checking battery packs, memory cards and other equipment as well as things like rest/water, restroom and lunch breaks. That’s 40 human hours

We will both write for rewards categories 2 and 3. Those are estimated at 5 hours 45 minutes each for 11.5 human hours, that’s if all of those rewards find supporters. We’ll start that as soon as we’re funded at the lowest level (while we’re acquiring equipment) to front load the work and free up time on the back end if possible. Obligations met free up brain space.

Commuting to and from the trail on each end, 3.5 hours x 2 people. That’s calculated on experience. If we are staying at the lodge on Ft McCLellan, that commute will be on bicycle. 7 Human Hours.

Strength Training at the Y (not at the pre-pandemic levels when I’d skip for months sometimes, or the pandemic levels- nothing) this would be on a serious, keep us healthy and riding, go twice a week level. 7 hours each. Sadly, that’s just over 50% commuting time. We may have to change to a different gym to reduce travel time. I’ve avoided changing because the Y offers free or reduced memberships to those in need, and because I’ve been a member at this one for 30 years. All gym related decisions are on hold until we figure out about Omicron and whatever wave arrives on its heels though. We could be able to reduce this time block by doing what we can for strength training at home. Proper equipment is clearly better for strength training though, so for now the time block stays at this level in the plan. 14 human hours.

Et cetera (I always hear that in the voice of Yul Brynner as the King of Siam BTW). We need to do things like wash and dry our bike clothing, check weather, and check it again, fill or clean drink bottles, make sure streaming is ready, organize everything, move things to where you need them next, make and use checklists, pack lunches, gear and kit, repair, replace and organize or store the little things and the side things, make any appointments, plans and reservations necessary, all those things that suck up the time you don’t know where went and would hire an assistant to do if you could. I’m optimistically allowing 2 hours each per week for that. 4 human hours

Total 76.5 human hours of project work done by two people, or 38.25 hours of project time each.

Russ

The work that Russ will do exclusively is:

He’ll maintain bikes, recumbents and… by doing things like adjust, store, repair (or take in to be repaired), air the tires, clean and lubricate after every ride, check brakes, check video, safety, communication and other equipment. He’ll also do things like update software. 4 hours a week.

Upload video. We won’t edit heavily, or even much, but we won’t just throw it up either. We expect to upload 1 ride, around 7 hours of trail video, per week and anything else we shoot for fun or sharing the project, along with anything else we’re interested in sharing. I’m only allowing 4 hours for this activity, so that means that we’re not carefully looking at all of any trail video, just clipping the start and end points, quickly assessing quality and editing out any of those things we said we’d edit out if we noticed them while recording.

The 38.25 hours each of us works plus his individual hours gives Russ 46.25 hours of project related tasks and activities per week.

Karen Only

One day a week, I’ll have a still photography day when I go out and get the photos that will make the screen savers. Hopefully that will fit in a single day. I’d like be able to fit editing photos into this time block because my hours are high, optomily I would split the day somewhat equally between taking and editing photos, but I’ll likely spend more time taking them than editing them. 8 Human Hours

One day a week I’ll write for the website to keep backers up to date and share the project. I’ll have to get faster, but let’s say 8 Human Hours. If you read something I’ve written and think I’m an organized writer, then I’ve edited it repeatedly. If you’ve seen something and don’t think that, I haven’t. Maybe I’ll get over myself and drift toward video/vlog rather than writing. I’d like to have a 40 hour work week when I can and trimming by 14+ hours won’t be easy.

My 38.25 hours that each of us works, plus the 16 hours only I work gives me 54.25 hours per week for Karen. I’m going to have to work on that ol life work balance. If I’m working more than full time on this, the rest of my life isn’t going to stop, and if I’m going to ride 2 centuries per week, I have to sleep.

To help us keep up this schedule and give our bodies time for repair, we’ll be taking quarterly 2-week breaks. They will likely be 1.) December/January, 2.) Spring Break as listed on the Fulton County School Schedule, 3.) The peak of Summer Heat, and 4.) Fall Break, also as listed by Fulton County Schools. Weather permitting, we’ll ride immediately before and after these breaks so that only 1 make up ride per break will be required the following year to complete the set of videos. If it turns out that there is support for making those rides up in the most popular seasons, spring and fall when there are spring flowers and fall colors, we may complete the videos at those times.

Tuesday Trippin’ November 2

Did you know that there’s a natural lull in the average conversation at twenty minutes? I think it’s related to the average attention span being about that. I had a little bit of a lull recently. It was time, partly because I got this respiratory infection…not that respiratory infection. I’m slow to get well from those, really, really slow. Part of it is because I needed a break. I had a dip in my cycling mileage that was significant enough to miss the cardio endorphins and get a little depressed. It’s strange to me when I get depressed and there’s no emotional cause, feeling it in my body and being aware in my mind, but not having a situational cause out in the real world for the desire to cry. My depression was just a reduction in the normal flow of endorphins produced by exercise.

I’m a little back on track this week, but still not fully recovered. The trail is beautiful with the fall colors and the crackle of leaves has me running sound recording options around in my head while I try to plan the best option for recording fall sounds without ground noise. I may have to put calling the crews and finding out when they will clean the trails into my weekly mix of factors that determine ride days.

The temps have dropped lately. They’re in that range where it would feel warm if it were spring, but since I’ve spent months trying to adjust to the heat, it feels cold instead.

I’ve been using a Buff and other brands of neck gaiters in headband style to cushion the deep red marks left on my skin from my now properly fitted helmet. It’s working well enough that I don’t think I’ll seek a different option for several months. Well, when it gets really cold I’ll want fleece on my ears. Right now, I’m pulling the gaiters down over my ears at temps where I wouldn’t normally bother to cover them and it feels cozy and comfortable. I like it. When the temps rise again, I’ll want something breezier. I’m expecting my warm weather solution to be a sewing project.

We’ll get high resolution focus back on our goals soon, likely this weekend.

My Experience Buying and Using the Giro Vanquish Helmet

The helmet I’ve had my eye on for a while is a Giro Vanquish. Skip down to the features if what you’re interested in is how those features are working for me. And here is one of the reviews I used when considering the purchase. FYI, Amazon didn’t have the price quoted/linked in that review at anytime during the months I was looking, (with the exception of a small size in and undesirable color, which isn’t what the link directs to).

Delays in buying the Vanquish sooner were… well, cost slowed me by about 6 months. I’m price sensitive. Moving to the point of purchase is an easier decision in the lower end price range, but there were other things that slowed the decision too. 1. Stores. 2. The search for other options with a visor/goggles. Was there a helmet with eye protection and additional features? 3. Reluctance to be seen as a poser. And, 4. Venting slits over the eyes.

Stores

No stores had the Vanquish when it first caught my eye, so I couldn’t check fit, and once they did, none of them were marketing to me. The sales rep at one store said “I don’t remember the name, but the only thing we have with goggles is for racers”. The name is actually on the box, which was just a few steps away. Another store told me the Vanquish and a commuter helmet with goggles that they also offered were both primarily for velodrome riding (wrong on both counts according to their respective manufacturers).

I’ve benefited from some articles that say “X product is for X rider”, especially in trying to make sense of group set levels as a less knowledgeable rider in the market for a bike that suits the demands of a high mileage project well, and at the same time isn’t more expensive than necessary. It seems to me though, that there’s little reason to keep the marketing or the perceived market for the Vanquish as narrow as it appears to be. People do have to make tough price quality trade-offs, but I think that a lot of people who are not racers and not terribly price sensitive would also find the appeal in this helmet, especially in a market that sells to Silver Comet riders.

The Search

The rider I first saw wearing a bike helmet with goggles was wearing a teardrop helmet (which put the idea of not wanting to look like a poser in my mind). Nothing would look more like a poser than to have a less aerodynamic body while sporting the most conspicuously aerodynamic helmet available, the one that few people have seen outside Olympic level training and competition.

I did find other options with visor/goggles. The commuter version had a much lower level of cooling airflow. The MTB version had friction fit goggles and I like the magnetic option better. It seems more durable. I didn’t look at any of the teardrop “coneheads”.

As far as other features in addition to the goggles go, I didn’t find helmets with any. Features I have seen in other helmets that would also be desirable are fall detection and imbedded earbuds. If I ever start to ride on roads, the turn signals and lighting that Lumos developed would be nice too. The Vanquish is very light though, and those things would add some weight, so it’s not a surprise they don’t add it.

Vanquish Features

Weight

It’s super lightweight, and I will likely notice just how light weight it is if I ever go back to something heavier.

The Aerodynamics

It’s cool and breezy. It is supposed to be comparable to a teardrop helmet for reducing drag. Giro is pretty proud of it. I understand why. Some reviews do say that there are other helmets with more airflow. With my tendency toward overheating and the importance of temperature regulation through the head, I may look at some of the others if it seems like I need to when the Georgia heat season meets my century rides. This one is better than the last one though, so I’m expecting the goggles to still be the deciding feature.

The Goggles: The reason I bought it.

They’re everything I expected and I am happy. They do not rest on any part of my face and the lack of ear pieces feels pretty free, just like what I hoped for. The Zeiss logo is in my peripheral vision, just like reviews say. It would be nice not to see that, but I don’t always notice. The goggles do pop off fairly easily, but not so much in actual use, more as it is sitting it the car (unless I forget and try to scratch my nose). 

It would be nice if the helmet came with a helmet bag, mostly mesh for evaporation and airflow, but a padded pocket for the goggles (or at least a goggles bag). It’s not something I usually care about, but after my second ride with it, I placed the helmet carefully in the back seat of the car. Later, a back seat passenger later put it in the floor where it got jammed into the seat adjustment rails. My new helmet that I finally bought had gouged lenses in the first week. Replacement lenses are $80. I could take it in between rides, but rides are quite frequent, and the more things that go inside, the more opportunities I have to forget to bring it back out.

I’d like to see the helmet come with more lenses. The darker ones are a bit too dark for the speckled lighting on a treed trail, especially near sunset or sunrise. They have made a lense that is mostly clear, and those new gouges would be less noticable if the clear one had been an option rather than an additional purchase. Polarized options would be nice too.

The eye protection of the visor/goggles is good enough that I open my eyes wider and relax my face much more than with sunglasses. The wider area coverage of the UV protection is a bonus too.

Photo of the helmet from underneath. The two light colored areas are the air slits in the goggles that bring airflow inside over the eyes.

Air Flow Slits

The slits at the top of the goggles could prove to be an issue for me. The slits are there to wash your face in air. I’ve seen some reviews where the reviewer didn’t think the flow was enough. So far, I’ve just been using mine as the temperatures cool moving toward fall, but they do work pretty well for me. In fact, I have dry eye, so my concern is that they might work too well. My problem could be age related, or it could be the amount of riding that I’m doing. It may be manageable, but it’s something to pay attention to. The first time I built up to a century ride, we started in cold months. It caused some seriously dry lips and peeling skin that seemed way too serious to be caused by the riding. But, the dermatologist simply told me to use Aquaphor on my lips and skin. It took a while. I was doubting her, but it worked finally. I still use it.

Now I have drops from the ophthalmologist that I use before and after my rides along with some other treatments. Time will tell how well the drops work and whether or not the slits cause any more drying than I had with sunglasses. As a general rule, in the past, my vision has been better when I ride (with or without glasses). That’s probably the cardio benefit I’m experiencing. And, logically, it seems that if I’m relaxing my face and opening my eyes more, the air circulation isn’t causing a bigger problem than riding without the upper half my face covered. I looked for aerodynamic articles or video to see what the actual air flow of different configurations was, but everything I found was about reducing helmet drag for a competitive advantage and didn’t seem like information that illuminated my questions specific to air flow around the eyes. I do suspect that three slightly smaller slits, one over the nose and two over the temples might be better for me, maybe better for other people too.

The attached goggles, slits and all, provide another benefit that is, maybe, unique to me. I don’t personally like anything on my forehead, probably due in part to the sensitive skin. Since I was old enough to decide for myself, I haven’t even had bangs on my forehead. So, I tend to wear my helmet incorrectly. I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just uncomfortable and I keep inching it up, then it seems to fit there in that wrong place. People give me grief about it, from strangers, yes, strangers, to my grandson. When they do, I fix it, a little, temporarily. Now that I’m wearing a helmet with attached goggles in a fixed location, it’s easy for me to know how far down on my forehead the helmet should actually go. My eyes go in the middle between the slits above and the bottom of the lens. If I wear it wrong, it doesn’t cover my eyes and now that feels as stupid as it looks. So, this highly advanced helmet does have an unexpected advantage for this challenged rider with user errors.

Why would I be willing to share this embarrassing fact with people I hope will support my project? Well, partly because I hope you’re laughing with me, partly because someone might benefit or learn from my mistakes, and partly because I’m just a 60 year old grandma who’s not trying to be anything except who she is. I started riding a bike before riders were expected to wear helmets (and survived the resulting concussion) and now I’m a little better at meeting safety norma than I was before I got this new helmet. I don’t so much think there are many people out there making the same exact mistake as me, but I do hope that someone looking at me doing this will say “You know, if she can do that, I can do this thing that I want to do.” and that’s more likely if I don’t pretend to be something I’m not.

This is after about a 40 minute ride. The helmet was not tight, perhaps even on the loose side.

Now that I’m wearing the helmet properly and lower on my forehead, I’ll need to revisit the headbands I’ve been using. I had a variety for experimentation with my other helmet to relieve the pressure and related acne I was getting along the hairline. I don’t really want to wait to see if that also happens lower down where everyone can see it.

My goal is to choose a single best option to use always, so that the only times I will need to change the helmet fit adjustments will be in the winter when I need heavier fleece cold ear protection. I bought a huge supply of Buffs and Smartwool neck gaiters for riding masked early in the pandemic (before they were found to be the least effective mask to wear, and before masks outdoors were deemed unnecessary). Worn as headbands they are helping to reduce that after ride red spot on my forehead, and they are very easy to move forward of where a normal headband would go. Yesterday, the weather was cool and breezy. It was easy to move the buff down over my ears because I don’t have earpieces anymore. I wouldn’t normally have been looking for ear protection at this temperature, but I was more comfortable having it. The neck gaiters are so versatile, but I expect I’ll be hoping to find something breezier when the summer heat rolls back around.

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