This is headwear as in, not the helmet. I have sensitive skin and helmets come with disappointing washing instructions. I don’t understand what problem there can be with washing a regular helmet, but I do actually want the protection, so I follow the instructions. That makes me need something washable and breathable between the helmet and me during all seasons. For some people, wearing a headband is about trying to avoid sweat streaming into their eyes, and once I’m doing centuries across Georgia and Alabama through the heat of the summer, I may have that issue as well. For now, I want something to relieve the skin irritation so that I’ll wear my helmet properly.

With the exception of dollar store headbands (which don’t have a good bulk versus benefit trade off) the headbands that I’ve tried are all expensive, so, as a seamstress, I’ve tried my own versions too. I haven’t found the solution to end all searching for something better. Surprisingly small differences in thickness cause re-adjustments in my chin straps, so I’d like a bunch of the same thing, once I choose that thing. It keeps me from constantly adjusting the straps. Chin straps are also a problem. I just wash them anyway, especially in the summer.

My first experiment with a solution was a pleated cotton band made of woven fabric from REI. It had a covered elastic bit at the back. The pleats expand to the desired width, the elastic kept the fit snug and it didn’t interfere with the helmet fit because it was low in back. I made some of my own. They were awkward to sew and it was frustratingly time consuming for a little headband. I could have made something much more impressive in the same amount of time. The nice part was that I made mine of Liberty’s Cotton Lawn. I could swim in that stuff, not just the gorgeous look of prints like William Morris originals, but the feel too. Going into their store is like a little slice of heaven for a fan like me, and paging through what they have online now is always drool worthy, so I liked the look too. I don’t have a picture of these to show. REI doesn’t sell that one anymore and the ones I made with my beautiful Liberty’s Lawn were lost in a house fire.

My most recent headband trial was from Headsiweats. I ordered an assortment of hats and bands in grab bags. This is the headband I liked best from Headsweats. I was afraid I wouldn’t Like the terry, but it was very lightweight. And, after having sewn headbands, I have more respect for the cost too. I also ordered what is to date, my favorite mask from them. I ordered a grab bag for that too, and they sent me Bigfoot Camo. That doesn’t just appeal to my sense of the ridiculous, it is also the best fitting and most comfortable for me, and seems high in safety as well (but a little too small on Russ). At first I was disappointed that no one seemed to notice all those little sasquatches, but then, I realized I didn’t want them that close.

Headbands for winter are easy. The stretchy fleece bands that widen to protect ears are good from every company that I’ve tried. The problem is that I need to wear my sunglasses now, and at the same time, I’m looking for mask solutions to see me through the winter. (I loved the neck gaiters for riding, but then research came out that they weren’t the better thing to do. I experimented with layers to improve performance, but haven’t found the solution I like). I need headwear that allows all of the pieces of gear on and around my ears to actually stay on my head AND doesn’t interfere with my chin straps or my hearing. Anything that is near the ear canal seems to create that effect you get when you hear the ocean in a seashell. So, headbands need to be completely over my ears in colder temps, and probably completely off in summer.

Options from Smartwool and Junk look like they might be worth trying. I know nothing about Junk, but I have a few pieces of Smartwool and I love them. Moths finally found my first smartwool shirt. I keep thinking I’m wearing it for the last time, that I’m going to cut it up and sew it into leggings for my granddaughter, and then I wash it and next time I want a base layer, I put it on. It wasn’t made for cycling, but it is STILL a favorite and it STILL goes under as a layer every time I ride under 60 degrees.

Fantasy Island

If I could have anything for a headband? It might not be a headband in the traditional sense at all. Something made of Liberty’s or Smartwool (in a William Morris print, of course) that attaches to the inside of the helmet with bits of velcro or microsnaps. Maybe it would have a layer of ultra thin cotton terry or merino cloth on the side that touches me, and it would be reversible (as in inside out) or, come with a laundry bag, so that it doesn’t collect loose threads or damage other clothes in the wash. I also have a redesign in mind on those first headbands I made. I may get busy sewing soon, but it will wait till after I do more mask experiments.

Training Tuesday December 1

Goal100+ miles per week

Russ being reflective in Cedartown

I’m editing our training plan and goals. It’s not really a change in direction or about Russ’ wreck. Russ got back on the bike after that crash. His big toe is still blue and we’re wondering if he’ll lose the nail. That’s never happened to me, not a full nail from the base anyway, and it really gives me the shivers. He’s limping along. It set him back, but he’s ok and will get back what he lost.

There are a few things prompting the temporary change. One is the number of hours of light in a day right now, and when they’re available to ride (not after work). The Winter Solstice is just over two weeks away. I’m looking forward to the day after the solstice because I’m partial that time of year when every day is just a little bit longer than the one before, that time when daylight lasts long enough to do more outdoor activities. The short days present such a challenge. They limit the amount of time that Russ can ride and threaten to put a gap between the level of riding each of us can do. I’ve done too much riding alone recently.

We don’t actually have full weekends to work with either. We have a firm child care commitment every other weekend. It’s been a 3 year commitment and I expect it to last well beyond the 2 years that we’ll be consumed by this project. Unfortunately, how much time it takes is variable and unpredictable. The commitment will eventually become irrelevant to the project as it wouldn’t fit into weekends alone, but for now, the commitment is just another thing that makes having the time to increase mileage through the next few weeks harder.

On the one hand, I liked the relatively smooth progression in mileage that we were doing. On the other, it’s fast becoming apparent that I can do 100 miles every week, and everything will still be just fine if I get enough funding to do more. Since the tingling toes and other foot problems are likely to ultimately require me to do at least half my riding in a seat rather than on a saddle, I really need to focus on funding and how that will allow me to refine the ultimate goal. So, we’re going to keep mileage goals at 100 miles a week until after we find out what we have to work with. If things creep upward, great, but maintaining for the next 6-10 weeks is the goal.

I’m going to be happy with a long high plateau (or a gradual incline if it happens naturally) while we work through the next few weeks. Funding, is the proof of the pudding, the test that lets me know other people think this thing I want to do, that I’ve been working toward for months and that I will consume myself with for, really the next two years, is a good idea. Producing a video I’m willing to show people, answering any questions people may have and getting through the next 3 months of winter, a time that CDC Director Redfield has indicated may be the worst period in American public health history is where our focus is. It has the potential to be a bumpy ride. There aren’t six degrees of separation between us and someone struggling with Covid in any direction we can look.


Sometimes I think about what I would do if I didn’t have any limits. It’s a creative diversion. I had a decal made for my vanity mirror a couple of years ago that says “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?” I have no trouble dreaming big. There is no point in dreaming small. But, I’m really challenged by believing that I can accomplish those big dreams.

Some of my dreams would require a huge influx of money from who knows where, like having several old growth sections of land (a section is a square mile or 640 acres) that I keep in an undisturbed natural state in perpetuity. I’d reserve a small segment, maybe 5%, of the land to be in farm and economic production to support everyone who lives with me and the rest would be my contribution to an E. O. Wilson’s Half Earth type adventure. I’d buy land that was at risk of development instead of land that was already protected because the point would be to save something that wouldn’t otherwise be saved. Here’s an early version of the productive part of that dream. I’ve since thought to add space for travel Trailers and tent campers to enjoy part of the land, even some boondock space and little libraries, probably a lot of other tweeks too. I haven’t looked at it in a while.

Living on a deserted or nearly deserted island is the Keiki O Ke Kai (child of the sea) fantasy. It has self-reliant sustainable Half Earth parts too, and at the same time it gets my toes in the sand, clean salty air in my lungs and ocean sunrises in my mornings.

Last week I was thinking about something indulgent, my wedding fantasy. I’ve been in a 20+ year exclusive relationship with the best guy. We’ve had one church wedding each. Those marriages didn’t last, so we’re both aware that a ceremony isn’t what makes a relationship stick. We have the commitment to each other, but not the budget for a shindig, so throwing a wedding became an “if we win the lottery” kind of a thought. The fantasy has been perking since long before Covid-19. So, it takes place in a neatly Covid free plane of existence.

I’d like to rent the entire block of rooms (50) at the lodge in Arenal Volcano National Park in Costa Rica. We would hire a friend to fly a charter bringing in friends and family to fill the place. It’s a good thing we have a small family. I wonder how far in advance one has to reserve rooms to get all of them?

The ceremony would be outdoors with Volcan Arenal as a backdrop. I don’t know if Russ and his brother (his best man) would wear their (not yet owned) tartan kilts. It seems fun and Russ has great legs, but I’ll be happy to have him in whatever he chooses to wear. I’ll be in something simple and comfortable, somewhere between elegant and flower child. Maybe at this point, Russ and I should walk each other down the aisle, but I’d also be happy to have one or both of my children walk me or us down if they want to.

The music seals the deal on this dream for me, both in the lyrical setting and the sound. There won’t be microphones, amplifiers or speakers. The call to the ceremony would be an old spiritual “Tell Me Who Do You Call the Wonderful Counselor”. My sister’s junior college recorded the version I like. The man who sang it, Cottrell Johnson, had a powerful voice. I’ve never been able to find another version I like. People would be sitting around looking at the volcano and talking quietly over soft music, then someone with William Warfield pipes, maybe local talent, would belt it out acapella. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ll have goosebumps. Then he can sing “What a Wonderful World” Oh, yeeaah.

My granddaughter will sing with her cousin walking in as flower girls, a nod to “Mrs Delafeild Wants to Marry”, a favorite movie that I probably haven’t seen since it’s first air date. The girls can sing a song that Russ or their parents choose. The boys can participate too, but they are “that age” and will probably want to just watch (or run away).

We’ll walk down the aisle next as the Chicks sing “Lullaby”.

Russ can have someone to officiate if he likes, but I’d be happy to do it Quaker style. We can also make prior arrangements to have the service in the Quaker church in Monteverde if the weather is rainy. But, it would be nice to do it during the winter dry season and finally see the Monarch Butterflies near Leon, Mexico for our honeymoon. Friends and family will be welcome to come there too. Seriously, when you’ve been together almost 3 times the length of the average marriage before the wedding, the freshest thing you can do is to is to explore something new with children.

In no particular order, after the ceremony, Alison Krauss will do “I’ll Fly Away” and “Down in the River to Pray” and she’ll do “Simple Gifts” with Yo Yo Ma, the he can do anything he’s moved to do. The Chicks are gonna sing “Better Way” and whatever they want to sing before the night’s over, probably even getting around to “Good-Bye Earl” before everyone goes back to their rooms. Miley will sing “It’s a Climb” and whatever else she’s in the mood to do, it just needs to be in the category of her G rated stuff, ‘cause the kids will be there. I’m envisioning beautiful talent having so much fun together that we’re just all feeling really lucky to be there. These guys will all show for a small gig like this because it will be so much fun for them to jam together, right? Somewhere in the mix someone (or Everyone) will do Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow“. If there’s a dry eye in the place, it won’t be my fault. There aren’t any male voices on this list, so George Ezra, Chris Isaak, Lyle lovett, or Paul Simon with or without Ladysmith Black Mombassa among others are all welcome.

The wedding director will be the friend of the family that has done all our weddings. The decorations will be something natural that a local person creates and the restaurant will do full service food as the sun sets, including Monteverde cheeses. The dishes and utensils will be from the restaurant and the glasses will be be ordered, a take home gift. They will have Jump Orange Soda logos on them because Russ loves “Joe Versus the Volcano”.

Before and after the wedding we’d do different things locally with interested relatives. There is an adventure travel company, Serendipity. I know the owner. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a friend or an acquaintance type relationship. In hot air ballooning everyone is family to some extent. I know her from ballooning, she’s actually famous in those circles. She stayed at my house on the way to a wedding once, and invited me to stay with her in Costa Rica. I intended to take her up on that back when she would have remembered offering, or at least remembered who I was. I’d like to use her company for our family fun. My grandson and maybe my son would mountain bike. Russ andI might bicycle some sissy trails. Everyone who wanted to would fly in a balloon. There would be Bell Birds and butterflies, hiking and swimming, turtles and Howler Monkeys, waterfalls, camping and rafting on the Pacuare, Scarlet Macaws and Resplendent Quetzals, strangler figs, orchids, bromeliads and glorious starlit nights.

I was thinking about this dream last week when Kim Kardashian’s 40th birthday started to trend. All I know about Kim Kardashian is that we live on a planet that pays a lot of attention to her. I’ve honestly been pretty dismissive without even paying enough attention to know if my attitude was warranted. We’re fairly opposite. I’m not good at making money. I don’t want to spend a lot of time caring how I look. I’m not a party girl. But, she made an impression when she Tweeted about Kanye and mental health. Somehow that made it into my feed, and there I was giving a Kardashian a heart.

And, now she’s had a party, flying away with people who quarantined first to an island on the other side of the world. The timing had me asking myself if that was really so very different from what I would do if I could? Her escape was probably flashier and I wouldn’t “humble tweet” about mine, but her money comes from publicly living large and mine isn’t even real. For my fantasy, I’d hire and plan everything in a way that supports local ecotourism and the people who live and work in the area in all the best ways I could. I don’t know if she did that. But the people who accused her of being tone deaf probably don’t know, or even really care either.

Because much of Kim Kardashian’s income comes, in some way or another, from showing herself to be living a life that others would like to be living, it’s kind of her job to do what she did. So, the line she crossed when she drew such ire was to show herself doing something her fans could no longer see themselves doing, at a time when they wanted it more than ever. But, we also live in a world where “extreme” gets likes, and the line between lots of likes and going too far skews hard toward the latter.

Kim Kardashian “reportedly spent a million dollars” on her birthday party. That was the phrase used on several sites that judged her out of touch. I have to think my dream wedding could probably cost that too, with salaries and fees, lodging, transportation and ecotourism. Here’s the real kicker though. A few years back, some guy in Texas spent 6 million dollars on his daughter’s Quinceanera. It’s an important coming of age milestone, but it is still a child’s birthday party. I couldn’t live all the dreams I can imagine on that, but I could worry less about healthcare coverage and happily live the rest of my life on that, even while traveling a little.

Kim has what is unimaginable money to most of us, but she’s not one of the Top 10 Richest Women in the World (she’s only 40, give her time). Those women each have 16-60 times her net worth. To know who’s richest among them can depend on the day, or your favored accounting method. And that’ just the women. The men are even wealthier.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t accept the money any one of them has if it were given to me, but I can say that I hope it wouldn’t change me much and I wouldn’t stay among their ranks for very long. Like MacKenzie Scott, I’d be looking for something to do with it that felt a little higher up Maslow’s hierarchy, l can understand giving it away so much better than keeping it.

Did you know that the world’s most expensive scarf sold for 4.8 million Dollars? And there’s someone somewhere who can imagine putting it around her neck and wearing it. I don’t think I’d even want to wear a Hermes at $500. I worked with a woman once who got a $500 settlement check from a class action suit against the restaurant chain where she waitressed. The check arrived at her other job, the one at the really cool fabric store where I also worked. She was quiet and choked up for a minute. She helped people walk off the Home Décor floor of that fabric store casually and regularly, with $500 and more in goods, but she looked at that check like it was going to change her life. She said “I didn’t believe it was actually going to happen.”

Whether you are having trouble comprehending an adult spending a million dollars on her friends and family to have a 40th birthday celebration during hard times, or a father spending 6 times that on a child’s birthday party, any of the other things about the ultra-wealthy, or, even my dream, you’re  right. It’s hard to understand.

The sticking point is really in the difference between what life looks like at the top and what it looks like at the bottom. That’s what people struggle with, and it’s more than just a matter of tone deafness. Income inequality recently hit a 50 year max in the US and then Coronavirus came to town, making it immediately and intensely worse. Right now the difference bites a lot of people at the bottom in unexpected ways that they couldn’t prepare for, while the top is expanding the gap and the government aid package helped them to do it even more so.

I see this on a much smaller level in so many places. People will talk about the high cost of doing business or not being able to afford to get good employees. They are looking at it from the standpoint of someone who has a comfortable life, and many of them are saying it about employees who work 3 jobs and can’t afford a house, or will lose the house they have if they get sick. Those people complaining about the cost of business don’t really think about things from the vantage point of what the wage they want to pay means to the person they want to pay. We seem to be having more trouble than ever walking in someone else’s moccasins. I don’t know how you get people to think about how much their privilege costs others, but it probably begins with empathy, empathy for everyone, empathy from everyone, maybe too, a little celebrating another person’s dreams, whether or not they are ever fulfilled.

Training Tuesday October 27- November 2

Goal    99 miles

Actual Total  79 miles

1st Ride 34 miles

2nd Ride 17 miles

3rd Ride 28 miles

Week Total  79 miles

1st Ride  I tried out the full gloves that I normally wear only in winter. I didn’t need them from a temperature standpoint, but they have thick dense padding that kept the bite/knot in my palm from hurting. I think there were enough spaces between pads to relieve the pressure. It was nice to move toward a longer ride again, but the ride reminded me that I need to be looking at a recumbent and continuing to lose weight. From reading, those two things seem to be the ones that have the potential to relieve foot problems I’m having.

Hurricane Zeta wasn’t on my list of potential setbacks. I mean, hurricanes come through every decade or so, but we’d had one recently. It came through 36 hours after the first ride and it usually takes at least another day or two to clear the trails. It was the longest I’ve been living in a habitable house without power. While wondering if we were going to lose everything in 2 large freezers would have been a great time for excessive riding if the trails had been in better condition.

2nd Ride   The trails were closed in some places. We rode where we expected to have the best chance of few tree falls. It was about half good (near pastures and roadways), and half thick leaf litter combined with pecans, acorns, green sweet gum balls, walnuts and dead limbs. The nuts were still in husks and large. Nothing to worry about on a MTB, but on my skinny tire road bikes are designed for clean pavement. As we rode, our bikes would frequently shift 4 or so inches without warning as we rode over trail litter. These things are easy to miss when the trails are mostly clean. I’m missing a spoke. At one point I rode over a 4 inch diameter dead limb, I was sure that the bike, or I was about to end the ride abruptly, but I stayed upright.

3rd Ride  It was cool and took me a little while to warm up, but once I did it felt good. I felt a lot stronger than I was at the start and if I had the time, I would have ridden farther. The cold didn’t feel as cold as I expected it to, and that felt like progress in my fitness too. I’m likely to be able to expand my temperature based riding limits (ride comfortably at lower temperatures) and that’s good for the long term outlook of the project. This week I could have made goal and felt good afterward without the hurricane.

The photo is of a dead pine tree. It had beetle damage and was covered in poison ivy. When it rains, the tree becomes waterlogged and the locally 50+ MPH winds of Hurricane Zeta blew it down. These trees seem like they should be lightweight because they are dead, but the holes hold water during the storm and as they fall they are heavy like a live tree, so just as dangerous. The poison ivy is losing its leaves because it’s fall, but the resin in the stems remains potent. Scrubbing skin well after contact with something made for the purpose like Technu (my favorite), or any good soap made to cut grease, sap or resin like this guy. Unlike this guy, I do avoid contact because I’m not confident I’ll get it all of when washing. The sap also remains active on things it touches, so if you’ve made contact, wash your clothes promptly and don’t let them rub on things that anyone will touch.

Multi-Use, Multicultural, Multipass

A conversation I had last night has me thinking about one aspect to our trail video project that I haven’t said much about yet, the production of a multi-use trail safety video. Just as I’m looking to shoot enough video to get some “you had to be there” glimpses of nature, I will surely also end up with plenty of footage of people doing thoughtless things that could hurt (or kill) themselves (or worse, innocent others).

That “killed” part sounds a little dramatic for a multi-use trail doesn’t it? But, just last night I was telling a fearless mountain biking teenager I’m very fond of that the 15 MPH speed limit on Big Creek Greenway was important to follow, especially because of the huge variety of users on the trail. I said that falling when you are 90 could be a life altering event. I wasn’t reaching him with that. Maybe he can’t relate to the age difference, so I looked for an article about a fatal head on collision I remembered on an adjoining trail. Until you hear of it happening, people don’t really think about cycling collisions with other cyclists on fairly flat multi-use trails ending in death.

While looking for the incident I knew about, I found one that was more recent and actually on the Big Creek Greenway itself. There’s a small “s” curve on the Greenway. I slow more at this location than any other place on the entire Greenway because of exactly what happened to the woman that died. She couldn’t see that people were riding through that short curve in her lane, probably just shaving the curve to straighten it a little. They all had a head on collision and the woman riding in her correct lane died. I didn’t reach my favorite mountain biker with the story. He was set in his argument and unmoved, except for his mouth. That kept moving.

I love that kid. I don’t want him to assume he can break the rules because everyone else will follow them, or even that they’ll be predictably moving while he’s passing, Seriously, you can only assume that you will be the only one breaking trail rules, and, or moving predictably when you’re the only one on the trail, and following the rules is the only thing that helps trail user movements to be somewhat predictable. I go intentionally to some pretty remote areas, and I’ve never been the only one out there. That other person shows up just when you thought they wouldn’t, and wasn’t anticipating seeing you either.

Multi-use trails that are busy have a lot going on, with as many perspectives as people. Cycling groups can be the definition of cliquish, complete with derogatory slams. Experienced cyclists of all kinds can be the worst about thinking they’re in control, and while they may act like they think they are, they’re not even close to being the only trail users out there. Every kind of wheeled device that’s allowed shows up, all of them, and some that are not. And there’s foot traffic too, lot’s of it. Walkers wandering because they’re too young, or too old, or too distracted, or too invincible to walk straight-ish in their own lane. And oh, look, a butterfly, or a copperhead, ar an alligator snapping turtle that’s HOW BIG? Wait! somebody liked my post.”OMG Will that (foot long rat snake) kill me?” It doesn’t happen all of the time, just often enough to catch you unawares each time it does happen. I don’t want him (or anyone else) to be the vehicle through which someone commits suicide by selfie.

Few trail users will look up safety rules or even glance at the ones posted. And, even fewer will look at things from the perspective of other users.

All of the users of all kinds, in all of the age brackets with all of the different interests, perspectives and languages belong, but so many use the trail from inside their bubbles. There’s a self-fulfilling bubble for every user. It’s like Facebook, only on the trail we’re not bumping into each other virtually.

I had different conversation with a mountain biker while on the trail some time back. I grimaced. He not only noticed, he stopped and said “Wait a minute. What did I do?” I told him. He apologized, and it made all the difference. He took the trouble to pay attention and make a connection.

I’d like to create a safety video from a multi-user point of view with humour and connection that pops some personal bubbles. People aren’t going to read the safety rules, but some of them might watch a funny video that shows a little of what it’s like to walk or ride in the other guy’s shoes. There could be interviews, maybe not. We’ll have to see what works. Don’t worry. Russ will narrate, he’s the comedic tallet between us. We’ll put it on youtube and if we come up with something salient, I’ll promote it actively.

Training Tuesday October 7-12

Goal    99 miles, or whatever gets me back in the swing.

Actual Total  miles 48

1st Ride 14 miles

2nd Ride 16 miles

3rd Ride 18 miles

The bug I had hung on for a bit. I was tired enough to fall asleep while sitting up a couple of days in a row, so it wasn’t a great week. Back to back health issues wasn’t the most fun either, but, hey, there was no point where I thought “This feels different from anything I’ve had before, I wonder if it’s Covid?” While I stayed home a little more and was a little extra careful just in case it turned for the worse, there was no time when a Dr would have suggested that I be tested.

Nearing the end of the training week, I was feeling well enough to ride in the rain, but Russ was dragging too. Before we got too far we cut it short. The last wave of Hurricane Delta’s was due to bring in the deluge before long, but I stopped to take a picture. The skeleton on the white bike changes props a bit from time to time, but, it’s always there. I think it’s gallows humor intended to call attention to the a sheer drop behind it. No one wants to be the reason a ghost bike memorial was placed. The skeleton on the stump is a little Halloween extra.

While I was taking the photo I called out to Russ that I was stopping. That set off the resident dog, who barked up a little phone tree like reaction among dogs all around us and stirred the Great Pyrenees that was out previously ignoring us. He moved in hot pursuit of me, but didn’t quite catch me. It was the biggest thing that’s ever chased me, but I was more wary years back when a German Shepard came after me. I read a Silver Comet review recently complaining about dogs and thought that dog issues are actually rare. Since then, I’ve had as many dogs chase me as I’ve had in the previous 2 decades of riding on the trail. We made it back to the car wet and had a lot of trail grit slung on every part of us, but no canine wounds.

It was a sluggish week, but I’m feeling optimistic for 99 miles next week

Training Tuesday September 30- October 6

Goal    90 miles, or whatever gets me back in the swing.

Actual Total  miles 95

1st Ride 12 miles

2nd Ride 20 miles

3rd Ride 20 miles

4th Ride 29 miles

5th Ride 14 miles

Total Ride  95 miles

So much for combining my miles into 2 rides! The first ride was a 12 mile “test out the new tire” ride. I was still feeling iffy, but it was an easy ride that felt fine.

2nd ride was 20 miles, which should have been easy if I wasn’t recovering from whatever that bite was. At the end of the ride I was a little wobbly getting off of the bike. I was afraid I had over done it, but by the time I’d been in the car for a few minutes, I was blasting the stereo and car dancing.

3rd ride, I didn’t have much time in the first place and I got out late, but I wanted to do the ride so I wouldn’t be stressed getting my miles later in the week. 20 miles again. I was chasing sunset, so, the last 5-7 miles were pretty fast for me. I had that sprint energy boost afterward.

4th ride, was nice. I could have made it to the goal for the week, but Russ didn’t have the miles in him, so we cut it short at 29.

5th ride. The grandson wanted to ride his mountain bike, so I took him out and put in those last few miles. I figured where I needed to ride to get the exact number of miles, but someone had stolen the street signs on the overpasses, so I ended up doing the extra 5 miles.

I was beginning to feel back on track and the rides were so short and spread out that there was none of the endorphin roller coaster. But as soon as I got back up a little, one of the grandchildren caught something, and now I’m fighting it off. We’ll see how next week goes.

I have 5 extra weeks baked in to my schedule for setbacks and holidays, but I’d prefer not to use them when I don’t have to. It feels really good to have them out there in the future, much better than the feeling of having them back there in the past.  The “Etsy store” is moving into the “busy season”, and organization is still my challenge. I don’t want a crunch week when weather and everything else hits at once and I have no more space to stretch the schedule.

Training Tuesday August 25-31

Training Tuesday     August 25-31

Goal    67 miles, still shifting toward 2 longer rides

Actual Total 67.5 miles

Wednesday 26th, 24 miles

Thursday 27nd  14.5 miles

Saturday 29th 29 miles

I planned to go out on Tuesday the 25th, but there were heavy thundershowers all day. I was restless and ready to go. By the time Wednesday got here, I was dragging. Sometimes it’s difficult to sleep the night before a ride. I don’t know if it’s related, or just more irritating because I’m sensitive about being rested. I didn’t sleep much and was already dragging when I went out with little rest and a deadline for when I had to be home. I had hoped to stretch the longest rides longer in keeping with my goal to reduce the number of days I drive 97 miles, but on this first ride it became obvious that wasn’t happening this week.

The middle ride is where I put my added 10% of miles this week. I did that on the Greenway. More about that later.

The 29 mile trip this week was from Rockmart to Cedartown and back again, just like last week, except that we stuck an extra mile in there. Pirkle’s Deli saved my helmet for us and we came back with it hanging on handlebar. I think we handled the hills a little better this time, but we started late and I got overheated.

I’m looking at where I am in training and where Russ is. He’s building some of his cardio fitness running, and I think that will be ok in the end. I made goal, but mostly because I had a 3rd day riding in a location that makes me uncomfortable. I like riding 3 days for the distribution of heartbeats. It’s just the fossil fuels I’m burning and the pain in my pocketbook. I like riding in what used to be my go-to location. It’s a pretty winding streambed with good wildlife viewing. But, there’s always a bottle neck or 3 where people who are walking 2 or 3 abreast (or in even bigger family groups) meet other people walking 2 or 3 abreast in the other direction while cyclists allergic to braking enter the mess, as though they could just change states of matter and slide right on through. None of the people who fail to yield or walk single file are ever in the 1 or 2% who wear masks. Covid transmission is a lot less likely outdoors, but, if someone who’s sloughing contagion breathes on you in one of these bottlenecks, well, the damp humid Georgia air is going to transmit it better than any other kind of air, and there’s no way to plan for the traffic jam on a curvy, unevenly crowded path.

I’m looking for a better riding mask solution (sewing project on the way), but that’s still something that protects other people from anything I might have much better than it protects me from them. It’s the people who don’t think about others who have the habits that make them more likely to be contagious and transmitting. Every time I ride that path, I think I won’t do it again until I’ve had a vaccine that I’m confident about.

I’m also trying to figure out how I’m going to shift to accommodate both reality and goals. I don’t want a start date that could actually be anything I choose to push me into riding where there are frequent bottlenecks. I’m looking at some potential shifts, thinking of making 60 a significant number. I may start my recorded full trail rides on or near my birthday at the end of January, when I’ll be 60, and then do it for 60 weeks. That would give me 3 or more extra weeks to be ready. We’ll see. The weather in January could make for delays even if I’m trained and ready on the first. And, at the end of 52 weeks, who knows how I’ll feel. I won’t be able to quit cold turkey, but an extra 8 weeks of full time could feel like an eternity by then.

And Then, The Etsy Store

At one time, seems like it was around our unemployment year, I thought I (or we) might make a business with Etsy. I love crafting. I love up-cycling (not sacrilege, I only up-cycle things that can’t be restored). I love thrifting, when it’s in vogue, when it’s not. These were all things that had a robust market on Etsy and with Russ’ help, that had to be a good thing for a Second Hand Rose like me. If our shop became big enough, Russ could “quit his day job”. Yeah, everybody wants that, right? For a while there was an amazing market on Etsy for a nice range of things that Russ and I could do, but we weren’t in on the first years at Etsy and so we didn’t get the heyday halo.

One of the things that people are looking for when they shop Etsy is “One of a Kind (OOAK) The biggest problem with OOAK is time. Everything takes so much of it, and so many customers have had a steady diet of mass produced economies of scale. It is really hard to get a handle on how different things are, in production costs as well as costs to bring anything to market, when you move to OOAK, and then there’s the cost to get what you’ve got in front of a customer’s eyes. Each one of a kind item has one-off photography and listing requirements. And every business has its life cycle. Soon there was a lot of competition from people who didn’t keep track of their time or expenses. One person would undercut prices, and the next person would more than match the undercut. Artists often find it exhausting to become adept at marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). People trying to earn a living were competing with people who just wanted to defray the cost of supplies so they could keep on doing their thing. There’s a lot to learn and you need to learn it from the people who are finding success on all those disparate fronts while competing with people who are selling at a loss.

On top of that, customers can’t often tell the real handmade from the mass produced. Most of the things I truly appreciate and want to do take a great deal of time on a level few people understand, and far fewer want to pay for. Big course stitches is the only way some people can recognize hand stitching and, on Etsy, things can be called “handmade” because a person sat in front of a sewing machine. Big course stitches can be beautiful, but tiny stitches with fine threads are too. It is just hard for some shoppers to comprehend that a person would voluntarily take all of those stitches with a needle and thread in hand. People who are interested enough to know the difference in these things are usually interested enough to be doing it themselves.

And then came all the side services SEO and advertising, and then coaches and productivity specialists. Then Etsy changed management and went public so, suddenly there were shareholders to please. The maximizing profit roller coaster created frequent changes that ate time. Dedicated artists and sellers had whiplash. It was, and is really hard to keep up with. And then that old issue of valuing time intensive original and handmade items, it still doesn’t jive with trying to match Amazon style margins and productivity. Even selling vintage things is time consuming for the one-off nature of listing what you find. Researching, photographing, writing up and packing up are a couple of hours, or more, per item and there’s a limit to how much efficiency can be squeezed into of the process.

And then there was the personal life. The first go ’round we lost all our crafts, supplies and items in a house fire. That was at least 50K uninsured. And then, It took time to rebuild the “stuff” of our lives. We briefly considered spending a few years as homeless vagabonds boondocking in a travel trailer, but made a more family oriented choice instead (no regrets there). Part of the reason we’re still selling is that same fire. We decided to replace things by buying as much second hand as we could. We couldn’t replace our own grandmothers’ things, but we could substitute someone else’s grandmother’s things. We both love the weight and feel of how things used to be made. And that’s when I became a borderline hoarder. I really dive into the thing I wander into. The housing market at the time was a seller’s market and it took a while to find the right house (whether we were successful in that is a long story in itself). I was spending a really insane amount of time in every thrift store, estate sale and garage sale we passed. “This is nice and I may never find it again…Oh, that’s better and I can put the other one in the travel trailer, or sell it, or give….”

The store has been a success in a lot of ways. I’ve had some cool experiences, united some people with the work of deceased relatives, made some people happy. I’ve always treated my customers like I was in business, but we’ve had the Etsy store since 2009 and, on average, sold just less than 1 item per week. It’s not a “real” business by any standard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been worthwhile. If I didn’t like knocking around in thrift stores and estate sales, I wouldn’t have a basement so full that I’m overwhelmed just trying to organize it. The difficulty in organization is spilling over. I’m not really sure where the shop is going next. I don’t know if we’ll expand and turn it into a legit business on Etsy or elsewhere. Maybe we’ll shift into something altogether different. But one thing is for sure. The basement and my mind need some clearing. So, take a look in the store and see if there’s anything you’ve been longing for, something you didn’t know you needed, or that perfect gift. https://www.etsy.com/shop/sixdegrees

Training Tuesday August 18-24

Goal:    61 miles shifting toward 2 longer rides

Actual: 63 miles

Tuesday 18th 24 miles

Saturday 22nd  28 miles

Monday 24th 11 miles

This week I got in the two longest rides I’ve done since Shelter-In-Place (SIP) and I feel really good about that, both mentally and physically. I met my total mileage goal and put most of those miles in 2 rides. That helps me move toward two rides a week for better transportation economy while training. I had settled into three 16 mile rides at the Greenway before SIP. The Greenway is the closest multi-use trail to my house so it was my primary location pre-pandemic. I would think about riding it twice per trip to up the ride miles and keep up with former levels of fitness, but I was near often at the trail to take a child to their sport and I was fitting the ride into available time rather than making time for a longer ride. General fitness was the goal then and I feeling lucky just to get to ride at all.

I’ve increased my mileage more than the recommended 10% per week for a couple of months now. I’m not too worried about that at this point because my mileage had gotten so far below what it was a few years ago, but staying really close to the goal rather than exceeding it is the point. This week was also higher than a 10% increase over the one before it. I’ll have to be more careful as I get further beyond recent norms, the increases will take a toll soon enough.

The 28 mile trip this week was from Rockmart to Cedartown and back. Russ was with me for that ride. It was the first time I had ridden to Cedartown in years, and the first time Russ had ridden there ever. This section has some of the prettiest views and some of the biggest hills. We did walk up some hills. The toughest hill dubbed “Trash Mountain” got its name for being beside the landfill. It’s a place where many people turn back. On a hot afternoon when the landfill has it’s full bake goin’ on, it’s the last place anyone want to be walking slowly, or pumping heavily. I won’t be able to capture the full essence of every aspect of the ride on video. That’s not a bad thing.

The Cedartown Depot is a popular place for a Support and Gear (SAG) station. There was one waiting on a large group of riders when we got there. In Cedartown, we went to Pirkle’s Deli, the place where we picked up sandwiches for our own groups when we worked SAG for whole trail rides. It’s still yummy. There is more outdoor seating than there was pre-pandemic. I was wearing a new Headsweats cap, so there was something on my head that I don’t usually have. Not noticing its absence, I forgot to put my helmet back on. When I realized it, we were looking at a hill and far enough away that I wasn’t sure I could make the whole trip back to the car if I went back for it the helmet. We called. They found it and are saving it for us. I have another helmet we got when we supported a Lumos Kickstarter and so I have something to wear until I get back. I was taking the really carefully on the way home. There are some curves close to hills in some places.