I’ve changed the name. I tend to write about more than just training, and I’d like to keep it that way.
Russ has been lucky to ride a little more than usual this week. That’s great for training over all, because he’s my riding video partner and if he can’t make the long rides when it’s time for them to start, then he’ll be doing support in the car. That won’t be low a impact start, and it won’t allow two camera set ups. So, it makes me pretty happy.
His big toe is still multicolor from the cycling accident he had in early November, but he says it’s pain free.
I’ve been pretty happy since the isolation break. Often the kind of foot problems that I have get worse with sporadic exercise. I was expecting to hurt, but everything’s fine, even on the longest ride I’ve had. That makes me feel good about my overall progress and increasing readiness, and I’ll be trying to remember my stretches to keep it that way.
The training ride at the Greenway was pretty crowded, and someone needed an ambulance. It was the first time we had to yield for an ambulance driving ON the trail there. I’ve seen a much larger than normal number of ambulances all over this week.
There wasn’t a lot of other excitement this week, other than that we got to ride plenty. The general goal over the winter has been to keep mileage around a hundred miles a week and to reduce the number of rides it takes to get there. I’ve been fairly on target with that with the exception of our two week isolation period. Today is my birthday, I’m 60 and this is the year of this 60 week project. I’m reaffirming my goal. From here until the official video begins I’ll do at least 100 miles a week, and by the end of February, I’ll be doing that in 2 rides or less. I’ll do that for the next year, riding a minimum of 5200 miles, even if the project doesn’t make.
So, I’ve changed the name, and written this week only about training. That’s ok. I had to make trips to train.
When I’m riding regularly and I take a break from it, two things happen stamina wise. The first is that I have a few days of high energy. I’m using energy on a much lower level than usual and I have loads of energy to spare. The second is that my cardio fitness level immediately starts to decline, and it feels like I get booted back to my pre-training starting point. I didn’t notice much of the high energy boost that normally comes from time off this time. Things were hectic, stressful and I got sick (We were isolating for Covid Exposure, but I never had a temperature, so that’s not likely what I got).
On the whole, there were some benefits to the break that isolation forced, but my body has always seemed to lose fitness faster than most people in a similar age and fitness range and regain it slower. The third ride marked when things caught up to me. The first two were short and I had some residual energy. The third ride was when the residual energy took a nosedive and the reduced fitness reared its ugly head. I was working hard. I was really stiff, and tired the day after. I had an opportunity to ride that next day and I didn’t take it. I only felt a little bit bad about that.
The third ride also showed some excitement. A rafter of, probably 30, turkeys crossing the trail in front of me. I remember the first time I ever saw a 7 turkeys. I was so excited. Then Russ said “That’s nothing. Wait till I take you to Tennessee.” In Tennessee there were groups of 12 or 20 fairly often in the fields beside the roads. My grandson said “Well, if you think there were 30, then there were probably only 15” when I was telling about it. All I have to say about that is, he should have been there. This was over the top, and they were strolling leisurely when I first saw them. My phone wasn’t in my pocket. As soon as I hit the brakes to get it out of my bike bag they took off like a shot. I don’t know if it was my change in movement, or if the brakes made some noise I couldn’t hear, but they were scattered before I even had my hands on the camera and my gloves that are supposed to work with electronics don’t. I shot footage anyway, just in case I could catch any little bit of what I had just seen. No photo, it didn’t happen, right. Man, I wish I was filming already.
I first thought of the idea of filming rides to capture sights like this and other nature through seasonal changes for people who can’t enjoy them in person on the Big Creek Greenway. The Greenway has a lot more urban encroachment than the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trails do in most areas. It is built in a streambed. That’s good urban planning, to put recreational space in a flood zone. It protects the stream and habitat fairly well, and provides some flood water management in a place with no building potential. Because there is so much urban encroachment right up to the greenway, the animal population is more crowded and less skittish around humans. That sometimes makes for more individual sightings. The Silver Comet doesn’t have as much human pressure, but the animals are not as used to people constantly crowding into their space, so you may not actually notice the animals so much out there, even though the urban pressure is much lower. It’s also possible out there to get lost in the ride and miss the wildlife with the wide open stretches. In on the Greenway, the traffic of all kinds really prevents a responsible trail user from checking out mentally, even during non-pandemic crowd levels. I still think sometime that recovery rides on the Greenway would add a nice variety to the mix. Each trail has its benefits. On the Silver Comet you won’t get reliable nearly daily deer sightings. On the Greenway you’re not going to see a giant rafter of turkeys. That was a really awesome first.
Part of what makes this project perfect for Kickstarter is that the Kickstarter process will be in a sense a “market test” of sorts and that test will provide me some invaluable guidance, I will ride as much as I can regardless. As long as I am physically and financially able, I’m going to go out here and ride. How much that happens and whether or not I film it will depend on the Kickstarter. I believe in the video project, but people have to know it exists to make use of it. If the project gets support, then people will know and I will film and press for the max, if it doesn’t, i’ll know that the idea didn’t catch and people wouldn’t have seen it anyway. I have a constant flow of ideas. I have committed to this one, in part to make it through Covid-19 and beyond. In part to help others do the same.
The rewards for this ride project will be many, both tangible and intangible, personal and shared, from Biophilia to entertainment, we hope to create rewards that just keep on giving, and you don’t even have to support us to get some of them. We also want to go low impact on as many different levels as we can, from all of the choices we make while doing the project, to helping people get some of the benefits of traveling for their ride without having to go anywhere.
We are doing this a bit atypical in that we want to give away what we produce at the goal level. But that’s really the point, to give people something to make their lives better regardless of the level of technology they have. We plan to make that easy by uploading goal level video to Youtube. There is some video already available to people on Youtube, but much of it has music audio instead of natural sounds, so it loses much of the effect and I haven’t found anything that is long like what we want to do, not in duration of the ride nor in the changing of seasons.
We will give three choices in rewards for supporters with an fourth that will become available as stretch goals are made. The rewards are: A digital photo calendar, an iNaturalist listing, or a small personalized bit of our writing talent.
The 2022 Calendar
We will use photographs taken before, after, and possibly during the rides to make several digital calendars to be used as a desktop wallpaper or phone screensavers. Using these calendars will, I hope extend the enjoyment of the trail and the project a bit beyond its primary goal. Every calendar will have 2 choices per month so that you can choose the one you prefer. They will be available for download in December of 2021. Most of the photography in this website was taken with one of our phone cameras. Photography for the calendars will be primarily taken by me with my Nikon D810. I think I could get lost enough in this reward to make it a project on its own. Well, it is, kind of.
The Calendar options will be:
Landscapes: Mostly viewed from the trail, but there are some pretty nice landscapes in the surrounding areas
Wildlife:The best of what we get
Signs: Odd street signs, graffiti, local culture
Sets and Scenery:Places that you may recognize from recent movies and other productions.
The Trail: Landmarks and special spots on the trail, like Brushy Mountain Tunnel and Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle.
Architectural Interest: Buildings or features on buildings that are particularly interesting, unique or beautiful.
The second choice for rewards is iNaturalist listings. Really, all of my rewards are additional side projects to some degree. I’m offering this one because I think the kind of person my project would appeal to would like this. Also because I know that once I promise it to someone other than myself, I will make the time and do it. It is worth doing. Last year I signed up when it was promoted in relationship to E. O Wilson and his Half Earth Project. Making it an offering in my project is a way of showing appreciation to supporters while committing myself to do the work. This will be limited to 365 listings. I’m calling that a limit of “one per day”. While the project itself will last well longer than that, I think trying to do more would be a mistake. I will do those as I can. I tried to think of a way to let people choose a species, but it seemed too complicated. I’ll be trying to limit the time I spend on any single species to 2 hours and, I don’t know how things will work on my side of this, but there should be a way for me to let you know which species was uploaded for you.
A Poem by Karen or Russ
Did you ever want to have a poetry written just for you? I’m not claiming to be any great talent, but maybe it will be fun. Give us a subject and we’ll try for at least a smile. The first poem I remember writing was:
I am so tired
I would have admired it
If I could have hired
Someone to be tired
I think I was around 2nd grade. My parents were really tired. This popped into my head and out of my mouth. It made them laugh, agree, and tell me I was creative, so I was really proud of myself. I believe is is probably my most appreciated literary work (though I have actually had small works published here and there). Hopefully this will be some silly or sweet fun.
We are ecstatic that our isolation has ended, and even happier that no one ever became symptomatic.
We’ve been on one short ride since we gained our freedom. I spent a lot of time over the last two weeks deleting video clips that I think are awful, and naming video clips I might potentially use in part, and setting up other parts of our plan.
We’ve spent too much time absorbing the national news. I feel like riding my bike the way that Forest Gump started running, or finding a deserted island somewhere. I’m afraid to look and afraid to look away.
I’m optimistic about having something good to say in this spot next week. See you Then.
These signs are all over Georgia, on all the doors on all the buildings of businesses and public spaces glaring at you like the warning on a pack of cigarettes.
Isolation came into our lives. We have 2 adults in the household in “essential” work. The exposure that caused our isolation was not caused by their jobs, nor was it caused by any choice that a person in our household made, and while I feel like pouring my heart out (visualize Disney’s Thumper) “If you can’t say sumthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”
It looked like we were going to get through our isolation with no symptoms, but I woke up in the wee hours this morning with a migraine level headache. I wouldn’t take NSAIDs because they can complicate Covid-19, but I wanted to so badly. Migraine Formula Excedrin is as likely as not to knock a migraine out for me. Soon I was running to toss my cookies, maybe it was the headache, but headache and vomiting are also symptoms of Covid-19 that some doctors think are underreported. I didn’t feel like it was Covid, but Russ and I immediately separated anyway. Later this morning I was glazing over while thinking about the details of my will, unable to concentrate on anything well, not able to go back to sleep either. I turned on NPR to get my mind off of dying. I mean really, I didn’t specifically mention my car in the will. I wasn’t planning to still have this car by then, but it would have been stressful for everyone if I had started texting people about the disposition of my property.
By mid afternoon I was able to hold down two tablespoons of fluid and by late afternoon I was eating the banana and crackers I had requested for later tonight and asking for a bowl of rice on top. I can’t wait for toast in the morning. When I get out of bed, I don’t have that awful flu feeling, the one where you feel fine laying there, but when you get up you wonder why you thought it was a good idea to move, even a finger. I actually feel like I could do more. Covid-19 is sometimes misleading, so who knows? It kind of feels like whiplash at the moment. Actually, the month, no, the whole year has felt a bit like whiplash, incredulity and roller coasters. During that brief two or so hours when I was beginning to think it could be Covid, there was a little piece of calm in the center of the storm, and a little of it stayed as I started to feel better. Hopefully, I’m about to sleep now and I’ll wake up better this time.
So, training this week was shot. Next week will be too. By Georgia rules, I can get out of Covid Purgatory if I take a test in a few days, but honestly, this has been so strange. I never even had a fever. I’m going to let them stick that swab up someone else’s nose and give it the no test time period.
Here’s a link from Cycling Weekly on healthy cycling. Stay healthy guys! And, make sure you have a will too.
Never underestimate the importance of footwear. If your feet work, they are your foundation. They are the metaphoric and literal means by which you take a step forward, and the point that transfers every foot-pound of torque your body can make into the pedals that power your trip to new places.
Russ has large feet to support his tall body. They are pretty typical in proportion, so it’s not terribly difficult to find a good fit for him. He likes to clip in, most riders of road bikes do. So while he’s at the top end of sizes, Russ can usually find a decent pair of cycling shoes in one of the many shops around on the same day that he decides he needs a pair. The challenge there is to remember that supply lines aren’t normal, and there’s no telling what the situation will be next time he is ready.
My feet are wide. I have high arches and some issues like pinched nerves and plantar fasciitis. I have to be careful to keep those in check because they could end my riding if I don’t. And, because pain- not good. I don’t want to clip in. I’m awkward and have mediocre balance. I may give it a shot for the efficiency, but I’m a wary reluctant bride who doesn’t want to invest in a fall. Shoes that work well for me don’t seem to stay in production for very long. Sometimes, I choose men’s shoes for the width. I’m not even sure if the Shimano shoes I have now ( pictured above covered in trail gunk) are men’s or women’s. I walked into REI with the last ones and said “Do you still carry these?” The sales rep climbed a ladder and came down with my size. It was the first time buying shoes was easy, and may be the first time I got to wear the same shoes twice in a row. What I like about them first is that they are wide enough. Second, that they have an open honeycomb top sole and even though they look hot, they ride as cool as my sandals did. And lastly, the sole and inner sole are stiff but comfortable. I forgot my socks once and was surprised to find that I could comfortably ride in these without socks. I didn’t feel any of the hardware I don’t use on the bottom, and I didn’t have any blisters.
The love of my life, as far as cycling shoes goes, was a pair of Keen Cycling Sandals with a footprint like the ones on the left in this review. The big roomy closed toe box was great for protection and my foot shape. It even managed to keep my toes warm enough in cool (but not cold) temperatures. Back then I didn’t notice the softer sole mentioned in the review, but it might have caused me problems as I was using them to train for a century. (To be really clear here, I was training to complete the century, not to win it. My great success was coming in last, just before they closed the kitchen and rolled up the sidewalks, and I’m not even embarrassed by that. We worked hard to accomplish it). I must have bought those Keens at the end of their product cycle. I started looking for a back-up pair long before I finally replaced them. I couldn’t even find the ones on the right anywhere but in places that were selling New Old Stock at triple retail. I eventually found a pair at retail prices. I sized up. They were still too narrow. I have them in my car under the seat as back up for times when I forget to bring my shoes. I used them once since the initial ride. They changed a canceled ride into a short ride.
I love all the high tech socks woven specially for cycling (or other sports). They feel so good when they’re new, soft and strong. While building mileage like I am now, though, I need simple toe-socks. The first time I worked through the pinched nerves, the podiatrist suggested that I put some separation between my toes. I did all the searches and tried all the toe separator suggestions. Most came with sticky adhesives and none stayed in place. Not even the home grown solutions worked. Then I remembered the toe-socks I bought in Japan. To find a selection in internet searches “Five Fingers Toe Socks” gives the best result. And toe socks were a dream solution, plenty of separation and they stay in place without any sticky adhesives. I like merino wool as well as some others that Injinji makes. They are thick and last well. The ones above are cute and soft. they are a little less thick than all of my injinji socks. I got them to make my granddaughter giggle and can use them as long as my problems are under control. If they get worse though, I’ll be replacing these blue ones below. Sometimes these socks pull at my heel a bit. If you’re looking for some and on the edge for sizes, I’d size up, especially the wool socks that seem to shrink a little over time.
Fantasy Island Footwear
I’d love it if digital printing and maker stations made it to the bicycle shoe store at a price that’s competitive with mass produced economies of scale. People like me with atypical shoe needs could get a great shoe with a great fit at the same price everyone else pays. Perhaps customization of decoration could help to make “normals” want to buy them too. I do actually realize that there is sewing involved and this dream is not nearly so easy as it sounds.
This week I was able to ride several days in a row. It was a little cool, but felt really good. Russ wasn’t able to ride much, that didn’t feel good. Then there was a holiday and weather gap. So, it was a lot of riding then a pause.
On the last day before the pause, the Tara Drummond Trailhead provided a first time experience. Llamas! And I wouldn’t have seen them if my day hadn’t become a disaster and rearranged itself.
It was such perfect timing too. Last week while looking for fall photos to publish I noticed how many more I had that looked like summer. I needed to take more pictures. And what to my wondering eyes should appear this week? Well, this week gave me llamas. I’ve been using this trail for 20 years and seen a lot of unusual things out here, really, a lot, but never llamas.
Tracy from Wit’s End Llamas was very nice and knowledgeable. She talked and shared and posed for me. She was out raising awareness for a virtual trek. It will end soon, but if you’re impressed by what you see on these pages, charitable organizations are just as happy to receive your donations when they aren’t actively promoting as they are any other time.
Under the category of “Things I didn’t know”, I saw this while looking at the links on the card she gave me. Did you know that nanobodies exist? That’s pretty cool.
Later in the week we did some work on the project video and liked some of what we did, but still need to shoot a bunch more, a bunch. That’s frustrating, but I’m trying to stay patient and upbeat about it.
It’s cooling off. The Christmas crush has come, and for me, mostly gone. A few days ago I edited the final dates for expecting Dec 25 delivery from my Etsy shop to now say that everything is backed up at the USPS. Don’t expect new orders by Christmas and don’t expect tracking to be operational either. I have this week off, and while I’m still mega-busy catching up on everything, only weather (and a backlog of chores and overdue home repair) should keep me from riding every day for the next week and editing my video. That’s a good feeling. I look forward to some accomplishment and exercise related endorphins.
The dandelion bloom above was left on the saddle by my grandaughter during the summer to cheer me up. It worked perfectly. This week I switched from that Brooks saddle back to the split seat gel saddle to see what effect that would have. My last three rides were with the split saddle. At first I thought that really helped with the tingling and cramping toes, but the first two rides were short, and now with the most recent, it didn’t seem so much like it helped. Time will tell, and nothing will help as much as getting off a saddle and on to a seat in a recumbent for half my ride time.
I had some right shoulder pain these last few rides. It might be old cycling rotator cuff injuries. I guess I’ve averaged a cycling fall every 2 decades. During 2 of those falls, I caught myself with my right arm, not a dislocations by any means, but each time it was several weeks before I felt semi-normal.
Strength training was always part of the plan. I need the lower back machine just to get through life, and I wanted the strength training to help me with knee strength (and everything else if I fall). I kept my membership at the Y current, but it’s likely been a year since I’ve been in. Once they opened back up, indoor gyms were still listed as higher risk activities. Hopefully the vaccine will provide sustained immunity and be widely used. It’s possible I could be back in the gym by summer.
For Fantasy Island training, I would magically acquire multi-millions so I could have home on acres and area without an HOA and with little in the way of zoning requirements so that I could have basement gym of my own for Covid-safe workouts. It would be filled with cybex machines, a water rower, and a lateral elliptical among other things.
Yesterday was the solstice. For the next half a year, the sunshine and my potential time for a ride will increase a little bit every day. I’m looking forward to the new year and hoping that it will be one like no other… in a good way.
Bikes are the big scary question mark right now. Not only do we have bikes in need of repairs (me) and an overhaul (Russ), but we’re also going to need recumbents to ride half time so we can vary our physical positions, body stresses and sit spots to stay healthy and riding. I’m not really sure what we’re going to be able to do about it either. In the comparatively low end bike price range, the repair or replace decision happens at a lower price point simply because it doesn’t take many parts to add up to a purchase price, especially when there are service costs as well. But, the photo above is the stock that was available when I took my bike in for repairs a few months back. It kind of makes the decision for you, as long as there are parts to be had. I haven’t been in super recently, but, I’m still hearing cyclists talk about waiting several months for ordered bikes.
There are certain maintenance activities we’ll need to be doing constantly. For instance, tires will last between 1,500 and 2,500 miles without road damage. That’s 7-10 weeks at the rate we will be riding when we’re up and running in full project mode. More durable wear parts will also meet their doom and potential damage will surely happen. I’m keeping my eyes open in the used market. That search will likely be constant so that equipment never causes us down time. Unless we move up in price range, we will likely make several repair or replace decisions over the course of the project, and it is harder for to find bikes that are compatible for riding together, especially with our above average height requirements.
To back track for a minute, our current bikes are Giant brand. They are good bikes when in repair, well above department store quality, but they are at the bottom end of what bike shops offer and serious cyclists expect. Giant is considered a pretty good quality in the lower price ranges, but a lot of brands make good bikes, and fortunately, we’d happy with any of them too.
I have two bikes. One is a hybrid that I was riding the first time I trained for a century. Later, I bought a road bike, to be able to keep up with Russ on his road bike. Speed is increasingly important the more mileage a rider does. Not just because we’re riding together and pacing each other, it’s also about number of hours in the saddle.
Recently I was without the road bike for almost a year and I brought the hybrid back from my mother’s where I was using it while visiting. Riding it again felt like an old friend and early photographs of this project might have either bike. I need the faster bike though. So, I sucked it up and made the appointment to fix the road bike. Shop repairs where I bought the bike are by appointment through the pandemic.
I spent about three quarters of the original purchase price on parts and service. It was much closer to the repair or replace mark than I realized. I’ve broken spokes recently and it may need new wheels soon. That could be due to the rough riding surfaces when the trail was full of storm litter, or it could be that the wear parts have worn. I’m riding it exclusively since the repairs. One thing I noticed when I got the road bike back is that it was quieter. I noted that keeping the adjustments properly made and replacing the cassette as soon as it’s worn would be important to reducing unwanted ambient noise while recording (and it helps to keep it faster too :). We’ll need to get better at doing that ourselves.
Russ’ bike, was at the repair or replace point before he crashed it. I really think he would have replaced if they had any stock, or even had any on the way. Then the question is, would he have crashed his new bike, or would the new bike have handled the road trash better and kept him from crashing?
We’re both gladly open to second hand bikes, and the pandemic rush on bikes could result in a flood of second hand bikes at just the right time. Our second hand search handicap is not knowing enough about bike brands and models to know which bikes/models might be better. Bicycle Blue Book could help to know what the right price should be, but I’ve heard some scepticism on it’s accuracy and we don’t know enough to have our own opinions. Bikes in the shops that still have bikes are running 100% of “suggested retail”, and so are many of the bikes available second hand. There have always been people who asked full retail for their second hand bikes. Right now there are more of those than usual.
I’ve been unusually open minded, but the real deals are in things irrelevant to the project. For instance I found a trike that was a significant discount off of retail because it was an arm peddle, I’d love to have it and build the arm fitness I’m no longer getting at the Y due to the pandemic, but it’s not practical for this project. There are other more practical possibilities that could also be side steps down a rabbit hole. For instance, I could see the bike below being perfect for Russ, with the camera out in front, but following up on an advertisement like the one that accompanied this 4-wheeler saying “Custom built”, but saying nothing about size is likely to be a waste of time, even if it did provide a smooth enough ride.
Then too, I learned from experience that it’s easy to accidentally get a bike that needs a lot of repairs, and the shops don’t cut you any deals on repairs if you didn’t buy the bike from them. I’m afraid that the combination of Russ’ height needs (he’s 6’6″), current market availabilities, and our need to be on bikes that perform well and similarly enough for us to ride together will push us higher in price ranges.
Choosing a recumbent is daunting, and not just a little. Really. There are good guides, but many recumbents are order online propositions and we’re talking about the difference between book knowledge and experience. When I buy a regular bike, first, I have experience riding one and second, I’m at a shop where I can test ride it in the parking lot. They’re too expensive to experiment. I need to get it right on the first try. I joined some facebook groups to see what I could figure out, but they were different enough in focus as to be unhelpful.
We narrowed it down a little. We thought about tandems from time to time, but finding one of those in the right size is likely to mean custom, and I’ve always been a little afraid I’d be a slacker (without intending to) on a tandem. A tandem could be fun for a lark on some other occasion, but when I consider that one of us might need to go for help or the car, that settles it. Sticking with separate bikes/recumbents also leaves us open to put cameras on each bike, potentially doubling our videos without doubling travel cost or time.
So, bike or trike? I like to maintain core muscles and all things being equal would choose a two wheel recumbent, but I think the three contact points of a medium to long wheelbase trike will offer greater camera stability, and smaller micromovements. What I mean by that is the midpoint between all three wheels. Needing less camera image stabilization is a huge factor in producing good video and that is the point.
I don’t even know what Fantasy Island looks like for the bikes. There are so many uncertainties. I”d like for us to ride road bikes in one direction, store them, and ride a recumbents in the other direction. That way, we won’t need automobile back up and will get good temporal spacing on video from bike and on each trip. I haven’t decided if I want to try to set up cameras at the same height for both bikes, or if I want to have two different perspectives. I’m leaning toward different perspectives for practicality and variety. Any helmet cams or chest cams will clearly be at different heights. But those things will sort once we see what we have to work with.
The bikes need to be strong, fast, quiet, stable, safe and comfortable. We’ll need panniers for the road bikes I don’t usually care about color unless it’s heinous, I did notice Russ riding in front one day in a lime green Jersey. It looked so much like chromakey green that I thought about coloring everything, kit and equipment in chromakey green so that they could be easily removed at some point if anyone wants.
I’m not sure how that will all sort itself out, but I expect market conditions to improve. I hope I’m right.
It’s always fun to see the seasonal changes to these guys.
I wasn’t eager to get on the trail this ride though. Years back I was seeking marriage counseling. I said to the counselor “He says I’m thin skinned, but it doesn’t feel that way. I don’t really know how big these things actually are…” She opened her arms wide like those little figurines that say “I love you this much” and said “Huge, they’re huge.”. She told me that I needed to start feeling things, and to stop trying to think them away. Even after it was apparent that she thought my skin was too thick, it still took me quite some time to give up and move on. Life is a lot better now. But still, life deals you huge things to try to manage, even if all the people you choose to have in your life are kind and ernest.
I have so much to be grateful for and I’m very aware of that, but I’ve had a couple of weeks where “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get” is just one of the things riding me and I see that counselor in my mind with her hands stretched out wide. It’s been draining and I’ve been waiting for the big boohoo. There’s nothing like needing a cry that won’t quite come. It’s like you can’t even get that right. The day before yesterday one thing after another piled up, and I wanted to scream. Not that figure of speech “I wanted to scream”, but that “Please let me hold it in, or go someplace where no innocent bystanders will have to hear it” desperation. I managed to get out of the house to run some errands and breathe without any screams or tears.
The next day, yesterday, I got to ride, but I wanted a nap. I wanted to curl up in a blanket and think about nothing, then wake up hours (or days) later and have something warm to drink while thinking about nothing difficult. But, instead, I drove out to the trail and started to peddle. It took me half an hour to warm my muscles up enough to feel like I belonged anywhere other than bed. Just at that moment, right when I realized that I was feeling glad that I worked through it, I came up on a transmission line easement. Frequently the power lines in this easement buzz, but there was no noise this time. There were several birds in the grass beside the trail. They were Goldfinches, about a dozen of them I think. Did you know “The collective noun for a group of Goldfinches is a ‘charm’.”? I didn’t know that until I was looking it up to know how to write about them just now. I startled this charm of Goldfinches, and they flew away from me. But, flying away from me on the path was also flying in the same direction I was cycling, so for several yards, they were flying with me. I was charmed, and I had settled enough to appreciate it thoroughly. And, I thought, “That’s it. That’s what I want to capture for people. Those moments where something beautiful shows itself can be pretty far apart sometimes, but if the camera is always going, there will be a collection of them when I’m done.
I needed it. It felt like a watershed ride. My calm was back. The ride was at just the place in my riding schedule where if I had stayed home for that nap, it would have been so easy to slip back into fewer miles, and then slide on down to even fewer. But, what I did instead was go out and work through it, and while I was there, I found a beautiful reminder of the reason I was out there in the first place.