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.

Cycling Video Project Budget Items: The Needed Things

I’ve agonized over the budget. A good understanding the real cost of having or doing a thing started young for me. My first job wasn’t babysitting, It was keeping books for Mom at the wholesale grocery business that my parents took over from her parents, and I’ve had more than one micro business over the years. I didn’t expect to redo this budget so many times.

That this budget is higher than I expected makes me nervous. If people think it’s padded in the wrong way, they won’t want to support it, and if it isn’t padded to some extent, in the right way, we don’t have any buffer to deal with the expected wave of inflation over the span of a long term project, or with the UNexpected, whatever that may turn out to be. Advice to include every little expense shows up over and over. There are no budget do overs. We just get the one shot at funding.

I thought the cost at the (lowest) Goal level would be about a third of what it is. Most of that is because I shifted some fairly big expenses down to the lower levels based on some reading about successful Kickstarter features. I hope that works out to have been good advice. It smooths out the progression of the budget across the goals, but it puts some expenses before they are technically needed, which is totally irrelevant if everything gets funded.

The budget is higher at than I expected at the (highest) Super Stretch level too. That’s mostly about shifting my project mantra toward “If I’m going to work this hard, I need to spend the money to do it well and make it matter.” I have more redundancy built in than I need to meet the minimums for this project if everything goes right, but, sometimes redundancy is the reason you made your goal when things didn’t go right. I also hope to get additional footage that is good enough quality to do a follow on project. I’m not very specific about what that is very often, because I haven’t decided for sure yet. I will be trying to do things in a way that leaves doors open to a variety of potentials, so yes, I’ll be ecstatic if my top goal funds, and at the same time, personally disappointed If I don’t exceed the goals I’ve promised for this project in a way that allows me to have the data to pursue a second one.

In other ways, the budget is exactly what I expected. I want the budget to be solid, on target and justified every step of the way. I’ve trimmed, then remembered something else and those dollars go right back into the plan. I’m afraid to trim too much. There’s no saying “Oops I need more” and I want successful completion of the project. But I’m done now. It will take something big to make me edit again before I put those numbers out there. One thing that will help with that decision is that many of the costs are pretty equally exchangeable. As I shuffle through all of the potential scenarios, choosing one way of doing things has about the same final cost as choosing another. That’s a really useful feature. It gives us some freedom to make changes without jeopardizing the project.

39% of Kickstarter projects fund. That’s down a little bit from earlier years, but still sounds pretty good. 5.5% of launched Kickstarter projects reach the range of funding we need to complete this project at the highest level. That sounds scary, super scary. I’ve put a lot of time into this. It’s super duper scary, but many projects just cost less, some because they have much of their cost already taken care of from being an extra project running inside an established company. Others only pay a portion of overhead because production is outsourced.

The first thing I’ll be hoping to do is reach 20% of goal. 78% of projects that reach 20% funding will be fully funded in the end. So, here it is, a write up of what is included in the budget items and, just to be extra thorough, what will happen if we reach the magic land of being over budget.

What’s in the Budget at Every Level

Cycle Clothing (kit) and Gear for 2 people. Our number is based on last year’s costs adjusted up to project level mileage and down because we don’t need as much specialty clothing on the recumbents. This also includes clothing or gear that we didn’t need last year (like cold weather kit) but will need for the project.

Maintenance: Repair, Lubricant, Tools, Tires, Chains, Cassettes, and other wear parts. We allowed last year’s expenses adjusted to project level, new equipment and increased trail mileage.

Automobile Mileage at the current deductible allowance (.56).

Tech Support, Web Services for Downloadable Rewards and other Technical Advice. Full disclosure: My tech guy is my son, overqualified and working for a fraction of his regular rate.

An allowance for Emergencies, error or a change in inflation/conditions/the unexpected.

Streaming

Kickstarter Fees and Processing Fees

Tax Liability for those expenses that cannot be paid or prepaid in 2022

What’s in the Budget at Goal Level

Photo Equipment: Multiple GoPros per bike, Mounting Gear for Everything, Sound Equipment and Buffers, Power Supplies and batteries, Media Storage Drives, Motion Dampening, Memory Cards, On Bike Gear Storage.

Safety Equipment

Recumbent Bikes with shock absorbing and endurance features to provide ergonomic and cross training type relief.

Bicycle Storage

Software and Computer Tech

All those things listed as being in every level.

What’s in the Budget at Stretch Level

Stretch level doubles goal level time and production and a few costs, but not all because much of the equipment bought at goal level works for both. I’m adding in the endurance bikes here to smooth out the jumps in expenses, and potentially a 360 degree camera. of course all those expenses from above are included.

Dropped Level

We had a mid-level here where we were started doing full rides on both trails, but monthly instead of weekly. It was a bridge level where we bumped up to the 100 mile rides that I really want to do, but Russ maintained his regular employment. Having this level smoothed the progression in levels further and seemed like a great compromise goal at the onset, one that seemed to balance production and cost pressures, a logical sweet spot, maybe even the most likely to fund. The problem is, that when I wrote out the hourly requirements for this level, we didn’t have enough hours available to make it work. This level was actually a logical trap that would fail. If all we were doing was riding, it would be tempting to try. Most people who would consider riding a century could do two per month without quitting their job, but riding is only part of running the project. We also have to run the funding project, record video and maintain equipment, keep supporters updated (write the the Blog/stream) and have 4 kinds of rewards to produce. This level was reluctantly canceled to avoid the heartache of failure.

If our funding were to exceed the lower 2 levels, but fall short of Super Stretch level, we might be able to revisit this level in combination with partial employment. This is a more complicated than the average weekend century though. Both in setting up the cameras and the fact that it’s not a loop. The end point is a 100+ miles from the start

Super Stretch Level Budget Items

This is it. The whole enchilada. This is where we video all of both trails in both directions every week for a year and capture the changing seasons with the best natural audio we can get. We will upload a video from every week to Youtube and anyone with a screen and a connection can have hours of unique trail video every week for whatever purpose they choose: exercise, escape, meditation, wellness, biophilia, entertainment. At this top level of the project, where my heart is, things get real. Russ takes a leave of absence and a leap of faith to support this endeavour.

Weekly overnight lodging in Anniston and related travel expenses at standard deductible rates. Support and gear by automobile backup could be possible, but that is not less expensive, not low impact and it doesn’t provide backup video from a second bike, so we’ll only do it in the beginning as we are getting up to speed, or if some unknown makes it necessary.

Safety equipment like Fall Detection will become important. We will ride together for safety, and to get back up video for each other in case of equipment failures, but we’ll ride at a distance from each other so that we don’t film each other. Fall detection will be the link that lets the person in front know that the person in back needs help and might not be unconscious. It’s how we’ll make traveling far enough apart to create back up video safe.

Storage expenses in Anniston One pair of bikes will stay in Anniston. We’ll ride to Anniston on, say the recumbents, then ride back on the endurance bikes. This will make for the greatest distribution of variety (in filming perspective and body dynamics and ergonomics).

At super stretch level we want the best barometric elevation data we can get. That’s primarily to keep the door open for a follow on project. GPS triangulates location very well, but GPS elevation has a larger level of error. If I can correlate the video and good elevation data, a number of other projects might be possible, and they would become a great deal more economical once the video and data already exist. Some devices that measure barometric elevation also offer fall detection, so it is likely that we would choose one device for both features. One possible thing that could be done with good elevation data in a future project would be to match exercise bike resistance to changes in elevation on the trail.

Overnight Lodging has been figured at 2 nights per week, but we may be able to get an efficiency/studio apartment, an over the garage room for rent, or something similar at the same cost. If we have a base of operations in Anniston some expenses can be combined and work flow becomes much easier with a place to leave battery chargers and other equipment, wash gear, store bikes and so on. We also get the ease of always having it available when the weather changes. Last minute changes to a hotel room can be costly and knocking down unknowns and frustrations reduces stress makes success easier.

The last big expense is that I have to pay Russ. He’ll have to take a leave of absence. It’s a big risk for him, which makes it a big risk for our entire household. I thought a lot about the appropriate salary for him, not just what I’d like for him to have. I considered what he makes now, I considered average for his job title, and average per capita for our zip code. I’ve settled on a Dan Price minimum wage, (which is less than the averages I was considering, but easy to support). I decided on Dan Price’s 70K minimum wage because it supports his proposition that every worker deserves to earn enough to have a decent life. I believe that, and we can make that work. It’s not hard to defend, and it puts Dan Price’s business model in front of anyone who reads this and clicks on the link. That could carry his ideas to new people

The Silver Linings

This is the beginning of the project as far as Kickstarter goes, but it is far from the beginning for me, for us. Being far from the beginning is actually our first silver lining. I’ve done a lot of research We’ve had some time to look back in hindsight. I’ve been able to confirm that some of my thinking was right, and change what I learned was wrong. I know from business school that most ventures fail due to under funding. The silver lining is that we are much better prepared to succeed with less pain now that we would have been if I’d been able to start my project sooner.

What if We Get Funding Above Goal or There is Money Left Over?

The best problem to have, right? The rewards that require extra hours to produce are limited to amounts we can manage, so the best of all levels of support will be welcome. Here is another place where I’m thankful for some of my reading. It’s not that I expect to need this section, it’s that I want to be prepared for whatever happens. I read two different types of articles about “extra” funding, or funding that surpasses the goals. This can happen at any level because the project could exceed a lower goal while not making it through the next goal.

One piece I read was from someone who wrote in to an ethics column, I think, on what to do with leftover project money. I wish I had bookmarked it so I could find it to reference properly, but I was in investigative mode, not project mode when I read it. Here is what I remember. The person running a Kickstarter project asked if a certain use would be appropriate for leftover funds. I thought the answer was obvious. The columnist did too, sort of. The response was that the person’s idea was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but since it had not been stated beforehand, it might irritate some supporters. I don’t want to irritate supporters, I thrive on my Etsy reviews that say “exactly as described”, and I want to carry that level of satisfaction through to this adventure. In honor of learning from my reading, here is a list of things that I / we will consider doing with any generous funding we receive over and above our goals. Beginning with the obvious, they are listed in order of greatest likelihood.

  1. Cover unexpected costs and overages.
  2. Review the project for potential improvements beginning with any upgrades in equipment that would make the project, or future carry on projects, better (like 3D cameras, some type of mount that I didn’t know about before, or some feature or equipment we hadn’t thought of before that makes the product better or more able to convert to a more technologically ambitious 2nd project).
  3. Look for things that will make the project move more smoothly.
  4. Look for things that will improve deliverables (for example, a telephoto lense to make my photographic rewards better).
  5. Reduce risk with things like additional safety equipment or health care coverage for the riders. No, sadly, the riders don’t already have that.
  6. Film one or several rides in a different location. Whether that is another rail trail, a trek around an island (like Kauai,The Big Island or Yakushima) that could provide Blue Mind benefits or something like the End to End would depend on just how much was left over, if there were amazing travel deals in a particular location, travel conditions and Coronavirus status when that happens.
  7. Pay or Profit for Karen. I’m not opposed to getting paid for my work, I’m just willing to delay my re-entry into the formal job market if it makes the difference between getting the project funded and not getting it funded.

All those things are covered in blog posts like this one from Kickstarter, so spelling them out might not have actually been necessary. But, I’m big on transparency, happy supporters and learning from my reading.

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 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.