Tuesday Trippin’ January 17

The hits keep coming. The car died. I’ll get to find out sometime tomorrow if it is worse than a dead battery, and Ill get a second opinion on that 5K of work that the dealer recommended too.

If you ask me now how things were going to work out, I wouldn’t know how to answer, or even what to base my guess on.

We got more riding together this week than we have had in some time. That felt good, and helps to deal with stress but that wasn’t as much for me as I was getting a month ago.

We went out to the area between Coots Lake Trailhead and Paulding Forest to test signal strength. Ting was better than AT&T, but both were limited. I’ll probably put the images of the readings up next week.

I have no idea if our submission task list will be complete in a useful time frame. This week has been mostly more of the same as last week, but with continued intense frustration over wanting to be upbeat and positive, but not having bigger progress to report here.

Until next week, have a glorious day, and we’ll see you on the trail.

Tuesday Trippin’ October 4

The Riding

When I wrote the draft for this post, I started it talking about how It feels really good to be back riding on a regular schedule and I’m really grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend on the trail. Well, it turned out to be a resistant strain and now I have the big deal antibiotics that come with warning about increased risks of things like an aortic aneurism. I might not survive that if happened while riding miles away from my car, and can’t afford to have treated with my lack of health care coverage if I did.

That risk is increased with exercise. That big long multipart warning sheet didn’t say how much exercise increased the risk or by how much. Regardless, I plan to reduce the risk as much as I can by as much as I can in those things I have a choice about. My exercise until the drugs are out of my system will consist of walking to the bus stop to collect a grandchild.

Having significant illness, enough to disrupt my training schedule for some time, is a little unnerving right now, but the break is needed. i’ve been sleeping 9+ hours lately, very unusual for me.

The Video Remake

We need to rerecord the audio for the intro vide. Not everything in the old one is up to date. I’ve written and rewritten what I have to say. I’ve spent hours reading and re-reading, looking for rephrasing that cuts out words, but still communicates. Then doing it again and asking myself if it will hold attention as long as it should. Letting time pass and taking a fresh look at things again. I think it’s ready now, but I’m waiting on my voice to return to normal. The audio needs to be the base, and the pictures and video all needs to come in at the right time in the audio. I hope by the end of this week I’ll be hiding in my closet for the sound absorption and talking into the mic.

That’s about it for today, happy trails.

We’re Doing a Safety Video

Normally, when I get up for the Sunday “twenty miles and home before anyone else gets up” ride, the crowd hazards are pretty light (now that the Pandemic overflow appears to be waning). Then, some rides I think if I only had cameras running already, I would have the entire safety video shot in one ride. Today was that day, the one with boat loads of opportunity for the video. If Russ had been with me, he’d have called out “DA alert” several times.

I said “Hello” or “Heads Up” intently to at least 3 adult riders coming at me in my lane without looking. The little kids who didn’t stay in their lane don’t count because It’s our job to look out for them. But, on that subject, there was the Mom who’s kids moved over right when she said, just like she said, but Mom didn’t have the dog on the leash under control, so I still had to stop and then Mom still fussed at her kids for “not getting over”.

Then, there was the guy who was playing music loud and weaving at first, but he got straighter as I approached. I called out “Passing on your Left” twice, really loud to be heard over his music. He straightened up in time for me to pass him and then turned left off the path right in front of me just and I pushed hard on my peddle for the pass then quickly followed with the brakes. I’d be surprised if he ever knew I was there.

And, there was the woman who was weaving and texting. She was all over the place and riding so slowly she was having trouble keeping the bike upright. I caught her on the fly and she was still on the phone, but had at least gotten off the bike. She gets kudos for that, but she was standing on a paved strip at a sharp “s” curve on a hill. It was right where people who get surprised by the curve turn out to avoid crashing into others. Some days…

So, the safety video will be our little thank you to everyone. Hopefully it will be fun and funny. All the people who support us will get a link with a short update when it’s done. Unless they opt out for some reason I can’t imagine, even the people who choose to support us with no reward will get this.

Tuesday Trippin’ May 10

Training wise, last week was significantly better than expected. Weather lined up for me to ride immediately before and after, and the break was only 3 days. In April the break was 4 days and we had 3 days of rain immediately before. We walked about 3 miles on a trail during the April trip, but I didn’t take hiking shoes. I ached from unusually low exercise when I got home.

I mentioned the need to shift over to walks for recovery exercise just before this trip. We ended up dong that. The Pensacola Bay Bridge is under re-construction, but the pedestrian-bicycle path on one side is complete. The bridge is 3 miles long. The first night we walked about a mile and a half. The second, we walked 5 miles.

Russ on the Pensacola Bay Bridge

5 or more miles is the length of walk I originally planned for recovery walks. That may be a touch on the long side, but I used to be able to do 5 miles pretty easy at any time without prep. Lately though, I’ve done more yard work, which technically qualifies as recovery activity I suppose. But, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve even walked around the neighborhood with my granddaughter on her scooter. I’ve been spending all my cardio time on the bike. The bike is awesome, but I need to make myself walk for the change in activity too.

I really wanted to walk the whole bridge in both directions, just because it seems complete, but when I looked back from the 2.5 mark at how far away the starting side shore seemed, I decided to turn back. I could have made the extra distance, but in the end, I was glad that I turned when I did and Russ was too. I expected soreness the next day, but there was none and my feet felt really good, like a bit of cross training was the thing I should be doing.

I’m not sure what I will settle on as the right distance for a recovery walk, but on the bridge with all the wind, it seemed more like a primary exercise day, which was fine for that week when I had less opportunity to ride. Some sources say 20-30 minutes is enough for recovery. But, more could be needed after a century ride than shorter forms of exercise. The key will be in how the rides are going. As long as my body feels better and my stamina is not reduced, it’s likely the right amount of recovery exercise.

If the recovery walk is shorter, it will fit better into a still photography day than I first anticipated. That may not reduce my project hours any, but it should improve the photography rewards. It is easier to carry a camera on a walk that only needs 20-30 minute intervals of elevated heart rate than one that needs 1.5 – 2 hours.

The Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga Trails are not alone. There are beautiful hiking trails on both ends of our project, including portions of trail that may be added to the Appalachian Trail. I’m excited about the potential.

I’m going to leave it here for this post. I’ll put some of my other thought in separate posts. Have a glorious day and we’ll see yo on the trail.

The Two Trails Together are 94.5 Miles Long. Why Do You Talk About Riding Centuries?

Short answer? We’re going to ride from east of the east end to west of the west end, or the other way around.

On the east end we will start at storage units, hopefully the ones 2 miles from the 0.0 marker will have availability when we begin the project. If not we’ll go for the next closest place with availability.

On the west end we’ll have a cool down period (or slow down depending on the weather). We’ll stop at a storage unit on that end too, unless we end up with accommodations that provide storage. In which case, we’ll stop there.

We can know that we will be riding at least a hundred miles, but not exactly how many until the details are set.

What Will you Upload?

I expect the upload to include at least 95 miles. We’re going to upload trail miles, primarily pretty miles at regular speed before cool down. On the east end the trail goes on and looks trail like for a bit east of the 0.0 marker. We will include that in the upload.

Both trails will be extended. I don’t expect that to effect us, or even be finished during the term of the project. But if it happens while we are riding, we’ll consider adding on the extra if they add to the project. There are some roadside miles in the middle of the trail that run beside a heavy traffic highway but on either end we’re not likely to upload road traffic areas even if we end up needing to ride in them ourselves.

Why allow $992 for Water?

I mean, we would drink water whether we were riding or not, right?

It’s the little things that kill your success, but not in the “Forego avocado toast and you can have a McMansion” way, in a more real way.

Yes, we drink water straight from the filter on the fridge when we’re home. Water on the trail has to be planned though. Hydration is critical.

The fountains on the Silver Comet are always turned off in the winter, from well before danger of first frost until well after danger of last frost. I don’t get this. It takes more than a frost to freeze a pipe, but that’s how it is. Since the pandemic, the water has been turned off year ’round.

When the fountains are on, I would likely fill at Tara Drummond, Cedartown and the Chief Ladiga visitors center on the state line. Water availability becomes more sketchy as you move west and, if you started on the east end, that’s when you’re tiredest.

What can you get for $992 on the trail? That’s a $4 allowance per rider per ride day*. That may be generous on average if the fountains come back on for part of the year, but the rest will come from some other bucket in the budget if they don’t.

Casual riders can decide on a ride to ride basis if the nominal cost of going out on any given day fits easily inside the resources they want to use. But, when making a commitment to ride twice a week every time it’s rideable for 62 weeks, accounting for all of the places where you will drop a grand is as critical to a successful project budget as hydration is to a healthy ride.

*There’s no allowance for training days because we can carry enough for most of those days.

About the Intro Video

The intro video is completely home grown and shot cell phones. I shot some footage, but Russ shot most of what we used, then edited it on Kdenlive. He is self taught with the help of instructional videos and learned it for this project. He learned Audacity for this project as well.

The intro video is all shot with one of three Galaxy S somethings. The trail ride base (or background ride) was shot using Russ’s Galaxy S10+ with a DJI OM5 gimbal stabilizer. I haven’t checked to see if any of what we used for other parts was made with my old Galaxy S8 Active. Anything I shot after July when I bought the S21 Plus that I wrote about here was taken with that phone.

Using the gimbal was interesting. It was useful to reduce the shakes and bumps and it looked cool and weird mounted to the handlebars with the phone attached. I was riding behind Russ watching it operate. The phone looked (and was) vulnerable sticking up from the handlebars. The gimbal looked slightly organic in its undulating battery operated movements. It was attached to a GoPro mount that was completely stable, but didn’t look like it. Later I shot some of my own and the movements look so much bigger on your own bike.

Riding through the puddles in Brushy Mountain tunnel was a bit scary. Not only do the device documents tell you not to drop the gimbal, they say four separate times not to get it wet, unless it catches fire. If it catches fire, you are supposed to put the fire out with water.

Riding through the tunnel, or any other puddles, I can slow down and reduce the chances of getting the thing wet, but other riders may or may not. After riding with it for a few miles, the handle had rotated and I was afraid it had loosened and might drop, so I took it off. I wasn’t able to get it to turn off though. I removed it from the handle bars and then took the phone off of it.

It wiggled at me as if to say “Where’s my phone?” The two clamps on the disc made it look like the face on a puppy or Grogu shaking its ears to get them dry. I shoved the handle in a pocket in my bike tights. I hoped the device would get separation anxiety there and shut down. The moving part was free, so I didn’t expect it cause any problems if it didn’t and It had shut off by the time I got back to the car.

We chose to shoot with the phones and gimbal instead of the equipment that we plan to use for the project because, even after buying the gimbal, it was the least expensive way to achieve a usable introductory product. We’ve made similar choices with other things along the way.

We will switch to GoPro Hero 10s for the project to get the rugged durability, better image stabilization, the ability to stream one camera and the weatherproof qualities. The GoPros and other equipment we plan to use for the project is not harder to use. Switching will not be difficult once more appropriate equipment is funded.

Most audio was recorded with an external microphone. I set the the Mic on a tall stool in my small walk in closet for the dampening, and set the laptop on a big box of fireworks (we’ll have to use them to celebrate when we get funded). The box was about as tall as the mic, so I was able to read the script I wrote without having it draw me away from the mic. I sat down in the doorway and leaned in and up. We wanted it all a little bit high so it helped my diaphragm and projection. As a set up, it worked reasonably well. Beside needing something written to keep me as brief as possible and on track, my untrained voice was our biggest challenge. Winging would have been nice, but the video would have been long and winding. Russ also took audio off some cell footage I took of Sandhill Cranes wheeling above.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 9

These flowers have been sitting on this memorial bench on Big Creek Greenway for days.

I stopped to photograph these flowers, not when they were fresh on the first day that I saw them, but several days later when they still sat there untouched.

The bench has a memorial plaque. It says that the person being memorialized and his grandparents spent many days experiencing joy on the trail. That speaks to me. The first time I got to spend significant time with my grandson, I was picking him up and taking him to the trails, first by the Chattahoochee River, later the Silver Comet and finally Big Creek.

At Big Creek there are mountain bike trails and he saw signs for RAMBO, the Roswell Alpharetta Mountain Biking Organization. In middle school (as soon as he was eligible) he dropped La Crosse, to join NITRO and mountain biking was the sport that stuck. Both are good organizations. He’s taught sportsmanship and to care for his bike, and he does volunteer work with the group too. He’s been on the team ever since. I enjoyed watch him try out all his team sports, but I felt good about taking him to the place where he found his thing. We don’t do the same kind of cycling anymore, but I take him to trails like 5 Points where I can walk while he rides. He just got his license and drives now. I don’t have to take him anywhere, but the connection remains, and I feel good about his thing being cycling.

One of the nice things about cycling is that it can start as soon as you get a sense of balance, and with recumbent trikes, it can last well after you lose it. I know riders in their 80s who are 20+ years older than me, and they ride standard road bikes for long distances. There are all kinds of cycling for all kinds of needs and wants, from motorized to hand powered with 1 to 4 wheels.

Cycling can connect generations like it did for me and my grandson, or the people on the plaque, for clubs or tours. It can help maintain health and increase longevity, even reduce health insurance rates. You can start at just about any age. It gets you outdoors and active.

One of the things I hope our video project will create is connection and inspiration between anyone willing to connect and for any good thing a person aspires to do. I hope that some of the people who see what I’m doing say to themselves that they ought to pursue riding, or something entirely different, especially the ones who never considered it before. And that people who were feeling old or depressed or isolated or powerless decide they can do whatever thing hanging around in the back of their minds that they aspire to do.

The only things that make me special enough to do this project are that I thought it up, I had the conviction to pursue it, and I have the determination to finish it. Anyone can do that.

I’ll be happy to give people some new exercise, health and entertainment options. I’d be honored to shift the perspectives of people who haven’t yet realized what is within their reach into the perspective of those who have.

I hope that your memorial, whether it is on a bench or in the mind of the people you leave behind, will come far into the future. I hope it says exactly what you’d want it to, and more than you ever dreamed it might.

Tuesday Trippin’ February 1

Well, we got Covid in the house. Again. Russ and I have spent some time in camp chairs in our bathroom working on the video (because there’s more room in the bath than there is in the bedroom) doesn’t seem reasonable to have more room in the bath, but that’s the way it is. With 7 people in the house and Covid, well, you just have to make things work. The thing to be thankful for is that the vaccinated people have had light cases and the boosted people have, so far, been negative/unaffected. I hope it lasts.

According to Johns Hopkins Georgia is dropping off of the 184K new cases per week high (but not quickly enough). My granddaughter is bouncing around at home on her second pre-school closure. I love every minute I get to spend with her, but having the schedule upended is inconvenient. I feel qualified to write a hilarious comedy bit right now, but I’d have to do it anonymously, to protect the innocent, and wait until people everywhere are ready to laugh before I publish it.

I did get a couple of rides in between one thing and another. The last was late and at Big Creek Greenway. I almost didn’t go. I didn’t think I had time, and I was talking to my mother as I drove. I made the mistake of starting a new subject just before parking. I was kicking myself for planning badly. But I got in an almost full length ride, and there were deer in large quantities, both in a field where they tend to hang out, and crossing the path right in front of me.

Popular “Kodak Moment” on Alpharetta Big Creek Greenway

These guys are reliably here during some seasons. I feel like I should go back and set this up properly with the Nikon and the tripod, but I don’t have one of those honkin’ big telephotos that weighs 3 times as much as the camera body, so, I suspect this will forever be that “easy” shot I never like my version of. And, it’s the shot all the passers by take. I tend to like the road less traveled.

The real shot to get was on the trail itself. A 10 point buck and two does crossed less than 10 feet in front of my bike, and I almost missed seeing a 6 pointer that didn’t make it across in front. The points on the smaller deer were quite small, not nearly so majestic as the buck I got a better look at…if I’d only had a camera running…

I really appreciate Big Creek. I’ve been going there for around 7 years, since we bought the current house. It is in a direction that has allowed me to ride when I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to and the streambed is cooler than the Silver Comet in the heat of the summer. The crowding that kept me away early in the pandemic has eased and it’s about 10 minutes closer to home than the Silver Comet. Now that I’ve found the completed extension, I get to do a few hills which feels like a much better workout than the flatness of rail and stream beds. The greenway is a good bit shorter, and has a different character, but it has a lot to recommend it.

Tuesday Trippin’ January 11

We had good rides since my last post, not pushing too hard through weather that was on again off again like a Georgia winter. We took some time for the holidays with family, or at least I did. I went to south Alabama to see my mom and sister early and without Russ. He didn’t have the time off. It turned into Christmas Past, the Christmas of my childhood when I was the grandchild. Now I’m the grandparent. The celebration has morphed primarily in who is alive to attend and which house will accommodate us all. Sometimes people drift, especially in fractious times like these. I wasn’t sure I would ever see that again.

Normally Russ and I alternate which family we spend Christmas with and which family we spend New Years with. But, with the pandemic, we stayed home last year and enjoyed time within our bubble. That was nice because the bubble was bigger than normal with my kids home to roost. The down side was that by the time this past summer rolled around, it had been a year and a half since I had seen my mother. Russ had seen his Dad a couple of times for various reasons, but seeing Mom came later. I’ve always visited often. Even when I lived thousands of miles away I visited at least twice a year.

But, through the pandemic I’ve tried to behave in a low risk manner, wearing masks, getting vaxxed, not being the person who exposed my bubble to unnecessary risk. At times that seemed like a hopeless venture in a house of essential workers and school aged children with shared custody. I really felt the weight of visits not made as well as the weight of not carrying illness home to mother. Russ saw his Dad twice before I saw my Mom. That really isn’t relevant. He made a last visit to a dying relative and we went a graduation this summer before I went to see Mom, but it felt bad when Russ had seen his family twice and I hadn’t seen mine. Mom is 88 and a content homebody, but some days when we talked she mentioned how hard it was to be protected instead of hugged.

So, I made my commitments to be home this year, and then. Omicron. Potential attendees for our gathering included vaccinated people, people who had Covid on the first round, people who had it on the second, some who had it more than once, newly minted and entrenched political anti-vaxxers, and people of unknown status. It would have been the year not to go, if we hadn’t already had so much forced time apart. And, at the same time, a virus doesn’t care about all the times you were careful, it just transmits on opportunity.

We talked about having a fire pit outside. People were agreeable. Usually it’s a little cool in south Alabama in December, and the piñata would be destroyed outside anyway. (the current strategy on piñata design is to make them last through several swings of the high school sports kids while being reachable for swings from the littlest ones, without rendering the treats into powder before it was all over).

I didn’t expect many people. We’d never celebrated the whole deal with the generations of friends and family, the piñata and the roast beast on a different day. But everyone showed. Everyone. All the family, all the friends that normally come. One person left early when they learned they had been exposed to Omicron two days before, but everyone else was there. And, they all showed about the same time.

Mom keeps the house hot because she’s sedentary, so it was hot when people showed up, and then a full house made it hotter, like an Omicron oven. It was so warm outside, no one needed the forgotten fire pit and thankfully it didn’t take long for people to migrate outside to watch the kids climb the tree house and play basketball in the drive. But, I tell you, no one was carrying the virus that day because they didn’t get out the door that fast, and two weeks later no one had been sick. We were lucky, when what I try to be is smart.

For just one afternoon we were all those Whos down in Whoville, and then poof, back to the real world and that little bit of trepidation while I waited to see if anyone got sick. And, also, wondering in the back of my mind if that thing, that Christmas of my childhood that just happened once more ever will again.