Tuesday Trippin’ November 2

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday Trippin’ March 9

Training-wise, the struggle goes on. stress-wise, we’re beginning to level out after the recent rash of health scares. Daylight Savings Time (DLS) is just around the corner. The logic of DLS has always eluded me, but in a 9-5 world, it means longer rides after work, and for Russ, that means catching up on his training in the lengthening and warming days of the coming months. I’m choosing to be optimistic about a break in all of the uncontrollable garbage life keeps throwing our way, and when I stress over progress, I keep reminding myself that I’ve designed the tiers of the project to fit the level of funding. We won’t have to do more than what we already can until we get the funding, and when we get that funding, we’ll be able to rise to meet whatever level of commitment that requires.

Roadside Daffodils on Brushy Mountain Rd

The most remarkable thing about our training this week was a trip down Brushy Mountain Rd. I had been riding through the tunnel one day quite some time back and heard voices above. It was a little startling in a place where we never hear traffic, and I’ve been wondering about it every now and then since. So, we did our Google Maps version of the old timey Sunday drive after our ride, checking to see if we could figure out where the tunnel was from above. It’s a forested area with deep hills and even deeper cuts through the slopes at the entrances to the tunnel. So, the road is hidden from the tunnel and the tunnel is hidden from the road, even when there are no leaves on the trees. We were following along in high resolution looking for the spot where the road intersected the trail on the map when we saw this gorgeous sight. These daffodils were scattered through the understory and out toward the right-of-way on both sides of the road. The unexpected beauty was breathtaking, and at most other times of the year we wouldn’t have even known it existed.

I wish I could display the photo all the way across the screen, instead of just the column width, but in many respects it was one of those “You had to be there” moments, being totally surrounded in spring blooms with dappled sunlight streaming through the trees and cool early evening air. I’ll try to get back out there soon with the better camera for a calendar shot.

Department of Natural Resources Land
Marker

We stopped to take pictures, and were so close to the location that was showing on maps for the trail, we just walked toward the intersection. As we did, I saw this marker. Collecting photos of survey markers is one of my “things”, so I snapped a shot.

All along this area the road is posted with high visibility markers. We had a couple in a truck pull over to ask us if we needed help, and there was another truck that passed by in one direction and then immediately passed us again in the other direction (without enough time or a location nearby that would make that seem like a natural thing).

I stayed in what should have been the right of way, and even when I took the photo of the DNR marker am pretty sure that my feet were still in the right of way. I’m glad my curiosity about what was above me brought us out to look. But, this is an area where I very highly recommend taking nothing but pictures, leaving nothing but footprints (and be sure to leave those in the right of way) without even considering a trespass.

Racking it Up, Bicycle Racks

Racks are pretty quick and easy to talk about. Through the years, I’ve tried a variety of different kinds of options. As a kid growing up in the rural south, riding my bike always started at home. I never went somewhere else to ride. But then traffic became more crowded and less likely to yield, even in the country, and the distance I wanted to ride grew longer.

Strap on Racks

I started with the inexpensive type that you strap to the trunk or the rear door on a van or hatchback. The benefit to that is cost and the are usually compact to store. The drawbacks are that it takes time to install. Futzing with the straps is time consuming, and if you use it very often, it can become irritating.Some bikes, especially mountain bikes don’t fit very well and can fall of, and they eventually leave dimples in the car body. If you don’t strap it exactly the same every time, there will be dimples in more than one place. So, it’s the low budget option for infrequent use, for the owner who is willing to get a couple of new dimples in their auto body.

Hitch Mount

After growing out of that variety, I moved to hitch mount racks. First I only used them when I was going to use the truck. Later I started putting trailer hitches on my cars. I don’t tend to drive cars that are designed to tow, so I’m really protective of them. The car bike rack hitch only holds bike racks. I never tow a trailer. I never even put on a cargo tray. Why? Because cargo trays get overloaded. Bike racks have only enough space for the bikes, so they will never be loaded over the weight of those bikes. Ours ar not the super light carbon bikes and they weigh quite enough.

I never consider anything other than a hitch mount any more. I had the kind with an arm that swings out and the bike hang from it. That rack was a Thule similar to this one, well loved, but not as great at Interstate speeds due to vibration and the resulting movement. The bicycle tie-down straps seemed to disappear for a while too, but replacements weren’t expensive and eventually the disappearance seemed to slow. The hanging racks aren’t good for mountain bike frames though. The bike crossbar is at too great an angle and we’ve had to stop to secure my grandson’s mountain bike multiple times of the same trip to a race.That’s not relevant to this project because a mountain bike will never be the right bike for the job. It is relevant to my grandson though, and to date, we’ve never budgeted the cash nor the space for more than one bulky rack. In fact the hitch mount rack only comes off my car when I’m getting it serviced, driving through the carwash, or putting in on the truck instead. The nice part about selling the Thule with the arm though, it brought almost half of what we paid for it.

We’re now pretty committed to hitch mount tray racks. Russ got one at a thrift store for $20. We really liked that rack, but someone in a parking lot backed into it and ended it. We had to replace it really quickly because the mountain bike season was on. My dream rack is the 1 UP aluminum rack. I’ve wanted one since the first time I ever saw it. They’re the high quality, low weight, easy option with fast on and off. People I know who have one say that they don’t know why they waited so long to get it, and no one I know has ever complained about anything related to them. We were considering finally getting that dream boat that every owner loves. Spending almost as much on a rack as I did on a bike was a sticking point though. I know that says more about the cost of my bike than it does the cost of the rack, but still, that was the only reason we don’t have my dream 1 Up, that and the REI Garage sale.

The Garage sale is when REI sells returned merchandise. There are often missing parts, but they will allow you to assemble whatever you’re considering to find out and sometimes the deals are awesome. Clothing is usually not the great deal that some other things can be. I’ve seen things with big holes that are not marked down much. I’m not sure why anyone would purchase that. At this sale, I didn’t even head to the bike racks because missing parts are common and I wasn’t expecting a discount that reflected whatever the condition was. Also, I had that 1 Up on the brain. Russ found a Kuat tray rack, and it was a huge discount. At the time, his idea was that he’d buy this one, and when we found a 1 UP second hand, we’d sell the Kuat for near what we paid. Well, it’s not the 1 UP, but it’s a solidly good rack and we haven’t found the 1 Up second hand (could be that’s a pipe dream, I’ve never met an unhappy owner). If I were spending full retail and making a new purchase decision, I’d probably go ahead and get the 1 UP because there isn’t so much difference in the full retail prices, but when the less expensive rack is selling for half price… The Kuat is a nice rack, but when you use it frequently, that little extra bit of extra effort in putting the bike on the rack adds up over time. The Kuat isn’t extendable either. That hasn’t mattered as much over the pandemic, because we’ve been avoiding the crowds on the Greenway at Big Creek. We used to all go out together and we would ride the Greenway while my grandson rode the MTB trails. Eventually, hopefully soon, we’ll all be going out together again soon. It better be soon, else he’ll be driving himself and he’ll have a job. I’d like to think we’d give him the Kuat and we’d finally get the 1 UP, but the reality is, he’ll get a job and say no thanks. He’ll buy the 1 UP, and we’ll still be using our temporary find.

Cycling Footwear

The trails were wet. I didn’t know our shoes could hold so much water. It took them days to dry.

Never underestimate the importance of footwear. It protects your feet, and they are your foundation. Feet 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.

Shoes

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 during the pandemic, and there’s no telling what the situation will be next time he is ready.

My feet are wide. I have high arches and narrow heels with 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 bike 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 usually 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 that hardware I don’t use on the bottom, and I didn’t have any blisters.

This photo is about 11 years old. We took it when Keen was doing a “Show us Your Keens” promotion.

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.

Socks

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, IKR. 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 typically involved and this dream is not nearly so easy as it sounds.

Training Tuesday Dec 22

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 our 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.

Fantasy Island

For my training Fantasy Island, I would magically acquire multi-millions so I could have a home on acres, lots of them, with old growth habitat and no HOA. Then I could have large house with a 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. That’s a pretty good runner up to Fantasy Island, and it’s real. I’m looking forward to the new year and hoping that it will be one like no other… in a good way.

Road Bikes and Recumbents

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 comes 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. 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. It is harder to find second hand 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 ours are at the bottom end of what good 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 when 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 without obvious cause 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 though. It could just 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. Keeping the adjustments properly made and replacing the cassette as soon as it’s worn will be important to reducing unwanted ambient noise while recording (and it helps to keep the bike 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?

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. My pet peeve is quickly becoming people who sell bikes without listing the size.

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.

Recumbents

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.

Fantasy Island

I don’t even know what Fantasy Island looks like for the bikes. There are so many uncertainties. Fantasy Island doesn’t include automatic shifting (I’ll never learn to do it better myself that way) or electric assist. 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 videos. 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 don’t know that anyone would, but options sometimes turn into actions.

Helmets

I’ve crashed, but, I don’t have personal crash experience with helmets. The only concussion I ever had was from crashing a bike, but kids weren’t required to have a helmet back then, and no one ever suggested it, or, bought me one, so I didn’t. I was coming home from a summer program and thought this really big hill looked so very exciting, And, it was. I woke up in my bed and still have a coupla scars I could find if I thought about for a minute.

I also flipped over my handlebars as an adult a few years back. I was waving at my postal carrier and hit a curb. I was wearing a helmet that time, but it didn’t hit anything as far as I know. I didn’t feel or hear any hits and there were no scratches, not on the helmet anyway. I landed mostly on my bum and had some really impressive bruises on my legs too. Doing an unexpected flip is a kind of mystery trip. You have to look at the injuries to figure out just what happened. I was so angry while flying through the air. I had plans to be a race official for a balloon race the next week. It was the first time, and I was sure I had just ended them. I was stif to my core for a week, but I did get to go to my race.

There’s a newish safety system called MIPS to help me out should I ever go flying again. As of 2019, 100 plus brands use it, including newer versions of my favorite helmet. This seems like a feature that should be a part of every future helmet buying decision I make, but also, something that all the reputable helmets will adopt, so I shouldn’t have to worry too much.

My favorite helmet is a Lumos and we bought ours from their initial Kickstarter. We were thinking that we’d ride more centuries and roads and we really liked the turn signal and brake light concept they were developing. We stopped riding on roads though, and I left mine in the closet while using the old one for way too long. We supported the Kickstarter and bought the helmets for the added safety, visibility and communication on roads. I was so happy to see someone bringing that smart technology into the marketplace. I’m sure it has saved lives. But, that’s not why I’m currently wearing mine. It’s still my favorite even though we’re riding on trails now. The fit on my head is what I like. It’s that simple. I like the way it sits on my head and I also like the straps better than all the other helmets I have ever had. So, while I ride on trails and only see cars when I see security patrols, or cross an intersection, the Lumos is the helmet I want on my head. I’m really glad that they made a successful business out of it and are still producing helmets. It makes me feel good about the support and the product. My original Lumos doesn’t have MIPS though. I should probably replace it soon. For current riding choices the MIPS is more important to my safety than the smart features.

Other needs might cause me to drift from my first Lumos love though. There’s just too much going on around my ears right now. I’d like a helmet with goggles. I don’t really care for sunglasses. My sensitive skin breaks out where the glasses touch, even if it isn’t in constant contact. I need the protection though, not just the UV protection, but also the wind protection. And, believe it or not, I’ve had a pinecone fall off a tree and hit me right in the glasses while riding, Pine cones have points that are still really hard and sharp when they’re fresh off the tree. So, yes, I need an eye shield for freak impact protection too. The annoyance of the pine cone would have been a doctor visit without the eye protection, and possibly some loss of vision.

Something like this looks like it would be nice. Not only would that get the eyeprocection off my ears, cheeks and nose, it keeps the goggles or safety screen secure. The other day I was coming down one of the few places on the Silver Comet where there is a steep hill and a sharp curve together on the whole trail. And, I guess, really, thay by “one of the few” what I actually mean is “the only.” My glasses somehow became akilter, I had probably pulled them out and off my face a little. I needed my hands on the handlebars for control, but I couldn’t see very well. I was looking through and around the glasses at the same time. I had to wait to fix them until it wasn’t nearly so important for me to be able to see what I was doing. It was a difficult awkwardness in a tight spot that wouldn’t have happened with eye protection securely attached to the helmet. So, as much as I love my Lumos, I could venture out looking for that same fit from a helmet with attachable eye protection.

BTW, did you know Oakley has designed a helmet with a non-interference zone and clips on top for storage when you don’t want to wear them? The non-interference zone is pretty cool, but I’d need to see how it works to know if it’s relevant to me.

Fantasy Island

Beyond attachable eye protection, I’d like a little hook or button for a face mask. One that is the helmet equivalent of that button on a headband for masks. With any luck, the need for that will disappear before anyone could bring it to production. But seriously, for right now, there’s no warning before someone gets too close, and we’re all a little vulnerable to the unexpected. The ability to whip out a mask and hang it in front of your face is just not there when you’re wearing, glasses and a helmet and a headband under the helmet, especially if it’s a headband that warms and covers your ears. I’m going to be really happy to get my glasses on the helmet, but I’d like to find a way to mask up quick that does nothing to interfere with the effectiveness of the helmet or anything attached to it.. It would be pretty cool if there were a universal attachment that would allow people everywhere to mask up safely and quickly.

Headwear

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.

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.