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.

Training Tuesday October 13- 19

Goal    99 miles

Actual Total  85 miles

1st Ride 14 miles

2nd Ride 14 miles

3rd 24 miles

4th  Ride 0 miles

5th Ride 33 miles

Week Total   85 miles

1st Ride  It was a short mileage accumulator to fit easily into my schedule. I’ve been doing some rides at Big Creek lately. At the times I’ve gone, the crowd was closer to the old normal, but there’s still little-to-no mask wearing and the predictions are for a strong winter surge in Covid-19 cases. While riding, or not, is one of the few places where I get to choose my level of pandemic risk.  I have significant risks coming from several directions like people with “essential jobs” in our household, doing necessary to life things and grandchildren who will soon have no choice but to go to school in person.

2nd ride   Second verse, same as the first. The rub is that, while this project does potentially expose me to additional risk, the cardiovascular fitness that was wasting away while I was in isolation is a key factor in surviving if I do get the virus. I look on it as a strong net positive in risk factors, I just have to keep the risks as low as I can where I can. I’ll soon post about my mask experimentation.

3rd Ride  A nice average ride with a little plantar fasciitis pain in the left foot. It’s been creeping upward lately. I’ve been grateful that it isn’t as bad as last time I trained up to this point in pursuit of a high miles. I waited too long to get back in the habit of using my “ProStretch Blue”. It does work, at least for me, and I’m already feeling better.

4th ride  I’ve known that I should start using a checklist for a little bit now. We have a lot going on and our distractions are at all levels high and low. I’ve ridden without the right shoes. I’ve ridden without my sunglasses at times when it mattered, and there was the day I left my helmet at the place we stopped for lunch. I changed my process to hooking the helmet to the bike to take care of that oversight. I’m about to add a personal bike gear basket to the car in addition to the group bike gear tub we already have. My grandson is on an MTB team, so gear for Russ and I is not all we have to keep up with. A personal basket will help, but only a checklist will take care of getting my spaghetti brain back on track when there’s a catastrophe with one of the baby dolls, stuffies or plastic dinosaurs. Things gloves and other gear has to make it out of the laundry and back in the basket EVERY TIME. Today, we drove all the way to Rockmart only to look at the back of the car and see that the bikes weren’t loaded. That’s Russ’ job normally, but I walked right past the end of the car in the driveway without looking at it, so we share responsibility. ZERO MILES. Another 2+ hours of more driving to get back with the bikes was both too late and too much water under the bridge.

5th ride  I started at dawn to be sure I’d get the rest of my miles in before babysitting. I was literally sitting in the parking lot waiting on the light (I’m happy to ride in pre-light, but the trail isn’t open). It was cool. I’ve lost a slight bit of weight recently (with effort). I only had a banana for breakfast, which is usually fine for me, but with that combination of things, I didn’t have the juice to make the longer ride. I realized that I was riding really slow and refocusing on my riding didn’t pick up the pace. I stopped at the next bench to check for a snack. I might have plodded through the other miles if I had one, but I turned back because I didn’t know how much harder it would get if I didn’t. This was the week for CHECKLIST to be emblazoned on the project. I’m now down to 4 buffer weeks left in to my schedule for setbacks and holidays. I haven’t decided if, once I bounce back, I might try to intentionally increase one of more weeks by more than 10%. Over time, I now have some retro-10% to work with, but I could cause myself some trouble if I’m not careful. Of course, electric assist bikes exist, but I think it adds something to the end user’s enjoyment of the video if I peddle the whole project through. It certainly makes a difference to me.

Training Tuesday October 7-12

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

Actual Total  miles 48

1st Ride 14 miles

2nd Ride 16 miles

3rd Ride 18 miles

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

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

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

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

Training Tuesday September 8-14

Goal    shifting toward longer rides

Actual Total 35 miles

1st Ride 35 miles

I thought we’d get 2 rides this week, but ended up making the most of the single ride that we had. 35 miles is the highest single ride mileage for us for on this project. It’s much harder to increase individual ride mileage enough to reduce the number of trips made while also increasing overall mileage. It was a good ride and a step forward. The temperature was warm for my tolerances and I got over heated. At the same time, I recovered faster than usual, so I took that to mean I’m getting stronger.

I’ve been building back up for a while longer than I’ve been writing Training Tuesday. I feel a great deal healthier than I was feeling, but sometimes after a ride my throat can be a little sore, and the next day, I can be stiff. Since those are common symptoms of Covid-19, that can be a head trip.

This is the first week that I’ve missed any part of the goal since beginning. I was beginning to feel a little strained though and think a light week was a benefit. I’m going to stick with 82 miles as the goal for next week rather than skipping over it. Because 1. I don’t know if I could do more, and 2. There is built in leeway in the plan.

Getting Real About Gear

I didn’t expect to be so heavily into needing to make gear and equipment decisions this early on. It’s beginning to feel like my wax rubbing Kickstarter. Never heard of that? It was going to be the small Kickstarter that showed I am earnest and will deliver before branching out on bigger ones. Of all my many and various ideas, it might have been the most difficult to reward supporters, so it probably wasn’t the place to start.

The plus was that I learned a lot of what people learn on a first project, even though I never submitted it. I tried some experimental alternative products, read up on doing a successful Kickstarter, spent more money than I planned to ask for in the first place, then read something that advised to ask for enough money to be taken seriously. I could revisit and revise it sometime in the future, but I have a more timely and more important idea I think.

It’s video-riding project that’s jumped to the forefront. That might seem odd at first. I have an aversion to being on screen, especially if I have to talk. I like being behind the camera. I have things to say, but I have trouble bringing me along with all my ideas.

Staying mostly in my comfort zone works for the project, but it’s a big challenge for the kickstarter video. Not only am I camera shy, I’m also really intimidated by the extraordinary professional level of talent and expertise in some of the Kickstarters. Finding where I fit among the likes of them is intimidating. But, then there’s the potato salad guy. Kudos to him BTW. Supporters had fun and everybody got what they expected, or more, and some people got fed. I hope there’s a place for me, for us, somewhere in there. I think we have a solid idea with a good purpose and I know we have strong commitment. It should be fun for supporters too.

My vision for this project was that, at its lowest level, a small Kickstarter would make a big difference to the base project, and it might even fund the ultimate goal. That’s still the hope, in part. But with the pandemic there have been so many changes. My MO for buying equipment has gone awry. I am most often the antithesis of an early adopter. Early adopters are great because they fund R&D, but I’m your original clearance section girl. I ride the bike that’s high on value per dollar. I don’t know what I would ride if money were no object, but I am very comfortable not riding the bike that is the biggest target for someone to steal. If I have the latest anything, the store was going out of business, or it was one of those rare things that I wanted or needed enough to pay early adopter money. I was the first person among my user group to buy a particular model of Garmin once, and then took all the smart people who bought it next as confirmation I made a good choice. I can’t think of another time I spent new release money on anything. On the whole, I’m not looking for the cool factor. I used my last bike seat until the leather was streamering and the gel was oozing. Literally.

But, the age of our gear in miles caught us as unprepared as the pandemic and both have thrown a wrench in my normal purchasing habits. I just had a near overhaul and Russ is due for a complete overhaul. His crank has been damaged for some time, and he’s been putting it back together with Loctite every now and then for 2 or 3 years. He wasn’t riding so much and it stayed long enough for him to forget about it, so it was a real surprise when his pedal arm fell off mid-stroke recently. He took it to the shop where I’ve bought family bicycles for three generations. The repair estimate put the cost up around the range where you make the repair or replace decision, (a decision that comes at a lower price point when you ride an inexpensive bike). But, the shop sold out big time when hitting the trails was the only pandemic possible cure for cabin fever. They didn’t have a new bike for Russ’ extra tall needs. Some shops said that extra-large was the frame size that was still around, but of course, they’re not more plentiful than they ever were. They’re just still around in some places for the same reason they were hard to find in the first place. Not many people are 6″6″.

So, every gear decision is colored by what is available now at today’s prices.

Training Tuesday

As I train to be able to make a full century ride twice a week beginning on, or near, the first of the year, here is where I’ll update my progress every week on Training Tuesday.

I’m feeling healthy again, so that has me feeling positive, but I’ve been overestimating my mileage due to some incorrect mile markers, so I also feel behind before I’ve even started. Last week, according to Google maps, I rode 50 miles, a mark I thought I had made 2 weeks ago. 50 miles a week is a benchmark for me. I read that insurance companies give a discount on life/health insurance to people who ride that far. So, it’s a general lifetime goal for me to never fall below that. Not for the discount, but because actuaries think and know things. I felt pretty good when I learned about the discount because I thought I was riding that far, but first one thing and then a shifted commitment and if you’re not keeping up with actual mileage, it’s easy to lose track of actual miles. Google maps sent me a message about my cycling at the end of the year last year though. I was stunned. Google told me my real miles and, it was more than most people ride, but less than I thought.

Now I’m looking to leave 50 miles a week in the dust. Flat tires, or minor emergencies, weather and childcare obligations that won’t always line up properly and any number of other things can cause me missed goals. If I can get my target number of miles in two rides instead of three, it will be easier to stay on target, and it line things up closer to how rides need to be when I make the official recorded video start. So, as I try to balance needs and goals, I’m working toward fewer rides for longer times. Last week my longest ride was 20 miles. Today, I rode 24 miles. If I can get in a 26 mile ride later in the week, I’ll have moved last week’s mileage into two days instead of three. Then if I can get in a third ride whatever mileage I make will be an increase in weekly mileage and to some extent gravy.

I started my original calculations at 61 miles for the first week based on where I was before the pandemic. Maybe I’m too lazy to do the math again, maybe it’s psychological, but that’s the official starting point I want to keep. With that starting point, training up at 10% mileage increase per week because that is the recommended max, I should be ready to do the stretch goal distances in 16 weeks. That will be the first full week in December giving me almost 3 weeks for a buffer before the new year. With winter and holidays and family time, I’m nervous about only having a 3 week buffer. I remember how hard we pushed in the end last time we worked up to a century. There’s no real reason it needs to be a January 1st start, but it seems fitting for the year of Silver Comet Centuries to coincide with a calendar year

So,well see how it goes, and I’ll see you here next Tuesday, and I hope I’ll be telling you I did 61 miles in two long and one short ride.