Tuesday Trippin’ June 29

New Bike Shoes, Flat, Stiff and Wide

I ended up buying new shoes just before the century. My go to pair is getting worn, making my tingly toes worse. Breaking in a new pair of shoes is not something I’d normally do for a big event, but it was time and I don’t really remember noticing a “break in” period on bike shoes.

I don’t like clips. I’m afraid I’ll forget to release in an emergency and wrench an ankle. My MTB riding grandson had mentioned I might like flats a while back. Then when we stopped by the recumbent store, the owner showed us extra large flat pedals and said that that they were good for preventing tingly toes. I hadn’t even mentioned that was an issue for me. They look a little clunky. Apparently he recommends them often and his customers love them. They’re not sleek, but I’m all about functionality and plan to follow his advice.

Flat pedals for the recumbent bike

I was already thinking about flats when I ended up using my spare shoes. I keep my, new old stock Keens that are too narrow for me in my car for emergencies and noticed that they are wide enough in the summer with no socks. The stiff sole feels good too, but if I wear them a few times in a row without socks, they’ll start to leave rub damage on my skin. All signs were pointing to flats.

I asked the REI sales rep for something stiff and wide. I expected him to show me flats, but I was leaving the door open to learn something new. Flats it was. I needed to buy the pedals as well. These are much more comfortable to walk in too. Ask me how I know!

New flats after the flat. The cleats on the new flat pedals are sharp!

Training and the Hospitality Highway

I decided early in the week before the century (link is not my video) to give the Y a shot. I was riding down the Greenway thinking about driving to the Y nearest the house when I got home, but I was almost at the Y on the Greenway. So I parked my bike and went in. It was time to start going, or to stop paying for the membership after a year and a half of not using it. (It did open back up months before I decided to go.) Under current conditions (the crowding level I experienced this week, combined with the risk level of the current Covid variants status locally and my status being fully vaccinated) I plan to go weekly, hopefully 2-3 times. And, I’ll try not to get too burnt out on the chore keeping up to date with current conditions (has a variant blown through the vaccine?). I’m looking forward to getting back to strength training. It should help my shoulder, back, knees and hips, and keep me riding through more adverse circumstances. I was surprised that my knees hurt after the workout, I didn’t push it at all. I wondered if strength training after so much time without it was part of what made me feel so bad through the rest of the week, but I think it’s more likely that I took my opening to ride almost every day all month in climbing temperatures without having managed to reach an optimal weight. I’ve been busy too. I hardly know which thing to write about.

Highway 400 is apparently called the Hospitality Highway. I learned that when we picked up our t-shirts. The ride (link is not my video) was fun, the week leading up to it was not. I had a flat on Tuesday, a really difficult and draining ride on Thursday and felt bad Friday and Saturday. It wasn’t my best training week at all. I had spasms in my leg, which according to the internet could have been stress, exhaustion, dehydration or the beginning of rare and horrible things. I’m leaning toward stress and exhaustion because I’m pretty good at hydrating.

I was a bit nervous at the start of the ride. It was raining just enough to make the roads slippery. This crowd was full of energy, but crowds in general aren’t my favorite riding situation and the busy roads in areas with high population density aren’t either. I was having a little bit of that nervous feeling I had just before that time I was getting ready to rappel off the side of a waterfall. “Am I really going to do this?” was floating around in my mind, and I was remembering the time I flipped over my handle bars. Flying through the air, I wasn’t scared, I was angry. I thought I was about to miss things I had planned to do because I did something stupid. If I were to have a wreck in this pile of 1650 people, how hard and long would it be to recover? That’s the thing. It’s not the immediate pain, it’s the time you loose.

Near the start line, pre-crowd compression. Our email from the organizer said there were 1650 riders, including some who did volunteer work so they could ride for free.

There was a young man in a Georgia Tech jersey going over safety rules with a man I soon learned was his father, saying things like “Go across the seams between lanes at an angle, don’t let your tire get a tire stuck in the crack).” I was tuned in to hear what ever I might have forgotten to think about. It was a family activity. The parents were celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary, on the day of, by participating in the ride with their sons.

The ride was good. Were were in a midlin’ good position. As we went under the overpass that was in about the middle of the freeway section, there were already large numbers of riders crossing it, and by the time we got to that place ourselves the police cruisers were pulling up the rear, one to each lane. I didn’t see this effect in any of the videos I watched, but, where I was, there were large numbers of riders with bright tail lights ahead and, from a bright red lights standpoint, it looked much like rush hour with cars on the road. I heard other cyclists remark about it too.

We crossed the Chattahoochee River twice. It was beautiful. The rain wasn’t falling at that exact moment and the early morning fog was rising from the water. I didn’t feel at liberty to give it more than a seconds worth of attention, but I made sure to appreciate that it was there for longer. There were plenty of cool sights to file away. At least one person did wreck. Russ saw a cyclist who had an accident and said there was a lot of blood coming from her head. That really surprised me because helmets usually keep that from happening.

I went up some hills with confidence building ease. We loaded the instructions for the 43 mile ride. It would pass nearby our house at the 30 mile point and we could stop if we wanted, or ride it on in if we didn’t. The last hill before the nine mile route ended is called “Mother-in-Law” (no, none of these named hills were named for men). I walked half way up Mother-in-Law and asked Russ at the top what he wanted to do. The conversation took a little longer than necessary because neither of us wanted to say it, but, we were wiped. I stuttered around and said “I only got 4 hours sleep last night.” We went home and showered and napped, then went back to listen to bands and cheer the 100 milers in. Like most things I start thinking “Am I really going to do this?”, I was glad that I did. After I work my way through this video project, it would be fun to look for some other challenging centuries to ride. I’m sure this particular century will have a new home by then.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 22

Crickets

“Crickets”, people say that to indicate a lack of response. Shortly after moving back home for a bit, my son asked me if we were playing cricket sounds in the bedroom. I laughed. We are. I’ve been falling asleep to the sound of crickets for months now. At our old house, only 8 miles away (and almost every other home I’ve lived in) the real crickets outside were really loud. We had an exchange student once, she asked what the noise was. The background noise was so constant that she had to take me outside and point at nothing in particular before I understood her question.

At our current house, where the phrases “front yard must be bermuda or zoysia grass” and “open like a golf course” are in the HOA Guidelines, the neighbors use yard chemical services and the crickets are now faked on a meditation audio. (The reasons I moved here were good, but the fit wasn’t a natural one).

Russ and I have been skipping around with guided and unguided meditations. His default often goes to unguided abstract music, but as I’ve read more articles about the benefits of nature sounds and coming across articles about forest bathing I thought about crickets. They are the background music of my life. And, I have been sleeping better.

The Rides

I’ve been riding at Big Creek because the streambed is cooler and it allows me to ride at more different times of day. The leftovers of a tropical depression are drifting by though, and the weather service flood warnings started 2 days before the rain actually got here. Urban flooding is a problem in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Really it’s a problem in all places where there is a lot of impervious pavement. It’s a problem for Big Creek too, and, while many people who walk short distances will get to use the Greenway there sooner, I won’t ride there or even check the conditions again for at least a week after the rainfall stops. It takes that long for the waters (which during flooding sometimes contain sewage overflow) recede in more places.

Watching the weather is something I didn’t come by naturally. I’ve alway been the “Yes, there’s weather.” girl who didn’t pay much attention, but it’s something Russ and I both do frequently now. Russ does it for his work. I started when I got into ballooning, continued through a few Georgia droughts, and I do it now for the bike rides. Often the local weather forecast will be for more rain or greated chances of rain when I look the day before a ride, and by the morning of the ride, things have changed enough to meet my parameters for a ride. I recently had a week when I didn’t think I’d be able to ride at all, and rode nearly every day. They weren’t all dry rides, but it was fine. Not getting rain that was in the forecast has been something I’ve noticed frequently over the years. Forecasts that that always seem to change in the same direction make me wonder if Heat Island effects on precipitation are being fully accounted for in the model.

Regardless, today I’ve got the weather when it wasn’t expected, so, I can write about everything else later. It’s time to stop writing and start riding.

Tuesday Trippin’ June 15

It’s been a musical bikes week. The Hybrid just needed adjustments. The stem had been tightened down so much that it interfered with the bearings. That was a relief.

We found a chain for the road bike on the internet and took it back to the shop, then they finished earlier than the earliest date we had been given. That was a pleasant surprise. More down time passed between switching bikes in the past. I was without the road bike for some time before I went down to get the hybrid back from my mother’s house. When I was down there, I was on hilly roads, so I expected it to be harder. This time it was back and forth without even a day between riding one and riding the other, and I really noticed how much easier a ride the road bike is.

I also noticed that the Brooks saddle isn’t for me, again. Perhaps it’s because it’s a men’s saddle. There isn’t supposed to be any difference between the men’s and the women’s Brooks saddle except for the length of the nose. Maybe that difference made the difference. The discomfort though is going to make me give things a rest for a few days, and I’m not going to be excited about exploring Brooks possibilities in the future. I’m afraid I may have had some vein pressure, and that could get ugly.

Russ finally got new handlebars for his bike (the crash last November bent them badly and he’s bee riding at an angle ever since. The really big guy at the bike shop told Rus to get a wider bar than what he had, and he’s enjoying that advice. He watched a video and did the replacement himself. It was good to see us (him) moving in the direction of being able to do more ourselves. We took a class on bike repair and maintenance several years back, but I didn’t use any of the information soon enough to remember it.

The weather has been hot. I’ve been riding at warmer times in prep for the century. Overheating is a significant risk for me though. Riding has been draining, but manageable. I’m not feeling very confident about this hilly suburban century I signed up for near the peak of summer heat. I’m not sure whether I should push it as hard as I can, or just enjoy getting to ride down an interstate type highway with 1 or 2 thousand of my closest strangers for, probably, the only time in my life. When I ride through the hottest months of the summer for the project, I’ll have been riding centuries for months (if I’m riding centuries at all), and I’ll be able to start very early.

This week has been a long line of obstacles, both mentioned here, and not, but we managed. The obstacles have been tedious, but the continuous movement forward in spite of them felt good.

Training Tuesday January 12

We are ecstatic that our isolation has ended, and even happier that no one ever became symptomatic.

We’ve been on one short ride since we gained our freedom. I spent a lot of time over the last two weeks deleting video clips that I think are awful, and naming video clips I might potentially use in part, and setting up other parts of our plan.

We’ve spent too much time absorbing the national news. I feel like riding my bike the way that Forest Gump started running, or finding a deserted island somewhere. I’m afraid to look and afraid to look away.

I’m optimistic about having something good to say in this spot next week. See you Then.

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.

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 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