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.
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 my 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.
For Fantasy Island training, I would magically acquire multi-millions so I could have home on acres and area without an HOA and with little in the way of zoning requirements so that I could have 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. I’m looking forward to the new year and hoping that it will be one like no other… in a good way.
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 happens 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, and 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 damage. That’s 7-10 weeks at the rate we will be riding when we’re up and running in full project mode. More durable wear parts will meet their doom and potential damage will surely happen. I’m keeping my eyes open in the used market. That search will likely be constant so that equipment never causes us down time. We will likely make several repair or replace decisions over the course of the project, and it is harder to find 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, way above department store quality, but they are at the bottom end of what 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. We like them, but going down in quality is not an option. Our flexibility will help to make up for the scarcity of bikes in our sizes.
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 keep up with Russ on his road bike, and I took the hybrid to my mother’s so I’d have something to ride back home.
Recently I was without the road bike for almost a year and I brought the hybrid back. Riding it again felt like an old friend and early photographs of this project might have either bike. I need the faster bike though. Speed is increasingly important the more mileage a rider does. Distance riding isn’t just about stamina, it’s also about number of hours in the saddle. So, I sucked it up and made the appointment. Shop repairs where I bought the bike are by appointment through the pandemic.
I’ve spent about three quarters of the original purchase price on parts and service for the road bike in the last 6 months. It was much closer to the repair or replace mark than I realized. I’ve broken spokes 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, or it could 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. I noted that keeping the adjustments properly made and replacing the cassette as soon as it’s worn would be important to reducing unwanted ambient noise while recording (and it helps to keep it faster too :).
Russ’ bike, was looking at a repair or replace decision before he crashed it. I really think that decision would have been replace if they had any stock, or had any on the way at the time. My second hande search handicap is that I don’t know enough about bike brands and models to know which bikes/models might be better, but, Bicycle Blue Book helps me to know what the right price should be. Bikes in shops that still have bikes are running 100% of “suggested retail” and so are many of the bikes available second hand. There have always been people who asked full retail for their second hand bikes. Right now there are more of those than usual. I found a trike that was a significant discount off of retail because it was an arm peddle, not practical for this project. I might never work up to the speed and mileage I need in one of those. And when I find the right kind of bike, some have condition issues. 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 (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.
Choosing a recumbent is daunting, and not just a little. 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.
I don’t even know what Fantasy Island looks like for the bikes. There are so many uncertainties. 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 video from each trip. 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. 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’m not sure how that will all sort itself out, but I expect market conditions to improve. I hope I’m right.
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.
Goal 99 miles, or whatever gets me back in the swing.
Actual Total miles48
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