Training Tuesday January 19

When I’m riding regularly and I take a break from it, two things happen stamina wise. The first is that I have a few days of high energy. I’m using energy on a much lower level than usual and I have loads of energy to spare. The second is that my cardio fitness level immediately starts to decline, and it feels like I get booted back to my pre-training starting point. I didn’t notice much of the high energy boost that normally comes from time off this time. Things were hectic, stressful and I got sick (We were isolating for Covid Exposure, but I never had a temperature, so that’s not likely what I got).

On the whole, there were some benefits to the break that isolation forced, but my body has always seemed to lose fitness faster than most people in a similar age and fitness range and regain it slower. The third ride marked when things caught up to me. The first two were short and I had some residual energy. The third ride was when the residual energy took a nosedive and the reduced fitness reared its ugly head. I was working hard. I was really stiff, and tired the day after. I had an opportunity to ride that next day and I didn’t take it. I only felt a little bit bad about that.

The third ride also showed some excitement. A rafter of, probably 30, turkeys crossing the trail in front of me. I remember the first time I ever saw a 7 turkeys. I was so excited. Then Russ said “That’s nothing. Wait till I take you to Tennessee.” In Tennessee there were groups of 12 or 20 fairly often in the fields beside the roads. My grandson said “Well, if you think there were 30, then there were probably only 15” when I was telling about it. All I have to say about that is, he should have been there. This was over the top, and they were strolling leisurely when I first saw them. My phone wasn’t in my pocket. As soon as I hit the brakes to get it out of my bike bag they took off like a shot. I don’t know if it was my change in movement, or if the brakes made some noise I couldn’t hear, but they were scattered before I even had my hands on the camera and my gloves that are supposed to work with electronics don’t. I shot footage anyway, just in case I could catch any little bit of what I had just seen. No photo, it didn’t happen, right. Man, I wish I was filming already.

I first thought of the idea of filming rides to capture sights like this and other nature through seasonal changes for people who can’t enjoy them in person on the Big Creek Greenway. The Greenway has a lot more urban encroachment than the Silver Comet and Chief Ladiga trails do in most areas. It is built in a streambed. That’s good urban planning, to put recreational space in a flood zone. It protects the stream and habitat fairly well, and provides some flood water management in a place with no building potential. Because there is so much urban encroachment right up to the greenway, the animal population is more crowded and less skittish around humans. That sometimes makes for more individual sightings. The Silver Comet doesn’t have as much human pressure, but the animals are not as used to people constantly crowding into their space, so you may not actually notice the animals so much out there, even though the urban pressure is much lower. It’s also possible out there to get lost in the ride and miss the wildlife with the wide open stretches. In on the Greenway, the traffic of all kinds really prevents a responsible trail user from checking out mentally, even during non-pandemic crowd levels. I still think sometime that recovery rides on the Greenway would add a nice variety to the mix. Each trail has its benefits. On the Silver Comet you won’t get reliable nearly daily deer sightings. On the Greenway you’re not going to see a giant rafter of turkeys. That was a really awesome first.

Part of what makes this project perfect for Kickstarter is that the Kickstarter process will be in a sense a “market test” of sorts and that test will provide me some invaluable guidance, I will ride as much as I can regardless. As long as I am physically and financially able, I’m going to go out here and ride. How much that happens and whether or not I film it will depend on the Kickstarter. I believe in the video project, but people have to know it exists to make use of it. If the project gets support, then people will know and I will film and press for the max, if it doesn’t, i’ll know that the idea didn’t catch and people wouldn’t have seen it anyway. I have a constant flow of ideas. I have committed to this one, in part to make it through Covid-19 and beyond. In part to help others do the same.

Rewarding Rides

The rewards for this ride project will be many, both tangible and intangible, personal and shared, from Biophilia to entertainment, we hope to create rewards that just keep on giving, and you don’t even have to support us to get some of them. We also want to go low impact on as many different levels as we can, from all of the choices we make while doing the project, to helping people get some of the benefits of traveling for their ride without having to go anywhere.

We are doing this a bit atypical in that we want to give away what we produce at the goal level. But that’s really the point, to give people something to make their lives better regardless of the level of technology they have. We plan to make that easy by uploading goal level video to Youtube. There is some video already available to people on Youtube, but much of it has music audio instead of natural sounds, so it loses much of the effect and I haven’t found anything that is long like what we want to do, not in duration of the ride nor in the changing of seasons.

We will give three choices in rewards for supporters with an fourth that will become available as stretch goals are made. The rewards are: A digital photo calendar, an iNaturalist listing, or a small personalized bit of our writing talent.

The 2022 Calendar

We will use photographs taken before, after, and possibly during the rides to make several digital calendars to be used as a desktop wallpaper or phone screensavers. Using these calendars will, I hope extend the enjoyment of the trail and the project a bit beyond its primary goal. Every calendar will have 2 choices per month so that you can choose the one you prefer. They will be available for download in December of 2021. Most of the photography in this website was taken with one of our phone cameras. Photography for the calendars will be primarily taken by me with my Nikon D810. I think I could get lost enough in this reward to make it a project on its own. Well, it is, kind of.

The Calendar options will be:

Landscapes: Mostly viewed from the trail, but there are some pretty nice landscapes in the surrounding areas

Wildlife: The best of what we get

Signs: Odd street signs, graffiti, local culture

Sets and Scenery: Places that you may recognize from recent movies and other productions.

The Trail: Landmarks and special spots on the trail, like Brushy Mountain Tunnel and Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle.

Architectural Interest: Buildings or features on buildings that are particularly interesting, unique or beautiful.

iNaturalist Listings

The second choice for rewards is iNaturalist listings. Really, all of my rewards are additional side projects to some degree. I’m offering this one because I think the kind of person my project would appeal to would like this. Also because I know that once I promise it to someone other than myself, I will make the time and do it. It is worth doing. Last year I signed up when it was promoted in relationship to E. O Wilson and his Half Earth Project. Making it an offering in my project is a way of showing appreciation to supporters while committing myself to do the work. This will be limited to 365 listings. I’m calling that a limit of “one per day”. While the project itself will last well longer than that, I think trying to do more would be a mistake. I will do those as I can. I tried to think of a way to let people choose a species, but it seemed too complicated. I’ll be trying to limit the time I spend on any single species to 2 hours and, I don’t know how things will work on my side of this, but there should be a way for me to let you know which species was uploaded for you.

A Poem by Karen or Russ

Did you ever want to have a poetry written just for you? I’m not claiming to be any great talent, but maybe it will be fun. Give us a subject and we’ll try for at least a smile. The first poem I remember writing was:

I am so tired

I would have admired it

If I could have hired

Someone to be tired

For me

I think I was around 2nd grade. My parents were really tired. This popped into my head and out of my mouth. It made them laugh, agree, and tell me I was creative, so I was really proud of myself. I believe is is probably my most appreciated literary work (though I have actually had small works published here and there). Hopefully this will be some silly or sweet fun.

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 January 5

Sign on the Equipment Room Door between the Men’s and Women’s Restrooms at Tara Drummond Trailhead

These signs are all over Georgia, on all the doors on all the buildings of businesses and public spaces glaring at you like the warning on a pack of cigarettes.

Isolation came into our lives. We have 2 adults in the household in “essential” work. The exposure that caused our isolation was not caused by their jobs, nor was it caused by any choice that a person in our household made, and while I feel like pouring my heart out (visualize Disney’s Thumper) “If you can’t say sumthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

It looked like we were going to get through our isolation with no symptoms, but I woke up in the wee hours this morning with a migraine level headache. I wouldn’t take NSAIDs because they can complicate Covid-19, but I wanted to so badly. Migraine Formula Excedrin is as likely as not to knock a migraine out for me. Soon I was running to toss my cookies, maybe it was the headache, but headache and vomiting are also symptoms of Covid-19 that some doctors think are underreported. I didn’t feel like it was Covid, but Russ and I immediately separated anyway. Later this morning I was glazing over while thinking about the details of my will, unable to concentrate on anything well, not able to go back to sleep either. I turned on NPR to get my mind off of dying. I mean really, I didn’t specifically mention my car in the will. I wasn’t planning to still have this car by then, but it would have been stressful for everyone if I had started texting people about the disposition of my property.

By mid afternoon I was able to hold down two tablespoons of fluid and by late afternoon I was eating the banana and crackers I had requested for later tonight and asking for a bowl of rice on top. I can’t wait for toast in the morning. When I get out of bed, I don’t have that awful flu feeling, the one where you feel fine laying there, but when you get up you wonder why you thought it was a good idea to move, even a finger. I actually feel like I could do more. Covid-19 is sometimes misleading, so who knows? It kind of feels like whiplash at the moment. Actually, the month, no, the whole year has felt a bit like whiplash, incredulity and roller coasters. During that brief two or so hours when I was beginning to think it could be Covid, there was a little piece of calm in the center of the storm, and a little of it stayed as I started to feel better. Hopefully, I’m about to sleep now and I’ll wake up better this time.

So, training this week was shot. Next week will be too. By Georgia rules, I can get out of Covid Purgatory if I take a test in a few days, but honestly, this has been so strange. I never even had a fever. I’m going to let them stick that swab up someone else’s nose and give it the no test time period.

Here’s a link from Cycling Weekly on healthy cycling. Stay healthy guys! And, make sure you have a will too.

Training Tuesday December 29

This week I was able to ride several days in a row. It was a little cool, but felt really good. Russ wasn’t able to ride much, that didn’t feel good. Then there was a holiday and weather gap. So, it was a lot of riding then a pause.

On the last day before the pause, the Tara Drummond Trailhead provided a first time experience. Llamas! And I wouldn’t have seen them if my day hadn’t become a disaster and rearranged itself.

Tracy Monroe

It was such perfect timing too. Last week while looking for fall photos to publish I noticed how many more I had that looked like summer. I needed to take more pictures. And what to my wondering eyes should appear this week? Well, this week gave me llamas. I’ve been using this trail for 20 years and seen a lot of unusual things out here, really, a lot, but never llamas.

Tracy from Wit’s End Llamas was very nice and knowledgeable. She talked and shared and posed for me. She was out raising awareness for a virtual trek. It will end soon, but if you’re impressed by what you see on these pages, charitable organizations are just as happy to receive your donations when they aren’t actively promoting as they are any other time.

Under the category of “Things I didn’t know”, I saw this while looking at the links on the card she gave me. Did you know that nanobodies exist? That’s pretty cool.

Later in the week we did some work on the project video and liked some of what we did, but still need to shoot a bunch more, a bunch. That’s frustrating, but I’m trying to stay patient and upbeat about it.

See you next week.

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 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.

Fantasy Island

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.

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