We’ve had some good rides, getting better too. Today I was actually warm enough to want to take off a layer. I think we’ll be riding at the same level soon, but it won’t last long. Russ will pass me by. That’s fine, he’s the stronger rider when we’re both riding regularly. We’ll soon both be out of winter level riding mode and shortly after that will be riding out target 200 miles a week. We won’t be so concerned about getting those miles consolidated into just two rides until the project funds. Health wise, more shorter rides are good. Two hundred-mile rides is for making the project/rest of our lives work. Fantasy Island, we’d live in the middle and spread the rides across more days.
Planning and Prep
We’re doing our best to rebound from the getting laid off curve ball. Russ and I had opposite reactions and coping mechanisms. We were both oversaturated with one thing after another, but I wanted to move into hyperdrive on the project and have it submitted before his last check. He did a lot, but he also needed some time to regroup. We’ve been moving through the transition together and trying to balance short term, long term, project and non-project goals. It’s been real, but I think we’re moving into a good spot. It will make more sense to talk about some of the things we’ve been working on when they are ready.
For some time I’ve been planning the sale of stock that was originally intended to be listed in our Etsy Store, handmade, vintage and antiques. This week I worked in the basement a lot separating things that I still want to list from things that increases in shipping cost have made undesirable to sell online. I’m rechecking market prices on the items I’m packing for the trip to the driveway. Handling the boxes dries my hands even more than doing dishes!
Originally, I was hoping to make enough to advertise the Kickstarter Funding Campaign. Then a lot of other things happened. A modest goal of $5K would require selling 1000 items at $5 each. My target sale price would be half of recent Ebay sold prices without shipping. I have plenty of stock and that represents about a 75% discount over what ordering on line would cost, but that’s still pretty ambitious in the greater Atlanta market. If I have too much left over afterward, I’ll head off to some flea market on the first feasible weekend.
We’ll see. We also have some big ticket items in storage, like a vintage St Charles kitchen that we paid to salvage ourselves from a tear down. It is really special. A guy drove from Kentucky to get just one piece of it. Selling that alone could meet some significant goals and we’d like to get out of the storage unit. Whether you adopt Marie Kondo’s pre or post children philosophy, it seems crazy to keep things you have to pay to store. But, adding to that, the storage facility was sold to a company that likes to raise rent often and now it’s nearly double what we paid when we signed the contract.
So, there are a few different ways the sale could fund one or more of the unexpected expenses that have hit recently and we might even eliminate a storage rental fee. Worst case, it forces me into better organization.
So there’s our week. See you on the trail, and have a glorious day!
Many project decisions have been clear and easy, but bicycles are the difficult exception. Until the project I never paid attention to bicycle features unless I had to buy one. Then I just went to a local bike shop and let them tell me what I wanted for my purpose and price range. That price range has never been top dollar. I like my current Giant Avail. In a trusted shop, asking the experts is not a bad way to go. For our purpose, I’ve confirmed with more exploration that our bikes are the best option in the price range. But, they are 9 years old, and everything is pretty worn, again. While it makes sense to keep it in operating condition for a back up, it doesn’t have the features that will make the project better. A new bike seems the way to go, but in a crowdfunded project, it’s not just the right decision that matters, it’s also how apparent it it that you’ve made a considered and appropriate choice and you can get that across. Pricing is a big part of that…and, there’s such a spectrum, in users, use, and price sensitivity.
Searching “How much does the average bike cost” returns this article suggesting an entry level quality used bike at $1,000-2500. But then, our use will be far from average. For instance: while trying to find out if my cables should need replacing now, I worded the search badly and got the answer that they should last 20 years, but that article also mentioned that the average bike was ridden 200 miles in the first 5 years and 200 more in the next 15. There was a time when I looked like that average, but my tires aren’t dry rotting in the garage anymore. I’m wearing them out. And, I’m adjusting to a new perspective. While it seemed like this set of cables was prematurely needed, I do have the 2-3000 miles on them that they are supposed to last. Mileage is the metric more relevant to the project and my current use. I’ll likely never reach that place where the cost of my bike eclipses the cost of my car, but over the next year or two, I may ride as many miles as many of the people who do.
The pandemic, wreaked havoc with bike availability, so I’ve been watching things shift and considering every option. Now that wave of unavailability could produce a wave of used bikes from people who didn’t keep riding, or those who moved up into more expensive bikes. Reviews like this one have helped with information as simple as what size is available in a certain make and model. I liked the fit of my large women’s bike when I got the Avail, but not many bikes come in a women’s large. Part of my trouble in even finding a used bike was not realizing that my search criteria didn’t exist.
For size, going used probably puts me in a mens or unisex bike (which I might end up doing in a new bike as well). Another part of my lack of confidence in getting a used men’s (or women’s) bike is related, fit. Not having the knowledgeable advice of a local bike shop for fit is suboptimal, especially when we plan to spend so much time on the trail. That advice could probably be hired, but it would be a matter of taking someone with you and seeing if that one bike we went to look at fit well enough. There would be no “actually this other bike fits you better” in that scenario. Over the kind of miles we’re doing, the better fit is important to keep us riding. Small departures from the optimal fit wear on a body over the miles.
While in concept, I have no problem with used bikes. (My childhood bikes were second hand. I saved up in high school to get the first new one, a bike with “speeds” I got from Kmart.) The only second hand bike I ever bought myself was a Fuji to leave at Russ’s parents house to ride while visiting. I took it in for a check up and the bike shop recommended more in work than an entry level bike would cost. I didn’t intend to have that much in a stashed bike and ended up riding it only a few times just as it was. It was less trouble than carrying my own and less money than a rental or two, but I’m not sure the bike really needed that much. I know more now, but the experience made me leery of a repeat and project needs are quite different from “Getting a ride in while you’re away”. All these things together mean it likely that I’ll end up on a new bike.
I haven’t spent much time considering a belt drive. It’s not a competitive race so the 5% loss in efficiency does not bother me and the extra quietness is appealing, but there isn’t really any discussion on them in the groups and I just haven’t taken the extra time to explore the makers and the models.
The tubes or tubeless tire decision may be initially made by what ever comes on the bike we end up with and changed after those wear out if we feel the need. Five other criteria have really simplified the optimal endurance bike decision. 1. Full carbon frame for the smoother ride so that the cameras vibrate less. That’s easier on the riders too. 2. A fork that accepts wider tires in case we decide to smooth the ride further. 3. Disc brakes because the longer duration of our rides increase the chances of all weather rides. 4. Electronic shifting for smoother faster shifting and less noise on the video. 5. It has to be available in the right size. It’s obvious from a distance that Russ’s 6’6″ height makes fitting a bike a challenge, but it’s less so with me. I don’t feel so very tall. I spend plenty of time around men and women taller than 6 ft, but the average woman in the US. is 5′ 3.7″ inches. I’m almost 5 inches taller than that.
Those criteria pretty much narrow things to two bikes for me. The Cannondale Synapse, or the Trek Domane. The Synapse has some uniquely handy features, but also some I don’t want. I’m leaning toward the Domane right now. That little storage compartment on the Domane feels hyped and gimmicky, but I think it is actually pretty useful. Having my carry along bike pump tucked away (downsized and stowed in an anti rattle sleeve) out of the weather and trail grit makes it last longer. Even if I decide I still need the bigger pump, the compartment is pretty handy for tools and small electronics too. It’s not enough space for everything we’ll need to carry but it will help. They’re both good bikes. Small differences will make the decision.
Russ’ height limits him considerably in choices. I can move into a men’s or unisex bike and still have a lot of options, but he’s on the high end of humans.
All the bikes get a lot more expensive fast as features are added and my comfort zone is in not having the bike that thieves most want to steal and It looks like either bike with my chosen features will really push what I’ve allowed for a bike, as well as the extra I’ve allowed for the unexpected.
When looking at my trade offs, electronic shifting hits the cutting block first. Some people think it’s the future, and I hear that manufacturers plan to stop making the more expensive group sets (replacement wear parts) for bikes that don’t have it. I may adapt, but my feeling is that once the project is over, I’m not going to want a bike with electronic shifting anymore. The idea of having to charge a bike that doesn’t have pedal assist ahead of time in order to be able to ride seems impractical to me (and if it were the Synapse, the “always on” headlight and the integrated Garmin Varia will require even more energy). I know. There was a time when I thought seat warmers in the car were ridiculous too, but I sure have enjoyed them this winter, especially when my back aches or after a cold ride.
What ever bike I choose may be the best friend I can’t part with before this is over. Even if that happens, I see myself keeping a trusty simple mechanical bike that doesn’t require anything but pedal power ready to ride at any time. We’ll see how it all works out. Hopefully the search for comfort zone endurance bikes will fit our budget, bodies and needs.
What would you do if you couldn’t fail? It’s a big question, with all kinds of implications. You may see it in a self help, inspirational or life coaching context, a job interview or a Ted Talk. And, you would probably answer it differently for all those contexts.
Laura Shultz and her unexpected response to saving her grandson’s life was mentioned in the first piece I ever read on this subject. The experience made her rethink and change her life. Rethinking what’s possible can change everything. Changing everything is big enough to consider often, so I chose a font, a color and a size and went to the local vinyl shop to have them cut the words for me. For at least 4 or 5 years I’ve had that question on my bathroom mirror reminding me to think bigger and stop putting things off for my future self. I see it (whether I think about it or not) several times a day.
The Big Things
My top answer, if anything really was possible, would be the altruistic beauty queen answer tweaked by my understanding of the world, and I’d mean every world of it it. I’d say things like achieve world peace and social justice. It is the social justice, of course, that results in world peace. I’d want governance, business and manufacturing to have real truthful transparency so all interested parties could become an informed and knowledgeable invisible hand.
I’d want to achieve true economic and environmental balance and have equal access to the best healthcare and phenomenal education for all because knowledge is powerful. Physical and mental healthcare would be so good that crime and bankruptcies would be greatly reduced, virtually non existent. We would build thoughtful infrastructure planned for multi-use with wide range benefits for long term low impact sustainability everywhere. My ideas go on with more things than most people agree are good, but don’t know how to accomplish.
These are my top tier dreams. I know how lofty and nearly impossible they are. I can’t bring myself to say that they are actually impossible though because, while I don’t believe a lot of things are likely, I have to leave room for these things to be possible for our future selves, for our grandchildren and theirs. It would take 7.9 billion leaps of faith, but it could happen.
A Medium Thing
I have dreams that are still big, but more realistic too. A year or more ago a vacant school for sale reminded me how much I’d like to bring my co-op idea into being. The site didn’t have enough land to do everything I wanted to, but it had some pretty awesome potential. I sat in the parking lot and imagined a green roof and what could be done with other spaces. The location solved one of many reasons I put the idea aside. It was a reasonable commute. For family reasons it would be difficult to move to a better location right now, but I got so psyched when I saw it on the way to ride my bike from a trailhead I hadn’t been going to, and was ready to set my sights high. I spent the afternoon doing enough Googling to find out the school would be razed. There were already drawings of a chic high rent glass and steel building that would replace the school.
The sighting got me looking at the possible though. I had originally envisioned something built from the ground up, a new building in a rural area near an exit on a high traffic interstate. After I found out the building I looked at was already dead I looked for other abandoned schools or other buildings inside a commute. There were, in fact, some even better sights, with bigger prices to match. I’ve even reimagined it more recently in a trailside version with overnight capacity for cyclists. Maybe after the cycling video I’ll be more of a known entity. Maybe it could be a dream come true instead of a pipe dream. Maybe the message on my mirror is setting up house in my sub-conscious having the intended effect.
The Now Thing
Part of the point in answering the question of what you would do if you couldn’t fail is figuring out how to put your time and effort where your heart is right now instead of editing yourself for some lower level of purpose, success, or happiness while putting off joy and purpose until you feel ready.
While I’m learning not to put off my most important dreams, I also do have to work within the life I currently have. That’s where the cycling project comes in. It isn’t saving all the parts of the whole world in my next to impossible dream right now, but It is consistent with my highest ideals and within my current stretching reach.
Racks are pretty quick and easy to talk about. Through the years, I’ve tried a variety of different kinds of options. As a kid growing up in the rural south, riding my bike always started at home. I never went somewhere else to ride. But then traffic became more crowded and less likely to yield, even in the country, and the distance I wanted to ride grew longer.
Strap on Racks
I started with the inexpensive type that you strap to the trunk or the rear door on a van or hatchback. The benefit to that is cost and the are usually compact to store. The drawbacks are that it takes time to install. Futzing with the straps is time consuming, and if you use it very often, it can become irritating.Some bikes, especially mountain bikes don’t fit very well and can fall of, and they eventually leave dimples in the car body. If you don’t strap it exactly the same every time, there will be dimples in more than one place. So, it’s the low budget option for infrequent use, for the owner who is willing to get a couple of new dimples in their auto body.
After growing out of that variety, I moved to hitch mount racks. First I only used them when I was going to use the truck. Later I started putting trailer hitches on my cars. I don’t tend to drive cars that are designed to tow, so I’m really protective of them. The car bike rack hitch only holds bike racks. I never tow a trailer. I never even put on a cargo tray. Why? Because cargo trays get overloaded. Bike racks have only enough space for the bikes, so they will never be loaded over the weight of those bikes. Ours ar not the super light carbon bikes and they weigh quite enough.
I never consider anything other than a hitch mount any more. I had the kind with an arm that swings out and the bike hang from it. That rack was a Thule similar to this one, well loved, but not as great at Interstate speeds due to vibration and the resulting movement. The bicycle tie-down straps seemed to disappear for a while too, but replacements weren’t expensive and eventually the disappearance seemed to slow. The hanging racks aren’t good for mountain bike frames though. The bike crossbar is at too great an angle and we’ve had to stop to secure my grandson’s mountain bike multiple times of the same trip to a race.That’s not relevant to this project because a mountain bike will never be the right bike for the job. It is relevant to my grandson though, and to date, we’ve never budgeted the cash nor the space for more than one bulky rack. In fact the hitch mount rack only comes off my car when I’m getting it serviced, driving through the carwash, or putting in on the truck instead. The nice part about selling the Thule with the arm though, it brought almost half of what we paid for it.
We’re now pretty committed to hitch mount tray racks. Russ got one at a thrift store for $20. We really liked that rack, but someone in a parking lot backed into it and ended it. We had to replace it really quickly because the mountain bike season was on. My dream rack is the 1 UP aluminum rack. I’ve wanted one since the first time I ever saw it. They’re the high quality, low weight, easy option with fast on and off. People I know who have one say that they don’t know why they waited so long to get it, and no one I know has ever complained about anything related to them. We were considering finally getting that dream boat that every owner loves. Spending almost as much on a rack as I did on a bike was a sticking point though. I know that says more about the cost of my bike than it does the cost of the rack, but still, that was the only reason we don’t have my dream 1 Up, that and the REI Garage sale.
The Garage sale is when REI sells returned merchandise. There are often missing parts, but they will allow you to assemble whatever you’re considering to find out and sometimes the deals are awesome. Clothing is usually not the great deal that some other things can be. I’ve seen things with big holes that are not marked down much. I’m not sure why anyone would purchase that. At this sale, I didn’t even head to the bike racks because missing parts are common and I wasn’t expecting a discount that reflected whatever the condition was. Also, I had that 1 Up on the brain. Russ found a Kuat tray rack, and it was a huge discount. At the time, his idea was that he’d buy this one, and when we found a 1 UP second hand, we’d sell the Kuat for near what we paid. Well, it’s not the 1 UP, but it’s a solidly good rack and we haven’t found the 1 Up second hand (could be that’s a pipe dream, I’ve never met an unhappy owner). If I were spending full retail and making a new purchase decision, I’d probably go ahead and get the 1 UP because there isn’t so much difference in the full retail prices, but when the less expensive rack is selling for half price… The Kuat is a nice rack, but when you use it frequently, that little extra bit of extra effort in putting the bike on the rack adds up over time. The Kuat isn’t extendable either. That hasn’t mattered as much over the pandemic, because we’ve been avoiding the crowds on the Greenway at Big Creek. We used to all go out together and we would ride the Greenway while my grandson rode the MTB trails. Eventually, hopefully soon, we’ll all be going out together again soon. It better be soon, else he’ll be driving himself and he’ll have a job. I’d like to think we’d give him the Kuat and we’d finally get the 1 UP, but the reality is, he’ll get a job and say no thanks. He’ll buy the 1 UP, and we’ll still be using our temporary find.
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.
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.