GoPro or No?

Wheel full 70pxIt’s been suggested that I buy a GoPro camera to take on the trip.

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Wheel full 70pxThey look like a pretty nifty device. The idea of automatically documenting the ride as you go along is appealing. But…

1.  It looks high maintenance. Memory cards? Power? Weather resistance?
2. Bike riding is inherently not really smooth. Video quality?
3. Comfort. What is it like to have one of these hanging off your helmet all day?
4. Utility. Does anyone really want to look at 500 or so hours of YouTube video of a quirky route across the US shot at around 10 miles an hour? Doesn’t Google Maps pretty much offer that without all the pedalling?

Wheel full 70pxSo I know nothing about having and using a GoPro. Is it really the best use of around $400 out of the ride budget? I welcome discussion of this, and particularly by folks who have used one of these gadgets.

David Edgren

It’s Not about the Tech

Wheel full 70pxI’ve been looking at the great comments that have been made on the “to-do” list thread as the train I am currently riding traverses the Great Plains in northern North Dakota and it crossed my mind emphatically that my focus during this ride will not be on the gadgets that I would be taking with me.  In other words, I don’t intend to ride for 4,000+ miles watching the screen of my handlebar-mounted iPhone.  I’m not going on the ride for that. If that was the point, I could do the same ride by sitting on my stationary bike at home for about 500 hours over 10 weeks or so. Either way, I’d never see this.

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Now, we can argue the merits of whether that is worth seeing or not, but hey… I’m the one doing the pedaling.

Wheel full 70pxAnd don’t get me wrong.  The tech is great.  On my first long distance bike rides I packed a bunch of paper maps, a North Face tent with shock-corded 1/2 inch/1.25 cm aluminium poles that I had to bungee to the frame, a brass Svea pressurized white gas backpacker stove, a fuel flask, a candle lantern (remember those?) and a bunch of stuff that probably all together weighed more than my bike.  Unless I was at an intersection or a landmark I never really knew where I was. If I broke down out in the boonies I had no way to call for help. My finicky little fork mounted generator- the kind that had a little roller that needed to press just right on the side of the tire- made just enough electricity to power a dim to the point of useless front and rear light. Bike helmets as we know them today pretty much didn’t even exist. But I rode anyway, and took some really great trips.

Wheel full 70pxSo for a modest investment, I’ll be outfitted on this trip with stuff I couldn’t have even dreamed up in 1970. But no matter how good it all is, no matter how amazing, it isn’t what the ride is about. That’s how you’ll know me if I happen to pass by. I’ll be the guy with my head up, looking around, and making the most out of crossing the country at about 10 miles an hour.

David Edgren

I’m on the way across the country…

…no, not on the bike.  On the train.

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Wheel full 70pxMy wife and I left Boston yesterday and pulled in to Chicago this morning. We are now on the Empire Builder leaving Milwaukee and due in Seattle on Wednesday.

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Wheel full 70pxI had hoped to complete several posts while on the train, but there is no wi-fi except for my iPhone hotspot. That is proving difficult to use. I’ll be working offline and see what I can get done that way. Lots on the way.

David Edgren

To-Do List 0.1

Wheel full 70pxA first cut at a to-do list, in no particular order.  These are all items that involve accomplishing something between now and July 25th.  The ones followed by question marks are things I need to research/make decisions about.

  • Dietitian
  • Endocrinologist
  • Dentist
  • Bicycling shoes
  • Socks and underwear
  • Pants and shorts
  • Shirts and outerwear
  • Rain gear
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Meds
  • Strava?
  • Data plan upgrade
  • Solar panel?
  • RidewithGPS
    • Finalize routing
    • ID bike shops along route
    • ID lodging/campgrounds along route
  • Cue sheets
    • Print and laminate
  • Bounce box?
  • Street clothes
  • Street shoes
  • ID JAX bicycle shop
    • Arrange assembly of bike in JAX
  • Air travel ANC to Florida
  • Ground travel airport to JAX
  • Pre-ride lodging/camping in JAX
  • AAA?
  • iPhone Quadlock stem/handlebar mount
  • Quadlock cardio monitor
  • Camera
    • iPhone card upload cable
  • Sunblock
  • First aid kit
  • Personal care items
  • GP
    • heatstroke?
    • salt tablets?
    • chafing
    • muscle pains
    • numbness
  • Goggles?
  • Helmet
  • Handlebar mirror
  • Handlebar tape
  • Handlebar speaker?
  • Gloves
  • Camelback?
  • Frame mount pump
  • Water bottle(s)
  • Lock(s)
  • Quicklink
  • Chain lube
  • Extra tubes
  • Extra tire
  • Tools
    • tire bars
    • inflation gauge
    • patch kit
    • hex wrenches

Future iterations of this list will become increasingly sophisticated.  If you see anything I am missing or an item you want to give me input on or about, please comment below.

Two Months

Jacksonville Atlas Map 800px

Wheel full 70pxOn July 25th, two months from today, I will dip my wheels in the Atlantic Ocean at Atlantic Beach, Florida, and start pedaling west.  Lots to do in that time, and in the weeks ahead this blog will become a busy place.

Wheel full 70pxStay tuned.

David Edgren

Checking the Mail

Wheel full 70pxLet’s take a look at the comments on the first couple of posts.

b2b mailbox road

I plan to respond to everyone who comments, but will plan to do it every so often in a post like this instead of on the fly.  That said, rules are made to be broken.

On April 12th, my friend and temporal pony rider Kyle Kiernan wrote

My experience in Florida suggests you consider bending your route at about Tallahassee southward to the US98 on the coast and follow that all the way to Pensacola etc. Some excellent coastal scenery and small towns along that way.

As it stands your route passes within 2 (unit of distance) from my house. Looking forward to your journey.

That’s a definite alternate possibility, Kyle.  I’m making a list of those, and will hope to get more feedback once I start (probably the end of this week) contacting local clubs and describing my plans.  One thing that will happen for sure, though, is that we’ll meet up for a bit as I am in your neighborhood.

The next day, I heard from another friend from the ‘net: Mimeytown.

I will second that recommendation on U.S. 98, also highly recommend taking a day and riding the St. Marks Trail–perfect route to take to get to U.S. 98.

In Jacksonville I would say take Beach Boulevard instead of Atlantic Boulevard, highly recommend you start your trip on a Sunday morning at about 7:15 a.m.

The St. Marks Trail may well seal the deal on that re-route onto US 98.  I have tried hard to incorporate substantial sections of rail-trails into the route all the way across the country and will make them the subject of a future post.  My main criteria for including a rail-trail stretch is that the trail be paved or surfaced in crushed gravel suitable for road bike tires.  I have checked out a few trails in the west that at first glance looked perfect and, on looking more closely, found out that they were surfaced with graded ballast.  That just won’t work.

Thanks too for the tip about traffic in Jacksonville- I have already changed that stretch after thinking about having the first day of the ride being so totally urban.  The new routing is here [linkie].

Later on the 13th I heard from my friend Former Commenter:

David-

You’re definitely passing within 1/2 mile of my location!

How about a contact email address associated with this trip for those who don’t want to share specific information online for one reason or another?

Another stop that will definitely be made.

The contact address is being set up as this is written.  Something glitched the first time I tried to do it, and a WordPress “Happiness Engineer” is working on it.  Great suggestion!

UPDATE:  To email me (and just me) please use info@b2bbiketrip.com

Mimeytown stopped back by on the 13th to remark:

David if you are planing to camp while crossing North Florida, I would suggest using standard “bear protocols”.
http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/Wildlife-Officials-Florida-Bears-Abundant-Totaling-4350-373406651.html

That’s excellent advice anywhere in bear country, and comes as second nature to an Alaskan.  I had a vague recollection of there being bears in Florida- the link is good info, as I plan to camp the first couple of nights out.  I assume once I reach the GC beaches the bear count falls off pretty significantly.

After almost a month’s gap following my first post here, everything got rolling again.  Another friend (heck, we’re all friends here- let’s just assume that from this point even if you are a complete stranger up to this point), Wisconsin Bound, lamented yesterday:

Am I missing a link to the various segments of your ride? I think I’ve clicked everything clickable.

I probably missed setting up a link somewhere- I’ll go back and check.  In the meantime, any weblink I create from this point will be followed with the word “[linkie]” just to make things for sure.  WB, the “Routes” index page of my Ride with GPS page is here [linkie].

After I posted the specs for the bike later on the 10th, Jeanette Victoria observed:

Ouch I’ve never spent more than a $1000.00 for a bike (that was 15 years ago). I’m been out of the game for over a decade so I really can’t help you, also I preferred the hybrid bikes with fatter tires.

I was actually fairly surprised.  I’ve been hearing way too much about $5,000 bikes recently.  This bike only costs just under twice what my first car- a 1973 AMC Gremlin- cost.

Gremlin Halftone 800px

Fatter tires?  What’s with the recent trend of mounting motorcycle tires on bicycles?  I’m seeing them everywhere but where they should be- on the beach.

Charles Hudson showed up on the 10th and said:

It sounds like you might be planning to break it in on the journey. Maybe your builder can point out a few good shops along the way to get the 200 mile, 600 mile, 1000 mile, etc. adjustments. You could communicate with those shops in advance, emailing them your bike components, so that they will be expecting you and knowing what to do when you show up.

More excellent advice.  One of the things I’m doing in detailing my maps/cue sheets is to note the location of every bicycle shop I can find within a reasonable distance of the route.  Sending the info in advance though- a brilliant idea.

Kyle Kiernan stopped back in today with more US 98 suggestions:

Good idea moving your route to follow Business 98 through Panama City. Suggest at mile 13 you continue to stay on 98 which will take you through the town of St. Andrews. Nice park with a huge live oak in it (the Old Sentry), nice little main street. you can either follow Beck Ave up to 98 where it bends up to 18th street then head West or take back roads from the light at 15th street and rejoin 98 at the stoplight at Michigan Avenue.

After crossing the big bridge, there is a branching of Front Beach Road from 98 which will shortly lead you to Bay Street Deli if you like good bagels and its easy to get back on 98 from there. or you can take Front Beach Road along the beach all the way to Inlet Beach and rejoin 98 there.

you can contact me at kyle_kiernan at excite.com if you have any questions.

That’s the kind of info that will take this endeavor way beyond just being a ride (a long, long ride, heh!) from Point A to Point B to being a richly detailed journey.  Thanks so much, Kyle and everyone, for making it so.

US 98 Sign

and

spares?
bad idea to do without the special seat unless you are planning significant pre-conditioning.
0$ taxes? What are those going to turn out to be? and if the invoice is true how does this escape taxes?

I’ve had the shop add an extra tire, several extra spokes and two tubes.  I’d really appreciate input as far as what other folks feel like are essential spares beyond that.  Bike shops are few and far between out west.

As far as the seat goes, Kyle, I’ll be miserable in the short term, but better off over the course of the ride.  As I’ve noted elsewhere, I should be kicked in the ass for the weight I’ve put on over the years.  This should teach it a lesson.

Taxes?  Heh!  I’m an Alaskan.  We don’t pay no steenkin’ taxes.  Alaskans have been exempt in Washington state, and I thought also Oregon, from state and local sales taxes as long as I have lived there.  It appears, though, that Oregon may not have a sales tax that applies to this purchase.  Wow- and here I thought I was special.

Loren, who appears to be a new friend (remember- rules are made to be broken), came by a bit ago and opined:

Looks like they are building some good, strong wheels for this. 36 spoke Velocity rims. Also looks like they are selling you 4 extra spokes, fwiw. Looks like a good solid build. I don’t see any of the bike parts that look like they are cheaping out on you. OTOH, I don’t see any places where they are obviously over spec-ing the componentry.

I think there is no tax, as this is Oregon, and I think they are one of the states without a sales tax.

Thanks!  I really had a good feeling about Darrin and Bike Gallery [linkie] generally.  That’s great to hear- the wheels were his recommendation.  Although I will add some spokes to those four- my wife Heather and I broke eight spokes all at once on an invisible bump along US 101 while riding the Oregon Coast on our Burley tandem in the late 90s.  We were so glad we had 10 with us.

Thanks too for the info about the taxes.  You learn something every day.

Loren then came back by a bit ago:

Oh, WRT to the saddle, bike shorts are designed as a part of the overall system. I find the Pactimo brand to be comfortable, but there are others such as Pearl Isumi, Castelli. Assos are supposed to be the freaking bomb, but are out of my price range and I have never worn any. There are companies that make a bike short under-short to give you the padding where you need it, while letting you wear street clothes over them. A product known as Chamois Butter is also a life saver of your nether regions, particularly if you are not used to as much time on the saddle as you are planning.

My thinking exactly.  My problem with biking clothing, which I haven’t yet begun to search for, is that I’m a big, big guy.  Fifty-two inch/132 cm waist, 360 pounds/163 kg big.  Shame on me.  I am praying that there is a manufacturer out there that recognizes that not everyone who rides a bike weighs 150 pounds/68 kg.  Once again, please make any recommendations you think are appropriate.

I’ll close this out with a PM from my former law partner and all around great guy Darin Goff, who is a go-to bicycling guy.  I reached out to him and a couple of other folks on facebook concerning my proposed choice of bikes for the ride and received the following back from him:

Great choice on the Disc Trucker.  You’re getting a lot of bike for the money.
Some of this stuff I don’t know by part number so I’m kind of guessing.
Great choice on rims and tires.  I run the Marathon Supreme.  It is.  Durable and actually quite fast.  I had new wheels built for my randonneuse this spring–They are the A23 “mini Dyads.”  I like them.
Pleased to see dyno lighting in your build.  I have dynamo lighting but my dyno is a Schmidt Son Deluxe.  The Son is preferred by my randonneuring buddies but they ride 24 hours at a time and having the light fail is unacceptable.  I have heard good and bad about Shutter Precision dynos, enough bad that I would stay away. I don’t know anyone who uses the Shimano but Peter White sells it and he usually don’t sell junk, although you have to pay for his opinion as well.
My headlight is a Busch & Miller Luxos U which has a handlebar mounted on/off/USB port.  I run the light day or night.  The beam is amazing and adjusts when you slow down to cover more area on the side.  I don’t notice a change in efficiency whether the dyno is on or off.  I have not tried to charge a USB device with it.   I also have a Busch & Miller toplight for the rear which pulses when you slow down and is very noticeable.  My only complaint about the Luxos is it is large and retro looking, but the performance is superb.  Another choice would be Edulux.  Supernova obviously makes killer lights and if you’ve researched them thoroughly then don’t worry about it.  Otherwise the Busch & Miller light might offer an alternative to the Supernovas and “the Plug” (I can’t run the Plug because I have a threaded headset).  There can be issues running headlights, tail lights and USB charging at the same time on these systems.  I hear a lot of complaints about people trying to run the GPS and then they switch on the light and the GPS goes off.
Consider a Brooks B17 saddle.  Most of the randonneurs I know ride on it or a variation of it.  I have ridden on my two B17s for ten years.  That’s ten years, commuting, training, multiple metric centuries, centuries and a 200km brevet without a saddle sore.
Fenders keep you and the bike clean and dry  on wet roads after it rains but don’t do shit while its actually raining.  Drink coffee while it rains (you are taking an Aeropress, right?).  SKS Longboards are cheap and provide maximum coverage when you hit the road while the road is still wet.
Rear cassette looks like the max spread which is good.  What size chain rings on the cranks?  I’d consider a 22 inner ring but a 24 might do.  A lot of “touring” cranksets are really geared too high for fully loaded touring. Check out Bruce Gordon’s rants on this subject.
The back rack is a bontrager?  Is it welded chromoly or aluminium?  I’m partial to the Surly, Tubus and Nitto racks which are chromoly and stronger, but are more expensive.  I’ve seen several aluminum trek racks fail.  The Surly’s are noticeably heavier than most as well.  Tubus are bullet proof and elegant.  Nitto are brazed by samurai sword makers and are too expensive unless you are trying to make your bike look like French art.
Good choice on bags.  I have Ortliebs.
With those thoughts out there, nothing wrong with this bike at all.  Have a good ride!
I am not worthy.  Darin, thanks for the time you have put into getting back to me.  Fenders!  How could I have forgotten?  This will give me a lot to talk about with Darrin tomorrow when I head into Portland.  Thanks so much.
Wheel full 70pxAnyway, very long post.  Back with the promised to-dos, maybe tonight, but for sure tomorrow.
David Edgren