GoPro or No?

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


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.


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