They Just aren’t the Same

apples ≠ oranges

Wheel full 70pxI’m spending the day doing hand-built detailed elevation profiles for the Mississippi River ride on a website called GPS Visualizer.  Both RidewithGPS and the Google Maps API will automatically create profiles from a route, but for the reason I will explain here I find them about useless for anything other than quick general info.

Wheel full 70pxHere’s why.  The next two images are greatly reduced Google Maps of two of the 50 mile/80 km days I have broken the entire 2,250 mile/3,621 kilometer route into.

Wheel full 70pxIf you look to the last 25 miles/40 kilometers of each day’s elevation chart you will see a what appears to be a honkin’ big hill in about the same place each day.  Note that the x-axis “Distance” of each chart is exactly the same length- 50 miles/80 km.  If that’s as far as you look, though, you are left with a sense that each day there will be quite a challenge right after lunchtime.  A closer look, though, discloses that the y-axis “Elevation” of each chart, even though appearing to be divided into equal units, could not be much less comparable.  The elevation “window” of the day on the left is about 400 feet/122 meters.  The day on the right is about 40 feet/12 meters.


Wheel full 70pxNow, I know that the folks at Google Maps and at RidewithGPS aren’t trying to mislead or confuse me.  I’m sure that there are considerations that cause the charts to be created the way that they appear, and that in fact most everyone takes away useful info when they look at them.  But here’s the two GPS Visualizer charts for the last 25 miles/40 kilometers of each day with the Elevation axis using the same measurement units.  First, the one that we know has the truly monster hill.

018-S St. Paul to Hager City Mile 0025 to 0050 800px

That clearly is going to present a challenge.  The second chart…

082-vic New Roads to South Baton Rouge Mile 0025 to 0050 800px

Not so much, eh?

A Couple of Figures

Wheel full 70pxI just realized while posting on facebook today that my Surly Disc Trucker as equipped including the racks and panniers cost just under a dollar per mile for each of the close to 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) that I rode it last fall.


Surly LHT 800px

At the Bike Gallery, the shop in Portland that put it all together.  The pedals
at this point were temporaries and that bottom water bottle clip came off and
was replaced by a frame pump, but that’s pretty much the way it looked (plus
an Ortlieb seat stem tool bag) when I rode down the Atlantic coast.

Wheel full 70pxI’ve also figured that the 80 or so pounds (36 kilograms) I lost in preparing for and during the trip cost me a little less than two hundred dollars apiece when you figure in the cost of the whole trip. You can do the math- it’s why I never want to gain any of that weight back.

It’s Just This Little Chromium Switch Here…

Wheel full 70pxTime to plug things back in.

Plugging In 800px

Wheel full 70pxWell hey there!  Nice to see you again.  And…

Greetings from Alaska 800px

Wheel full 70pxA little less than a year ago I made my first post on  A lot of pavement has passed under my wheels since then.  But you all know that from previous posts here.

Wheel full 70pxI’m journaling my Halifax, Nova Scotia to Key West, Florida at the website [linkie].  I’ve been working on my journal there since just before Christmas. There’s about 1,500 photos posted there so far and detailed accounts, again so far, of my days riding between Halifax and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Here’s a [linkie] to the day I arrived in Yarmouth, and you can work backwards east from there.  Pictures are up all the way through Acadia National Park, and I’m planning to put a bunch more up shortly.  I don’t plan, given this effort, to post anything else about last year’s trip here.  Rather, I will use this blog to document this year’s planned rides, which are:

  • Palmer, Alaska to Chena Hot Springs, Alaska, planned for June 22nd through June 30th

Palmer-Chena Hot Springs RwGPS 800px

This will be 390 miles/625 kilometers in six days with a good friend.  We’ll be self-supported and camping, with our wives driving up to pick us up at the hot springs campground at the end.  Grades are pretty gentle except for  a few places south of Denali National Park and between Nenana and Fairbanks.  Here’s a [linkie] to the RidewithGPS route.

  • Lake Itasca, Minnesota to Venice, Louisiana, planned for August 24th through October 18th

Mississippi River Trip RwGPS 800px

This is the big deal ride for the year:  2,250 miles/3,620 kilometers in 52 days.  I’ll be riding unsupported by myself, except that I invite anyone and everyone who would like to ride any portion of the route to let me know.  The more the merrier.  I plan to camp with one or two motel stops each week, either of which would become WarmShowers [linkie] stays if one is available, and buy food along the way instead of cook- a plan that worked for me really well last fall.  As I’ve noted elsewhere the route is downhill (mostly) all the way.  Here’s the [linkie] to the route mapping I’ve done in a preliminary journal started on the crazyguyonabike siteA daily itinerary, which is a work in process and which I am updating every few days, is at this [linkie].

Wheel full 70pxSo thanks for your patience in waiting for me to resurface.  I look forward to keeping up whatever standards I had previously set in this blog, which was modestly successful due to your interest.  I also look forward to reading and responding to your comments, and thanks in advance for making them.

Wheel full 70pxHere’s a last photo, taken yesterday, which should give you an idea of what I’ve been doing away from the computer.

Bike at Shop in Palmer 650px