“brook2bayou” – More Prep

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Wheel full 70pxOK, so the b2b Mississippi River ride- “brook2bayou” journal on crazyguyonabike is starting to take shape.  Today I’m uploading detailed scaled elevation profiles based on 25 mile (40 km) GPX tracks created online on an awesome site- GPSVisualizer.com [linkie]. The first 500 miles are up [linkie] and I hope to have the rest done by this evening. Next step, detailed cue sheets- I’m going to know the name of every stream I cross and lake I pass if it kills me.

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.

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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.

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

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Not so much, eh?

Took a Break

Wheel full 70px I took a break yesterday.  It was my birthday- my 64th- and I figured what the heck.  So I didn’t do anything.  Well, almost.  I did get on the (unloaded) bike and ride a half mile/800 meters downhill to get a Subway footlong double meat roast beef sandwich for lunch, then back just past the motel to a Rite-Aid drugstore for some first aid kit stuff and a tape measure, then back to my room.  Later I ate a middling size bag of air-popped olive oil and sea salt flavored popcorn and went to bed early after a nice phone call with my wife.

Wheel full 70px Oh, and I glued my rapidly falling apart left shoe.

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Wheel full 70px Today it’s so far, so good.

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Wheel full 70px We’ll see.

Wheel full 70px And, now that I think about it, I used the tape measure I bought to check out my waist size.  I got some bad news- none of my pants will even close to fit when I get home.  I’ll spare you the photo, as I’m sure you get the idea.

Wheel full 70px The rest of the day I relaxed and tried to figure out why a month’s worth of riding every day hadn’t seemed to translate into greater stamina and endurance.  I seem to continue to be running out of both go-power and daylight right around the 35-40 mile/~55-65 kilometer point each day.  I really had hoped to be solidly into 50 mile/80 kilometer days by now.  I’ve managed two.

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Wheel full 70px I rolled different ideas around and around during the day yesterday and think that I have come up with the answer.  Along the Nova Scotia coast where I started, pretty much every day the total elevation gain was under 2,000 feet/600 meters, with most days less than 1,500 feet/450 meters climbed.  Since I’ve been riding in New Brunswick and Maine, comparable distances every day but one or two have seen a total elevation gain of over 2,000 feet/600 meters with a handful over 2,500 feet/750 meters.  My experience tells me that the hills in Maine and New Brunswick have been by and large more steep, too.  It is hard to get good grade information off of the RidewithGPS app on an iPhone, but I’m pretty sure that there have been a number of significant hills with a 10% grade or more.  I have a hard time believing, given my physical condition at the start of the trip, that I am pedaling all the way up these hills.  I know that a few have left me completely spent for a half hour or so after I reached the crest.  I know that I was not dealing, with but one or two exceptions, with any hills like these in Nova Scotia.

Wheel full 70px So I do have more stamina and go-power.  I’m just expending it on more significant hills, and my daily rides are shorter as a result.  There’s good news, though, ahead.  The total elevation gain projected by RidewithGPS for the entire trip is right about 90,000 feet/27,000 meters.  I have overcome, based on my cumulative daily ride stats, just about 55% of that gain- a little less than 50,000 feet/15,000 meters in the mileage ridden to date- about a quarter of the length of the entire ride.  This leaves 40,000 feet/12,000 meters of gain for the remaining three-quarters, and I’ll burn through about 10,000 feet/3,000 meters more before I leave Maine.

Wheel full 70px What I’ll do then is reduce my planned daily miles for about the next week.  I figure, adding in yesterday’s rest day and the low mileage days in the Acadia area, that this will put me five days behind the schedule I published in a post a few days ago.  I now expect to be in Boston on the 28th of this month and arriving in Key West in the second week of November.  I’ll update the entire schedule in a day or so.

Wheel full 70px In the meantime, I need to get back on the bike and ride.

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Damn the mosquitoes, full speed ahead

Wheel full 70px My friend OldRoadDog commented on my post about pine tree gum (which you can find here [linkie]) and hit a sore spot.  The comment read

Also, in Canada the mosquitoes hang out in the shaded tree areas. Pitch the tent 20 yards or more from the trees.

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Wheel full 70px I hate mosquitoes.  A lot. A hatred based on intense familiarity at several points in time in my life.  So I started a response and realized that I was really writing a post.  So here it is- I wrote

I’ve had two nights with mosquitoes out of the whole trip. I’ve used a can of cheapoTarget 10% DEET spray to ward them off. It’s worked like a charm, but I’m well aware that I might come down with some DEET-induced cancer of the frammis gland when I’m 113.  And I don’t care.

Us old guys can do anything we want, pretty much. With a ~20 year life expectancy at this point I am not going to put up with getting bit by mosquitoes today in order to not use a product that has a miniscule change of hurting you if you use it regularly over a full lifetime. Sunburn is in the same category. I will finish this trip with parts of me baked pretty brown. Am I worried about skin cancer? Sure, in the abstract. Am I worried about it affecting me? Not a bit. Not one bit.

Wheel full 70px So there you have it. Sorry about the ranting… I do that sometimes. But, like they say, better out than in.

Some maps with more detail

Wheel full 70px So, Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Key West, Florida.  About 3,600 miles/5,750 kilometers, but that’s because the route I’ve planned hugs the coastline to the greatest extent possible.  It’s actually a couple of hundred miles shorter because of a couple of ferry rides.

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Wheel full 70px Here’s the RidewithGPS link: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/15693357

Wheel full 70px The POIs on the RwGPS map are notional overnights.  They are 50 miles/80 kilometers apart north and east of New York City and 60 miles/95 kilometers apart south of there.   The reason for that dichotomy is because south of NYC the coast is basically flat as a parking lot. I’ve stuck with my “ride six days a week” plan from before, although that has never been set in stone.  If I depart Halifax this coming Saturday, the 13th, and all goes well I should make it to Key West by or before the 30th of October.

Wheel full 70px Here’s some larger scale RwGPS maps that will give you a quick idea of the route.

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Halifax, NS to Acadia NP, ME

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Acadia NP, ME to Boston, MA

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Boston, MA to New York City, NY

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New York City, NY to Ocean City, MD

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Ocean City, MD to Nags Head, NC

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Nags Head, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC

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Myrtle Beach, SC to Brunswick, GA

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Brunswick, GA to Cape Canaveral, FL

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Cape Canaveral, FL to Miami, FL

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Miami, FL to Key West, FL

Wheel full 70px I’ll post some specific thoughts and observations about each of these segments over the next few days.

And the answer is…

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…Halifax!

Wheel full 70px Tomorrow I’ll fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia, arriving just after midnight.  I’ll hang around in the airport until about five in the morning when the buses start to run.  At that time I’ll catch one and travel on to my lodgings for the next few days- an unoccupied (for the summer) dorm room at Mt. St. Vincent University.  For $22 a night it was a great deal.  I will then spend my time sightseeing in Halifax until my bicycle arrives on Friday.

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Well, it is Fedex Ground

Wheel full 70px I’ll assemble the bike Friday evening and the next morning I’ll start riding as far south as I can go by the third week or so of October.

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Wheel full 70px Key West, here I come.  A RidewithGPS map link will follow shortly.