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?

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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Wheel full 70px Here’s the RidewithGPS link:

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.


Halifax, NS to Acadia NP, ME


Acadia NP, ME to Boston, MA


Boston, MA to New York City, NY


New York City, NY to Ocean City, MD


Ocean City, MD to Nags Head, NC


Nags Head, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC


Myrtle Beach, SC to Brunswick, GA


Brunswick, GA to Cape Canaveral, FL


Cape Canaveral, FL to Miami, FL


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…



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.


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.


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


Wheel full 70pxAnyone from Florida or the Gulf Coast want to clue me in as to what sort of bugs I’ll run into on my ride in the first couple of weeks?  Particularly the biting or stinging kind.

Mosquito 600px

Alaska’s State Bird (a little larger than full size)

Wheel full 70pxWe’ve had a very rare almost mosquito-free summer here in Alaska.  By the 18th of this month they’d be winding down anyway.  I’d like to have some idea what I’m headed for, having not spent any time at all in North Florida, the Panhandle, or along the coast.  Also if you have suggestions for any kind of bug dope that’s effective and plays nice with copious amounts of sunscreen.

Wheel full 70pxThanks.

The Final Route

Wheel full 70pxI’ve finalized the b2b route on Ride with GPS.  You can look at it on that site here [linkie].  This means I now have an official length: 4,129.7 miles/6,646.1 kilometers and fixed mileposts.  So, when you drill down far enough into the Ride with GPS map, the mileposts will show up.

RwGPS Milepost Example 800px

During the ride, then, when I say I’m at Milepost so-and-so, you’ll be able to spot exactly where I am.

Wheel full 70pxBear in mind that the finalized route is only based on the best information I have at hand right now.  Roads or bridges may be closed during the actual ride due to construction or for other reasons.  A levee top in Louisiana might be newly graveled and not reasonably rideable.  Or Google and the other mapping engines might just have a road or a biketrail wrong, and I’ll have to find an alternate.  But I will plan to stick as close to the route I have mapped as possible and will base my official progress on its mileposts.  I am guessing by the time this is all over I will have ridden between five and ten percent more than the 4129.7 miles, even if there are no necessary diversions.  Campsites and motels may be off the planned route.  I may have to go out of my way to stop at a bicycle shop for repairs.  I’ll make sure I keep you posted on those things, though.

Wheel full 70pxFinalizing the route allows me to develop some map products that I will be using on the blog to illustrate different things.  For example, a while back I divided the route into four 1,000 mile/1,600 kilometer stages and a fifth short remainder stage [linkie].  This was nice and uniform, but the stages were hard to grasp because by and large they began and ended nowhere in particular.


Wheel full 70pxSo I’m taking a different approach now.  I’ll still divide the route into stages, but there will be four of them of varying length and they are based upon the dominating characteristic of that portion of the ride.  Hence

Unfortunately, the Ride with GPS screen is a bit confusing because I am riding across the map from right (East) to left (West) and the elevation profile reads from left (start) to right (finish).  Oh well.

Wheel full 70pxThe four stages are, then:

Stage 1: The Long Warm-Up – Atlantic Beach, FL (mile 0) to Little Rock, AR (mile 1,380)

Stage 2: The Fifteen-Hundred Mile Hill – Little Rock, AR (mile 1,380) to Togwotee Pass, WY (mile 2,922)

Stage 3: Down the Roller Coaster – Togwotee Pass, WY (mile 2,9220 to the Columbia River, WA (mile 3,714)

Stage 4: The Road to the Sea – the Columbia River, WA (mile 3,714) to Pacific Beach, WA (mile 4,129.7)

The name of each stage is pretty self-explanatory.  I only gain 250 feet/76 meters in elevation above sea level-the aggregate climb is 19,500 feet/5,945 meters or so- in the first third of the ride.  No hill is over 150 feet by itself and grades are relatively gentle in The Long Warm-Up.  The second stage immediately becomes more challenging on leaving Little Rock, Arkansas.  The Fifteen-Hundred Mile Hill is pretty much just that- a long, long climb over the Great Plains of North America up to the spine of the Rocky Mountains at the Continental Divide at 9,659 foot/2,944 meter high Togwotee Pass, Wyoming.  This is a gain of just under 9,400 feet/2,865 meters, with an aggregate climb is about 45,000 feet/13,716 meters, a little over half again the elevation of Mt. Everest.  The Down the Roller Coaster stage is exactly what it sounds like- five progressively lower in elevation summits and a final bump between Togwotee Pass and the Columbia River in Washington state as I lose almost all the elevation I gained- 9,225 feet/2,810 meters- in the second stage.  The grades are sometimes steep in this third stage and the aggregate climb is 22,960 feet/7,000 meters, but there are full days that I can just put the bike on autopilot and coast downhill.  The Road to the Sea, the fourth and last stage, is no day at the beach (I have to wait for the end of the ride for that) even though it is the shortest part of the ride by far.  I will lose the last 375 feet/115 meters of elevation between the Columbia River and my destination at Pacific Beach on the coast, but that’s not near the whole story.  Numerous hills on this final stretch, some approaching 400 feet/120 meters in elevation, add up to an aggregate climb of 15,900 feet/4,845 meters.

We’ll look at the elevation profiles and some other information about each of these stages in a post coming soon.

David Edgren




To-Do List 0.3

Wheel full 70pxCome tomorrow I’m two weeks away from leaving for Florida.  I’ve made huge progress on the to-do list, which was last updated here a month ago [linkie].

Green are done. Red are urgent need to do.

Physical Health

  • ADDED: Medical data tag/device/bracelet
  • ADDED: Update will and Advance Directives
  • Dietitian – UPDATE: Appointment 6/21/16 UPDATE 2: Done
  • Endocrinologist – UPDATE: On wait list UPDATE 2: Done
  • GP – UPDATE: Done
    • heatstroke?
    • salt tablets?
    • chafing
    • muscle pains
    • numbness
  • ADDED: Cardio Stress Test on 7/6/16
  • Dentist – UPDATE: Appointment for cleaning and exam on 7/11/16
  • Meds – UPDATE: In progress
    • Refills for meds that will run out
    • ADDED: Copies of current prescriptions from CVS
    • ADDED: Containers
  • Sunblock
  • ADDED: Sunglasses
  • First Aid Kit
    • ADDED: Blood Glucose meter and supplies –  UPDATE: Done
    • ADDED: Glycogon –  UPDATE: Done
    • ADDED: Rescue inhaler –  UPDATE: Done
    • ADDED: Aloe lotion
    • ADDED: Triple Antibiotic Ointment
    • ADDED: Zinc Oxide creme
    • ADDED: Hydrocortisone
    • ADDED: Vitamin “I”
    • ADDED: Disinfecting Wipes
  • Personal care items

Bicycle equipment

  • Added: Pedals – UPDATE: Done

Bicycle clothing, outerwear and shoes

  • Pants and shorts
  • Shirts
  • Outerwear
  • Rain gear
  • Socks and underwear – UPDATE: Socks done
  • Bicycling shoes – UPDATE: Done
  • Gloves – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: Headband – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: Skullcap – UPDATE: Done

Other clothing

  • Street clothes, ADDED: underwear and socks
  • Street shoes

Camping gear

  • Tent – UPDATE: Done
  • Tent “footprint” – UPDATE: Done
  • Sleeping bag – UPDATE: Done
  • Thermarest round pad – UPDATE: Done
  • Small USB flashlight

Other gear

  • Goggles – UPDATE: Moved to “Should I?” section
  • Helmet – UPDATE: Done
  • Helmet mirror


  • RidewithGPS
    • Finalize routing – UPDATE: Done
    • ID bike shops along route – UPDATE: In progress
    • ID lodging/campgrounds along route – UPDATE: In progress
    • ID Warmshowers locations along route – UPDATE: In progress
    • ID bike organizations/clubs along route
      • ADDED: Contact and provide routing info and tentative dates in area/request feedback DO ASAP
    • ADDED: ID Target stores along route
    • ADDED: ID CVS Pharmacies along route
    • Cue sheets
      • Print and laminate – ? Note: Are these necessary?- duplicates cue sheets on iPhone – UPDATE: Deleted, not going to do

Travel to JAX and final pre-ride

  • Pre-ride lodging/camping in JAX
    • Research
    • Reservations
  • ID JAX bicycle shop: Done- Zen Cog
    • Arrange assembly of bike in JAX
    • Added: Bike to ZenCog via Bikeflights – UPDATE: Done
  • Air travel ANC to Florida UPDATE: On 7/18-19/16 to JAX
    • ADDED: Make reservation DO ASAP – UPDATE: Done
  • ground travel Orlando airport to Zen Cog on 7/19/16

Tool kit and spare parts

  • tire bars – UPDATE: Done
  • hex wrenches – UPDATE: Done
  • spoke wrench – UPDATE: Done
  • Extra tubes – UPDATE: Done
  • Extra tire – UPDATE: Done
  • Extra spokes – UPDATE: Done
  • spoke nipples – UPDATE: Done
  • Quicklink
  • inflation gauge
  • patch kit
  • chain lube
  • ADDED: Zip ties (misc sizes)
  • ADDED: Duct tape roll
  • ADDED: Friction tape roll
  • ADDED: rip-stop nylon repair kit
  • ADDED: machine oil
  • ADDED: “100 mile an hour” cord
  • ADDED: Chainbreaker tool

Misc Accessories

  • iPhone Quadlock case – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: iPhone Quadlock wet weather “poncho” – UPDATE: Done
  • Scosche cardio monitor – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: USB Hi-Capacity rechargeable batteries – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: Bad Elf Pro GPS – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: Hi-Amp 110 volt USB charger – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: Cadence sensor


  • Handlebar bag camera Canon “M” Series w/ lenses – UPDATE: Done
  • Flexible tripod – UPDATE: Done
  • Canon “M” Series remote shutter release – UPDATE: Done
  • iPhone Quadlock case tripod connector – UPDATE: Done
  • iPhone remote shutter release – UPDATE: Done
  • iPhone Sandisk card upload cable UPDATE: Done
  • USB camera battery recharger- UPDATE: Done

Handlebar stuff

  • Handlebar bag (part of bike purchase)
  • ADDED: iPhone Quadlock handlebar mount – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: Bar ends – UPDATE: Done
  • Handlebar tape – UPDATE: Deleted, not going to use
  • iPhone card upload cable – UPDATE: Done

Frame stuff

  • Frame mount pump – UPDATE: Done
  • Water bottles and cages – UPDATE: Done

Bike protection

  • Lock – UPDATE: Done
  • Security cable – UPDATE: Done

“Should I?”

  • Handlebar speaker? – UPDATE: Yes, done
  • Strava? – UPDATE: Yes, done
  • Solar panel? – UPDATE: Yes, done
  • Bounce box?
  • AAA?
  • Camelback?
  • GoPro?
  • ADDED: Goggles?
  • ADDED: Voice-activated recorder?
  • ADDED: “b2b” business cards with web address?


  • Spreadsheet – UPDATE: In progress


  • Upgrade iPhone data plan for iPhone – UPDATE: Done
  • ADDED: Theft, Accident and UIM Insurance
  • ADDED: Assorted zip-lock baggies
  • ADDED: Collapsible cup
  • ADDED: Plastic clothespins
  • ADDED: “b2b” pennant
  • Alaska “b2b” license plate

Wheel full 70pxIf I haven’t affirmatively decided to do any of the remaining “Should I?” items by this coming Friday, the 8th, they will fall off the list.  I may regret that, but you can’t do (or carry) everything.  Your continued input is greatly appreciated.  I plan to update the list weekly from this point on, and daily once I’m in Florida.

David Edgren


A Routing Probl… err, Challenge

Wheel full 70pxMy great friend and true Southern gentleman Kevin Slark commented on my latest routing post [linkie] over on my facebook page [linkie] to let me know that crossing the Mississippi River from Louisiana to Mississippi at Vicksburg might not be an option.

KS Facebook comment 01

Wheel full 70pxReal Life, as it tends to, intervened and I really didn’t have a chance to get back to this issue until today.

Wheel full 70pxHere’s what Kevin is talking about.  The 86 year old bridge that carried US highway 80 across the Mississippi River just west of Vicksburg

Old US 80 Bridge at Vicksburg 800px

Image credit: Wikipedia

is currently closed to all traffic, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian, except for a couple of days of the year when it is opened for special events, such as a community bike ride this year on October 1st [linkie].  The bridge carries a rail line and has very narrow vehicle lanes

Old US 80 Bridge Deck 800px

Image credit: Vicksburg Post

and the railroad operating the line has repeatedly objected to reopening the bridge to regular bicycle and pedestrian use despite efforts by cycling and walking enthusiasts and advocates to have this done [linkie].  Unless I can get my crossing declared a special event, it does not look good for me to be able to use the bridge towards the end of August in the fourth week of my ride.

Wheel full 70pxThe old US 80 bridge was replaced as the primary Vicksburg area Mississippi River crossing in 1973 by the Interstate 20 bridge

I-20 Bridge at Vicksburg 800px

Image credit: Wikimedia

which is now, interestingly enough, exactly half the age of the other structure.  The two run parallel to each other,

Mississippi River Bridges at Vicksburg 800px

Image credit: Vicksburg Post

and the pier spacing is exactly the same to facilitate the passage of barge traffic up and down the Mississippi.

Wheel full 70pxBut the bottom line is that the State of Mississippi does not allow bicycle traffic on any of its Interstate Highways, period, and my use of the I-20 bridge is thus not possible.  I called the Mississippi State Bicycle (& Pedestrian) Coordinator [linkie] today and confirmed that there was no exception for this particular crossing.  She said that there was not, but encouraged me to contact various groups concerning my desire to use the old US 80 bridge.  I will follow up on that tomorrow but, as noted, I am not hopeful.

US 80 300px

Wheel full 70pxKevin apparently anticipated this result, as he recommended an alternative crossing.

KS Facebook comment 02

Crossing at Natchez would not involve a huge modification to the route I have planned.  It replaces a 94 mile/151 kilometer stretch from MP 997 to MP 1091 with an 85.4 mile/~137 kilometer alternate.  The red line is the current route and blue is the alternate.

Current Route Natchez-Vicksburg

The alternate is surprisingly (to me, anyway) about ten percent shorter, even though it doesn’t look it.  Here’s the above map reversed, with the alternate in red and the current route in blue.

Alternate Route Natchez-Vicksburg

Most of the alternate route’s mileage is on the Natchez Trace [linkie], which is an amazing low speed (45 miles/~70 kilometers per hour) scenic national parkway in a beautiful right-of-way.  Heather and I have biked this stretch in the late 1990s on our Burley Rock’n’Roll tandem [linkie].  I seriously considered incorporating it into the original route for this trip.

Wheel full 70pxThe reason I ultimately didn’t can be seen on the above map.  Note that the terrain on the Louisiana (left) side of the Mississippi is smooth.  East of the river, though, the landform changes pretty radically into low but steep hills cross-cut by deeply incised streams.  Here’s an elevation chart of the current stretch

Current Route Elevations Natchez-Vicksburg

and of the alternate done at the same vertical scale.

Alternate Route Elevations Natchez-Vicksburg

Here’s the two superimposed.  Click on any of the three charts to embiggen.

Comparison Elevations Current Alternate Natchez-Vicksburg 800px

Wheel full 70pxSo that’s a little sooner than I’d planned to start doing hills.  But I’ll have just about 1,000 miles under my belt before I get to them, so they shouldn’t be too bad.  Hey- maybe I can still become an event and cross the old US 80 bridge.  But if not, well… I have a plan!

David Edgren







Mapping the Revised Route

Wheel full 70pxI’ve spent some time working with Ride with GPS [linkie] in revising my cross-the-country route and working out final maps.  Here is the latest all-in-one map


and each of the five stages.






Wheel full 70pxStage I through IV is each 1,000 miles/1,600 kilometers,  Stage V is about 139 miles/75 kilometers.  Click on any of the map images to see a full size map.  The full size stage maps are all of equal scale to the others.  Here are links to the maps on Ride with GPS, which you can enlarge to street level detail.  You can navigate between stages directly using the linkie on the right side of the map.

David Edgren