Two Things I Should Have Left Home

Wheel full 70px As I gain experience using the gear I have brought with me, I am figuring out the things I will be sending home at the first opportunity- in other words when I’m back in the ‘States.  These two items will go for sure.

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Wheel full 70px The bottom item is a solar panel.  All I can say is, “What was I thinking?”  A cool item to have, but not all that useful given that I have two high  capacity batteries I have figured out how to charge most every night.  At between 1-2 pounds/~.5-1 kg, it’s not the biggest deal, but it does take up space in a pannier.

Wheel full 70px The top item is a nifty little tripod.  It would be nice to use along the way, but I am not going to unpack a pannier each time to get at it.  Once I get to where I’m headed in the evening, playing at being Ansel Adams is the last thing on my mind.  So you get handheld, I’m afraid.  A great item to throw in the car on a trip, though.  I’ll save 2-3 pounds/~1-1.5 kg and significant space in a pannier.

Wheel full 70px I’ll know next time.

So let’s get this show on the road

Wheel full 70px Today really didn’t go as planned.  The Topeak cadence/speed sensor we were waiting on didn’t exactly work with my bike.   I’ll be getting in touch with the company, because a phone call to them from owner Garf Cooper at the ZenCog bike shop indicated that I might have gotten an older unit. Shame on someone.

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Garf giving the malfunctioning sensor the evil eye

Wheel full 70px So I spent much of the afternoon hanging around ZenCog  instead of getting going. My schedule is set up to accommodate things like this happening, but it’s sort of disappointing to blow the first day of the ride.   Garf and his crew are great folks to hang around with though, and I’d highly recommend ZenCog to anyone who has need of a bicycle shop in Jacksonville, Florida.  It’s a real bike shop and I could tell over the several days I hung around there that Garf does right by his customers.

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Abandon hope all ye who enter here

Wheel full 70px Here then is what I’m  doing tomorrow.  I’ll be up early to sort out the last packing of the panniers and loading of the bike.  Sometime around nine I’ll head out and ride west through the environs of Jacksonville, pass under the I-295 beltway,  and then pick up the Jacksonville – Baldwin rail trail.   Past Baldwin, the trail ends and I’ll pick up US 90, the old two-lane main route west that was replaced by Interstate 10.  I plan to stop for the day in Macclenny after cycling a bit more than 30 miles/50 km  and stay for the night at an inexpensive motel at the freeway interchange south of town. That will give me a good chance to check over and adjust as needed my gear and the bike before I set out on a longer riding day on Wednesday.

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Wheel full 70px As you can see, these miles are as flat is the proverbial parking lot.  They should go by pretty quickly, but I’m still a little nervous about the impact of four fully loaded panniers.   We’ll see.

Wheel full 70px I’m estimating four hours riding time making seven and a half miles an hour with a 15 minute break each hour.  That should hopefully put me in Macclenny before the day really heats up.

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Wheel full 70px This first week of the trip will get me by next weekend to Spring Hill, Florida where my sister Sue and her family live.

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Wheel full 70px I’ll visit with them ’til early next week then head off for Key West.  Back with you tomorrow.

 

 

Bugs!

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.

vxsge5

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

Routing

  • 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

Photography

  • 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?

Budget

  • Spreadsheet – UPDATE: In progress

Miscellaneous

  • 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