Saturday, January 12, 2013


     Larry - Technology is going to play a big role on THE BIG RIDE.  As a man now in my seventh decade,  I'm ever amazed at the new things that make our lives different (but not necessarily better).
     That said, technology has certainly made touring easier.  My first multi-day tour, we only had a state highway road map.  Then we found the gazetteer map books that showed back roads.  Now it's iPhones, iPads, hot spots, dedicated GPSes, laptops, WiFi, Skype, internet downloads and the list goes on. 
     On our last tour we used Martha's iPhone to good advantage.  She found some apps that really helped with finding restaurants, motels, grocery stores, etc along with some navigating.  We also had a Garmin Edge into which we had loaded the route giving us turn by turn directions.  We had maps, of course, but used them more as a backup than a primary source.
     For THE BIG RIDE we've added a dedicated GPS (a Garmin Etrex 20) which has a better system for downloading the route for turn by turn directions - just follow the magenta line!  Adventure Cycling Association is a small company that designs maps specifically for touring cyclists.  You're, no doubt, very familiar with them.  They've been around for 30 something years.  Based in Missoula, MT.  They've got a great website, chock full of tips, blogs, articles and maps.  We'll be again purchasing their maps for use on THE BIG RIDE.  From past usage, I know their maps are well done and reliable.  We'll be using ACA routes almost exclusively on THE BIG RIDE.  Our route itself will be the subject of a later post.
     A neat thing that ACA has recently begun offering is a free internet download of the 'waypoints' along each of their more than 40,000 miles of routes.  That's what we'll be putting into our Etrex for those turn by turn directions.  But even with the increased capacity of the Etrex, there'll be too many waypoints for it to hold all at one time.  So we'll have to reload from occasionally as we go along.  We'll need the internet for that and a laptop (the thing I'm banging on right now).  We've purchased a new laptop and are taking it along for those periodic downloads and so's we can blog and post pretty much every day from the road (or in the motel room that night).
     And oh, did I mention we've got a Solar Monkey thing that's a solar panel array which is supposed to recharge all your e-gadgets as you cruise down the highway.  No more dead phones.
     That's a lot of gizmos.  They can be really handy, but never leave home without your good old fashioned paper map.  The map will not let you down (though I did have a stoker once who somehow lost our only map on a nature break in the woods).
     I've attached a pic of all our electronic aids.  Let's see if we're smart enough to take full advantage of them.
Lots of electronic gizmos

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