15 June 2012

So another change of plans. I was intending to ride out to Lost Lake this weekend with my brother. Now I’m intending to ride out to Lost Lake this weekend. I’m not sure how long it’ll take, but I am packing two gallons of water and a space blanket, so I’m ready for anything.

My SOS is covered, but if you want to follow along, my progress will be updated on this map.

See you on the other side!

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11 June 2012

Road Test #1 has changed a bit. Instead of heading to Cannon Beach and the coast, Team Williams will be heading up the Columbia River Gorge and camping out at Lost Lake! It’s slightly shorter than the original plan, which is nice, plus it includes many more friends (most of whom are driving).

A new website is under development! V1 will be launched in time for the tour, and will pull data from my GPS feed, my Foursquare checkins, and this very blog. You can follow along with the code at the github repo, or watch the site itself as it transforms from a Hello World into a real live boy!

Tags: . Posted in xc-tour
10 June 2012

Two developments this weekend about the tour:

1 I booked a flight! So I better be committed to doing this. It’s even non-refundable, for maximum guilt-tripping if and when I come up with a worthy excuse to cow out. I’ll arrive in Vermont on the morning of Saturday the 11th, giving me a couple of days to double- and triple-check all the bells and whistles.

2 I may have mentioned that I bought a camera mount, so that I could easily take video or use hands-free navigation thingies. Here’s how it happened. (more…)

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9 June 2012

What follows is sort of a stream-of-consciousness of my thoughts concerning the power solution I want to take with me on the tour. It’s provided here for posterity more than anything else. (more…)

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9 June 2012

This week I bought so many things.

Front rack: Surly “Nice Rack” from 21st Ave Bikes
2 bottle cages: normal size. from 21st Ave Bikes
hat: gray plaid cycling cap from Little Package
iPhone mount: Optrix from the Internet
camera mount parts: because Optrix doesn’t like handlebars yet. from the Amazon.
double kick stand: for Heavy Bicycles, from the Amazon
set of panniers: 2 Route Seven Large, 2 Route Seven Medium from North St Bags
maps of Lewis & Clark Trail: and a book! from American Cycling Association

Also! My back doesn’t hurt as much this week as it did last week. I attribute this to my Brooks saddle finally starting to break in.

Road Test #1 is in 10 days! Things I’m going to specifically test:
– panniers and racks, gear allotment
– tent and sleeping arrangement
– mobile devices: GPS for letting you know I’m alive, iPhone for navigation, iPhone for videography
RT1 is a little early in the process to actually test my cleats and saddle, since they haven’t broken in yet. I’ll do my best to ignore the blisters and focus on the more important things.

Goonies forever!
Spencer

Tags: . Posted in xc-tour
31 May 2012

A few orders of business.

1
I have bumped up my tour dates by 2 days (updated itinerary). This is to accomodate my driver from Montpelier, VT to Portland, ME (Thanks Adam!). The change has the side-effects of (a) removing the short work week from the beginning of the trip, and (b) lining up my NY and Pittsburgh dates with weekends! More fun for everyone!

2
We have planned Road Test #1! It will commence on the 16th of June. We’re taking a one night trip out to the coast and back, and passing on the way the Tillamook Cheese Factory, lots of Oregon coast, Cannon Beach, and ┬ásome mountains (map). It’s about 80 miles both days, and I’m planning to carry as much of the weight as I can (food, tent, my belongings, tool kits).

3
I’m seriously thinking about what the material output of this trip will be. Obviously there will be thousands of pictures, but I also think I should take some video. If I’m going to do that, I’ll need a theme or “story”. I like the idea of the Modern American Cowboy. I’m probably terrible at documentaries, or adventure travel journals, so at the very least it’ll have wide shots and a cool soundtrack? If you guys have any ideas, leave them below in the comments!

Cheers,
Spencer

Tags: . Posted in xc-tour
25 May 2012

Today I crossed off the last big ticket items from my shopping list: rain gear, tent, GPS. I thought about setting up the tent to test it out tonight, but then a thunderstorm hit. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe a thunderstorm is the best place to test a tent. I’d load up my bike, go racing around the block until I can’t stand up any more, then try putting up the tent…or maybe I’ll wait for the sun to come out this weekend. (more…)

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24 May 2012

Last week I bought a Brooks saddle and Shimano SPD cleats and pedals.

Today I bought a portable solar panel charger and battery pack, as well as gloves and a kick stand.

Tomorrow I will buy a tent, a GPS device and some rain gear.

Then all I need is a couple panniers and I’ll be ready for Road Test #1!

Posted in xc-tour
24 May 2012

A few bits of news.

1) I have confirmed my route! Here’s a list of cities I plan to stop in (there will be stops between these places, but I don’t know where because it doesn’t matter as much):
– Portland, ME
– Boston, MA
– Mamaroneck, NY
– Washington, D.C.
– Pittsburgh, PA
– Hannibal, MO
– Lewis & Clark Trail
– Astoria, OR

This route will include many stops at historical places, including places about L&C, Custer, any other frontiersmen, Glacier National Park, etc. I find it uncanny that I have no friends between St Louis/Madison and Portland/San Francisco. Weird.

Lewis and Clark did it in a canoe, I can do it on a bike.

2) I’ve registered a domain! It will host a website where you can track my progress. It’s not up yet. Once it is I’ll spam the address to everyone I know. In the meantime, you can view all relevant blog posts here on this site. Just click the link up there that says “tour”. I imagine in the future this site will contain all the “prep” posts, and the new domain will show all of the actual tour stuff.

 

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22 May 2012

Not sure if you saw this, but a few days ago I posted a photo of my route planning:

with yarn even! click for larger version

This photo shows a real life paper map that I bought, poked with real life pushpins which were then connected by real yarn. No computers involved! Oh, except the one I used to figure out where all the trails were, and the one used to snap the photo.

The Route:
First thing to know is that the route shown through the Southwest is not feasible due to the season, but I had to put it on there just to compare it to the others.
Second: the Northern route labeled “Curtis” is largely dependent on our schedules coinciding. He’ll be in Chicago and we might meet up to ride part or all of the way back together.
Third: the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark trail are almost equally enticing in terms of the romantic value of mimicking the journey the first settlers did. L&C is just a little bit more attractive to me, probably because I never played Oregon Trail as a kid. I have copies of Undaunted Courage and Lewis’ journals, and I plan to read them before my tour starts. But the margin L&C is cooler than the Oregon Trail is probably outweighed by the difference in distance…we’ll see.

So Plans are in the works. Right now I’m still brainstorming about all the stuff I’ll need to take with me, and all the stuff I want to produce from the experience. I’ll definitely take thousands of pictures, and as much video as I can. I hope to continue to update this blog from the road with my stories and experiences. If that’s impossible I’ll still take plenty of notes and pictures and upload it all afterwards.

In terms of stuff I’m taking with me, some plans are already in motion. For instance, I recently purchased a Brooks saddle and some new SPD cleats. These items are the most important things to break in before a long tour, as I’ll be in close contact with them for 6 or 8 hours a day, every day. Other big ticket items to start thinking about are a tent and a set of panniers. I’m thinking about having some power-generation gadget so I can charge a phone or camera battery on the road, but I want to read other tourers’ stories before making any buying decisions.

That’s all for now!
Spencer

PS my plans are published on GitHub, and I edit them nearly every day (mostly to add things to the shopping list).

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