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Messages - HobbesOnTour

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Routes / Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« on: March 30, 2021, 11:24:08 am »
I'm going to come back to this because I think it's a real shame that more haven't popped in with some advice.

Maybe, since this is under the "routes" category, ask a moderator to move it to "general" - it may attract more attention as I think your question is more general in nature.

Female safety is a big issue at the moment, and is getting a lot of publicity. As a man, I can be scared of "stranger danger" too but my experience has told me that most people are beyond helpful and friendly. And safe.

The truth is the greatest risks I faced in your part of the world were traffic and dogs.
A mirror for the traffic and a "squirty" water bottle for the dogs.

The greatest "tool" I had in my bag for dealing with fear was experience, so I'd suggest to anyone to practise as many things as possible as much as possible before they leave.

The thing with fear is that it is mainly irrational and once active can be hard to settle. A long, solo day on a bike is a great environment for fear to thrive. I try to give fear a sterile environment so that it can't develop.

Camping? Practise setting up that tent in the dark and wind.
Wild camping? Learn to look for likely spots, even  close to home. Better still, try them out!
Hotels? Be familiar with the apps and how they work.
Navigation? Test and stress test whatever your system is (maps, gps etc.)
Repairs? Can you carry out all the basics that you may need to do? Practise!
Even just knowing what 10, 20 50 miles feels like on a loaded bike really boosts confidence when it comes to the "Am I going to make it to X before Y o'clock.

Rule of thumb: If it makes you anxious, practise it! :)

Less fear, less anxiety invariably means more enjoyment! :)

I carry a kindle and always back up whatever notes, i.d., contact info etc. I may need for a trip.
Photograph maps etc. and email tbem to yourself! (Even if you lose your phone you can access them on another device).

Google Maps is rubbish for navigating, but it does allow the saving of maps to a phone or tablet. At home, mark off all the services you'll need - stores, bike shops, campgrounds etc. When you save the map it will store that basic info and you won't need a phone signal to access it.

Warmshowers or Couchsurfing can be a great way to get local knowledge and a place to stay. It's a real person expecting you at X time. A hotel will just charge your card if you're a no-show.

Many touring cyclists will not discuss on an open forum the specific things they do to minimise danger. However, there is no shortage of solo female bike tourists (and a few male ones!) that, I imagine, will be happy to help in private conversations - although you may need to build up a history.

Finally, you may have to manage the fears of others! Family, friends may start to panic after an hour/day/week of no contact. You may find yourself spending lots of time assuring other people you're ok. Well intentioned, but a PITA if you're racing a raincloud or need to sleep.
Things like Strava/Facebook/Instagram updates can help to alleviate that, but may also be used by people with bad intentions. For this reason it's generally advised not to update social media "live".
A good chat, clear groundrules and a smart head can remove a lot of stress - for everyone!

If all that makes a bike tour sound complicated and stressful I do apologise, that's not the intention.
It's riding a bike from one place to the next - it's only as complicated as we make it!

Good luck!

Routes / Re: Female solo ride along Underground Railroad
« on: March 27, 2021, 04:43:56 pm »
I'm not familiar with the route, but for trucks (and any other traffic) I have found a mirror to be extremely helpful. Depending on preference it can be on a helmet, on the bike or even on your wrist.

It also helps to not be in a rush and be willing to pull in/off the road for a little while if it all gets a bit too much.

When I found the ACA routes too uncomfortable, I used to find alternatives. Mind you, I wasn't concerned about surfaces.

As for the "solo female" all I can suggest is that you look for inspiration (if you don't already have any). There is no shortage of solo female travellers!
CrazyGuyOnABike has an entire section:
There are books by Dervla Murphy, Ann Mustoe (icons both) and more recently Kate Harris.
Youtube will also help.
I cycled from Virginia to Texas, met 6 other touring cyclists, all solo and two were female.
My experience of solo bike touring is that people are invariably friendlier and more helpful than we might expect. There's something non-threatening about a person on a bike.
I've seen suggestions that women should "cover" up, not make it obvious that they are women. I'm not sure about that. But, then again, I'm not a woman!

In any case, you won't be the first, nor the last. Bike touring is a fantastic way to see and feel a place. It's definitely something you don't want to miss out on!

Best of luck!

General Discussion / Re: Advice for Newbies about the Weather.
« on: February 21, 2021, 08:35:11 pm »
Does nobody talk to people on their travels anymore?

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: GPS query
« on: February 18, 2021, 07:58:32 pm »
RayB, for what it's worth I import "raw" gpx files onto my unit all the time and never have a problem.
I normally use

I also use Komoot (not a fan) RideWithGPS and sometimes routes downloaded from other sites.

By the way, it's not a good idea to transfer a route from one app to another too much - that's a great way of getting a route you hadn't planned!

I used the ACA app for one section of the Atlantic Coast Route and it was fine except it only had data (stores, campgrounds) for the official route. When I had to go off course due to a storm it was as useful as a chocolate teapot. It was supplemantary to my own gox files.

For any device you want to use on a tour I can't emphasise enough the importance of testing it out and becoming familiar with its foibles in advance.

General Discussion / Re: bicycle navigation computer
« on: February 18, 2021, 07:18:54 pm »
While I haven't bought a navigation computer yet I have decided that I do not want one that I have to pair with my smartphone, it uses up both the phone battery
Sorry, I don't want to be "that" guy, but if you're under the impression that your phone needs to be connected all the time to the unit, then I'm afraid you're mistaken.

I've a Wahoo unit and I only connect the two rarely.

There are a number of advantages to having a unit that connects to a phone from on the fly navigation, to matching photos taken on the phone with logs like Strava/RWGPS.

I got a gps unit specifically for touring and phone connectivity was an important factor for me ;)

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: GPS query
« on: February 18, 2021, 07:11:57 pm »

The pros:  Garmin is the de facto GPS so a lot of gps data is geared toward their file format.

I think Garmin is the standard still but I just read a post on my Facebook Cycling Group about 30 mins ago and the question is do you use a Garmin or a Wahoo and about 2/3 of the respondents wrote they use the Wahoo and most commonly was the Wahoo Bolt.   I think it is quickly (over the past 5 years) becoming a new favorite. I used mine traveling cross country and tried to charge it every day there was power but could go two days in a pinch.  The Wahoo software is noted to be much less buggy and it just works.  Also, mine is b&w screen and uses less battery than the color screen Garmins do.... 

So, to pick up the thread in 2021, the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt will now handle turn-by-turn directions on download maps from Ride With GPS and Komoot. The Elemnt Roam will handle these files, Strava, and "any other routing source file."

Anyone know if "any other routing source file" would include the FrontPack platform used for the Adventure Cycling Association Bicycle Route Navigator? I have a question in with Wahoo, but figured folks on this forum would be approaching the question from the opposite direction of Wahoo, and might already have the answer.
Wahoo are very private and don't play well with outside partners other than the big boys like Strava etc.
The ACA gpx tracks will work, but will need to be edited in something like RideWithGPS.
Please see here:

Ach!  Sorry.  This got away from me somehow.

Okay, first, there's no right and wrong way.  If someone's goal is to blaze across the country, hey, that's their ride and more power to them. 

Anyway, Adventure Cycling member and contributor John Rawkoski talked about his 'savor the experience' style of touring in the feature interview in Adventure Cycling, August 2003, and mentioned the 40 mile/day soft target then.  I think it was a Bicycling magazine interview back in the 1980s where he suggested mile-eating tourists might consider long daily rides around home with the advantage they'd have a comfortable bed and good food every night.   ;D

Englishman Tom Vernon was a social commentator, musician, epicurean and the 'Fat Man on a Bicycle'.  He wrote a couple of books under that moniker and even made a number of BBC television programs of his tours, some of which were shown on American PBS. The quote was something he said on one of his six-part 'Fat Man in France' series as he spontaneously stopped to investigate something interesting along the country lane he was riding.  I believe one of the 'Fat Man in France' episodes is on Youtube.
Thank you very much!!
Off to do a bit of sleuthing!

General Discussion / Re: Communication
« on: February 11, 2021, 10:40:00 am »
Ed, I'm going to tackle this from a different angle. Anxiety.

Anxiety is often the biggest thing holding people back from a lot of things - including a bike tour.

The problem with anxiety is that it can be out of all proportion to the actual risk - and to solve it, or assuage it, may require significant investment in terms of time, money, effort or equipment.

I have no idea of your personal situation, but I'd encourage yourself and your wife to remember that people cycled all over the world long before cellphones were a thing. Anne Mustoe communicated by letter all around the world!

The problem with a system for communication at every moment is that it can induce panic when it doesn't work as expected.

 Managing risk and expectations may be a more comfortable strategy.

Good luck!

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: GPX included in Map/Guidebook?
« on: February 10, 2021, 05:21:14 pm »
You can probably find gps files online.
RideWithGPS is good for that.
Of course, as with anything online, some sources ate better than others!

Good luck!

General Discussion / Re: Tales of Calamity and Woe
« on: February 09, 2021, 08:32:07 am »
Does selling up everything I own, paying off all debts, packing up the bike and heading off on a big, once in a lifetime trip only to get stranded on the other side of the world due to a pandemic count as a tale of calamity and woe?  :D

In my experience, some of my best and most memorable experiences have been the result of what some would call "calamity and woe"!

I am new to cycling and would like to work up to 100 miles a day so I can do some trips on the Rails to Trails across the US.

World cycletourist John Rakowski opined that somewhere north of 40 miles/day a rider begins to lose the experience of being where they are.  If you lose the experience of where you are while off and away bike touring, his advice was to just stay home and put the big daily rides in there.

Tom Vernon's First Law of Bicycling:  'A bicycle is not for going.  A bicycle is for stopping.'    :D

They are wonderful opinions! I agree wholeheartedly. Do you have any links to the sources, please?

General Discussion / Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
« on: February 05, 2021, 09:57:40 am »
A quick bit of investigating and it appears that the "old" app (still on my phone) is now the "unofficial" one.

My app was last updated on January 21. Where does that leave my personal data?

I have contacted WS directly, but it is beyond my comprehension that an official app can be "hijacked" by people unknown (although probably well meaning folks).

Given the nature of the service (connecting strangers) it raises a multitude of questions.

General Discussion / Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
« on: February 05, 2021, 09:24:33 am »
I received the following email from Warmshowers this morning.

Hello Warmshowers community!

Please take a moment to read this important notice regarding our new mobile app.

We recently discovered that an older, unauthorized mobile app was recently re-released without our consent. Security is our highest priority so rest assured that your personal information is secure.

However, if you have downloaded and used this FREE unauthorized app, it is accessing source code that we cannot guarantee will protect your data and your information could be passed to a third party without our knowledge. Please uninstall this app immediately (the text in the unauthorized app states that the app is not official and is created by volunteers).

While our team is working on this situation around the clock, we have temporarily suspended ALL mobile app access until the situation is resolved. During this time, please use our website to log in and access your account. We apologize for the inconvenience and will notify you here and on our social media channels when the issue has been resolved.

We appreciate your patience

General Discussion / Re: bicycle navigation computer
« on: January 28, 2021, 10:31:53 pm »
Yes, a gps is very handy in built up areas, but remember the key is the actual planning/planner behind it.
Depending on your location different planners will be better or worse. All a gps unit will do is follow that route.
I'm currently in a pretty large and strange (to me) city. Komoot tries to get me killed regularly, RWGPS is useful for "borrowing' other people's routes and works a dream while the inbuilt planner in my unit is ok. Sometimes I need to restart it for safety's sake.

I got my GPS unit when I lived in Europe and it was brilliant because we have a lot more turns! I travelled in the US from Virginia to Texas and it had significantly less importance. (My planning apps though, were vital).

I'd strongly urge you to test the concept and think about what you want. Online discussions about gps units can be divisive often because someone has bought the wrong unit for the job and is very unhappy.
It's not unlike a newbie cyclist buying a MTB and then complaining that he can't keep up with his roadie friends.

General Discussion / Re: bicycle navigation computer
« on: January 27, 2021, 09:40:44 pm »
Different devices operate in different ways, therefore I think it's a very good idea to sit and think about what you want the gps device to do. When you have that, then you can look for devices that match your needs.

I always find it helpful to think of bike gps navigation in two parts;
The first is the actual route creation/planning
The second is following the route.
While things are improving, not all units can create a route on the fly and the quality of routes of the ones that can can be variable.

No gps unit will make a poor route better.

The kinds of questions to ask yourself are;
How will you plan routes, and where. At home on a PC, on the road on a phone?
How well does a unit "play" with other services such as Strava, RWGPS etc.
What kinds of maps do you need? Basic or detailed? That can add cost.
Do you want turn by turn directions or a simple line to follow?
Do you need a unit to recalculate a route when going off course?
How tech savvy are you? Or how user friendly is the unit.
Customer service?
And many others.....

A gps unit revoliutonised my touring, although I rarely follow a preplanned route. It is especially handy in larger urban areas where you may not want to be stopping to look at a map. Again, the usefulness of the gps unit is directly related to the quality of the route planning.

You could download OSMand to your phone and get a handle on what a gpx navigation device can do for you. There's a steep learning curve but the process is educational.


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