Bicycle Travel > Gear Talk

Best way technologically to be connected on an x-country supported ride ?

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Some Guy Ridin:
Regarding that editorial, I'm guessing there is some explanation and reasoning in it that goes a little deeper than the title. Do you recall where you read the editorial?

I know a guy that took the Trans Am and asked his fellow riders to keep all news and current events to themselves. He said he was a news junkie but wanted to try to completely avoid it during the ride. His riding mates respected his request and his only contact with the rest of the world for the entire ride was his wife and an occasional comment here or there. Later he commented that after he'd returned and caught up with what was going on, that the world hadn't changed much. He recommended I try that.

I don't think I want to go to his extreme nor to try to do as you've suggested but I appreciate both suggestions.

With everyone's (forum) help, I've been able to define my needs down to telephone, camera, gps, weather updates, music, books on tape, books in print, email and access to the occasional library along the way. 

So I guess, technologically speaking, a smartphone & a Kindle-like pad should fit the bill nicely.

This kind of narrows me down to 1. type of smartphone 2. service plans and 3. type of e-reader.

I've read that, in the past, Verizon phone service is the best for cross country. I'm wondering if this is still true. I'm going to start a new blog question now: "What is the best telephone & telephone service for cross country touring.."

Thanks to everyone that responded/helped and I hope to see you at my next forum question (mentioned above).

Old Guy New Hobby:
GPS is new to the list. I heartily recommend an outdoor Garmin GPS unit. Pick the one you like, their similarities outweigh their differences. It runs on two AA batteries, which can stay on all day and last for 2 days of hard riding. It's very rugged and will have no problems surviving on your bike handlebar. You should hook a lanyard to the GPS and wrap it around something. The handlebar mount doesn't latch. My GPS came loose twice over the last year. The lanyard was much appreciated.

On the other hand, if you tried to leave your phone on continuously the battery would last a few hours. So it's only good for occasional GPS checks. And there may be times when you just can't keep it charged. Furthermore, it is a fragile device and should be well protected deep inside your waterproof bag.

MY editorial thinking on the subject spoken in many a rant but published only here.


--- Quote from: Some Guy Ridin on December 18, 2012, 09:45:29 pm ---I'm planning to cross the country this year, supported, and am wondering what is the best/most efficient in size/cost/benefit technology to take in order to stay connected to current news, emails, blogs, books etc.? Is it possible to have satelite connections thus not worrying about towers? Suggestions and advice wanted.

--- End quote ---

You can get an iPhone for $50-$200 with a two year contract. A full access data plan will run you anyewhere from $50-150 months depending on factors on ly you can judge. An iPhone has everything on it you think you must have. (I've used Apple products all of my electronic career so that's where I go but I imagine there are excellent Android phones, I just don't know anything about them.)
Satellite commnication is not an option; those are dedicated, expensive, bricks. Your tour organizer may have one in their kit. In fact, that's a question you might want to ask them .

The smartphone stays with you on the bike and can run music, GPS, mapping, heart rateā€¦there is no limit to wwhat you can have loaded up. Be sure you have a sturdy case and a lanyard. Buy the unit several months before your trip. Invest in a good book about the phone's operating system so you understand how it works and how to talk to the OS to get it work the way you want it to. INstall and practice with all of your apps many weeks before your trip.

You will also need an auxiliary charging system. Smartphones have stupid small batteries but they are built assuming you are charging every day. I plan to use a solar-powered battery pack that tops off the iPhone rather than trying to rig a generator or directly hooking into a solar panel. That purchase decision for me is a few months off. I have the case (OtterBox defender model) and the mount. 

Try to enjoy this shopping experience. A smartphone will change your life in a subtle way but once you've learned how to use it, you're going to wonder why you didn't get one a few years ago.

I strongly support the editorial position that you do not need any of these things on a bike trip. You really do not. Electronic toys and furniture are hassles when you're on a bike trip. They're expensive and small and hard to keep track of and charged and they're fragile. I'm taking my iPhone on my next several trips simply because I have one, not necessarily to use it for anything in particular. I may end up keeping it packed in a bag instead of mounted on the handlebars of my recumbent.

Some Guy Ridin:

Thanks for the input, ideas and comments.

Initially I thought that a high powered smart phone might do everything I wanted, covering all my bases - phone-internet-camera-music etc., but considering all things I learned here and through others I'm bringing all the clutter - it's cheaper and works out better for me.

I'm bringing: (all small and light weight)
a) a verizon connected 4G LTE tablet for off the bike internet, information, email - basically - a computer.
b) an ipod touch for on the bike music, books on tape & coffeeshop wifi, skype etc.
c) my Sprint phone for telephone and text. Coverage might be a big problem, but I have the Verizon internet link for skype, email, blogging, facebook etc., if need be.
d) my pocket camera.
e) my kindle for reading.

That's a lot of clutter, including the charging wires etc., but collectively, I think it beats the crap out of a smartphone - which is very expensive to buy and to have monthly service.

Thanks everyone for the replies - I've got it figured out now - I hope.


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