“The silent cartographer”

We wired up a SPOT to a Spotwalla page, which will save the trip route for eternity or until their server funding goes away, which ever comes first.

Here’s our total route for the trip…

  • Green banners are when I punched ‘OK’, typically at the start and end of each day.
  • Smaller orange dots are when we had ‘follow’ on, which fired off a beacon signal every 10 minutes. We discovered that battery life would only last a couple of days when we had this on, so we used it sporadically.

TIP: Spotwalla pages are free, and do not have a termination period associated with them, unlike the findmespot.com pages which come with the SPOT service, which disappear after 30 days. I gave out link to the Spotwalla page to friends and colleagues for remote monitoring during the trip, and family received the more immediate real time notifications – adults got an email, teenagers received a text. (sign of the times!)

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss

This trip has been in my head for 2 years, riding the gentle swell of equipment ramp up and rising through maps, trip reports from other travelers, before cascading into a plan. Here’s how I planned the details…

  • Organization – every restaurant recommendation, place to stay, route detail, bike shop, tips from other ride reports – was copied in OneNote, which comes with Microsoft Office. My OneNote notebooks were then stored in SkyDrive, where they could be accessed by phone, browser, and other locations. Brady used the OneNote web app to read on his Android phone, I used a Windows Phone, and they could also used on an iPhone. I also saved a PDF edition to my Kindle, along with scans of insurance, passport, drivers license, etc.
  • Route planning – used a combination of AAA maps and Streets and Trips to calculate mileage and places to camp. The AAA maps turned out to be excellent workhorses throughout the trip.
  • GPS – Carried a Garmin nuvi 500 with a Migsel mount, both of which turned out to be minor disappointments.
    • The Garmin froze on me at one point, and I pressed down a little too hard to get a link and cracked the screen. Eventually it stopped working altogether and I rode half the trip without a GPS. Although under warranty, Garmin would only replace with refurb’d unit under cost, as it wasn’t their issue. Grr.
    • The Migsel is wonderful design except the mounting screw – it’s an embedded hex which is difficult to get to behind the GS dashboard with my big hands. It rattled loose on the Dalton, and I spent 10 minutes hunting down the washer and screw among the road rocks. I eventually swapped the screw with an external head, which is easier to access and tighten down with Loctite.

Here’s the Excel spreadsheet – AKA ‘the plan of record’ – I used for daily planning, including mileage and camping stops. Anyone is welcome to grab a copy of this, just view the spreadsheet in full sized mode, and use the controls to save to your machine.

We varied from the POR a little bit, particularly in the high mileage days where we just didn’t feel like riding that long. We ended up skipping the Watson Lake and Richardson Highway segments, so no pix or videos later in the ride report.

Here’s a gratuitous shot of my top carry – most of the stuff I carried in my top bag and was regularly futzing with.

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