Thursday, May 28, 2009

Self-Supported Odyssey planning

Setting new goals to challenge myself for the year, I've decided that one of this years cycling goals is a one week self-contained trip. I'll be making a series of posts tagged under "cycling" and "odyssey09" to share the planning and hopefully completion. For my first such trip, I've settled on cycling from Providence, RI to Pittsburgh, PA sometime in late July or early August.

I'm still gathering the equipment, thinking about how much and what gear I want to carry with me, reading a lot, and planning the route.

So far, for equipment, I'll be using my Breezer Liberty, to which I've already had added a Jannd front rack and some extra battery powered blinkies. I have a pair of sealed pannier's in the REI Novarra brand, and need to acquire another set. I haven't determined the size, as I don't konw if they would be okay as front panniers and to get a second set with larger volume, assuming using them for lighter items (clothing) or if I should invest in a set of panniers marketed as front's for their smaller size.

The route is pretty well decided, though exact details will be pretty fuzzy until the moment my wheels go by. I've been looking at a couple of different routes to intersect with the Adventure Cycling Atlantic coast route in northeast Connecticut, somewhere near North Woodstock. From there I'd follow their route as far as Norristown, PA. From there, I'm thinking to use PA Bicycle Route S to get across the state and follow the Great Allegheny Passage into the city. Since Route S follows the trail for a portion of its length, this should be okay. Hopefully I'll have a google map up with a route track on it to share soon.

I anticipate needing to do on the upper end of 60-80 miles each day in order to complete the journey in a week, have a little time to visit with friends, and then catch the train (I hope) back to Providence. I have some trepidation about being able to get the bike back home by train as I don't think that it can be checked through. One of the annoying features of Amtrak service is the lack of baggage services on many trains on the routes that I find myself using (across PA only one of the 2 trains each day has baggage service).

For the remainder of the gear, I anticipate that I'll be taking a tent for wet/cool nights, a small hammock for warm nights and a small stove. From reading Ken Kifer's anecdotes and suggestions, I'm hoping to do a little back country camping, at least in Connecticut where campgrounds are not located at suitable distances for my use. I also need to figure out in the next couple of months if a smaller tent would be a good investment. I'm hoping to do a couple of weekend or overnight excursions within the state to test my gear and loading choices. Expect updates as those occur.

To supplement any printed maps I take, I'm hoping to use a GPS device with maps along the way to help resolve last minute routing decisions, assist when lost, or really need to find something like a motel or McDonalds (for the bathroom, of course). The problem I'm foreseeing with any of the electronics I might bring is keeping them charged. I've considered purchasing a portable solar charger, such as one of the models from Solio. Since I expect the device to be off most of the time, I might be able to go a whole week on a single charge, but it would be a real pain to be wrong on that account.

And most importantly, on the safety side of things, I just received my new RoadID. I opted for the updated style which provides a phone number that emergency personnel can call to get my personal, vital information. Or, they can login to a website to get my emergency information such as blood type, insurance info, contacts, etc. I expect this will be somewhat more useful than the simple list of names and numbers of the old ID, as I have the ability to update the information available at any time without having to get a new ID.