Here, finally, is the postscript I promised. First off, some props to America by Bicycle for the new features they’ve added since my last ride with them 10 years ago.
GPS route files. During the Mississippi ride in 2008 one of the riders had a handheld GPS, probably meant for hikers, hunters and the like. Jeff, our ride leader gave him an advance look at the route sheets so that he could load the route into his GPS. Fast forward to today where GPS bike computers are readily available. I highly recommend them. Mine is an older Garmin 200, which doesn’t show street maps but does show the route as a line on the screen and can be made to beep 300 feet before each route cue (turn, point of interest, etc.).
If I go off route it beeps and shows me where I am in relation to the route, zooming out as necessary. It is up to me to find my way back. Some newer GPS units will try to calculate the way back to the route; a couple of riders complained about the nagging that results. In some ways, not having the underlying maps made navigation easier for me. The one thing that my unit doesn’t do well is show me the turns when they come one after another in a short distance. A couple of times I guessed wrong about the next direction and had to turn around when my dot drifted away from the line on the screen.
When you are picking a unit for yourself, pay attention to battery life. Some of the riders could not keep the map display on their screens all the time because it drained the battery too quickly on the longer days. With that in mind, if I do replace my unit, I’m leaning toward the Wahoo Element Bolt, which has a black and white (E-ink?) screen that is easier on the batteries and may be easier to see in sunlight.
Shoeboxes for tools, spare parts, etc. Riders can now store tools (I bring the cassette lockring tool specific to Campagnolo and a spanner for my S and S frame connectors and with my new 12-speed setup [below] I’ll need a special chain tool), spare spokes, tires, chain and the like in a shoebox that is carried in the mechanics van. That both makes it easier for us to access them during the day and takes that weight out of our luggage. I only had to get into my box once or twice at the end of the day but it was nice knowing it was available.
I’m typing this at the end of my second day of skiing at Squaw Valley, the beginning of what looks to be a promising ski season. More promising because I’ll be retired at the end of next week.
My Seven custom frame just came back from the Seven factory after a refresh–polishing, checking for structural issues, re-chasing of the various threads, and new decals. The Campagnolo Racing Triple component group that came with the original frame has been transferred to my older Trek 2200 frame. When my new Wound Up fork arrives, Eric of Pleasant Hill Cyclery and I will be putting it and the refreshed frame together with a new Campagnolo 12-speed group (a Black Friday purchase, believe it or not). I’ll have the same lowest gear as the triple and one extra high gear. With the exception of the seatpost, frame, and a few minor parts, it is a whole new bike, my retirement present to myself. The frame has served me well for 15 years and hopefully for years to come.
The new bike will get its first workouts training for the ABB America North ride next June. It was my first ABB ride in 2004. I had been talking about doing the West ride but I wanted something longer (2x). Someday I hope ABB or somebody else extends the southern route (LA to Savannah) from 27 to 45 to 50 days. I’d love to do that. It would make a great every other year companion to the Cross-Country Challenge.
Check back in late June for my ABB North blog.
Thank you to those who have offered encouraging words.