Epilogue: - Mackinac Island after abandoning the USBRS (US Bicycle Route System) - CycleBlaze

May 19, 2019


Thoughts on the tour now that we're warm and dry

This was one of those tours where some seemingly minor miscalculations and planning assumptions can cumulatively have a significant impact on a tour. I was lulled by the relatively mild weather we usually experience in May in West Virginia and didn't fully appreciate how much longer winter/spring lasts further north. By the time we reached Northern Michigan the branches on most trees were just beginning to turn red and very few trees or bushes had any buds. I think they may have been experiencing atypical weather also as I heard one comment on television that they had "Mid-March" weather. I suspect their prevailing winds are northerly in the spring and I should have anticipated that it would not be much fun grinding into the wind each day. Friends and relatives pointed out that it is wiser to tour in the south in the spring, not the north.

When riding into cold headwinds for hours for days on end it sometimes helps to think creatively about the physical exertion and discomfort. One of us imagined she was training to be a Navy Seal, seeing how long she could withstand the conditions. Note, she is the one of us that resembles a svelte seal, not the one who more resembles a fat walrus. Unfortunately for her, the fat walrus is able to retain heat better...

Much of the scenery in Ohio and southern Michigan was not very interesting at this time of the season. Perhaps after crops start to come up it would have been more appealing, but I suspect many of those fields will lie fallow this summer.

My plans to utilize the USBRS system also fell short. When sitting in comfort in front of the computer planning our route the USBRS appeared to be a good way to plan a tour which utilized relatively low traffic roads, with good shoulders and included directional signage. That didn't happen in our experience with the route taking us across the most dangerous bridge (between Weirton and Stuebenville) we have ever cycled. When we did see signs they were often placed too far from the intersection where a decision had to made to be functional. Since for the first part of the tour I had entered the USBRS route into the "Ride with GPS" app this was not a big deal. However, I noted many instances where there never were any signs where a cyclist might not be sure which road to take to stay on the route. Nevertheless, the USBRS signs may have validated the right of cyclists to be on the road to drivers. After we made the decision in Cambridge to deviate from USBRS 50 we occasionally saw USBRS 50 signs in places we did not expect. In Michigan we encountered bicycle route signs which appeared to be created by the State of Michigan. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an online resource, searching on my iPhone, to be able to utilize those routes.

We did a pretty good job with the logistics of this tour. The Speedster/Equator Co-motion tandem was all that I hoped for. The shifting of the Rohloff hub was excellent and especially important as we shifted way more than I would have expected, if only because of the blustery changing direction winds. I didn't spend any time having to tune or adjust the bike shifting at nights. Not having to deal with oily chains on the bike was a real blessing as we maneuvered in and out of hotel rooms.

One of the most functional gadgets added for this tour was the Steer Stopper.

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Mike AylingLooks useful.
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8 months ago

The Steer Stopper immobilized the front wheel so that it wouldn't flop to the side when parking. It also made it possible when I was wheeling a tandem through hotel lobby doors to hold the door open while pushing the bike with the other hand (not steering with the front handlebars).

We also used for the first time the Clickstand.

The Clickstand worked well when we were unable to lean the tandem against a solid object. It includes an elastic loop for the handlebar which is stretched over the brake lever to lock the wheel of the bike so that it will not roll away.
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It collapses quickly and we had it strapped to the frame of the bike.
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Mike AylingLight and can be used for most bikes.
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8 months ago

We started the tour with a 32 mm Gatorskin on the front and a 32 mm Schwalbe on the rear. Admittedly, the Schwalbe had thousands of miles on it but still had sufficient tread for a planned 1,000 mile tour. I thought that with the heavy panniers on the rear the heavy strong tire would provide a safety cushion. Who would have thought that the Schwalbe would be the tire that failed. I've had four of these tires and three have had the sidewalls fail. I don't remember which version of "Marathon" they were, but I know I'll never buy another.

The Arkel panniers worked to perfection. For the first time we made use of the interior rain protection sack which worked perfectly. After four tours the panniers are a little dirty, but not faded and all the zippers and fasteners work perfectly. I think we had too much weight in the rear panniers and should have also used two of our smaller front panniers, so that will be the plan for the next time.

Ride with GPS worked pretty well, especially with the Quadlock on the handlebars. Rhona still struggles attaching the phone to the Quadlock mount, but the wool mittens do make it more of a struggle. We had some battery issues because I'm not certain the background map was downloaded correctly to Ride with GPS resulting in the program having to access map data through cell towers. I'll have to pay more attention to this prior to future tours.

I have to say drivers in Ohio and Michigan were considerate for the most part. Perhaps the rear flashing red light with the wide panniers helped them to decide to give us a wide berth or more likely they were astounded to see cyclists riding in the cold conditions.

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Kelly IniguezA new (to me?) feature on ridewithgps is handlebar mode. If you go to settings and then navigation, you can see handlebar mode. Then you can click on 'illuminate for turns only'.

This is a great feature when riding through unknown areas with a lot of turns.

Unfortunately, it's only available on android . . .
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8 months ago
David FritschTo Kelly IniguezHi Kelly, I see that feature show up also on my Iphone. I’ll experiment with it on our current GAP C&O Canal tour.
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8 months ago