Tips For Proper Hydration For Cyclists

Whether you are just out for a casual ride on a Saturday morning or cycling in one of the bike festivals in your area, you will find cycling outside a totally fun way to spend your free time. Not only do you get to enjoy nature and breathe all that fresh air, but you also get to exercise and reap all its health benefits. However, as you will be staying for some time on the road, cycling can prove to be really hard. You will sweat a lot and will have to watch out for any signs of dehydration to ensure that you will end the day still enjoying all the benefits from your ride. If you have one of the best water bottles for cycling, this will be an easy feat, nonetheless.

Tips For Proper Hydration For Cyclists

As easy as it may seem, in reality, there are many who still find it difficult to be properly hydrated while on a two-wheel drive. You may be too focused on what you are enjoying at the moment that you may voluntarily opt not to listen to your body as it signals for water, or the sight and the experience may be too exhilarating that the desire to take a sip will be droned out and you will end up dehydrated in the process.

Water is crucial as it aids in regulating your body temperature. It also restores used up energy as well as aid in muscle function and cognitive function. Water is that important that it fills up about 55 to 65 percent of your total body weight.

For that reason, the body needs to constantly be refilled with water to ensure that all bodily functions will be carried out without any problem. Remember that even mild dehydration can cause symptoms like headaches, fatigue, as well as difficulty concentrating. But when you are doing strenuous activities such as biking, even a 2% drop in body weight as a result of a loss of body fluids can significantly impact the quality of your performance.

If you continue to voluntarily disregard any signs of thirst during a long-distance or endurance ride, it will not be easy to catch up as you continue to sweat. Knowing how much you need to drink and when will depend on several factors, including your overall fitness, the environmental conditions, as well as the intensity of your efforts. The best way to beat dehydration is to drink smaller amounts regularly to ensure that your body will be able to keep up even with the amount of body water that you lose as you go.

To help you keep hydrated while on the go, we’ve laid out some helpful tips. Remember to do this when you are on your route so you can keep enjoying all the fun that your activity is providing you at the moment.

Drink regularly

Doing something that drives you to your limits or awakens your desire to gain more from the experience may cause you to easily forget to drink water. You may not even notice it, but as you move (even if you are just breathing) you lose water. Losing just about 2% of your body weight could lead to cause you to get tired easily. It can also trigger headaches and even lower your physical and mental performance. To easily beat dehydration, you will need to have one of the best water bottles for cycling such as the Camelback Podium Big Chill Insulated Water Bottle and the Polar Bottle Insulated Water Bottle. It will be easier to top up when you have one of these bottles as you ride on your bike.

Take a rest from cycling when you are already dehydrated

If you keep on pushing yourself even if you are already experiencing signs of dehydration, it will be difficult for you to finish the course. You may just end up dizzy, having rapid heartbeats, breathing heavily, and even to the point of fainting. So if you are already seeing the signs of dehydration, you need to take a break. This could just be while still on the road or are still planning for that event or weekend with friends. Remember that hydration is a continuous process, so you will need to keep that healthy habit of drinking enough water each day.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that women need about 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water (that includes fluids from all beverages and foods) every day. Men, on the other hand, needs approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.

Drink even if you are not thirsty

It’s always better to drink at regular intervals as your thirst mechanism may not be fully functioning when you are the go. Most can even take thirst for hunger. You may use an app on a smartwatch to remind you when it is time to get that fill. You will also need to watch out for changes on your weight as this will indicate the amount of water that you may have lost while doing the activity.

Drink throughout the ride

Hydration should not end as you start your activity. Remember that as you move or ride your bike, you sweat so you will need to replace the body fluids that you may have lost as you sweat or as your body does its normal functions.

Water may not be enough

Consume drink or foods that may also provide the energy that will keep you going. As you workout, ride on your bike or do any strenuous activity, you use up not just body fluids but also essential electrolytes that you use in the form of energy. To ensure that you can continuously provide the balance in the fluids and electrolytes in your body, you may also need to drink healthy water alternatives or any foods that are high in essential energy-giving nutrients. Adding a small amount of sugar and sodium to your cycling hydration plan is also a great way to regain the balance in the body fluids and electrolytes in your body.

Hydration is crucial to keep you going while on your bike. Maximize the benefits of your ride by constantly providing what your body needs most — proper hydration.

How to Find the Right-Sized Kid’s Helmet

You cannot be certain that your child will be safe at all times. Even when they are with you, their lives can be at risk, especially when they are doing things that can increase the potential of getting hurt. If they are out riding on their bike, scooter, or skateboard, the probability of having an accident cannot be underestimated. All that you can do as a parent is to find what could possibly lessen the likelihood of having a head or face injury should the unexpected happens. With one of the best helmets on their head, there a greater chance that they could escape head and face injury should they be caught off guard and head off a bumpy road and hit a tree on the way or something else.

kid helmet

Finding the right helmet for your child is not as easy as it seems, however. A helmet is intended to be worn  to protect the child’s head from possible injury during an impact, hence should not be chosen solely on how appealing it looks. There are factors that need to be considered when choosing the best helmet for your kids.

If you are on the lookout for one, this guide will help to make sure that your child’s head is properly protected when they are out riding on their own on their bikes, motorcycle, or skateboard, or, even when you are with them riding on two wheels.

Finding the Right-Sized Helmet For Your Child

Making sure that your dear child wears a helmet while exploring the outside and having fun on their bike, scooter, or skateboard is crucial. However, having them wear a helmet that doesn’t fit right will not provide enough protection than they need. To help you decide how to find the right fitting helmet for your child, read through this guide. Hopefully, you will find our recommendations helpful. Should that be the case, do not forget to share this guide with your friends as this could just be what they need to ensure that their kids will also be safe while on the road.

Getting the Proper-Fitting Helmet For Your Child

Helmets that could either be too big or small will not only be uncomfortable to wear,  but it won’t be able to provide enough protection from impact as they are expected to do. Though it might be tempting to buy a bigger-sized helmet for your child to grow into, it’s imperative that the helmet that you will have them wear fits their heads snuggly to ensure they’d be protected.

Measuring A Kid’s Helmet

Helmets are normally advertised with a size in centimeters. This size refers to the measurement of the circumference of the head that the helmet may fit in.

To accurately measure your child’s head, follow these steps:

Use a fabric measuring tape and wrap it around your child’s head about an inch or two above the eyebrows.

Measure from that point while making sure that the tape is level all the way around.

If you do not have a measuring tape, you can use some string instead. Then, cut the string and straighten it out next to a tape measure or ruler to get the measurement.

Does your child’s helmet fit properly?

Once you have your child’s head circumference, you’ll have a rough estimate for helmet sizes that you can choose from. Visit a store with your little one and allow your child to decide which helmet to buy. At this point, however, you should have already a clear picture of what kind of helmet you want to have for your child. Style, fit, safety ratings, budget, and other factors are things that you will need to be certain when trying to figure out what helmet you will buy for your kid.

You will have to ask your child to try some helmets out (after you have considered a few options from which you two will be looking from), to see just how one of each helmet sits on the child’s head. Make sure that the helmet is level all around the child’s head. A gap of about an inch or two fingers between the eyebrow and the helmet will make it feel comfortable even after wearing for some time. You will also need to make sure that all the straps and adjustments are firmly attached but not too tight.

Too big

If the helmet budges a lot, then it’s probably too big. Double check the straps and adjusters and see if they are firmly attached. If they are, then you’ll need to find a smaller-sized helmet.

Too small

If the helmet that your child tries on his/her head sits high on top of the head or leaves a visible line on the skin when taken off, it’s just too small. Take note that the right-fitting helmet should also allow your child to put on glasses even while wearing the helmet.

Adjusting the fit of the helmet

Kids’ helmets are designed with different ways of adjusting the fit. The most common of these are the different sized foam pads or a clicky dial at the rear that can be used to adjust the size of the helmet. These helmets can fit a range of head sizes and can grow a little bit with your child.

Note that the chin strap should also be firmly attached while allowing your child to open their mouths easily. It should also be leveled and go comfortably around the ears.

Helmets come in different styles and designs

Having the right measurement of the head of your child can provide you a good starting point for what size helmet you might need to buy for your child, you need to take note that heads come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. These helmets can also be easily adjusted with the straps that come with them. Even then, you will need to have your child try several helmets first before deciding which helmet to buy to ensure that you will get the right-fitting helmet for your child.

Day 76: Pittsburgh to West Newton, PA (November 13)

I picked up a trail (Three Rivers Heritage Trail)  downtown behind the PNC bank building. Being a Sunday there were a bunch of other cyclists on the trail — most on nice road bikes.

The downtown and riverside seems to be having a bit of a renaissance. The Carnegie Mellon center for studying media technology is there. Seeing the building reminded me of Randy Pausch who taught there, and his lecture on fulfilling your childhood dreams. I guess riding cross country was not one of my childhood dreams, but has been something I have wanted to do for a number of years. In a few days I will have fulfilled that dream. So what is next? Not sure, but I will think of something.

The riverside further down south out of the city gets run down again with derelict industrial dinosaurs. Their skeletons are still there but the life is extinct.

After crossing over the pedestrian Hot Metal Bridge — named for the railroad cars carrying the crucibles of molten steel that were carried from the smelters on one side of the river over to the steel rolling plant on the other — I met a cyclist Matt who rode with me for a couple miles.

We talked a bit about the route ahead for me on the Great Allegheny Passage, as well as my trip so far. He said the route through Pittsburgh is almost complete but not quite. There is a mile or two that I have to navigate on the roads after walking along the active CSX tracks for a couple hundred yards. I would have been able to take a short cut through the Sandcastle Amusement Park parking lot during the summer, but the park closes for the winter and was closed now.

He mentioned some of the urban, industrial decay along the way. The last working steel mill in Pittsburgh would be coming up on the other side of the river. An abandoned amusement park featured the film Adventureland would be coming up in a few miles. I’d be able to see the roller coasters. He turned around when the trail ended, and I took to walking along the rails.

I walked my bike over the bumpy rocks and then turned onto the city streets. Not exactly sure where I should be going from the directions I had gotten from some other people so when I saw a couple of cyclists I waved them down, and asked, “Which way to Homestead?” They said to follow them as they were going to the Great Allegheny Passage too.

We passed by Nancy B’s Bakery on West 7th Ave on the way into Homestead. Apparently it has the best cookies around, but is only open 9-5 on weekdays so I was unable to judge. These cyclists said that Homestead has come up a bit because of the ‘marina’ concept and shopping that was put there, and the general improvement has spread out a bit from there.

He had ridden the Great Allegheny Passage and then the C&O towpath to Washington DC. He said that services along the GAP trail are better spaced at about 15-25 miles apart. The C&O services are farther apart, and besides the cities that are right on the trail, they are up steep hills.

The Great Allegheny Passage starts in Homestead, and soon rises up above the Youghiogheny River, and the path goes into the trees. Some of the trees still had their leaves. The bright yellow leaves were beautiful on an overcast day. On the other side of the Youghiogheny River the active CSX line had trains chugging north and south fairly often.

Not far down the trail, I stopped in McKeeport for lunch. The service was slow, and I wolfed down a full Philly cheese steak sub and then got back onto my bike riding so I’d get to my destination of West Newton before dark. Dark was coming earlier and earlier — now before 5 PM. I rode slowly in an attempt to digest and ride a the same time. It was not the most comfortable ride but I was moving.

Start point: Pittsburgh, PA
End point: West Newton, PA
Today’s mileage: 38.5 miles
Total miles so far: 3104 miles
Average speed: 10.8 mph
Max speed: 21.8 mph
Riding time: (10:00 to 14:45) 4.75 hours
Total riding time: 379.5 hours
Weather: partly cloudy, 55-60 F

Day 77: West Newton to Confluence, PA (November 14)

There was a light drizzle leaving in the morning. Not cold but a little chill to start.

The surface of the trail is compacted chip stone. Due to the rain last night it seems a couple miles an hour slower than yesterday when dry. Still able to go about 10 mph. There are also a lot of wet leaves on the trail but they seem pretty stable and I haven’t felt any slipping.

There are little towns every five to ten miles along the route. Most have a look they were started 100 years or so ago when this corridor was heavily used judging by the style of houses.

In Connellville, I liked the Appalachian trail type huts to the northwest of type for cyclists and hikers. I ate lunch at the NY Pizza & Pasta next to the big grocery store. I had looked at the services map of the town by the bike path when coming into town, and checked out a few other places first. Despite the “open” signs on the sidewalk everything else looked closed. They might only open when lots of people come through — April to September.

Leaving Connellville the trail enters a gorge where the river narrows and becomes more wild with rapids and rocks. The low angle sun on the steeper valley, remnants of fall color, and the river created a beautiful place to ride for almost 30 miles. There were no houses or other signs of settlement in this stretch. Most if this run is inside the Ohiopyle State Park so no towns, other people on the trail and no mobile reception. It was almost, but not quite, a wilderness. The CSX tracks on the other side occasionally rumbled with a train and the horns sounded down the valley at distant towns.

Past Ohiopyle were coke ovens for processing coal into coke used in steel mills. At the time the area boasted on of the highest number of millionaires in the country including the Fricks who named many art museums. Now all that remains are a few remnant company towns and nearly overgrown, brick coke ovens.

Arriving in Confluence shortly before dark I found that all the B&B’s and restaurants had closed for the winter. There was only a bar and a pizza place open. I had a steak and cheese sub at the pizza place. I decided to camp in the Overflow State Park camp ground despite it being closed. The bathrooms were open which is all that mattered to me.

I camped out underneath the picnic pavilion which not only was near the bathrooms, but was covered protecting me from the forecast rain.

Start: West Newton, PA
End: Confluence, PA
Today’s mileage: 63.9 miles
Total miles so far: 3168 miles
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Max speed: 19 mph
Travel time: (08:15 to 16:00) 7.75 hours
Total travel time: 387.25 hours
Weather: drizzle, partly cloudy, 50-70 F

Day 78: Confluence, PA to Cumberland, MD (November 15)

Waking up to a hard drizzle or maybe rain, I went to eat breakfast at the Sweetie Bakery next to the pizza place I got dinner with the night before. Buying some donuts and a bagel with cream cheese I checked my email and hoped the rain would stop. The rain eased up and was only something between a mist and a drizzle when I headed back out.

Before Meyersdale, was one of the big things on the trail today: the 1908 foot long Salisbury Viaduct. So not to lose elevation, the railroad made a big bridge to cross over a valley. The bridge is narrow — one track wide — which makes it seem even higher than it is. It looks too be about 100 feet off the ground (but probably only 60 or so) and only about 10 feet wide.

The Casselman River

Today was going to be the “hardest” climb of the GAP trail. It goes over the Eastern Continental Divide and I could actually tell it was a little bit harder despite it being less than a one percent grade.  (Good thing I had Moby Dick to keep my mind off the steep climb…) It might have been the wet surface making it a bit slower too. The divide is marked on a tunnel with murals depicting the settlers going west and the industry of the area. It is the highest point on the great Allegheny passage at 2392 feet. Unlike the western Continental Divide, it really is all downhill from there.

The other big thing was the Big Savage Tunnel. It is 3294 feet long through Big Savage Mountain. I was concerned that the tunnel might be closed because on the map it says it closes in late November. I tried to call the GAP offices to check whether it was open since the website does not have the status but I got no answer until a couple days after I’d already gone through. The map also says that there is no easy way around the tunnel. It looked to me that there is a trail that headed over the the top of Big Savage Mountain which I could have either pushed my bicycle or rode my bicycle over and that would’ve gotten me to the other side. Riding through the tunnel was a little disorienting despite it being lighted. In the reduced light and the speed I was going I felt like I was floating.

After the Big Savage Tunnel it was a nice ride down to Cumberland. I could coast most of the way at about 15 miles an hour. There were another couple of tunnels — the Borden Tunnel and the Brush Tunnel each over 900 feet long. From Frostburg to Cumberland the path follows the Western Maryland Maryland Scenic Railroad. The trains start from Cumberland in the morning and I did not see any trains. The brochure says you can take your bicycle on the train. It could be an interesting way to cover those 32 miles from Cumberland.

Before reaching Cumberland, you cross the Mason Dixon Line and officially are in the Southern US. After visiting the the C&O Visitor center to get a map and see the exhibits on the canal, I rode around town a little. Both the Holiday Inn and the Fairfield Suites had hoses outside specifically to clean off bicycles. I used a hose to clean mine since the chip stone used on the GAP path had gotten up into my chain. Every turn of the cranks reminded me of having sand in my teeth. My poor chain and gears!

I also went to the local bike shop to check on conditions of the trail. The drug dealer in Pittsburgh told me the C&O trail could be muddy. My aunt also said she had heard the same. I was concerned that my tires were not wide enough plus they were not knobby. The salesman assured me that my tires were wide enough and that I wouldn’t need knobby tires. He said the trail gets more wet than muddy although there are puddles that can be deep and can be muddy. He said that if the puddle has steep sides just run through the bottom of the puddle don’t try to go up the sides is you could slip and fall.

I had dinner at the Baltimore Grill in the center of downtown on the pedestrian mall. I think my waitress was surprised at the speed I ate. Each time she came by to ask if everything was OK, I’d already eaten the whole plate. I must have been hungry because I even got dessert which was a little unusual. But I polished off the chocolate cake as well.

Start: Confluence, PA
End: Cumberland, MD
Today’s mileage: 69.7 miles
Total miles so far: 3238 miles
Average speed: 10.3 mph
Max speed: 22.8 mph
Travel time: (08:45 to 16:00) 7.25 hours
Total travel time: 394.5 hours
Weather: drizzle, overcast, 50-55 F

Day 79: Cumberland to Hancock, MD (November 16)

The rain was coming down as I rode through the gate marking the beginning of the C&O towpath in downtown Cumberland by the park service visitor center. Cumberland is a CSX town and the train horns could be heard at all hours with trains coming and going. The rail lines paralleled the towpath for about half the day. Even when the trains could not be seen they were present with the low throb of the locomotive diesel engines, the clatter of cars on the rails or the screech of wheels going around bends.

I had heard the towpath could be muddy when it rain. There was on section maybe a quarter mile long that I was a bit worried and rode unclipped. But it was not that bad.
The path is dual track from the tires of a truck. The bottom of the track is not level but it is mostly pea stones so not muddy. But the ruts form puddles. The puddles ranged from about an inch to six inches deep. The deeper ones were evident by a deep brown color from the fallen leaves decomposing in them. Not being able to see the bottoms I had to coast through the deep puddles. The others I could cruise through at about 9-10 mph. Definitely happy to have fenders! Also happy to have waterproof panniers.

I used the C&O Companion iPhone App to find a place to stay and eat in Hancock. I ate at Weaver’s Restaurant plus it seemed to be the only place open. There might have been a bar too. I had apple pie for dessert that was good. The C&O app is much better than the GAP app. I like that I can use it without the internet and get info on places to eat, sleep, camp, and bike shops. (Although all the bike shops look to be closed.)

I downloaded another audio book because Moby Dick will soon run out. I went with another classic: The Complete Sherlock Holmes.

Start: Cumberland, MD
End: Hancock, MD
Today’s mileage: 64.4 miles
Total miles so far: 3302 miles
Average speed: 9.1 mph
Max speed: 15.4 mph
Travel time: (08:45 to 15:45) 7 hours
Total travel time: 401.5 hours
Weather: rain, overcast, 50-55 F

Day 81: Harper’s Ferry, WV to Arlington, VA (November 18)

This will be my last day!

Leaving the Teahorse Hostel after a waffle breakfast , I rode up then down into Harper’s Ferry. Again I had to squash the urge to immediately leave town across the bridge and get riding again. So I rode around the part of town right near the river. The History Channel crew was setting up again for another shoot. There was certainly a lot of history in Harper’s Ferry with the Revolutionary War and Civil War and the founding of the country. Right now there is only one railroad bridge out of town, but previously there had been at least three. The two unused ones are slowly falling apart. Now nothing is left but their stone piers.

A few miles after leaving Harper’s Ferry, I met a man and his son. The man had rode down the East Coast of the US about 25 or 30 years ago, and was so happy when he got to the C&O because he didn’t have to ride on the street. It was a high point of his ride which was a high point of his life. I talked to him for about 15 minutes telling him about my trip and hearing some about his. He was very excited to meet me and hear about the trip and vowed to help create more cycling routes like the C&O and GAP trail.

The weather today was a bit cool but sunny and nice. Puddles were still along the trail, but it was not muddy. My 1.5″ tires were good enough for the C&O despite its relatively unimproved surface. The rocks and roots and puddles were a bit bumpy, and maybe fatter tires would do better. Suspension would be nice too. I thought the trail would get more paved or smoother the closer I got to DC, but it remained the same bumpiness the whole way to Georgetown. There were more and more people walking, running, and biking as I approached the city. I got passed by a few guys on fancy bikes. I had to tell myself that it was OK because they had nothing on their bikes and their bikes probably weighed about half as much as mine. I did notice that the closer I got to the city fewer people said hi or waved.

The C&O doesn’t become more urban as you get closer. It always feels somewhat separate although there is a major road running along side it for the last 10 miles or so. I crossed over the Chain Bridge into Arlington, VA. I had forgotten that Arlington is on a big bluff above the Potomac River, and the hill getting up onto the top was so steep I had to get off and push my bike up it. I noticed that my left shoe has really been worn down and has almost no traction. When I stop, my left foot hits the ground first often when the bike is still moving wearing away the rubber.

I haven’t enjoyed the GAP and C&O as much as I would if I didn’t feel compelled to put my head down and ride everyday. I have been listening to Sherlock Holmes on audio book to make things go a bit faster since Hancock. It is a bit odd that my bicycle trip essentially ended today. I will ride into DC to look at some museums and check on the Amtrak train and check-in, but that is a day trip. Arriving at my friends’ house in Arlington was the end of the trip. There was a definite feeling of relief when I arrived at their door. Thus ends my cross country bicycle ride!

Day 80: Hancock, MD to Harper’s Ferry, WV (November 17)

Coming into Hancock the day before, I noticed that there was paved bike path heading into Hanock and then out continuing down river. There is about a twenty mile bike path of the old Western Maryland Railroad that parallels the C&O Tow Path with Hancock pretty much in the middle. Since paved roads are faster than the bumpy C&O I decided to give it a go until it ended.

At one point on the trail, there was a sign pointing out the three modes of transportation that were tried in that corridor: canal then railroad, and then the interstate. It said that each eventually led to the demise of the previous one. (CSX still has an active rail line nearby that mostly moves coal.) I had often thought about the history of the route. From the historical signs along the canal, the canal was never much of a success. It was plagued by flooding and it was not fully completed until the railroads were also nearly complete along the same route. It could not compete with the railroads in speed or tonnage. The amount of railroads coming through are still visible with both active and abandoned railroad trestles crossing the rivers. The signs along the path were interesting because of the long and important history of this area of country for both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War as well as the development of industry and the move west.

When the bike path ended, I took to the road to ride the about mile up to Fort Frederick State Park. I was warned that the road had no shoulder, steep hills, short sight lines, and was for advanced riders only. I hoped by this point in my trip I could handle that sort of road for a mile. I think I did OK as I made it to the state park. I suppose the bike path has to say that especially since many people who go for a day ride on the bike path are probably not road riders. I think they are planning to connect the end of the ride to the C&O but not sure. There was a connector about a mile or two before the end of the path, but I missed it and no way I was going back to avoid riding on a road for five minutes.

Fort Frederick State Park was Maryland’s first state park and houses a fort dating back to the French and Indian war built in 1756. After use in three wars (French and Indian, Revolutionary, and Civil War), it had fallen to ruins, but its stone walls were rebuilt by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930′s. There are camping spots in the park, and it connects to the C&O. It was deserted when I rode though. I took a brief look into the fort, but the buildings all looked closed, and I had miles to go to get to Harper’s Ferry.

The path continued along the Potomac. A few spots of trees still had leaves, especially bright yellow, but most fallen off. The opposite bank had some development with both small summer cottages often on stilts and large estates with lush green lawns.

I was in a mode to ride. The last few days have been head down riding. Not completely, but I am slightly more focused on getting to where I want to get than to see things along the way. I think the grey dreary and chilly day also added to my focus. I have to occasionally make my self take a time out for beauty for a few seconds. In Williamsport, I briefly stopped in to the park service visitor center, but there was nothing much new there I had not seen at the main one in Cumberland. But I was given a bit more information about an upcoming detour. Part of the trail washed out along the Potomac so there was a 7 mile detour along the road. (Advised that it was for advanced riders only…)

When I did get to the detour, it was very well marker, and they even had installed porta-potties so you didn’t have to pee on people’s lawns. Quite impressed.

The clouds cleared and the sun was out for the last few hours of the day. A few miles outside of Harper’s Ferry, I came to a campsite. It was a nice spot, quiet, and I briefly considered staying there. Why didn’t I camp out my second to last night? I had one thing of ramen and a couple handfuls of peanut m&m’s left. I had eaten everything else. So basically no dinner and if I ate dinner there’d be no breakfast. Plus it was getting cold and the sun had not even set.

I soldiered on to Harper’s Ferry. I was not pleased at carrying my bike up three flights of stairs to cross the river into Harper’s Ferry, but nothing else to do. Across the river I ran into a film crew shooting on the big hill I had to ride up to get to the Teahorse Hostel where I was going to stay the night. (I found it using the C&O iPhone app…I thought it was worth the dollar or two it cost since it lists all the campsites, a lot of lodging, and restaurants along the route.) I stopped a bit before the hostel to get some pizza. I ate most of a large 16″ and saved two slices for lunch the next day.

Start: Hancock, MD
End: Harper’s Ferry, WV
Today’s mileage: 71.6 miles
Total miles so far: 3374 miles
Average speed: 9.7 mph
Max speed: 29.1 mph
Riding time: (09:00 to 17:30) 8.5 hours
Total riding time: 410 hours
Weather: rain, overcast 40 F

GoPro Camera and making time lapse videos

I bought the GoPro camera without ever having used it before. Then on my trip I used it without knowing what sort of video the images it was taking would make. I could view the images, but until I got to Denver, I did not have the ability to put them together as a video. Now that I have completed the trip and completed making the daily videos, what did I learn? 


First, to make a real movie, it would be best to have another video camera or maybe two. These could be a GoPro or something else that shot video like a point-n-shoot. The second GoPro could be mounted in such a way that I would be in the video/time-lapse all the time. Filming people is important and since I was the hero of this story it would have been nice to have footage of me riding from various angles to insert into the footage of the road ahead.

When I got to Denver, and made a short trial of some of the video, it seemed like the camera was positioned so that the road was the biggest part of the scene and little of the scenery along the sides was visible. So I made a new mount that moved the camera from my handle bars out to the front of the front rack. Previous to that, you could see my hands gripping the hoods of the breaks or when I’d reach into my handle bar bag or when I’d stretch out resting. This did add a personal aspect to the films. After the GoPro moved out to the front of the rack, I was rarely visible in the film, but more of the scenery alongside the road was visible.  I am not sure about the trade-off. Both have their benefits.

I wrote to GoPro suggesting they make another mount/case that has two cameras in a V-formation and taking pictures simultaneously so that you get a very wide field of view — something like 270 deg. That way you could capture everything happening in front of you. The said they’d think about it.

The GoPro Hero had several settings for time lapse pictures. The intervals were 1 second, 2 second, 5 second, 10 second, 30 second…anything longer apart didn’t make much sense if making a time lapse video of biking all day. I first tried every 10 seconds because I though that would make each day about 2 minutes long. After watching a short video I shot at that spacing, I decided it was too jumpy. Calculating how much space would be needed, I decided that every 2 seconds was not logistically possible. So I settled on a picture every 5 seconds. It is still a bit jumpy but not too bad especially in the wide open western US.


I started the trip with three batteries. The camera itself can act as a charger and the battery backpack (supplemental battery power) can act as a charger. I also had two single USB wall plug adapters. This meant I could only charge two batteries at once plus I had my iPhone to charge. The batteries are not exactly quick charging often requiring over an hour and a half to charge. It meant I had to hang out at restaurants and other places waiting for batteries to charge a long time.

I ended up buying another battery backpack that gave me another battery charger plus another battery. Now I had four batteries and three chargers. Then I bought two dual USB wall plug adapters. This gave me the ability to charge three GoPro batteries and my iPhone at the same time. Much better. I also became more battery focused and anytime I’d stop somewhere for a while I’d look for a plug immediately — restaurants, highway rest areas, convenience stores…anywhere with electricity. I also found that RV parks leave the electricity on so that you can pull into one of their spots, charge up and then leave.

I could generally get by using 2-3 batteries per day. Each battery lasted about 2.5 hours. Usually I’d turn off the camera if I was going to be not riding for a while to save battery as well as memory card space.

The memory cards also required some logistical planning. I had 9 SD cards at 16 GB each. Each day I’d take roughly 10 GB of data. Usually I’d switch in a new card each day although a few times I’d leave the card in until the camera registered it as full. Of course, that meant trying to pay attention every time I stopped to see if the card was full. I had to plan when I’d be stopping at a library to transfer the cards to the 1 TB USB hard disk I brought with me. It would take an hour or two depending on the the USB setup on the library computers to transfer a week’s worth of data.

I missed hours of video due to forgetting to turn it on, batteries running out, and cards getting full. I only missed one full day because I had no more battery — Day 25: King’s Canyon to Delta, UT.

I had a small waterproof stuff sack that I used to carry around my GoPro stuff. Inside were used SD cards, empty SD cards, charging stuff, and the portable hard disk. It was pretty easily accessible so that I could get the charging stuff out quickly. Altogether it weighed about a pound.

Next time I’d look into a generator charger that run against the tire like the ones used to work lights on bikes. I tried a solar charger but it didn’t work, and later in my ride the sun was getting less and less as the days grew short.

The Video:

I created over 300,000 pictures during the trip and turning that into video too a while — about 35-45 minutes per day: 5 minutes putting the pictures, captions, titles, and credits together and then 30+ minutes of computer processing time. Initially, I decided to just put each each day’s video up basically in the raw with very little editing. Now I am thinking of what to do next with the images and video.

I have thought of trying a program like AstroStack to see if I can align the images so that say the white line on the edge of the road is in the same place each time and the edges of the frame move around. This might make the central area of the video smoother.

I have also heard of VReveal as another way to stabilize the video. I am also looking into VirtualDub and AviSynth as open source editors that look to be pretty complete even if the user interfaces aren’t great.

Unfortunately, all this video processing is a bit beyond the capabilities of my old IBM T43 laptop. (Unless I render overnight…) It might be time for a new computer.

Other Cameras:

I also carried a Canon a590is and my iPhone 4. The iPhone 4 has a pretty good camera, and it had the added convenience of being able to email photos right from the phone. The Canon took better pictures and had more modes, but later in the trip the lens sometimes would not focus. I’d turn the camera on and off several times before it would decide to start focusing. I did like that it took AA batteries so I didn’t have yet another thing to charge.

Anything else I would have brought?

Something like a Joby Gorilla Pod tripod would have been nice. So I could set up for self photos easier, taking some low light photos, and using my GoPro off the bike. Even though it is a small tripod it comes with a quick release shoe so you can quickly attach the camera to the tripod instead of spinning the thing around for a minute or two before it is ready to use. That is really nice.

I recently downloaded Quick Lapse HD for my iPhone and have been having fun making short time lapse videos using it. I also bought Joby’s Gorrilla Mobile for the iPhone 4. It is pretty nice for shooting the time lapse and other video. (I also like it for Skype video calls and watching movies while lying in bed — set the tripod on my chest and try not to snooze!) Plus it comes with a quick release shoe that I put onto my regular digital camera.

I used a GoPro Hero just missing by a month the release of the MUCH improved GoPro Hero2 that has twice the resolution, better user interface, more time lapse modes, more video modes (including 120 frames per second for SUPER slow motion), and all around just cooler camera. If I could get two of them, I’d love to play with 3D video using the adapter that connects two cameras.