Solo Riding with Technology Gadgets

There is something cathartic about cycling for days by myself.  It becomes lonely and very quiet in and around me.  The only entertainment is the processing of past experiences, dreaming of my next goals and listening to the random ideas in my mind. The real challenge of touring is not the distance. It is the confrontation of my demons that will emerge in this unscheduled time.  The aftermath, though, is worth all the struggle: my mind is refocused and at a still point.

I am nervous and excited about the upcoming trip - yearning to reach the still point after another year in New York. It is my first trip touring abroad and I feel under-prepared without cue sheets and a set schedule.  The only decisions I have made so far are which regions to visit.  I will avoid all of the southern Ireland tourist traps and start in Shannon, making my way to Westport, northeast to Belfast, back south to Dublin and then back to Shannon.

Getting ready for the BIG trip
Getting ready for the BIG trip

Technology: Invasion of Privacy or a potential Life-Saver?

I did spend some serious time thinking about how to stay healthy and bicycle safely in a foreign country. If anything happened it would probably be serious. Bicycle accidents are rarely a minor scrape.

How would anyone find me on a rural road?  Last year I used Google Latitude (Google retired that function) on my phone to track my current locations on my solo tour from New York to Boston. In Ireland I would have different mobile carriers and maybe spotty networks. Does T-Mobile work in Ireland and, if so is it reliable? Hell, in NYC I have dead spots at times on their network.

When I checked, T-Mobile confirmed that I have free inclusive data coverage in Ireland with my current plan.  It might be as low as 2G, but they said I could upgrade at an additional cost. I could use my phone and install a tracking app. It beats the pricing of the Garmin for $400 and the extra $200 for the worldwide map.  Several of my cycling friends confirmed that there was no real advantage to spending the extra money on the Garmin. I finally settled on Life 360 as a tracking app and bought an old-fashioned printed map as a back-up.

On the Go and Being Connected

Technology - best friend or foe? As a tech-dependant person what can I take on the trip that will allow me to remain light-weight (or agile for all my Geek friends)? I think back to the time where a sketch pad seemed enough.

Now I am worried about taking a tablet, phone and a computer with me. The tablet is the new laptop replacement. It’s great for anyone on the go who needs lightweight applications. Are tablet apps powerful enough and cover my needs?

I am furiously installing apps, downloading books, magazines and music. To run and charge all of my devices - including my Bluetooth headset. I am buying an electricity converter, back-up battery and a USB charger with multiple outlets.

The moment of truth: testing the last app for blogging. I’m checking to see if it has all the functionality I need to update posts, add images and publish the content. Yikes, it reformats the pictures in an awful way. The photo is uber-sized and blog visitors have to scroll to see it in its entirety. Trying to install Bloomberg Businessweek, I get the message: “Your current Android version does not support this app!”

It makes me wonder sometimes how efficient all of the technology really is.  Another long evening is ahead for me as I test more apps and try to find a solution so that I can avoid carrying the 4-pound laptop with me.

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