Ken Roberts - - Bicycling
Columbia Trail in New Jersey - GPS + loops w road
I rode the Columbia trail from its southwest end in High Bridge thru Califon to its northeast end near Flanders, and some of the roads nearby (so I could get back without riding the same rail trail sections twice). Mostly thru rural terrain or forest. Almost all of it nearly flat. Fairly closely follows the "south branch" of the Raritan River.
A short missing section just northeast from route 517 at Long Valley -- which I found easy to get around on a mostly quiet road (except for a very short section on rt 517). Also a short missing section northeast of Califon where the trail joins a mostly quiet road, then leaves it -- with no sign (at least in my direction) to tell me that was what was happening: I thought it was the end of the trail, but I kept riding in the same direction and then found it wasn't.
Except for a short section of asphalt at the southwest end in High Bridge, it's gravel and packed dirt/sand, mostly free from ruts and potholes -- one kind of eroded section between Vernoy Rd and Middle Valley Rd. I was on my road bike with 700x23 tires
southwest end of trail with parking in High Bridge = 40.66955,-74.89648 = N40.66955 W74.89648
trail crosses Main St in Califon = 40.71935,-74.83575 = N40.71935 W74.83575
end of trail on south side of Long Valley = 40.78679,-74.78098 = N40.78679 W74.78098
end of trail on north side of Long Valley = 40.79431,-74.76897 = N40.79431 W74.76897
parking near end of trail near Flanders = 40.81426,-74.72859 = N40.81426 W74.72859
northeast end of trail near Flanders = 40.81678,-74.72530 = N40.81678 W74.72530
connecting around the missing section at Long Valley
going toward northeast: Where the trail ends by route 517, I turned Right on route 517 south (lotsa car + truck traffic) a very short ways, Left on Fairview Av about 0.8 mile (starts east, immediate curves left north, then curves right northeast), I saw parking area on right side for "Gillette Trail". Turned off Right, thru parking area onto grassy path southeast down a short ways to the dirt-gravel trail, turned Left onto it to go northeast on the Columbia Trail toward Flanders.
going toward southwest: (not the direction I did it, but here's how it would work). At GPS lat-long above for "end of trail on north side of Long Valley", turn off the trail right onto grassy path going uphill a short ways, thru parking area to road. (or when find that the trail gets bad or disappears, turn around a go back a short ways to find the grassy path). Left on Fairview Ave about 0.85 mile to its end. Right on route 517 north a short ways (lotsa car + truck traffic), Left off road onto dirt/gravel trail, continue west-southwest toward Califon.
including sections crossing public roads or riding on public roads with active traffic:
loops on both rail trail and road
Two possible advantages of riding a loop: (1) You can get back to your car without having to ride the same stuff twice -- go back in a different way than you came. (2) If different people in your group want to do different things.
High Bridge - Califon loop, under + over
Roads from High Bridge northeast to Califon:
Trail from Califon southwest to High Bridge:
Loop total = about 11.5 miles
Califon short north loop
Columbia Trail northeast from Califon about 1.25 mile:
Easiest road back to Califon: Left on Valley Brook Rd a
very short way (do not cross the river), Left on Vernoy Rd southwest to its end
at Main St in Califon. (Loop total a bit under 3 miles).
Road from Valley Brook back to Califon:
Loop total = 4 miles
combine loops High Bridge + Califon short north
Loops total = 15.5 miles
Califon - Middle Valley loop
We rode this, but it includes a significant section on a higher-speed, higher-traffic road (route 513), and includes the roughest section of the Columbia trail we found.
Columbia Trail northeast from Califon about 2.75 mile:
Roads back to Califon:
Loop total around 8.25 miles
northern loop near Long Valley + Flanders
Disadvantage of this loop is that Bartley Rd gets more motor traffic.
Columbia Trail northeast toward Flanders, about 2.9 miles:
Roads back toward Long Valley
Loop total about 6. 5 miles.
GPS getting started using with bicycling
Sharon and I just got into using a Garmin 60CSx GPS for navigating on bicycle rides, and we're pretty happy with it.
We mainly wanted the GPS for road bike single-day rides, but also for backcountry ski tours which out in the mountains away from known trails, and in Europe as well as USA. I wanted a barometric altimeter and electronic compass for backcountry (and the barometric altimeter also for measuring steepness and size of road hill climbs more accurately).
Neither of us cared about recording "workout" data like speed, cadence, heart rate - (so we didn't need a "bicycling" or "fitness" GPS)
I had seen a Garmin Nuvi used in France by a friend driving a car on the roads, and that made me think that GPS and mapping technology were finally good enough to be really helpful.
Garmin had lots of mapping resources for Europe readily available on its own website and lots of its distributors. Some competitors seemed more focused only on USA. Probably there was a way to put Europe maps on them, but we wanted to feel confident that it could be straightforward.
So I was imagining that I would buy a new GPS that would talk to me like my friend's Nuvi, but after doing more research on what other bicyclists were doing with GPS, I decided to give up on that. Because it seemed that most of the bicycle GPS strategies used what Garmin calls "tracks" (just a sequence of "dumb" positional points connected by "dumb" straight lines) -- while the "talking" GPS units for roads either use a single destination, or what Garmin calls a "route" (a sequence of points which the unit uses "smart" navigation to make a route between), not tracks.
So I knew we needed a GPS that could store "tracks" and use them to navigate.
Touch-screen: I read some reviews and find that some customers with lots of previous non-car-driving GPS experience were not happy the readability of the Garmin tough-screen units intended for non-car-driving uses for bicycling + hiking. Especially with bicycling, you can't easily adjust the "tilt" of the unit relative to the sun while riding, and for backcountry skiing I was concerned about readability in "flat light" situations -- which is when I would most be depending on the GPS. So I decided to go for the old-fashioned kind with buttons.
Put all those requirements together in the summer of 2009, and a product that fit was Garmin 60 CSx, so we bought that.
"track" to follow
"track" versus "route"
What Garmin calls a "track" is just a sequence of "dumb" positional points connected by "dumb" straight lines. What Garmin calls a "route" is a sequence of (possible "smart") waypoints which the GPS unit uses "smart" navigation to make a route between. The GPS 60CSx can navigate with either a track or a route.
Nice thing about using a "route" is that the navigation by roads offers more definite notification of upcoming intersections and "hand-holding" in getting thru the intersections. The problems with the "route" are: (a) putting a route on the GPS adds lots of waypoints in a single batch -- but once they're on the GPS, I don't know a simple way to remove them as a batch; and (b) which roads are selected to go between waypoints might depend on which kind of GPS unit someone else is using or what navigation set-up parameters they selected.
Since I don't want my GPS cluttered with lots of waypoints that are of no use to me after that day of riding; and I want to be able to easily share my routes with other people without them getting sent onto unintended roads because of different settings in the on-road-routing algorithm in their GPS unit -- I decided on tracks.
The obvious format to share with other riders is GPX, which is supported by Garmin MapSource software to transfer to the 60CSx unit, and by the Bikely.com and MapMyRide.com bike route sharing websites.
Bikely.com on the web seemed easier to use than my first experiences with the Garmin MapSource program running locally on my PC, so my strategy was to create routes on Bikely.com, then download the GPX file from Bikely (using the "Share" tab) to my PC, and use Garmin MapSource open the GPX file and transfer the "track" to my GPS.
details -- When handling the GPX file in MapSource: (a) the track in the GPX file from Bikely is just named "track", so in MapSource I would give it short abbreviated meaningful name before transferring it to my GPS -- so it wouldn't get confused with other tracks on my GPS unit; and (b) sometimes there were "waypoints" in the GPX file from Bikely, so I would delete those, or else have MapSource transfer only the "track", not the "waypoints", to my GPS.
tweaking the track points
?? [ more to be added ]
So far we've used the 60CSx unit on our home tandem and on Ken's home road bike. For neither one did we mount it on the handlebar in the obvious way.
riding: making the Garmin 60CSx work out on a ride
Worked overall pretty well. In particular, not difficult to read the screen in different outdoor lighting situations, and had no problem using old-fashioned buttons (instead of a touch-screen) to make the unit do what we wanted.
setting up navigation on a track:
?? [ more to be added ]
Use the TracBack button.
Complicated: There's no way to just say: Follow the selected track from point on the track nearest my current position to the End point.
Tricky: The GPS unit is equally happy to follow the track in either direction, backward or forward.
So have to be careful in selection the goal point so you follow the direction you really want.
Note that the "follow roads" option doesn't help, if your plan was to follow a pre-created track which you loaded into the GPS unit. When I selected "follow roads", it seemed to ignore the track and just make up its own route to the selected goal point. That is, I selected a point on the track, but once I selected that point, the navigation on roads seemed to ignore any guidance from the original track.
some ideas which helped:
some unexpected behavior:
maps: Garmin maps details on making them work
I bought the City Navigator North America NT 2008 and the City Navigator Europe NT 2010 maps on DVD.
Key point: These maps can work only on one GPS unit. Not a problem for me at this point, since I've only got one unit which I want to use them for. But I've read stories from other customers who own multiple Garmin GPS units who were surprised and very pissed off when they discovered this.
I was not that surprised that "generic" distributors like Amazon did not point this out clearly. But I was surprised that some more specialized outdoor retailers well-regarded for taking care of their customers did not point it such a fundamental point -- and because of that decided not to purchase my maps or 60CSx unit thru them.
But the DVD maps do work on more than one computer -- I've got my City Navigator North America NT 2008 DVD unlocked and working on two home computers (and multiple users): Windows Vista and Windows XP.
unlocking Garmin City Navigator maps
I found "unlocking" the maps to be more complicated than I expected.
Here's what I suggest which might help make it more straighforward . . .
Before starting to load and install the City Navigator map DVD:
(a) first set up your account (with the usual ID + email + password) on the Garmin website, and register the GPS unit on the website, and make sure it's linked it your Garmin user account(so you can see it in "My Dashboard" on the "My Garmin" web page.
It got confusing for me because I got asked to register my GPS unit in the midst of the map unlocking process.
(b) first find the "Serial number" printed somewhere on the GPS unit, and write it down. Where to find this is not obvious, and I think the location is different for different Garmin units. On my 60CSx, it was underneath the two AA batteries.
The "Serial number" (a string of numerical digits) is not the same as the "Unit ID" (also a string of numerical digits). The "Unit ID" is stored in the GPS unit's internal memory, so the only way to get it is to connect the GPS unit to a computer or to the Garmin website, so the GPS unit communicate its "Unit ID". But the GPS unit does not know it's own "Serial number", so you have to find that yourself.
Turned out that in the further installation and unlocking process, I didn't need to know or enter the "Unit ID", but I did need to know and enter the "Serial number". (still it makes sense to write down the Unit ID somewhere)
After successfully unlocking the City Navigator map DVD the first time, it's good to obtain (from your My Garmin / My Maps page on the Garmin website) the 25-character unlock code string, and saving that somewhere.
Then I discovered that after I had installed and unlocked the City Navigator map on the administrator account on my computer, it was not unlocked when I tried to run Garmin MapSource on my norman user account on the same computer . . .
unlocking the map DVD for another user or on another computer
When I found out that my City Navigator was still locked on one user account even though it was unlocked on another on the same computer, in Garmin Mapsource I opened "Manage Map Products" under the "Utilities" menu. Did the obvious thing, selected my City Navigator map from the "Map Product Information" tab, and clicked the button "Unlock Online" button. Which took me to the Unlock page on the Garmin website, and I carefully entered all the correct codes, and with multiple tries the result I got was always something like "Unable to unlock map". (My guess is because it was already unlocked on that computer).
Then I tried inserting the DVD while running in my User account, and try to run Setup or something, which got it to prompt for my 25-character unlock code, which I entered. But that didn't work either.
Here's what I finally found somewhere on the Garmin website,
loading different sets of maps into microSD card versus GPS internal memory
I bought two 4GB micro Secure Digital cards, and I immediately the smaller 256MB microSD card which came in the unit in the box with one of the 4GB cards -- no problem.
Then I got the idea of loading lots and lots of my USA City Navigator regions into the microSD card. So I connected my GPS unit to my computer and started MapSource. In the GPS unit I went to the main menu page, selected Setup, then Interface, then selected the button at bottom to be a USB Mass Storage device. Then I used the Map tool in MapSource to select lots of map regions, then transferred those regions to the GPS unit in USB Mass Storage mode -- with the idea that I'm putting the map images into the microSD card, not into 60CSx internal memory.
Then I look at the storage on my computer, and I can't find any map images. (? perhaps they're stored as Hidden files ?). But when I use the map view in the normal way on the GPS unit, definitely the detailed roads are there and the GPS is using them.
I also put some GPX "tracks" into the USB Mass Storage, and the GPS unit can find them -- but it refuses to use them for navigation. If I select one of them, the only action it offers to perform with it is to Delete it.
So then I turn the GPS unit off, and restart is in normal interface mode connected to my computer. Then I load just one map region into it -- with the idea that I'm putting that map image into the 60CSx internal memory, independent of what's already on the micro SD card. But then when use the normal map view on the GPS unit, I find I can see detailed roads only in the single region that I just loaded into normal memory, and I cannot see any detailed roads in other regions -- even though I thought I had successfully loaded those onto the micro SD card and verified them just ten minutes before.
Conclusion: I'm not sure what's going on between 60CSx internal memory versus microSD card -- and how that relates to the "normal" interface between GPS unit and computer, versus "USB Mass Storage" interface.
loading two different maps into the two different microSD cards
I also tried connecting the unit to my computer in USB Mass Storage interface, loading lots and lots of City Navigator North American maps onto one 4GB microSD card. Then turn the unit off, remove the card, replace it with a second 4GB microSD card. Then connection the unit in USB Mass Storage interface, and loading lots and lots of City Navigator Europe maps onto this other card.
And it all worked as I hoped and expected. With the first card inside the unit, I could see detailed roads in North America places, but not Europe. With the second card inside, I could see detailed roads in the Europe places, but not in North America.
(? Next step to try: put lots of North America maps and lots of Europe maps on the same microSD card ?)
The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), book by John Summerson (Extreme Press, 2007)
Helpful descriptions of almost 150 climbs on paved roads in the United States (in the East: 1 in NY, 2 in MA, 1 in NH, 5 in VT, 1 in GA, 6 in NC). This guidebook also gives graphical elevation profiles for the 100 most "difficult" - (where the rating of "difficult" is skewed toward long but not necessarily very steep). It does include some info about shorter steeper climbs. And a list of most "10 most scenic / spectacular" climbs, also "10 Must Do climbs".
I guess that skewing the formula toward "long" is the easiest way for one author to get to roughly complete list of 100 most "difficult" which is plausibly objective. Or maybe the author prefers long moderately-steep slogs for his riding. Unfortunately it doesn't fit with what I am looking for nowadays when I'm riding locally or when I'm traveling - (I'm more interested in "steep" and "interesting variability"). But I at least want to know what the long climbs are like in a place I'm visiting, even though I might choose not to do them, so this guidebook is helpful for that.
Nor was there any careful discussion of sources of error in the measurements reported in the book, nor any attempt to numerical characterizations of the error (e.g. standard deviation). No mention of attempting to measure the same climb using different measurement procedures, or even of applying the same procedure on different days to see how different the results might be.
Actually I don't think getting to a single accurate steepness measurement for each climb is very important, and am comfortable with a diversity of proposed measurements. It's perfectly OK to publish a book with graphical elevation profiles of 100 climbs without offering a clue about how they were measured or why I should believe they achieved some desired level of accuracy. What's odd is for a book to imply a claim of unique accuracy, without offering any specific reasons for why I should believe it.
Also it would be helpful to know some good "base camp" towns -- a place where I could stay for two or three days and ride multiple great climbs without moving on.
The national map in the book does point to regions where there's multiple climbs which do make a national list, so that's helpful.
Norm Smith sent me some hills he's enjoyed around the northern and western Catskills. I don't get up that way very often, so I've never tried any of them -- and so I don't know anything about them myself. But in case you like to experiment in your riding, and you're looking for something different . . .
Norm has also explored out west in Delaware county. Some climbs he likes there - (which I've never tried, but somebody might want to experiment with) are: Todd Mountain 950', Mill Brook 870', Barkaboom 1050', Beech Hill 1000', Todd Mountain (back side) 830'.
09june : bikeforums.net + roadbikereview.com/forums
Sharon and I rode from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania into Philadelphia and back last weekend, and it had lots of fun + pretty riding and sights. It's the third time we've done the whole thing, about 145 miles (with hills), plus any sightseeing variations, so for us it's also satisfying as an accomplishment.
(Some of the sections use lots of roads, so probably best done with a GPS to help navigation, and I put the route sections on Bikely.com, which can show maps or GPS or KML, or even printed cue sheets -- see below for links.)
We'd be glad for some suggestions for different roads to try, or interesting places to visit along the way -- or other ideas for big loops to try riding around there.
? Philadelphia? Turns out that in addition to whatever "historic" sights you might or might not care about, it's also got some pleasant + pretty bicycling toward its North side (toward Bethlehem): the two river drives, the neighborhoods of Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill -- and then the northern suburbs in Montgomery county around Whitemarsh.
? Bethlehem? It's 50+ miles north of Philadelphia and it counts as a "significant" goal: the early historic settlements of the Moravians, the Lehigh as the first major river north of the Delaware (and Schuylkill?), Lehigh University, and (just opened) the first casino north of Philadephia. South of Bethlehem is the pleasant + pretty rural area of the Saucon valley, and nearby Allentown has the remarkably pretty Little Lehigh park leading to Emmaus (publisher Bicycling magazine), with pleasant rural riding south of that.
connecting -- Route 29 -- We find it really fun + pretty to ride it south from near Emmaus to Collegeville, early on a weekend morning -- a strong motivator for the whole ride.
resistance -- what holds us back . . . We haven't found a really good way to connect going north (simple + fun like route 29). The obvious candidate candidate was Allentown Rd, which goes a long ways from North Wales / Gwynedd / Sumneytown Pike to Coopersburg (roughly parallel to the Turnpike Northeast Extension). So we tried it, but it wasn't interesting enough for us -- just went on and on. So we substituted a more complicated route that goes thru lots of towns along the Reading railroad Quakertown line (which long ago had train service all the way to Bethlehem). We like that better -- so we've done it three times.
Route sections on bikely.com:
1) Bethlehem - Allentown - Emmaus [BPhB1] -
2) Emmaus - Collegeville [BPhB2] -
3) Collegeville - northwest Philadelphia [BPhB3] -
4) Ridge Av - Manayunk - Philadelphia Museum of Art [BPhB4] -
5) Philadelphia Museum of Art - Mt Airy - Chestnut Hill [BPhB5] -
6) Chestnut Hill - Ambler - North Wales [BPhB6] -
7) North Wales - Hatfield - Sellersville - Coopersburg [BPhB7] -
. . . variation 7A) less-hilly more-traffic from Sellersville to Coopersburg [BPhB7a] -
8) Coopersburg - Saucon Valley - Bethlehem [BPhB8] -
Should also be possible to find all of them by doing "Advanced Search" on bikely.com for the word "[BPhB]"
more . . .
concept words: roberts United States America American USA visit trip vacation holiday visitor report reports
bicycling: bicycle bicycling bike bikes bicycles bicyclist cycle cyclist cycling touring riding rider riders
routes: route routes ride rides tour tours map maps
places: place river valley state country region regions area areas city town village