Work Day 3: efficiencies of gear choice

Today was my third zero mile work day of the tour… I think I have a few opinions on the relative merits of working while on tour. First, let’s look back on the “why” part. The theory is that taking a few zero mile days, while disruptive to a bike tour, can allow one to either bike further or longer, or even take more frequent tours, so long as the work days are earning you money or otherwise keeping you from burning vacation days for your entire time away. So far, I’m finding that to be largely true.

While I can’t say the pauses in the tour haven’t been without downsides (saying farewell to others that you would ordinarily ride hundreds of miles with) it hasn’t taken away from the adventure of the ride, nor the opportunities to “reshuffle” the deck and meet new people. Overall… I think it works.

What I’m discovering, however, is my preconceived notions of what gear will be the best for the tour are slightly off. My main tool has been my iPhone 5. It has been a remarkable device for staying on top of email while on the road during breaks. Cell coverage has been good on this trip, although not perfect. I happen to have an unlimited data plan, and that’s been helpful.

The device combination that I thought would be my workhorse on work days was my iPad and a service called LogMeIn. On a wifi connection (my iPad has no cellular data capabilities) I can use LogMeIn to port over to one of. Couple of Macs I have running in Portland (my laptop I left behind in my brother’s home) and my office iMac in DC. I chose redundancy in case one went down. Having this allows me to take on tasks that my ipad alone couldn’t do easily, such as setting up ecourses or producing podcasts with audio I didn’t have on board. The idea was the ipad has much better battery life, plus if it were lost, damaged or stolen, the pain is much less than if the same happened to the MacBook Pro I left behind.

So… It works. But the efficiency drop is a bit maddening. I can do absolutely everything I could do on a desktop, but the pace is hampered by the interface wackiness (a touch interface converting to a non-touch one) plus the limits of wifi speeds on both sides. My laptop at my brother’s place is far from the router, so it’s pokey. My iMac was the better choice, despite being across the continent!

Still, my efficiency drop is so noticeable, I have decided to make a change for the next tour. Before they disappear rom the market I plan on getting a sub $300 netbook. They are disappearing for a variety of reasons I won’t go into, but I think having a “real” computer OS will up efficiencies for the tasks that require it. I’m happier in the Apple ecosystem, but I can always use LogMeIn to hitch back on a full Mac OS X computer if needed. Weight and battery life will suffer, but overall… I think for my needs the iPad is not the right second device since it replicates so much of what the iPhone can do, without offering much more than a bigger screen. I still love the iPad but not in this context… Unless I can find some apps I’m unaware of to do some of the things I do on a traditional computer.

I have another work day coming up, and I plan on chatting a bit more about what I’m doing while on tour, specifically:
– how I manage my AirBnB rentals and why that’s an important part of funding touring (a big topic!)
– my email and to-do list philosophies that lean heavily on “inbox zero” and the amazing Evernote.

What kinds of tech do you bring on tour to get things done? Just a smartphone? Full laptop? Nothing? My ideas are definitely not the only way to go… Share yours in the comments!


  1. Pam says:

    I enjoy reading about your biketour. I know the focus of your blog is on working while bike touring but I think a little basic information on bike touring/camping might be useful for the curious.

    I was not sure what a dynahub was and why the 700cc wheel generates energy to power. I Googled it but it would have been nice to see a thorough description right here on the blog. Your post assumed we all knew what it was all about.

    Are you eating out every night? Probably not. What do you pack to eat when you camp? How much water do you carry with you?

    How much stuff do pack? Clothes, tent, electronics, food, water, cooking supplies? Anything else. Anything you wish you brought?

    Are you ever afraid, lonely, cold, or sore?


    • Tim Mooney says:

      These are all great questions… I was planning on doing a “must haves” and a “glad I haves” list for gear in the next day or so… Look for that, and I suspect it might answer a lot of questions.

      The dynohub saga is a long one and spans a few different blogs… I’ll also have a future post about the Goblin’s front wheel and my feelings of that in the near future too. It’s a hyper specific hack, but since it seems to have worked really well, I’ll give a more comprehensive answer to that!

      Food is a combo of simple cooking (hello Ramen and Mac and cheese!) as many vegetables as I can get in me, and the occasional splurge of going out. Last night, for instance, I went to the North Coast Brewery tasting room here in Fort Bragg. I tend to get extra chatty on Twitter after a few beers I notice (see, @timmooney). Water is generally available at every campsite, so I carry only a few water bottles at any given time. If I were on a route where potable water was ever a question mark, I’d finitely carry a ton more.

      Packing… I have some newly found opinions on what to bring… Another post to come on that! Basically, you want to pack for the weather you get and take 2 sets of the basics and very little else. It’s shocking how quickly you revert to wearing the same things over and over again. More to come on that.

      And last but not least…. Lonely? Not on this trip… I have good cell coverage so I can keep in touch a lot, plus I have met a ton of people along the way. Cold? Not til last night! I underestimated the low and had my tent configured for a warmer night… Won’t do that again tonight! Sore? Never for very long. Not to get too graphic, but being in the saddle all day can make the rear a bit sore, but I’m always better within a few hours (less if I can get in a shower… That’s a restorative thing!). Muscles, knees, etc…. I’ll take an occasional ibuprofen, but nothing too problematic. Having your saddle set at the correct height is the key to staving off aches and pains!

      Thanks for reading! PedalShift is definitely about the whole lifestyle, so I hope to talk a lot more about these things you ask about – I also hope people share their experiences too, because if I’ve learned one thing about touring is nobody has all the answers and you can learn something new from everyone!

What do you think?