Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Riding

I think that I can actually say that Summer has really arrived. After last weeks ride to Anchorage, I wasn't too sure.  But the last couple of days have been well into the high 60s (°F) with mostly clear skies. Wonderful riding weather. Since last week, the leaves have come out on the trees along with the pollen. The number of motorcycles parked near the building has been increasing though many don't ride in when it's a wet morning. I was thinking of mailing down my mesh riding gear to pick up in Oregon this summer but I was reminded that it really gets warm in B.C. once you are out of the Rocky Mountains. So maybe I have to rethink my packing list.

I really like the tracking feature that EverydayRiding has been using on his current trip, Everyday for 7 Weeks. Being able to watch Chris' progress through Canada convinced to pick up a SPOT GPS Messenger for my upcoming trip. Unfortunately, I can no longer put the cool widget with the map as Google has deprecated version 2 of their Google Map API Key that was used by the widget and the directions for version 3 haven't shown up on the SPOT web page. After more digging, I found the version 2 key section even though it claims to have been deprecated on a different part of the Google website. I had tried the older version of the SPOT Tracker up in Barrow a few years ago and they didn't perform very well probably because of the high latitude. But the new version has been getting some pretty good reviews. I put the widget on the right side of the page and when I'm actually on the trip, I may move it to the top. I will take it with me to Barrow at the end of the week to try it out up there.

I tried the SPOT device out a couple of days ago just outside my building and the posted location shown on Google Maps was within 5 feet of where I was sitting. I ordered the additional "tracking" option as I like the breadcrumb trail and automatic, periodic updates. It would have been handy on my Anchorage trip as cell phone coverage is a little spotty in Alaska and my family could just look up my location on the shared webpage instead of sending text messages asking where I was.

The trip last week through the sleet also convinced me of the value of heated gear. Chris had showed me his liner and described it as "putting on a sweatshirt that you just pulled out of the dryer." It's one thing for commuting but when you are out all day long at near freezing temperatures, the cold eventually works it way in. While I was in Anchorage, I picked up a Gerbings heated liner and temperature controller. I still need to get the wiring installed on the bike to power the jacket liner.

Friday morning - Update, I installed the wiring last night for the liner and since it was 46°F and raining this morning, it seemed like a good opportunity to try things out. Even on the first click of the controller, you could feel the warmth within seconds. I could get used to this. The voltmeter would flick up and down with the controller cycling on/off every few seconds. I need to remember to turn it off before reaching my destination due to the power draw. Due to the temperature and the rain, I was the only bike in the motorcycle parking. It looks lonely out there...


  1. RichardM:

    I can't wait until you get that Spot. I want you to get in the habit of leaving it in your pocket so we know where you are.

    Heated gear is great. I seldom use mine but I know it is in my sidecase, but I used the heated grips often during summer evenings.

    That photo is making me dizzy. Heights bother me

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

    1. Probably won't leave it on all the time as the three lithium AAA batteries would only last 7 days. Plus, I don't move very much. I had tried the heated grips on my trip and it now seems like only the right hand grip is working now. Last week, both worked....

  2. I am very interested in your evaluation of the SPOT3, some of the stuff I've found on the Internet about it casts some doubts on it.

    Then, there's the new competition from DeLorme, the InReach which does pretty much the same things as the SPOT3 including the ability to send txt messages from your smartphone, thru it, to other devices.

    Glad you're having good riding weather! Wasn't it nice of Chris L to bring it along with him? :)


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    1. I wasn't interested in the smartphone/Bluetooth units as that just added another layer of complexity to the mix. In addition to the DeLorme unit, the SPOT folks have another model with similar features with Android and IOS apps. We'll see how well this works next week up north. The last time we tried one (v1), most of the messages never made it through. This one is supposed to work better. I liked the way that Chris L was using it and it seemed simple enough. He carried it in a jacket pocket and it seemed to work well all through Canada.

      And I do appreciate the nice warm weather that he brought!

  3. Well that didnt take long at all! I think you will like the coat. I mostly keep the spot in a tank bag so it faces up per the directions. When we rode to lunch i put it in my coat since i didnt bring the tank bag.
    I also passed on the spot3 since it didnt have any buttons like the spot2. Using the app to turn on features seemed like something else to go wrong.

    1. You must be a great salesman! And Amazon delivers pretty quickly. I really liked the real time map that you had on your site and from the log, very few updates were missed. And I was almost sold on the Gerbings but had never thought I needed one. It sort of simplifies what you need to pack on a trip.

  4. I cannot make my mind up about those Spot Tracker thingys. I love gadgets, but I am just not sure whether to get one or not. People being able to see where you are is good fun, but the real benefit must be if you get into a crash in some far-flung place where a cell phone signal doesn’t exist. I am assuming that the device has an emergency button you can press that brings the cavalry running. But, on a motorcycle, unless it’s in your pocket, you might not be able to get to it to press the button – if you are injured for example and not able to get back to your bike. And, don’t even think putting it in a saddlebag is a good idea, for what happens if the bike lands on that side and you can’t lift the bike to get to the bag. A tank bag is probably the best idea.

    Overall, it is probably a very good idea if you are travelling in, say, Alaska, Canada, Australia or South America, but in mainland USA or in Europe, I am not so sure.

    I will probably get one though....

    1. Being able to summon help is one of the major reasons for getting one of these type of devices. I remember reading a great comparison of SPOT and several PLB's by Stacy at I eventually got the SPOT device for the breadcrumbs feature as I am not an off road rider which would make the PLB function much more important.

      I have been on many trips where it could have been great to have due to very poor cell coverage in most of Alaska and northern Canada. I haven't figured out where to cary it but there is a handy cell phone pocket on the top of my tank bag that I never use. And I can press the buttons and see the status lights through the plastic window.

  5. Ooooh goodies. Nice choices on purchases too.

    I think of my heated jacket liner like a warm blanket but I think Chris description is probably more accurate.

    The spot is very valuable, not just for the security of having rescue available but for letting family know where you were. It was great when hubby was gone last spring on his off-road ride that I knew he was safe and also reached his destination when no cell coverage was available.

    1. I put in the wiring last night and tried it out this morning as it was 46 and raining. Even on the first click on the controller, I could feel the warmth, I could get used to this...

      I selected the SPOT more for the tracking and "I'm OK" messages than the rescue features. After reading Stacy's article last year, I wasn't sure what to get. But since I don't regularly go off the beaten path and seeing it work with Chris' trip, I went ahead and picked up the SPOT. I just need to learn how to use it. Maybe it's time to read the manual...

    2. I told you you would like it!! :)

      The spot manual sucks, but fortunately it is pretty easy. Their website is oh, so annoying though. Gimme a ring if you need help.

      PS: I should have mentioned my amazon associate link to you. doh!

    3. Thank you Chris, you were right, the liner is great. Now I feel spoiled. It took a while to figure out the map widget but it looks like it's working. I thought I tried tracking yesterday but only the starting point got sent.