Blogging and such on the GAP

I am a techie guy. I have avidly blogged for about eight years. I am active in a variety of social networks. It is only natural that I combine this passion with my passion for cycling and bicycle touring. This blog chronicles my trips across the Great Allegheny Passage and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trails in 2011 and 2014.

Scrapbook_1401474347879In this post, I am going to share how you can use technology to chronicle your next bicycle tour. I am highlighting the basics of mobile blogging and social networking on your bike. This is by no means an exhaustive inventory of technology I use.

The Basics

You most likely already have the technology you need. Your mobile phone is your laptop in your pocket on the bike. The phone can be either an Android or IOS (Apple) device. You just need to run apps. My device on this tour was a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Smart phones can be power hogs. I carry a couple of 12000 – 15000 mAh external battery backups; available for $30 – $50 on Amazon. Keep them charged.

A point and shoot digital camera is nice to capture on-the-go photos. Any model will work. I pair this with a $10 handlebar digital camera mount; available on Amazon. It’s a cinch to attach and turns your bike into the perfect camera tripod.

Apps

Scrapbook_1401474340188Apps are the tools that connect you to the world while on the bike. Start off by installing the apps for your social networking sites: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I use the default Android Camera app. As an iPhone user, I loved Camera +. Any camera app capable of capturing photos and videos should do fine.

If you want to v-blog, you will need some additional apps. I use my Camera app to capture my video. I edit the video with the Video Editor app to trim any unwanted footage. The YouTube app is a necessity to upload to your account.

Mobile blogging software has come a long way and is easy to use today. The WordPress app is pretty full featured and can post to WordPress hosted and remote hosted sites. If you are a newbie, I recommend you setup a WordPress hosted account.

I use a variety of other apps during my bicycle tours. Google Maps is indispensable. Urban Spoon, Trip Adviser and Yelp can even help you select lodging or dining options in the small towns on the GAP and C&O. The GAP has a mobile edition of the GAP Trail web site.

Hints

  • Scrapbook_1401474336483Download, install and test all of your apps before you hit the trails. It’s easier to find issues in your comfy home rather than on the road or in a hotel room.
  • Turn off WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth to conserve power on your phone. Airplane mode is best if you don’t need to be in contact with a companion on the ride.
  • Move all of the apps you plan to use to the first page of your mobile phone display. It makes them easier to locate.
  • Posting videos takes a good bit of bandwidth. You should do this in the evening at your hotel or at a restaurant with Wi-Fi. Keep your videos short, less than 2 minutes, for easier posting.
  • Scrapbook_1401474331896Many new smart phones have high resolution cameras. If your phone struggles to post a photo, it’s a good idea to reduce the resolution in your camera editing app before posting.
  • Keep the number of videos and photos to a minimum in your blog post to speed up the upload and publishing. Two to three works well for me.
  • Carry your power cable and adapter with you on the bike. Use every opportunity on a break or at a meal to charge the phone wherever you find an outlet. Don’t be shy asking a server if you can be seated near a power supply.
  • Use hash-tags to help people find your posts, tweets, photos. Learn the hash-tags for the trail organizations. Here are the hash-tags I used: #rideofyourlife #gaptrail @GAP_trail @CanalTrust @COcanalNPS #COcanal

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