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Becky Jo’s Carfree Life: WTF Apple? (and other route questions)


Becky Jo’s bicycle phone mount sans phone.

Let’s stop for a second.

During this adventure, I’m going to be reconciling a lot of my previous car-driving lifestyle with my current carfree lifestyle. I’m excited to have a new world to learn about, and while I’m not technologically or mechanically inept, this is a whole new world of application. Also, yes, some of you will really want to send me to LMGTFY. Normally I would too – but there’s so much out there, and a lot of it is completely contradictory. There’s some serious analysis paralysis happening in my melon. I realize I’m in over my head, and if I’m coming up with these questions, there’s likely a hundred more out here too scared to ask, not to mention among yourselves it can’t hurt to info-share. I’m just the one with a keyboard and zero shame. OK. Let’s get going…

I’m learning now that comparing recreational biking to commuter biking is comparing apples and oranges.

After the biohazard Zipcar expedition, I am a lot less excited about renting a car for the occasional trip. Prior to being carfree, I’d never gone more than a dozen miles on my bike at a given time, and when I had, it was a casual family biking thing around Smith & Bybee Wetlands or the Portland Sunday Parkways. I’m learning now that comparing recreational biking to commuter biking is comparing apples and oranges. Recreational biking is a lot less stressful, just from the traffic-integration alone, but also you’re not on a time limit. There’s no “late” when you’re biking for recreation.

Here’s my dilemma: I regularly need to get to the NE Irvington/Broadway area from the Kenton area and back before my youngest is out of school. I honestly had no idea if I could do it or not. I realize that’s only about 6.5 miles each way, and about 80 minutes round trip by bike, but I’m new to this, remember? That seemed really far. Not to mention I live close to N Greeley Avenue near Adidas. I have seen some of you on that hill. You have all of my respect, but I’m not ready for that hill.

I’m still trying to find the best route.

I’m generally platform agnostic and can work on either Apple or PC. I’m currently on PC, but have Apple mobile products and watch. Previous to biking, I’d use the Nike running app which worked great with just my Apple watch, and Siri/Apple maps worked well enough for driving. Come to find out, Apple maps biking directions are nonexistent. Google Maps so far have given me decent biking directions, but doesn’t work on my Apple Watch.

So then the husbeast got me this goofy little handlebar mount and I put my iPhone in there to tell me how to get to Broadway via Google Maps. I actually made it there and back in less time than predicted. Well, it was like 2 minutes less, but at my level that’s like breaking the bank, right? However, I’m irked by the whole Google and battery life thing. That little 80 minute roundtrip with Google Maps running directions brought my phone battery down to 20% – a known Google/GPS trait in general, but damn that sucks.

How do you reconcile maps, directions, and traveling to new areas? Do I need to also always bring a mobile charger? I can only spend so much on gear at the moment, so I’m hoping you’ll tell me I’m missing something really simple.

Treats brought home to family.

Not to mention I’m that dork biking around town with my phone blaring out my directions. I’m ok being a dork, but it does send those little hairs up on the back of my neck regarding my safety and letting everyone around me know what I’m doing. Another trip I made from North Portland to Lauretta Jean’s for pie, cuz… pie is a destination, I came back in the dark and the instructions blaring out loud were necessary but really uncomfortable.

The husbeast is on Android and Apple (job requires testing latest tech.) His Samsung just picks up his biking trips, even if he just has the Samsung watch on, without even setting anything. It knows, it maps it, it tracks it. Apple does not. So he tested on his Apple watch/phone the Ride with GPS we found out about here on BikePortland. We haven’t tested its instructions yet, but it seems to track the ride as well as Strava on the Apple watch…so if it can also give instructions via watch, that might be a go… so these points bring me to…

What are you doing in your ears?

One airpod? I’ve got a set of Samsung earbuds I’m going to try as well, putting in just one because the ambient noise option doesn’t work with my iPhone (shakes fist at sky), but maybe you do have that option? If so, do you like it? Just use the phone mount with speaker?

A random comment:

I’m so grateful my legs have stopped hurting!!!

Yeah, I know I’m whining. The bike to school and back x2 commute is a whopping 5 miles a day. Grocery shopping + errands add another 25-30 miles to my week. While I was delighted to see Google Maps route didn’t include Greeley on my Broadway trip or any elevation like it, omg I was still sore days later. I could pull out a 5k run before this switch to biking without too much trouble. Granted the Olympic running team wasn’t going to call me up, but I wasn’t dying either. The upside? A few of my BFFs are SE-siders, and now I’m confident I can physically make the trips there and back

And YOU. You out there on Greeley and the rest of you commuting these miles daily, you are incredible. You inspire me. While writing up these posts, I’ve been mostly lurking online, watching you tussle in the comments and tweet the latest news. Keep on tusslin’ and tweetin’. You’ve got a lot of people looking up to you.

— Becky Jo, @BeckyJoPDX
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