Monthly Archives: November 2013

Navigation Aid

Cue sheets sometimes fail us, whether because of errors and omissions by the ride organizers or because our navigations skills let us down.

Many riders (including me) have started to use GPS units to supplement or replace their cue sheet navigation. They have their own issues, of course, including the need to keep them charged for an entire ride.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been experimenting with a smartphone-based backup for navigation. I use it as a fallback if both my GPS and my cue sheet fail me. For non-GPS owners it could just be a backup to their cue sheet navigation. Someone suggested that I post some details about it online, so here it is.

The idea is to combine off-line maps preloaded into the phone, a track of the route preloaded into the phone, and the GPS capabilities of the phone.

The value of having off-line maps is to provide street-level information when the phone has no access to cellular signal (or when cellular data is switched off to save money when traveling out of the country). I use an app called MapsWithMe on my iPhone. There is a free version, but I paid a few bucks for the full version. Versions are available for Android and Kindle as well, but I have no experience with them. A recent update to the iPhone app added the ability to import a KML file which helps with the second piece of the puzzle.

The next step is to load the track of the route into the application as well. My preferred method to do this is to use an online mapping application like BikeRouteToaster or RideWithGPS to create a track from the ride’s official cue sheet. Often the ride organizers will publish an unofficial GPS file, the pre-ride volunteers will offer one, or someone that I am willing to trust has created one. In those online applications can usually be found an option to download a GPX file that shows the track of the route. Once I have a GPX file, I go to a website that will convert the GPX to a KML file, viewable in the MapsWithMe application. The site I use is Then you need to get the KML file into the phone. Dropbox or email does the trick with iPhone.

Now, if I find myself lost or doubting my navigation, I can open the app on the phone and locate myself on the map. If all has worked, I should be able to see my position (represented on the iPhone by a blue dot), the streets around me, and a line represented the course. If I’m off course, perhaps that’s enough to get me back on course. Or maybe enough to ask a kind stranger to help.

Hope that’s helpful. Questions, better ideas, other thoughts welcome in the comments.





Filed under Rando How-Tos

2014 Ride Organizers (and organizers needed)

Thanks to all who stepped up to volunteer to organize SIR events in 2014. Bill has updated the SIR calendar, which can be found on the website here.

We are still looking for volunteers for the Spring 600km brevet on May 31st, the July Populaire on July 12th, the Crater Lake 1000k on August 14th, and the Summer 600k on September 6th. If you can help, please let me know.

The volunteer organizers could use help on many of these events. Please take a look a the list and see if you can help on one or more of these. Either contact the organizer directly or contact me to put you in touch with the organizer.

And of course if you spot any mistakes in the list, please let me know.

Mar 8 – Spring Populaire – Andy Speier
Mar 15 – Spring 200k – Mark Roberts
Mar 22 – Bellingham 200k – Dan Turner / Matt Dalton
Mar 29 – Spring 300k – Gary Prince
Apr 5 – Olympia 300k – Corey Thompson / Rick Blacker

Northwest Crank (Apr 17-20) – Hugh Kimball / Eric Vigoren
NWC Brevet Week (Apr 12-20) – Mark Roehrig

Fleche Northwest (May 3-5) – Josh Morse

May 17 – Spring 400k – Mike McHale
May 31 – Spring 600k –

Jun 21 – Cascade 1200/1000 – Don Jameson / Peter Beeson

Jul 12 – Summer Populaire – 
Jul 19 – Summer 200k – Robert Higdon / Chris Gay
Aug 8 – Summer 300k – Steve Davis / Joe Llona
Aug 14 – Crater Lake 1000k – 
Aug 23 – Summer 400k – Jeff Loomis
Sep 6 – Summer 600k – 
Sep 19 – Summer 1000k – Theo Roffe / Vincent Muoneke

Should be a great year!


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Filed under Club Info, SIR Rides

Winter Solstice 200K

Joe says: “The fifth annual SIR Winter Solstice 200K will take place on Saturday the 21st of December.  We roll at 8PM.  Hilarity ensues.  Details to follow.”

Seattle Randonneurs from Dan McComb on Vimeo.

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Filed under SIR Rides, Winter Solstice Ride