Smartphone Lessons

The Droid Razr Maxx become an integral part of the ride.

Every morning using the AccuWeather app I would look at the the days wind conditions and directions. I used that information to set the days goals and in some cases the actual route. For example in Harrisburg Illinois I awoke to find a very strong south wind. My initial intent was to follow the ACA route west to Chester Illinois and then cut north to St. Louis. Instead I went to Carbondale and struck north towards Belleville via IL 13. That ended up being my high mileage day of 86 miles and also the easiest day on great roads.

Also used the AccuWeather app once on the Katy trail to watch a storm cell move through and know when the heavy rain was over. A group waiting with me at the store took off during a brief lull while I stayed put knowing more was coming. They had some very wet riding while I stayed dry.

The Map app was used to find motels, restaurants, Walmarts, and such resources in towns. That proved to be a very useful tool. Especially in conjunction with the Local app. But there were some downsides to that too. Often the information was dated. It would show motels that were closed years ago. Or it didn’t show newer motels. So you couldn’t really totally rely on the data it presented.

Each day the next day’s area map was downloaded for offline use. This was mainly used to give some context as to where I was in relation to the end point for the day.

Also I used the Map app and the terrain layer to see what the route was going to be and set in my mind the number of climbs coming up. Out of Sebree Kentucky it is easy to see the alternate route of KY 56 and IL 13 to Carbondale is not only shorter, it is also much flatter then the ACA route.

I had a number of other apps that proved to be less useful.

Cue Sheet uses Ride With GPS routes to download the Cue Sheets and using the device’s GPS give voice navigation. I used it once from Newport News to Yorktown and it worked great. But I really didn’t need it. The one thing with the app is you must validate the RWGPS cue sheet before blindly using it. There is an art to drawing RWGPS routes so you don’t end up with false turns and subsequent U turns.

All Stays Camp and Tent this app seemed to be quite comprehensive but yet I found it incomplete in many cases. Once I routed to a campground only to find it a “club campground” requiring membership and central reservations. That left me hanging pretty high and dry that day.

CoPilot Live this app is quite nice and has offline maps and bicycle routing. I used when I wanted to see a route from where I was to some point as the Map app was harder to control avoiding highways. However it was not as useful as it could have been if it would let you set your start point somewhere else then where you are.

Text Messaging is not just a smartphone feature and actually predates them. However I found this to be a really great communication feature and in many cases much preferred to a phone call because it is convenient to use for both parties.

Adventure Cycling and the Smartphone

The ACA maps are great resources if you are following their route. It would be nice to have a smartphone app that would give you up to date resource information that you could use to call and locate the resources from the phone.


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