Combining GPX files for Strava

This morning was spent on my bike… as was a fair chunk of this afternoon… as is a fair chunk of many summer weekends, much to Mrs W’s disappointment.

My friend Andy and I put in 60 miles in the sunshine, on a big loop around Milton Keynes. It seems my route planning is pretty spot on, as it was almost the exact opposite of a charity ride going the other way around (we passed the same riders twice!). Unfortunately, my ability to “press the start button on my Garmin cycle computer” is clearly less good – I was about a mile from home and heading out of town when I realised I’d forgotten to start tracking my ride!

My OCD can’t cope with this. It would be able to cope with turning around, going back up the hill, starting the computer and starting the ride again – but not with some missing kilometres in my ride data! Luckily, Andy was also riding with a Garmin bike computer. Even though he’d also forgotten to start his, he was wearing a Garmin watch too – so I could combine his data and mine (we’d ridden side by side for the first part of the ride…).

I’ve blogged before about GPS Track Editor, which is a fantastic piece of free software. Using this, I could edit Andy’s data to just the part I had missing, then combine it with mine and merge the two tracks (the short gap doesn’t matter – Strava will straight-line the route between the two points). I also tried merging the files with a tool from – unfortunately, that ended up with a ride that was effectively double the length of what we rode (two loops). it would probably have worked with my edited files but I could also merge them in the GPS Track Editor…

Combining tracks in GPS Track Editor

I then deleted the original (short) ride from Strava and re-uploaded. Sorted.

Just one thing to sort out – all of the PRs I got on today’s ride (and there were a few) were recorded as second places by the second upload. No worries – Strava has a “refresh my achievements” tool. which sorted out that particular issue. Now my ride has the complete distance… and my achievements are correct too…

Short takes: special cyclists’ edition

As this post goes out, my beloved Bianchi C2c Via Nirone 7 should have just emerged from the workshop after its first service.  Strava says I’ve ridden it for around 1200km and, as I rack up some miles in my training for several events this year (London-Paris in June, Wakefield to Manchester over Holme Moss in July, and the Ride London-Surrey 100 in August), it seems a good to point to take it back to Epic Cycles to give it a once over…

I’ve also got a few open tabs in my browser with cycling-related bits and pieces I mean to blog about… so here’s a special cycling-themed “short takes” blog post…

Editing GPX files

Every now and again, it’s bound to happen… you forget to stop the cycle computer/app on the smartphone and the resulting GPS eXchange format (GPX) file has a block in the middle where you were waiting for your mates to arrive/sitting in a coffee shop/whatever.  Then there are times when the GPS goes haywire and thinks you did 87.8kph down a hill, or when it just straight-lines a corner. In those instances, you might want to edit the file.

Thankfully, GPX files are not binary – they are just another XML schema – and the OpenStreetMaps Wiki has advice for editing GPX files in a text editor.  Hack around to your heart’s content, then upload to your social sharing site of choice.

Searching for bike serial numbers

We’re off to Centre Parcs later this year, and I needed to provide details of our bikes (useful for insurance purposes too).  Once again, I was searching for the serial number for my mountain bike and, once again, it was eluding me so, whilst it’s unlikely to apply to everyone who reads this blog, here’s the link to Trek’s advice on where to find your bike’s serial number.


Ignore Sat Nav and engage brain

Engage Brain

Despite being what many people would consider to be technology-inclined, I don’t have a Sat Nav in my car.

I’m fortunate to have a good sense of direction, my childhood was spent touring the UK (we didn’t have foreign holidays but we did have lots of days out) and I spent the first part of my career visiting customer sites, placing me in the “18,000 mile club” (those of a certain age will remember the company car tax break that encouraged high mileage).

Generally, I get by with a £4.99 AA Map Book supplemented by my own knowledge of the UK road network.

But last weekend I was visiting friends in Winchester and, although I knew how to reach their house from the north/midlands, I was heading up from the south coast and thought there might be a better route. No worries, thought I, I’ll use Nokia Maps on my Windows Phone.

I entered their street name (let’s say it was Acacia Avenue, Winchester – of course, it wasn’t, but bear with me) and was somewhat surprised to see a map of Manchester. I thought it was an autocorrect issue, so I tried again. “Never mind”, I thought, “I’ll look up the postcode”, so I put the same search string into the phone’s search engine (Bing of course) and got some Manchester results…

I was frustrated by now. So frustrated I considered using my Wife’s iPhone and Apple Maps…

In the end, the Royal Mail website gave me the postcode, which Nokia Maps was happy to accept and use to take me to “Acacia Avenue” but there’s a much bigger issue here.

It’s not about Bing, or Nokia, or Tom Tom or Apple Maps but about trust. When I want to get somewhere, I want to get to the right place. I know, for example, that Apple Maps has some terrible information for the town where I live (e.g. many businesses in the wrong locations and some there that no longer exist). If I can’t trust a mapping service for a locality that I know well, why should I trust it for one that I don’t?  Similarly, if Nokia Maps is going to send me to Manchester instead of Winchester, I don’t much fancy the fuel bills and travel times if I rely on it to get me somewhere in a hurry…

The map data will improve – and I’ve suggestfully proposed changes to Google Maps too (a typo in the name of the local Rugby Club is probably not too big a deal though). Open Street Map is another alternative – although someone there reversed some of my edits (so that’s only as good as the community that moderates it…).

The real point is that, as we become increasingly dependent on digital services, we also need to take stock. There’s an old saying in computing – garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). Maybe technology is not always the answer and we need to rely on a little common sense too?


Photo Credit: touring_fishman via Compfight (licenced under Creative Commons).