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Free Mapping and Tracking for Android [My Tracks]

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Beautiful weather has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve been taking advantage of it as often as I have time. One thing about living where it’s grey and rainy for so much of the year, it really almost forces me to go outside and be active when it’s nice out. I’ve been riding my bike around, and wanted an easy way to keep track of my stats like speed, distance, which trails I was riding and altitude. Turns out there’s a free and easy way that integrates well with Android: Google My Tracks

My Tracks uses your phone’s GPS to record your position and plots it on a map, where you can upload it to Google Maps or export your track as an industry-standard KML file for analysis in another application.

You get a print out of your statistics at the end, and can optionally insert markers with interval statistics on a custom schedule. The app has been around for a few years but has become much easier to use lately. My last ride was 12.9 miles long at an average moving speed of 7.5 miles per hour:

Total distance: 20.78 km (12.9 mi)
Total time: 2:56:35
Moving time: 1:43:56
Average speed: 7.06 km/h (4.4 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 11.99 km/h (7.5 mi/h)
Max speed: 34.62 km/h (21.5 mi/h)
Average pace: 8.50 min/km (13.7 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 5.00 min/km (8.1 min/mi)
Min pace: 1.73 min/km (2.8 min/mi)
Max elevation: 179 m (589 ft)
Min elevation: 93 m (304 ft)
Elevation gain: 984 m (3228 ft)
Max grade: 12 %
Min grade: -17 %
Recorded: 5/26/2012 12:21 PM

The application also integrates with a Polar brand heart rate monitor over Bluetooth to record heart rate statistics along with the other information. I don’t have that option yet, but plan to add it fairly soon. This is a great free app that everyone should know about. It’s not just useful for mapping a trail, either – you could use it to mark where you left your car, see where you’ve been in an amusement park, or record the location of interesting landmarks you see while wandering around the city. Check it out!

My Tracks


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Spotty GPS is Interesting

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I’ve just returned from Whistler, BC  for the season-ending weekend on the downhill mountain bike park, and wanted to track my progress using Google’s free My Tracks application which records your GPS position on the map for review later. I’ve used it successfully many times to keep track of my biking stats and see my trail runs, but it seems to have had some trouble up in the mountains of Canada.

At the very top are the markers indicating where I actually was. All the other pins were recorded at the same time, but seem to have no particular relationship to anywhere I was at any time during the trip. Since Canadians have almost third world Internet, I kept data off to avoid $10/MB roaming charges. Android GPS devices receive some amount of GPS assistance from towers setting up, so this lack of a cell connection may have resulted in the unit using bad GPS data. Or, it was just a weird bug – it’s impossible to tell. The weather was perfectly clear and we were on exposed mountain faces, so there shouldn’t have been an interference or coverage issue.

I was quite impressed with the top speed I managed on my bike of 496.0 MPH, and a min-max elevation change greater than the Space Shuttle’s orbit.