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  1. #1
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    Technology & how to be found quickly if your ride goes wrong.

    The purpose of this thread is to discuss the different ways technology can be used to allow friends and family to pin-point your location in the unfortunate and unlikely event you don’t return from your ride.

    Please refrain from discussion about personal privacy, spousal trust, etc. In a lot of cases, having this kind of safety-net trades off a certain amount of personal privacy. That’s a decision each person needs to make on their own. This thread should be the next step – learning how to implement GPS, cell phone or other technology in such a way that friends and family can find you quickly if something bad happens on your bike ride.

    Here’s what I do: I’ve configured my Android phone using the paid app Tasker such that if someone were to text a pre-determined word or phrase to my cell phone number (for example “where are you?” or “lost”) my phone will search for a GPS signal for a period of time and automatically reply to the sender with a new text message that includes my approximately longitude and latitude coordinates, the accuracy of that location (i.e. +/- 20 meters) and how much battery life my phone has. Also, it includes a url link for that location in Google Maps.

    I always have my phone with me when riding, so this is pretty fail-safe. My wife and a few close friends know how to use it in case I don't show up. That's the important part.

    Here's how it works:

    * Create an Event that is triggered by a received TXT message that includes a specific text string.
    * Create Tasks that ensure Mobile Data, WiFi and GPS are turned on.
    * Create a Task that searches for a GPS lock then captures best available location.
    * Create a Task that sends that location data to the person who sent you the original TXT message.

    Follow these directions to set it up in Tasker.
    1) Create a new Profile and name it something like "Find Me"
    2) For the First Context select "Event" then select "Phone" then select "Received Text."
    3) In the dialogue box for "Received Text" select "Any" for Type, keep the Sender field <null> (or you can add a specific phone number so that only that person can trigger the task), and under Content input whatever word you want to trigger this task. Pick a word that is easy to remember, but not something someone is going to txt you in normal conversation for example, don't use "hey").

    At this point you've defined the conditions for when Tasker will initiate this process. The next step is to define the action Tasker will take after you receive the txt message.

    4) In the "Task Selection" dialogue box that appears, select "New Task." You can leave the name field blank, or name it whatever you like. Doesn't matter.
    5) Click the "+" icon in the lower left-hand corner of the dialogue box to add your first action.
    6) Click "Net" then "Wifi" then set WiFi to "On" and click the green check mark.
    7) Click the "+" icon then click "Net" then click "Mobile Data" and set it to "On". Accept by clicking the green check mark.
    8) Click the "+" icon then click "Misc" then click "GPS" and set it to "On". Accept by clicking the green check mark.

    The above steps make sure that mobile data (i.e. 3g, 4g, etc..) is turned on, wifi is turned on and your GPS is turned on. Mobile should be on anyways, but it never hurts to try this. turning on wifi and GPS helps to improve location accuracy.

    9) Next, click the "+" icon again then click "Misc" then "Get Location."
    9a. for "source" select "Any." By default your phone will provide the most accurate location available. If it can't do GPS it will switch to Wifi and if that doesn't work it will pull the cell tower triangulation.
    9b. for "Timeout (seconds)" I choose 60. This defines how long your phone should search for the location before responding. GPS takes a little time to lock on so if you set this too low tasker might respond before it has time to get a good lock.
    9c. Leave "Continue Task Immediately" and "if" both unchecked. click the green check mark.
    10) Next click the "+" icon then click "Phone" then "Send SMS."
    10a. For "Number" type in "%SMSRF". This variable represents the phone number from the last person that send you a text. A known bug is that if a new txt is received while the phone is searching for the signal (see the 60 second timeout) that person becomes the "last txt from" number.
    10b. For Message, enter in the following (do not type the line numbers, those are for your reference. also don't enter the quotes):
    [Line 1] "Net Location: maps.google.com/maps?q=%LOCN"
    [Line 2] "Accuracy +/- %LOCNACC Meters"
    [Line 3] "Battery: %BATT %"
    10c. Leave "if" blank. If you want a copy of the message saved in your sms app, check "Store in Messaging App." click the green check mark.
    11) Click the green check marks until you've exited Tasker.

    Have someone send you a txt message to test it out.

  2. #2
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    Why not use a sports tracker like Endomondo and have your wife look at your workouts page. Your position is updated in realtime.

  3. #3
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    Cyclemeter (iphone) will tweet your location and statistics to a twitter account you specify either at a time interval or a distance interval. This works really well. It will also tell when you start or stop the app.

    Glympse is something I've used for a long time. I send a "glimpse" to my wife when I start and she can follow me from there.

    Find my Friends also works really well.

    J.

  4. #4
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    endomondo real time tracking works pretty great..

  5. #5
    working on progress treebound's Avatar
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    Mapmyride has a similar tracking feature for friends to follow you, I plan to try it out soon.
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    Life happens, don't be a spectator.

  6. #6
    working on progress treebound's Avatar
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    Follow-up:
    I put MapMyFitness on my wife's phone, then tried to send the friend request between the phones and not sure if it is good or not. Couldn't get her phone to show my current activity (started a "walk" and enabled the gps on my phone). I'll have to play around with the app some more.
    In the mean time I'll try out the glympse app as well. I rode the motorcycle to work yesterday and stopped at the bicycle shop on the way home to pick up some pedals and clips, would be nice for her to see where I'm at instead of thinking I've become a hood ornament for some tailgator on the feeeway.
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
    Life happens, don't be a spectator.

  7. #7
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    I like MapMyRide but I've never had success in live-tracking (specifically, live updates via Twitter). I wasn't aware that you could live-track friends through the app (or website), I'll have to give that a shot.

  8. #8
    Junior Member 1WannaR1de's Avatar
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    I've used both Endomondo and iMapMyRide...they both drain my battery pretty bad. When iMap's "Live tracker" is turned on it sucks the batter out of EVO even worse. I use a GPS tracker app called "My Tracks" for Androind...it hardly sips the battery and tracks every aspect of your ride you could want (except cadence and HR). The Tasker method listed above sounds like a pretty good alternative. From the sounds of it, it'll even work if your GPS is turned off, because the Tasker will automatically turn on the GPS when that certain key word/phrase is sent to your phone...is this correct?

  9. #9
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    if your using a 4g phone - make sure to turn 4g off and it will help with battery life.. also need to use app like advanced task killer and close all your apps before going on a ride..

  10. #10
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    Cyclemeter for iPhone is awesome. Emails whomever you want to alert them of your departure and arrival. I am planning on using it as a, "Holy crap, where did he go" backup plan for my wife. Gonna test it tonight to make sure the email she gets when I depart has a semi live map.
    Tailwinds make me feel like Superman and headwinds make me feel like Lois Lane.

  11. #11
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    Anytime I ride/hike/drive anywhere cell coverage is spotty I carry a DeLorme PN60w GPS paired with a SPOT locator. It allows me to one way text message to a cellphone or email anyone that is SPOT contact list and it allows me to post messages to facebook from just about anywhere. Both have links with my current location plotted on a map. Luckily I have never had to call for help using it but otherwise it has performed flawless. Otherwise if I'm just riding around town I carry my phone and use mapmyride with live tracer activated.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckaspar View Post
    Cyclemeter for iPhone is awesome. Emails whomever you want to alert them of your departure and arrival. I am planning on using it as a, "Holy crap, where did he go" backup plan for my wife. Gonna test it tonight to make sure the email she gets when I depart has a semi live map.
    You can also set up a twitter account that is private. Your wife can then ask to be added to it. Then put the information into Cyclemeter. You can set settings that it, for example, posts a tweet every mile or every so much distance that includes a link back to a map that shows where you are at the time of the tweet.

    J.

  13. #13
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    I'm using the SPOT device on my motorcycle and may use it on bicycle too to track my rides and send SOS if needed.

  14. #14
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    Technology is great and under city conditions I would consider something like that but even then I would stick with the tried and true practice of identifying you plans with somebody else and checking in when you say you will.

    When hunting, hiking, climbing, backpacking, camping, equestrian riding, canoeing, and even working alone I always let at least one person know my route and ETA with a emergency buffer time added in.

    My little part of the world is void of Cell towers, and even Sat phones are spotty in places, so I think it wise to let somebody know my route and it is also a good practice to navigate a fixed course.

    I have also worked in fields with the best data communications, emergency equipment, and personnel locating equipment, most the time when something bad happens there is a good chance the safety equipment is damaged, malfunctions or is manually disabled. A very high percentage of the time the emergency response and search is successful because of the victims prior communications and route instructions before the incident.

    Now that said sometimes I do say, “do not worry about me I will be gone for a while,” fortunately I have a wife that is OK with that. But then she also gets her times to go off own her own also. Being capable independent people that can get out of most fixs ourselves if need be, though not a s capable or as free as we once were.

  15. #15
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    The problem with things like the SPOT device, is that they don't tell anyone you are in trouble - they are not like the EPIRBs on ocean going racers that trigger when they hit water. It still gets down to the fact that you need to tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. At least if I understand how they work correctly.

    On a bike, one of the big risks is to fall and suffer a brain injury (concussion) which could render you unable to initiate anything. Without spending a whole lot of money, there are a couple of things that can work fairly well if you are in cell coverage areas. Glympse is a live tracking piece of software and works really well. For iPhones there is an app called "Find my Friends" that is free. It's not as good as Glympse or as real time, but it's pretty decent. If you tell someone where you are going and the route, if they find you off the route or not back when you are supposed to be back, those work really well.

    J.

  16. #16
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    So, is there a personal emergency locator device that will be triggered automatically if we become disabled in a bike ride? (Fall off a trail or get hit by a car?)
    My current stable:

    1989 SLX Bottecchia (Campy Athena 11s)
    1999 Cannondale F400 mountain bike
    2012 Bianchi Infinito (Campy Record 11s)
    2012 Colnago C59 in PR99 color scheme (Campy Record 11s)

  17. #17
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    Not to my knowledge. That's why you need to tell people where you are going and when you are coming back. For example, if they see you stopped half way through and don't move for a time, then it could be an issue. Way better than if you didn't have the location ability in the first place.

    J.

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    I map most of my rides with Ride with GPS and let my wife know what course I am doing. Each time I hit a rest stop(every half hour-hour,) I send a quick text to let her know where I am and when I expect to check in next time. Hopefully this would cut down on the search area.
    Most smart phones are 911 GPS enabled, and can be pinged in an emergency. Of course, that will only work if there is cell coverage.

  19. #19
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    I use Cyclemeter and have it send email to wife at start, stops, and end. With auto stop for pauses turned on, it records any time the bike is stopped for any length of time. That way if I have an accident it will send as email as a stop, with location, and if there is no restart, and I don't arrive home in a reasonable time, my location is identified in the email. makes for a simple solution, otherwise I can dial 911.

  20. #20
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    Since I have multiple iPhones associated with one iTunes account, my wife just uses "Find My iPhone" to find out where I am at a given time. Though I do think the app the OP has setup is pretty awesome. Anyone know of an iPhone equivalent? Also, maybe something that would send the text with a quick push from you. Both of these seem better in case you were disabled from a crash, etc.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckaspar View Post
    Cyclemeter for iPhone is awesome. Emails whomever you want to alert them of your departure and arrival. I am planning on using it as a, "Holy crap, where did he go" backup plan for my wife. Gonna test it tonight to make sure the email she gets when I depart has a semi live map.
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
    Cyclemeter (iphone) will tweet your location and statistics to a twitter account you specify either at a time interval or a distance interval. This works really well. It will also tell when you start or stop the app.

    Glympse is something I've used for a long time. I send a "glimpse" to my wife when I start and she can follow me from there.

    Find my Friends also works really well.

    J.
    Quote Originally Posted by LloydWilliams View Post
    I use Cyclemeter and have it send email to wife at start, stops, and end. With auto stop for pauses turned on, it records any time the bike is stopped for any length of time. That way if I have an accident it will send as email as a stop, with location, and if there is no restart, and I don't arrive home in a reasonable time, my location is identified in the email. makes for a simple solution, otherwise I can dial 911.
    Thanks. Sorry for my ignorance, but would cyclemeter work with cycling and running since it's about the movement of the phone? I think my family would like this since I go out early morning or late evening. It's the evening part that bothers them.

    When I'm swimming, they know where I am. About 50 yards away.

  22. #22
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    I see no reason why it would not work for running also, though I believe there are dedicated running programs that do the same. I am not a runner.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjsocal View Post
    Thanks. Sorry for my ignorance, but would cyclemeter work with cycling and running since it's about the movement of the phone? I think my family would like this since I go out early morning or late evening. It's the evening part that bothers them.

    When I'm swimming, they know where I am. About 50 yards away.
    cyclemeter will work with running as well. There is a running mode. You just select which activity you want to do - cycling, running, skiing whatever. It's really a max capability sort of app. My son's girl friend runs with it all the time. When she's doing a marathon, we can all watch her tweets as she hits the trigger's she's set (usually every half mile or so). We get a tweet with a map link and we can see where she's at so we can get to the next spot and cheer her on. The tweets also list her pace. If she didn't make it there, we'd know as soon she missed her next checkpoint (or at least the time).

    J.

  24. #24
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    Thanks. That's interesting that it tweets her pace. Nice.

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