by Greg Spray, SHCT Woodbridge Area Organiser
To start with I am not a technical or software expert, I just use some technology to help me enjoy cycling and outdoor activities to the full.
Mapping the churches
There are a number of tools that could be used depending on the detail required.
I am going to map all the churches in my area (Woodbridge #7). Depending on how long this takes as I’ve 43, this could be an idea for the other AOs. I’m going to use Google Maps, via their MyMap function.
The Ordnance Survey app is an alternative to using Google Maps, but I’ve found that it is less intuitive to use.
Including a route
Another mapping option is the Ordnance Survey app. This is a chargeable map app, and it is possible and relatively easy to build your own map which can be printed or formatted as a GPX file, which can be uploaded onto a bike GPS system ( e.g. Garmin Edge). You open the app, search for a location (perhaps home) and then tap on ‘create a route’. You simply use your finger or mouse to track the route to each church or destination and then save the map. It can then be downloaded and uploaded onto a phone or iPad or GPS device as a GPX file. This would be ideal for both cyclists and walkers.
Planning a route
As mentioned above, Google Maps or the Ordnance Survey app are both options. One of the benefits of the OS app is that you get a contour cross-sections showing how up and down the route may be and a very useful and rather conservative time projection. I use this very often. It can be saved and shared.
Paper maps are an obvious alternative – I’d use an OS maps 1:25000 scale known as an Explorer map.
Another way to create a local map is also app based and also requires a smart watch (e.g. Garmin VivoActive) and the Garmin Connect app. This is really useful if you want to pre-ride a route, for example around the local area. If you set the watch to record a bike ride, when you finish and stop the application, the route plus health measurements ( calories burnt, heart rate, etc.) are recorded onto the Garmin Connect app, which will also show altitude, wind direction, speed, etc. – all the interesting stuff that gadget anoraks love! This data can be saved and even shared with friends.
STRAVA ( www.STRAVA.com) is another very popular bike and running app which combined with a smart watch allows routes and activities to be recorded, saved and shared. I’ve never used STRAVA, so am unable to comment.
KOMOOT is another app based mapping, planning and recording system. It requires a subscription and relies on previous members’ activities and algorithms based on your location and interests. I used this when I explored the Outer Hebrides last summer.
Using a GPX file via a GPS device provides directions, turnings, etc. So it’s less easy to get lost.
Accurate location of a church (or any place, feature, or pub!)
Using ‘what3words’ is an excellent method for a church to provide a precise location for visitors, emergency services, etc. This is accurate to 3 metres and more accurate than a postcode and easier to create than an OS 6 digit map reference. Using the what3words app, just stand in front of the church’s door or gate, and the app will provide a random unique 3 word code. This is unique to that location. My local church in Snape used what3words as its emergency locator when we celebrated the Platinum Jubilee this year in case we needed urgent assistance at the venue.
I would recommend that all churches and place of worship find their what3words reference and include this in their address and “in case of emergency” information. The emergency services now use what3words as their preferred locator system.
Using a GoPro
I also record routes and rides using a GoPro attached to my cycle helmet, and then share these with friends. This is particularly useful when trying to sell the idea of doing the event or joining me. My 2022 Ride & Stride route was one I did with my wife who hadn’t ridden any longish distances for 30+ years. She has a new e-bike and asked if she could accompany me. We rode to all the churches in the Alde River Benefice (plus one other). We filmed the journey with the encouraging (?!) soundtrack and have now shared with members of the benefice and others.
I hope that you will find my input useful. As I stated at the beginning I am not a technical or IT expert, and just a user of technology that I find useful. I certainly would not cycle without my iPhone’s tracking turned on, nor without my GoPro or Garmin smart watch. I still get lost at times but having the technology to hand is both a comfort and great help.