Easy/Best app to document long tour? - CycleBlaze

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Easy/Best app to document long tour?

Mark Want

Newbie here. Planning multi-year tour and am weighing up options for best/easiest way to document/log and share the most relevant ride info and photos/notes on daily basis on one single phone app/platform. Looking for suggestions, advantages, disadvantages of say, for example, committing to logging everything on Cycleblaze separately, or in combination with apps like Komoot, Strava, RIdewithGPS, Instagram, Reddit, FB, etc. I see that with Komoot for example you can easily share details of daily ride (map, time, distance, etc.), photos of points of interest, and short journal entry on same page. That can basically be done on the fly from your phone. Anyone with link can follow you, but others will find it hard to find riders.

I guess I’m also wondering what level of effort and time most people are putting in to maintain a consistent trip log on this platform? Is it significant IYO? I’m a old boomer and don’t have skill or much patience to do a full on trip blog. I love reading them, but can’t imagine how’d that work while pedaling, eating, or sleeping most of the day. 

Do people often cross post daily activity to multiple platforms (FB, IG, Strava, etc.) or just rely on one place (Cycleblaze) as sole source for their ride info and journal and photos? 
Any and all suggestions, options, thoughts, insights are welcome. Really am enjoying reading blog posts here. It’s a great community. 

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1 year ago
Scott AndersonTo Mark Want

We aren’t round the worlders, but we’re there in spirit if not actuality.  We’ve been blogging our lives more or less nonstop for three and a half years now, exclusively on CycleBlaze.  I write the blog, and post pretty much daily except for breaks between tours.  We don’t use any other social media platform.

I probably average 90 minutes a day, maybe less.  That includes the time spent unloading, reviewing, and selecting photos to include in the day’s blog.  It sounds like a lot, but it’s our life now and for me it’s time well spent.  At my age I’d forget what happened a few days ago if it wasn’t written down.

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1 year ago
Graham SmithTo Mark Want

Hi Mark I recently completed a longish ride. Only multi week, not a multi year though.

I did my main journal here on CycleBlaze and tried to post daily. I did everything via iPhone. Some days I only posted a few captioned photos, other days I waxed lyrical as well as posted photos. The quality and quantity of the content reflected how exhausted I was, and how much access to a telecommunications signal there was. The intended target audience for my journals here on CycleBlaze is the broader cycle touring community. The journals on CB are also for me to look back on as a personal record and reflection.

I also posted on Facebook daily for the entire tour. Usually these posts were a very simple upload of a decent photo, and maybe a one or two line comment. The audience on FB are mostly friends, relatives and colleagues who I personally know and were taking an active interest in the ride, so there was a slightly different flavour to these posts compared to what I uploaded to my CycleBlaze journal. There was also a lot more two way interaction on FB as reactive comments came in. Part of my motivation for the posts on FaceBook was that the ride was a fundraising ride, so I was plugging for donations there more there more than I did here via my CycleBlaze journal.

My third communication channel was text messages just to my wife who doesn’t follow CycleBlaze or FaceBook. Usually these were as brief as “All OK. Camped in the middle of nowhere.” 

And there’s one more. I’ve written a short article about the ride for my local cycling association’s magazine. 

One of my co-riders is an avid user of Strava, and he was doing daily posts on Strava.  He also set up a family-close friend specific chat group on WhatsApp. 
He didn’t do a journal but instead referred people to my journal.

So I guess where and how you record and communicate about your tour will depend on who your target audience is, and why you want to communicate with those audiences. Once you decide the who? and the why?, then you can choose the communication channel or channels which best match those people and purposes.  

All of these communication lines have to be sustainable. Journaling takes time and effort, and some cycle tourers simply become weary of doing it after a while. 

So many answers to cycle touring questions begin with, “It depends…” This question of communication is one of those. It’s very much a personal choice of to who, when, how and what you want to communicate.

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1 year ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Mark Want

As others have said, it depends on your purpose.

I've always kept a journal on long trips.  Looking back, I wish I'd kept a journal on shorter trips (a week or two) because I can't remember much about them now.  The first couple of those longer trips were back in the 1980s and I kept a paper journal.  I also wrote letters home to parents and close friends, repeating much of what I'd written in my journal.

In 1992, I did my first long  cycling tour, 4 weeks in France.  I kept a paper journal and later used it, prints of my slides, and scans of paper maps to make a scrapbook. It's a fantastic keepsake but it was a lot of work (and one day I'll copy it to Cycleblaze).

Keeping a journal on sites like Cycleblaze is, to me, the best way to accomplish a number of goals:

  • Keep a record for yourself that includes photos and maps of routes taken (I think maps are necessary)--note that not all pages need be visible to the public
  • Tell the story for friends and acquaintances such that you need not repeat yourself (you can always add more in a private communication that includes a link to the public version).  Those who are interested can reply/comment to you.
  • Create a reference for others who may be researching the area for their own tour.  I've used so many other people's journals to develop my own tours (or just for entertainment) so I like to add to the knowledge base.  There are so few good published references out there...

I haven't bother posting on FB or other social media, probably because I never got into the habit of using my phone for photos.  My husband adds photos and a bit of text to his Strava posts but I like to create a fuller narrative.  Can you tell by this very long reply?

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1 year ago
Edward HitchcockTo Mark Want

Hi Mark

Making a journal of your travel is a great thing to do.  I certainly regret those times I have not made a journal.

Speaking from experience, keeping a journal is no minor undertaking.  I have often started with good intentions, and failed.  I find that I get caught up in the  events of the day, and the journal does not get done.  So be careful not to over-commit.

The simple things to do:

1.  Use ridewithGPS (or similar) to make a GPS trace of each days riding.  Take photos (including signs, shops, scenery, people, your gear, events) with the same device.  Just start RWGPS in the morning and close it at the end of the day.  Doing so will tell you the day s distance covered, so you will be motivated to do it.  RWGPS will upload automatically the photos you took with the same device during the day, and store the location of each.  A simple basic history with almost no work to do.

With live logging, and with your mother and others enrolled as friends or followers, those people will be able to follow your progress all the time you have a good internet connection.  They will be able to see your photos, to which you can add captions.  Live logging is a good safety precaution.

All the above  works even without internet connection, but obviously things get uploaded only when there is a good connection.

2. Keep a daily journal of events, on paper or on a device.   Really important to note events, as if you don't, the memories get blurred.    The more you write the better, but be sure key events are noted or photographed.  Backup is useful, more difficult with paper journals.

3.  Once you have done this, consider a blog wherever you want.  Cycleblaze is a good place for that.  I prefer to avoid facebook.  Blogs can be tailored to your audience, but it all takes time away from enjoying the present.

Remember the second law of thermodyamics, which says (generalised) that you cannot record anything without changing it.   All the things you do to record the trip actually change the trip.  Are you going on a journey to provide input to the blog you want to do, or because you want to go places and meet people?

Go well


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1 year ago
Peter BrownTo Mark Want

I used Ride with GPS to record my recent multiday Erie Canal ride. I thought I would update my CycleBlaze journal daily. That was not the case, writing is hard, writing well is a craft. A craft I have not mastered. At the end of the day, I was too tired to write and rewrite and post. I took notes in a notebook about the day's highlights, hassles, or what the photos represented, etc.

   I ended up writing about my journey mostly when it was over. My wife edited. Keeping a journal is hard work. Another issue I had was my phone/camera/GPS was attached to my handlebar and had to be removed from the holder for a photo, sometimes the powerpack had to be disconnected. I took less photos. Ride with GPS did a great job of recording my route and distance, I used the first tier, above basic paid level. I am still editing my journal, yesterday I added a few lines about total cost of the trip. Brown's Folly on this site.

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1 year ago
Edward HitchcockTo Peter Brown

Thanks Peter.  I am not the only one who finds daily on-line journal updates difficult.  

I've experienced problems like you with having the phone handy for photos.  My solution is a rugged phone with a big battery, and a home-made mounting that makes it easy to remove.  Another solution is to have one phone in pocket for photos and ridewithGPS, and another on the handlebars for navigation.

Phones are something of which many of us own several, with only the newest one in use.

I have yet to find a phone with a good GPS, with which I can easily take photos one-handed while riding....  A phone in the form of a point n shoot camera?

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1 year ago
Kelly IniguezTo Mark Want

Keeping a journal is a major part of my tour enjoyment. I like the feedback from readers and also to reread and remember the trip. There have been a few tours that I haven't journaled and they've been lost to time. I write in all the details because I know I will forget as time passes.

I spent perhaps an hour a day. I don't do anything with photos other than post them, no editing etc. Most of my time is spent writing. It depends on your priorities. Some people do way more with their photos and not so much writing. 

I also do a very short, Cliff notes version to Facebook for the people who follow me there. 

I use ridewithgps for routing and mapping. I'm always disappointed when a journal I'm interested in doesn't have a daily map. They are very easy to add here on CB. 

Your journey sounds epic. You should record it for posterity. 

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1 year ago
Mark WantTo Scott Anderson

Thanks Scott! You've got quite a Palmarès! I can see that blogging does provide so many benefits for yourselves and the community! I really admire your consistency. I, too, would forget what happened a few days ago. I do that whether I'm on the road or not. That's acceptable when one isn't doing much, but not when living on the road. It's good to see such investment and confidence in the platform. Besides a better understanding of the technology aspects and options (which are overwhelming to a newbie), I also need to really clarify in my own mind what are my objectives of recording/documenting/sharing/curating a social media presence of the tour (I don't know whether since it's open ended as in this case it would be more proper or presumptuous to call something else like an adventure/expedition/travels?) before I should attempt to choose the appropriate platform(s). What I do know is that with my cycling background anything done has to have a map (Stava, RWGPS, Komoot) with the daily and cumulative stats, ability to easily drop in geo-located photos or clips from multiple devices (phone, digital camera, GoPro), option for public facing notes and cross platform hyperlink tags. To be able to reach a large, broad, or growing audience, it seems there has to be a certain level of redundant cross posting. I'm assuming, knowing myself, that I won't be able to sustain much more than 30-40 mins. daily. Weekly chunks of downloads is an option I guess. I don't have to 'solve' the problem now, as I'm sure what I decide upon at the beginning of the trip will end up evolving over time as I find what works for me. I just don't want to have big holes in the timeline! That would be annoying to me, but maybe not so much to anyone else. The simple gps bike computer should cover that worry. Thanks for your reply.     

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1 year ago
Mark WantTo Graham Smith

Graham, thanks for your thoughtful and helpful response! I love it. It really does depend on first settling on what I want to achieve with the trip communications. That sustainability is also what I'm trying to figure out. I don't want to try to bite off more than I can chew! Maybe there's little value in a big splash of effort and verbosity in the beginning if that can't be maintained. To manage the audiences' expectations, maybe better to be a bit conservative in the early days. If I do have more early time/energy I guess I could just bottle that in a personal journal. I like the evenness and predictability of the same/similar information and data points consistently which just by its own longevity can build over time into an epic adventure made up of just simple daily routine and practice. Data and small snippets might be mundane to many, but that might be what I can sustain.     

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1 year ago