GWRRA Minnesota Chapter O

Gold Wing Road Riders Association, America's Heartland (Region E)

 

Blog Posts

InRoute Update July 2018   Bill Taylor | 7/20/2018

Well, it’s time for another update for the ‘cheap’ navigation system.

I am still using the InRoute app that I have mentioned in previous blog postings.  It’s still probably not quite as good as the Garmin, but it sounds like it’s better than the system in the 2018 Wings.  My $15 app allows up to 25 way-points. 

I’ve been using it now for over a year and it’s really not all that bad.  When I get routes from other members, the first thing I do is adjust every point between the start and end changing them to ‘Via/Stop:Treat as a Via’.  This way, if the point on my map is a little bit different than the point on the ride leader’s Garmin, it won’t keep recalculating a route back to that point. 

The next thing I do is review the route on the phone and zoom in on each of the way-points to determine if it’s in an odd position that makes it do a U-turn or go to the right for 100 feet and then turn around and go the other way.  Things like that are resolved by adding a better way-point and then deleting the offending way-point.  I assume this is caused by a difference between the Garmin map and the InRoute map.  But even if I don’t have time to do this, InRoute will complain a couple times and then proceed to the next point since each point is a Via point (shaping point in Garmin terminology).

It is nice if I join a ride midstream.  After loading the route and hitting GO, it will ask me if I want to resume at point ‘x’.  I click Yes and I’m on the route along with everyone else.

I have also cut off the tip of my glove for the left index finger.  This way, if the recalculating warning gets too annoying, I can tell it to End or skip to the next point.  I don’t have motorcycle gloves that are ‘touch sensitive’ on a phone.

The last few days, I have been creating a route from a breakfast location to a lunch location and thought it would be good to describe the process I used.  Not sure this is the best – but it’s using all ‘free’ software.

I start with Google Maps.  This has an ‘avoid freeway’ option that I turn on.  Then I enter the start and end addresses (or business names) and let it calculate the route.  Then I can zoom in and out and decide which portion of the route I want to change.  I can drag the route to the new road and then click the route and get an address for that location and click ‘add location’.  Now I have a specific location that will force the navigation system to get to that particular place – and it’s fine if it’s the ‘fastest’ route there.  I added various specific locations hoping that the quickest path between addresses would be the route I really wanted no matter what device was calculating the actual route.  Once I had all the addresses, I then used https://tripplanner.honda.com   I have registered on this site so I can save the routes I create.  This also allows me to export a GPX file.  I save that file to my local disk and then drag it into iCloud (Apple) or My Drive (Google).  From there, I can import it into InRoute.  I have an iPhone but I can import from either cloud location.  I assume the same is true for Android phones.  Then, the procedure is the same no matter how I got the route (see above).  I still want to change everything to Via Points and give it one more review.

Tonight I discovered that the “avoid highway” feature in InRoute leaves a bit to be desired.  I am not sure what it considers a highway, but it’s not the same as Google (or me for that matter).  So the route did need a few more ‘shaping points’ to get it to where I wanted it.

So – it’s not necessarily the easiest method to create a route.  But it doesn’t take all that long either.  The most time consuming process is just deciding which roads I want to ride.

One MAJOR improvement they made to the app since I first installed it is the recalculating notice.  If the route we were on was different than the planned route (for any reason), it would say ‘recalculating’ and/or ‘return to route when possible’ about every 2 seconds.  Now – it tells me once or twice and gives up.  She’s much less bitchy.

And my navigation device is also my music, calendar, weather alert system, address book, phone and tons of other functions as well.  And I always seem to have it with me.  Also, the maps are updated continuously – I don’t need that “free map for life” feature that gets me an update once or twice a year.

So let me know if you have any questions or comments.  You can post them right here!

My favorite Gold Wing part replacement places   James Rivord | 6/12/2018

Somehow, the right engine cover panel “fell off” the bike on a ride my wife and I took to Stillwater.  After asking fellow Minnows for decent places to get a replacement, I ended up using this site: https://www.ronayers.com/oemparts/c/honda_motorcycle/parts .  I located the part and placed the order late one evening.  The next day I received an email from them letting me know they did not have a part in stock and it was on back order.  The manufacturer would begin making them again on July 1.  But they also listed two other dealers (with their contact info) that said they had the part.  First dealer did not have it but the second dealer did and I was able to purchase it from them.  Ron Ayers then cancelled my order.  It’s not often that a store actually helps a potential customer purchase something from a competitor!  I also want to thank Everett Powersports in Everett, Washington for shipping the part to me so quickly!

Bill T.
To Garmin or not ... part 3-B   Bill Taylor | 6/15/2017

The 'test' tonight appears to have been a success - with one small gotcha.  I'm beginning to think that people that create routes don't always review them with a fine-tuned comb (or whatever).  It could very well be because they have a million other things to do and planning a route is already rather time consuming and is not the fun part (riding it is!).  For tonight's ride, one of the 'pins' was off the mark by a bit, and was actually on a road that we never hit.  So on the ride, my 'almost a garmin' started telling me that I had to turn around in 2 miles, in 1 mile, etc.  But once we made the actual turn, she was fine again.  It was not until I got home that I could see the problem.  To correct it for future rides, I added a 'draggable pin' in a slightly better location on the map, went to the editor, re-sorted the pins so my new pin was in the same sequential position as the 'bad' pin (the 5th waypoint after the Park N Ride) and then deleted the 'bad' pin.  It recalculated the route just as it was intended to be.  Of course, to be absolutely 100% sure, I would have to ride the route again - which I have no plans on doing any time soon. But it does look much better as I zoom in on that location.

Oh -- and yes, the only "directions" I heard on the ride tonight were actual turns - never mentioned a waypoint the entire evening.  So absolutely no confusion and no waypoint-notifications, 100 feet before a turn.

So once again, my $16 "Garmin" is doing everything the fancy Garmins do.  So far, I am quite happy with it.
 

To Garmin or not ... part 3   Bill Taylor | 6/15/2017

Scott will be leading a ride tonight to Space Aliens and I will be in the pack.  The good part is that I won't be leading so I can test the feature in InRoute for 'pins' that are treated only as "Via Points".  These points should not be spoken - only the turns that we need to take to get us from the starting point to the destination.  Hoping this test is successful since this would solve one of the problems with importing Garmin routes and leading a ride (not knowing that a waypoint is at the same location as a turn).  Will keep you posted.

To Garmin .. or not ... Part 2   Bill Taylor | 6/10/2017

It was while we were at Rosedale Mall that I had some extra time and installed the trial version of InRoute.  The next step was to determine if I could import any of the routes that Tom had put together for the Branson trip.  After a bit of trial and error, I discovered that I could take the attachments from Tom’s emails and save them in Apple’s iCloud.  And from there, I could import them into InRoute.  And that’s where I hit the first obstacle (although a pretty minor one).  The ‘free trial’ version of the software only allowed 10 waypoints (I think that’s what it was) and the first route I imported had a few more than that.  The pop up said I could install a free trial of the Premium version which allows up to 25 waypoints.  I figured this would be fine for any of my routes.  Longer ones could be broken into multiple destinations.  The Premium version is approximately $16 (after taxes and such).  The Pro version is $30 per year and allows up to 100 waypoints.  It appeared that it charged my account right away, but I figured that if I really didn’t want it, I could fight that battle later.  But now I was able to import all of the individual routes that Tom had created.  So the initial requirement has now been met – I can import and see routes that others have created.  The next step was to see how well it actually provided instructions along the way.  And that test would happen the following Saturday.

So I saved some of the previous Saturday after-breakfast routes from the 5-8 Grill to the iCloud and then during breakfast, we decided to ride out to Annandale again.   I had missed that ride before, but some of the people had followed Tom when he led.  I explained that this was an experiment and had no idea how this new app was going to work.  And off we went.  Overall, the test was a success – but we did have two issues.  This app (like most if not all navigators) describes what needs to be done to get you to the next waypoint.  One of the waypoints was only a couple hundred feet before a left turn so as soon as it told me we had passed the waypoint, it told me to turn left.  Not much warning there.  The next issue was basically the same – the waypoint was at an intersection we were supposed to turn.  So as soon as we passed the waypoint, it started recalculating.  I figured resolving those issues would be fairly easy.  If I am taking someone else’s route, then I would review each waypoint to determine if these conditions exist and if so, either move the ‘pin’ or at least remember which waypoints are too close to an actual turn.  Turns out there is a better resolution.

Now – the next test would be the Branson trip – to make sure it followed all the routes exactly as Tom created them. 

The first day was going to be a bit of a challenge, since the Day 1 route started at the ride point and several of us were actually riding down to Albert Lea the day before.  We would meet up with them at the first gas stop.  So, on Wednesday as we met the two bikes coming down from the cities at the gas stop, I brought up the route and it asked me if it should proceed to the second waypoint.  Great!  It recognized that I was already in the middle of the route.  And it gave me all the correct directions to the hotel we spent that night.  It seems to give warnings 2-miles out, 1 mile out and just before the turn.

For the rest of the trip, the application basically worked just fine.  There were user errors (like forgetting to tap ‘go’) and there were times when the starting point was not quite at the hotel, which seemed to cause it some confusion.  However, there was one time in which a road was under water and no longer passable so we had to determine how to get back on track after our unplanned detour.  For InRoute, I just told it to skip the next waypoint and get me back on track.  It seemed to work great, but it might have just been an easy detour to resolve.

Along the breaks on these routes, we discussed how the Garmin has two types of points – places to actually stop, and places that are used only to force the route in a particular direction.  The Garmin does not announce the direction points – only the rest stops and final destination.  After some investigation, it turns out that InRoute supports the same feature.  So I can edit the waypoints and tell it not to announce it and this should resolve the issue I experienced on that first Saturday ride.  But it needs to be tested.

And then, of course, there is the issue of creating routes on my own.  Since I don’t have a Garmin (that works anyway), I need something other than BaseCamp.  The app does allow routes to be created on the phone, but I don’t see that as a very efficient method of creating fun routes.  There are two websites that I’ve found that do this for free.  I’m sure there are dozens of other ones.  They are the Honda Trip Planner (http://tripplanner.honda.com/#/) and the Harley Davidson Ride Planner (http://www.harley-davidson.com/content/h-d/en_US/home/owners/plan-your-ride/hd-ride-planner-overview.html) I have not used either one extensively yet, but it appears that I am leaning towards the Honda version.  I can easily import routes from my computer into the application, modify them and create new routes. 

So, for about $16, I now have a “Garmin-like” device on my phone that does everything that a normal Garmin can do (at least that I know of).  It also supports an option to create ‘curvy’ routes and is supposed to warn me about weather conditions on the route as I am travelling.  So far, those features and tons of others, have not been exercised yet.  For a quick route I created just for the heck of it, it even knew that Bunker Lake Boulevard is closed due to construction and routed around it. So, for people with iPhones and no Garmin – I highly recommend this application.  It appears that it is also supposed on Android phones – but someone else will have to investigate that.

The end … for now.

To Garmin .. or Not To Garmin   Bill Taylor | 6/7/2017

For years, if you wanted to create a route that was fun to ride instead of the quickest path between two points, you had to go out and purchase a Tom Tom, Garmin or some other device that provided some means of creating a multi-point route.   Initially, you had to periodically purchase updated maps.  Then they allowed people to purchase unlimited maps to eliminate the need to buy updates every year.  Now, you could update the maps as soon as an update was provided.  Of course, maps like these are always inaccurate as soon as you get them loaded due to the constant road construction.

My Garmin started having issues years ago that made it difficult (or impossible) to create a route and get it loaded onto the device.

And while that was happening, phones became smarter and smarter.

Several years ago, we started using an application called Waze to find the quickest route to our destination.  There are no maps to purchase, download or install.  The maps are updated constantly, by the people that are using it.  The other major benefit over a Garmin-type device is its ability to capture real time traffic speeds.  Every phone that has the app is sending its speed and location to the main computer system.  As more and more people use the app and share their information, the data becomes more and more accurate.  A couple years ago when I changed jobs and had to drive from Andover to Richfield, it took me on a different route every day of the first week, since the quickest route was different every day.  One day it changed the route just after I got onto 694 and told me to get off the highway.  It then proceeded to take me on side roads I had never seen before.  But when I got onto 94 East, I was past all of the congestion.  This is how technology should work – actually make our lives better!

Now that we have a phone that can steer us around the congestion accurately (the vast majority of the time), it was time to look for an app that did the same thing my trusty Garmin did when it was trusty.  I found one from Garmin and they were charging $60 for it.  In my mind, that was a reasonable price as it would be taking the place of a separate device.  The only piece missing was the ability to use it with Base Camp.  All of my route definitions had to be on the phone.  Nope – too much work.  And how would I share them with anyone else?  So the search continued.

Along comes a ride to Branson along with 4 ‘day trips’ while we are there and I still don’t have a way to be ‘connected’ like everyone else on the ride.  I found two apps – Scenic and InRoute. 

I played with Scenic for a bit, but ended up installing a trial version of InRoute. And after the Branson trip, I am hooked.

To be continued ….

Lessons learned from my first long-distance Road Captain experience this past weekend.   Bill Taylor | 5/2/2016

It was supposed to be a nice day to ride come Sunday, so at our dinner social last week, I volunteered to put together a ride even though I knew I was going to be rather swamped between Thursday and Sunday with work and the Spring Ops meeting.

I worked Thursday after the social and Friday morning was quite hectic.  But once I got my portion of the work done, and had a chance to breathe again, I Googled ‘top motorcycle roads in MN’ and found one that I thought would work – the Welch Village Twisties.  So, I plotted a course through Hastings, Prescott, Red Wing, through Welch, back to Hastings to Afton and then White Bear Lake.  Saturday ‘day’ was the Spring Ops meeting.  Saturday evening was looking for road construction and coming up with alternate routes in case they were needed.  Was not very impressed with Wisconsin’s 511 page, but MN’s did help.  It took me a very long time to make sure WI-35 was not going to be dug up on the portion we would be riding.

So Sunday comes and I think I know where I’m going.  But, because I was so focused on construction impacts, I never did figure out good places to stop for gas/stretch or lunch.  And of course, there was no way to pre-ride it.  I did use Google Maps quite a bit to review the stretches of roads that I was not sure of in which turns were required.  But the road to Prescott?  Heck no – taken it dozens of times!  The roads through Red Wing to stay on 61?  Nope – there are signs and I’ve gone that way dozens of times!  I even knew about the construction in Red Wing.

We managed to navigate the highways all the way to 10 and did manage to work around a Mustang that seemed intent on being in the lane we wanted to move in to.   And then the first oh –oh.  Is that the turn to Prescott?  Announce it.  And then realize – nope; it’s the next turn signal.  Then ask for suggestions to stop for gas and stretch our legs in Red Wing instead of already having it picked out – along with the confusion that comes with making pit stops on the fly.  Found our way to Welch and up through Hastings and over to Afton but not quite sure of the location of the restaurant.  In addition, one of our members hit 100k so he pulled over for the Kodak moment.  We had been in good communication as the mile marker approached, so we all knew he would re-unite in Afton at the restaurant – that I didn’t know the name of or specific location.  So when we pulled into the parking lot, I pulled into the first spot I found so I could be close to the street to watch for him and told him where we were.  But – I should have asked the new tailgunner to stop along the shoulder and watch for him.  The old “bread crumb” strategy where the last person in the pack waits for the rider behind to signify our last turn.  And then, as we headed for White Bear Lake knowing that one of our members was peeling off at Stillwater, I should have suggested that he be at the end of the pack instead of bike number 2.  And – I should have been more familiar with exactly where we were turning to join 95 before jumping onto 36.  And then I should have used Google Maps again to review the Manning street exit.  Another one of those intersections I had seen 100’s of times.  But this time (after all the construction), there were signs for 5 and 16 and the uncertainty sinks in – have they ‘changed’ the signs for Manning to reflect the county highways now or is it still down the road.  A rider tells me it’s the traffic light and it is exactly as I remember.  Off to 96 and we get one car between us and the rest of the riders and instead of informing the second bike that I am going to slow down and let the car pass us, I just slow down and start waving.  Not sure what the second bike was thinking, but I lucked out and no one got hurt.  And then off to the McDonalds for our last stop to let everyone finish the day as they desire.  And I don’t quite leave enough room for the bikes to back into the parking spots.

So I was reminded of several responsibilities of the road captain on this trip and I hope the next ride I lead is less ‘eventful’.  But that’s not the only reason I am confessing to all of this.  It’s also to let others know that this can be a learning experience – you don’t have to be perfect to lead a ride.  The other riders will still enjoy most of it since they are still out on the bike and they are still finding some twisty roads and they are still getting a chance to share a meal with other bikers, tell stories, make fun of each other – and laugh.  And if you make a few mistakes along the way, chalk it up as more experience and learn from your mistakes.  But in the end, it’s about getting people out there to share the ride with you.

And now – if you were one of those riders, feel free to reply to this email or (even better) add comments to this blog on our website!

Thanks for reading!

4-night trip to Volksmarch!!!   Bill Taylor | 3/9/2016

Hey,
Chapter O is planning a ride to the Black Hills in South Dakota on June 2nd through June 6th. This will be a 5 day trip leaving on Thursday returning on Monday.
We will be staying in motels 4 nights.
Several people have done this ride in the past and one of our members makes this an annual event. 
We plan to try to leave early on Thursday and take many short breaks along the way figuring some may not have a lot of riding time in yet.
We figure to reach The Black Hills on Friday and ride the area.
On Saturday we plan to do the Volksmarch at Crazy Horse monument in the morning and ride the hills in the afternoon.
You can find out further information on a Volksmarch at the following link, https://crazyhorsememorial.org/crazy-horse-volksmarch.html

Sunday we plan to ride the hills a little and then start our trip back home.
Monday afternoon we would be back home.
We need to try to get commitments now of those who want to go on this trip so we can figure the size of the group. We need to find available motel rooms.
So if you want to seriously be a part of this trip please send an email to director@gwrra-mno.org

We would also like to know if you are willing to ride the freeways to make time and click off miles to get to the destination faster.

What year is it?   Bill Taylor | 2/20/2016

Year of the Ride!

In China, this is the “Year of the Monkey”.  In Minnow-land, this is the Year of the Ride!

Yes – if you want to RIDE your motorcycle in 2016, you will want to watch our calendar this year!  There will be more information published here as soon as I can get all my notes together from our planning meeting and send them out.  So watch our website for updates!  You'll be sorry if you don't!

A Special Saturday Breakfast   Bill Taylor | 1/30/2016

These are the people that met for breakfast this morning.  Scott told us about his excitement down in Fayetteville, Earl is growing a new head of hair with a twist and Bill thought he would be funny and ordered his OJ with Malibu, forgetting that there is a bar attached to the restaurant.  Oops.  We also sang Happy Birthday to Amy and we did such a good job that the table next to us asked us to sing it to Linda (and we obliged!)  At the end of the meal, our waiter brought the birthday girl (also known as the Diet Pepsi girl) a special desert with a candle – so we all sang Happy Birthday again!


Blog Post Archive »