Friday, March 20, 2009

Redwing19 IBA route planning -- Google to the rescue

I need to identify stop points along the 1000 mile IBA route Redwing19 has laid out. I know that my Valkyrie with a topped off tank and at semi-legal speeds will go about 120 or so miles before I hit reserve. So, I want to find specific stop points, aka way points, in the vicinity of interstate ramps or road intersections to increase the likelihood of being near a gas station.

Google maps and Google docs.

Fire up any browser. I use Firefox because it allows multi-tabbed viewing of different web sites simultaneously. In one of the tabs, I went to Google maps and entered the starting point address.

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Then, I right clicked anywhere on the map and chose 'Directions to here'.

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Google maps does just what you'd expect: It enters the address as the start point and the destination is where you clicked. Driving directions are shown to the left of the map (on the Google map page, not on the inset above). Pay attention to the distance traveled.

Zooming out a bit to show more of the map, I dragged the "B" marker along the designated route. When the Google route, shown as a blue overlaid line or track, didn't follow the designated route, I clicked anywhere on the blue track and dragged it back to the designated route. This puts a "via-point" along the Google track ensuring the directions and distance correspond to the designated route.

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Dragging the "B" marker down I-95 and around I-295 to I-64E, I found exit 205 to be about 130 miles from the start point. Perfect.

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Using the Google maps gadget Position Finder, I found the latitude and longitude of this first way point. Here's what I got: 37.51613o,-77.18977o. I'll use this information in my GPS unit later.

I need somewhere to store all of this information. I opened another Firefox tab and went to Google Docs. I created a new spreadsheet and stored the data in columns. In addition to the lat, lon, I recorded Google's distance and time estimates. Check it out:

To find the next way point, I switched the start and destination points and repeated the steps. The spreadsheet above shows all of the way points I'll be using for my route. You can see that summing all of the distances gives 1039 miles which is very close to the Redwing19's estimate of 1036. Google thinks I can do this distance in a bit over 17 hours. When I add my 20-min break times, I get almost 20.5 hours. If I left at 6am, I'll get back around 2:30am. Close to my previous rough estimate.

My next post will focus on getting this information into a format my Garmin 450 Zumo GPS can read.

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