This could easily be titled “ride every tile” or “tile grabbing”
I have been a long term fan of the Veloviewer site which extracts your Strava ride data and provides so much more information. Some riders use it to monitor their KOM progress and performance, while my interest is more in the annual distance and route planning. Last year the YCC ton of tons challenge and the introduction of an Explorer tiles count on Veloviewer inspired several riders to take up a new challenge.
Put simply at map zoom level 14 the world map is divide into squares, or tiles. These are almost on a par with the 1Km standard UK explorer series map tiles but bear no resemblance to their location.
When your uploaded Strava ride passes through any part of a tile, you have grabbed it, and it becomes coloured on your progress map. Your map is found on the Activities tab on Veloviewer.
The colour set up is personally configurable, mine above shows the following.
- Red Lines are my rides spreading out from home throughout the Shire.
- Grey squares show the tiles collected by those rides, you can then see which unvisited tiles close by you need to visit.
- The Black Squares show my Max Square score. the largest square of visited tiles. At present I have a 34×34 square with only a few tiles to grab to move to 35×35
- The Yellow splodge is your Max Cluster; A collection of connected tiles where all the other 4 tiles around it to the N.S,E,W have been visited. This was added in 2017 as some riders are physically limited from expanding their square due to the limitations of their location; seas, lakes, mountains etc.
My own self imposed challenge rules have been that the rides must originate from home, I can’t see the point in driving to areas and getting the bike out for a few miles just to claim a tile. Others obviously think differently as their square gets huge. I’m close to needing an overnight base in far flung areas to improve, or taking the train, as it takes 60mile round trip to get a new tile already. My traveling will always begin by bike from home, only involving public transport as I don’t’ own a vehicle. The Tripster with different tyres fitted has proved the ideal tool to grab some tricky off road only tiles, with some needing some inventive routes to reach 😉
This has almost become a sport, VeloViewer provides leader tables for tile grabbers to aspire to and a Strava group Ride Every Tile for riders to discuss ideas has led to some great software tools to help. Completive without having to go fast, sign me up.
Due to my length of time on Strava and the wanderlust I’m right up there on the all-time overall tiles visited, but it will take a concentrated effort to improve on the Max Square and Cluster scores. Big Kudos to Phill Cloke who I battled with for the first Ton of tons rider in 2017 who has covered such a huge area round London.
Out on the bike it can be a trial to make sure that the square you are targeting has actually been reached, nothing worse than getting home to find out you didn’t go far enough down a muddy wooded lane. I used to add waypoints targeting a good way inside the square but this was tedious. Veloviewer have come to the rescue again by directly producing a KML file to view on google maps or a very good free App called Maps.Me. I have also converted the KML file to GPX format and used to view on the Edge1000.
Out there with the Garmin I’m following the black line and the red grid overlay clearly shows I will just grab the Stoughton square no worries. I could have gone Right of my planned route to grab another using Stoughton lane as a quick in and out.
The maps.me App on the phone takes the KML file link without fuss from VeloViewer and allows you to check your live position on your phone.
The phone screen grab on the right shows the same view on my ride approaching Stoughton. Note the phones in airplane mode as the mapping is all free and offline, a very clear view of the squares that require grabbing.
Be warned though you can get carried away just grabbing another tile and find yourself with a long route home.
The KML can also be used on Goggle Earth and GPXtoKML can be used to provide a quick share link to Google maps shown above. (It does have an expiry time limit though) I wonder how far a circular route round the outside of my cluster is, more planning to do.
In planning rides I use Chrome as a browser and the excellent VeloViewer Chrome Extension for Strava extension. With this installed when you plan a route in Strava the unvisited tiles show up clearly which certainly encourages some diversions on longer trips.
The UK view shows plenty or areas I need to explore more, as well as the common routes to fun. I have a very low Cluster score despite my large tile score because I ride away from home more. the big cluster score guys seem less adventurous.
Maybe one day in the far future The Wash to the North East will impede my max square score, now that will be a huge score; Happy tile grabbing.
Update Hot news:
Ben at Veloviewer has improved the Strava route plugin and you can export the KML direct from a Strava route planning window. It exports the KML for all the unvisited tiles for your current view. Hit the create button shown then it prompts you to export the file and can be used in maps.me or converted to GPX. Here I’m planning a Biggleswade attack.