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Rolling with Rhonda

Richard Kelly

VISUAL Route Following
There are some challenges with following a route visually on a phone or device on one’s
handlebar. (Some riders download route maps to a specialty device: e.g. Garmin, Wahoo,
Bryton). The biggest challenge is diminished safety: we should surely watch ahead as much
as possible. And some riders need to put on reading glasses to view something close. And a
screen that dynamically shows a route chews battery. But auto screen-blanking to save
battery means some action is needed to refresh the screen, even a password-entry for some
people, or maybe removal of a full-fingered glove!

I swear by my Samsung S22+ on a Quad Lock mount and my multi-focal lenses. My screen
blanks quickly but can be refreshed with a touch. The battery lasts many hours of route-
following. If I expect rampant photography plus all-day route-following, I carry a power-

AUDIO Route Following
“Rhonda” is my name for RwGPS’s voice calling the route cues, much like Natalie of Navman
or Tootsie of Tom Tom. Rhonda’s name is inspired by the Beach Boys’ “Help me, Rhonda!”.
If Rhonda’s on song, it’s surely safer to be guided by Rhonda than look down at the map. But challenges include hearing Rhonda (wind noise at 40+kph?, noise from traffic or conversation), Rhonda’s timing may be off, and the cues may be sus. Hearing can be improved with Bluetooth and earphones/buds, but please don’t block other sounds without first hearing my story of the unheard ambulance-siren.

Cues in RwGPS
Cues are generated automatically when a route is created. But some auto-generated cues
are bad. (E.g., if a normal-looking four-way intersection has misaligned kerbs). Cues can be
customized, a tedious and often neglected part of route creation. Fortunately, patient cue-
customization has applied for most of BN’s routes, including the massive initial conversion
of BN’s routes to RwGPS. (Heroes included Alison, Andrew E, Darryn, Gautam, Gerrit, Geoff
Y, Trevor).

Rhonda’s Help
If you’re on the same road awhile, Rhonda gives a 500-metre warning of a turn. She also
announces when the turn is “nearing” (30 metres?). Sometimes, if you’re speeding or
satellite tracking isn’t pinpoint, Rhonda can be too late, or too early and there’s an
unwanted turn just before the wanted one. If turning onto a road, Rhonda WILL tell that
road name. If she doesn’t say a road-name, it’s a turn onto a path.

At a turn, Rhonda also gives an “Advance” warning of the NEXT turn. So, you hear
something like “Turn left onto Smith Street, then turn right”. Beware that the route’s
subsequent right-turn might NOT be the first right after that specified left turn, nor even
second or third. You need to wait for the detailed “nearing” turn instruction. To minimize
confusion, some route-plotters remove the second turn’s cue and change the first cue to a
combined instruction, such as “Turn left … then immediate right …”. If this “Advance”
feature is doing you more harm than good, turn it off (see below).

Rhonda’s “Advance” warning is a simple word or two-word phrase. Presumably because
roundabouts sometimes have more than three exits, the default Advance warning is
“Straight”, regardless of the actual route direction! The “nearing” cue is “At roundabout,
take the third (say) exit onto …”. That has problems if the route has gone the wrong way
around the roundabout(!), or a road into the roundabout has a wide centrestrip, or an
“island” adjacent to the roundabout, causing RwGPS to double-count. Again, diligence with
cue-customization hopefully avoids those problems on the Bike North database.

The World Changes!

Beware that some Bike North routes may not reflect CURRENT road and path networks. Not
only might there now be better/worse infrastructure versus when the Route was
created/updated, but some sections/turns might now be illegal. It’s a battle for volunteers
to maintain our vast library.

Rhonda’s Emoting
If you ride off-course, Rhonda will emit a cranky(?) “ding dong” sound, and repeat that every
few minutes you’re off-course. When you’re back on-course, she’ll happily(?) emit a single
“ding ding dang”. RwGPS has recently added a re-navigate option, like a car-nav/Google
system. I’ve been surprised at some such re-navigation advice, but haven’t much tested re-
nav as I typically know where I’m going when differing from the plotted course.

Changing Navigation Settings

The above has described certain default RwGPS settings. You can turn off some “features”
on your phone by clicking “More” (bottom right of Home screen), Settings, Navigation. At
top of that screen, you can increase the distance for Rhonda’s “nearing” warning via “Alert

Rhonda Chorus

When FOLLOWING on a group ride, especially with Bike North, beware audio-polluting for
fellow-riders with unnecessary use of Rhonda. If trying to build your Rhonda “experience”,
or distrusting your Leader , turn your phone’s Media volume down to barely audible. A
Rhonda chorus can be annoying, but useful among a few “mates” riding a little-known
route, if the front rider mis-hears Rhonda.

To really go nuts, be using Rhonda, full volume, AND ask Google Maps app for the
same/similar route. Then unleash Google’s Gertrude vs Rhonda!

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