Data and Cartography

This article is not about Mapping (figuring out how to program data where you want to go).  This article is all about Cartography data (which is making maps of where you have been).

There is a lot of data you get from traveling on a motorbike and most of it is never referenced after the trip.  What I hope to show in this article is how some of that data is cool and what you can do with it.  I will be using GPX files from my SPOT but you could just as easily use track data from a GPS.

My favorite all time data mapping software was Microsoft MapPoint 2013; however Microsoft doesn’t make it any longer and I might be the last person to have a copy.  I will be using it to compare how I used to map the data to the new tools you can actually get your hands on today.

GPX data in MapPoint 2013


MapPoint 2013 showing Territories data

MapPoint was great for showing what State you had covered on your bike and what roads you took to get there.  But since its not around what should you use.  For territories you should use Microsoft Office ProPlus Excel 2016 or later.

States Maps in Excel

How to generate Map Data in Excel

Launch Microsoft Office ProPlus Excel and go to the “Insert “Tab and then click the “Maps” icon.

data and map of states

MapPoint was actually a bit painful to create territories, but with the latest version of Excel it is remarkably easy and actually gives you more controls to map your data.

How to get where you have been from the SPOT website.

First thing is you need to do this as soon as possible because I’m not sure how long they hang on to data.

Spot – My Locations
Spot – Download – Advance Download
Spot – Date Range – Tracks – GPX – Export

The graphics above show you step by step the best way to grab exactly the data you want to work with. Find “My Data” at the top of the page and select it.  Next at the bottom of the page you will find “Download” with “Advance Download” which you will want to select.  Finally choose your date range, at least check “Track” and make sure you pick “GPX” files and click “Export”.

Garmin BaseCamp

From here on out you will want to use Garmin Basecamp which you can download from Garmin. When I first started using Basecamp I didn’t like it a whole lot however Garmin has made a lot of updates to the software and its actually pretty good to use now.  So if you have given up on it in the past – try it again.

Import GPX to Garmin Basecamp

The best way to map out where you have been is to take your GPX file and import it into Garmin Basecamp.

Garmin Basecamp GPX clean view

To make the view of your tracks look a little cleaner the first step is to lower the map detail in Garmin Basecamp to “Lower”.

You will also want to select your imported track and change the color to make it stand out from the standard color of the roads on the map.

Basecamp – GPX data and color

You will also notice a lot of summary data about your trip.  For example this one says I break the speed limit and covered 1,866 miles over 5 days covering an area of 64,595 square miles.

Garmin Basecamp – Track – Graph

The Graph is a pretty cool and interactive way to look at the GPX data in Garmin Basecamp.  It shows a chart with your Millage on the X axis and your Speed on the Y axis.
You can click on the chart and it will simultaneously show your position on the track of the map.  I put a red arrow on the graphic to attempt to illustrate this.  This you can see is an Interstate run as I would get up to 80 MPH and stay there until I slow down for Fuel or going through a town and the get going again.

Hopefully you can go and use this to capture and review trips you have taken and I hope you found this useful.

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