Manually creating a Strava cycling (or running) entry 🚲

I record all my cycling using Strava. However doing so normally requires GPS tracking, for which I use one of my KaiOS phones. However when my phone runs out of batteries or I am carrying something simpler, like my Light Phone (II), I have an alternate way.

More about my Strava usage

Light Phone

To create a basic, manual Strava entry you only need a little information: Start time, Duration and Distance. However, while noting the start and end times with a watch will let you calculate duration, accurate distance is likely an unknown unless you have done the _exact_ route before. Previously I have used things like Google Maps to check the distance but it is annoying to use because it picks a route for you from A to B, rather than you plotting one. Even if you tweak that route it will often complain if you try and make it go a way that it does not consider viable.

My preferred web service for manually mapping a route is OnTheGoMap. It is much easier to plot an accurate route of your journey, rather than one that a service like Google maps recommends. There are other services that let you do this as well but OnTheGoMap is quite nice in that it does not require any signup/login and has a fairly obvious UI with 'just enough' options.


To use, you find your starting location and click, then you pick your mode of travel via the options along the top, middle part of the screen: walk/run, bike, car or straight lines. By clicking along your route a path is laid onto the map. OnTheGoMap will snap to the most obvious locations for your mode of travel, so that walking will prefer foot paths over major roads, biking will like smaller roads and bike paths, and car will only snap to actual roads. The final option (straight lines) allows you to break from the automatic snapping to (known) paths. This is handy for off-road or just to if you feel that the automatic methods are failing. You can also change mode types as you click. This is useful if you cycle part of your route along a shared path that OnTheGoMap thinks is only for pedestrians. Just switch to walking for that section and then click back to cycling when you are done. OnTheGoMap also supports a bunch of keyboard shortcuts as well, e.g. 'r' to toggle between modes or 'z' to undo the last click.

Once complete, you should have a fairly accurate distance calculation (I have compared a manually plotted route with the same route logged via GPS), plus a nice map that you can share. There is a link option in the top right hand corner of the screen that will generate a URL to display the route you plotted (or click 'a' on the keyboard), along with an option to shorten it (via a built in URL shortner). You can also screenshot the map, should you want a visual that you can embed in your Strava entry (I usually do both). Another great feature is the ability to display an 'Elevation profile' by clicking on a little mountain icon on the bottom left hand corner (or use the keyboard shortcut 'e'). This gives you a graph of the hills you encountered. Hovering it lets you check gradients. You can also see your total elevation gain in meters via a little diagonal, zig zagged arrow found on the top, right (of the 'Elevation profile' graph) that points in the same direction (top, right). Elevation (total) is one of the optional values that Strava accepts as in its manual entries.

On my commute to work today, I noted my start (08:59) and end (09:22) times on my watch and with a little manual mapping on my arrival, I obtained the following basic stats.

Distance: 5.59km
Duration: 00:23:00
Elevation: 47m
Time (Start): 8:59am

From that, Strava will then calculate some stuff for you, like average speed, which for this activity was 14.6km/h (a little slow perhaps but I was using a 26″ wheeled unicycle and the traffic lights did not always go in my favour 😉). It will also update your stats to date for clubs and challenges you are part of, along with your yearly and all time user totals.

Map of my morning commute today (OnTheGoMap)

Strava entry for my morning commute today (requires a Strava account to view)

Punching these into Strava's form for manual entries, creating a title for the activity and attaching a screenshot of the map as an overview image probably only took me 5 mins. Not as quick as using the GPS built into many modern devices but entirely doable. 😉

📝 Comment

🔙 Gemlog index

🔝 Capsule index