Open Source and Cycling

I love both Open Source and Cycling, but the 2 do not ofen meet. In fact the cycling industry is incredibly secretive and dominated by patents. It is one of the major reasons that it is very hard to enter the groupset market (for roadies there are 3 major brands, for MTBers only 2). SRAM recently completely changed the way derailleur shifting worked with their new eTap electronic groupset, basically to work around Shimano's patent library. I haven't tried it, but by all accounts it is excellent (for the price it should be), but still it is a little silly.

Also, the GPS market is really dominated by Garmin, for the simple reason that that they make an excellent product. Many people record their rides on a Garmin, then upload it to Strava - also closed source.

The FLOSS world has been quite slow on the uptake with all this. There is Golden Cheetah, but that is a desktop program that uses QT. That is fine for those that use KDE, but for anyone that uses a GTK based DE then it sets the OCD twitching (maybe that is just me). Also, it is tied to a single machine. I like to upload my rides both at work and at home, so a web-based solution is ideal. There was Openfit-API, but that is now dead - the name has even been taken by some US government initiative.

The next problem is the GPS devices themselves. These devices, but their very definition, track you everywhere you go. In many cases they are also cloud-enabled, so are broadcasting your position too. I am not saying for a minute that Garmin, Mio, Strava et al are selling constant updates of our position to taxi companies so they can run us over, but the fact is we have no idea what they are doing in reality. In fact, Runkeeper have been caught doing nefarious things.

The fact is that Strava and co offer an excellent service - I myself use it regularly. Even the free tier is plenty good enough for the keen (or even competetive) cyclist. One has to remember though why they are able to offer such a service for free - the product is you and me.

So what solutions are there? At the moment none really. An open source GPS does not exist. I have found one open source sports tracker for Android, but so far have found it a bit underwhelming. It certainly does not offer any self-hosted analysis, which is why one would want to record the rides in the first place. I am hopeful that is could work though - maybe I will insist with it.

What is missing is a web-based analysis tool that I can host myself. I have a project on the backburner to fill this hole. Its working title is Ryder, which I admit is a crap name so any suggestions would be welcome. Currently I am ashamed to put it in the public eye, but watch this space...

The next thing missing is a device for recording the rides. Why not use a phone? Well GPS hits the battery hard. I have on a couple of occassions been a few hours in a ride that I am recording on my phone. I have had a problem and have needed to call my wife for help or just tell her I'm going to be late, only to find that the battery is dead. Also, I do not like having my phone on my handlebars, so I cannot see what it happening.

What is needed is a truly open source device that can:

A few years ago, this would have been a challenge. Nowadays, thanks to the Raspberry Pi the choices are plenty. In fact, I have been looking at Olimex who seem to do everything that I need.

All those parts are completely open source. In theory they could be used to build a complete GPS that can track your rides, then send them to whatever you want over Bluetooth.

Am I going to take this on? Perhaps, although right now I do not have time, but maybe ... I hope so at least.