Get Lost but Make Sure Someone Knows Where You’re at: Spot Connect

Jan 17, 2013 View Comments by

Get Lost but Make Sure Someone Knows Where You're at: Spot Connect

Get Lost! These words can seem harsh when delivered to you by someone else. But, when you say it to yourself it can be pure heaven! The trick to getting lost properly is to have good maps, a GPS, and in today’s modern age, a SPOT Connect.

At first it seemed like an expensive novelty not destined for this part-time techno-geek’s saddlebags. However, after some research I realized it fills an emotional as well as practical need. Because I tend to ride long distances, off-road and alone, it was just the peace of mind I needed to keep my marriage intact. In that regard, the price is negligible and it has become essential to my rides.

The SPOT offers numerous safety features but it is also a great way to connect (pun intended) to some amazing detours thanks to riders following my routes via Twitter or Facebook.

Nuts and Bolts (diodes and transistors)

There are two main versions of the SPOT. One is a completely stand-alone unit while the other is controlled with your smart phone. I prefer the smart phone version; it allows for custom messaging and is easy to control with the free Android or iOS app. Either solution requires the purchase of hardware and a yearly subscription to the service.

A Beautiful Detour

On my very first SPOT accompanied adventure I was heading from Colorado to the California Coast. Rachel, aka, Fuzzy Galore, one of the coolest rider-bloggers out there from Long Island, NY saw my SPOT Twitter Post. She suggested that I find and ride the so-called “lost road.” Thanks to my maps I located its entrance just outside Ferndale, CA, by its official name, Mattole Road. Talk about a coast-to-coast connection!

The road is ever changing. Steep twisty climbs and deep drops lined with lush trees. Beware; the potholes can be as hazardous for a motorcycle as the seaside rock spurs along the shore are for passing ships. But they keep it interesting. Along the way, picturesque lighthouses, such as Punta Gorda, continue to protect seafaring travelers. Before long I drift away from the shoreline towards old bridges and farms where zebras and goats are found playing together. Talk about a trip!

Twitter to the rescue . . . or in this case Ben’s Wife.

While I have not yet needed the SPOT for an emergency, it has helped me find fellow lost riders. Each year for the past six years, my friends Ben, Bill, and I have done one epic 2,000 to 3,000-mile ride together. On one such trip we were entering southern New Mexico from Texas outside Carlsbad Caverns. As they sped up ahead of me they unfortunately missed a turn on our route (If you read enough of my posts, you will see that missing turns is a common occurrence with these two chaps). Moments later, I made the turn, assuming they had as well, and reached our scheduled destination where they were nowhere to be found. With no cell coverage I spent 45 minutes backtracking and searching.

Then it occurred to me, we often have several hundred folks watching our progress in real-time through SPOT’s Tracker Page. If I sent a status to Facebook and Twitter through my SPOT someone could see it and alert my speedy companions to my whereabouts. I sent a “I lost the guys, they missed the turn” message (SPOT Automatically included my location) Ben’s wife Dawn received it, left him a voicemail, and when they were in cell range they heard it and returned to my location. This was where two-way communication would have been ideal, but it was not available.

Tips  (aka lessons I learned the hard way and now share with you) 

1)    If you subscribe to the ride tracker service be aware that rides are only stored for the past seven days. You must download them before that time or you will lose them.

2)    If you are using the Bluetooth phone controller version, remember to connect to start tracking and then disconnect. The device will continue to track. Failure to do so will quickly drain the battery.

3)    Only use the recommended lithium batteries. They can last for days or weeks depending on the number of transmissions you send and whether or not you are using real-time tracking, compared with mere hours from alkaline batteries.

4)    You must reestablish tracking every time tracking stops, or if the device is turned off, such as overnight.

5)    Communication is only outgoing, so if you are in a remote area, you can let everyone know you are safe or reach emergency services. However, if you are out of cell range you will have no way of knowing if anyone has seen your message.

6)    There are always deals online for the SPOT Connect. A few quick searches can mean the difference between paying $99 dollars or over $200.

7)    Inexpensive and lifesaving features that can automatically notify Emergency services are a mere $12.95 per year for $100k in rescue coverage.

8)    Click here or a full list of features and current pricing.

The SPOT connect is an excellent solution to let family and friends know where you are even when you might not know yourself. It may introduce you to a detour, assist you out of a jam, or even help to save your life. It is the ultimate companion for those who seek to avoid going anywhere . . . and desire to go somewhere!

Do you have a SPOT adventure of your own? Please take a moment to share it below.

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About the author

I am an introvert posing as an extrovert. I love travel in all forms, but prefer 2-wheels. I created AdventureHermit as a way to share my adventures and inspire others to find joy through discovery; writing for RoadRUNNER is a dream come true!