VeloViewer has a very interesting feature that they call “Explorer Squares”. The idea is simple: They pull in the GPS route from your Strava ride data, plot it out onto a map overlaid with a one square mile grid (approximately), and then “tick off” every square (tile) you’ve reached.
With this game, there are several objectives:
- Maximize your “Explorer Score”, which is the total number of tiles your activities have passed through.
- Maximize your “Max Square”, which is the largest square (e.g. 20×20) grid of tiles in which every tile has been reached.
- Maximize your “Explorer Cluster”, which is the total number of connected squares you’ve visited. A tile is in a “cluster” if each of its four neighbors to the north, south, east, and west have been visited.
The goal of each of these objectives is to encourage riders to explore their world as widely and as thoroughly as possible.
A visual will help explain this:
In this June 2017 screen shot from the Strava Route Builder, the squares I’ve visited are shown in light red. My clusters are shown in light blue, and my max square is outlined in bright blue. In this case, I have two 24×24 max squares, and I’m lacking only a few more tiles to increase the square size.
The thing is, the bigger your max square, the harder it is to reach those tiles on the edge! In addition, there are certain tiles which are extra challenging to reach, due to their location on lakes, on restricted land (e.g. military installations), or on squares through which no public roads pass. It is up to each person’s ingenuity to discover a method to tick off those squares.
In order to play this game, you will need a Strava account, a way to record your rides (i.e. GPS cyclocomputer or smartphone app), and a VeloViewer account. Once you have the data recorded in Strava, and then pulled into VeloViewer, you can then view your activities on a map, and display your Explorer stats. You can also install the VeloViewer browser extension, which can enable Explorer Square display within the Strava Route Builder, as shown above.
Also note that the same Explorer Squares games can be played on monthly and yearly activities! With so many ways to visualize the data, it can be a really fun challenge!
Learn more: VeloViewer Explorer Score and Max Square
Here are my Explorer Square stats, since I began logging my rides via GPS:
- 2013: Explorer Squares = 1252, Max Square = 10, Max Cluster = 152
- 2014: Explorer Squares = 1384, Max Square = 9, Max Cluster = 159
- 2015: Explorer Squares = 1580, Max Square = 5, Max Cluster = 31
- 2016: Explorer Squares = 1261, Max Square = 10, Max Cluster = 200
- 2017: Explorer Squares = 2346, Max Square = 13, Max Cluster = 268
- 2018: Explorer Squares = 841, Max Square = 6, Max Cluster = 65
Lifetime stats (through end of 2018): Explorer Squares = 5952, Max Square = 26, Max Cluster = 1017