Man wins GPS art contest with incredible moose cycling route

moose route highlighted on a map of downtown Toronto for cycling contest winner Photo by Mason Zeinali

Although cycling may appear to be an independent activity, the clubs and group rides that make up the cycling community are very tight knit. Unfortunately, just like any other activity with a social aspect, changes have been made this year due to COVID-19. Taking away the ability to host events, such as group rides, many clubs have taken to hosting online events. The University of Toronto Road Racing Club recently held an online contest where members had to make “GPS art” using the mobile app Strava. Strava is used by cyclists (and runners) to track their time, speed, elevation and route they take on a ride or run. That last part, the route the cyclist takes is the important part for making GPS art, and that’s where we meet our artist, Mason Zeinali.

Zeinali participated in the contest downtown Toronto, and his route took on the shape of a moose, a very accurate moose at that. In order to get such a good path of travel, Zeinali found an image of a moose, outlined it, and transferred it to Google Earth to start planning his route.

He cycled a total of 101km—44 km making the moose and 57 km along the waterfront to act as a signature. With a couple of minor changes due to closed streets and construction the whole ride took a total of 7 hours and 19 minutes to complete.

The entire back of the moose is one street, Davenport. Since this was a contest held by University of Toronto, Zeinali wanted to make sure his route passed through the university campus not once, but twice.

Although Zeinali was relying on his phone to track his route, he also had a backup plan in case his phone battery died. He printed off the map of the moose in 6 different sections and brought it with him to manually track his route.

When asked which was harder, planning the ride or actually completing the ride, Zeinali said that planning the ride took longer because matching such a complex design to streets was no easy task.

It all paid off in the end, Zeinali and the other winner, Truman Hung (who cycled a route to make Sherlock Holmes) both ended up walking (riding) away with new biking caps. Zeinali also ended up attracting much more attention then he expected and has a lot of new fans on Strava.

We’re excited to see what’s next in the world of cycling GPS art. Fingers crossed for a beaver, a maple leaf, or maybe even a loon.

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