I decided to bring one more piece of electronic equipment: The SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker. Like other GPS systems it receives location information. Unlike conventional GPS, however, it also sends that information or distress calls to satellites, thus actively broadcasting its location even beyond cell-phone coverage.
You buy the device and then purchase an annual locator / tracking service. This can be used as emergency locator service and hence potentially safe lives. That said, the more regular use-case is to track progress automatically: When in tracking mode, the system will attempt to send out its location every 10 minutes and the backend service will update a map with received signals. In the meantime family and friends can follow along in a web browser.
More details can be found on the SPOT website at http://www.findmespot.com.
I tested this on my ride yesterday and it allowed my wife to know where I am several times during the ride. It didn’t work perfectly, the signals aren’t received in exactly the same time intervals, sometimes there are gaps. But it can be expected to give a few dozen points of progress each day on the trip.
My current public tracking page for training rides is here. (For information how to customize, see the Help bar on the left side.) I’ll set up a dedicated tracking site for the Panamerican Peaks project prior to leaving on May 7.