My BaseCamp Coding Method


Premier Member
IBR Finisher
This is a cut and paste of a thread I posted on the FarRider forum a couple of years ago, so many of you may have seen it before. With the increased interest in rallying downunder it may be a starting point for some riders.


Overall everyone does it differently, but most have the same goal and that is to have waypoints on the computer screen and GPS that show the parameters:

- Points value;
- Time availability;
- A quick reference to the rallybook; and
- The bonus location name.

The waypoints become coloured markers with different shapes, depending on the above parameters so that they make sense when looking at the computer map, each with an alphanumeric code name.

You may have come across Jim Owen's article on this stuff in the IBA magazine from a couple of years ago. Jim doesn't seem to take credit for the 'Jim Owen' technique that so many riders use, because he learned it from a bunch guys before him, simplified and refined it. Guys like the late Curt Gran and Rick and Jean Miller .

There are a bunch of programs the US guys use apart from Streets and Trips and MapSource which are alternatives to BaseCamp. Ez-Bake, Ebonusesi, EZ-Type, GPSU, G7toWin are a few. ( Tim ‘HardTXRider’ Masterson has some videos on Youtube and some links on his blog (

These programs crunch the numbers and prepare the data for upload to BaseCamp, MapSource or Streets &Trips, plus can instantly add up the points for the route. Maybe TYRE also, but I don’t use that program.

I only use BaseCamp, so that is all I’ll mention here. I ran the 2012 Butt Lite Rally having only ever entered data into BaseCamp once before – perhaps a dumb move depending on your view – simply because I wanted to experience the riding aspects of a US rally, rather than the computer part. Preparing for the 2013 Iron Butt Rally I had to explore the computer navigation and dabbled in the range of programs above. After doing so I made the decision in March 2013 to use just BaseCamp as I found a way to make it work for me.

In the following examples I’ll draw upon Annette “Lady Cuddles” Cudlin’s Call to Arms Rally. Annette provided a truly top-class document along with the .txt, .gpx and .gdb files.

A few notes on the parameters:

Points Value - once you have the The Call to Arms rallybook , scan/look at the whole 200 waypoints to get a sense of the spread of points. For me that would give 4 bands. Personally, I call these bands MAD, MED,MID,MUD depending on their value. Others may call the VERY HIGH, HIGH, MEDIUM , LOW. Don't worry about the semantics, I'm just after a way I can stratify. Like most riders, I'll be planning to use mainly the MAD/Very High waypoints to form the skeleton of the route. Take care with the numbers. If the highest scoring bonus is 1450 points and the lowest is 23 points, I would code them as 1450 and 0023 respectively. The program may otherwise order the 23 higher than the 14xx

Availability - day/ night/all hours/restricted hours etc. Restricted may be business hours etc.
I use ‘D’ for day, ‘A’ for anytime and if it is say nine to five I type “9to1700”.

Rallybook reference- the rallybook will usually have page numbers and each waypoint will be simply numbered 1 to 200 or so. In my data entry system I make a quick decision on which I will use. If there are 45 pages in the rallybook like the Call to Arms with a total 200 bonus locations, I would use a page number code. If there was essentially just a list of 200 bonus locations over just 3 or 4 pages, I would code the bonus location number on the list. The idea is that when you are on the side of the road and read a waypoint code on your map or GPS, you should be able to quickly find the bonus location instructions on the correct page in the rallybook.

Name- the short 3 or 4 letter/number the rallymaster calls the bonus location. I understand that Greg Rice, a top rally rider and generous routing mentor does not use the name (eg WABS) at all. He refers to the waypoint only by his coded name.

I then decide on how I will create the new Waypoint name by arranging the parameters accordingly. There are at least 24 ways to arrange them, but I would only use a couple:


Points has to come first in my method. Where the availability and page sit does not matter to me. The name may be more important if the rally has ‘threads’. Threads are a group of waypoints that are somehow related. The Call to Arms had heaps of ‘threads’ – The Royal Hotels, the cannon, castles etc. Altering the NAME to include the thread makes it easier to keep track.

So I used method (a) for the Call to Arms.
My data entry skills are poor, so my keyboard shortcuts help me save a few minutes if I can use method (b) above, my usual preference.

A few notes on colours and shapes.

BaseCamp has lots of little icons available to use so you will be able to find what suits your eye. There are 2 basic ways to approach this:
a) Some, like me, use different colours for the 4 value bands, and different shapes for the availability.
e.g. Red for VERY HIGH, Yellow for HIGH, Green for MEDIUM, Blue for LOW.
CIRCLE for any time, FLAG for daytime only, CUBE for restricted hours.

So in this example when I look on the BaseCamp map, I'm mainly looking for Red circles (VERY HIGH points available ANYTIME). I'm not really interested in Blue cubes, unless my route goes past the front door of the Blue cube bonus location.

b) Others reverse that. Like Tim Masterson I think. Different shapes for the points and different colours for the availability.
e.g. Circle for VERY HIGH, Flag for HIGH, Square for MEDIUM, Triangle for LOW.
Blue for daytime, red for anytime, yellow for restricted time.
That rider is coincidently also looking on their map for Red Circles but is ignoring yellow triangles.

You could instead use faces, letters, numbers, animals… whatever you choose.

How to get the colours and shapes on the map?

This requires lots of data entry, but first some BaseCamp preparation and then with the files sent out by Annette.

Start BaseCamp. Right click on ‘My Collection’ and Create a ‘new list folder’

Rename it Call to Arms

Right click and add some ‘new lists’ and rename them. Here I’m using All, Very High, High, Medium and Low.

Left Click on ‘All’, then left click ‘File’ ‘import into All…’ and browse for the .gpx file called ‘CallToArms-RTM04’ from wherever you saved it after Annette emailed it to you and import it by clicking ‘Open’.

Now the data has come across as 200 little blue flags. Time to start the data entry and change the flags.

Starting with the Call to Arms rallybook with the 200 bonus locations listed and the already uploaded .gpx file, and using the first bonus location called ‘VA’, which are anchors at the Maritime Museum open all hours and with a value of 120 points.
Make sure that ‘All’ is selected up the top left, then look at the list of blue flags on the lower left of the page. Click on any one of them and type ‘VA’(for longer bonus location names eg, ‘BCMM’ just start typing the ‘BC..’) and the waypoint will appear). Click on ‘VA’ and rename it in the format:



Keep working through the rallybook. BaseCamp will automatically be ordering your waypoints as you work. Ascending or descending order can be set by clicking on the ‘cog-wheel’ at the top right of the list you are working on.

Now to change shapes and colours from Annette’s default Blue Flags. Highlight the top 50 VERY HIGH (shift arrow down). If the predominant availability is ‘Anytime’, then hit ‘enter’ which brings up a properties box, and change all of them to “Red Circles” from the ‘display’ dropdown.

Go back to the list and control and click any that are ‘D’ and change them to ‘Red Flags’. Finish the few restricted hours ones as ‘Red cubes”.

Move to the next band of 50 and do it again, this time using my example of Yellow for high. Then Green for medium and finally Blue for low, if you still have time.

Once that is all complete, look at the map and all of the waypoints are now colour and shape coded. Now you may start to ‘see’ a high scoring route, based on the red waypoints as the skeleton. A tip here is to use the map detail setting on ‘lowest’.

To make it even easier, I then look at only the Very High bonus locations in isolation. Click and select all of the very high and drag them to the list prepared earlier called ‘Very High’ and look again.

That process can be applied to all of the other point groups if needed or any combination eg just Very High and High.

The same thing could be done for 'DAYLIGHT ONLY' or 'ANYTIME' if that suited your needs.

Next is the routing stage. Everyone has ‘seen’ a different route though the coloured flags on their screens.

Routes can be created at least 2 ways:
1- from the top toolbar 'New route" button and using the 'pencil gizmo'. I admit that BaseCamp is clunky in this mode. Moving around the screen whilst holding that very unforgiving pencil with your mouse can be hazardous. Hover over your next point and click only when the point is named, otherwise you will route to the fruit shop 100m away or something.

2- by highlighting two or more waypoints from your working list in the bottom left hand panel, right click and 'create route using selected waypoints".

For multiple waypoints, they will not be in a sensible order, just the order they were listed in. By double clicking on the new "route" that has appeared in the list in the bottom left you can alter the order by moving the points up or down and add extra waypoints by clicking the green '+' on the right.

Once the route has been finalised it just needs to be uploaded to the GPS. I use a pair of Garmin Zumo 660s with preloaded maps. Prior to transferring to the GPS I make sure I have recalculated the route using the mapset inside the GPS. That seems to avoid the error situation where the BaseCamp route may have had eg 25 waypoints, but the GPS route only has 17.

My final stage is to use the route properties to create a simple ride plan.

Layovers for rest breaks or anticipated long durations at a given bonus location (like the National Motorcycle Museum at Nabiac) can be added in on this page.

This is then hand written on a pre-prepared and laminated spreadsheet that fits in my map pocket on my tank bag.

This is my one is from the 2013 Iron Butt Rally, but it is the same template.


Premier Member
Really enjoyed 'Drains base camp tutorial in Sydney a couple of years back and would appreciate something like this before the practice rally.


Premier Member
I will sneakily print this off at work during the week and give it a go when I get some time. I have planned a few basic routes in Basecamp but anything with any degree of complexity is a hit and miss guess. Thanks again Peter.