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Old 05-30-12, 08:25 PM   #1
Mort Canard
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What do folks use to map rides?

I have tried paper maps, Google maps, Mapquest and the "Map My Ride" website. So far I have not found any really good way to figure out good routes. All of the above will leave out perfectly good paved roads and more to the point a lot of them will try to send me down gravel roads on my road bike with 700Cx23 tires. Google maps seems to be particularly bad about this. Google also claims they have their bike route maps in beta testing but the product has a ways to go to be very useful. I usually have to torture their mapping routine to get a good route in areas that I know what the roads are like.

In my area Mapquest seems to be the best of the lot although they don't show every paved road.

Map my ride ends up being mostly a big klunky website that is an enormous memory hog and unless somebody has already published routes in your area does not provide much useful new information.

Rand McNally and other paper maps don't usually have much information on the scale that cyclists need. On a state map you end up trying to map your route in an area the size of a few postage stamps.

Back in my college days, (more than a few years ago) I collected county maps that were printed on legal pad sized paper that would show every paved road in the county. Sadly those maps seem to be a thing of the past.

So what do you use to figure out new routes to try on your bicycle?
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Old 05-30-12, 08:37 PM   #2
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In Illinois we have DOT printed maps by region, I forget how many regions there are, but they have color coded roads (red to green) for how "Bike Friendly" that section of road is. There are inset maps of cities, too. It's nice that the state is mapped by regions because the roads go down to county level so you can usually find any number of routes to take. I don't know how other states have their bicycling maps, if any, but that's what I like to use for pre-route mapping rural areas. Otherwise for en route mapping I take my GPS which can get good enough tracking of where I ride. I also like Bing Maps Bird's Eye because the Pictometry imaging has exceptional resolution where available, which is mostly urban areas. Which ground images you might be able to see what roads are gravel and which are paved before you go out.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-30-12, 09:11 PM   #3
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RidewithGPS is an excellent site. I suppose in certain areas you could get routed onto gravel roads - hasn't been my experience. The site creates very good route sheets and is extremely easy to use. Give it a try.
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Old 05-30-12, 09:12 PM   #4
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I did it for a while in google earth. The results were ok, but it was a PITA. I discovered Mapmyride, which is a huge improvement in concept, but is pretty buggy. RideWithGPS is similar and has fewer bugs, and is what I use now. It has gotten better since I started with it, and I suspect the mapmyride has too. With both you just need patience and the ability to devise workarounds. Part of the problems are not with the programs themselves, but with the less than perfect, and frequently changing public databases they access.
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Old 05-30-12, 09:16 PM   #5
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The Illinois maps are great! Wish other states had them.

Kentucky (where I live) has county maps on the Internet, which I use. They can also be purchased in a county map atlas, I believe.

Another option I use when in an unfamiliar locale, is looking on programs like MapMyRide to see the roads traveled by the locals.

Regardless of the resources I use to plan my route, I lay out my ride on Bike Route Toaster and download it into my Garman 800.
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Old 05-30-12, 09:19 PM   #6
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Currently riding in Utah.
Using county and city and area paper maps.
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Old 05-30-12, 09:20 PM   #7
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I'm kind of an odd ball in I don't own a cycling computer. I've used Strave a few times but normally I just ride. I live in the suburbs of L.A. in a town tucked up along the foothills. When I'm not commuting I just jump on my bike and go. I've been riding most of my 54 years and years ago I would try and plan a route but I never could stick to it. I will time my travels to get an idea of what I've done. I've lived in this same house for 50 years (I moved to Colorado for a few years back in the late 70's) and I have a real good Idea how far everywhere I go is. I've thought many, many, many times that I've wanted a Garmin but I just can't seem to make myself buy one.

Who knows. Maybe tomorrow I'll break down and buy a GPS and start mapping my rides.
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Old 05-30-12, 09:45 PM   #8
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I've tried Mapmyride and been frustrated with the mapping tools. I then tried ridewithGPS because the club I belong to uses it, and have been much happier with that. Don't own a GPS unit. I just do screen grabs to get a detailed map and the cue sheet.
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Old 05-31-12, 12:34 AM   #9
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I use both Mapmyride and RidewithGPS because people I ride with have both Iphones and Androids phones. RidewithGPs uses flashplayer and that doesn't play well with Iphone. But Mapmyride comes up on the moble App and works on both. On RidewithGPS you can switch to Sat view and see the road itself after looking at the map so you can tell if it is paved or not.
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Old 05-31-12, 03:32 AM   #10
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I use RideWithGPS to draw my routes. It has by far the easiest interface for route making that I have used. Sometimes I can zoom in on the satellite image enough to determine if a road is paved, but that can be iffy when there are lots of trees around. If I'm not sure about a local route, I'll ride it on the monstercross bike first. It doesn't care if the road is paved or not.
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Old 05-31-12, 03:39 AM   #11
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Perhaps this might help you out.....

http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/
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Old 05-31-12, 04:51 AM   #12
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Perhaps this might help you out.....

http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/
Thanks for the link. They've upgraded their site since last time I checked it out.

I was a member several years agor and let my membership expire as I never get the opportunity to tour and their articles were often so poorly written they were painful to read through. I may reassess my opinion.
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Old 05-31-12, 05:24 AM   #13
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Thanks for the link. They've upgraded their site since last time I checked it out.

I was a member several years agor and let my membership expire as I never get the opportunity to tour and their articles were often so poorly written they were painful to read through. I may reassess my opinion.

I agree. It was mediocre at best for quite a while. But the articles seem to have become better as more folks are getting involved...finally. I let mine expire as well but am reconsidering starting it up again.
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Old 05-31-12, 05:46 AM   #14
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I use Endomondo for tracking rides on my droid, and the app includes HRM uplink. Endomondos web site doesn't have a route planning feature so I still use RWGPS for that. I've seen the Strava website, and will probably give it a go sometime.
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Old 05-31-12, 06:46 AM   #15
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I usually use RidewithGPS, but just found http://www.bikemap.net and might try that on a couple of routes. On first use of bikemap, I think I like RWGPS better. In any case, I'll check the route at least once in the satellite view to see if the it includes dirt roads. It's not perfect, but better than simple maps.
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Old 05-31-12, 09:29 AM   #16
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In the past, I've used MapMyRide and more recently RideWithGPS. Both work well. I've had to figure out a few tricks to get my intended route to go on the streets that I want, (such as putting in additional control points). It works fine for me. Most recently, I've started using the Garmin Connect web site to create routes. That one will force you to use only bicycle "ready" streets, (such as never allow you to ride on a freeway). Only problem with that is there are some places that do allow freeway access because there are no paved roads between point "A" and point "B" other than the freeway. In that case, bicycle traffic are allowed on the freeway, but Garmin Connect won't allow that. You can trick the RideWithGPS site by specifying "Optimize path for: Driving".

Even though I have a GPS cycling computer, I take an intended route from MapMyRIde and maximize it on my computer screen. Then I'll size the route to its largest size and grab a screen capture. After clean-up, I'll print it out on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, fold it up and put it in a zip lock bag that goes into my jersey pocked. In case some car hits me and decides to leave the scene, whoever finds me will know from where I came and to where I was headed. If I get lost, I may take it out and refer to it, but a pre-printed cue sheet that I scotch tape to my top tube and the GPS route guidance features are usually good enough.

The cue sheet I print up is just a very small sheet showing the name of a street of where I need to turn, the direction of the turn, and the cumulative mileage at that turn. That way, it can be small enough to be wrapped around the top tube and still be easily visible while riding. When I ride, I like to have a mileage goal, so like planning my routes ahead of time. It is rare that I go out without some pre-determined destination or mileage goal.
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Old 05-31-12, 12:32 PM   #17
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I like just riding where there is no traffic and trying to remember what I did the next time I got out. after a few rides I've got the ride pretty much figured out. if I'm curious I'll google the area and play witht he travel line till it represents the ride. it's a lot easier than trying to stick to a predetermined route exactly as planned. it also helps to travel w a compass to help keep you from getting going in the wring direction for too long.
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Old 05-31-12, 12:46 PM   #18
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One reason I held off on getting an iPhone last fall after all my gnashing of teeth and wailing in my decision making is the problem we have had in our rural area is that people with Garmins and Tom-toms had problems with maps showing roads where none existed or that were actually private drives and easements that you can't access or use. I guess with our really low population density there haven't been as much update work and additions as other areas. Home nurses coming here to do I.V. and wound dressings had to call and ask if the address was correct and how to find our home.

If this is still a problem I don't want to spend the money for a phone and data time if it won't work around our area since this where the majority of my riding gets done. I'll have to try out some apps with my wife's Blackberry smartphone and see if things are improving. Till then it is land nav and dead reckoning for me.

Bill
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Old 05-31-12, 01:16 PM   #19
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a lot of them will try to send me down gravel roads on my road bike with 700Cx23 tires.
Your answer is simple: Buy wider tires.
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Old 05-31-12, 01:28 PM   #20
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One reason I held off on getting an iPhone last fall after all my gnashing of teeth and wailing in my decision making is the problem we have had in our rural area is that people with Garmins and Tom-toms had problems with maps showing roads where none existed or that were actually private drives and easements that you can't access or use. I guess with our really low population density there haven't been as much update work and additions as other areas. Home nurses coming here to do I.V. and wound dressings had to call and ask if the address was correct and how to find our home.

If this is still a problem I don't want to spend the money for a phone and data time if it won't work around our area since this where the majority of my riding gets done. I'll have to try out some apps with my wife's Blackberry smartphone and see if things are improving. Till then it is land nav and dead reckoning for me.

Bill
That is one of the advantages of the new smart phones. The Iphone has a map function that will locate you and show you the route to where you want to be. It had a google earth function that allows you to get a birds eye, SAT, view of the area. I have used the function to discover if a road was dirt or paved.
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Old 05-31-12, 03:12 PM   #21
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Paper ,, too bad the maps you find in book shops in UK and Europe,
are so Much Better than the US ones.. hey but we Got Nukes.
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Old 05-31-12, 03:48 PM   #22
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Paper
Last weekend I showed up in Margaretville, NY for an organized ride:

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/45957324

I have maps from http://jimapco.com/ for many of the counties around here but didn't have one for Delaware county. I asked for maps in the grocery store right at the ride's starting point, but they don't carry maps. Then it turned out the ride organizers weren't handing out maps or cue sheets either. Some talk of "embedded riders". Whatever!

I did see some arrows at a few of the intersections along the route, but not many. I got a couple extra category 3 hills on the route I ended up riding!

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/96862877

When I finally found some people to ask for directions after I got good and lost... the lady at the antique store laughed when I asked her for a map. She said, "Why would anybody have a map? Everybody knows their way around here! We all grew up here!" But she gave me clear and accurate directions to get back on route. No avoiding the hill, unfortunately!

Then when I got to Downsville - that's actually rather a bustling little town! I found my JIMAPCO map of Delaware County! Sure would have saved some time and effort if I could have found that before the ride started!
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Old 05-31-12, 04:24 PM   #23
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I've been using http://gmap-pedometer.com/ for years. It appears to be accurate and very easy to use once you get used to it.
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Old 05-31-12, 07:44 PM   #24
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RidewithGPS is an excellent site. I suppose in certain areas you could get routed onto gravel roads - hasn't been my experience. The site creates very good route sheets and is extremely easy to use. Give it a try.
1+

I've been with RWGPS for 3 yrs. They are great. I've tried other sites, but I always go back to RWGPS. Hand mapping is easy, but once I got my Garmin I just upload. So easy. I only have to hand map when I'm planning a route (which you can then upload! ) or if the Garmin is not working (forgot to recharge, etc.)
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Old 05-31-12, 08:15 PM   #25
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Well since I don't own a phone that is not screwed to the wall I will probably continue exploring and using Map My Ride to document the routes.
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