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  1. #1
    2nd Century TBD AirBeagle1's Avatar
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    Route Planning / Mapping Software

    Interested in folks' thoughts on the best 150-250 mile route planning software. Both Bikely and MapMyRide seem to get awfully slow and 'persnickety' after about 30 waypoints, and I'm not sure what else I should look at -- what do you guys use and find the most user-friendly? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I use DeLorme's Topo USA. Costs about 60 bucks though.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I use Microsoft Streets and Trips to create the maps and route sheets for my brevets.


    Edit: I should add ... although I create the actual maps and route sheets for my brevets with Streets and Trips, prior to using Streets and Trips, I create my routes by using land ordinance maps, tourist maps, cyclists maps ... whatever maps I can get my hands on.

    And then I either ride my proposed routes, or drive my proposed routes, or both, during which time I discard sections and scout out new sections, and also ensure that the distance Streets and Trips (and my other maps) comes up with matches the distance of my computer or car odometer.

    In addition to all of that, I make note of signs and landmarks which would be obvious to cyclists to help ensure they are on the right track. Streets and Trips might tell me that 30th Street goes off to the left, but in reality the road going off to the left is 67th street up to a certain point, and then it turns into 30th Street down the road a ways, and the sign cyclists should look for is 67th street. A little pet peeve of mine are the ride organizers who don't check for those things.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Any of the map programs on a local drive are better than using web-based apps.

    I usually create custom-scaled maps for any ride that has a possibility of last minute route changes.
    Maps always work, even the best "cues" can confuse.....

  5. #5
    2nd Century TBD AirBeagle1's Avatar
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    Thanks!

  6. #6
    another cat...FAB! stevesurf's Avatar
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    Here's what I do...
    Microsoft Mappoint to find the start/end
    Transfer to Garmin MapSource, create Waypoints
    Transfer to Mapping Handheld, create route on device
    -after ride-
    Upload to MotionBased
    Transfer to MapSource
    Save as gpx

  7. #7
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I've used Delorme Topo, but don't have a GPS. It's good in some ways, inaccurate in others.

    The plus is that it's reasonably robust, easy to make and save new routes, has lots of detail, has a fair amount of rail information, and you can even get some info like campsite locations.

    The main gripe I've heard is that the elevations are (allegedly) off. Printed maps are OK, but could be better.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    I forgot to mention, the Delorme Topo series allows one to make a plot of elevation versus distance. This is kind of noisey but give some idea as to what climbing is involved on a given route.

  9. #9
    Lone Star Tex_Arcana's Avatar
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    Now to find something for Linux.....

  10. #10
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Faster computer with more RAM and broadband connection. I haven't used Bikely for routes of over 250 miles, but good up to there, over 700 points. Bikely runs faster if you don't use the Follow option, but then it takes more input time.

  11. #11
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Bikely is great for entering a finished route to share with the world. But editing a route is a big pain, to say the least. software, such as TopUSA, Streets and Trips, etc. are much better for route development. TopoUSA is my preference since it provides good elevation plots.

    however, if your area has a significant number of unpaved county roads, be careful with your route planning. the route mapping software typically does not distinguish between various road surfaces. If you plan on using county-level roads, you would be well advised to look for online county maps for your state. These are often coded for the type of paving.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Madsnail's Avatar
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    I use TrailRunner on my Mac.
    There are a few bugs here and there, but it works pretty good for me and it is donationware.

  13. #13
    2nd Century TBD AirBeagle1's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great input. After reading the great advice and doing some personal research, I finely decided on DeLorme's Topo software. Will keep you updated as to how it works out!

  14. #14
    Not an internet law-maker Godwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
    I use DeLorme's Topo USA. Costs about 60 bucks though.
    Does TopoUSA work for creating routes outside of the US? I was thinking about sitting down this winter with the google maps api and trying to create my own software based (freeware) route planner but I guess I procrastinated a little on that one.

  15. #15
    2nd Century TBD AirBeagle1's Avatar
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    My understanding is that it has topographic maps for JUST the U.S., so would be of very limited use outside elsewhere.

  16. #16
    Not an internet law-maker Godwin's Avatar
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    Nerdspeak warning:
    What I'd love to do is create a freeware route mapping tool with a wiki style database of roads that are rated by users as to their conditions (unpaved, freeway, wide shouldered road, ect) and with customizable route printouts. Anyone well versed in windows programming want to get something started?

  17. #17
    Lone Star Tex_Arcana's Avatar
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    Looking for a Linux mapping solution (if there isn't one now there will be sometime soon) I found a program called GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System). Sound serious? It was designed by the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories.
    Here is a description:

    Commonly referred to as GRASS, this is a Geographic Information System (GIS) used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics/maps production, spatial modeling, and visualization. GRASS is currently used in academic and commercial settings around the world, as well as by many governmental agencies and environmental consulting companies. GRASS is official project of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.
    Oh yeah, it is available for Windows and it's free. Maybe it's too much tool, but I have problems beating the price. Linky: http://grass.itc.it/

    add: Just got a look at it. Can you say 3d scrolling route map on a pda?
    Last edited by Tex_Arcana; 02-19-08 at 11:11 PM.

  18. #18
    Directionally Challenged Lost again's Avatar
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    If you are riding on a multi day trip, how would you use a GPS, like a Garmin 305? Would you just turn it on and off as you needed it? My battery only lasts a few hours. Also is it worthwhile just to purchase local maps as you ride along?
    aka Pain Freak
    I ride,therefor I am
    and you ain't.

  19. #19
    Waiting to commute... Amoxicillin's Avatar
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    I'm using good old topographic maps for the area I cycle in to make out the rough idea on where I'm going and what to expect in terms of terrain, they're worth the money you invest in them. Afterwards, I use Mapsource to create a route which I upload to my GPS device.
    Yeah Garmin 305, I have one on my roadbike, they last until approximately 250km (depending on the temperature outside, when it's cold then they last less time) and then the battery says good night. I had a better experience with an old GPS 12XL which runs much much longer on a set of batteries. I never emptied it on a ride, even on a 2-day. However, that thing really clumsy and like a brick on the handlebar.
    Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world. Imagine, they can even have cupholders...

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AirBeagle1 View Post
    My understanding is that it has topographic maps for JUST the U.S., so would be of very limited use outside elsewhere.

    Yes, and that's a huge problem with most mapping software. They are getting a bit better, but some of them are useless to me.

  21. #21
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    Although I haven't used Delorme, my experience with other topo mapping products is that they use extremely out of date data for their road networks - I've seen major roads built 20 years ago not be on the map. The best road network application I've found is Streets and Trips, but transfer to a GPS can be problematic.

    - Mark

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
    Although I haven't used Delorme, my experience with other topo mapping products is that they use extremely out of date data for their road networks - I've seen major roads built 20 years ago not be on the map. The best road network application I've found is Streets and Trips, but transfer to a GPS can be problematic.

    - Mark
    And even Streets and Trips uses out-of-date info. Both Google mapping and Streets and Trips show a river just south of where I live, and no roads. Well, back in the 1980s they dammed the river and created a large lake and recreational area. Several more roads were built at that time (or shortly after), including one that goes across the dam. I use that road in my 600K because it is quite a scenic, quiet road, but have to do some creative mapping with Streets and Trips to pretend that the road exists. I plan to reroute my 300K that way as well and will have to get creative when I do that too.

    It's pretty sad when these programs use info from more than 20 years ago when newer information is available on land ordinance and other maps.

  23. #23
    simply bikin' dobovedo's Avatar
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    I use Streets and Trips for everyday mapping. It's quick and easy. One gripe though. It does not use a 'via' method of setting a route; you have to use 'stops'. This is essentially the same thing, except that the directions will list a stop that you have to edit out whereas a via would simply ignore the points. Also you can't hide said 'stops' when you want to copy/print the map.

    If I'm interested in elevation and climbing, or in nicer looking maps, I use TopoUSA. You can buy Eastern or Western US to save a few bucks. Fair warning. I find this software to be extremely unintuitive and finicky to use. I actually don't like it at all, but it's the 'best' of what's available for what it does. Careful though, it exaggerates climbs quite a bit. Somebody else referred to it as "noisy" which is a perfect description. I have read this is due to the fact that the Z data (elevation) is based on a grid of Lat/Lon points that may or may not directly coincide with the road surface you are on. So on a mountain climb you may get a point that is 30 feet above you because off the side of the road is solid rock. And there are some points that are just plain wrong. Right here in super flat downtown Piqua, OH apparently there is a 100 foot climb and descent within one block of Main St. I have been riding it twice a day for years, and have yet to find that climb. I wouldn't care so much except that I do log vertical information for my regular routes and my commute is overstated by nearly 50% thanks to that data error. It's a pain in the arse to try and use a tool, then have to mentally figure out how wrong it is or compare it to other data.

    On long rides or climbing trips I wear a Polar HRM, compare it against TopoUSA, and average the two.

    As mentioned, there are some roads in both these programs that have simply been wrong forever. And some errors too. Occasionally I will run into two roads that show correctly on the map, but can't be 'connected' on a route, no matter how close you put 'stops' together and try to force it. This is not common, but thought I'd point it out.

  24. #24
    2nd Century TBD AirBeagle1's Avatar
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    Have had the DeLorme Topo7 software for a few days. Initial impressions:

    Very powerful software, but the learning curve is pretty steep. I've been able to create some potential routes and the maps appear pretty detailed, but I certainly need to play around with the software a bit longer before I'm comfortable with it. I very much appreciate that the software allows you to draw in / update roads as needed, a key feature in the vicinity of my home as there are quite a few new developments and roads in the past 10 years. I think with a bit more practice it's going to do the job just fine.

  25. #25
    Linux HA Author :-) ncherry's Avatar
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    I'm a Linux user and I use Bikely.com. My routes are normally in the 60 - 150 mile range and I have no problems creating the routes. As a reference for road quality I'm lucky to say that for NJ, I use Dustin's http://www.njbikemap.com/ routes (Thanks Dustin! ). Between Dustin's maps, Bikely.com's auto-follow is very useful (once you learn how far you can get away with something and that you need to save often for really big mistakes) and Google's hybrid view, in that order, I find creating routes very easy. It helps that know a bit bout the area I'm riding in also.

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