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Computing Elevation Gain

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Computing Elevation Gain

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Old 12-01-12, 01:00 AM
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2ering
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Computing Elevation Gain

Hi All. My girlfriend and I are planning a Spring 2013 trip around the perimeter of Michigan's lower peninsula utilizing USBR#35 up the Lake Michigan side. We do not travel light, e.g. our lodging is a 4-man Hilleberg tent weighing 14 pounds with footprint, and this time I will be pulling our dog in a trailer. Being in my mid-60's and from the flat lands of Chicago I am concerned with getting up hills. Does anyone know of a way to determine the elevation gain along a given route so I can plan an appropriate length to ride each day? I've entered the trip into Google Maps but it doesn't appear to compute the elevation gain. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 12-01-12, 01:04 AM
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Enter the trip into Bikely. Bikely has a lot of issues now, but you might be able to get their elevation thing to work (used to work better before the changes). It won't give you an accurate elevation reading, but will give you a general idea of what you might be looking at.
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Old 12-01-12, 01:37 AM
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Have you contacted local bike clubs? They usually have maps of local rides that include elevation gain/loss. Your planned route may be in those maps. How about your local auto club?
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Old 12-01-12, 01:49 AM
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fietsbob 
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Buy a USGS topographical Map?
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Old 12-01-12, 01:56 AM
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http://veloroutes.org/bikemaps/

i had luck using it before to calculate elevation gain.
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Old 12-01-12, 07:09 AM
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You said you saved the maps in Google Maps. Load Google Earth onto your computer. Load the maps in that. You can display the elevation profile in Google Earth. It would take a long time for me to write detailed instructions, so I am not going to. (Sorry.)

Warning, I have noticed that Google Earth elevation data and most specifically grade (percent) data to differ quite a bit from what I have actually measured after the fact with my GPS. I trust my GPS more. Thus if you can find better data elsewhere, you may want to use that, as some of the Google elevation data appears to be odd.

Maybe let your dog walk up the hills instead of ride?

I attached a screen shot of one of my days last summer shown in Google Earth on my computer, with elevation profile.

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Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 12-01-12 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 12-01-12, 07:41 AM
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Try doing your route at RideWithGPS.com, my favorite route planning tool. Elevation and cue sheets, and free.
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Old 12-01-12, 07:56 AM
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You want to use ridewithgps.com to plan your routes. It's free, fast and easy to use, and generates a lot of useful information.

For an overview, see my post and also see this post on other threads about elevation gains and route planning.

~~~~~~~~~~

Try it out by using this sample route along Lake Michigan I created by clicking along Route 22.

It has 2200 feet in 51 miles, which I'd consider easy hills. But look at the red elevation graph--the hills all look very steep when compressed into that small graph. You have to drag to select one hill at a time to see how it looks--it gets stretched out on the graph, the map is zoomed in there, and the climb statistics show on the Metrics tab at the right side. (click anywhere on the expanded graph to zoom back to the whole route.)

For instance, the spike at mile 15 is 310 feet, average 4.3%, max 5.4%. A moderate hill with a steady climb.

But the one at mile 10 has a max of 10%--very steep for loaded touring. However, rerouting at the 9 mile mark to St Pierre Rd has a much easier grade, with a max under 5%. I used the Terrain view from the Map pulldown at top right. It shows contour lines every 40 feet when zoomed in.

All these map sites and GPS recorders add up all the small hills. For instance, the very flat section from mile 24 to 36 shows 188 feet of climbing, but the biggest hill is only 35 feet high, and most of the "hills" are around 1% grade--very easy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Check out Street View on the sample route by dragging the little orange guy from the zoom scale on the left. Drop it on a blue highlighted road to see the 360 degree view from that spot.

That looks like a beautiful area, and the roads look good too.

Last edited by rm -rf; 12-01-12 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 12-01-12, 10:16 AM
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I will 3rd the suggestion of ridewithgps.com. Simply the easiest, simply the best. I'm finishing up my 200 miles of climbing for 2012 right now and I've been keeping track daily of how much I climb using ridewithgps. There are so many little tricks to making ridewithgps easier and more powerful to use it's incredible. It just take time playing with it and being willing to experiment...that's how I've learnt the power of the website. Simply point and click and it will draw the route for you and you can change the route if it doesn't draw it where you want it to be positioned by simple click and drag. One suggestion unless you are dead set on your route, try using bicycle as the choice of transportation method on the lower right side of the mapping screen. It will find the bicycle trails, etc that make up the flattest and/or shortest route. Then if you want you can click and drag to the nearest highway to find the easiest route you can use.
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Old 12-01-12, 01:22 PM
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Michigan is not flat! There are not very many big hills, but there are a heck of a lot of small ones. We did a loop this summer (September/October) from south of Detroit, along the east side of the state to Mackinaw City, down the Lake Michigan side, and then back to the Trenton area. We had a total elevation gain of over 30,000 feet (from my GPS). We were a little cocky the first week of the tour, when we decided to call the tour, "Life in the Middle Chain Ring". That changed when we got north of Lewiston. We have not come up with a new name yet.

It is a great ride. If you have not been to Mackinac Island, it is is worth the effort to spend a day there.

It was nice to dump the panniers, and ride in a car-free area. It was also our last rain-free day


As others have said," MapMyRide". It will give you profiles and elevation gains. We do not use cue sheets, and find it adequate for planning purposes. Our route sometimes change daily, or even during the day, and we generally have no way of printing them out while on tour. We usually plan 1-2 days ahead as not to leave too much of a gap between campgrounds or other amenities. http://www.mapmyride.com/

This map is one we used on our trip.


There are several "rails-to trails" trails on the route. Michigan has about 1500 miles of these types of trails.


Lake Michigan

Last edited by Doug64; 12-01-12 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 12-01-12, 01:59 PM
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i like bikeroutetoaster.
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Old 12-01-12, 02:46 PM
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I use, variously…
  • RideWithGPS.com —requires free registration and login to create new routes, shows elevation and gradient. Difficult to edit cue sheets, but developers are very responsive to community input.
  • BikeRouteToaster.com —no registration needed, but feels more old-fashioned than RideWithGPS.
  • Google Maps with “GoogleMap CueSheet” bookmarklet from http://winthefight.org/cuegle/ —works right from Google Maps, can only route you where Google Maps can route you (OSM is often superior for bike trails and supported by RideWithGPS and BikeRouteToaster), tends to estimate much higher total elevation than most people in my club get on their various bike-computer altimeters/GPSes-with-barometric-altimeters. Easy to edit cue sheets before saving/downloading/printing. Easy to annotate elevation profile graphs.
I find MapMyRide's ad panels waaayyyy annoying. I tried Bikely a long time ago and didn't find it useful enough to have gone back.
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Old 12-02-12, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by vertiganr View Post
Try doing your route at RideWithGPS.com, my favorite route planning tool. Elevation and cue sheets, and free.
+1 Elevation gain/loss is very helpful with route planning. I've also used MapMyRide.com but find the elevation profiles in RideWithGPS to much more accurate.
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Old 12-02-12, 11:26 AM
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Do you need a GPS to use RideWithGPS?

If not, then it might be useful.
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Old 12-02-12, 11:31 AM
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You don't. You can just trace various roots you're interested in on-line.
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Old 12-02-12, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Do you need a GPS to use RideWithGPS?

If not, then it might be useful.
It's not needed at all. ridewithgps makes good cue sheets, and the cue sheets can be edited.

There's two useful GPS functions: For any drawn route, it can upload the route to a GPS, for bike navigation. Or a GPS recording of a ride can be easily imported to view it's map and statistics.
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Old 12-02-12, 08:25 PM
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2ering
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Thanks to all for their responses. I've started playing around with RideWithGPS and Bikely and they look like they should do what I need. I also like the suggestion to incorporating my GoogleMaps sheets directly into Google Earth. And as for Doug ("We had an elevation gain of over 30,000 feet...") that's not exactly the kind of encouragement I was looking for . I may have to shorten my route. Thanks again to all.
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Old 12-03-12, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Enter the trip into Bikely. Bikely has a lot of issues now, but you might be able to get their elevation thing to work (used to work better before the changes). It won't give you an accurate elevation reading, but will give you a general idea of what you might be looking at.
Did they screw that up or what? I found it pretty accurate before they "improved" the site compared to what buddies of mine would record with their computers and such during rides. Then it went haywire. I mapped the first day of a three-day trip. 34 miles. Bikely said there was over 8,000' of climbing. Utter nonsense. It was probably more like 2,500.

To their credit, it does seem to have gotten better, at least in some places. A few months ago I mapped the route of an organized ride and came up with close to the same elevation gain as the ride organizers did using some other app.

BTW...When Bikely switched over, my account with all of my routes was destroyed and could not be recovered.
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Old 12-03-12, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Maybe let your dog walk up the hills instead of ride?
And strap the tent on him while you`re at it!
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Old 12-04-12, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
And strap the tent on him while you`re at it!
at 14 heavy pounds, I hope it isnt a Chihuahua....

"come on Pedro, you can do it.......Pedro, Pedro???"
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