Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Create Your Own Cycling Tour Maps

Getting already excited about my next cycling trip adventure it is time to get down to some serious planning. Going back to the Pacific Coast I was pondering whether I should buy the 'official' guide Bicycling the Pacific Coast, the most exhaustive book on the subject and one that I had seen most people carry during my trip last year. What I want is to have the possibility of planning my daily trips with maps that have detailed mileage and some altimetry information. This way I am able to estimate what the best route is likely to be each day and know in advance how long a tour will take to complete.
While touring physical books have a major drawback in my view, they are books! I don't want to carry extra weight on my Brompton, I need to be light and can't afford to bring too many things with me, therefore I want everything to be stored digitally on a tablet or mobile phone. I would always take a mobile with me so why not storing my maps on it as well as keep connected and browse information whenever I can have a Wifi connection? I love planning my trip and customise it the way I want it, after all don't we all enjoy the freedom to decide where we want to start and which roads we are going to be cycling along!
My search for some good mapping software with altimetry led me to a couple of useful sites.

1) https://ridewithgps.com is a professional tool with all kinds of bells and whistles that allows you to build your own routes to the finest detail. They have a pared down free service that allows creating a route. To get the full use and extras such as offline maps, mobile apps and live navigation you have to join and pay a fee.

2)https://bikeroll.net/ is a new and simpler tool that is free to use and allows to easily plan a cycling or mountain biking route producing a useful altimetry graph.

Using their online mapping software and a little Photoshop and Pages I build up digital daily charts with all the images of my planned daily routes with mileage and altitude as well as other pages where I can store useful information about transport, accommodation, maps of bicycle shops and so on. These charts and pages are then turned into a pdf file that can be neatly stored on my tablet or phone and be invaluable during my rides.

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