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Bike Mapping Tools

written by Larry Merlo, 3/3/2010

Updated 4/26/2010 to include RideWithGPS.com

Do a google search on "bike mapping websites" and you will find a lot of information regarding this new technology for quickly creating bike routes. A newer entry into this field, RideWithGPS.com, is becoming the favorite with folks in our club as well as with other bike clubs I've seen on the Web. This article originally discussed two mapping websites which I'll leave in for comparison. But the RideWithGPS has the best features of all as well as a very easy to use interface...and its free (for now - donations accepted).

RideWithGPS.com

Its a good idea to create an account & login so your routes can be saved. You have the option when saving a route to save it privately so only you can see it, or publicly so you can share the route with anyone accessing the website.

How to create a bike route:

  • From the home page, select the menu item "Add Content", then "Draw Route".
  • Plot your route by left clicking your mouse along the roads of your route.
  • VERY IMPORTANT - avoid clicking at street intersections. This sometimes causes the software to report an incorrect turn. Instead, click before or after a turn.
  • If you goof, click the “Undo” button along the top of the map.
  • As you plot the route, verify the "Cue Sheet" directions for accuracy.
  • When finished, click the “Save Route" button in the lower right corner.
  • Add additional information about the route (Description, Title) and indicate whether you'd like route to be public or private.
  • To print the cue sheet directions, click on the "My Profile" button at the top, then "Routes". Select the route you just saved and when viewing it, there will be a "Print" button on the side of the Cue Sheet.
  • These directions may be good enough by itself. If you wish to edit the directions, add rest stops, etc. it will require a little technical savvy to get it into an Excel spreadsheet.
  • To get the Cue Sheet directions into Excel, select and "copy" the contents of the cue sheet to your clipboard and "paste" it into the upper left cell in a blank Excel spreadsheet. If all goes well, and you have some skills with Excel, than you can edit the contents how ever you like.

PROS

  • Easy and fast
  • Creates a nice printable route sheet
  • Shows elevation and climbing ft.
  • Great online viewing features
  • Can save route if you have a login
  • Its free!!!

CONS

  • Street turns and mileage can have mistakes
  • Cannot edit Cue Sheet online. Need to copy & paste into Excel to modify directions, etc.

 


Google Maps

Lots of people are familiar with using Google Maps and several bike leaders I've seen use this program to calculate distances and get directions. Its not really set up for bike mapping but quick, easy and accurate - most of the time. The directions pretty much need to be hand copied into a Word or Excel doc as Google has made it very hard to do any kind of a copy & paste.

    How to create a bike route:

  • Right click mouse at start of route and select “Directions from here”.
  • Right click mouse at any point along start of route and select “Directions to here”.
  • Drag the “B” green pointer along your route.
  • Stop dragging when the purple route line re-adjusts away from your route.
  • Left click mouse over the purple line that is off your route.  It should say “Drag to change route”
  • Drag this small circle back along your route so the purple line re-adjusts to your correct route.
  • Continue this process for your entire route loop.
  • When finished, click the “Print” button on top right of the map.
  • Transcribe (copy/paste, re-write,etc.) the data to an Excel spreadsheet or text editor.  Make corrections as necessary.
  • If you have a google gmail login, you can save your map.

PROS

  • Accurate street turns and mileage
  • Easy to correct mistakes
  • Easy to create a short route option
  • Solid software, few bugs
  • You can save route in Google maps

CONS

  • Difficult copying data to a usable route sheet
  • Does not show elevation

 

 

BikeRouteToaster.com

A favorite of mine for a long time, this one is short of the features and ease of use as ridewithgps. The one nice feature is its "save as CSV" as a .cvs file is readable by Excel -- no copy and paste required.

How to create a bike route:

  • From the home page, select the link “Course Creator” to get to the map area.
  • From the “Options” menu in the lower right corner, select “Imperial” for miles & feet.
  • Plot your route by left clicking mouse along the roads of your route.
  • VERY IMPORTANT - avoid clicking at street intersections. This sometimes causes the software to report an incorrect turn. Instead, click before or after a turn.
  • If you goof, click the “Delete Last” selection in the “Edit” section.
  • When finished, click the “Cue Sheet” tab at the top.
  • Click “Print View” to get a printable route.  You can modify data in the cue sheet using the form on the page below..
  • Optionally, click the “CSV” option in the Cue Sheet and download the file to your PC.  This will load into an Excel spreadsheet where you can modify columns & text within Excel.

PROS

  • Easy and fast
  • Creates a nice route sheet
  • Shows elevation and climbing ft.
  • Can save route if you have a login
  • Its free!!!

CONS

  • Street turns and mileage can have mistakes
  • Difficult (buggy) modifying route
  • Somewhat difficult user interface