Saturday, January 27, 2007

I Discovered Online Route Maps

Well, I almost made my goal of riding Appalachian Gap every month of 2006, but then missed out on December. There was at least one day that I had available when I could have ridden it, but it didn't happen. So, there were two goals I missed in 2006, the monthly gap ride and the SLAM. I knocked off January's Gap ride early in the month, on a day that was so warm I wore short-fingered riding gloves. I rode at least seven 40-mile rides in the first two weeks of January, but haven't been on the bike since then as the temperature dropped precipitously. It's -10 degrees now.

The really exciting thing for me was that I discovered online route maps. I've been trying out, and is easy to use and quick. It also seems to be the most versatile, with the ability to add and change points after the route is saved. I couldn't get their elevation feature to work, but I think that's just a temporary glitch. is very interesting, especially since they have a training log and other interesting features. I had problems saving some of my routes, though, which was a bit frustrating since they took a while to input. Their elevation feature didn't work right either. looked interesting, but the interface was so terribly slow that I gave up on it for now. I just tried it again and things seem to be much quicker now. This service is very interesting in that it ties icons on the map to photos, comments about things such as steep climbs, and even webcams to the map. You can click on one of these icons and brink up a popup that displays the feature. A city like Seattle is peppered with webcams. Vermont has a few public webcams, but I didn't see any on VeloRoutes. I especially liked the radar feature that overlays radar weather conditions on the current map. I did have to chuckle about the things people call "monster climbs" in Seattle. If 130' is a monster climb, what is the 800' climb on my daily commute getting home up my dirt road?

These services are definitely worth checking out. They will provide us with some really neat tools to share rides with others. According to its creator, veloroutes runs on a computer in his apartment, so there may be some serious longevity and scalability questions to consider before sinking a lot of time into inputting rides. Still, he's to be commended for his efforts and perhaps he'll find a way to make it profitable enough to spin off into an enterprise.