Road Bike Rides dot Com

Last week I alluded to a mapping and sharing website for bike rides.

Roadbikerides.com is a clever site that catalogs user-submitted mapping data to create ride reports on rides in any region. You can search by city to see all the submitted rides that are labeled in that area. The ride reports can show where there are water fountains and restrooms, places to stop and eat or any interesting points along the way. The rides will be rated according to difficulty and include elevation maps to show how much climbing is involved. You can also find group rides that take place at certain intervals (every week, once a month, etc.).

To really be a part of the community however, you will need to find and input some rides into the database. There are three ways that this can be done. You can upload a GPX, KML or Garmin file that has the map data in it already. While this is great for people who've learned to write this type of file (or have a device that writes it for them), I have not and so have no experience with it. The two other ways I have tried. The first is to input a starting and ending place and allow the GoogleMaps engine to build a route between the two points. You can then drag and adjust the routes as you would normally in GoogleMaps. This is useful because the route stays on roads, but is limited by the roads that the mapping engine allows driving/riding on. This method also automatically generates the text directions for the route, but if you had to move a lot of the route, the directions will include every hold point (even if they are all on one road) The second method is to plot a line over the top of the map point by point. This can be tedious because each point you add only adds the route in a straight line from where the previous point is but it does allow you to route rides off of the roads (to perhaps use a bike trail or bridge). This method does not create the text directions for the ride, but as I noted earlier, if you write them out yourself, they are likely going to be clearer.

I've been using Roadbikerides.com for a month or two now. I've inputted two rides so far (I don't want to input anything I haven't ridden myself), you can find them (and me) under the username: theweatherman. I find it useful in finding interesting routes or rides that I hadn't thought of and you can rate the quality of each ride. The San Diego section does not have a whole lot of rides in it yet, but hopefully with a little more public awareness that can be remedied.

Overall I would say that it is a well designed website that many cyclists would find useful (and the more that use it, the more useful it becomes.) There are, however, two problems I have with RoadBikeRides.com: First, local rides for me can be hard to find because I live in a large metropolitan area that is not incorporated as one city. My trip to work includes six different cities. This make it hard to search for rides that are in my area as some might be labeled San Diego while others get tagged as Del Mar, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, La Mesa, etc. I would like to see a county search for rides so that you can get all the rides in one county. My other problem is a little more messy. The difficulty ratings are very haphazard. By allowing the user who inputs the ride to select what level of difficulty it gets the rating gets skewed by how experienced and fit the user is. There are some rides input as Moderate that I find laughably Beginner and one ride that is listed as Moderate that I would rank higher than most of the rides rated difficult. Do I know the solution to this problem? No. But if you can figure it out, post it below or email the site creators.

Now go put in some rides for me to tryout!

-Matt the Weatherman

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