ridewithgps.com – a route-sharing site worth using

Posted by SuperClydesdale on May 27, 2010 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

I found out about this site this past weekend, and I think it’s worth sharing.  In fact, I’m telling you that it is.  While there are other sites out there with a similar goal – to make it easy to document and share ride routes, I think this one has the potential to be one of the best.  I’ve always been frustrated with mapmyride, and this one seems to get it right in areas where mapmyride falls short.  It’s called ridewithgps.com, and it looks very promising.  It’s tag line is “Ride with GPS – The recreational route sharing community”

ridewithgps screen shot

I created this ride in about 3 minutes -- love the elevation profile and the cue sheet, both generated automatically

I gave up on mapmyride several months back because I thought its interface sucked and I recently played with the new beta.mapomyride.com, but this one is much better.  It seems more like the people designing ridewithgps.com (two guys named Zach Ham and Cullen King) actually know what people want.  And, when I say people, I mean me.  You don’t matter.  It’s all about me.

Ridewithgps.com leverages Google Maps’ bike route mapping abilities, so it’s aware of bike paths and non-city-street routes.   Mapmyride.com is built with Mapquest, which I like, but in my opinion, there’s something wrong with the bike route mapping interface.   I’ve always struggle to create a route on it.

Ridewithgps is an “open” site, which I call open because it doesn’t require a specific brand of GPS unit (or even a GPS unit at all) to add content to the site.  There are many ways of adding rides to the site:

  • Drawing the route on a Google map (which actually works, rather than the piece of crap that I struggled with at mapmyride last time I was there).  I was able to create this ride in about three minutes.
  • Import data files from a GPS device in numerous industry formats (gpx – the defacto standard for GPS data exchange, tcxm, or kml – the Google Earth method), or a single activity/ride
  • A specific Garmin sync (which is how I did it – very simple)

Long story short, I was able to add my rides without reading anything or searching for instructions.  You want to upload rides from your Garmin?  Just click Add Content –> Garmin Sync, and the imbedded software will discover your Garmin, list all available rides, and ask you which ones you want to import.

Like mapmyride, you can search for rides based on location, but I find it easier to navigate the results on this site, because it gives you more information, and presents it better.  Just enter a town, enter the search radius, and bam!  You see a list of area rides.  I found some great rides quickly, including one that I am going to do later this summer – a ride from El Dorado Hills, CA to South Lake Tahoe.  Sweet.

I love the elevation profile at the bottom of every map.  You can then move the cursor to anywhere in the map and it will show you exactly where on the elevation profile that location is.  If you had downloaded data from a ride of your own, it will also list your heart rate and your speed at that location.  Particularly useful to a Clydesdale is the display of the percentage gradient along the elevation profile of the ride.  I’ve grown so accustomed to seeing this on my rides with my Garmin 705 that I have developed a good sense of my own personal “climbing misery index” – I know just how gassed I will be based on the gradient profile of a ride.  I can also use this intelligence to avoid going on difficult climbing rides with pathetically small, skinny little half-men who just want to see a big guy suffer.  Always be wary of the ride posted by the hill monkey.

So, why I like this site – top features:

  • Shows all information in a really easy-to-use interface, you don’t have to click on multiple tabs or anything, its all right there
  • Very easy to create a new ride from scratch, and see what the total climb of the ride is, total distance, and the elevation profile – oh, and the cue sheet for the ride that you can print out and bring with you
  • Displays map and elevation profile on the same screen at all times (unless you choose to turn it off), and can go full-screen mode very easily
  • Provides a cue sheet (the list of directions, turn by turn) for all rides
  • Displays distance, total elevation of all rides in the search screens, as well as a thumbnail of the map.  No need to click on a ride only to discover that it’s not something of interest.
  • You can share or keep your rides private.  That way, I can share my training rides and keep my pathetic-looking recovery rides hidden.
  • Its free (at least for now).  Mapmyride is going for broke with so many ads its visually cluttered and difficult to navigate.  Ridewithgps.com is slim and fast (like me?)

And, while I’m not a Google fanatic, I think that using Google Maps makes ridewithgps.com more “future proof” than any alternative, because with Google Earth, and Google’s Android operating system expanding in the cellular phone market, that there could be some very interesting implications for the future – things that we may not even be thinking about – like your friends seeing where you are live on the route if you are carrying your Android phone with you.  Not that that’s a good thing – everyone might see just how damn slow of a rider you are.

  • SuperClydesdale said,

    No sooner do I post this article, and I get an e-mail from mapmyride touting their new “live tracking” ability — which allows you to track someone on a training ride (assuming they’ve given you permission). So, one point for mapmyride.

    Also, though, someone sent me a link to a ride they posted on maymyride. I clicked through to the page, and I was once again forced to use the crappy interface at mapmyride, and it brought me back down to Earth, and reminded me why I hate mapmyride. So, subtract one point from mapmyride, which cancels out the goodness of the Live Tracking feature.

  • SuperClydesdale said,

    No sooner do I post this article, and I get an e-mail from mapmyride touting their new “live tracking” ability — which allows you to track someone on a training ride (assuming they’ve given you permission). So, one point for mapmyride.

    Also, though, someone sent me a link to a ride they posted on maymyride. I clicked through to the page, and I was once again forced to use the crappy interface at mapmyride, and it brought me back down to Earth, and reminded me why I hate mapmyride. So, subtract one point from mapmyride, which cancels out the goodness of the Live Tracking feature.

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