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Route Mapping and Logging for Bicycle Commuters

A great way to visualize a new or different bicycling route is to pull out a map and try to find the best way from point “A” to point “B”. With the release of Google Map’s underlying source code, however, this process has become even easier! In this article I will present four route-mapping websites that allow a user to create, save and share favorite bicycle routes all with a few clicks of the mouse. All four use the Google Map source code, so from a functional perspective, they all work very similar to each other. Finally, I will show you a great place to log your miles and favorite routes on an easy-to-use Web interface.

Gmaps Pedometer
(no registration required)
Gmap-pedometer.com screenshot
This is one of the first of the public sites to use the Google Map source code “hack”, and is the one I use most frequently for planning rides and sharing routes with fellow commuters. The interface is easy to use, but not terribly glamorous. Since the underlying code is the ever-familiar Google Map, the routes can be viewed in four different ways: map, satellite, hybrid and topographical. Once a route is created, it can be saved and shared (a URL is generated “on the fly” by the Gmap interface). In addition, a user can turn on a “calorie counter” to determine just how much fat is being burned out there on the ride. All the while, a mileage counter keeps track of individual leg and total distance, and milemarkers are created on the route.

Mapmyride
(no registration required)
Mapmyride.com screenshot
Mapmyride uses the same Google Map “hack”, but adds a couple features to the route-generating toolbox. A user can add aid stations, water sources, parking spots and a bunch of other “markers” to the route. Also, route maps can be exported to GPS devices…a great feature!

Bikely
(free registration is required to use)
Bikely.com screenshot
While I have never used this route-mapper, I know that Bikely’s interface is very popular and is often the first one of these tools to be recommended by bicyclists. One of the things I like best about Bikely is that it knows your starting area without you telling it…kinda creepy but cool. The moment you log in, even though registration doesn’t require inputting a city, Bikely will take you directly to a map of where you live! This trick eliminates a few clicks to get started — you can start mapping instantly upon login. One of the other prominent features is a method to add descriptive tags to the routes created, which facilitates sharing (mmm…metadata…it must be the librarian in me!).

Routeslip
(free registration is required to use)
Routeslip.com screenshot
Routeslip is perhaps the sexiest of these route-mapping sites — the interface is cool and the site’s design is sleek and stylish. Despite the design, getting started on Routeslip can be kind of clunky, especially if you are used to one of the other sites mentioned. Some of the tools are hidden behind drop-down panels, and it requires some extra clicks to open and close these panels. However, once you locate and master the available tools, you will churn out well-labeled, shareable routes that are also downloadable to GPS units.

Bikejournal
(free registration required to use, paid subscription required for advanced features)
Bikejournal.com screenshot
While this site doesn’t let you create visual, shareable maps, it DOES allow descriptive routes to be created and shared. This site is really geared for something else altogether, though: logging bicycling data. With a free registration, a user can create a spreadsheet-style ride log that can contain up to 28 different data points to track (mileage, weather conditions, heart rate, watts, etc.). In addition, a user can create a detailed profile showing goals for the year, the bikes in a rider’s “quiver” and a lot of other fun tools. Bikejournal.com also offers a free user forum and collects and shares members’ stats for viewing. I am a dedicated user of this site…once I set a yearly mileage goal, I find that I am riding further and more often than I might if I didn’t have some way of tracking my progress. My favorite feature is the ranking — whenever you add a ride, your ranking among users updates in real time (as of this writing I am ranked 2783 out of 22,377 total members….whoo hoo!).

These are all great tools — you should try them! One of the things I like best about any of these tools is that it allows someone to create a safe, calm route for someone who is new to bicycle commuting…what better way to turn someone on to the joys of bike commuting than presenting them with a customized, full-color map that shows the best route for their needs?

Alright, then…get out there and RIDE! If anyone has another favorite route-mapping site, please let us know about them.

Breaking in a Brooks Saddle.


Most of you read my post about my new Brooks B17 Saddle that I purchased for my Swobo Sanchez. One thing that I didn’t care for is the breaking in period, 3-6 months seems too long for me. It also may take me longer since the Swobo Sanchez is not my only ride, I have to constantly switch rides since I’m a bike tester. I was reading Sheldon Brown’s method of breaking in a leather saddle, the fast way:

The easiest and fastest method to break in a new saddle is with a liquid leather dressing, such as neatsfoot oil, Lexol, seal oil (a French favorite) or baseball glove oil.

You can just pour the oil on and rub it in by hand, or for a more drastic approach, you can actually soak the saddle. The easiest way to soak a saddle is to turn it upside-down on a sheet of aluminum foil, then form the foil up around the saddle for a snug fit. Pour in a whole 4 ounce can of Neatsfoot oil or whatever oil you prefer, and let the saddle soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Pour the remaining oil back into the can, and wipe the excess oil off with a rag or paper towel.

Does anyone else have any other methods to speed up the breaking in process?

Heading to Colorado


My family and I are heading to Colorado, Arvada to be exact. We will be visiting my wife’s brother and his family. We are planning to make it a cycling vacation as well with stops in Fruita, CO and Boulder, CO. I heard that Mountain Biking is awesome over there. So please make sure that you give RL, Randy and Ghost Rider hell in my absence.

Brooks Baby!

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

Yes, it’s fixed gear Friday!! Check out my new acquisition for my Swobo Sanchez:

A beautiful Brooks B17 Saddle:

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

I wanted to customize my Swobo Sanchez with a retro-modern look so I added the faux leather grips and the real leather saddle.

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

I also bought their care kit, it comes with a tension wrench, a nice polishing cloth and the proofide. According to the instructions, it takes 3-6 months for the saddle to break-in, but once it has broken-in, it should mold to my ass nicely.

Brooks on the Swobo Sanchez

The Swobo Sanchez is quickly becoming one of my favorite bikes, not because it’s so cool, but I really enjoy the ride.