Well, as foreshadowed in my entry last week on the New & Old Brewery Ride, I decided to give Map My Ride a look-see with a one-year trial membership. There’s a lot of functionality in there that I haven’t quite mastered — noting I still don’t really know how to use the mapping & GPS features of my Garmin 705 either — so I’ll hold off on passing judgement for a while.
However, as far as first impressions go, it seems like a tool with a lot of potential. Being able to click and point to create ride routes and then doing a virtual ride with Google Earth to make sure you haven’t routed yourself onto a logging road is pretty cool. The .pdf maps are also pretty nice, especially the cue sheets and custom formats.
There are also some weaknesses that come to the fore rather quickly. For one thing, the maps that are out there are created by other users. That can be a good thing or a not so good thing, depending on how adept they were at using the tool and what they thought constituted a good route. Also, if four or five subscribers decide to map their own version of a similar route you need to figure out which route is the one you’re looking for, i.e., the Brewery Ride from Cartersville, Georgia has quite a few different variations, some with notes, some without. However, the biggest nit I found was in trying to create your own routes… it seems like it should be intuitive, but it’s not. So, I’ll probably need to spend some time watching the video tutorials before passing final judgement as there are some steps that I’ve just not been able to master hacking my way through the software using common sense and dead reckoning.
In the mean time, we were able to use it for last weekend’s impromptu Sky Loop ride. I got it into my head while riding we were riding the Brewery route on Friday that rather than doing our usual ride from the house on the following Sunday, we’d make the 20 minute drive down to Hiram, Georgia and ride the 40 mile Sky Loop that I was introduced to by the LM Cycling Team on a couple 9/80 Friday rides. While not the really tandem-friendly ride that we found with the 48-mile BBC route I described in the New & Old Brewery blog entry, it’s a moderately challenging route with a lot of climbing and a few really nice descents that makes you feel like you got in a good workout by the time you’re done. On a lark, I posted a note to the PEACHES (GA Tandem Club) list Friday evening to let others know we’d planned on riding the Sky Loop on Sunday morning at 9am and invited anyone who was interested to join us. Given it was short notice, we weren’t sure if we’d have any takers as most folks would have already made their weekend plans. However, we did have one taker, our friends Eric and Linda from Tucker. Again, our original plan was to ride it alone so having Eric and Linda along was definitely a treat. We sent them copies of the .pdf maps & cue sheets that we were able to download as ‘members’ of MapMyRide, and that seemed to work OK.
We only missed one turn on the marked route, mostly because I was looking left at Randy Travis’ property in Hiram instead of the looking for the route markings or road signs and we overshot by about 1-mile before I realized we were in uncharted territory. Other than that, the maps were spot on, as was the elevation, etc… The ride itself was pretty nice with a lot more climbing that the mileage would suggest. Also, the 7-mile final stretch along the Silver Comet Trail was about 6 miles more than I’d prefer but, hey, it’s a good cardio workout, right? Afterwards we had lunch at a local sports bar and then went our respective ways after sorting out a minor issue with Eric and Linda’s van.
So, if you find a good map it’s a neat tool. Again, hopefully I’ll be able to master the tool and map-out all of our local rides for posterity and if I can do that during the next year my membership will have paid for itself. Oh yeah; there’s one thing that bears mention regarding MapMyRide.com: they need a faster server! Ever since their marketing campaign on this year’s Versus Tour de France coverage began, server response time has been abysmal. Come on guys, anticipate! There’s nothing worse than failing to deliver in the midst of a new business drive. I mean, really….