Bike route planning (continued)

Posted: December 14, 2012 by Ben Weber in Cycling, Equipment, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

São Paulo - Atibaia

<— First article regarding route planning

Two of the other online route planning tools we have used are Bike Route Toaster and Ride with GPS. Both are better than Garmin Connect from the point of view of showing the total elevation of your journey. The former is completely free, while the latter is free to use so you can plan your journey, but if you want to upload routes to your Garmin, you have to pay a subscription.

Starting with Ride with GPS, and this is the tool I have been using most until now (though that might change as in comment to my previous post, Charles ( suggested using Strava… which looks interesting though doesn’t look to be any good for actually planning routes – just for analyzing the ones you have taken). I have used Ride with GPS to plot out initial drafts of the entire 360 Extremes route through from São Paulo to the top of the Americas (345 days, including days off… so quite a lot of individual routes there!). Everything is all there saved, though it would be nice to be able to organize things in folders or something to make it easier to find everything. The planner isn’t really good for cycle paths, though it does let you draw from point to point when there are no roads to follow, so it won’t take you all around the sun to meet the moon. And one thing that I really do like about it is that you can see the grade of the climbs as well, so you get a better idea about how steep the climbs you face really are – not something that appears in the other tools – and oh, yes, you can also use Street View to gain an idea of the roads (wherever Google have gone, that is).

On the left, the data from the GPS after the activity; on the right, the data from the planned activity.
Spot the difference (aside from distance as started 15km from start, after flat roads/gentle downhills)

Like Garmin Connect, you can download data about your daily activities from your GPS to the software, and it can keep track of everything. It can be buggy, however, sometimes and it can be easier just clearing a route and starting again rather than trying to sort out something that when wrong with the route/waypoints. Also, while it shows you the total climbs/descents over the course of a ride, it tends to exaggerate these by a good few hundred metres – the route from São Paulo to Atibaia is shown as +2131m / -2142m, when the Edge 800 altimeter works it out as around +/- 1,300m. Which is right… well Bike Route Toaster seems to support the Edge.

So being careful with the elevation planning, I would give this 7/10 on the whole though 8/10 for just the route planning – better than Garmin Connect simply because even an exaggerated idea of the total elevation is better than none.

Bike Route ToasterBike Route Toaster is great and easy for quick planning and is completely free. It gives you elevation data, allows you to create course points and warnings, and allows you to work with the “Virtual Partner” on the rides – though we haven’t used this much yet as we generally go at our own steady pace – the importance for us is not speed, rather building our endurance. The elevation data seems more accurate than the Ride with GPS – and is considerably closer to the readings that the GPS gives, so I would trust this much more for getting the most accurate information in planning your ride. It can be slightly buggy and you can’t save routes on to the server, so it is harder to organize and make adjustments to a sequence of different routes as part of a longer journey. Uploading them to your Garmin does saves the routes you create, however. It hasn’t got all the activity analysis features as the others, and also it isn’t the best looking of interfaces in the world, with tacky adverts appearing here and there… but what do you expect? It is free, after all.

6/10 as a general grade because of the lack of features, though 9/10 for just the route planning. Higher than Ride with GPS because you don’t have to pay to be able to upload the route to your Garmin.

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