My Flypaper Mind Brenden Schaaf's opinions, ideas, comments, rantings, & minutiae

20Jun/090

Rode our bikes downtown and back

A tad over 28 miles today on the bike to downtown Minneapolis and back with Heather.  We both kind of talked each other into it and kept each other going when it would have been easy to cut our ride short.  In fact, when we got to 694 on the way to downtown (only about 6 miles in) there was a "bike path closed" sign blocking the way and that was enough of a sign to me to turn around.  But Heather persevered and ignored the sign and it turned out that it was just fine.  The last 5 miles or so on the way home were challenging because my butt was sore and the wind was in our faces but it sure is a great feeling of accomplishment and there were lots of people along the way, especially at the Stone Arch Festival downtown.

I used the iMapMyRide application on my BlackBerry to record the route. Actually it is recorded in two segments because we stopped to sit on a bench and watch the river for a while so I turned it off and then back on. I'm sure there is probably a way to join the two together, but I'll save that effort for another day!

31May/090

Auto-mapping tools now available for MapMyRide.com

mapmyfitnessI got into biking last year and immediately loved it, but one of the biggest issues I had was finding all the trails/bike lanes that exist all over the Twin Cities.  I was lucky to find a great site called MapMyRide.com.  I initially stumbled upon the site when I was trying to find a route that I could safely use to bike to work because I didn't really want to travel alongside a lot of automobile traffic for safety reasons.  As a collection of routes that others have submitted was a great resource at the time and it has only grown since I first came upon the site.

Although I was able to add some routes of my own last summer, doing so was kind of cumbersome because I had to click short segments of routes with my mouse and following things like the bike trail that leads to Elm Creek Park was difficult because the mapping tool is based on Google maps, which shows roads but not trails.  It could be done, but it took a long time and often required flipping between a different bike trail site and MapMyRide.com to estimate where trails existed (or flipping to the Google satellite view and trying to find the trails that way).  My interest quickly waned in mapping my rides online although I did use the maps others had created for planning rides in addition to some great  paper-based bike maps.

I was very happy to find out this year that there are tools available now that will automatically record routes on an iPhone or Blackberry and will upload that information to the MapMyRide.com site.  With little effort at all, maps can easily be created for others to use (or for you to refer back to).  I grabbed the Blackberry App (currently in Beta) last week and found it to work as advertised on my Blackberry Bold.  Assuming the GPS signal is strong (which it always is outside) I simply click the spacebar before hopping on the my bike and at the end of the ride and my route is saved to the device.  The software also tracks things like average speed, current pace, etc.  The iPhone App appears to be even more full featured (and has been around longer so it should be more stable) and the greatest thing is that there isn't a separate gadget to buy and/or haul with on each ride (assuming you normally carry your phone along already).

So if you are into biking, running, walking, etc. you can make use of this tool.  There are several sites that are essentially identical tailored to each of these activities: