Bike trip planning–Strava Glovbal Heat Map
Is using the Strava Global Heat Map a good way to plan how to go to somewhere by bike? The brighter the road, the less likely a given cyclist will run into problems vs darker, less traveled roads.
I’m not planning on going to Djibouti or Afghanistan. I mean a Trip from Pittsburgh to North Carolina or Florida over several weeks. Is it also good for planning local trips to places like Butler, Cranberry, Murrysville, Sarver, and Washington, PA.? I know just to stay on the GAP and C&O Towpath trails to go to Washington, DC. From there, I could go south to Raleigh or Florida.
It will also lead you up (or down) the various hills of the DD so check the topographic profile as well.
Whatever route you come up with try and confirm with locals and also visually using Google Street view.
On long distance planning: I always use Google Maps. It is simple, just choose a starting and ending point, and it will compute a route. It won’t necessarily be the best route, but it will be at least reasonable, given the roads available. I’ve noticed that it does like trails a bit more than I do, taking me out of my way to get on them. But it’s a decent starting point and it’s not hard to reroute during your trip if you have a smartphone.
I always tend to use Ride With GPS to build routes, you can trust it to give you a route, drag waypoints around to force it to go where you want, manually edit cues, and toggle between base maps and pop in to google street view. Do this side by side with Strava heat maps and you have a pretty good toolset.
I’ve also found that I can coerce RWGPS route paths to override navigation issues and force some off/road or off/route paths with manual drawing of the route (instead of follow road/path) when I want to take a shortcut on a closed road, off trail, etc..
I’m a bit biased, since I also have a bike computer (wahoo elemnt) that sync’s all my routes from Ride With GPS. Though, you can export navigatable .tcx files to many different bike computers, use your phone for navigation, or print out cue sheets.
@zzwergel – FWIW, You can use Ride with <span style=”background-color: rgba(246, 213, 217, 0.804);”>GPS </span>website on a computer and then print out the cue sheet. I used it regularly before they even had a smartphone app, since it seemed to be the best route planner.
It’s a premium feature to do custom print map+cue sheet from the browser (Might be able to simply print plain text cue sheet withot maps from the browser without premium features).
Otherwise, if all else fails on the free version, you can just copy / paste cues to a spreadsheet program format the cues how you like, and then print it.
@zz, I’m kind of impressed with your ability to navigate around Pittsburgh as you do, without a smartphone. For long-distance touring I’d suggest you bring some maps; for example https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/ has a catalog of maps you might find useful. Even if you’ve got a route planned it would be helpful to bring some paper maps along for when you get lost, or if you change your plans.
I’ll take a look at these resources when I get a chance and have access to a printer. For places that I am not familiar with, I take printed directions with me as I did in My video going from Castle Shannon to Library. If I didn’t remember what to do, I pulled the directions out of my computer bag and looked at them.
Try EasyRoute as well. Here is information:
I do not have and cannot afford those kind of devices.
I’ve been doing long distance tours for over 40 years. For a long time, there were no such things as online mapping programs or smart phones. Now that these mapping programs exist, they can and should be used. You don’t need much money to use them, just a library card and perhaps a few dollars for any printing you might do.
You will need some money, if you are going to travel long distances. Only so much food can be carried and you will start eating voraciously. You will almost certainly have to purchase some food along the way. 40 years ago, nobody bought water but today you will have to buy some. Then, there are equipment malfunctions, campground fees, laundering your clothes, and you might find that gabbing motel room once in a while is a nice break from the great outdoors.
Getting back to route planning, you can let one of these mapping programs do it all for you or you can take more time to look at roads in greater depth and plan your own route. In more recent times, I used to print out some of the maps, especially at crucial points where the route appeared complicated. You could print everything out, make up several envelopes, and have someone mail them to you, General Delivery, and you can pick up the next envelope at strategic post offices as you pass through towns along your route.
These days, everyone stares at their phones and nobody talks to anyone else anymore but I think the people you meet and talk to along the way enhance the trip experience. A lot of those conversations start with asking directions. I rode across the USA back in 1981 with paper maps, real money, and no smart phone or any phone, except a phone booth. It was a blast.
It can still be done. You can do it too. Go for it!
I mean I cannot afford to spend that kind of money in one purchase. If I spend $300 to purchase a GPS, I will be unable to afford hotel rooms and/or food which is much more important than an unnecessary electronic gadget. Laptop computers on the other hand have been around to some capacity since the 1980s (That’s before I was born!), so I do not consider a laptop to be a luxury item.
Understood. I was encouraging you because all of those expensive devices are nice to have but not really needed to have a nice bike trip.
I’m also prone to losing things. I’ve left my helmet, keys, cell phone, and wallet on buses and at stores many times.
Most of us have done those things a time or two. My best advice is to put everything in one place, such as in your helmet or an easily detachable bike bag, and hold onto it at all times. Even better, a backpack that you don’t remove from your person. Losing any or all of those items on a long distance tour would bring the trip to an abrupt end.
I do have a bag that I usually take with me and hang it around my shoulder.
Back to your original question. Heat maps help and also do searches for routes on Strava, Ride with GPS and others. Google Street view is helpful as well, if it is available on the road. You’ll get an idea of the berm and sometimes traffic levels. I take a couple tours each year either solo or with a few friends. Our group researches the hell out o the trips. We contact local bike clubs and shops. We search popular restaurants and tourist attractions. Lastly, stop and talk to people. I have had water bottles filled by friendly locals and have been given great information on alternative routes. On a tour of Michigan as well as a ride heading out of Vancouver, pre-planned routes were completely abandoned after bumping into local riding clubs. Thankfully , there are still are lot more cool people than gravy suckers.
How am I supposed to know that no one put poison in the water bottles?
I agree with pretty much everything Gerry had to say. There is good advice there.
Regarding Z’s last question, such a thing is very unlikely to happen. As Gerry alluded to, most of the people you will meet on the road are good folks and more likely to help rather than hurt you. This is one of the great things about bicycle touring, faith in humanity is renewed.
Water is purchased today, more for health and purity, than for worries about intentional poisoning or fouling. This possibility is one of the things I would least worry about when planning and preparing for a tour.
I hope so. I was taught not to trust anyone you never met
Not everyone is looking to do you harm, Z. You can treat it just like your beer, at the bar (if you do that sort of thing). Don’t let your drink out of your sight. Most people will fill your bottle right in front of you. Those that try to do otherwise, just politely say, no thank-you.
Happened recently to try out the suggestions of some, who responded or posted in this forum. I have a paid membership to Strava but it is not a premium membership. I don’t make any claims of being close to a computer expert. Now that all of that has been said, how does one actually find heat maps, other than one’s own, on Strava? I could find common segments that cyclists rode in specific areas but could not find a command, in any of the drop down areas available to me, to show me heat maps of an area of the USA that would demonstrate common routes used by cyclists in the specific area. If this is something I have overlooked, I would be grateful if someone could explain to me how to find such maps. Thanks.
@fultonco: here’s a link to Strava’s global heatmap (no premium membership necessary):
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