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Top Six Route Mapping Websites

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Want to determine mileage for a new route you're itching to try, or see where others like to ride? Check out these websites, which allow you to easily map your cycling routes and view routes saved by others.

The sites can all calculate total mileage of the total ride, and point to point along the way. Some tally elevation changes too, so you can see how much you'll climb. Others can even calculate calories burned based on your weight and speed. All in all, some pretty nifty tricks.

1. Ride With GPS

ridewithgps.com
ridewithgps.com

My personal favorite of the bike route mapping tools, I stumbled on this gem after experiencing great frustration with Mapmyride (see below). RidewithGPS.com offers the usual route mapping tools, including the elevation charts, the ability to auto-follow roads or if you turn it off, to go direct point-to-point. Other options allow users to create and define landmarks, including title, URL and description. These can then be included with the cue sheet, or not, as desired. Here is an example of a route I created for a ride this fall. Finally, I was most pleased with the basic membership which offers unlimited PDFs of your routes for just $6.00/mo.

They offered spectacularly responsive customer service, replying almost immediately when I sent a question in to the support line. Additionally, ridewithGPS.com is continually working to improve the site, adding upgrades and seeking user suggestions for enhancements.

2. Map My Ride

Photo of a kid on bike reading map.
David Deas / Getty Images

Map My Ride (and its counterparts, Map My Run and no joke, Map My Dogwalk, which all run on the same basic software) used to be at the top of my list. Recent significant problems with performance and non-existent customer service have caused me to repeal that endorsement. Mapmyride has had difficulties in allowing paid users to print maps, generate ride notes and generally maintain basic functionality. I cannot suggest people use mapmyride until they get these serious problems figured out.

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Probably the most visually appealing tool of the bunch, the Map My Ride planner offers many handy features an easy-to-use interface. It would be ideal for someone organizing a bike ride or tour, but for the ongoing problems the site has in allowing paid users ($11.99 gets you five printable routes each month) to actually print PDF maps. The site has been buggy lately, and promised upgrades to fix these and other problems have not materialized. When trying to print a route, the site stalls out, and the customer community support forum is full of frustrated users. Direct contact with the support desk - again a feature to paid members - generates useless advice and doesn't fix the problem

Featuring a drawing tool that can plant icons along the way for water stops, bathroom breaks and first-aid stations, Map My Ride is an easy way to put together a good-looking handout (cue sheet) for riders. Plus, the routes you create on this site can be saved as well as exported to GPS devices and Google Earth.

3. Bikely.com

Bikely.com logo
This site offers a search feature that will produce specific bike routes mapped by users around the world based on your input. Bikely.com requires that you join to use many functions of the site, but there is no fee to register. Best feature: routes can be marked with tags like "scenic," "low traffic," "steep" and the like so you know what you are getting into. Plus users can upload photos to show the highlights of their favorite routes and give others a preview.

4. Gmap-pedometer.com

This site is the best if you just plan to stick to the simple task of mapping your favorite routes. It's very user-friendly, but a main disadvantage is that it does not offer a stored database of saved routes. You have to save a link to your map to be able to recall it later.

5. Veloroutes.org

The things that make this mapping tool stand out are the KML output that ties to Google Earth, allowing you to feed your route to that program.

Additionally, Veloroute's mapping tool offers weather reports coupled with live webcams positioned in selected cities so that you can get a sense for conditions in realtime. Other markers show the location of steep hills and danger spots.

Downside: more routes and user input are needed to make these snazzier features relevant and useful to riders outside of Seattle and a couple of other spots where most are presently clustered.

6. Routeslip.com

Routeslip also requires registration, but this allows you to personalize the site, including the opportunity to create a "my routes" portfolio and a training journal. Routeslip has the best search feature, allowing you to look at a region and see all of the cities and the number of routes mapped for that location. For instance, at a glance you can tell that the state of Washington has over 530 routes, with more than 60 to explore in Seattle alone!

The biggest problem with Routeslip is that it seems to frequently "hang" when searching or loading maps, and frankly, it is enough of a problem to almost get Routeslip booted from this list.

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