I was reading a recent post by “Fuzzy Galore” about maps when I realized something. When comes to maps, I’m a total geek. I might even go as far as to call myself a “MapNerd”. I love maps, I love looking at them, I love Google Street View, I love exploring with maps, I love exploring on maps. Did I mention I love maps?
Whether if I am on my Harley, on my road bicycle or mountain biking, I use some sort of mapping to determine where I am going to go, where I’m going while I’m going and where I’ve been when the going is done. Yes it is excessive but so what, it is so freaking cool. How so, you ask? Ah, well, knowing the where and the how are one thing, but digging deep and seeing the where and how… now that is badass.
I can’t imagine how it was done 25 years ago, well I should say, I don’t know how we did it. Paper maps for all of their glory, are reliable to a point, detailed to a point and accessible to a point. One must stop to look at it, it must be at a scale big enough to see and they mustn’t get too wet for folded too many times. GPS, Google Maps have all but eliminated that worry… until your battery dies or you lose power. But for the most part, they are the way to go.
The GPS, is the end result of your research. Google Maps, Basecamp, MapMyRide and whatever else you use is where it all begins. When I consider taking a planned ride. I hit all of my map resources. First being Google Maps and Street View. Thanks to Street View, I avoided many a nightmare and bad situations with my bicycle and motorcycle ride. While maps and map views are great for picking the route and destination, Street View shows you there is a six foot crater, broken pavement, no shoulders, banana peels and a tuna sandwich down one stretch of road you were considering. Course redirected.
I have and continue to use Google Maps and Street View to try and create the greatest ride ever… Still haven’t done it. I have tried and continue to try to create a “No-Left-Turn Ride” that gets me on the good roads with good views and services (gas, food, etc), I’ve come close, but it’s tricky. Try it.
I’m a huge fan of Garmin’s Basecamp as well. Dropping pins and markers (Geocaching) on the things I want to see or have seen for later recall is great. Google Maps has a similar feature, but I like the ability to put cute little icons on them associated with their function. Basecamp also allows you to import GPX files from other devices or programs and then import that to send to your device. Then you can follow those tracks. How freaking cool is that!? I now use Basecamp to create all of my ride routes. Complete with waypoints, POI’s (points of interest), places to eat and get gas.
I’ve always wanted to go to Germany and see where my dad is from. It’s an expensive trip so for the time being I’ve been to his home town and down his street in Bremen all with the help of Google Maps Street View. I’ve been up and down every road in Moab, Utah, every trail and up and down the Florida Keys. Not just to see where I want to go, but also just to see.
All of the good roads can be found, all of the good scenery can be found and all of the fun stuff can be found if you use maps, not just digital maps. Any map.