strava, google maps, exploration

Exploring a new locale is part of what makes travel fun. One thing I like to do is go looking for interesting bike rides.

To that end, I’ve been using Strava because they have a neat feature called the “segment explorer”. It shows you the popular rides in any given geography, so now you have instant access to the derived preferences of the local cycling community (or at least, the Strava-using subset… but that tends to be the most enthusiastic subset of cyclists anyway, so it’s an excellent proxy). No more looking at maps and guessing where the good rides might be.

I’m also pleased to note that Android’s Google Maps recently enabled voice turn-by-turn directions for biking directions, which is quite simply, trĂ©s awesome.

To give a concrete example, yesterday I was looking for some hills to ride up. I had been looking at San Bruno for a while, verified in Strava that people do indeed ride it, and decided I wanted to go to there. Navigating from my apartment to the base of the climb was a bit complex, as it involved quite a number of turns on unfamiliar streets, and typically would have resulted in multiple stops to pull out the phone in the middle of a ride to check my location and the map and hoping I was going in the right direction.

No longer. I queued up the base of the climb in Google Maps and got directions from current location to that destination. Then, go into the Navigation feature, and start riding. I normally don’t wear headphones while riding, but I did this time to get the directions. A little voice chirped in my ear along the way… “in 600 feet turn right on Geneva St. Go 1 mile on Geneva St.”

That’s quite a bunch of technology working all together, and I must say, it felt like magic. And for a 2-hour ride, having both Strava and Google Navigation running simultaneously didn’t seem to kill my phone’s battery at all, still ended up with >80% charge.

Now go forth and ride!

(image below is clickable to get stats on the ride)