Bike to Allaire, Part 2: Routes, directions, and inadequicies of technology

April 3, 2013 § 3 Comments

It’s 2013 and although we don’t have hover-boards or teleportation yet, it has officially been ‘the future’ in my mind for at least five years now. One would think that in a world that now has echolocation hats, we would have more functional directional tools for cyclists.

Here’s what I’m looking for, in one cross-platform application:

☑ Comprehensive map with bike trails & relatively safe roads to bike on (or at least legal roads to bike on) – Google Maps, accurate enough check!
☐  The ability to take that map and put it on my iPhone with turn by turn directions – No such application exists, only on Andriod … WHAT!
☐  Same map – tracks my speed and elevation gain – Apps like this exist, but they don’t load a comprehensive map or give you directions. Even on Andriod they exist independently of the directions application.
☐  Same map with the ability to search for nearby bike stores, bike pumps, and campground. Again, this exists (not geared specifically for cyclists, but good enough for now) but it isn’t integrated into the same application.

The limiting factor here isn’t technology and it certainly isn’t demand (see this NYT article from last May). I guess there just aren’t any touring cyclists who know how to program that have mustered up the gusto to tackle this problem yet. If you’re reading this and you’re a touring cyclist that knows how to program  … you have no idea how many beers I would trade you* ..

In the meantime, for shorter day trips like the one I took this weekend, I’m good with old school pen and paper.

bike map to allaire

As tedious as the the map was to draw up, it did mean that I practically had the route memorized by the time I actually hopped on my bike. It was still really nice to have my iPhone as back-up; I did miss a turn a time or two (as you can see, there were like .. A LOT of turns) and was able to catch it pretty quickly with GPS tracking. The iPhone also let me check out a different way back than I took there. Having a Solio Classic charger chugging away on my way out on Saturday meant that I had mostly a full phone battery by day 2.

Solio Charger on Bike

People have been going on adventures for years without all these gadgets and widgets, but I think my generation will be the last that remembers doing so (if I had a dollar for every missed-turn bike mile I’ve ridden and freeway I accidentally had in my route plan …) If the bike revolution is going to catch up with the future and engage the next generation of two wheeled adventurers, the technology is going to have to catch right quick, and I for one won’t be one to complain when it does.

*But seriously cycling programmer – I know you’re out there and if your’e reading this, just tell me what you want and I’ll make the trade, Tall, Tall Trees Alan Jackson style.


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