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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Why MyCycleTour?

I started touring on my bike ten years ago.  A four week trip with my brother starting in London then into France and Italy.  I'd been to those countries before but really had little idea what it would be like on a bike.  To prepare we purchased 1:200,000 maps for all the areas through which we were going to cycle.  We marked up the route with a highlighter and cut the maps up so only to take the pieces we really needed.

Putting bikes together on arrival at airport in London

It wasn't until 2006 that we started using a GPS.  We still did our planning with maps, and continued to highlight the route physically and cut the maps once again to take on route.  The GPS did help us follow the route, but at times it made mistakes when we relied on it too much, and we ended up backtracking a number of times.  Relying on maps and GPS actually made things worse.

The last few trips were different.  I really relied on the internet to plan the route (Google maps, Garmin, and a variety of bike specific sites) and used GPS as a complete replacement for maps.  It worked pretty well.  It seemed that technology was catching up and with some difficulty could really help in both planning and navigating a trip.


To take that one step further, we created MyCycleTour.  A one stop shop for planning a great cycle tour.  We haven't been around for long but we're evolving and picking up user momentum.  You can browse other peoples' routes and take a look at route, ascent, difficulty, places along the route (campsites, hotels, places to eat and more), pictures, descriptions and more.  You can even "See it in 3D", a virtual video tour of the trip using Google Earth.  If you like the route as is you can download a "GPX" file which can be loaded into a GPS or Smartphone to navigate the trip.  Still using maps, then you can simply list and print the directions to keep you on track.  Even more, you can create your own custom route with all of the features listed above.  All from one site!

More than the planning, we've added a whole resource section to help new trippers to learn a little about bike options, what to bring along and even how to pack your bike for air travel.  Just check out the "Resources" tab on the home page.

Ready to go!

I'll use this blog to look for some feedback on what you like and where we can improve.  I'll also use it as a guide to help you figure out how to best utilize the site, and to connect the planning phase to the navigation phase.  More and more I see people traveling with smart phones that have mapping and GPS apps.  There are lots of apps out there, and over time we'll try to make sense of some of them and make it easier for non-techies to select and adopt the best.  I hope you enjoy this blog as it develops.

Happy riding!

Mark
Founder MyCycleTour
www.mycycletour.com