Author Topic: A new way of mapping route profiles?  (Read 1552 times)

A new way of mapping route profiles?
« on: June 29, 2009, 06:06:26 PM »
I wonder what people think of this new idea in terrain mapping for cyclists? My first thought was 'why not just map slope?' or show a conventional profile, but the idea has really grown on me. I like the simplicity of the design, and despite the minimalism, they are really quite informative.

In fact, I liked the idea so much, I decided to write something to produce them automatically from a GPS track. Unlike the originals, I haven't annotated these, nor included intersecting roads as I wanted to be able to automate the entire process. Below are some examples (clockwise from top left, and not to the same scale: Fred Whitton, Brian Chapman, Brevet Cymru, Transporter 200, Rural South):



I think they work better when slightly larger. Below is the Fred Whitton taking all the main passes in the Lake District, all clearly visible as thicker lines:




I tried mapping slope in the same way, but these tend to be less informative and at the scale of a 200+km ride, show very little.

There is perhaps scope for labelling controls, or using colour to encode slope, but I am quite taken with the minimalist design.
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Pancho

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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2009, 06:12:06 PM »
Super. I really like these.

They remind me of the classic example of graphical data presentation:


Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2009, 06:37:06 PM »
Nice idea. One problem might be that fine route detail (i.e. twisty routes) is easily lost/confused with changing altitude (i.e. a series of hairpins) -- at least on the scale of Audax rides.
Adding colour as a fourth dimension could perhaps emphasis slope, or at least differentiate up from down?

mattc

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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2009, 06:58:41 PM »
Adding colour ...
Read the rubric !!!

Anyway ...
I think this is an excellent visual representation.

Unfortunately it highlights my old bugbear ... routes with loooong climbs look harder than they are, and short choppy stuff looks really easy.

(As I think I mentioned on 1 of the GPS threads, I reckon
"(rate of change of )accumulated climb" might be a better metric than simple altitude..
Has never ridden RAAM
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andygates

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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2009, 07:03:06 PM »
...needs colour, then - minimalism is all well and good but a map is a tool first and an artwork second.  I like the idea of toning in a colour based on slope, which should be easy enough to code for between points.  A green track that goes amber on grades and red on chevron climbs, for example, uses traffic-light colours we're all familiar with; or a blue toning to red, like cold-hot. 

I love the representation, though.  It has that Tube map purity.  Just needs more info...
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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2009, 07:05:40 PM »
Great idea, but I'd prefer a colour tone representation too.
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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2009, 07:11:09 PM »
I think that this is fantastic! I don't think that coding the same info twice (line thickness + color) is useful.

[daydreamer] Just imagine how useful it would be to have a UK map of main audax rides shown like this for route planning purposes, may be you could even use the "colour dimension" to code if it is a main road or a country lane  [/daydreamer]

mattc

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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2009, 07:22:41 PM »
The downside of colour coding is addressed:
Quote from: linked article
In my opinion, slope is much easier to figure out when line width changes than when the color value does. The color at A is darker than the color at B - but can you quantify how much darker? And can you do it as easily as you can tell how much wider the line is it at A vs B? Speed and ease of understanding are, I think, particularly important given how the maps are to be used. I am told that these will be read by people who don’t even stop their bikes while reading the map (I don’t really know anything about biking - I’m not usually permitted outside the confines of the UW Cartography Lab). So, the map has to work when they’re not looking closely or long at it. The second advantage of line widths over something like color variations is that line widths are more robust - they won’t vary according to lighting conditions, as the users bike in and out of the shade of trees and in varying levels of cloud cover.
(although he also mentions the upsides!)

Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 10:22:30 AM »
At Nutty's request, here is an example of a much more local map. Taken from an OpenStreetmap submission around Benfleet, Essex. The map is about 3km west-east. Easy to spot the roads that involve some climbing (vertical range is about 75m):

Beware the Tregaron Mountain Toad

Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2009, 10:23:27 AM »
Just become a better climber and the hills will not worry you !!! ;D

Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2009, 11:44:21 AM »
Just become a better climber and the hills will not worry you !!! ;D

Indeed. I used to actively avoid hilly rides, or even look for routes around hills. I've cured myself by entering hillier and hillier rides. I'm still a rubbish climber, but I'm improving and at least I know I can get up the things eventually.

Back to the OP, I do like the simplicity of it. Any chance you can do one for the MSG 300 if I send you a GPX file Jo? Since that's relatively fresh in my mind I'll be able to see how the representation fits with my memories (before the Audax memory pixies pay me a visit and apply the rose-tinted retrospectacles).
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vorsprung

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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2009, 12:23:45 PM »
Just become a better climber and the hills will not worry you !!! ;D

Indeed. I used to actively avoid hilly rides, or even look for routes around hills. I've cured myself by entering hillier and hillier rides. I'm still a rubbish climber, but I'm improving and at least I know I can get up the things eventually.

Before LEL 2005 I deliberately did the K&SW 600 as it was "the most diffficult" for climbing 600km in the UK
Fortunately I made it round in time and I have never been bothered by any threatened so called "hilly rides" since
I'm afraid you've missed the calendar event of the K&SW 600 but I'm sure IanH has a stack of perm cards just waiting for you
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Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2009, 12:31:32 PM »
Before LEL 2005 I deliberately did the K&SW 600 as it was "the most diffficult" for climbing 600km in the UK
Fortunately I made it round in time and I have never been bothered by any threatened so called "hilly rides" since
I'm afraid you've missed the calendar event of the K&SW 600 but I'm sure IanH has a stack of perm cards just waiting for you

Yup, that was my thinking. Elenith on fixed. Bryan Chapman on fixed. And i've just done the Midland Super Grimpeur 300; probably "the most difficult" 300 in the UK. 5390m climbing. Had gears for that one though...

(Emailed Jo my GPX file of the MSG so we'll see what it looks like in this representation...)

I'm also hoping to do the Ide Hill Grimpeur 100 (2145m climbing) the weekend before LEL although it depends if I'm free. Current insanity is to take the fixed too.

Ho hum.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Weirdy Biker

Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2009, 01:47:27 PM »
This is aesthetically pleasing and intuitive.  Like a tube map for grimping randonneurs.

Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2009, 02:17:29 PM »
It looks like the Midland Super Grimpeur was a ride of two halves. I like the little tour of South America you did in the bottom loop.
Beware the Tregaron Mountain Toad

Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2009, 02:28:32 PM »
Great idea, but I'd prefer a colour tone representation too.

I've changed my mind. The original minimalist approach is better.

These would work really well on the AUK calendar...
Quote from: Hodor
Hodor.

Re: A new way of mapping route profiles?
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2009, 02:44:40 PM »
It looks like the Midland Super Grimpeur was a ride of two halves. I like the little tour of South America you did in the bottom loop.

Excellent, Thanks Jo!
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."