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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in the middle of a vast suburban mountain bike trails system of greenbelts, nature preserves, and city parks. You can ride over 80 miles of trails if you connect it all together, often by means of riding a few blocks of neighborhood streets to get from one segment to another. There's no major elevation change at one time but for one long hill, and nothing "double black diamond" technical, but lots of exposed, chunky rock in sections.

The system is very difficult to navigate due to its patchwork format, so riders new to the area will need a guide present or spend a lot of time staring at maps to get the most out of it. A physical guide is not always available and, from personal experience, guiding someone whose skills don't match mine (either they are too fast or too slow) through the trails can be frustrating. Turn-by-turn navigation on a GPS unit has been pretty useless in the wood, but it might be improving.

I have a relatively low-tech solution I'd like to try to help riders navigate the area for the first time: record audio of myself narrating the trail as I ride it, edit it down into sections, and share it like a podcast. A rider could download it and listen to me jabber at them about upcoming intersections, tricky sections, where to bail out if necessary, etc. It would be like one of those audio tour guides that you pick up at a museum. Most headphones have controls built into the unit, so a rider could pause the recording easily if I they fall behind my narrative and need to catch up.

Before I try such a thing, what legal and pragmatic concerns should I consider? I'll have to get the following sorted out:
  • Sound quality- I have my phone, a headset with a built-in speaker, and a standalone digital voice recorder as well. I'll have to experiment with sound quality, but my main concern would be mitigating wind noise. Maybe rig the recorder to my chest and put a fuzzy wind-cancelling ball on the mic?
  • Legal- I don't want to be held responsible if someone gets lost, injured, or stumbles into a private property while using my guide. much of the trail is in grey-area land, usually owned by the city but without official permission to build trails. there. anyone can find these trails on Strava and the neighbors use them to walk dogs and such, but the city does not recognize them.
  • User experience- I want to ride at a slow enough pace that even slow riders can keep up and set it up so they can pause it if they don't make it to the next landmark when I do in the recording. This will mostly be a matter of my skill as a narrator. I would also break the tour into segments, maybe 5 or 10 mile loops that riders can download individually and string together any way they choose.

My hope is just that a few people will find this useful, and I'll have fun doing it. No expectations that I'll make money or change the world with this. If it is successful, maybe other people will make their own audio trail tours and make them better than mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Video your ride, use the video to script the narration, then record it in a studio. Have the Foley artists add sound effects.
This was part of my inspiration. I don't have a POV camera and don't have any desire to throw away money on one, but I could get a used one or find a way to rig up my decommissioned iPhone 4s for the job. The crappiness of the video quality would be irrelevant, and the narrative and audio quality would be superior. Might try that too.
 

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Along these lines, how long do you think it will be until the Trailforks app adds voice guidance a'la Google Maps? I hate stopping every few minutes to look at my phone or map when I'm riding new areas with lots of intersections. It would be great to have a voice telling me, "turn left in 25 feet".
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Along these lines, how long do you think it will be until the Trailforks app adds voice guidance a'la Google Maps? I hate stopping every few minutes to look at my phone or map when I'm riding new areas with lots of intersections. It would be great to have a voice telling me, "turn left in 25 feet".
I would think that would have to be added by individual users and very difficult to do accurately. Even among my suburban trails with superb cell data coverage, GPS is marginally accurate under a tree canopy. I would think that would drain your phone battery FAST too. Maybe with a Garmin or something, but I think relying of fewer gadgets is an upgrade to the experience.
 
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