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since 4/10/2009
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So this line of thinking started because of a trailhead encounter I had a couple days ago. I was at DuPont State forest to ride with my wife. It's close enough to home that we know it reasonably well. But it's also far enough away that I don't know the entire trail/road network by heart. It's one of my wife's favorite places to ride. We had been talking about what to ride on the drive there, so we'd at least know which trailhead to use. Once we got to the trailhead, we pulled out our map to plan a more detailed route. IMO, this is one of the best times to use a paper map, since you get a big picture view of the area in question, and can see at a glance how all the trails and roads connect to each other.

An older lady walked up to us and started extolling the virtues of mtbproject. Those of you who follow this forum know that I'm no stranger to digital mapping services, and that I've contributed a good bit of content to mtbproject. I have it on my phone along with trailforks. This lady seemed to be a pretty experienced rider. She had a sprinter van kitted out to haul bikes and camp out of. She said she has this talk with anyone she sees with a paper map. My explanation was simply that I like paper maps, and I don't like using the trail map apps without cell reception. She starts walking away and starts babbling about how they still work without cell reception and yada yada yada. Yes, I know they "work" but I don't like HOW they work. Namely, the fact that the apps don't cache the background map tiles. You get a basic view of the trails, but you lose out on all the other information from the maps. Sometimes the gravel roads that are necessary connectors here (many of them have been added to both mtbproject and tf, but not all). Sometimes notable landmarks. Sometimes just the terrain. Whatever.

I might pull out the phone with a mapping app if I need a quick reference while I'm out on the trail. Times when my needs would make for minimal battery draw. Times when I don't need a big-picture view. When I just need a confirmation for which way to turn or something simple that doesn't require a large view. They're all tools and they all have their place.

This encounter with the lady would have been even funnier if I had chosen to wear the mtbproject jersey that they sent me awhile back for being a contributor to the website. I've actually received two jerseys from being a contributor to mtbproject, but the first one was basically from a gift card to imba's store and doesn't have any mtbproject branding. The one I'm thinking of is very obviously mtbproject-branded. Not to mention, I'm something of a mapping professional and have made money making trail maps. I'm not one of those people who gets lost easily. As long as I have a good map, I'm good.

I mean, I understand why you might approach someone to talk about mapping apps if they were looking lost on the trail and had no map whatsoever. But for someone who is clearly having a discussion over a high quality paper map? Why bother?

What's your preferred method for wayfinding? Anyone ever had a funny encounter like mine with someone who wanted to preach their preferred wayfinding method over your own while out on the trail, uninvited, when you weren't having any problems?
 

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Armature speller
Unit, Anthem, Stumpy, Secteur
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4,661 Posts
I use a GPS so when they find my body, they can see how epic the ride was.

I do plan rides sometimes, but am always distracted by "oh, wonder what's down here" or "this was a sweet ride on the TT350 with trials tyres 6 years ago, wonder what it's like now".

Usually followed by a few minutes of riding and 20 min of pushing the bike through, under and over deadfall and spikey bushes...

I hardly see anyone out on the trails I use.
 

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old skool newbie
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857 Posts
Computers and GPS devices are great but there's nothing better than a good paper map for wayfinding. Opening up a map provides a larger view allowing the eye and mind to scan quicker than a computer scroll or zoom. At a glance, a paper map gives a sense of scale, distance and topography. It doesn't need batteries, tracks can still be 'uploaded', notes can be scribbled where relevant, and it can be mounted on the bars. The downside is the ephemeral quality of paper from all that folding & unfolding.

I've tried lots of map sources for wayfinding but have recently relocated to an area outside of the US with much less government mapping available. I've left my Garmin 705 in storage and don't use the computer near as often, so primarily use my phone.

A smartphone can upload large or small rides, see the route while riding and adjust the route on the fly. These days I find Google maps, (default, terrain and especially the satellite images) my first choice for wayfinding.

For finding my current location while riding and for on-the-fly route options, I use a mix of Strava and Wikilocs searches. Strava is weak because it only provides segments and doesn't connect the pathways. Wikilocs shows the full routes uploaded by the users but doesn't have the user base/# of uploads that Strava does. This data is always current either.

If we're dreaming, the heat map Strava puts out yearly would be extremely handy to access while riding. Seeing the most travelled routes and the least travelled tracks while exploring would be fantastic.

Sent from my SM-A520F using Tapatalk
 

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I'm a GIS user and I will usually make a map on my own using a variety of data sources since the state made maps often have old data or bad cartography. The process of making the map is usually enough to commit it to memory though so the map usually stays in the pocket.
 
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