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April 28, 2007

Setting trips public or private: update

Filed under: General MTBGuru stuff,Howtos / tips / tricks — mtbguru @ 2:32 pm

Up until now, when you created a trip on MTBGuru, there were two different default privacy settings in use:

  • When you had created the trip using ‘Add a Trip‘ in the sidepanel, the trip was by default ‘Public’, with comments disabled.

  • When you had created the trip using ‘Upload GPS Data‘, or out of one of your GPS files in ‘My GPS Files’, the trip was by default ‘Private’.

The thinking behind this was that when uploading straight GPS files, the user’s privacy would be better served by keeping the default setting of the resulting trip and the data private; this as opposed to ‘Add a trip’ where by default the user would ‘publish’ or add the trip to the public MTBGuru trip base.

On the other hand this was all quite confusing, so we just implemented a new and better way of tackling this:

  • When you now create a trip using ‘Upload GPS Data’, instead of the ‘Create Trip’ button after the upload you will be presented with two ‘Create Trip’ choices: [Public] or [Private] (see screenshot below). As you need to select one of either to create the trip, there is no need anymore for a ‘default setting’.

  • Createtripexample2

  • Creating a trip using ‘Add a Trip’ remains unchanged and still results in a default ‘Public’ setting; comments are enabled by default now as well (screenshot below).

  • Create trip example

Of course, afterwards you can still change trip settings on the fly, as before.

And if you want to switch a whole set of your trips at once from Private to Public or vice versa, you can make use of the ‘Choose Action’ feature and the checkboxes on ‘My Trips’, as was previously possible as well (screenshot below).

Convert settings

April 27, 2007

More Henry Coe

Filed under: Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 6:33 pm

It looks like it’s the month of Henry Coe: this weekend is the official Backcountry Weekend, in a couple of weeks the opening of the new entrance at Dowdy Ranch will be celebrated during a ROMP/MTBR/IMBA Coe Epic weekend on May 12-13, and Tom Stienstra from the San Francisco Chronicle recently wrote a column about Coe and the opening of Dowdy Ranch.

Henry Coe State Park is the Bay Area’s backyard wilderness and it’s a dream of a mountain bike destination – at least if you’re the type that likes to throw in a bit of adventure in your bike rides. The Backcountry Weekend is sold out (due to overwhelming interest from both hikers and bikers, the park set up a lottery and ticket system, to limit the amount of campers in the Orestimba wilderness area), but the ROMP/MTBR event on May 12/13 is open to everyone.

Thanks much to ROMP and IMBA for the great work they’ve done in the park, building trails and tirelessly campaigning for access here and elsewhere – please support these organizations!

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April 24, 2007

A nice stretch of the legs…

Filed under: Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 7:28 pm

Last friday I got this message from a bike friend:


He was planning on doing a ride with a few folks in Henry Coe State Park the next day, and the 10k from the picture was referring to *10000 feet of climbing*.

Henry Coe is notorious for its steep trails, and 10k feet of climbing in over 40 miles sounded like… a good challenge, though of the rather nightmarish kind.

It turned out to be one of the greatest and toughest rides I’ve ever done – the Durango race was perhaps a bit harder but that was mainly because of the weather conditions and altitude. Some of the climbing on our ‘Kitten ride’ was brutal and relentless and we had to hike-a-bike more than we’d hoped for. A lot of the downhill on the other hand was fantastic and my Yeti was great on this – though a bit heavy and with a non-ideal gearing for the steep climbs (largest cog in the back only 32 teeth), it was coasting like a dream on the rollers and felt awesome on the fast, winding descents. The two thoughest climbs, Mac’s Corral and Vasquez, felt like they would never end though.

As per Jeff, a very nice stretch of the legs indeed!

Route below, and here are links to the trip page, to a thread on MTBR discussing this ride, and to a gallery of pictures including ones not found elsewhere.

Henry Coe by the way is listed as one of IMBA’s ‘epic ride’ destinations.

(This is a bit of a cross-post from my personal blog.)

April 14, 2007

Sea Otter Classic: return of the rain

Filed under: Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 9:07 pm

“There’s no doubt: it’s a drought”, says the San Jose Mercury News, but the cold monsoon that poured down Laguna Seca today around noon felt like it wanted to violently contest that point. Luckily for us cross country mountain bike racers, the weather during the early morning hours was near-perfect for racing: a few light sprinkles at the start, partly cloudy later on, with a race course in excellent, fast shape. The light rain during the previous night may have taken out the sting of the sandy sections, as they appeared less severe than in previous years.

When the downpour started, we were already enjoying post-ride goodies and could easily find shelter in the nearest booth (Titus in my case), a good occasion to check out for instance the new Titus El Guapo up close and personal.

Others were not so lucky though: the road race supposedly was halted, and other events had to be postponed or cancelled. And the riders tomorrow will probably witness the return of the mud bogs (non-existent today).

The cross country race today was a whole lot of fun, and below is a caption of the MTBGuru trip page I just created.

Sea Otter XC elevation profile

18.8 miles and 2900 feet of hills and thrills!

April 13, 2007

Sea Otter Classic festivities have started

Filed under: Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 12:15 pm

New this year are the BMX races and the Super D race (sort of a cross-over between downhill and cross-country mtb). And tonight there is an ‘adventure race’, mashing up mountain biking, kayaking, trail running and orienteering.

We’ll be there tomorrow morning – early, way too early!

Have fun everyone, and we’re hoping the weather will be better than what is shown here!

April 5, 2007

Google’s My Maps

Filed under: General MTBGuru stuff,Google Earth,Mapping — mtbguru @ 1:56 pm

Lots of buzz today about the release of a new feature on Google Maps, called My Maps, allowing users to annotate and save maps with their own content: placemarks that may contain links, photos or text (any html really), lines, routes and shapes. GigaOM even talks about the ‘smashing of maps mashups’ and the impending doom it may bring to existing third party web apps, as Google’s own offering now seems to take away the wind out of the sails of many of these mashups and mapping startups.

We don’t worry about this but are actually rather excited about it: Google uses the KML format to save the data and feed it back into the Web. This makes for a nice and closer alignment between Google Maps and Google Earth (potentially leading one to become even more philosophical about the future of the Web and the advent of geobrowsers) – for us it means in particular that all KML files generated on MTBGuru are now also available on Google Maps.

As an example, let’s assume we’re interested in bike rides at Skeggs point near Woodside (one of our own local favorites). When we go to Google Maps and type in ‘Skeggs, Woodside CA’ in the main search box, we get the following result (screenshot below, click the image for a larger version):


The content in the left sidebar consists of Google’s featured links (typically these are local businesses that paid to be listed here). Below these, you can see a link titled ‘See user-created content’ (encircled in red). Clicking on this will now lead to a web search for KML files, relevant to this location and search, with the following result (see screenshot):


As MTBGuru creates and publishes KML files on the Web for each public trip and geotagged picture, you may find MTBGuru links appear in the sidebar, with corresponding placemarks on the map, as is the case here.

Click now for instance on the first placemark (‘Skeggs Point – Manzanita Overview’) – this points to an ‘overview’ KML file that contains the route, see the next screenshot below:


You can now save these routes and placemarks in Google’s My Maps – click on the placemarks and you’ll see a link appear titled ‘Save to My Maps’ (two examples below):



This basically enables anyone to save and catalog public data on MTBGuru in My Maps, and annotate it with their own content (overlayed routes, additional commentary or pictures), and we’re all in favor of that!

It would become even nicer if Google could give the ‘User-created content’ link a more prominent position in the sidebar upon a search, so it would be easier for people to browse the rich KML content out there on the Web.

April 1, 2007

Sea Otter Classic

Filed under: Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 11:44 pm

The Sea Otter Classic, probably the largest cycling event in the USA and the inofficial start of the (mountain) bike racing season here, is coming up again (April 12-15, Laguna Seca near Monterey) . There are many races and race categories, populated each year by thousands of participants.

The mountain bike cross country amateur race is one of the more popular races and features dozens of categories depending on factors such as expert level (beginner, sport, expert), age, gender, amount of cogs (singlespeed or not), etc.

In order to get some idea of what to expect and to figure out which class to sign up for, we at MTBGuru went out and took a look at last year’s data, in particular at the average speed numbers for the 19 mile long cross country course.


Sandbagging alarm

This race is infamous for its sandbagging, and often times you’ll see people in the beginners class averaging 12 mph over the course (trust me, that’s not a beginner’s level). The above graph lists the number of finishers with given average speed – it is an estimate of their statistical distribution. You’ll see that the best ‘Beginners’ wouldn’t look silly amidst the expert/pro crowd. Note that the Pro Male and Female contenders did *two* laps of 19 miles – i.e. in case they would only need to do one lap, their average speed numbers would probably be quite a bit higher.


Age doesn’t matter

Another observation is that the various age categories (graph above) lie pretty close to each other in average speed. Age doesn’t seem to matter too much – at least not for the beginners class.

Anyway, no matter which class you sign up for, make sure to have fun on the scenic course!