I like to ride in loops!
August 10, 2020 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Is there a cycling navigation/tracking tool that plans loop routes?

I'm finally edging back into using cycling tech, after years of not doing so because I got too focused on beating my numbers and stopped enjoying the rides. But I just got a sweet new road bike and I want to keep track of the rides I take, so I've downloaded both strava and komoot, and plan on playing around with both of them to see which I like better.

I notice that komoot has pretty solid route-planning functionality, which is awesome, but I like to ride loops a lot more than out-and-backs whenever possible, and their planning function pretty much only gives out-and-back routes for longer rides.

For example, this last weekend, I rode from my place in NW Portland, out the Springwater to the I-205 path, up to Marine Drive, over to Kenton, then home down Greeley through the Pearl. I know that route in my head, so I didn't need nav for it, but I'd like to do other big loop rides like that, and I'd like an app to be able to build them for me.

If I want to plan a loop ride on komoot, it looks like I'd have to set up waypoints for pretty much every segment of the loop, correct? Is there an easier way, or is there a route planning app/tool that will plan out loop routes as well as out-and-backs?
posted by pdb to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Strava's "Suggested Routes" feature seems to auto-generate me good loops most of the time, based on start location and desired distance/elevation (it does seem to prefer fast moving streets which I suspect are popular with the roadies around here rather than my own preferred quiet back streets, but it's a good starting point). You do need a subscription for it but you can get 2 months free to try it out.
posted by btfreek at 2:24 PM on August 10, 2020

I've been using Ride with GPS. One of its nice features is that you can search for existing routes, but you can also plan routes in it. In theory you can just drop waypoints at A-B-C-D and it will fill in the spaces between; that might work for you, but I've found that it has a strong tendency to put you on the least-travelled roads possible, even when it doesn't make sense. So I wind up dragging the route line around a lot when planning a route in it. It does give spoken turn-by-turn directions, which is nice when exploring new roads, but it doesn't do any rerouting on the fly—it just follows its cue sheet and lets you know when you've deviated from it.

If you've got an iPhone, the app EasyRoute can also generate routes…easily. You still need to give it waypoints.
posted by adamrice at 3:07 PM on August 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Not sure if you need the loop to be within an app, but the City of Portland has some loops on their website of varying length.
posted by hydra77 at 5:12 PM on August 10, 2020

I like to use the Strava Global Heatmap for an area to to find interesting routes, just by panning around and identifying roads I’ve not yet ridden.
posted by migurski at 5:13 PM on August 10, 2020

One of the first overlays on Google Maps, GMap-Pedometer does route mapping by clicking points and joining them up. You can save links or export GPX files to load as waypoints on your route.
posted by k3ninho at 12:51 AM on August 11, 2020

I also use RWGPS. I don't know that it has any features that help make loops as opposed to out-and-back rides, but I like the ride planning features a lot. Recently I discovered the "segments" feature. I started making a few segments of sections of my favorite rides because it sends me an email when I beat my personal best for that segment (I need the motivation to get more exercise these days). I noticed that if I can look at the rides that other people were doing when they rode the segment I made. Often they're riding loops and that's given me a lot of inspiration for new rides.
posted by Drab_Parts at 12:55 PM on August 11, 2020

I have a Garmin bike GPS. Their companion website Garmin Connect will build a loop for you based on a start-point, a distance, and a general compass direction. It appears to use their user heatmap. Generally I find the auto-generated loops to be well-planned. However they can be biased toward popular routes (e.g. rail trail bike paths). This is not not always ideal. For example, rail trails can be too crowded for high-speed fitness riding, or group rides.

I've often used their routes as a draft, and then customize to add points of interest (water stations, convenience stores, fun hills, etc.). The customization process is about as good as RideWithGPS, which to me means fairly good, but with a few annoying bugs compared to Google Maps routing.

I think Garmin Connect is free.
posted by KevCed at 4:19 AM on August 12, 2020

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