Riding the Mariana Trench

MapMyRide has become a default bike-mapping tool for race promoters and they’re using it to share course profiles. Good for the promoters, but despite looking at it several times, I don’t know what this chart is communicating


Checked with others, they don’t either. My work-at-Microsoft-PC Bros who understand such mathematical-type things? Nope.

David said, “it’s like you’re riding the Mariana Trench.” You’re underwater or it has reverse elevation gain.

Hey Map My Ride product manager, if there’s no budget for any user experience or information design, may I suggest a Tufte course or read Veen’s blog.

I can send them my old Tufte books, if you’d like. Sparklines dude.


Looks like an elevation profile over distance with the colors indicating grade.

Here’s my interpretation (i’ll interpet moving from top to bottom):

The top section is the gradient legend. As you read left to right, the gradient scale starts with steepest declines at left (dark green) and moves to steepest inclines at right (orange); flat is denoted in yellow.

Moving lower. The blue “wavey” line is the elevation profile over the distance of the ride.

The area under the blue line is then filled and populated with the different gradient variations (from shades of green to yellow to orange) to denote the gradient at any given point in the ride.

So as an example, if you examine the profile from mile 10.5 to 12, your descent starts around mile 10 with a slight -2% drop and then gets slightly steeper through mile 11 (probably in the -5% range) before flattening out after mile 12 (-1%).

does that help?

If that’s correct and maybe it is, there’s no legend to explain it and why does it have to be so complicated? See this as [at-a-glance](http://www.letour.fr/PHOTOS/CDD/2010/500/PROFIL.gif) graphic demonstrated that this course is “hilly” and this one has [a sting in the tail](http://www.letour.fr/PHOTOS/CDD/2010/400/PROFIL.gif).

I too am a big Tufte fan!! Yes, this us confusing. Awful even! But I think that I agree that you can get a general impression of “hilliness” whatever it means and my take geeky/mathy is that it is “delta elev” .. Change of elevation..

And yes, the scale should be at the bottom!!

b | f is spot-on. I was wondering what the the top section was… never occurred to me that it was actually a legend.

I don’t bike but I do run. As a runner, what I do care about is a simple elevation profile. The gradient profile/legend seems overkill to me, but maybe it’s useful to folks who bike (sounds like it isn’t)?

Basically, I’d be happy with miles on x, elevation on y.

Map My Ride has a runners site too, looks exactly the same. Also note that a Mapping tool is coming from Google. They announced with the Bike Maps last month.

The BEST feature is the new “Course Fly-by” on some maps.  It essentially takes you on a helicopter view.  Here’s an example of one from Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race coming up in May.


You can do that in Google Maps without out all the in-your-face ads.

Advertise here

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