Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cycling: 650 Hours, 8100 km

A couple of weeks back, I posted the images I created from the GPS logs of my five years of recumbent cycling. I mentioned then that I was working on an animated version of those images, and I now have those up and working. I've split them up by year, with and without labels that track time, distance, date, and the bike & GPS models used.

I find these animations fun -- they bring back memories of the rides quite sharply. I don't expect others will have a similar reaction, but just in case you're interested, here they are.

YouTube has reduced the size of the videos from the original, so the text in the labelled versions isn't always that clear. I may re-upload these using videos created at YouTube's resolution at some point.

2004 - 69hrs, 850km

This was my first year with a recumbent, a Rans VRex. You can see my explorations of various trails that would be come regular rides: the Don Valley, Taylor Creek, the Waterfront, the Humber River, the Belt Line / Cedarvale Ravine loop, the Leslie Spit, the Islands, etc. The red path represents five minutes of cycling.

2005 - 76hrs, 823km

In my second summer of recumbent riding, I tended to stick to the same trails I'd explored in 2004. The two main exceptions are the Ride for Heart (I did the 50km route that year) and a trip out to Highland Creek in Scarborough, probably my longest single ride to date. We also took the bike up to Bruce County, where we vacationed for a week, and I did some nice loops up there.

2006 - 89hrs, 1113km

Early this year (May 6) was my first major failures. I was taking Lori's Catrike Speed out on a ride through High Park when I hit a rock or a log and bent the chain -- she had to come rescue me. Also, on May 28th, I tried to do a longer version of the the Highland Creek ride in reverse (parks first, then Kingston Road) and conked out around 70km, again needing rescue. Not all the big rides were failures, though. I was still doing the 50km route for the Ride for Heart, and on June 17th we took my Rans down to visit a friend in Mississauga so I could bike back on my first outside-Toronto recumbent ride. But the big ride was two month later, on August 16th, when I did my first (metric) century ride, up the Don Valley, across the top of North York, and down the Humber.

2007 - 145hrs, 1802km

In 2007, the VRex started showing signs of wear. I had to abandon two consecutive rides along the Belt Line loop because of mechanical problems, and we decided it was time to upgrade the bike. I moved up to a HP Velotechnik Streetmachine Gte, a recumbent with front and back suspension and under-seat steering. With the new bike, I decided to up the Ride for Heart to the 75km route, which worked great. I started expanding the Belt Line loop over to Prospect Cemetery for variety, and threw in a ride out to Port Credit, as well as some big loops through Scarborough and Etobicoke. In October we took a week's vacation in Haliburton, and I did some riding up there as well.

2008 - 144hrs, 1810km

Most of my riding in 2008 was pretty close to downtown -- I didn't get out to Scarborough or up to North York at all. But I made up for a lot of that on August 2nd, when I did my longest ride to date: almost 180km to Hamilton and back -- my first ride over 100 miles.

2009 (to August 17th) - 127hrs, 1676km

2009 isn't done yet, of course, but I have gotten some good rides in. Nothing out of town, but I pushed the boundaries of my Toronto riding to the limit -- literally, with an August 1st ride around the perimiter of the city. Other rides include a run up the Don Valley that was cut short at the north end by a massive thrundestorm that felled a tree right in front of me, and some nice rides east and west along the lakeshore. I've started replacing my Belt Line loop ride into work with one along the Waterfront Trail to High Park, then back along Dundas, which is nice and relaxing.

The Whole Thing

Finally, here's a single animation with all five years' of rides. Unfortunately, YouTube's compression really degrades the quality of this one, even more than the previous ones.


XL-Network said...

Great movies, can you tell me how you made them? For instance how you did the animation and how you blacked out the satelite maps. I have some (35) GPS tracks (I ride recumbent almost 1 year), and I feel inspired to make something like this myself.

Btw. did you record all of your rides (like going to work), or just the tours etc.

James said...

I wrote my own program which reads Garmin GDB files, then draws them to a JPG. Then it passes the JPG to the Java Media Foundation library, which combines the frames into an MPG.

The program I wrote lets me configure the colours, the map coordinates, etc.

I recorded all my rides -- you can see that I spend a lot of time bouncing back and forth across downtown. That's me heading from home to work and back.

Stephen M. said...

Hi James,

My name is Stephen Michalowicz and I'm a writer with the local Toronto news site I'm interested in doing a story on your fantastic collection of time-lapse biking videos. If possible, I'd also like to interview you. Are you available anytime this week?

You can reach me at

Thank You,

Stephen Michalowicz
Torontoist Contributor

James said...

Sure, Stephen. I'll get in touch by email.

Stephen M. said...

Great. Thank you.

Padraic said...

Thanks for sharing, those videos are really amazing. Have you posted your routes anywhere that can be seen overlayed over an actual map?

James said...

I have a couple of my routes up on Google Maps, but I'm in the process of prepping a bunch of logs to upload to MapMyRide and Bikely, two great user-provided trail sites.

Once I've uploaded a bunch, I'll post links here.