Trailforks Custom Basemap

Apr 8, 2016
by Todd Neumarker  
Trailforks basemap


Trailforks is now providing its own background terrain map. It’s homegrown and built from the ground up to highlight all things mountain biking. Online map sources have come a long way in recent years, as has the technology and hardware necessary to process and make them widely available. At Trailforks we have a pretty simple goal: arm riders with all the information they need to find that next epic bike adventure. Up until now we have only been providing widely available online background maps to give geographic context to the trail data. Each of these background layers have strengths and weaknesses, some have stricter usage licensing then others, but they are all good maps. As good as these background maps are for their intended audience, that audience is wide... really wide, like everyone in every user group. But our focus is narrow, primarily mountain bikers. To build a map that is very specific, even to virtually one use case, we decided to create a thematic background that we can more easily control, remove unnecessary visual distractions, illuminate important map locations and geographic features. Our goal in building this map is the same as in building Trailforks; to provide all the information you need to find your way onto the trails, quick and simple.

1. 1.6 billion tile images stored
2. 7 terabytes SSD storage
3. 34 million km of road/track/contour data



BASEMAP by Trailforks
Images of the Trailforks Custom Basemap


The first thing we did was to filter out unnecessary map items that tend to obscure the mountain bike information. We think that paved roads and highways are over-emphasized on most maps. Even maps that profess to be "Bike Maps" often display the main freeway as a center-piece. Of course, we do believe they serve a purpose, like to help navigate you to the trailhead or when doing a shuttle, and as a visual reference to help orient yourself to a location. But for the most part paved roads themselves as compared to trails are ancillary, and on our map they are rendered accordingly, in plain white, visible, but insignificant as compared to mountain bike trails, as they should be.


CUSTOM TERRAIN and ELEVATION CONTOURS
Contours with elevation and terrain shading
Images of the Trailforks Custom Basemap

Mountain gradients and elevation data is very important, but not so much that it detracts from the trail map itself.



This is another area we decided to start from a blank canvas and build up the terrain to provide only what we need to know when planning a ride. Things like how steep up, how steep down, when does the climb start, will I get caught in a valley and have to climb out before it gets dark. We didn't want the terrain shaded too dark, because again that obscures the trail data and doesn't print well. With a terrain map of our own design we have the freedom to provide printed copies, even provide other mountain bike organizations a basis on which to build a trail map or create beautiful printed race course maps to hand out on race-day.

When we started toying around with terrains and contours, providing a map like this that would cover the globe was a daunting task. To process large groups of files that would reach as big as 30 gigabytes for one single file initially took days to process. We initially thought multiple computers running in parallel would be required. To overcome this we built a specific computer, 12-cores, 64 gigabytes of RAM and a 1.3 terabyte NVMe drive that could be used as a graphics buffer. Then we had to add (4x) 4 terabyte drives to optimize IO and serve as a source for SRTM raw elevation data, contour vector files, completed terrain files and all the intermediate files. The speed of disks was the primary limiting factor. Using the Intel 750 NVMe drive enabled us to accomplish the pre-processing all one computer.


Images of the Trailforks Custom Basemap


First, to process the terrains we did not want to use the SRTM elevation data raw without smoothing elevations and doing some scripted graphics work to pretty it up. The contour lines also needed to be smoothed and cleaned up using some custom scripts. Imagine every contour line on every hill and mountain everywhere in the world, that's like trillions of kilometers of vector length. Even for a liquid cooled 12-core overclocked machine the processing time was significant. On top of that our little workhorse would perform a gaussian blur to smooth out the terrain shading on massive files which would take up to 500Gig of work space on our NVMe drive as it worked on one of many files waiting in the pipeline. I had to install some extra fans on top of the liquid cooling radiator to pick up the excess heat. These new LED fans would kick on whenever the cores reached a high enough temperature. This way I could tell if there was a failure or crash, because the fans would stop if any part of the processing pipeline failed and the server room would look just a little bit darker. So I could just look down the hallway and say "Yep, still cranking!"


DIRT ROADS
Images of the Trailforks Custom Basemap


For those of you familiar with the iconic Slickrock Trail in Moab, you know that like many trails in Moab, it shares a popular 4x4 route. Even dirt roads on a mountain bike map are generally more important or of greater use when connecting to trail systems or finding a quick way to drop off the mountain. Most maps do not contain dirt roads, if they do they rarely differentiate between paved and dirt, much less color them by how rough or primitive they are. When a map is mostly black and white, anything on the map with color will stand out. We paint the dirt roads in a dirty brown, and fade them out as the road quality diminishes, similar to the way you may experience such a road in person, as the weeds and overgrowth reclaim old double track. We believe all of this is important information to a rider, and we wanted to emphasize it. Or more accurately provide a theme that will represent it when the data is tagged with the necessary attributes.

Creating our own basemap gives us all kinds of flexibility we did not have in the past. Our vector data is derived from the OpenStreetMap project and the terrains/contour are of our own design sourced from SRTM data. The list of items we wanted to remove from the map is lengthy, so for the purpose of this document I will enumerate a few of the more important things:


WHAT WE REMOVE

1) Ski Trails - A lot of great trails are up at ski resorts, so the first thing to remove was ski tracks. They often use the same difficulty ratings/colors as MTB trails and make any summer trail map overlay virtually useless in these areas. They were the first to go. We did not want to get rid of ski lifts entirely because we do use some of these during the summer. So we toned down the ski lifts, and if they are marked as summer or bike access, we actually emphasize them more by giving them a little orange halo.


Images of the Trailforks Custom Basemap


2) Trails - This may not sound correct, but yes, we filtered out trails. Trailforks trails are interactive and provided on top of the basemap, so we do not need trails that exist as part of any basemap. Most background trail data is often fragmented, incorrect, and/or inaccurate. We are still in the process of adding and completing trail systems in Trailforks as well, but to display two sources of trail data is confusing. In some cases the trail data in the background is very good, like OSM trail data is excellent in many areas of world. We simply don't want the confusion of overlapping. Unfortunately the tagging of trails within OpenStreetMap can be inconsistent, so our filters are very strict. We are making every effort to display hike trails to use as a reference, cross-training, and to know where not to ride, but they must be marked in OSM (we will post more info on this later).

3) Large Land Borders - All of the land on this blue marble is sliced, diced and marked in what are commonly known as political boundaries or better known as "Land Ownership". If you are making a map for everyone that is to display everything, you probably need a complicated coloring system with all kinds of different shades, patterns and borders to indicate forests, protected areas, military boundaries, wilderness, private land, mining claims, etc, etc. ad nauseum. For the purpose of this map, most of those colors and shades simply obscure our important data. We really don't care, all that matters is "Can I ride my bike here or not?" Wow, that makes our map colors pretty simple. We take it one step further, by painting military boundaries in our "Black Ops" theme (We don't want to find ourselves on a practice range) and Wilderness/Protected areas in a light green shade, where both have distinctive borders. Military boundaries are marked accurately and consistent within the OSM dataset, whereas the forestry and protected area attributes in OSM are not as consistent. But we did our best to highlight areas that are often considered sensitive, and will provide guides on how to fix OSM data to be more consistent, so that we can all make the data there better.


PROTECTED AREAS AND MILITARY
Images of the Trailforks Custom Basemap
In the image above you can see the "Timpanogos Wilderness" border as it cuts right through the Dry Canyon Trail. Although the trail is not really ride-able up, legally you must walk your bike to the saddle. There is no signage up there, but the border is clear on our map.


IMPORTANT LANDMARKS

Images of the Trailforks Custom Basemap


Hospitals and pubs. You know, for emergencies and that sort of thing. You know you are riding in a great place if all trails lead to a cold one, and to a lesser extent the emergency room.


There is a lot of tech behind creating and serving our own world-wide basemap. Large database servers hosting all the OpenStreemMap data for the planet. Servers to generate the map tiles using the OSM data, contours and shading. Servers to then host the generated map tiles and finally a CDN to serve the tiles to you the end user. Our servers generate over 1 billion of these custom map tiles!


Trailforks GIS basemap network map

Trailforks GIS basemap network map



Conclusion

All seriousness aside, this is a work in progress and we need help in crafting it. We have been testing it for some time now as we tweak the theme and try it in various locations, both in the office and out on the trails. We hope that Trailforks users will provide input and suggest changes that we can add to our growing list of theme tweaks.

Our custom basemap is already live on the www.trailforks.com website as the default map choice for most regions. The basemap will also be an option in the mobile app soon!

We already have a list of changes coming in a couple weeks, such as highlighting bike lanes in cities leading to the trails. We are also improving the filtering of the OSM tracks that underlay our trails which tend to look a bit messy. An upcoming article will explain how to edit OpenStreetMap with proper tagging to best work with Trailforks.

We would also like to hear about how you may be able to use our basemap to help promote riding in your area. Having our own basemap opens up new possibilities and we have more cool features coming that will utilize it.


111 Comments

  • 115 1
 Amazing, and unparalleled work! This is unbelievably valuable to the mtb community.
  • 18 1
 Seriously!!! This entire project should be a reference for any trails site for any other activity, as well. Just superb. At this point, it's hard to even know what improvements to suggest, but I'm sure the community will find a way.
  • 8 0
 Its new features like this that really show how lucky we are as mtbikers to have a website like pinkbike. I've gone looking for similar sites for other activities, and there's really nothing that compares. The seamlessness between articles and the forum, regular interesting content, news, buysell, an active community, and now trailforks. Keep up the good work PB!
  • 8 0
 The efforts made by the people steering and creating the content for pinkbike, and a side project like trailforks, have really ratchet up over the last while from photo epics, to trailforks, hell even that polygon bike check was sick. Someone else said it, but they are right. We are incredibly lucky and privileged to get this, regardless of the petty bickering we do within it.
  • 3 0
 There is somer serious technical know-how and problem solving at work here.

One question: - what is the impact on people who write guide books, etc? Will their services, books, apps etc be rendered obsolete by the sheer power of Trail Forks?
  • 5 0
 @jaydubmah: There is always a market for guide books with in-depth local knowledge, it fills a niche. We allow such products to be listed for free www.trailforks.com/localproducts Guide books have a lot of extra info and different visual layouts, often the maps are not even the main focus. I still enjoy collecting these books.

What Trailforks trys to address is every trail association or region developing their own half-baked online trail maps or online management systems. Trail associations are mostly volunteer and have limited resources, we believe their time is best spent on building trails and advocating for them. Let us do the IT stuff as a free service to associations in a common platform around the world. Backed by Pinkbike you know Trailforks is not going to shutdown in a year. Whereas local club X's IT guy who made a sweet online map for your club moves on and no one's left to maintain it.

I feel the same way about regional Apps, especially those that cost money and the profits seem to go to the trails. These apps and books for sale are often private interests and give only a small percentage of profits to the local trail associations. Much better as a rider or visitor to just donate money directly to the trail associations. This is something we try and promote and change the culture of with "Trail Karma" www.trailforks.com/karma

Even if a product is owned and built by a local trail association, it cost money for them to develop. Where as every rider paying a small karma donation when they visit is pure profit. So i'm not suggesting not buying guide books. If you get value from that then buy it for that reason, but not as a substitute to giving to the local trails.

People have already been moving away from printed media in many aspects of life for years, Trailforks is not the cause of any slowdown in print products geared for mountain biking.
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: Thanks for the thoughtful response. I appreciate how you guys have looked into this from multiple angles and how this can support things at a grassroots level.

I've bought a lot of guide books in the past, but like many (most?) are transitioning to electric formats. I think where future guide books will shine are ideas such as trail-link-ups, points of interest, history etc.
  • 37 1
 This whole crowd-sourced information approach is great. By and for the mtb community. Trailforks is Strava for grownups.
  • 13 1
 It is, but it's even better when Strava users connect their account. Trailforks uses that to provide some really useful trail usage statistics.
  • 10 1
 Trailforks - Strava for Grownups. Deserves a billion up votes.
  • 4 0
 @highrocker1298: watch what you say you will offend all the strava hipsters out there
  • 3 0
 But don't Strava my trail Bro!
  • 3 0
 @steeveoh: Nope, but I'll Trailfork you up!
  • 4 0
 S-Sad T-Twats R-Racing A-Against V-Virtual A-Assholes
  • 1 0
 @HardtailsAreGnarly: a*sholes that clear and then straight line purpose built corners or technical sections of trail.
  • 23 0
 Hospital or Pub.
I forget, which one do I need when I get hurt?
  • 15 0
 Pub first then hospital them pub again. Injuries can get you free drinks
  • 2 0
 @fastlaneflyer: I take it that you do that often?
  • 1 1
 @fastlaneflyer: anless you are driving, DONT DRINK AND DRIVE KIDS lol
  • 20 3
 Wow, that's quite impressive. As someone who works as a programmer/web developer I get the technical difficulties that were faced and appreciate the small glance into how the new basemap was achieved.

You Trailforks programmers are living the dream using your CS skills in the MTB industry and truly revolutionizing MTB specific navigation.

Thanks!
  • 8 0
 I've been a proponent of Trailforks for some time. I really prefer their atlas model to the guidebook model of MTB Project. Plus I've never been able to correct errors I find in MTB Project, even with repeated emails to staff. i do a lot of GIS, and an undertaking of this size shows just how seriously PB and Trailforks take this. Props!
  • 7 0
 As GIS developer I truly understand and appreciate the work that an endeavor like this demands. Thank you for this. Is there a tile service I can utilize via ArcGIS or other means or is use limited to the trail forks application?
  • 6 0
 We will probably make that available. What would you find more useful, just the basemap, or the basemap with the trails baked in?
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: I second @MetalMessiah, I'm a GIS analyst and appreciate the work. I have a custom build at home and recently finished a 263 hour geoprocessing task. Had my fingers crossed the entire time. I would really be interested if the basemap was made available. Cheers
  • 3 0
 @canadaka: I actually really like the look of the basemap, it's hard to find a good map with adequate topography and cartography.

I would be appreciative if the trails were in the tile, and even more ecstatic if they were available as a vector layer. One can dream
  • 3 0
 @MetalMessiah: we already have a version with the trails on the tile, and they look better since we can do more smoothing. But for the web & app we need to paint the trails in JS to have them interactive. We also generated vector tiles last summer and did some testing, but they are WAY too slow with Leaflet or Google Maps API. We will probably look at it again next year as the MapBox GL project matures.

I already have on my todo list to look into providing a TF tile for JOSM and I'll add ArcGIS.
  • 8 0
 You smart. I appreciate you.
  • 2 0
 Better maps now... Bless up
  • 5 0
 Just spent a few weeks biking in California, Washington and British Columbia. This app was beyond incredible. Never let us down once, fun to use and most importantly very accurate/dependable.

Thanks.
  • 4 0
 Love the work you do with trailforks. The fact that you went through all this trouble to create your own base maps shows how committed you are to being the leaders in this segment. I only hope for you to eventually integrate tracking into your app so I can get rid of strava altogether. Good luck in the future
  • 2 0
 @candaka Why did you decide not to simply use Mapbox's SaaS offering? Alternatively did you use their rendering technology like tippecanoe, tilelive, geojson vt? Seems a little redundant with their mapbox studio offering but perhaps their are scale / cost reasons that you went this way?
  • 4 0
 We did not use anything from Mapbox. Pinkbike in general likes to control our own tech and not rely on others. Additionally there is cost associated with using Mapbox. You also cannot get the same level of control using their service and their are Terms of Service restrictions. We also use this whole backend tile pipeline for many other things besides the basemap that Mapbox does not offer. Like our trail names along the trail path, the ridelog trail editing layer, our own heatmaps.
  • 2 0
 @canadaka: Interesting perspective re: rolling your own. Within Mapbox and CartoDB there are well supported open source components to do everything you've done here and then some. Its a neat space to work in and very cool for giving it a go. Would encourage you to take a look at github.com/mapbox and github.com/cartodb. Certainly check out github.com/mapbox/geojson-vt and github.com/mapbox/mapbox-gl-native for your dynamic data (GIS 5/6) as that could easily be handled in pipeline without pre-baking. Good luck!
  • 1 0
 @kayakwest: We have looked at many of those tools and continue to do so. We do tests using limited geographical areas. The difficulty is the amount of data, the world is really big, the amount of terrain, contours, roads is immense, and until you model the world, you just don't know the true computing/bandwidth resources that will be required. But all of these mapping technologies are a bit of a moving target. We started this project over a year ago, and really felt pressed to get something usable out there as soon as possible. Then we can put ourselves in a position to tune the themes, and use established GIS tech as it becomes established and ubiquitous in the open source community.

There are other reasons we decided to build this from the ground up, more to do with licensing, as we will be having some really cool features coming online for users and trail groups alike.
  • 1 0
 We have generated our own vector tiles as well for a bunch of testing. 1 year ago the mapbox GL project was very new and not well developed as it is now. I continue to watch it and consider it for our mobile app in the future.
  • 1 0
 @todd: nice, yeah for sure. I have been in this space for over 10 years and it's a lot of fun. Just out of curiosity what about the Mapbox license was problematic? It's an interesting time with lots happening in this space. For most clients we generally still don't use vector tiles in the client but we use them as a step in the render chain, baking the PNG in real time. This is a lot more distributable than using the vector source files directly. We've found this handles data updates quite efficiently and with a caching layer in front it is lower compute cost than doing large tiling jobs. Nice work, going to open source your libs?
  • 2 0
 Does anyone else use View Ranger as well? I use both VR and Trailforks. VR has a lot more detail which is useful if you are tracking a new area. TF has a lot more mtb tracks. Plus you can record with VR so you know where you have been before. If TF had the same capabilities it would be great.
  • 2 0
 @canadaka Trevor, Have you and your team considered creating a counterpart to Trailforks for users of other disciplines based on all of your tech and hard work? Only for the Equestrians, hikers (all of us granted), moto, mushroom hunters, nudists and anything else you can think of, you'd charge for the product and therefore literally fund part of our most favorite activity through the activity of other users?

Honestly, Trailforks as a hiking app could be a stupendous financial boon, meanwhile funding-in-part the thing we love and hold dear? In anycase, thank you. Big fan and contributor.
  • 4 0
 We are looking at allowing other trail types. Mostly from the motivation that it's important for an association to know where the hiking, moto, nudist, etc trails are so they can plan new mtb trails accordingly.
  • 3 0
 We are still focused on mtn biking, but the platform we've developed definitely would be useful for other groups. We will probably start collecting trail data for other types of trails later this year, but have no plans to create other spin-off sites at this point. We want to collect the other trail data more to assist multi discipline trail associations, help with navigation on the mtn bike trail map. It is possible we may create separate mobile apps specific to different groups, that all feed from the Trailforks data.
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: @radek - Has anyone ever talked about merging TF and Strava so we can find our rides and track them all in the same app? Smile
  • 1 0
 I've been submitting segments of what i would call "trails," but they've been rejected because they are considered "routes." Even though they are entirely on "trails." Can someone clarify this distinction? In other words, are you just looking for a short "segment" of a trail network instead of the entire "trail network," which I believe would be more valuable to have than simply a bunch of "segments" that do not link? It's also better for those who would like to contribute, but find their time valuable.
  • 1 0
 Trails are the individual components of a trail network. You can link multiple trails together into routes. A route generally translates into any given ride, since most rides don't stick to a single trail.
  • 5 0
 This is a common terminology difference some places in the eastern US and europe have. At the base we want "trails" added to make up the trail network of an area. "Trails are NOT routes or rides. We like individual trails to be added, we have a separate "routes" feature which allows multiple trails to be linked together." There are many reasons to have individual trails added rather than just a single gpx track of an entire "network". Other sites don't enforce this and there data is messy and inconsistent because of this. It does take more time, but in the end is a better result. It allows for better granular trail reporting, stats gathering, different descriptions, photos difficulty for the different "segments" of a network.
  • 1 0
 Thank you so much. Your work to make the community so much better informed on trails hugely appreciated. There is so much mountain biking to be had that used to take "knowing a local". Not that talking to locals is a bad thing, but being able to plan rides ahead of time, is such a blessing. Thanks again.
  • 1 0
 Being a developer, I really enjoyed reading that. Thanks then for both the write-up, and also all the hard work you've done.

Couple questions:
- How regularly will you be re-rendering map tiles to reflect source data changes? (road disappears in a slide, forest is logged, park boundary moves etc)
- Are you making the tile service, and/or other data, available through an API? I'm sure others as well as me would love to have a play with your tiles and data.
  • 1 0
 The data itself on the backend is updated every day. But because of the layers of cache, CDN, tile updates can take a while. Now that we have the map up and updating, we are testing better ways to improve our updating.
  • 1 0
 So for the OSM data, we are applying daily changesets. But because generating tiles on-demand is slow and resource intensive, because of all the contours and terrain shading. We try to pre-render all the tiles around riding areas. We also have several levels of caching in our own system as well as the CDN. The way we are doing it is the tiles won't expire before we release a new pre-seed. We will pre-seed a large portion of the map on a seperate server and when that is done, swap that in as the new live tiles. We almost have that process all automated, and will probably go with a 2 week cycle.

Now we are also probably going to create a way we can re-generate all the tiles just in a specific region via a bounding box. So it will be an option as a region admin to request that regions tiles be re-generated on the fly.

We have not decided 100% about letting others use the tiles, but we are probably open to that. We can also have a version with the trails baked in along with thee trail labels. So 1 tile to show everything, which would be handy in some GIS apps that let you source 3rd party tile servers.
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: Thanks for the detailed reply, appreciate it. Would be interested to hear if you open things up, so I'll keep my ears open.
  • 3 0
 Awesome and thanks!!! Trail forks was all I needed for a recent Moab trip and it led me to some new trails that I wouldn't have tried or known about otherwise.
  • 3 0
 This is wonderfull work, I love maps and online maps have never had the beauty of a good ordinance map, today that has changed.
  • 1 0
 Is there any plan to contribute back to OSM data? There is already MTB-related tagging scheme since years:
wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Mountain_biking
in place and in many parts of Europe, this has pretty good coverage:
mtbmap.cz
www.vttrack.fr/?zoom=6&lat=45.6294&lon=4.76807&layers=OpenStreetMap%7CSentier%20OSM%7C
etc.
  • 2 0
 We do collect OSM way ID # as one of the fields when a user adds a trail. This is for possible future use. I already allow trail associations to download all the trail data in their region as an OSM file format with all the appropriate tags. We also have a bulk import feature which accepts OSM format. www.trailforks.com/contribute/trailbulk
It is something we might consider in the future. One issue is OSM is the wild west.. there is a lot of illegal trails posted, there is no control for local associations. Endless wiki battles.
  • 1 0
 One of the best parts about this effort is the flexibility it gives organizations to creat their own embedded maps. They can perfect the trails all they want, but if the basemap is missing roads, or has roads incorrectly labeled or tagged, they can just go into OSM and line it all up and this will improve the map data in OSM for everyone. They are not stuck with a proprietary basmap with a bunch of random unnecesary stuff like power lines and ski runs. A lot of the trail data in OSM in the US is fragmented and the tags are wrong. We will be providing more info soon on how to improve OSM trail data for all users. We want trails in OSM, including mtb trails to be tagged correctly, then we all win. We also do this ourselves in OSM in our respective locations, as good OSM contributors should.
  • 1 0
 It would be awesome to improve the osm trail data.
  • 1 0
 Great to see sharing of information behind the services that many people enjoy daily and may not have an understanding of how it works or the monumental effort involved!

Great work - Is this privately developed or something that I could fork and help with bug fixing etc?
  • 1 0
 Great work!

About filtering and presenting terrain and trail information.
Maybe you should take som ides from the international specifikations for Mountain bike orienteering maps
www.svenskorientering.se/ImageVaultFiles/id_34555/cf_78/International-Specification-for-MTB-Orienteering-M.PDF
  • 1 0
 I'd love to see more work done on the "routes" section.... when I visit an area for the first time, it's nice to see how others link trails together for 15-mile or longer rides. It's the one main advantage your competitor has over TF, their "rides" section is much more robust.

I see that Trailforks has the feature, but currently there are only 21 routes in CO and half of them are enduro courses. You guys obviously have the foundation of trails (and the map itself), but the usefulness and adoption will increase exponentially when it can be used in more applications.

As someone else mentioned above, it will also be nice to have an offline version. I have Verizon now so I'm not as concerned, but when I had Sprint my coverage SUCKED and I couldn't see anything when I was out on a ride.
  • 2 0
 Our routes feature is WAY more robust than the competition. But it wasn't added until around this time last year, so they have a large headstart in route content. It just takes users to start creating quality routes, for which it is an easier process on TF.
Here is a nice example of a route using most the features: www.trailforks.com/route/ews-1-2016-corral-chile-day-1

But we have many other ways to discover ways to ride a new area that the others do not. We have the ridelogs, you can click a trail and view all the ridelogs for that trail, which show all users rides that included that trail. So it can give you ideas for a good loop. This also works in the app.

We also have heatmap & popularity data, so you can view any map and colour code the trails by "popularity" to quickly visually see which are the most ridden trails and routes in an area. (more info: www.trailforks.com/help/view/60)

But you are right we need more route content, some areas have a lot, but its spotty. We have a lot of race routes, because race organizers like the auto-routing features to plan race routes. They only have 905 more routes than us, we will have more by the end of the year Wink TF has 30,874 more trails, which makes adding route content easier now.

It seems you own a guiding company? We allow people to make branded routes, and have features like logo and route sponsors geared for that. Here is an example of a branded route in my area www.trailforks.com/route/rigs-in-zen-expert-loop-1-5-2-5-hours-ridespots-com

The mobile app should still work at its core functionality with zero data, it will still show the trails and your position. The background might be blurred or blank. Clicking a trail and trying to view photos, videos or reports won't work offline. But the trail status & condition is synced offline in small background data bursts.
We have an app update coming very soon, crossed a bunch of smaller features off our list, so we can look at offline tiles for the future, its always been our eventual goal. We are just a small team, so have to prioritize.
  • 1 0
 I have loved Trailforks since I first laid eyes on it, and enjoy contributing to the content.

I use a Garmin Edge 810 for longer rides and uploading routes when I am in unfamiliar territory. When I first got the unit, I downloaded OpenStreetMaps as my basemap for all the places I ride. It is OK, but leaves plenty to be desired. The next logical question: is there going to be a way to get the TF basemap onto Garmin products?

The need to do this would be less if the TF app did ride-logging functions like the Garmin or even the Strava app, and I understand it was a conscious decision to stay away from that approach. But it does make me wish I could have that TF map as my Garmin basemap!

Keep up the great work!
  • 2 2
 I've looked at Trailforks some... is there a user way to add a trail not currently there to the map? I imagine you'd want some form of quality control to this and not a map cluttered with random/or make-believe garbage from any user, but I wasn't sure how that went down. Which then led me to another thought... is there a consensus about adding trails that may/may not be sanctioned, but are definitely ridden quite a bit and may be hard to find?

I know the general atmosphere about protecting secret gems and keeping some of them out of the eyes of those that might end up destroying them... one in particular that i've ridden a fair amount, is A) awesome as shit, but B) pretty hard to find, and not only that, fairly remote in that if i broke half my body on it crashing, i'm not sure besides GPS coordinates from my phone, how I would tell anyone to come find me if I was riding solo. I found it by word of mouth and some snooping, but I was thinking it would be maybe cool to have it mapped out.

Thoughts?
  • 2 0
 Trailforks has a ton of features to manage all of this.

How Content Approval & Moderation Works
www.trailforks.com/help/view/70

How to stop a sensitive or illegal trail from being added?
www.trailforks.com/help/view/22
  • 1 0
 #1. Yes. You can add and create trail areas, trails, trail features, etc. These are approved by one of the Trailforks teammembers before they are posted live in most cases, or until you have a high enough ranking as a user to be trusted.

2. Secret Gems can be uploaded and then protected as an area that is either on private property, illegalish or whatever. Exit 27 in Washington as an example as threaded the needle between its current stance (totally illegal, but who cares) and soon to be adopted by the DNR as part of a legal mountain bike trail system in the near future.

3. Truly secret gems should not be uploaded, IMO. That said, I harvest Strava data from key people to find maps to secret local stuff (aka: In Whistler / Squamish, because unfortunately I cannot live there easily as an American). Props to all the awesome trail builders out there!
  • 2 1
 Unbelievable how useful trailforks is to the mountain biking community. great technology and now getting even better. Cheers to whoever came up with the idea in the firstplace!
  • 1 0
 Very smart approach, to leave as much data as possible in OSM and have only the mountain bike trail data stored separately in Trailforks. This is so much better than creating your own map data like others do.
  • 1 0
 Great work!
Now let me ask that unpopular question once again... Windows Mobile? I know it's not just a plug and play conversion, but I'd really love to use trailforks in the future...
  • 3 1
 Pretty sure there are probably maps of trails on Mars with a server that gi-normous
  • 2 2
 Soon the days of the classic LBS directions of, "ya hang a left at the big tree near the rock and send it", won't be necessary. Great steps in helping more people explore new trails, pretty stoked for the update!
  • 1 2
 I LOVE Trailforks, but why does the "Climb" data seem to be WAY off of Strava on some (most) rides?
Example:
Strava:
www.strava.com/activities/528502776 =2364 ft
Trailforks:
www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/401863 =5167 ft
  • 1 0
 I gave some insight into this on a recent forum post: www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=158680&pagenum=28#commentid6181723
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: thanks!
  • 2 0
 Awesome work on the Trail Forks front as always! Truly an invaluable asset to the entire community.
  • 1 0
 Awesome!! Some beneficial new technology for me to use on my new bike I'm building while recovering from surgery.. Scam /rocksucks could learn a thing from you guys
  • 1 0
 .This is so awesom!!!
Q: I often use Oruxmaps for online navigation. Is there a way to add this new map to the app's map database?
  • 2 1
 wow, many many thanks guys. this is incredible. do I owe you money for this added functionality?
  • 7 0
 Nope. But you can always give some to your local trail association through the Trail Karma www.trailforks.com/karma system on trailforks or the app. They are the ones that make the trails we ride.
  • 2 0
 You have already paid by allowing the use of your eyeballs for Pinkbike's ads.
  • 2 0
 Todd Neumarker, were the maps created with ArcGIS?
  • 6 0
 No we created the maps ourselves using raw data and various open source tools available for Linux. This is not something that is really documented anywhere. So we had to figure a lot of it out for ourselves, it's a big undertaking with a lot of knowledge required.
  • 6 0
 We actually take raw Lidar ( laser range finder ) data from the SRTM space shuttle missions which provides basically elevation about every 10m to 25m grid around the world, and then process all that to create directly our own contours and relief shaded maps. So imagine how many points of data that is....it's really neat stuff.
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: So QGIS?
  • 1 0
 @PHeller: I use QGIS as an auxiliary tool to load the terrains and contours to verify alignment, coverage, etc. It is a great tool. It has the ability to load very large (like extremely large) GeoTiffs and display them. We use the same backend tools extensively, but the gui, not so much.
  • 1 0
 @radek: @canadaka this is really cool stuff guys, It gets me fired up! I'm looking into doing a gis program, is that the sort of education that gave your team the skills to create trailforks?
  • 3 0
 @transition-demolition: More just full stack programming and IT knowledge. I have no GIS education, there are plenty of GIS professionals out there... many unemployed. in BC at least. But you won't find an unemployed programmer or web/app developer here!
  • 1 0
 @transition-demolition: Yeah we all are developers instead of gis people. We had a bunch of gis folks apply but we it seemed that they were more into using some gui to enter data instead of writting algorithms to process the data and actually create the systems to manage it all.
Im with Trevor, if i was starting out and had a choice to pick a field i would focus more on the dev side than just general gis.
  • 1 0
 @transition-demolition: I second @canadaka and @radek. Before anything, learn programming...and don't limit yourself to learning one language either. It'll allow you to do virtually anything. As an example, I had 10 years of daily satellite raster data of snowcover that needed to be extensively processed for research purposes. I utilized ArcGIS for this, but it was done entirely by a package of python classes that I had written to perform that task. Sure, it took me a decent chunk of time to develop and test my code, but had I tried to do that manually through the GUI, I'd still be doing it now (2 years later).
  • 1 0
 @radek as I GIS Professional I'd agree. GIS is quickly becoming a very useful add-on skill. I work in the utility industry where a good developer is certainly very valuable, but also having a team of GIS Pros who can train, explain, and review data entry on an enterprise level is also very valuable. That being said, anyone with enough interest and a few GIS courses can understand GIS (spatial database) theory. If I could do it over, I would have minored in Geography/GIS, taken a few courses, and been at the same level I'm at now, because most of what I've learned was all within the industry. I've always enjoyed mechanical design and technology education, and wish I would have majored in those types of things, and maybe picked up some programming along the way.
  • 1 0
 Call me a geek, but I love hearing about this stuff! Great work Trailforks!
  • 1 1
 I am constantly amazed by the great contributions you guys make to mountain biking. Amazing new updates. Well done PB Crew!!!!!!!!
  • 2 1
 Shut up and take my money. Is there a downloadable base map that can be used when outside of cell coverage?
  • 1 0
 Now that we have this basemap, we will be offering a print feature in the coming months. This will include GeoPDF. As for offline tiles in the app, that takes A LOT more work and is something we may do in the future. It would require a MUCH larger download in the app.
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: The larger download size could be offset by haver finer-grained control over what is downloaded. Generally we're only riding in one area at a time, so don't need a whole country.
  • 1 0
 @mbl77: That is probably how we'd handle it, offline tiles would be an option and you draw a box of the area you want offline. We just moved it way down the priority list because we found most users do have data-access while using the app and the Google Maps SDK does a good job of caching tiles for when you do go offline. For us to do fully offline tiles with Google Maps SDK (which doesn't support it), is a large development undertaking. Maybe this fall Wink
  • 1 0
 @canadaka: Dang, thanks for the detailed responses. When available, this would add a lot to backcountry riding and exploration.
  • 1 0
 Amazeballs! Trailforks is unparalleled! Wish I could be apart of that team!
  • 1 0
 You guys are awesome. Seriously, when are you coming to talk at State of the Map?
  • 1 0
 Thanks for this update ! It's really nice to know the backstage of it !
  • 2 1
 this is simply unbelievable. well done gents
  • 1 0
 This is incredible! Great work pinkbike tup
  • 1 0
 TRAILFORKS ! Best thing to come out since BOOST !
  • 1 0
 Fantastic stuff guys. So good I almost feel bad that it's free!
  • 1 0
 as a college student currently studying GIS, this is awesome!
  • 1 1
 maybe its been asked here, but is it likely to be available on Windows phones anytime soon
  • 2 1
 thanks!!
  • 1 0
 Amazing!
  • 1 0
 Looks sick
  • 1 0
 god bless trailforks....
  • 1 3
 Though Pinkbike's servers was a little more advanced then that. I was expecting blades servers in a nice rack.
  • 2 0
 They are, the server in the photo is just a 1 off machine built to crunch the contour & terrain data. Its not hosted in our data centre. Here are some photos of the PB servers: www.pinkbike.com/u/radek/album/Servers
  • 2 0
 We do have lots of test and offline machines that are not in the production pipe line. The production stuff is fully redundant, high available, and built and designed to not experience any downtime. We recognize that more and more users, organizations, municipalities, websites are actively using and feeding from trailforks so we are committed to providing the best and world class tools.
  • 2 3
 Great work!

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