Want to determine mileage for a new route you're itching to try, or see where others like to ride? Check out these websites, which allow you to easily map your cycling routes and view routes saved by others. The sites can all calculate total mileage of the total ride, and point to point along the way. Some tally elevation changes too, so you can see how much you'll climb. Others can even calculate calories burned based on your weight and speed. All in all, some pretty nifty tricks
Map the ride
Probably the best tool of the bunch, the Map My Ride planner offers the most handy features in the easiest-to-use interface. It would be ideal for someone organizing a bike ride or tour.
Featuring a drawing tool that can plant icons along the way for water stops, bathroom breaks and first-aid stations, Map My Ride is an easy way to put together a good-looking handout (cue sheet) for riders. Plus, the routes you create on this site can be saved as well as exported to GPS devices and Google Earth.
This site offers a search feature that will produce specific bike routes mapped by users around the world based on your input. Bikely.com requires that you join to use many functions of the site, but there is no fee to register. Best feature: routes can be marked with tags like "scenic," "low traffic," "steep" and the like so you know what you are getting into. Plus users can upload photos to show the highlights of their favorite routes and give others a preview.
This site is the best if you just plan to stick to the simple task of mapping your favorite routes. It's very user-friendly, but a main disadvantage is that it does not offer a stored database of saved routes. You have to save a link to your map to be able to recall it later.
The things that make this mapping tool stand out are the KML output that ties to Google Earth, allowing you to feed your route to that program.
Additionally, Veloroute's mapping tool offers weather reports coupled with live webcams positioned in selected cities so that you can get a sense for conditions in realtime. Other markers show the location of steep hills and danger spots.
Downside: more routes and user input are needed to make these snazzier features relevant and useful to riders outside of Seattle and a couple of other spots where most are presently clustered.
Routeslip also requires registration, but this allows you to personalize the site, including the opportunity to create a "my routes" portfolio and a training journal. Routeslip has the best search feature, allowing you to look at a region and see all of the cities and the number of routes mapped for that location. For instance, at a glance you can tell that the state of Washington has over 530 routes, with more than 60 to explore in Seattle alone!
The biggest problem with Routeslip is that it seems to frequently "hang" when searching or loading maps, and frankly, it is enough of a problem to almost get Routeslip booted from this list.