Google maps are a terrible thing

Google maps are a terrible thing

And by terrible, I mean amazing.

I can’t remember how I got onto it, but this afternoon I found myself needing to reference the location of something – probably a picture from Instagram or something. Actually (thinking… thinking…), yes, it was:

It's been a helluva week in the Andes… I think I'll take a 2-day nap.

A photo posted by Ryan Wilson (@rmdub) on

So, upon seeing this, I was obviously all, “HOLY HOLE IN A DONUT I HAVE TO PUT MY WHEELS ALL OVER THAT!”, looked on the old googles, and about 2 hours later, after haphazardly planning an imaginary tour around Peru while having absolutely no idea about anything to do with either Peru or real adventure riding, I am still on the couch, in the fading light, having done nothing I had planned on doing this evening.

But I am, nonetheless, completely peaking on the idea of riding a bike around the Andes.

And that’s been made possible by the good people at Google and their terrible, wonderful maps and such.

Not long ago our only access to far and away places was magazines or television. Some of you may be shocked to learn that you couldn’t call up any program that you wanted at any time you wanted it. You had to tune in when it was on, or make sure you taped it if you wanted to watch it later.

Of course it wasn’t impossible to have adventures. Locally, I suppose riding around the place where you lived was made that much more amazing by not really having any idea what was around the corner. Discovering something completely new to you is an amazing feeling (presuming it’s awesome), and without being able to quickly have a peek at your proposed route in advance, there really wasn’t any other way to do it.

On the other hand… being able to preview your route has far more benefits than disadvantages. You can get an idea of the surface you’ll be facing and a first-person view of landmarks to help orient you for later, for example.

Most of all, you can fast-track your adventures by locating the kind of places you want to ride, the route you’d like to take, the specific roads you want to avoid, and know exactly how many km’s (both out and up) you’ll be up for. I’ve had the pleasure of riding through many roads and tracks that I’m sure I would have never known about otherwise.

As antithetical as it may seem, the satellite and street view options are so good that exploring new places while sat on your couch can be an adventure all on its own.

Case in point – I really, really want to go ride my bike around the Andes now. At the moment, Peru. Of course, pictures are great and can be incredibly inspiring, but virtually travelling the roads via street view gives you another layer of experience and a sense of depth and grandness that really puts you there.

If you like riding bikes, you like a bit of gravel, a bit of adventure, and you are one of those sicko’s that is more enticed by a climb the higher and crazier it gets, then you’ll probably be as pumped about this as I currently am.

These are just screen shots of the road between a random coastal town and what would be within reach of a days ride (ok, two).

One section of one road, in a country drowning in roads like this.

Thanks a lot Google. You terrible, amazing thing.

Road trip anyone?,-78.1251146,10.18z/data=!4m24!4m23!1m15!1m1!1s0x91abc6aea38ea167:0x76099f666eceb11d!2m2!1d-78.3006626!2d-9.4718308!3m4!1m2!1d-78.1657647!2d-9.5582597!3s0x91abcf1b71877559:0x54dcef233ae67e55!3m4!1m2!1d-78.0843937!2d-9.5303211!3s0x91abd06d53d2b4ef:0xde5ff4c36a7336df!1m5!1m1!1s0x91a90d0e2fd69969:0x89950cf26668d6be!2m2!1d-77.5287792!2d-9.5261154!3e0

Google maps are a terrible thing

Google maps are a terrible thing

Google maps are a terrible thing

Google maps are a terrible thing

Google maps are a terrible thing


Header image: source