Tuesday, 25 March 2008

On calibrating the difficulty of routes

I spent Easter Weekend at my parents. During the time, I asked my father for his opinion of the topography of the Défi Métropolitain. I had previously observed that it was likely to be mostly flat using Google Earth, but I was hoping to get his confirmation of my assessment. I hadn't any real doubts about my judgment, but as my father is an almost entirely retired geologist (who spent much of his career in Quebec) he has a greater insight as to the geomorphology of the terrain, particularly when observed via satellite imagery such Google Earth. (He may not have written the book on remote sensing, but he was definitely involved in the editing.)

In any case, his assessment of the terrain was the same as mine: essentially flat. In process, he showed me the utility of the tilt perspective feature of Google Earth. Handy tool for getting an idea about the shape of the land.

While watching Grey's Anatomy this evening, I discovered another tool that has enabled me to calibrate my assessment of the routes I will take. I often read something light while watching a movie. Tonight, it was Vélo Québec's catalogue of organized tours for 2008. Included in the advertising copy are assessments of the difficulties of the tours on a scale from 1 to 5. The tours listed included both routes I have taken and those I plan to take. By comparing the ratings, I have been able to get a better idea of the ease of travel I will face. The short version is that much of the route I will be taking will be easier than Spain. Of course, I pretty much knew that already, however it is nice to have it confirmed. Then again, the cyclists in the catalogue are generally heavily spandex'ed types on racing bikes, rather than laden tourers.

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