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 An Oblique View of Terrain Mapping
Ryan Hamilton
Ryan Hamilton
Ryan Hamilton majored in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado and has been employed within both the LiDAR and IFSAR mapping worlds since 1998. His interests (that all appear to be tied to mapping) include blue water sailing, backcountry skiing and big mountain and downhill mountain … More »

Mountain Biking & Tricky Terrain Data

September 6th, 2013 by Ryan Hamilton

Terrain is tricky to understand just by looking at a map. I just spent the weekend riding the Monarch Crest Trail near Salida, CO. The ride is a ‘shuttle’ style ride, meaning you get driven to the top of the trail and end down at the bottom. In theory, shuttle rides are much easier because the majority of climbing is eliminated, but the crest trail is a bit of an anomaly. My friends and I gave a quick scan of the map before we started and noted that we would be dropping 4000’ from start to end. The profile looked promising and we set off with visions of a downhill run with just a bit of climbing mixed in.

However, when it comes to terrain profiles, the devil is in the details. What we failed to notice was that over the 30 mile distance we would actually climb over 3,000’ of elevation.  Now to put this in perspective, the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, is only 2,722’ tall, some 300’ less than the amount of climbing in this ‘downhill’ ride. So needless to say that by the end of this ride we were all a bit knackered.

The moral of this story is that detailed terrain data is much more than just a picture. To truly understand terrain you need to look at it analytically. The better the detail of the terrain model the more information you, and you software, will be able to extract.

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Category: Oblique view of terrain data

2 Responses to “Mountain Biking & Tricky Terrain Data”

  1. Rob says:

    Terrain data aside, If you need a ride to the top before you do the ride your not a mountain biker. You earn the downhill period!

    • Haha, I hear you on that but I only partially agree. I love backcountry skiing but I still consider skiers that ride chair lifts to be ‘skiers’. I like climbing on the mountain bike too, (Ive done Leadville 100 6 times and finished eighth or better 3 times, I once climbed over 20k feet during a 14 hour race in Salida, CO, to be honest I can’t really say I enjoyed it). So maybe ‘true’ mountain bikers only climb to the top but it sure is nice when you can get a ride there.

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