On(line) yer’ bike: Cyclists gear up as virtual bike ride website pedals its way to Manchester

Bike enthusiasts will soon be able go for a ride from the comfort of their own homes courtesy of a ‘virtual’ route finder which is rolling its way to Manchester.

Cyclodeo, a Dutch website, offers the ultimate experience for two-wheeled enthusiasts wanting to know more about the roads around.

The site allows people to post videos of routes from all over the globe including Amsterdam, New York, Copenhagen and San Francisco, with plans for the site to cover the UK and Canada.

HD helmet-cams attached to the bike are sychronised with a google maps style key so that users can get a feel for a specific route before attempting it.

Founder Samir Bendida, an avid cyclist, is no stranger to the fact that it can be difficult to handle unforeseen conditions on the roads.

“Knowing whether or not a particular route is safe is crucial,” Samir explained.

“The surface and the surroundings play an important role if you want to have a pleasant ride.”

With a growing number of cyclists attempting to tackle urban environments unfamiliar streets can often grind a cyclist’s gears, which is why Samir feels people will use the website.

“Not all neighborhoods are safe and convenient,” he continued.

“There are many streets that you would never consider cycling on and really good ones you may not be aware of.”

Cyclodeo was born out of Samir’s passion for travelling and his interest in recording various walks in new cities.

While walking in the Netherlands five years ago, he saw a bicycle and imagined all the ground he could cover if he attached a camera to it.  

“I wondered, ‘what if I turned this bike into a camera on wheels?’ Samir said.

“This is how it all started.”

The clips also include information such as elevation, distance, average speed and duration to help users decide whether a route would be too tiresome.

A map symbol indicates the rider’s location while the video clip plays and users can select anywhere on the track to visualise a certain location.

Though Cyclodeo is in its early stages, many cyclists have found the idea very interesting. 

“It’s useful to be able to know and visualise what type of road surface a route follows as that can determine whether a route is ride-able or not,” said Ben Griffiths, a member of the Manchester Wheelers’ Club.

“Some off-road cycle paths are fully tarmaced and great for road bikes. However, some are no more than muddy foot-paths and not at all suitable for cycling.”

Over the next year Samir has no intention of taking his foot off the pedal, with plans to cover additional cities and involve more cyclists.

Those wanting to create their own videos can download GPS trackers to their phones, attach a camera to themselves and enjoy the ride while Cyclodeo does the rest.

“Since the San Francisco release, we have already received interest from citizens and bike enthusiasts from different cities around the world, including Nairobi in Kenya,” he explained.

The cities to be covered next will depend on the level of interest expressed in them via the website’s ‘Unlock Your City’ form.

The more forms received for cities such as Prague, Stockholm or Manchester, the sooner they will be on track for Cyclodeo coverage.

Image courtesy of Fernando de Sousa, via Flickr, with thanks

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