A Short History Of Cycling Maps*

(* Well, the ones made by me…)

When it comes to the mapping of my various cycles, things have come a long way in the past decade. Today a great leap forward took place and here is that great leap for cycling in all its 4k glory (if you have a monitor, tablet, phone or TV that is up for the challenge). Sit back and enjoy The Great British Cycle Tour of 2020 animated map.

Not bad, eh? I’m quite proud of that. It’s a world away from the map that appeared in the first edition of what was later to become Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie. In fact there was a version of the map that never made it into the book. It’s the one without the place names shown below on the left:

Both of those maps were actually made with a piece of teaching software called Smart Notebook that is designed to create lessons for interactive whiteboards. It is remarkably good at what it does allowing for far more interactivity that the dreaded PowerPoint. And it’s a very good image editing tool to boot. Hence the maps. But let’s face it, neither of the maps above would win any prizes. Readers of travelogues, however, do like their maps and they wouldn’t be happy if I hadn’t included maps in the two subsequent books. Here’s the map that I made for Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie

…and the one that appeared in the front of Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie which also had two versions, the first one (on the left below) abandoned when the book was taken up by the publishers, Summersdale:

The first version reflected the original title of the book (and still my preferred title), The 35 Degrees, but that was rejected by those in charge…

More recently, as I have started to make a few films of my two-wheeled travels, I have looked out for mapping software that will allow a budding filmmaker to create high quality animated maps for their films but to no avail. Those that seem to be available online are either very cheesy or embedded with text / adverts for the designers that is impossible to remove. Even using Google Maps isn’t a great solution as they are so recognisable as Google Maps and lack that elusive professional touch. I recently had a long online chat about filming issues with Barry Godin, the master of cycling films and a man who has featured regularly on over the years. Maps cropped up that chat and Barry explained that he used Photoshop and then integrated the maps he created into the films using the video editing software. These were static maps with any tracking movement being created at the video-making stage.

The conversation got me thinking. Perhaps that was the way to go; using imaging software combined with, in my case as an Apple Mac user, Final Cut Pro X, that I have now been using for a couple of years. But I didn’t want to abandon all hope of animating my maps so I turned to another piece of Apple software, Keynote. This is Apple’s version of PowerPoint but, in my humble opinion, is in a league of its own. I’ve used it to create presentations for many years and the results, combining static images, video, graphics and text can be mightily impressive. People have often asked me after I have finished talking not about the travel or the cycling theme of the talk but about how I created the presentation in the first place! It’s also a piece of software that not only animates very professionally but is capable of exporting to 4K, 60 frames per second movies. As long as you set the resolution of the slides you are working with at 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, you are able to create beautifully rendered moving images. And this is what I have been able to do with the film at the top of this post. Below is a detailed image screenshot. Impressive, no?

It has taken many hours to create the finished map, or should I say, maps. They will be inserted in the film that I hope to edit over Christmas about the summer’s cycle to the four capitals of the United Kingdom. On the subject of which, if you missed it a few days ago, here’s a teaser:

7 replies »

    • Thanks Paddy. I’ve now started to work out how to overlay the maps on video using green screen. So far the results have been impressive… Watch this space!

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