Site Update: Marching On

It’s been a crappy few weeks for me on the bike. I’ve been hit with Covid for, what, the fifth time now? Awful.

I’ve learned my lessons though: don’t get back on the bike too early, or you end up off the bike for longer. I’ve been taking it very easy in terms of activity, because even sudden movements – like laughing – cause bad coughing fits. As such I don’t think even light bike riding is sensible.

That has meant more time at the PC. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know.

And more time at the PC means more time spent trying (and sometimes succeeding) in making this site that little better.

In the last update I talked about the on-going issue whereby I’d localised all the climbs. Whoops.

In short that meant if you were in England, looking for a climb, you would see the site results in English.

bike climbs of england

Makes sense.

But if you were in Tenerife, looking for a climb up Mount Tiede, all the climb information would be in Spanish. Perhaps not what you’d want.

bike climbs in spain

Easily my biggest mistake (so far) when making this site.

Correcting this has been an absolute mission.

It involves a number of steps, the longest and most time consuming being asking Open Street Map for the location of every single active climb on the site. Twice.

Once for the localised version – e.g. the Spanish version if in Spain – and once again for the English version.

Multiply that by every climb on the site – of which there was 2.8 million – and then multiply that by the limitation that Open Street Map only allow 1 request per second, and you have … well, 64 days of non-stop requests, give or take.

Clearly, that wouldn’t roll.

Reducing(!) The Climb Count

It actually gave me enough of a pause to think about a second problem: how many of these climbs were duff?

So the climb info comes from Strava. Anyone can – and seemingly does – make a segment. And not all segments are created equally. Over time, old segments get pruned, or edited, or disabled, and new ones come along to replace them. On bigger climbs with multiple ways up, there can be lots of duplicates.

What I’ve done is modified the climb criteria now such that a climb would only be ‘valid’ if it has at least 1,000 or more riders, and 1,000 or more attempts.

That narrowed the total down to 700,000 climbs.

reduced climb count

That reduced the total number of requests I’ve had to make to Open Street Map down from ~5 million to 1.4 million, which is still insane, but is on track to only take 17 days instead of 64.

Infrequently I’ve been re-updating the main page and watching the total number of messy climbs come down.

As above you can see:

  • BelgiĆ« / Belgique / Belgien (25)
  • Belgium (31,792)

The aim by the end of this is that only Belgium will display, and it will have ‘eaten up’ the remaining 25 climbs from the localised version.

Over time I will add back in the localised version, but for the initial release they are going to have gone.

That’s actually screwed up Google big time – because it’s indexed all the localised versions, so right now Google hates me:

google deindexed lots of bike climbs

Which shows that earlier this month when I made the first changes, Google started to cull about 100k worth of pages from its index. Ahh well. I figure short term pain, longer term usefulness of the remaining pages.

On the plus side, the changes I made around initially not displaying the Veloviewer have helped clear off all the things Google said were poor, and now I just had a bunch that “need improvement”:

google pages needing improvement for

I’ve not even yet begun digging into what it’s moaning about there. But I will do. In time.

Overall though, really happy to see that generally things are looking better in terms of people’s page experiences.

Find My Location

As a heads up: this next feature won’t be available until the climb work above is released. Got to wait for those 17 days to go by still, with approximately 4 more yet remaining.

One thing I have finally added is “Find My Location”.

This is probably the biggest Wish List item I’ve had since I launched the site. Say I’m out cycling a bit further from home, and I want to find a nearby climb to tackle. The idea is I can fire up the site, click ‘find my location’ and see a bunch of nearby climbs to attempt.

It’s far from perfect, but as a first iteration I’m very happy with this.

Here’s how it looks:

bikeclimbs suburb view

This shows all the climbs in the local area. You can view these for any area, and you can scroll around the map and it will find the area you are looking at and prompt you to ‘go there’:

click to visit another region

Again, some improvements are needed to this process, but by and large it’s working pretty well.

In the top right hand corner there are two buttons:

  • Re-centre the map
  • Find my position

So ‘re-centre the map’ becomes active whenever you scroll around. It will do pretty much what you’d expect – it brings the map back to the centre of the region you are looking at.

The ‘Find my position’ feature works by asking your web browser for your current location.

On desktop this returns some whacko places – where ever your ISP lives I think. For me it returns some place south of Manchester, which is miles from Preston.

But on mobile it should be pretty accurate, down to about 5m of your current location, depending on how GPS is behaving. I’m looking forwards to testing this out in the real world.

MyWhoosh Achievements List

The other big thing I’ve got done during my illness is painstakingly listing out every MyWhoosh Achievement I am currently aware of.

I don’t know all the criteria for achieving everything. Only what I’ve personally managed – and remember, it starts from the release of v3.6.0, and doesn’t give credit for anything prior to that.

mywhoosh achievements list

I also want to do the same for all the MyWhoosh maps and routes. Not had time for that just yet though.

Anyway, those are all the things I’ve been working on lately.

I can’t wait to actually push out the big climb / location update. Every time I think I’m there, I spot another mistake. It is what it is, and it will be done when it’s done.

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