Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Website Reviews: Trail Data Websites, Part 2.

2. CoMTB or Colorado Mountain Biking.com:

Kevin Swab, the webmaster of CoMTB, advertises that the site provides mountain bike ride descriptions with high quality maps suitable for navigational use. It's Kevin's navigational maps that makes CoMTB so uniquly valuable. By comparison, most any other site usually misses this mark providing its unwary users with poor quality maps that come with a disclaimer warning against the use of their maps for anything other than birthday hats for kids.

This site's visual focus is centered around the map of Colorado. Within that map are several clickable icons depicting various city centers that have trails of interest nearby. For instance, when you click on the Lyons icon, you are treated to trail beta for the following trails:
  • Betasso Link / Loop

  • Fall River Road

  • Hall Ranch

  • Heil Valley Ranch

  • Miller Rock Area

This graphic is an example of one of those previously mentioned high quality printable maps. They are without a doubt credible works of art of their own and should be printed, framed and proudly displayed in every Colorado rider's home.

As a devotee of the site for several years, I became worried of its sudden lack of updates after the mid 2006 model year. Some 15 months would go by before we would see the next major update. But news of the websites early demise were greatly exaggerated and updates to the UI and content come with regularity again. Most recently, the site has began Google Earth integration on many of its rides.

Each trail review featured on the site typically includes a blow by blow ride experience complete with related pictures. In addition to the beta are Google Earth'd trail downloads (when available), accompanying recommended Google Earth viewing settings, and downloads to those wonderful maps.

CoMTB's author is based out of beautiful Ft. Collins, CO and admittedly focuses on north central CO rides. To compensate for this, the site relies upon other MTB friendly sites that happen to highlight trails in other regions. For example, CoMTB has reviews for 11 different towns (with several trails per town), but provides useful links to content on other sites for an additional 23 towns within the state. This method is in contast to TrailCentral's user generated content model with the difference being noticible in the total amount of data available per trail and in the total number of trials reviewed on the site. But this could change with time as I eagerly await each new review and related map... mmmmmm like butter.

In all, CoMTB goes the extra mile at providing reliable trail ready maps with relavant information for when you are planning your trail ride. Two thumbs up again for CoMTB.

I'll dive into the next trail review website in the series soon so stay tuned. Until then, best of riding.

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