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Trailforks - mountain bike trail database focused on BC
I am excited to finally pull the wraps off a project I've been working on called www.trailforks.com. Trailforks is a user-powered mountain bike trail database currently focused on BC.
Back in June 2010 I investigated creating such a site, during the summer I was contacted by Sharon Bader & Wade Simmons about coordinating with the site. I had a couple meetings and they gave me some valuable ideas and helped flesh out possible concerns. Since then I have slowly been working on the site in my spare time and I'm finally ready to launch it for the new riding season!
The core functionality of Trailforks is a database for mountain biking trails. Currently trailpeak.com has the most mountain bike data but it's so old and out-dated. There are some newer better looking sites like trails.com or alltrails.com but there could be great improvement and more focus on biking & local content, which none of these sites have. There are several great small local websites with trail maps and such, but no comprehensive source, and they are all static & out-dated. Trailforks is a community site and users can help populate and keep the database updated, the data & features for each trail is also tailored specifically for mountain biking. But Trailforks is not completely open ended like these other sites, it will only expand riding area by riding area having fleshed out data for each, rather than sparse data from all around the world.
I have added over 100 trails myself to get the database started, focusing on the local North Shore mountains. For this Sharon was SUPER helpful and provided GPS data and trail descriptions for almost all the North Shore trails from her & Wade's awesome book they released in 2011. Every trail page that uses data from their book indicates so with a link to their book & credit given. This system can be used for other riding areas around the province that want to provide data.
There is a high focus on getting GPS data for every trail & maps are a big part of the site. Each trail page has a map and GPS data and each riding area has a Google Earth 3D map with all the trails plotted on it dynamically. Just upload a GPS track of a single trail and all the rest is handled automatically. (Example the Mount Fromme Page)
The site has loads of other features like photos, videos, skill parks, local news, local business directory, local products, local events, forums, user profiles, bike profiles, riding routes, route challenges & more. But one feature I really want to promote is "Trail Reports". A Trail Report is a quick entity posted by users indicating the status of a trail and describing any problems or things needing attention on a trail. A trail report can also be a log of work done on a trail and "trail days". I hope that local riding associations and trail maintainers might start using this tool. Most pages on the site offer RSS feeds and I can create custom widgets for associations so they can display trail status and reports on their own sites.
People can also create "Ride Routes" which are a circuit of trails that work well together. From Ride Routes people can create "Challenges" for people to try and get the best time on a route. Users can upload their GPS track to the site to be scored and ranked on a challenge. "Challenges" might be something we do as a monthly thing with prizes, but users can also just create challenges for fun. Before the spring I plan on finishing another feature to help organize group rides.
To help encourage people to build the database users earn points for all the content they contribute and credit is given to the user. The site also has gaming style achievements that users can unlock by helping contribute content or just by using the site. For example one of the achievements is "Ridden 100 Trails" earned by marking 100 trails as "ridden". More achievements will come and I'm open to suggestions!
The site is going with the policy of not posting unsanctioned trails to the public unless the local association or group is ok with it. The site has started with the North Shore & lower mainland but I'm hoping it will expand to all of BC. I plan on contacting each local association before adding content in their area. If you want to help initiate this process in an area not currently on the site, please contact me. Users cannot add new regions and riding areas, but can add any content to existing.
I have created this site by myself and it was a fair amount of work, but now I release it to the wild and hope people will like it and help me build the content. I'm very open to other developers who might want to help continue developing the site and adding new features. I will also need help with moderating the site. But mostly at this moment I am looking for feedback! Things people like, things that could be better or added and so on, I have thick skin.
I guarantee this site will not be a flash-in-the-pan and go unmaintained, like other attempts I've seen. I have been running community websites for well over a decade and own all my own servers that power the site.
Disclaimer, this is a beta and there may be bugs, please let me know if you find one! Also some of the content is now out-dated as I added it last fall to have stuff to work with. You can help by starting to submit new data!
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