July 30, 2014

Introducing The Climbing Cyclist Wiki

Wiki

It’s been nearly five years since The Climbing Cyclist began. Back then, it was a simple WordPress.com blog (have a look here) that I started for a university assignment. I had only just gotten into road cycling and I enjoyed riding in the hills, but I couldn’t find any detailed information about where the good climbs were, what those climbs were like, and what to expect when riding them. So I started this site.

In almost five years of working on The Climbing Cyclist, I’ve added 35 climb guides around Victoria — less than I probably would have hoped, if I’m honest. Of course the site has grown in other ways in that time, including with the blog and with events that I’ve organised in conjunction with Andy van Bergen of Hells 500. I’m definitely proud of how far the site has come in that time.

But it’s time to do things a little differently.

Ever since I started this site I’ve been getting emails from people saying “why don’t you add this climb?” or “when are you going to document this climb?” and the answer I always give is “I’d love to, when I have time”. The reality is that the site’s growth (as a climbing resource) has been stifled by me not having the time to get out there and research more climbs and write them up. And they’re not easy to do — I’d estimate each guide takes about four hours to put together.

In speaking with Andy van Bergen and David Blom — whom I worked with on the Tour of Australia, the Dirty Dozen and who put together the ridiculously detailed state and territory maps you see here — it became clear that it was time to open up the site to allow everyone to add their own climbs.

I started building a section of the site that would allow people to send in their climb guide which I’d then publish, but I soon realised I’d run into the same problem as before — I would still be the road block. The answer, I quickly realised, was to open things up completely. Create a place where anyone and everyone can add their own climbs, to help create a resource that will help all cyclists that like riding uphill.

And so The Climbing Cyclist Wiki was born.

The wiki is still in its infancy but there’s already more than a dozen climb guides there for you to check out and add to. Some of them are very basic, but that’s the whole point of a wiki — you start with the basics, then gradually build up and refine the content until you get something that’s informative, accurate and, ultimately in this case, useful for cyclists.

I see many advantages in continuing to develop this resource as a wiki. For a start, it removes me from the process, which has proven to slow things down over the years. I’ll certainly be helping out and adding climbs of my own, but I don’t need to do everything now. Second, it removes the geographic constraints that have stopped this site becoming a resource for all of Australia and beyond. That is, I don’t have to travel in order to research and write up climb guides — someone with local knowledge can do it (and will do a better job than I ever could).

You might notice that there are already a few international climbs on the wiki — one in upstate New York, one in New Zealand’s South Island, and arguably the most famous cycling climb of them all.

There’s no reason that we can’t have climbs on there from all around the world, and indeed I’m hoping that’s exactly what will happen. If you’ve ever looked at The Climbing Cyclist and found it a useful resource, or read a blog post here and enjoyed it, I’d love it if you considered adding a climb to the wiki. You don’t need to add every single bit of information; just get the ball rolling and someone can jump in later and add to what you’ve done. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to add a new climb.

You know that feeling you get when family or friends come to town and you play tour guide for the day? It’s a kind of pride you get in showing off your part of the world. You might have even had that while cycling, showing your out-of-town mates some of your favourite roads. That’s what this wiki is about. We want you to feel a sense of pride in showing off your favourite climbs and making it easier for visitors, new cyclists or anyone really, to experience the joys of cycling uphill in your neck of the woods.

You might be reading this and thinking that there are similar sites out there already, like Climbbybike, or Cycle2Max or even Strava, but I’d argue this resource is different. By using a wiki format, we’ll be able to build each climb guide over time so that they provide a level of depth that’s not possibly with any of those sites. It’s more than just climb lengths, gradients, profiles and starting points, it’s information about what the climb is like, what famous races have been on those climbs, what to look out for on the descents, whether the road is closed in winter, and anything else that is relevant to a cyclist taking on that climb.

There are also a number of really cool features that I think will help bring this information to life. Check out the page for climbs in Victoria, for example. Whenever someone adds a Victorian climb to the wiki, that map and table will be updated right away with an entry for the new climb, including a coloured pin for the map, determined by the climb’s categorisation. Pages like that can be added for every region, state and country on the wiki.

As mentioned, this whole project is in its infancy and there are things that can be done better. So as you’re taking a look at the wiki have a think about how things could be improved and if you’ve got any suggestions, please feel free to get in touch via email. Of course, if there’s something you want to change about a particular climb guide, or if you want to add to one, please do! This page will get you started.

You might be asking “so what happens to this website now?” and that would be a good question. TCC will certainly still exist, and the climb guides on the site will continue to exist, but when it comes to adding new climb guides and developing that resource, I’ll be focusing my energy on the wiki. I’ll still be blogging at TCC and I’ll certainly still organise rides and events in future.

A big thank you to Dave and Andy for their help so far, and to the rest of the guys that took the time to help me with initial testing of the wiki. It’s obviously got a ways to go, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll check out the wiki and add a climb or two!

Cheers,

Matt de Neef

27 Comments

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  1. Pauldr / Aug 5 2014

    Great work with the Climbing Wiki!

    Any plans to include something like “great climbing rides”? For example there are 5 or 6 cat 3/4 climbs that you can do North/west of Sydney in a 110km loop… Best thing about this loop is that you can easily leave out various climbs and make it as challenging or as easy as you like.

  2. Heidi / Aug 4 2014

    As always, brilliant!

  3. Daniel Wood / Aug 2 2014

    Would be cool if there was a contributors area or something where you can see how much people are contributing etc
    We are cyclists after all everything is a competition ;)

  4. Karl / Jul 31 2014

    Is it worth adding whether a climb has been #everested (maybe in the info box)?

  5. AnthonyRochester / Jul 31 2014

    Suggestion: When you go to the main page, it is all text, and it takes a small amount of figuring out to work out how to find entries. I like how the category pages have a map with a pin for each climb.
    How about having a world map with all of the pins on the starting page so that people can jump straight to where they want using the familiar google maps visual interface?
    I know it would mostly just show a clump around Melbourne right now, but might make it more accessible and encourage new entries..?

    • Matt de Neef / Jul 31 2014

      Great idea. I’ve added that now. There will come a time when there are too many climbs on there for the page to load quickly enough, but for now I think it’s a good solution.

      • Daniel Wood / Aug 2 2014

        And when that happens just clump them together in bigger pins with a number of how many climbs are in that area!

  6. IJ Roubaix / Jul 31 2014

    Love your work Matt .. great idea!

  7. Ian E / Jul 31 2014

    Onwards & upwards for The Climbing Cyclist!
    As it stands, this site is a great resource for Melbourne climbs. Opening it up to the rest of the world is a great idea.
    I’ve always found the description of each climb to be a useful feature – hopefully all contributors will provide a similar level and quality of detail in their climb guides.

    • Matt de Neef / Jul 31 2014

      Thanks Ian! Given the descriptions will now be a collaborative and cumulative effort, there’s no reason that people can’t add to them over time and continually improve them.

  8. AnthonyRochester / Jul 30 2014

    Cool idea. I had a crack at starting one for Mt Wellington. Quite a time consuming task though.

    • Matt de Neef / Jul 31 2014

      Thanks Anthony. You’re right – there’s a lot of stuff there to fill in to create a complete guide. Any suggestions on how to remove the overhead? One way I guess is to make sure people know they don’t have to do it all straight away!

    • David Blom / Jul 31 2014

      It makes you appreciate the work that Matt has already done on the site to begin with. Still the end result if you do a climb properly will be contributing a useful resource to all cyclists out there.

  9. Karl / Jul 30 2014

    Im a dumb ass, where is the Wiki?

  10. Karl / Jul 30 2014

    Smart.
    I should have recommended this idea myself :)

    You would be surprised Matt how many people I speak to that klnow your site but just dont post.

    I think this could work.

  11. dahondude / Jul 30 2014

    great idea Matt, how are you going to stop individual climbs suffering the same fate as they do on Strava with people constantly changing/arguing over the start/finish of climbs?

    • Matt de Neef / Jul 30 2014

      It’s a good question and an issue that’s bound to come up at some point. In the “editing a climb” page I’ve linked to this page from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Assume_good_faith) and I just hope everyone abides by it and can work constructively together. :)

      • David Blom / Jul 30 2014

        We can always lock a page or you can create another version too. Lets just hope its more of a build on type attitude prevailling.

  12. Neil / Jul 30 2014

    Great idea

  13. Gary Miller / Jul 30 2014

    Great stuff

  14. Chris / Jul 30 2014

    I….
    LOVE….
    YOUR….
    WORK!!!!

  15. anthony / Jul 30 2014

    Good on ya. Love it

  16. Nick / Jul 30 2014

    Legendary

  17. Jon Thornton / Jul 30 2014

    Fantastic idea.

  18. David Blom / Jul 30 2014

    The Search For Up is on. We have tried to make this the best site for climb info, now it will be with your help.

  19. Tooraj / Jul 30 2014

    Brilliant idea!

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