wandrer.earth is a new site that promises to take riding “everywhere” to a new level. It turns riding into a game where you are awarded points for riding somewhere new. You can then compare your points score against other riders.
As with VeloViewer, you sign up with wandrer.earth and allow it to suck in all your Strava rides. It looks at all at the GPS points you’ve been to on your rides and maps them on to roads, tracks and paths. Because it has access to all OpenStreetMap data, it knows what all the roads in the area are and can now tell you all what proportion of all roads in an area you have been to.
Part of West London. I have ridden the blue lines but not the red dashed lines.
The site has maps that allow you to see where you’ve been and where you haven’t. This is great if you have a completionist mentality and want to figure out where you need to go.
The scoring is relatively complicated and I don’t think I fully get it. You get 1 point for each mile you ride for the first time. If you go back along the same road, you don’t get any more points – the game is always to go to new places. There are then bonus points for going to 25, 50, 75, 90 and 99% of an “area”. The ultimate number of bonus points is equal to the number of miles in the area, so if you complete an area with N miles of roads, you get 2*N points. (Full description of scoring)
The difficult bit is that in practice the world is divided up into multiple nested areas. I *think* the bonuses are awarded at the smallest unit area. For example there is a district called “Hardwick With Yelford” which the site tells me I have completed 65% of. So perhaps I have the 50% for this. These smallest areas do not have leaderboards, but all the larger areas do (in this example Hardwick With Yelford -> West Oxfordshire -> Oxfordshire -> South East England -> England -> United Kingdom -> Earth). I can get a % complete figure for all these areas (Apparently 0.03% of Earth done already!) The Earth leaderboard will have lots of familiar names if you are a regular reader of the RideEveryTile leaderboards.
An example wandrer.earth leaderboard. Almost inevitably, Jon France is leading it!
Some initial thoughts on wandrer.earth:
- It’s a great idea that will really appeal to “explorer” cyclists
- It’s suffering growing pains at the moment. The site has been down quite a bit as many new users try to import all their Strava rides
- The site relies very heavily on OpenStreetMap data and metadata to figure out whether something is “rideable”. This map data is imperfect (e.g. a private road may not be rideable, but the site can only know this if the metadata is correct). This data can get complicated too – e.g. in the UK lots of roads are private for cars but public for bikes (i.e. are private roads but public bridleways). Some of the challenge may end up not riding, but being in front of your computer improving OpenStreetMap! (Like Wikipedia, OSM is a site anyone can contribute to).
- The site really tests that you’ve been everywhere. This means all the little dead-ends and dirt tracks count. I realised that my own internal version of ‘everywhere’ had been “every paved through road”. This version makes for comfortable and speedy riding, but it won’t see you completing things in wandrer.earth. This will remain true even if the OSM metadata gets cleaned up over time. What kind of riding do you want to do?!
- The scoring/areas/leaderboard system is a bit confusing at the moment. E.g. where are some areas/leaderboards more sub-divided more than others. There is also mention of “challenges” and existence of icons (the house, the caterpillar) that are not really fleshed out/explained yet. The developer is actively working on the site though so I think this will improve rapidly over time. E.g. I would like to see a “favourites” list for the areas I ride most.
All in all, kudos to developer Craig for wandrer.earth. It is hugely promising. Go check it out.