Just a few weeks ago, there was snow on the ground and I was making plans for rides later this year. As I mentioned, I’ve been a bit miffed about that fact that there doesn’t seem to be an efficient solution for route planning. Well, I bit the bullet and pulled the trigger on a Rever premium subscription, and so far it’s actually working out pretty well.
I found the Rever app early last year through Instagram. At the time, Rever was running a winter mileage challenge of one variety or another, but there was no way I had a chance, so I lost touch for a bit. This year however, it’s been unseasonably mild here in Dayton, Rosie has chopping at the bit to go on a tear, and Rever is running a new #ReverMoto #UralMotorcycles #WinterBeDamned Challenge. If memory serves, similar to last year the goal is again to ride as much as possible between January and the end of February. I’m getting my butt kicked by folks in Florida and southern California, but I think I’m putting up a good fight just the same (for a guy commuting on a Scrambler in February). The big push for me this year is a possible trip to Seattle to go ride a Ural, which as longtime readers here already know, I really want to put a Two-Wheel-Drive Ural in the driveway, sooner rather than later.
The past few weeks I have been using Rever on my phone to record rides to add miles toward the challenge, but I have also been tinkering with the various online tools for route planning. After using the antiquated Basecamp, it took a few minutes to get the hang of things, but I’m actually pretty impressed with the interface. Rever’s website appears to be using a very Google-esque map interface and will let you use up to 26 waypoints for route planning. With its “smart” routing, 26 waypoints is actually enough for me to map out complex, twisty routes, from gas station to gas station, something I often struggle with on Google Maps. Rever’s website also has a special tool for Dual Sport route planning that allows you to create a track on a path were no road “exists” according to the map software. I expect I will find this very useful when I’m putting more routes together in eastern Kentucky this summer.
Ride recording, ride “sharing”, the online route planner (including the ability to upload GPX files), and ride challenges are all free services from Rever’s website and application for your mobile. Those features are nice, but in the end I was stilling looking for offline compatibility considering where I ride. Well, per my previous comments, for a monthly (or annual) fee, Rever offers downloadable maps, Butler Map segments, and the ability to export planned rides via GPX files. I had last Friday off, so it was time to put this Rever premium service to the test.
I’ve been itching to get down to the Gorge again, but unfortunately time was limited, so I decided I’d throw a route together to go get lunch down in Maysville, Kentucky. When I’m headed to Grandma’s, my Dad and I just burn down US-68 to get into the Bluegrass State, but there was no way I was going to subject myself to that monotony on a “fun-day”. I plotted the start and end points on Rever’s website, and began dragging the route around until I found some of the twistiest bits available down to the river. Rever’s Butler Maps feature recommended that I take KY-435 out of Augusta, which I gladly obliged, and picked up another twisty section northeast back into Maysville to avoid KY-8. After saving the route to Maysville, I planned a return trip and then exported both routes as “Tracks” and imported them into my Garmin, just in case it rained.
After loading up my toolkit and topping off the tank, it was southbound with the Rever app in the “driver’s seat”. My Galaxy S6 has a pretty awful battery, so I packed the tank bag to charge the phone later in the day when things started running low; this happened sooner than expected as I entered the more complicated sections of the ride. I realized it was a pain to keep turning the screen back on, so I just plugged in my phone and left it on. The Rever track was actually easier to see than I expected. I tested it around the neighborhood a few times a while back, and was a bit concerned it was too small, but after running the screen a full brightness, I slowly got the hang of it. I find that the Garmin is great if you’re just watching the road, and the next intersection you need, however Rever does a better job of showing the other details around you, and that’s my complaint with Garmin, if I want to make a last minute turn around or look for another destination, there’s a lot of zooming and fussing that quickly gets frustrating; Rever is much more like Google Maps, albeit, it could be a bit easier to see (road lines could be a bit more pronounced).
From home it was a quick jaunt down to some of my favorite local roads around Oregonia, then more of my usual stuff through Blanchester and down toward Batavia. As I neared Owensville, I was relying on Rever a lot more as I entered new sections of this ride I’ve never seen before. It turns out, a covered bridge was included in one of these new sections, which was a pleasant surprise. From Batavia it was back to OH-222 toward the river. 222 is one of the best state routes I’ve been on near Cincinnati, with several tight curves and immaculate asphalt. From Felicity, I started watching the screen a lot closer as I again found myself on roads that I hadn’t ridden before. Apparently I wasn’t watching it close enough because I rolled right past a left on Skiffsville Road and had to double back a few hundred yards (Rever doesn’t currently have “turn-by-turn” directions, but I’m told that’s coming). Another nice creek bed road, Skiffsville ran me into a nice curvy section of OH-505 that runs all the way to the US-52 on the Ohio River, right near the Augusta Ferry.
Crossing into Augusta, it was just a few blocks of familiarity before I was again in unknown territory. KY-435 was coming up, so I was anxious to see how the Butler Map recommendation was going to turn out. Turning onto 435, I was immediately greeted with freshly minted pavement, likely pressed down late last summer. 435 wound along Bracken Creek through rolling bluegrass hills for about ten miles as it neared the AA Highway. I cut off onto Moyer Road before the AA four-lane, again almost missing the turn, and then over to KY-3056 into Maysville.
I’m currently planning a big ride down to Red River Gorge later this spring, so I’ve been looking for a breakfast/brunch location in Maysville. Parc Café was recommended by some of the Cincinnati area riders, so I made that the planned lunch stop for the day. Sitting down for a Chicken Salad Croissant sandwich, I paused my Rever ride, not remembering that I needed to load the next planned route. Naturally, my phone starting acting up, and I actually lost the route recording (100 miles… poof…). That said, I went ahead and posted the “Planned” route for folks interested in riding down that way.
The return trip was unfortunately not as eventful as the ride down. Pressed for time, I forced myself to endure some really long straight sections of OH-133 to make up time. I did however, include OH-763 out of Aberdeen, and a recently discovered North Pole Road, which as luck would have it, included yet another covered bridge. North Pole road put me in a position to navigate around US-68. Rooting around through the Rever ride planner the day prior, I discovered that “Old” US-68 is quite the twisty road down by the river valley. Much like KY-435, it appeared that Old 68 had also just received a fresh layer of asphalt. Old 68 turned out so nicely, I might go as far as to say it was one of the best roads of the day, probably the best “new” road I encountered. From the top of Old 68 in Georgetown it was an assortment of oddly named county roads up to OH-133 in Bethel, and then on to Owensville. In Owensville I simply couldn’t pass up Belfast-Owensville Road, an excellent twisty section that actually runs between at least three different creek beds. From the fun stuff around Owensville it was another set of mostly unremarkable roads until I was back in the Little Miami River corridor. Having made relatively good time, I went ahead and hit all four hair-pin turns in Oregonia before finally heading home.
While this wasn’t the first time I used the “planned ride” feature of the Rever app, it was certainly the most complicated. I admit, the user interface is undoubtedly more user friendly than my Garmin, but I would like to see some fine tuning to make the screen a bit easier to see while riding. Per my comments, I sent a text over to Rever asking about turn-by-turn directions, and the representative on the other end said that they are working on that feature. I think that will be a significant breakthrough for them. For folks that just want to navigate point-to-point, they can have Google Maps, but for us motorcycle types with overly complicated trip plans, it appears that Rever is actively working to win our business.