How to:Google Earth Flyover from GPS Tracks

Following are two ways you can do a “flyover” of your GPS tracks… MapMyRide (which requires the Google Earth Plugin) and directly in Google Earth :

=====Method 1: MapMyRide.com Method – Easier, but not as Good ======
MapMyRide.com, and likely other GPS tracking websites such as Garmin Connect, provide an option to play a Google Earth Flyover of any tracks you upload to the site.  The problem with the MapMyRide version is the camera angle used is looking almost straight down at the earth, so you can’t get a good idea of how steep the terrain is, and you can’t see very far ahead unless you manually tilt the camera.

MapMyRide still requires you to install Google Earth plugin, but is a bit easier to use than Google Earth. If you already have a MapMyRide account, try it! If you don’t already have an account, then before going through the steps to set this up, watch my MapMyRide video and decide if you want to bother. Whether you want to do flyovers using MapMyRide or GoogleEarth, you will have to install the Google Earth plugin. You’ll have to install it even to watch my video below.

  • Install the Google Earth Plugin: GOOGLE EARTH PLUG IN. If you have any trouble, look at your browser bar and make sure it’s not blocking the plug-in…if it is you can click the warning to unblock it.
  • Once you install Google Earth, you can use the play/pause button to play this video (you may need to refresh your browser). This is what a flyover looks like from Map My Ride. These are the tracks from the 2014 Big Horn 100 mile ride. They are not MY tracks… so far I have only done virtual 100-mile rides. Enjoy it from the comfort and safety of your desk! :
  • If you like that, and you want to play your own tracks from MapMyRide yourself, set up a MapMyRide account and upload a track to it. Go to My Workouts, select the track you uploaded, and right on the map you will see an icon that looks like a video camera and says 3D on it: MapMyRide3DIcon
  • This will bring up a Google Earth view of YOUR track which you can control the same way as the BigHorn track above.

===Method 2: Google Earth Flyover Method – A Few More Steps, but Better ===

What’s better about doing your flyover right in Google Earth, is that there is an option to set the “camera angle”. If you are already a Google Earth user and have done flyovers, here’s a tip: You will get a better view by going into Tools, Touring and setting your Camera Tilt Angle to about 70 degrees so you can see ahead on the trail and are not just looking straight down. There are other settings you can play with as well.

If you’ve never used Google Earth or Done a flyover, here are my (overly?) detailed instructions: These instructions are for Windows 7 and Google Chrome – if using another browser it may be slightly different. There are quite a few steps but it’s still easier than an actual 50 mile ride:

  • Install the Google Earth plugin from the link in the MapMyRide section above.
  • Save a GPS track to your computer. If you don’t know how to save a GPS track, well, I will leave you to figure that part out yourself for now because every GPS is different. But usually you can connect your GPS to your computer and browse to it, or download a track from MapMyRide, Garmin Connect, or whereever you save your tracks on line.
  • It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Take note of what folder you saved the track to, and the file name of the track.
  • Open Google Earth from your start menu:startmenu
  • In Google Earth, if a pop-up comes up, just close it. Click File, Open, and browse to the folder where you saved the gpx file. If you don’t see the file, make sure the drop-down to the right of the file name box is set to Gps:filetypegps
  • Leave the checkboxes as-is and click OK in the Data Import pop-up (not sure what these all do but these settings work for me):DataImport
  • Now the earth will start moving :) and then you will see an overview map of the trail:overviewmap
  • Click Tools at the top of the screen and then Options. click the Touring tab. Set the Camera Tilt Angle to 70% (or thereabouts), and click OK. You can experiment with this and other settings later, but that setting will give you a better view than the video I posted above… you’ll be able to see a bit ahead on the trail rather than looking straight down, and you get a MUCH better idea of the terrain this way:

Touring

  • On the left side of your screen the top half of the menu, look for the name of the track you saved.  If you don’t see it click the arrow to the left of Tracks to open up the tracks. (If you don’t see Tracks either, try the My Places arrow and then look for Tracks, but I believe Tracks show by default). Anyway, if you don’t see it try opening and closing the various arrows :)bh100track
  • Then under your track name, look for Path as shown above. If you don’t see Path (and you may not), click the arrow to the left of BH 100 and it should open up.
  • Click Path. When you click it, you will see a tiny icon with 3 dots on it:path
  • Click the icon (the one I circled in yellow, not red). The view will move as if you are looking at the beginning of the trail and then will start following the trail!starttrail
  • In the bottom left you can use the play/pause button and fast forward / backward just like on a DVD.
  • If at any point you want to stop and look around, click the pause button and then hover over the faint circles shown in the top right of the view to make them appear. Then play around with clicking on them:lookaround
  • The top button with the eyeball will pan up, down, left and right, keeping you where you are, as if you were standing there and just looking around. The lower button will move you across the land in any direction. It does not stick to the trail so don’t get lost. This would be a good time to find a bush and take a potty break  😉
  • When you are ready to “ride” again, at any point if you hit play again you’ll just pick up where you left off.
  • You can actually use the look around button without pausing and look around while you are “riding” but this has been known to cause vertigo :)

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