locate your starting place. you can do this by either dragging the map, or you can type an address into the text box below the map and click the find button.
check 'record route' and start single-clicking the points in your route. as you click the route you'll see an elevation graph being built; this graph shows you an approximation of what the elevation-changes along your route will look like. NOTE: the route is only as accurate as you make it.
name & save the route. give your route a name (the only required field), and click the save button. a link will be displayed that will allow you get back to your new route.
Route creation tips
zoom in - the points you click on your route are only as accurate as you make them. in order to get the best accuracy, zoom in as much as is reasonable for your route. especially on curvy roads, make sure you follow the road as much as possible so that the total distance will be accurate. of course, the more you zoom in, the longer it will take
to create the route.
sattelite view can zoom further - there are two extra zoom-levels on the satellite (or hybrid) views, this
can help your route's accuracy.
How to find a route
go to the home page and type in your city/location name, or a keyword. using location search, the string you type will be converted into latitude/longitude coordinates. these coordinates are used to search the database for routes that start in a given location.
sometimes a bug has been fixed but you have an old version cached. try a reload (while holding down shift) in most browsers to flush the cache and get the newest version.
Notes about elevation data
the USGS service is great, and free, but sometimes flaky. sometimes their web-services just return zero for all coordinates. check here to see their system status. (NOTE: veloroutes.org also uses a backup web-service if the USGS is down, but earthools.org is less accurate).
it's only as accurate as you make it. so you'll need to zoom in to get more accuracy. currently, if you click a point in san francisco and one in new york, you'll get two points on the elevation graph. the alternative would be to fill in points in between; this is planned funtionality.