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  1. #1
    cheap for a roadie Hummeth's Avatar
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    planning long trips

    How does one go about planning out a route for a long trip, say across a state or something like that? What does one look for in a road to take? How does one find a good set of roads? Do most highways have smaller roads that run alongside? Thanks in advance for all your info.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member knoregs's Avatar
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    trial and error... just start riding and make mental notes of the roads or sections of road that suck.... then pull out the maps and look for detours around those sections.... eventually you'll have an extensive network of suitable rides mapped out...

    what does one look for in a road to take? I've always been partial to the rural back roads, preferrrably in the mountains... the less car and truck traffic, the better!!

    exploration is half the fun

  3. #3
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knoregs

    exploration is half the fun
    sometimes its all the fun!

  4. #4
    cheap for a roadie Hummeth's Avatar
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    Do you guys recomend any atlas' or any other good resources? If I'm going a ways I'd like to plan out the route and know where I'm going.
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  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    One just hops on the bicycle and starts riding. One makes mistakes sometimes and ends up in the middle of construction, dirt roads, or dead ends ... but then one turns around thus adding even more distance to a ride!

    I've often done that and have covered a lot of the paved roads in my area that way.

    However, there are alternatives.

    1) Go to your local CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) or AAA (American Automobile Association) or similar sorts of things in other countries, and acquire a good map or two of your area. As a CAA member, I get maps for free.

    2) Buy a map from your local Walmart or service station. These are often slightly more detailed than tourist information booth maps or CAA maps.

    3) Go to www.mappoint.com and type in your starting point and destination. Mappoint won't tell you whether the roads are paved or not, but it goes into pretty good detail of all the roads, even the very small one, around the area ... so if you print off a page and end up on a gravel road, you can refer to the map for alternate choices.

    4) Acquire a local ordinance map/land survey map. These are extremely detailed and will tell you what's paved and what's not. Some might even tell you who lives in, or owns, the farms along the way. These maps are great, but they do tend to be a bit on the expensive side.


    As for the question if most highways have a smaller road running alongside ... nope. Up here in Canada very few of the highways have a smaller road running alongside and from my observations travelling from Boston to LA in the US over the past couple years ... some do, and some don't.

  6. #6
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    The late Ken Kifer's site which survives through the kind agency, I think, of Joe and others, has a really good article on interpreting roads standards, grades and so on from maps. Go here to get to it.

    The rest of Ken's cycling section of his website is also extremely useful. I used it as an excellent reference -- the best on the web at the time -- for cycle touring when I was getting more serious again. I hadn't been back there for a long time until I retrieved that link. I almost cried at the idea that the author of such a great resource no longer exists.

  7. #7
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    One just hops on the bicycle and starts riding. One makes mistakes sometimes and ends up in the middle of construction, dirt roads, or dead ends ... but then one turns around thus adding even more distance to a ride!
    Or alternatively, one simply continues riding through those obstacles regardless. The construction usually only lasts for a short period, the dirt roads usually lead to the most scenic places, the dead ends... well there isn't a lot one can do about those.

    Personally I rely on trial and error. I just look at a road on a map that might go to an interesting place, and I go there. Whatever happens next is just part of the adventure.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
    My blog.
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  8. #8
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    I use several things for creating routes:

    TopoUSA software. A great program (if you live in the US) that will create routes based on your preferences (no interstates, avoid US highways, etc) and points you wish to pass through along the way. TopoUSA also generates plots of the elevation profile along the way so you can avoid (or climb) the big hills along the way. Unfortunately, TopoUSA doas not distinguish between paved and unpaved roads which can be a problem in many rural areas. So, add to that...

    ...county maps. Often available online (at least they are for Texas and Oklahoma), these maps show which roads are paved and unpaved (once again, at least in Texas and Oklahoma). You can check these for the conditions of county roads that you might want to use. However, even with this, you are not guaranteed to get a good route, so there's...

    ...bike club routes. Wherever your route passes near a city of any size, use the internet to search for a bike club in that city. Many bike clubs publish maps of routes that have been well tested and will use roads that are adequate for cycling. Although you will probably not want to ride any exact route, you can make note of the roads they use and incorporate them into your route as appropriate. But, since there's not always a bike club in the area, depending on the state, you can look for...

    ...recommended bike touring routes. Check your state's department of transportation and department of tourism for cycling information. This is highly variable, but some states have some good information available. Arkansas, for example, has a surprisingly large selection of bike touring routes. North Carolina has a bunch of long distance cross state routes with nice paper maps that you can have mailed to you for free. With a little searching, you can find some nice routes for New England states like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It just takes a little digging.

    Of course, there's nothing wrong with just pointing the bike down the road and seeing where it takes you. I've had so tremendous rides that way.

  9. #9
    Senior Member knoregs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    ...With a little searching, you can find some nice routes for New England states like Vermont...
    if riding in Vermont check out... http://www.champlainbikeways.org/

    just follow the signs

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    Or alternatively, one simply continues riding through those obstacles regardless. The construction usually only lasts for a short period, the dirt roads usually lead to the most scenic places, the dead ends... well there isn't a lot one can do about those.
    Road construction in North America is a whole different animal compared with Australia. I mean, when you see a sign for road construction on any road classified as a highway, expect it to go on for up to 10km. Sometimes it's scary just driving it let alone cycling it!!! You've read journals of people who've been required to have their bikes carried in trucks through roadworks? I can confirm exactly why.

    But I am a bit like you. My northern European ride in 2003 was based on the North Sea Cycling Route, and I basically meandered along with that. Other times, I have used highway maps and the sun to head in the estimated direction. I've *not* used maps quite often to get into and out of cities. Some have stumped me, though... Los Angeles for example... because there are no obvious reference points such as mountains, rivers or skyscrapers. I rode from near LA airport into the city, and the flatness, then the smog meant I was less than 3km from the city heart before I could see the highest buildings.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    With a little searching, you can find some nice routes for New England states like Vermont...
    Just about any road other than main highways is nice in the New England states.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  12. #12
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    I would recommend going to your LBS and see if they have any route maps. We ride several that we got from them and they are marked with parking and stores so you can plan your packing also. We also picked up a book for our state that is pretty much nothing but routes. We're looking at that National Geographic CD that our LBS has. Suppose to be pretty good.

  13. #13
    and riding...just riding
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    I've had pretty good luck with the free maps given out by realtors. They're pretty detailed since they'd like for you to be able to find their houses and buy one. I usually have better luck getting them when not on a bike.

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