This is another, I forgot to get my maps post. Here's the story.
I am going on a my first tour next week. Short, five days, going with four friends. It's a first for all of us. The tour we are doing is pretty much lifted from a bicycle tour book, except that we are winging one day. The tour in the book is a loop, and we're taking a different route on our second day to make the ride one day shorter.
In all of the getting ready for the tour, I neglected to get maps early. There are detailed directions in the book for all the days except the one we are improvising.
So . . .
1--am I crazy to think I can pick up maps along the way?
2--if I am crazy, what kind of maps should I start looking for right away? Should I directly contact the counties we will be travelling through?
We will be travelling through the Texas Hill Country, and the loop will take us through four counties--Kerr, Kimble, Real, and Edwards.
You know it really should have dawned on me to make sure to procure maps whenever I ordered my MAP CASE. Geez.
Feel free to make fun of me, but then offer some advice.
If you contact the texas dept of transportation, they should have county road maps available for all the counties. If you talk nice to them, you might be able to get them to overnight them to you. Illinois has 1/2 inch per mile and 1 inch per mile (1/2 is better) for $2.00, for a cost reference point. ALso, local realtors and business groups like the chamber of commerce have free maps (at least in the midwest), which are basically the county road maps plus ads. Since you know what counties you're going thru, I'd try calling the CofC in towns along the way and see if they have freebies.
a bunch of them, most made by me, a couple made by others
If Texas DOT doesn't move quick enough you can get maps at bookstores. Irving is a suburb of Dallas IIRC. You probaly have Barnes and Noble and/or Borders.
You can also print your own maps from yahoo http://maps.yahoo.com/maps? use the toggle for larger map size before printing
However, There is a very good book that compiles all of the county maps into a single atlas called "The Roads of Texas". It has all of the roads in the state. You may be able to find the book in a good bookstore, or you can get it mailorder from Amazon.com.
I have the book and love it. It is very easy to tell the difference between the different road surfaces in this book. If you plan to ride on any county roads (as opposed to FM roads or state highways) that are not familiar and not on your tour book route, then this book can save you from riding a 10 mile stretch of dirt and gravel. The county maps also differentiate between road surface types, but I find the county map interface a bit cumbersome and prefer the book. If you do overnight delivery, you should get the book in time.
I use TopoUSA software a lot for route planning. However, it does not tell me which roads are paved versus dirt of gravel. The Roads of Texas makes an excellent supplement to TopoUSA.
Good luck on your tour. I'd like to do some cycling in the hill country sometime later this year. I haven't been down there yet. Have fun.