hi brand new to the forum and am planning a tour of the US in late may . I have all my gear but now need to determine my route! i've heard lots of good things about adventuring cycling association's maps, of the trans us trail, but the price is around 150~!!!!!!
i was just hoping someone knew of a website or another free sourrce that has a trans us map or even sections!! any advice would be much appreciated, i'm definatly not trying to spend an additional 150 dollars after i just purchased all my gear....!
I would like to make a plug for ACA maps and Adventure Cycling's good works. The maps are expensive, but think of the enormous amount of time and people resources it takes to come up with all the information each map provides. ACA makes good quality colored maps using quality paper and printing, up to date riding directions (both directions and elevations) with downloadable updates if needed, the maps provide information on places to eat and sleep, the neat places to see along the way, and they even give suggestions where the good ice cream shops are. The hours and hours it would take you to find out all of that info (and still miss a big chunk of what ACA provides) makes the price of the maps seem like a bargain. Don't go cheap on your maps and help out ACA because their advocacy has helped touring in more ways than we could know.
Please, remember it's not the piece of paper you are purchasing it's the information on it that's worth the price.
Since you say "Tour of the U.S." - I'm not sure if you are from the U.S. or not. Brit, Canadian, Aussie? The TransAm is a good package for those who are not familiar with the U.S. or how to route find - - but - - I don't think it's the best. Since 1976, many of the segments of the TransAm have traffic volumes that are less than ideal. The advantage is that there are lots of cyclists' services - campgrounds that offer hiker/biker rates, hostels, bike shops, and the Cookie Lady. Plus, you are likely to run into other cycle tourers if you are solo and want company.
Still, if you really want to do an ocean-to-ocean ride - neither the TransAm or the Northern Tier do this - - and you would be plumb crazy to do the Southern Tier in the summer (Plus it's the worst route.) If you are starting in May - it would be best to ride east to west. Where do you want to start and finish? On the ocean? How hot - how cool? Any dirt roads? Bike trails? Places in between you definitely want to see - like Niagara Falls or the St Louis Arch or Yellowstone?
THAnks everyone i realized how little information i gave, i'm brand new to touring, this is goign to be my first trip longer than about 50 miles. I 'm beginning from ocean city maryland, and actually on going To colorado, i have nothing specific i want to see, any type of terrain is wlecomed; but being completely new to touring is why adventurcylces trail caught my eye in the first place. REallydoes anyone have personal expireicne of just making their own trail from normal road maps ? and has this worked? i really appreciate all your feedback!
tahnks again dan
The ACA maps are well worth the price and I think are updated often enough to adapt to or at least warn about traffic problems and other things. I did the TransAm in 2003 and can only remember a few areas where I thought they had blown it on road choice.
Sarahj and jamawani have, again, given you the best advice.
In my tours of North America, I use the ACA routes for guidance. There are two huge pluses to this approach: 1) In general, they are the best routes for traffic/support/services/scenery. And 2) I know we'll meet other cyclists along the way (this really is the best part of touring!).
But you don't have to follow them religiously. On some sections, I've used their thumbnail images to find the basic route, then plotted my own using state, forest, and topo maps. In fact, there's enough info around -- internet, state tourist offices, DeLorme state maps -- to lay out camping stops, find RV parks, good eats, etc. Last summer for a 2800 mile ride, I used DeLorme Topo USA software to map out and print up a fantastic set of riding maps. Our route took us about half on ACA trails, the other half on our own. My maps were equally good in both situations.
The key is to do your homework before the trip. E.g., we rode across British Columbia, and I spent about 2 weeks finding campgrounds/RV parks along our route (and marking them on our maps).
If you're following an ACA route, the ACA maps will alert you to those little side roads for low-traffic stretches where little kids wave from the farmyards. But the ACA maps don't tell you where the best hot springs are, or the best pies, or the ripest peaches. For a good tour, you gotta do your homework beforehand. Then you might as well lay out your own maps.
This won't help you coming from the East Coast, but if you buy your maps in person at the ACA office in Missoula MT, you pay the low member price (member or not). I've stocked up that way several times near the start of our tours.
I recently laid out a route from Asbury Park, NJ, to Oceanside, CA. and this how I did it. First I e-mailed all of the states that I was to pass through and requested their road map or vacation package. States such as MD and TX have really nice maps while CA and MS did not send one. I then penciled in a route through each state staying off the major highways. I then went to my Streets and Trips CD and zoomed in to get a more detailed look. At the 18mi. scale various motels, B&B's and eating establishments are shown. After printing and trimming, I ended up with a stack of maps about an inch and a half thick that fit perfectly in a ziplock bag. I could have stopped there but I wanted to know some of the elevation changes that I will encounter, so when I saw a good deal on Topo USA I purchased it and followed my route and noted on my printed maps the areas of major elevation changes.
I also found web sites that list by state, then city about every hotel, motel in the country. I then noted these on my printed maps, as I may decide to stay inside on occasion. Believe me, its not that hard.
I chose this method because after reading about 50 cross country journals it felt like I have already ridden the route.
I dream of riding from Oregon to NY, and will probably develop a route all my own. I will probably pre-establish certain places that I feel I need to see. (Katy Trail is one of them!) My route between those places will likely be uncertain from one day to the next. I'll probably buy the Adventure Cycling maps to use as one resource, and BikeForums.net as another, and make it up as I go along.
Jesus Christ made me a man
Ken Kifer made me a cyclist