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  1. #1
    Senior Member danlikesbikes's Avatar
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    Touring with a Map and Compass/ Adventure Cycling Maps and Compass

    Hey, so I am doing the Transamerica a few weeks from now and my friends that I'm traveling with are located several states away right now and are fast asleep. I am curious... does anyone have any information to offer about using a compass with the Adventure cycling maps, or just general thoughts on using a compass and map while touring.

    I don't think I am interested in GPS. Just good old, old school, compass (between 30 and 99 bucks) and map.

  2. #2
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    If you are following the TransAm I would think that you could just follow the ACA maps. I use ACA and AAA road maps. Never used a compass nor felt that I needed one. Offroad touring would be a different kettle of fish.
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    crazyguyonabike.com/lighthorse

  3. #3
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    A always carry a small button compass. It is accurate enough to find N on a misty day in the woods and surprisingly useful for orienting street maps in town.

  4. #4
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    you will have to hop off the bike and walk away 10-15ft or more to get an accurate reading from the compass

  5. #5
    Senior Member danlikesbikes's Avatar
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    is there topographic info (contour lines) on the ACA maps?

  6. #6
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    aca maps don't have contours. I have a little suunto thermometer/compass keychain with a bezel, and small map ruler with windchill calculations on the back. I either have it attached to my day pack or elastic band it to the bike. Its kind of interesting seeing the morning temperatures and such, and I generally only need to know a general direction to get myself unmuddled on the road so anything more precise would be overkill and harder to use.

  7. #7
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shiznaz
    aca maps don't have contours.
    The ones that I just received for my upcoming transamerica do. Granted they aren't all that great because it is hard to tell where/if the lines cross the road, but they do have contours.

    Some of the flat sections don't seem to but maybe that is just because the lines are far enough apart to not be apparent.

    For touring on the road I really don't see the need for more than a general idea of which way is N, S, E, and W. I can get that from the sun on all but the most overcast days. The cheapo combination bell/compass that I have seems to be adequate to have a general idea of direction on overcast days.

    I might take a gps, but don't think either gps or compass is really necessary.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    I had a little compass when I did TA and used it exactly once and that was on the first day when we managed to get turned around in Williamsburg. So don't worry too much (as long as you can read a map, that is.)

  9. #9
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    The only thing I've ever used for touring (so far Europe and Canada) has been a road-atlas scale map and a compass. You don't really need anything else.

  10. #10
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    I've never brought a compass on a tour, and never been in a situation where I wished I had a compass.

  11. #11
    Senior Member CyKKlist's Avatar
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    I'm more of a protractor man myself....
    Latest bike tour journal now posted -- PALM ride across Michigan!
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/palm2009

    Also -- NC Courthouse Tour, using Amtrak to Charlotte
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/nccourthousetour

    Trek 520 for commuting, touring, family rides and smiling at life.

  12. #12
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    check what side of the trees the moss is on. You could also do it commando style with dirt and sticks

  13. #13
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I get lost on my bike all the time and never seem to use my compass.

    I just go with it, ride until I get my bearings, and reorient.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  14. #14
    Senior Member danlikesbikes's Avatar
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    Yeah I mean I am not worried I won't find the west coast or anything, I just want to practice my mountaineering and orientation and map reading , rate of ascent, etc. skills and this seems like a fun opportunity. I'm starting up studies in Geology (GeoChemistry @ SUNY New Paltz) in the fall and want to start building up my ranger skillz.

  15. #15
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danlikesbikes
    Yeah I mean I am not worried I won't find the west coast or anything, I just want to practice my mountaineering and orientation and map reading , rate of ascent, etc. skills and this seems like a fun opportunity. I'm starting up studies in Geology (GeoChemistry @ SUNY New Paltz) in the fall and want to start building up my ranger skillz.
    It might be fun to tinker with map and compass skills while on tour. Taking bearings on distant landmarks and finding your position on the map is a fun exercise that I have used only on a boat. There is no reason you couldn't do all kinds of interesting stuff with a compass on tour. It just isn't all that useful for actually finding your way when you have on the road.

    BTW: We may possibly be moving our departure up to Memorial Day weekend. When did you say you were leaving? If we leave early enough we will keep an eye open for your group.

  16. #16
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    I'm jealous.
    I am amazed at those who can get their bearings so easily.
    Sadly, I lacking the orientation gene.
    As one who is severely geographically impaired, I could not imagine a long tour without GPS. Prior to their availability, I either relied on others or added many unnecessary (but interesting!) miles to my trips.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
    - Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  17. #17
    Senior Member danlikesbikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1
    It might be fun to tinker with map and compass skills while on tour. Taking bearings on distant landmarks and finding your position on the map is a fun exercise that I have used only on a boat. There is no reason you couldn't do all kinds of interesting stuff with a compass on tour. It just isn't all that useful for actually finding your way when you have on the road.

    BTW: We may possibly be moving our departure up to Memorial Day weekend. When did you say you were leaving? If we leave early enough we will keep an eye open for your group.

    We are still planning on dipping our wheels in the ocean at Yorktown early morning on May 19th and setting off after a few memorable snapshots. Virginia is supposed to be the hardest part of the ride right?

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