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  1. #1
    Nighttime Rider
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    How do you plan your routes?

    I'm thinking about a coast to coast tour next year. It's obviously a long distance and I really lack knowledge of the road conditions and proper routes. How would you go about route planning?

    Also, and suggestions on how many miles per day or any other suggestions for such a long trip.

    Thanks

    CE
    Last edited by CrimsonEclipse; 11-23-08 at 06:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    Id look at bikely.com and ask other long distance riders

    One of the biggest choice to make for that trip is going to be east-west or west-east.

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

  3. #3
    duh-river foe
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    There's always the Adventure Cycling maps. They're excellent but just not my first choice because I prefer picking fun destinations and biking to them. Google Maps has a new 'walking' button that also can make decent guesses at finding low-traffic roads for biking.

  4. #4
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Crazyguyonabike.com is an invaluable resource. You'll learn quite a bit, including what quesions you need to start asking. There are hundreds of US Coast to Coast journals there.
    Tour Journals, Blog, ride pix

    I'm in the celtic folk fusion band Baroque and Hungry. "Mended", our new full-length studio album, is now available for download.

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    Before doing our coast to coast trek, we had heard that ACA maps were the best. So, we made our route decision based on their routes and maps. Simple. They have the basics all figured out for you.

    Miles per day: If you look at most supported tours, they seem to plan around 60 miles per day. So, until I know better, that's where I would start.

  6. #6
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I look for must-see destinations (read guidebooks) which I want to see on the tour. When I combine draw a rough line connecting these destinations. Then I read the guide books for minor spots again and plan a route from destination to the next destination - At that stage I look for nice routes / mountain passes or cycling paths

    Thomas
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

  7. #7
    Look! My Spine! RubenX's Avatar
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    I go on the net and google all the cycling clubs in between place A & B. I go to their websites and download their ride maps. Then I try to link the routes together. I verify rideability with the street view on google maps. And finally, I use expedia for the hotel locations (I don't camp).

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I recommend using the Adventure Cycling routes for where they meet your needs and improvising where they don't. Their maps will put you on suitable roads and will contain very good info on what services are available as well as general info about the areas traveled and elevation profiles (at least in the west).

    I was very impressed with the Trans America route. It was well worth the money for the maps. We did second guess the route in a few places and do our own thing, but it was still worth the price.

    You can just buy the maps pack your gear and take off with pretty much zero planning if you decide to take the AC map approach.

    It is also possible to carefully plan your own route using maps showing traffic levels. For expert advice on that search for posts by jamawani on this forum.

    Another way is to have a general idea and just improvise. I don't think this is done too often for a coast to coast, but I know of at least one guy who was successful in a recent xc with this approach.

    As was already said check out crazyguyonabike.com and read some journals. Ours may be a good one to start with since it details three first timers TransAmerica tour. Check it out at:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/staehling2007

  9. #9
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse View Post
    I'm thinking about a coast to coast tour next year. It's obviously a long distance and I really lack knowledge of the road conditions and proper routes. How would you go about route planning?

    Also, and suggestions on how many miles per day or any other suggestions for such a long trip.

    Thanks

    CE
    I'm also planning a cross country ride next year. I'm breaking the ride into segments based on who I am meeting/staying with. Anyone I'm staying with usually knows the local roads, so I ask for their input in determining a route.

    As for the number of days, how much or how little of the US do you want to see? There are no rules. Some folks think nothing of a hundred miles a day. For some of us, 40 miles be the average.

  10. #10
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubenX View Post
    I go on the net and google all the cycling clubs in between place A & B. I go to their websites and download their ride maps. Then I try to link the routes together. I verify rideability with the street view on google maps. And finally, I use expedia for the hotel locations (I don't camp).
    I am curious if that has actually worked for a trip like a coast to coast one. I have a hard time imagining that approach working to get you across the great expanses of mostly empty country in the west and suspect it being a bit dubious in other places as well.

    Your comment about verifying rideability using street view on google maps makes me even more skeptical of this approach since I doubt that there was even 100 miles of the 4244 miles of our cross country tour that is covered by street view. My experience is that street view at this point only seems mostly to cover major cities only and only some of them. On most Coast to Coast tours folks usually avoid big cities. I know that we only rode through about three and they weren't huge (Eugene, Missoula, and Pueblo). They were probably the only places on our whole trip that had street view if even they did.

    Edit: After a quick check... It looks like my 100 mile estimate was low, but still street view covered less than 10% of our route. It is a great tool where it is available, but is not available for the majority of any possible coast to coast route.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 09-23-08 at 05:54 AM.

  11. #11
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I am curious if that has actually worked for a trip like a coast to coast one. I have a hard time imagining that approach working to get you across the great expanses of mostly empty country in the west and suspect it being a bit dubious in other places as well.
    If you tried that with local Philadelphia clubs, you'd have a mish-mash of scenic routes, most unsuited to touring. For instance, in my area, there are all sorts of club rides that take scenic climbs, instead of the PA Bike Route S and ACA Atlantic Coast Route (same road), which is as flat as you can get around here.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse View Post
    I'm thinking about a coast to coast tour next year. It's obviously a long distance and I really lack knowledge of the road conditions and proper routes. How would you go about route planning?

    Also, and suggestions on how many miles per day or any other suggestions for such a long trip.
    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Another way is to have a general idea and just improvise. I don't think this is done too often for a coast to coast, but I know of at least one guy who was successful in a recent xc with this approach.
    Back in 1977 when my wife and I went from LA to Washington DC, in May through June, we had a US map with our intended start and destination, and we used state maps to pick out routes on a daily basis. It became a standing joke that every time we stopped we would look at the map; kind of like a nervous investor checking his stocks every couple of hours. We found that there were few choices, mostly federal and large state highways up through Colorado, which had the advantage of limited grades to accomodate truck traffic. Thereafter were plenty of state and local roads, but often with steeper grades, especially in Missouri and West Virginia.

    BTW, it seemed to me that there were times in Colorado that I wasn't sure if I was traveling up or down. I wouldn't mention this except I once saw a program about some trans-Canada cyclists that related a similar experience. Has anyone else noticed this?

    Our daily plan was to do about 50 miles per day, to find shelter where we might be able to take a shower. We did from 20 miles, due to mechanical difficulties, up to 100 miles in Kentucky.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I think the ACA maps are a great starting place. They've already done so much of the work you'll have to do yourself if you don't use them. I agree with others - I don't always stick to the ACA routes exactly, but when I use them I stay on their route about 90% of the time. I've found their road choices to be excellent overall. They aren't always the most direct route, but the roads tend to be less busy and more scenic. I've spent some of the best hours of riding on tour on some backroad that I never would have found if I hadn't had the ACA maps.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    A lot of my routes ... both on tour, and locally ... have been planned as follows ...

    1. I am going to start at Point A.
    2. I want to go to Point B.
    3. I would like to see these things in between.
    4. According to the paper map I acquired from CAA, from Walmart, from the local bookstore, and/or from a tourist information centre there is a road, or a collection of roads, that will take me from Point A to Point B, near to all the things I want to see. That's the way I'll go, and if I don't like the route for some reason, I'll change my plans when I get there.

  15. #15
    Member crosscountry08's Avatar
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    Depending on how set in stone your starting point and ending point is i would definitely recommend using Adventure Cycling Maps. We just finished a coast-to-coast trip this summer and used a mixture of Adventure Cycling maps and our own route.
    Just as an idea of how we did it. We knew several points we wanted to hit (Niagra Falls, Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone and Glacier NP), and we also had a lot of friends in the midwest. So we took the Northern Tier route from Bar Harbor to Niagra Falls. Then made our own route from Niagra to Yellowstone. Then from Yellowstone we used the Great Parks Route to get to Glacier. Then from Glacier we took the Northern Tier again to the West Coast. Our end destination was Portland so we used the Pacific Route to get from Anacortes to Portland. Somewhere along the way we used the Trans-America but I can't remember where. We found that when we picked our own route we ended up picking some really busy roads and it was more difficult to find campgrounds. I had a GPS on my phone so that helped, but using the AC maps was much easier.

    It really all depends on you. If you like to have things planned in advance (though I wouldnt recommend being too planned, that takes away some of the adventure) then I would recommend AC maps. But if you would feel to constrained by that idea, just buy a large, detailed state map at a gas station when you enter each state and go from there.

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