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  1. #1
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    How do you plan your tour?

    A friend and I are going on a tour in June. We had a test ride a couple of weeks back and found that we stopped quite often to check we were on the right route. I response to another post makes me think I'm not the only one who does this.

    So my question is for the tour (400 miles, 4 countries in Europe), how should we plan our route?

    We'll be using cycle paths most of the time i think; we'll be in the Netherlands that are famous for them.

    I had intended to plan every turn, print it out and get detailed maps of the area and cycle routes. But I'm a bit worried we'll be stopping at every junction to check the maps.

    I now think we should just have a list of major towns, a larger map and a compass and then just keep cycling in the general direction and follow signs as we go.

    I prefer the second option as it requires less planning and will feel a bit more like an adventure.

    But I wanted to ask how others plan their tours. Any advice is greatly received.
    Cheers, Steve

  2. #2
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    A friend and I are going on a tour in June. We had a test ride a couple of weeks back and found that we stopped quite often to check we were on the right route. I response to another post makes me think I'm not the only one who does this.

    So my question is for the tour (400 miles, 4 countries in Europe), how should we plan our route?

    We'll be using cycle paths most of the time i think; we'll be in the Netherlands that are famous for them.

    I had intended to plan every turn, print it out and get detailed maps of the area and cycle routes. But I'm a bit worried we'll be stopping at every junction to check the maps.

    I now think we should just have a list of major towns, a larger map and a compass and then just keep cycling in the general direction and follow signs as we go.

    I prefer the second option as it requires less planning and will feel a bit more like an adventure.

    But I wanted to ask how others plan their tours. Any advice is greatly received.
    Cheers, Steve
    I prepare a cue sheet, and feel free to abandon it as I wish.

  3. #3
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    I had intended to plan every turn, print it out and get detailed maps of the area and cycle routes. But I'm a bit worried we'll be stopping at every junction to check the maps.

    I now think we should just have a list of major towns, a larger map and a compass and then just keep cycling in the general direction and follow signs as we go.

    In the Netherlands, I've used something a little closer to your second alternative. I look at the map and have a rough idea of the direction and towns I'll follow. Next, I'll follow the local signage such as the above rather than trying to have turns printed. If necessary, I'll ask locals "is this the way to Hilversum" type questions. As an excuse, I might stop in local VVV office for local instructions or to find accommodations.

  4. #4
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    What's the worst that can happen? You get lost. So what. Keep your head up and view what's around you. If you get stuck, show your map to a local.

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    As pointed out, cycle routes are well marked in Netherlands, as with much of Belgium and Germany. Keep in mind, they mark towns as well as routes, so if you are following a route, you might get off route, but that is not always a bad thing.

    I've met more people, had great experiences and seen more sights 'off route' than on.

    I plan my route by deciding what area I want to travel, do lots of internet research, buy books and maps as required, set out a detailed itinerary, and then do mostly what I want when I get there. Because I comer from overseeas, I book the first night in a cheap hotel to recover from jet lag and then I camp.

    I can speak a little German, Dutch and French, so I torture the locals with it (some times with all three and English mixed in) until they start speaking in English. It usually works, but out in the sticks, you might actually need a phrase book.

    If I get behind and have to get back to the airport quick, I catch a train.

    Have a great time.

  6. #6
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    If you have a map holder you don't have to top to look at the map.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve2k View Post
    I now think we should just have a list of major towns, a larger map and a compass and then just keep cycling in the general direction and follow signs as we go.

    I prefer the second option as it requires less planning and will feel a bit more like an adventure.
    This one.

    This is how Rowan and I have cycled around Europe the various times we've visited.

  8. #8
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    say machka just had a look at your wedding pic's, you really did get web on a lake.brilliant what a way to get hooked well done ,did you actually go on tour for your honeymoon.

  9. #9
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    I would go with your second option. too much planning leads to paranoia!! Plus - by stopping to ask the locals, you might find some really fun little detours that you never would have known about otherwise.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  10. #10
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Establish the staring finishing points.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    That was meant to read- "starting and finishing points".

  12. #12
    Senior Member cyclemanic's Avatar
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    I don't do any real planning before hand other than the places i really want to see, when i'm on tour i will take a quick look at a map in the morning before leaving & decide roughly which route to take, ie: what towns villages to head for then just muddle along like that,
    def more exciting than planning every turn which i could never do because it would bore the crap out of me & i hate having to stick to a route, having said that it does suit some people so until you get out there & try you probably won't know which you like. i think its an experience thing the more touring you do the less planning you need to do well thats what i think anyway.
    may the force be with u!!

  13. #13
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Figure out what you'd like to see on a map, connect the dots and when you get to the first large town check out the local tourist office for more details on routes, cycling paths, places to visit and places to stay.

  14. #14
    Senior Member cyclemanic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios View Post
    Figure out what you'd like to see on a map, connect the dots and when you get to the first large town check out the local tourist office for more details on routes, cycling paths, places to visit and places to stay.

    spot on
    may the force be with u!!

  15. #15
    Senior Mumbler steve2k's Avatar
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    OK, that's decided, thank you all for your wise words.
    We already have a rough route with towns to aim for each day; we've got a high level map and I'll buy a compass. I think that's our planning pretty much done.

  16. #16
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    How do people plan or find accomodation at the end of the day if you are taking a 'relaxed' attitude to planning? I am thinking of touring along the river routes through Germany and Austria this summer. I am thinking of a mix of stalth and campsite camping. I think route finding should be ok but I am concerned about ending the day somewhere where it isn't suitable to camp and not knowing where the next site or suitable spot is. Main concern here would be ending in a stretch that is in a urban setting and hence kipping in a field or wood isn't an option. Similarly with towns or villages to buy supplies. This is less of a concern as I can always carry some supplies but I wouldn't want to be too weighed down with food or large amounts of water 'just in case'.

    thanks

  17. #17
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    This is probably my main issue with touring. Turn by turn directions are a hassle, even with an overview map. You have to constantly check where you are with road signs, milege, etc. They really ruin the fun of touring.

    I just don't have the time to take off enough days to wander about, and find my way with a rough map. I'd love to, but my tours are unfortunately just really long, 2-3 day bike rides.

    My solution, especially after my last tour (from NYC to Boston) is to get a GPS and load a premapped route. I won't have to stay on the route, but I'll know where I am, which way I need to go, and if I go get off track, I'll know how far off I am.

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freebooter View Post
    How do people plan or find accomodation at the end of the day if you are taking a 'relaxed' attitude to planning? I am thinking of touring along the river routes through Germany and Austria this summer. I am thinking of a mix of stalth and campsite camping. I think route finding should be ok but I am concerned about ending the day somewhere where it isn't suitable to camp and not knowing where the next site or suitable spot is. Main concern here would be ending in a stretch that is in a urban setting and hence kipping in a field or wood isn't an option. Similarly with towns or villages to buy supplies. This is less of a concern as I can always carry some supplies but I wouldn't want to be too weighed down with food or large amounts of water 'just in case'.

    thanks
    Even with a relaxed attitude toward planning, I've still got a map. With that map I can find towns and villages to locate food and supplies, and with that map I can also locate likely looking spots to camp. Most maps will give some indication of the size of the town and will also put little green triangles or some other symbol to indicate camping.

    And in France (not sure about Germany and Austria), a lot of towns have campgrounds in them ... Nancy and Strasbourg, for example. Towns also have hostels which are a sleep option. If we ended up in a town toward the end of day, we found that one of the best ways to find accommodations was to go to the local train station and ask there ... the people there were usually very helpful. Another way was to look at the maps at the transit bus stops ... they were surprisingly helpful as well. And of course, after you've been in a country for a few hours you'll have seen the camping signs and will know what to look for.

  19. #19
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    Generally in Europe, if a region attracts visitors, there will be ample campgrounds, at least in the summer. It was never a problem in season. But if you want to know where campgrounds are in advance, free regional tourist brochures listing campgrounds are usually available. Also, some maps have symbols for campgrounds. And finally, better guidebooks will have campground information.

    Following up on Machka's suggestion about hostels, Germany in particular has a huge number of them.

  20. #20
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    I recommend using the website http://www.gpsies.com. I have used three others, and I have found this site has the best user interface, and it is excellent for finding European routes that are already set up by others. They have recently introduced Waypoints, which I am using to add points of interest along my routes that i want to see. For example, here is my gpsies.com route north of Brno, Czech Republic, set up so that I can see the Moravian Karst landscape and caves.

    http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=koxkglalxoowdtaf
    Czech Republic Brno to Bostovice via Moravian Karst Caves

    Try running your cursor over waypoints, and you can enter details like

    Macocha Abyss: A gorge that is 138 meters deep, formed by a sinkhole, one of the most spectacular sites in the Moravian Karst region.
    This tool, gpsies.com, lets me switch between views (satellite, map, terrain, Google Earth, and Microsoft Earth). Multiple data providers are implemented. You'll find many routes already set up by others. You can use their routes as starters to create your own.

    Howard
    Last edited by metzenberg; 05-03-09 at 04:46 AM.

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