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Old 06-06-11, 07:26 AM   #1
i wish
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Route planning?

I am planning a trip from PA to TN as asked about in this thread.
I was wondering how much of a route people plan before they even leave their own house. Is it possible to pick up maps along the way? Should I plan out my whole route beforehand or fly by the seat of my pants?
I have specific destinations...friends, family....along the way.
Any advice for either method? I'm not taking technology along with me, but hope to stop at libraries and similar places for internet access.
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Old 06-06-11, 07:37 AM   #2
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Google maps is not a reliable source. Their bike directions are in beta phase and will lead you miles out of your way. They also don't identify gravel so you can run out of pavement unexpectedly. Most states now have bike routes available from their DOT for download. Here's a couple posts I put on my blog with my experience:

http://simplecycle-marc.blogspot.com...ngled-way.html
http://simplecycle-marc.blogspot.com...revisited.html

Marc
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Old 06-06-11, 08:13 AM   #3
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I try not to plan too much in advance. I know where I am starting and where my destination is. I avoid major roads that have a lot of traffic, and eventually I get to where I am going. It all depends on your timeline, the capabilities of your bike, and your riding style.
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Old 06-06-11, 08:18 AM   #4
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For a route like this I'll use Google Maps to get a rough idea of via points. However, rather than using the bicycling instructions, I'll typically use the automobile ones with a setting of "avoid highways". That keeps me off the largest interstate highways at least in the East. I'll then also bring along some state maps and adjust things as appropriate based on how the trip is going and local information I hear along the way. I've sometimes also gone to a site like "motelguide.com" and found towns likely to have motels.

This Google map gives an idea: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UT...76e818304d&z=6 I wasn't 100% certain where I was staying or route choices but had done enough in advance to mark potential stopping points. On this trip I was doing it as a motel trip. Each morning I then figured out the specific possibilities and had two or three choices. My most likely one might have been 64 miles away, but if things were going well, perhaps there was one at 89 miles or alternately one at 45 miles...
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Old 06-06-11, 08:47 AM   #5
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I have been contacted by a couple of people as to the nice cycling back roads through my area and think that is a good idea. After you plan your rough route, contact bike clubs, bike shops, and individuals (from those who post on this or similar sights) near that route about best cycling roads through their area.
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Old 06-07-11, 07:37 AM   #6
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I like to plan my itinerary day-by-day, but I often vary it, sometimes a lot. I don't like to feel locked into an itinerary, but I think having one is a helpful starting point.
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Old 06-07-11, 07:43 AM   #7
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Is it possible to pick up maps along the way?
Have you never been to a service station, bookstore, tourist information centre, or sporting goods store? Here's an idea ... before you go ... visit those places. They've got lots of interesting stuff in them.

I don't like nailing down route before I go. I prefer to have an approximate destination and an approximate timeline and take each day as it comes. But if you've already go specific places you need to be, that makes it more challenging, and you probably will need to make more detailed plans. Just be sure to plan days off so you can get some rest or catch up.
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Old 06-07-11, 09:14 AM   #8
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I like to plan my itinerary day-by-day, but I often vary it, sometimes a lot. I don't like to feel locked into an itinerary, but I think having one is a helpful starting point.
Do you do this without a GPS thingy or other such technology?
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Old 06-07-11, 09:21 AM   #9
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Have you never been to a service station, bookstore, tourist information centre, or sporting goods store? Here's an idea ... before you go ... visit those places. They've got lots of interesting stuff in them.
I occasionally go to EMS but not really any of the other places. What do you mean by a service station? Those rest stops along an interstate?

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I don't like nailing down route before I go. I prefer to have an approximate destination and an approximate timeline and take each day as it comes. But if you've already go specific places you need to be, that makes it more challenging, and you probably will need to make more detailed plans. Just be sure to plan days off so you can get some rest or catch up.
I don't have a time limit...just specific destinations. I don't really care how long it takes me to get there...
I'm already planning on taking it easy since on my last (and first) short tour my knee acted up pretty bad.
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Old 06-07-11, 11:14 AM   #10
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I plan day-by-day, but I freely change those plans on the road. It's reassuring to have a plan, but I don't want to feel constrained by it, either. I say I'm planning on an open-ended bicycle tour of an undetermined length, but I actually am planning daily routes and nightly stops several months in advance. I know once I'm far from home I'll appreciate the efforts, but hopefully after a few weeks I'll be confident enough to discard my plans. In the meantime, I greatly enjoy the planning. I've learned a lot about the areas I plan to pass through, and even more about places I might have just passed by unknowingly.

I use google maps for most of my route planning, then transfer it over to paper maps. I'll collect maps along the way, and where there is 3G, Wifi, or a library computer available, I'll have access to my more detailed online maps. Honestly, though, after all the effort I've put into my planning, I could mark it on a paper map without looking at my notes or google maps. I also tend to ignore google map bike directions. If you're going to use google maps for route planning, use street view to check out road conditions, and click on the 'bicycling' tab to show bike routes and trails. Mark out your route yourself with snap-to-road lines instead of just taking what it gives you for directions. If there are discrepancies between your paper maps and google maps, trust the paper maps. Google maps is a great tool, but it has a ton of misnamed roads, or just plain bad data.

Also, keep in mind that the google vans more often avoid gravel roads. There are exceptions, but generally if you can get a street view of a road, it's paved. This is especially true in rural, but well fairly well populated areas. Paved but un-googled roads tend to be well and truly out in the middle of nowhere, in national parks, or seasonal mountain roads.

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Old 06-07-11, 02:54 PM   #11
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In addition to google maps or something like that for the general idea of roads to take, you may want to look at mapmyride.com or another mapping site that shows some level of elevation changes. Sometimes (more often than not?) in that part of the country a straight road means a whole bunch of ups and downs while the road that meanders along the river or top of the mountains is much flatter.
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Old 06-07-11, 04:09 PM   #12
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I occasionally go to EMS but not really any of the other places. What do you mean by a service station? Those rest stops along an interstate?
A service station is a petrol station or a gas station ... a place where people fill their vehicles with fuel, pick up chips and chocolate bars for themselves, and use the toilet. Some have restaurants and occasionally the larger ones will have showers (something to keep in mind while you are on your tour). They are usually located throughout cities, but especially around the edges of cities on the main roads in and out of the cities. They go by the names BP, Esso, Mohawk, Shell, and several others.
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Old 06-07-11, 06:12 PM   #13
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I generally don't do a lot of planning. I know the general direction I want to go. If I am on an Adventure Cycling route, I will use one of their maps. (www.adventurecycling.org). If I am using maps, I stick to the old way: hard copy maps. I have found that only major routes (i.e., those with a lot of traffic) are on the state highway maps. I think you need at least 1:250,000 for a map. I have found that each state has a Gazeteer put out by Delorme. These maps are the right size, but it takes a book to cover the whole state. I literally rip out the pages that I might need and put them in my pannier. The Gazeteer shows all the back roads. It also shows commercial camp grounds and they have addresses/phone numbers so I can call if I need to. It also shows all the small towns, so I can generally rely on a gas station or convenience store being there.
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Old 06-08-11, 05:52 AM   #14
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I generally don't do a lot of planning. I know the general direction I want to go. If I am on an Adventure Cycling route, I will use one of their maps. (www.adventurecycling.org). If I am using maps, I stick to the old way: hard copy maps. I have found that only major routes (i.e., those with a lot of traffic) are on the state highway maps. I think you need at least 1:250,000 for a map. I have found that each state has a Gazeteer put out by Delorme. These maps are the right size, but it takes a book to cover the whole state. I literally rip out the pages that I might need and put them in my pannier. The Gazeteer shows all the back roads. It also shows commercial camp grounds and they have addresses/phone numbers so I can call if I need to. It also shows all the small towns, so I can generally rely on a gas station or convenience store being there.
I did that with PA....but was hoping there was a less expensive method available.
I really like the Delorme maps.
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Old 06-08-11, 05:55 AM   #15
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A service station is a petrol station or a gas station ... a place where people fill their vehicles with fuel, pick up chips and chocolate bars for themselves, and use the toilet. Some have restaurants and occasionally the larger ones will have showers (something to keep in mind while you are on your tour). They are usually located throughout cities, but especially around the edges of cities on the main roads in and out of the cities. They go by the names BP, Esso, Mohawk, Shell, and several others.
Ah, I know what you mean.
We refer to them as 'gas stations' so I didn't understand...
I've never heard of them having public showers...that would be so convenient!
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Old 06-08-11, 06:22 AM   #16
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Ah, I know what you mean.
We refer to them as 'gas stations' so I didn't understand...
I've never heard of them having public showers...that would be so convenient!
The larger service stations ... and especially the truck stops ... often have the showers for the truckers. Those ones are usually located right on the edge of city, or a little way out of a city, sometimes even halfway between two cities ... and usually on major highways, trucking routes.

You probably don't want to do most of your tour on major highways, but if you happen to be on one and happen to encounter a large service station in the middle of nowhere, there's a chance it might have a shower.
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Old 06-08-11, 07:21 AM   #17
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but was hoping there was a less expensive method available.
Go to your local tourist information centre and see what they have to offer. Most of the material at tourist information centres is free.
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Old 06-08-11, 09:56 AM   #18
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Go to your local tourist information centre and see what they have to offer. Most of the material at tourist information centres is free.
Ok...I'll look into that. Thanks!
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Old 06-08-11, 11:34 AM   #19
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Go to the DOT (Department of Transportation) sites for the states you're running through. Pennsylvania, for example, has loads of free maps in PDF form. Also, check out as many state parks along or near your expected route.

I'm in the middle of planning my big trip too!

Good luck to you!
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Old 06-08-11, 11:36 AM   #20
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Also, if you plan to do mostly camping, check out campgrounds along your route with the campground finder on http://www.trails.com
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