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    Mapping your route

    I am interested in understanding how you all map your route on tour? Is there a web site that has pre-planned routes? Do you all just head in the general direction and enjoy the ride?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lurch0038 View Post
    I am interested in understanding how you all map your route on tour? Is there a web site that has pre-planned routes? Do you all just head in the general direction and enjoy the ride?
    I use google maps to plot a bicycle route. Then I tweak it based on what I know/learn about the area by browsing and questioning google decisions. Then when I go ride, I use the TomTom app on my iPhone to follow the route. It is vastly better than the google app, especially when it comes to announcing directions or giving visual cues for upcoming turns. It also has its own offline database so its easier on the battery and functional if I have no cell coverage. TomTom won't always make the same choices as google does. But I can override TomTom decisions if I feel like it. Or I may see its choices as an improvement.

    If after all that I don't like the road I'm on for whatever reason, I'll just get off of it and follow a general compass direction until TomTom quickly adapts by plotting its best choice from wherever I am.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Im old , I buy paper maps... if you have not seen the better maps, than the car driving ones ,
    look at USGS topographic maps .. they have he shape of the hills and valleys better described

    De Lorme are OK (planning) but the albums would stay home.. [they have digital versions] .

    Universities have map libraries , Geography departments (love libraries).

    ..

    UK Ordinance Survey maps have things like Historic sites indicated ..

    so you can find distractions along the way too.

    handling a Big panel map is different, refolding to have the useful part.

    I get Map cases for Sailing, to keep them dry.


    [you should have more than 1 method of navigation on the Sea, and many rivers ,
    paper charts are important., to see where you dont want to go]

    On a bike you can stop and ask Questions..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-01-13 at 11:28 AM.

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    Senior Member Winnershcyclist's Avatar
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    I use ridewithgps.com or gypsies then load the route to my Garmin 705 works perfect and you can see how hard it's going to be on hills etc. I have trie google maps which is hit and miss

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    Heretic Caretaker's Avatar
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    I pick an airport for arrival and another for departure based on convenience and how much time I've got and the terrain in between. Normally, I pick France and use paper maps and have a general idea of the route I'm going to take but often I leave the detail of which road till the evening of the previous day and base it on the progress I'm making and energy levels. I allow an extra day or two when choosing my arrival and departure points so as not to be under pressure and usually end up taking a curved route on the last few days to use up excess time.

    Examples: Bordeaux to Lyon (15 days), Marseille to Bordeaux (15 days), Roscoff (ferry port in Brittany) to Toulouse airport via Pyrenees (21 days), I never use a bike box as it's not required.
    History is the future

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    maps.google.com(turn the bicycle function on), paper maps, local knowledge, gmap-pedometer.com to check elevation profiles, I may use my Android smart phone. Currently I use google maps and the Map Factor apps. Navigator can be configured to use the Tom-Tom map base for additional money. I also print route sheets to use as a guidline. I have also been known to flip a coin at a cross roads to decide which way to go

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    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I use Google Maps to plan. On tour, I use paper maps from various sources and/or google maps when wifi is available.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

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    It totally depends on the trip. For a local week-long loop from my house, I'll take a state bike map. For a summer-long cross-country trip, I might purchase an ACA set or a guide book. But I'll listen to locals' suggestions and might not necessarily stick exactly to the route. For an overseas trip, I'll do like Caretaker above and just take off with a general idea and get more ideas from locals and buy maps along the way. In the past few years, I might do an internet search and see if anyone has any fantastic route ideas, and may even be able to download and print a map. I do not use any electronic devices while riding--I still depend on paper maps.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    ridewithgps.com. Load the TCX file onto my Garmin 800. I also download the CSV file and use a spreadsheet and word processor to massage up a cue sheet. I never use paper maps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lurch0038 View Post
    I am interested in understanding how you all map your route on tour? Is there a web site that has pre-planned routes? Do you all just head in the general direction and enjoy the ride?
    If you are going on a route mapped by Adventure Cycling, get their maps. Or they have posted some (or maybe all?) of their routes in a GPS format on their website. If you have the right electronics, you can load those routes onto a GPS.

    Or, if you go on a route that is one of the excellent rail to trail routes, I have the 1:250k Topo maps for USA (sold by Garmin) and Mapsource (a Garmin product). I plot up a route in Mapsource on my computer and load it into my GPS. You really do not need a GPS for a rail to trail route, but it is nice to know how far you are from town, etc.

  11. #11
    This is Shangri La MTBMaven's Avatar
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    I am a geographer by education, work for a mapping software company, and love technology. That said I prefer a paper map when touring. When traveling in the States Adventure Cycling Associate (ACA) maps are great if you are following one of their routes. The maps may not seem all that great at first glance but out on the road provide exactly the information you need in an easily readable format.

    As for the digital route I also really like ridewithgps.com. I use this site to plan my route and then export the route as a KML file. I will then load this file on my phone (Android OS) and then use Backcountry Navigator Pro (great app and the developer is very responsive to users for support and incorporating new features. I got my last feature request added in abuot 3 days). I load the route into the app and then download the map tiles along the route. This way I know I will have the basemap on my phone even without cell reception. This also saves my batter as I can put the phone in airplane mode for most of the day.

    I had both ACA maps and Backcountry Navigator with me on a tour this past summer along the Northern California coast. I can't recall ever needing my phone. (Then again I had done the route three years earlier and hardly needed the ACA maps either.)
    I thought of that while riding my bicycle. ~ Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

  12. #12
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
    I pick an airport for arrival and another for departure based on convenience and how much time I've got and the terrain in between. Normally, I pick France and use paper maps and have a general idea of the route I'm going to take but often I leave the detail of which road till the evening of the previous day and base it on the progress I'm making and energy levels. I allow an extra day or two when choosing my arrival and departure points so as not to be under pressure and usually end up taking a curved route on the last few days to use up excess time.

    Examples: Bordeaux to Lyon (15 days), Marseille to Bordeaux (15 days), Roscoff (ferry port in Brittany) to Toulouse airport via Pyrenees (21 days), I never use a bike box as it's not required.
    +2

    We use a similar approach. We know where we want to start, where we want to finish, and what places we would like to see in between. A person's objectives for the tour also play a large role in how much detail and planning is necessary.

    On a three-month European tour my wife and I had the first day figured out, which was how to get out of Lisbon, Portugal and headed toward Evora. That changed before we got out of the city when we talked to the ticket agent at the ferry terminal. He showed us a better route. We'll usually try to plan a couple of days out so we don't get ourselves into an undesireable situation. We just had to be in Amsterdam in 90 days, and we had a list of countries we thought we could ride through during that time. Often there are not too many options on what road to take if you want to see a specifc place.

    The only place we have resorted to a cue sheet is in Belgium and The Netherlands. Both countries are set up with a vast system of of numbered location points. When plannig a route for the day it would look like: 36,65,72,48. This could get you a 60 mile day, and let you arrive at your choosen camground's front gate.

    In 2012 we had planned a trip around Lake Erie. About a week before we left for Michigan we changed it to a circumnavigation of Lake Huron to facilitate seeing some old friends. When we left our friend's place in Michigan, we changed to "plan C" and did a 1000 mile loop through Michigan's Lower Peninsula. The weather to the east was getting near freezing temperatures with a lot of rain, so we decided to head southwest when we reached Mackinaw City at the northern tip of the lower peninsula.

    We really take the saying "the journey is the destination" to heart.

    We will use the appropriate tool for navigation. In large cities I believe a GPS is indespensible, especially if you really want to get out of town. It is also good for locating campgrounds and motels. Paper maps are good for seeing the big picture. I think the navigational aids people use depend on their comfort level; and the method they use is dictated by experience, duration of the tour, complexity,and location. Oh, and there is always personal preference.
    Last edited by Doug64; 11-03-13 at 10:56 PM.

  13. #13
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    +1 more on "ridewithGPS". It really is great. I can define routes very easily and I can download into my etrex-20 and/or into my much older GPSMap 60Cx. And both of those Garmins can calculate their own routes to destinations if you choose to abandon your original plan. On group rides, those of us with GPS are frequently correcting the paper map crowd. And we don't have to stop for page changes. I prefer to calculate a route ahead of time to avoid taking busier (more dangerous) roads.

    But I also like having a paper map in the pack, and I'll often dig it out when I stop for lunch to check out the surrounding area.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lurch0038 View Post
    Do you all just head in the general direction and enjoy the ride?
    Pretty much this. ^


    Although, I will also acquire paper maps, and then have a look at google once in a while as a distance check or if I don't happen to have a paper map for an area. But I'm not tied to anything ...

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    I use various mapping sources depending on circumstances. If I'm going to be riding in familiar territory, like the western US, I often just head off towards my destination and choose roads that look interesting. That works surprisingly well. If time is a factor, I have no hesitation in using paper maps (the forest service has some nice maps) and ridewithgps, google and such to create a route complete with cue sheet and whatever detail maps I need. Motorcycling sites often have great routes for cycling and I happily borrow from my motorized brothers and sisters. The only thing I don't use is an electronic map source on the road because I don't have one. Heck, I don't even have an odometer anymore, I just guess at the distances (one gets pretty accurate after a few hundred thousand miles).

    Since I prefer to ride relatively long miles each day, a casual attitude towards routing works pretty well for me. If I felt compelled to stop every sixty miles or so then I would have to be much more careful about knowing the lay of the land, but being happy to ride up to two hundred miles per day when on tour (half that off-road) means I can usually find something suitable for day's end within my comfort range. Even so, I do like to know where my next hot shower is going to be. I'll gladly stop early or ride on into the night for a nice hot shower. It's my biggest vice. Well, that and ice cream.

  16. #16
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lurch0038 View Post
    I am interested in understanding how you all map your route on tour? Is there a web site that has pre-planned routes? Do you all just head in the general direction and enjoy the ride?
    Both. On weekend trips I am pretty careful to plan the route, just because the time is restrictive. Otherwise, I know the general direction and follow county roads and/or bike routes and paths going that direction. Adventure Cycles has a lot of preplanned routes and detailed maps available. Many states have maps with suggested bike routes available through the DOT. The ones available in Michigan are excellent with all the roads categorized (Red,Yellow, Green) to designate how desirable they are for cycling.
    Google Maps gets a huge from me, they just plain suck.
    Marc
    Last edited by irwin7638; 11-04-13 at 05:26 AM.
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  17. #17
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    re-viving this thread. When I rode x-country years ago, (Pre-GPS) pretty much winged it. Heck there were several days, when we had no map at all. LAst tour in Vermont, planned it out, had paper copy of the maps. Found intersections often looked different and required stopping to check the map, else you might be heading up or down a 15% grade in the wrong direction!

    Fast forward to planning a x-Massachusetts ride using google maps, and I have paper ones as well. I am finding that staying off the main road in western MA, there is something like 47 directions in about 60 miles. it's not like out west, or even the midwest, often out here an E-W route is a maine road w/o an parallel less traveled route, at least not for long - hence Google Bike directions are constantly changing.

    Seems like a pain to follow and I am thinking that GPS would just make things simpler, yet I don;t really want yo buy one for a 4 day tour. (However my birthday is about 4 days before the tour).

    Anyways, wonder how anyone else deals with a route that is constantly changing??? I am over 50 and can;t even remember 4 directions is a row, and that would only get me 4 miles anyways before.

  18. #18
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    In Australia, http://cycletour.org
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Im old , I buy paper maps... if you have not seen the better maps, than the car driving ones ...
    In 1977 when we cycled across the country, we originally were going to go from Los Angeles to Boston, and had to be there in eight weeks. We had a large USA road map to give us a general direction, and then acquired a state highway map at each state as we crossed into it, for day-to-day directions. It became a standing joke that whenever we got off the bikes, to rest, to eat, and at the end of the day we would bring the map and pore over it to plot the next few miles.

    Somewhere in Colorado, we decided we were not making enough time, so we veered our course to Washington, DC, and arrived with a few days to spare to tour the city, and then take a train to Boston.

  20. #20
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    On short, local trips I use local bike club maps, and ACA maps and paper maps on a long tour.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
    It totally depends on the trip. For a local week-long loop from my house, I'll take a state bike map. For a summer-long cross-country trip, I might purchase an ACA set or a guide book. But I'll listen to locals' suggestions and might not necessarily stick exactly to the route. For an overseas trip, I'll do like Caretaker above and just take off with a general idea and get more ideas from locals and buy maps along the way. In the past few years, I might do an internet search and see if anyone has any fantastic route ideas, and may even be able to download and print a map. I do not use any electronic devices while riding--I still depend on paper maps.
    ditto

  22. #22
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My tour of Ireland And Scotland .. I got the 1st map from a book seller , then got the next one

    as I came to the edge of the first, from a Book shop in a town , again ..

    when In Scotland , I met someone going to Ireland, loaned her the 4 maps ,

    and she mailed them back to me, from Japan.

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