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  1. #1
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    Biking Across the USA...How to Pick My Route?

    So I've already spent all of money (basically my budget) for my bike, parts, and equipment. Trying to decide my route now (starting in the Northwest...ending in San Diego...I might bike first to East coast like near New York City). I was going to get the Adventure Cycling Routes but the paper maps are just a bit to expensive for me. Plus I would rather use something that works with my iPhone. I considered using the GPS waypoints (found some at this site) but the paths don't line up to the road/paths that great (I compared it to the one paper map I bought from Adventure Cyclists). So I am looking at the alternatives.

    Could I just ride the interstates all the way through? Are the shoulders big enough?

    Has anyone tried Google Map's bike directions (looks like lots of back roads)?

    Finally, what did other people do who toured coast-to-coast?

    Thank you!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    The adventure cyclist route maps are good since they give you plenty of useful detail and they generally put you on good roads. I doubt anything you can get from a computer will give you that level of useful information. How about shopping around for a fairly recent 2d hand set?

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Interstate are a miserable option, and in some places illegal , only when the interstate

    took over any of the routes there before , leaving no choice , would I do that.

    read thru the CGOAB pages for what other people already wrote http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    You definitely can't ride the interstates the whole way, I don't think any east of the Mississippi are legal to ride on. I am a fan of Adventure Cycling maps. If you can't afford them, I have to wonder if you can afford to tour coast to coast. Spreading the cost over a coast to coast tour the maps don't cost much and will probably save you money rather than cost you money. Especially on the major routes like the Trans America they list a lot of free places to stay and other useful stuff. If they go where you want to go they are a good deal.

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Spreading the cost over a coast to coast tour the maps don't cost much and will probably save you money rather than cost you money. Especially on the major routes like the Trans America they list a lot of free places to stay and other useful stuff. If they go where you want to go they are a good deal.
    1+

    In spite of the fact that I don't use them. But I've never gone C to C in one ride. Broke it up into stages, and planned my own route. Just me.

    Avoid the interstates when possible. West of the Mississippi, you might get away with riding them, except in urban areas. But not a pleasant experience.

    If you decide to DIY, Google cycling option is not a bad place to start. Just modify to suit yourself, and/or do it on the fly with state maps. Be aware that most US highways do have some sort of shoulder. Many state/county highways, not.

    Take advantage of www.warmshowers.org, both for overnighting and for local routing advice.

    Just do it. It'll all work out.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Well if you read my post, I have everything budgeted so my stuff is already purchased and money saved to use and other misc. I would rather not dip into my cash set aside for emergencies. Make sense?

    Not to mention the last map I ordered from them had a ton of addendums that came with it. I wasn't too impressed. I'm really disappointed that there isn't an app or some type of digital map considering we are in the year 2014.

    That being said, I found RideWithGPS.com They have routes submitted by other bikers and you can plan out using Google Maps bike direction, but also gives you the elevation. It is really cool as you can cross reference what Google gives and other biker's routers.

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    go east unless you like headwinds
    I am a knight who says ...........................NI

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by metomeya View Post
    Could I just ride the interstates all the way through?
    The fact that you asked that question tells me you should spring for the ACA maps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by metomeya View Post
    So I've already spent all of money (basically my budget) for my bike, parts, and equipment. Trying to decide my route now (starting in the Northwest...ending in San Diego...I might bike first to East coast like near New York City). I was going to get the Adventure Cycling Routes but the paper maps are just a bit to expensive for me. Plus I would rather use something that works with my iPhone. I considered using the GPS waypoints (found some at this site) but the paths don't line up to the road/paths that great (I compared it to the one paper map I bought from Adventure Cyclists). So I am looking at the alternatives.
    You can get GPS waypoint files direct from the Adventure Cycling website:
    Route GPS Waypoints | Adventure Cycling Route Network | Adventure Cycling Association
    These might be more up to date with their current maps. But note that these (and those from the site you list above) are just sets of waypoints that define the places where you have to turn from one road to another - they aren't intended to line up with the roads themselves. But as long as you stay on the specified road until you reach the turn indicated by the waypoint it should still work out fine. Best if you use these in conjunction with a map of roads on your iPhone. (Although it does seem that if you can afford the monthly service charges for the iPhone that you should be able to pay for the AC maps too.)

    An advantage of the AC routing is that it takes you through lots of places that have convenient services plus you're more likely to meet other touring cyclists. Their suggestions on inexpensive/free camping options in many places should pay for the cost of the maps.

  10. #10
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by metomeya View Post
    Could I just ride the interstates all the way through? Are the shoulders big enough?

    Has anyone tried Google Map's bike directions (looks like lots of back roads)?

    Finally, what did other people do who toured coast-to-coast?
    I've ridden short pieces of interstate in a number of states. Typically allowed outside urban areas in the west, particularly when there are no other routes. However, several problems with using these as a long-range alternative:
    - Truck tires disintegrate and leave little pieces of wire. These can occur anywhere, but I've had more problems on interstates.
    - Some places with either rumble strips or short stress cracks. For example, saw these in AZ.
    - Rather boring and misses nicest parts of country, the little towns and countrysides you pass through. (If the goal was to get there as quickly as possible on the interstates, a lot of other choices make more sense than a bicycle)
    - Road construction, narrow bridges that can remove the shoulder.
    As a result, a short stretch on interstate is what I'll typically do if there isn't another alternative, not as the primary plan.

    Google bike directions are ok to get a general idea - but unless you know the route or cross-check - I find they'll bring you through strange little spots or have a lot more twists and turns in the direction. I've gotten better results using Google Maps auto instructions with the box checked that says "avoid highways". In western parts of US at least, that often gets me some good choice of US/state highways that are reasonable. In southern US or eastern US, I've tended to check a bit more since it seems more of these roads are w/o shoulders so need to cross-check as well.

    I'll typically start with google maps but then bring out a state map and cross-check and make some variations. Often one can also make some guesses based on state maps (e.g. roads that follow railroads or rivers might follow the river valleys - with wild card of how much they oscillate up/down the valley sides), and looking at rough sized roads. I will also read journals along the way.

    Adventure cycling maps are pretty good, though even there I've augmented them with local state maps since sometimes will make a route variation or alternate choice (to see something else, or to try a short cut, etc). They're excellent for telling you what is on/very-close to their particular route - but stray off the route very far and you don't know info.

    I've done two coast-to-coast rides in US. First one (in 1992), I had a PC program (Automap) that gave me some rough parameters and I fine tuned it with state maps. Second one (in 2001), I followed the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier route with my local variations. While I've carried a laptop on my trips, I still prefer to lay out some paper maps for states so I can see a bigger view than what might come on my screen.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    The fact that you asked that question tells me you should spring for the ACA maps.
    Wow, you certainly are nice.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    My wife and I rode US Highway 20 across the country. It starts at Newport, Oregon on the Pacific Coast, and terminates in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the longest contiguous highway from coast to coast, 3700 miles.

    It is a great ride, and can be done with state road maps, information picked up at visitor centers, and bike route maps. We only saw 6 other touring cyclists the whole ride, which is a plus for me. Cyclists were still a novelty, and approachable by the local folks.

    We've never felt that detailed cue sheets or GPS routes are necessary for navigation, which includes a 3 month ride through several European countries. However, I do carry a GPS to find campgrounds, food hotels, etc . It also saves hours navigating through big cities, but not with turn by turn directions.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by metomeya View Post
    Wow, you certainly are nice.
    Thank you, but I wasn't trying to be. I was trying to make a point.

  14. #14
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    I keep a record of my rides that way, but what about using free MapMyRide to pre-plan routes? It shows elevations, unlimited way points, and has google earth flyby for visuals. You can print basic maps of the selected routes too.

    I would have liked to gone cross country on US 2, but the 'resource extraction' people have taken over N. Dakota

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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Thank you, but I wasn't trying to be. I was trying to make a point.
    Apparently you didn't get mine. Go ahead and look down on people and be a jerk. It only makes you beneath everyone else.

  16. #16
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    Ya, I've been playing with MapMyRide also. I find RideWithGPS a little easier to use.

  17. #17
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    What do people do in the vast areas of the western USA (and Canada) where there are no cell towers?
    Nigel
    Mechanical Design Engineer

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