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How do you Navigate? (Route Planning?)

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How do you Navigate? (Route Planning?)

Old 10-08-12, 10:56 AM
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How do you Navigate? (Route Planning?)

This is for the longer riding clydes out there.

Brother and I are considering a family-supported century next season that'll put us across most of the state on unfamiliar roads and want to stay on county roads as much as possible. I'm looking for some route-planning software (or web page). Google Maps lets us pick the bike route option and it's easy to use -- but looking for something with elevation as well.

A half-marathoner friend of mine recommended https://www.usatf.org/routes/map/

Haven't tried mapmyride yet.

Any others?
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Old 10-08-12, 11:06 AM
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Forget the computer, and get some good paper maps. Something like the Green Trail Maps is ideal, with topographic contour lines, roads, and with points of interest. (Hubbard Scientific maps can be really nice for added info, but tend to be too small for this purpose.) Pick out what you'd like to see along the way, then use the maps to find the most amenable route.

Out here, forest service roads tend to be lonesome and have great scenery.
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Old 10-08-12, 11:45 AM
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I've not used the resource you have linked to. Green trails might work if they are even available for your state, for over half mine they do not seem to be. If they are not USGS 15 minute quadrangle maps might be good for what you want to do. Online tools are slow and tiresome to use IMHO for longer routes or those with many turns. In some places they also will not auto snap to some roads which also adds frustration. That said Istill use MapMyRide for route planning, it just is time consuming.
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Old 10-08-12, 11:55 AM
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Don't be such a curmugeon SF! Computers are cool!

I like google maps - it gives you a nice overview of a good route to follow. Then I replicate it in RideWithGPS.com to get any elevation (although it should be noted that RWGPS overstates the elevation by a good 50% but you can definitely see where your hills are going to be)
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Old 10-08-12, 12:02 PM
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I just use https://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ for most of my planned stuff w/ a few bail out point just in case I feel like issh on the back half.
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Old 10-08-12, 12:03 PM
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Sites like bikely and mapmyride don't plan routes for you. You can search for routes that others have crerated, and you can take the route you have planned and map it, but the sites don't pick roads for you. Also, the elevation profiles can be far less than accurate. When they upgraded bikely something happened to what I thought was pretty good elevation data. I mapped out a 34 mile day of a planned 3-day tour at it gave me something like 10,000' of climbing. Being somewhat familair with the roads (including the fact that where bikely was showing climbs the route was basically flat), I knew immediately that the figure was grossly inaccurate. Wonder if they have made progress fixing that.

+1 on getting good paper maps and picking small roads. You can supplement that by looking at them in Google Street View to the extent they are show to check for things like paving and existence of shoulder. Then map the chose route on something like mapmyride to see the profile and creat a GPS file if desired.
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Old 10-08-12, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
Don't be such a curmugeon SF! Computers are cool!
Of course computers are cool! Without them, we wouldn't be able to "meet," chat, and "hang out" with like minded people from all over the world, like we're doing right now. I ride more than anybody I know in the offline world, and got kind of complacent about it until I discovered this place, and got the right kind of peer pressure from people in here.

But ride planning is the domain of paper maps, it's night-and-day easier with all the info you need spread out before your eyes, with no scroll bars or back button. Good ones are about three feet across, instead of three inches. And live data is a good thing in general, but topography doesn't change more than every few million years.
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Old 10-08-12, 02:50 PM
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I use my garmin a lot. I will map out using ridewithgps.com and sometimes bikeroutetoaster.com

I prefer ridewithgps.com though.

I sometimes use google maps too especially the street view.

Face it though, the first time you do the route, there is a learning curve. The best way is to map it out and you and someone else drive it. Then you will understand more and more. Regardless if you use maps online or paper maps, nothing beats being able to drive it first.
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Old 10-08-12, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac
I use my garmin a lot. I will map out using ridewithgps.com and sometimes bikeroutetoaster.com

I prefer ridewithgps.com though.

I sometimes use google maps too especially the street view.

Face it though, the first time you do the route, there is a learning curve. The best way is to map it out and you and someone else drive it. Then you will understand more and more. Regardless if you use maps online or paper maps, nothing beats being able to drive it first.
I think this makes a lot of sense - there have been a few times when I've said to myself 'well, that's a dumb route' once I've actually ridden it. Paper or google maps or something has then suggested an alternate route.

For longer rides, or rides that start well away from home, one idea I've used with some success is to look up the routes for 'organized rides' in that area.
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Old 10-09-12, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
But ride planning is the domain of paper maps, it's night-and-day easier with all the info you need spread out before your eyes, with no scroll bars or back button. Good ones are about three feet across, instead of three inches. And live data is a good thing in general, but topography doesn't change more than every few million years.
Well put. I really like to be able to see a potential route in relation to other areas all at once. May give me a fresh idea.
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Old 10-09-12, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac
I use my garmin a lot...I prefer ridewithgps.com though.
My usual route planning tool. I just have to keep remembering to select Optimize path for cycling, instead of driving. Easy enough to switch between the vector map and satellite imagery. Zooming in or out gives context. Biggest problem I run into is that sometimes the route will not go where I want it to, such as a short stretch of freeway where bicycles are allowed due to no alternate bikeways nearby. In those cases, I just switch to "Optimize for driving" until I can go back to "cycling. If a route does not go where I want it to, I just insert an intermediate control point and drag it to the route I want.

You can print out cue sheets, (worthless because they print at 8.5 x 11), and ridewithgps allows a route to be downloaded to my Garmin for turn-by-turn directions, or save to your own computer in several standard GPS formats, (that can then be uploaded into other software).

I use Strava for post-ride analysis. I wish Strava had route planning software.
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Old 10-09-12, 11:12 AM
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This thread is really about planning rides, and not navigating on them. We've gone over maps and computerized maps as answers, along with the excellent idea of actually exploring beforehand, since nothing beats first-hand experience. Some other options are guide books, talking to other cyclists, joining a randonneur club or talking to some of its members ... even just talking to hikers is useful, since they tend to drive on roads to get to the trailhead, and know which ones are scenic and have little traffic. (Hikers tend to be a good source of info on road conditions, and weather too.)

Computers can be very handy after the fact:

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Old 10-09-12, 11:32 AM
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For long rides, I use a combination of MapMyRide (for elevation) and Google Maps.

Primarily, I use Google Maps to use the 'search nearby' and 'street view' features to find convenience stores that I can use for pit stops.


Depending on HOW I'm creating the route determines whether I use MapMyRide or google first. Google is pretty good for "I'm starting HERE, want to go THERE, tell me how". MapMyRide is good for "I'm starting HERE, then want to kinda go down this road, then down that one, and over there, and then let's see how far that is".
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Old 10-09-12, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
This thread is really about planning rides, and not navigating on them...
Sorry, I wasn't very clear. Yes, I do use ridewithgps primarily for planning purposes. If I want to take a ride of X miles in length, I can twiddle with the route to get close to what I want to ride. I meant to convey that an additional bonus of ridewithgps is their download capabilities to various devices.
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Old 10-09-12, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by volosong
Sorry, I wasn't very clear. Yes, I do use ridewithgps primarily for planning purposes. If I want to take a ride of X miles in length, I can twiddle with the route to get close to what I want to ride. I meant to convey that an additional bonus of ridewithgps is their download capabilities to various devices.

Really, all the responses so far are great. It's really a 2 part question, with:

a) being how (what tools) do you guys plan, and
b) how do you follow the route once underway.

It's my fault for not typing coherently.

The trip is still a long ways out, so I'm still in part (a) (but my head is a little worried about part (b) too). But at this point, brother and I are talking feasibility. On this particular route, there's 40 miles of rail-to-trail that starts 60 miles into the course and ends 20 miles from the desired end point (120mi total from my house to my parent's).

Trying to figure out if there's a safe/sane way to get to the trail. Once the trail ends, there's half a dozen ways to finish out.

The idea of driving it is a good one, and I'll no doubt be taking partial on the route as we get into next season.
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Old 10-11-12, 01:48 PM
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I make a paper cue sheet, bring a commerical map and/or follow from memory. I am not big on electronic gadgets. A nice thing about carrying a map is that it comes in handy if you need to modify the route on the fly due to something like a recent road closure or the need/desire to cut the ride short. You can see much more detail of a broader area at oe time than you can on a small screen.
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Old 10-11-12, 02:06 PM
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Planning?. I flew to Europe several times , on bike tours.
1st town , I went into a Book shop and bought a Map.
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Old 10-11-12, 02:07 PM
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I like to bring a paper cue sheet, but also an electronic backup. That can be as simple as a photo in my camera (which lets me zoom in review mode), or it can be a route on my Garmin.

One day I was 15 miles into a ride in a city I'd almost never been to before, had my cue sheet in my back pocket, hanging out, and a gust of wind took it away from me. I continued the ride (a big loop) as best I could, but had to stop for directions a few times, and that's why I prefer to have some kind of backup.

What really matters is that you're out on your bike. There are a lot of ways to approach this stuff, and most of it comes down to preference, so don't think you have to follow any particular advice.
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Old 10-11-12, 02:23 PM
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One "trick" I sometimes use for navigating, (in unfamiliar areas):

On some trips, if there are not too many turns, I'll make a small cue sheet that shows, (for each turn), the accumulated mileage so far, the mileage since the last turn, the direction of the turn, and the name of the street upon which to turn. It only works for about 10-20 turns, otherwise it gets too long. What I do is trim it pretty tight and tape it to my top tube just behind the stem. I'll use clear packing tape so that dripping sweat won't soil the paper. Usually in at least 12-point type font, but if less turns, then 14-point. That way, it is easy to read with just a quick glance down.

With a GPS computer, the accumulated mileage can be off by a few tenths, but is close enough that if I miss a turn, I'll know within about a quarter or half mile. Haven't gotten lost with this method yet, and it saves carrying around printed out maps, cue sheets, or auto club maps.
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Old 10-11-12, 02:48 PM
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^ I do the same thing, and it's very helpful! It also lets you know when you need to pay attention to the road signs, and when you can zone out into your own world, pay attention to the scenery, or whatever.
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Old 10-11-12, 06:55 PM
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People actually plan their rides?
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Old 10-11-12, 08:00 PM
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I heartily second planning the route and then DRIVING it once to make sure there are no rude surprises.
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Old 10-11-12, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by steve0257
People actually plan their rides?
Perhaps if you lived in the same area all of you life then you dont need to answer here. For some folks, myself included, moving to a new area it is helpful to plan rides. The old saying goes something like this: "failure to prepare is preparing to fail".
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Old 10-12-12, 12:19 AM
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Ride with GPS but I prefer to just go out and explore.
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Old 10-12-12, 06:35 AM
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I wrote something up for google maps.
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/847225-Cyclemeter-import-hand-drawn-google-map
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