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Maps and Navigation on a Tour

Old 08-17-15, 04:14 PM
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L0NE_W0LF
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Maps and Navigation on a Tour

Hello,

I was wondering if anyone had some advice on how they navigate during a tour. I have considered purchasing a bike GPS (such as the Garmin Edge Touring) but I have heard that they aren't the best for turn by turn directions and for finding places of interest.

How do you guys do it? Do you buy maps of each region you go to?

Are there bike specific maps that I can buy?

How do you find places to camp, eat, ect. when you are in unfamiliar territory?

Thanks,
Adam
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Old 08-17-15, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by L0NE_W0LF View Post
How do you guys do it? Do you buy maps of each region you go to?
It depends on the tour. I use Adventure Cycling maps when they have a route that goes where I want to go.

Originally Posted by L0NE_W0LF View Post
Are there bike specific maps that I can buy?
There are the AC maps I already mentioned, There are also state bicycle maps from the Department of Transportation for many states. The latter are generally free. I also usually pick up a regular state road map as I enter a state, they are often free if there is a visitor center.

Originally Posted by L0NE_W0LF View Post
How do you find places to camp, eat, ect. when you are in unfamiliar territory?
It gets easy with practice, but using an AC is a good start in the beginning because they usually list a lot of free places to camp. It helps to choose a well established route. On the west coast cheap hiker biker sites are common in state parks. In the middle of the country you can typically just pitch a tent for the night in just about any very small rural town's picnic area. In the east it is tougher unless you like to stealth camp or are willing to spend a good bit for $$$ camping. Staying with hosts is nice when it works out. Warmshowers.org is one way to manage that, but I usually only stay with hosts who I am invited by after chance encounters.
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Old 08-17-15, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by L0NE_W0LF View Post
Hello,

I was wondering if anyone had some advice on how they navigate during a tour. I have considered purchasing a bike GPS (such as the Garmin Edge Touring) but I have heard that they aren't the best for turn by turn directions and for finding places of interest.

How do you guys do it? Do you buy maps of each region you go to?

Are there bike specific maps that I can buy?

How do you find places to camp, eat, ect. when you are in unfamiliar territory?

Thanks,
Adam
A smart phone with a few apps will do more than any GPS. I have an iPhone with Google Maps (to map the ride), Ride with GPS (to log the ride), Yelp (to find places to eat, although it's not that good), AllStays Camp and Tent for finding a campsite and Safari for everything else. On a typical day, I'll consult AllStay for a campground then plot the map in Google Maps (there is a linking tool in Allstay to make it easier). Once I've got the route planned, I'll look it over for any unusual routing...Google sometimes takes you way out of the way on the "bicycle" routes. Then I'll ride. I don't follow the route turn-by-turn but rather consult the map at places where the route may diverge. Turn-by-turn navigation eats up a lot of battery and it's always good to be open to different routes if the need arises. If I'm in an area where there is no service, I'll click the phone over to airplane mode to save even more juice. Google Maps will track you on your route while in airplane mode but it won't let you change the map.

If I'm looking for food, I use Yelp for restaurants but I find it can leave some very interesting places out or I do a search on Safari. Both of these require cell service which is sometimes difficult even in highly populated areas of the east. Usually this is only going to be a problem for a few hours and, if you can't get cell service, it's unlikely that you'll find other services as well.
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Old 08-17-15, 04:56 PM
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Someone on this site recommended Maplets and I used it on this summers tour through Missouri Kansas Nebraska South Dakota Wyoming and Colorado . You can download the state bicycle map from dept of transportation . They show volume, and shoulder width. I have iPhone 6 plus so my phone is pretty huge. You don't need to be online to use the map , which is in PDF format. The good thing about it is it shows your location ( blue dot) using your phones gps without being connected.
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Old 08-17-15, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by L0NE_W0LF View Post
How do you guys do it? Do you buy maps of each region you go to?

Are there bike specific maps that I can buy?

How do you find places to camp, eat, ect. when you are in unfamiliar territory?
One of our first stops when we get to a new area is the local Tourist/Visitor Information Centre.

There we can get maps for the region, bicycle-specific maps if they have them, and information regarding places to camp, eat, etc.


Occasionally we'll check Google maps for some of that information.


Otherwise, we just wing it.
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Old 08-17-15, 06:42 PM
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What I use really depends on where I'm going. A smartphone will easily do more than a dedicated GPS, and I'll usually leave a GPS at home unless I know I'll be out of cell range. I almost always have paper maps on me, unless I'm already familiar enough with the route I'm taking.
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Old 08-17-15, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by L0NE_W0LF View Post
Hello, I was wondering if anyone had some advice on how they navigate during a tour. I have considered purchasing a bike GPS (such as the Garmin Edge Touring) but I have heard that they aren't the best for turn by turn directions and for finding places of interest.
I recently researched the Edge Touring since my old Garmin eTrex was pretty sorry at pre-planned turn-by-turn; sadly the Edge Touring gets rather negative reviews & it seems Garmin has put little effort into improving turn-by-turn capability. & Edge Touring has a built-in battery so one can't carry spares. Phones can do a lot sure, though perhaps getting a reasonably-priced GPS might be a sort of insurance in case one gets lost & phone is getting low on battery charge. One can print out Google Maps portions at home before the tour though I guess that would be more if one has a fairly specific predetermined route.
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Old 08-18-15, 01:11 AM
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On our present tour we use everything we have; phones, gps, netbook, and the excellent Michelin maps. Our route finding on this trip has been exceptionally complex. Part of our route took us down through Poland and into the Czech Republic. We pretty much stay off the established cycle routes, and plan as we go.

FWIW, don't rely solely on Google maps without some other means of confirming information, unless you really enjoy adventures. Yesterday coming into Prague, we ended up on on a muddy road that ended at a long set of stairs leading to the road we wanted.
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Old 08-18-15, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
One of our first stops when we get to a new area is the local Tourist/Visitor Information Centre.

There we can get maps for the region, bicycle-specific maps if they have them, and information regarding places to camp, eat, etc.


Occasionally we'll check Google maps for some of that information.


Otherwise, we just wing it.
There you go!

My first tours were based on local knowlege and a paper map. As my tours got longer I would write to the local chambers' of commerce or tourist boards for information on things to see and campgrounds, they were always happy to provide the information and even sent me more paper maps.

Now I utilize a smart phone, tablet or computer to do my research. I still use paper maps and quite often print out a few to stuff in my handle bar bag for reference along the way. They are great, don't require charging and they are easy to see in direct sunlight. I don't bother with turn by turn directions for the whole tour, only if I am looking for something specific like a person's house or a campground. Usually the things I am looking for are along the main route I am taking.

Aaron
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Old 08-18-15, 07:21 AM
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At this point in my life, my tours are restricted to about 10 days max. I plan each day's route ahead of time and make paper cue sheets (*gasp*) if they might come in handy. I also note camping options along the way in case I have to rearrange by planned itinerary. You can easily find campgrounds using a simple Google Maps search such as "Campgrounds near [insert name of town]". Same approach works for restaurants, motels and grocery stores.
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Old 08-18-15, 07:43 AM
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I have used lower (pre) tech navigation, bought British Isles Ordinance Survey maps , Michelin, Kemmerly +Frey, etc.
Bought at Book shops ..

Stopped at town tourist information centers, even got a map of Poland from a fellow passenger on the Ferry from
Copenhagen while underway..

have a little ball shaped compass I clipped to the front of my bar bag..

& talked to the locals frequently ..

Here, we get a case sized Lot of maps of the Coast Bike Route and one of the state highlighting bike routes and services for cyclists

from ODOT.. (I expect most states also publish Maps)


Had been maintaining a supply on a Kiosk information board , with 1 copy open under a plastic , and more in a take one box

but after the use of that as a trash bin, then smashing the clear plastic map distribution box ,

the maps are @ the LBS, still free, but sticking to US101 on the western end of town they miss that .


How do you find places to camp, eat, ect. when you are in unfamiliar territory?
I look around when it seems a good time to stop, and I talk to the locals, having a pint with them helps.

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Old 08-18-15, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
FWIW, don't rely solely on Google maps without some other means of confirming information, unless you really enjoy adventures. Yesterday coming into Prague, we ended up on on a muddy road that ended at a long set of stairs leading to the road we wanted.
+1

Google maps has routed me on a hiking trail (cycling prohibited), lots of gravel, and one "fire road" that you would need a chainsaw and rock-crawler jeep to get through. I rode everything but the fire road and loved it.
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Old 08-18-15, 02:34 PM
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Dont buy garmin edge touring, buy garmin dakota 20, less expensive and more funcionalities, you can download same maps on Free worldwide Garmin maps from OpenStreetMap
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Old 08-20-15, 05:26 AM
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I use Adventure Cycling maps if I will be on one of their routes. I also contact the bicycling point of contact in various states Office of Tourism and/or Highway Department; many states publish bike maps of varying quality. Then, with AAA maps, I annotate recommendations from bicycle clubs in the areas that I will be riding.
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