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Best software for route planning?

Old 05-03-21, 11:02 AM
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kaput
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Best software for route planning?

I'm starting to think about a longer tour in Asia, maybe from Mongolia to Singapore, or perhaps Georgia heading east through China. I'm not quite sure how to start thinking about the route. Does anyone have opinions on how to plan a route? Is there software/website that is better than the rest that has up-to-date maps and can filter for good cycling roads?
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Old 05-03-21, 03:25 PM
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unterhausen
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Moved here from "Alt Bike Culture"
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Old 05-03-21, 04:15 PM
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mev
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Roads are probably not the first thing I think of for an expedition like this.

Instead, I start by looking at larger pieces as a whole, e.g.

1. Which countries enable visa access and for how long?
2. What are the major parameters of climate, e.g. wet seasons, extremes in cold/heat
3. Has Covid-19 changed anytthing, e.g. will there be closed borders or countries where one can't travel

Next, I might browse CrazyGuyOnABike.com to find people who have done related trips.

Traveling between Mongolia and Singapore vs. China and Georgia are rather different in kind. Both involve traveling in/through some potentially sensitive areas, e.g. parts of China and some of the Central Asian Republics, so I would sort some of those things out first before plugging anything into software. Both involve some large mostly empty spaces.

Once you've done that, there are really several different aspects of the routes:
1. Good portions of these regions are arid and hence sparsely populated. There will be not many choices of routes, particularly paved routes. You want to find out if any are restricted/closed but probably at least as big an issue can be what services you might find along the way and how far between gaps you have to carry stuff like water.
2. Other parts will be more populated, e.g. down through Thailand/Malaysia/Singapore. Here the issue isn't so much finding services but avoiding the most congested/busiest thoroughfares while still getting to where you want to go.
Once you know more these parts, then a lot of different mapping software as well as seeing journals from others can help to optimize either of these aspects.
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Old 05-04-21, 04:30 AM
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Mev beat me to the suggestion for Crazy Guy on a Bike website. The site is not the most intuitive, but you can look at trip logs from others that have been there before.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

Geo-political issues are getting sensitive in some parts of the globe, and likely will continue to pop up in surprising ways in unexpected locations.

Covid has shut down travel in a lot of places. Vaccine rollout in a lot of countries is quite slow and may drag into 2022, thus travel restrictions may drag on for a while too.

My passport was not used in 2020 and I have decided that it will not be used in 2021, now I am planning on 2022.

Good luck with your plans.
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Old 05-10-21, 05:32 AM
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Paper maps. I will say this again just to be clear. Paper maps.

When traveling acoss most Asian countries, especially in remote areas. paper maps RULE. Look up the tourist bureau for each country you wish to travel. They can give you some guidance on which areas are particularly difficult or sensitive, Plus tourist bureaus can often provide useful resources for printed travel maps, especially road maps.

When you ask for directions, you may not speak the language, but a paper map does. Pointing and a few words will get you through.

No worries about power. No worries about satelites. Asia is big. Can you imagine traveling across the US with only a GPS to guide you? (2 inches at a time?) No. you need a paper map to give you scale as well as direction and distance.

In Europe, I use Ordnance Survey maps. They come in a couple of different scales, but the detail is immeasurable. I will reiterate... detail. There is nothing better than spreading out a great big paper map on the floor, laying down, and looking over all the places you can go. You cannot do this with a computer or software. I cannot count the number of times I have spent cold dark nights or rainy, windy days huddled in my tent with a great big map spread out before me wondering how or where I will be going the next morning. You too will do this.

No amount of planning will guarantee your route. It will change in ways you cannot imagine. You will go places unforeseen and that is the adventure - if you're up for it.

Don't get me wrong. A GPS system is fantastic for guding you through some areas (especially congested cities), as well as finding your location when completely turned around. But knowing where you are on a larger paper map helps you understand where you need to go and what towns, rivers, or moutains, may lay ahead. Even here in tiny little Wales, there are areas where my GPS cannot find the satellites and/or draw the maps completely (which is very, very frustrating!)

I found too, that when traveling, it is quite easy to pick up a local road map, use it for a few days or a week and then when I left the area, I had a great bit of paper for starting a fire. Sometimes I have given them away. Others I mailed home for posterity. I often use them to draw on, make notes, write directions, phone numbers, etc. They are just too resourceful to exclude from your planning.

Now get the largest printed maps you can find for each country in which you wish to travel; pick out places you want to go and begin drilling down. Use your computer to do further research, find hostels, warm showers, whatever, but start with paper. It will teach you more about where you're going and you will have a better understanding of the geography.
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Old 05-10-21, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by muse kidd View Post
Paper maps. I will say this again just to be clear. Paper maps.
+1

If you have a choice, getting them with places printed in more than one language can be helpful, e.g. Chinese or Cyrillic as appropriate. Almost inevitably, my accent and pronunciation is strong enough that locals sometimes can't figure out when I pronounce place names. If they can't read the script, one can sometimes match characters on the map with characters on signs.
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Old 05-11-21, 07:13 AM
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Google maps and google earth. With thousands of photos and street view, nothing beats it. And I am by no means a google fan.
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