Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

first tour and an unproven route

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

first tour and an unproven route

Old 03-12-08, 05:51 PM
  #1  
east coast tourer
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 60

Bikes: too many to list

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
first tour and an unproven route

there are a few key destinations that i would like to incorporate to my cross country tour this summer.

- vancouver, bc
- seattle
- glacier ntl park
- missoula
- west yellowstone
- chicago area
- cleveland
- central NY (syracuse)
- boston

to make it to these destinations without taking extra long routes i'll be passing right between the northern tier and trans america routes for the vast majority of the trip. being my first tour, i think i would benefit from the convenience of the adventure cycling maps. are they valuable enough resources for me to sacrific some of these destinations though?

i don't have a good idea of what kind of area info will be most important before/during my tour. i usually don't mind getting lost and exploring but i don't want to get lost in areas of the country that i have never been to and i'd like to keep my tour to an efficient 45-50 day schedule. my alternative to the adventure cycling maps would probably be the new garmin 705 gps and/or a gps enabled smart phone like the iphone.

for folks that have toured without heavily detailed maps, did you find any major problems to this approach?
roseyscot is offline  
Old 03-12-08, 06:06 PM
  #2  
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 52,152

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 141 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3203 Post(s)
Liked 596 Times in 329 Posts
Originally Posted by roseyscot
for folks that have toured without heavily detailed maps, did you find any major problems to this approach?
Nope.

I tour with a fairly general road map of the area I'm passing through. In addition to that, while I'm actually on tour, I will stop at tourist information centres and pick up the free tourist maps of the area I want to cycle through. Those maps are often a little bit more detailed, and also tell me about interesting things to see.
Machka is offline  
Old 03-12-08, 08:03 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
slowjoe66's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Central Point, Or.
Posts: 409

Bikes: Route-x bent, GT Hybrid

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
IMO, it's not an issue. You can find out a lot by sitting in front of a convenience store and having a gatorade and a power bar and asking a few locals about the roads ahead (traffic levels, shoulders, distances etc). People really enjoy talking to bicycle tourists in my experience. How about the waitress in the diner? Or the cashier at the gas station. People know a lot about their local communities and the areas directly adjacent to them. Use them as a resource and some good maps and also feel free to stop in at libraries and look at their maps, books and internet. No need for highly instructive, turn by turn maps.
slowjoe66 is offline  
Old 03-12-08, 09:28 PM
  #4  
mev
bicycle tourist
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Posts: 2,295

Bikes: Trek 520, Lightfoot Ranger, Trek 4500

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 473 Post(s)
Liked 261 Times in 176 Posts
I don't see a big problem here.

One thing I've done is to run my rough destination choices through a mapping program to give me some candidate routes (tell it to avoid interstate highways and watch it pick many US highways). From there I'll pick up my state highway maps along the way to fine tune things - and also talk with some locals along the way. If your candidate route brings you close to an Adventure Cycling route, I might just buy the maps for that section so you can compare for the future.

As far as knowing in advance about things along the way, I'll typically check the "bicycles" section of a local yellow pages every now and then to know if there is a bike shop nearby. Prior to the trip, I'll check motelguide.com to find what towns might have Mom & Pop motels.

For a few places like Yellowstone or Glacier, I'd likely read in advance to make sure I know where the camping choices are, how likely they fill up and whether there are unique constraints like getting to top of a pass in time. For most everywhere else, I'd just take it as it comes.

A GPS can help, but a you'll get pretty far with a set of state maps even without GPS. I like the PC mapping program because it gives me a rough distance so I know approximately how much mileage "budget" I have. While traveling, I tend to watch how I am progressing against that overall "budget" rather than working it all out in advance.
mev is offline  
Old 03-12-08, 10:04 PM
  #5  
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 52,152

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 141 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3203 Post(s)
Liked 596 Times in 329 Posts
Originally Posted by slowjoe66
IMO, it's not an issue. You can find out a lot by sitting in front of a convenience store and having a gatorade and a power bar and asking a few locals about the roads ahead (traffic levels, shoulders, distances etc). People really enjoy talking to bicycle tourists in my experience. How about the waitress in the diner? Or the cashier at the gas station. People know a lot about their local communities and the areas directly adjacent to them. Use them as a resource and some good maps and also feel free to stop in at libraries and look at their maps, books and internet. No need for highly instructive, turn by turn maps.
Just be sure to apply Machka's Law on Advice from Non-cyclists. If they tell you that "it" is just 20 kms up the road, double that distance. If they tell you there is just one hill on your planned route, double or triple that number. Occasionally you'll encounter someone who actually knows, but most of the time non-cyclists estimate distances low and assume most area are essentially flat.

Oh, and know your minute to mile (or kilometer) conversions. If they tell you, "Oh yeah, it's only 10 minutes up the road." ... that's 10 minutes by car. Assuming that the speed on the road is 60 km/h, 10 minutes by car is about 10 kms ... or a good 30 to 45 minutes by bicycle.
Machka is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 12:07 AM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
scumglob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 51
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Machka
Just be sure to apply Machka's Law on Advice from Non-cyclists. If they tell you that "it" is just 20 kms up the road, double that distance. If they tell you there is just one hill on your planned route, double or triple that number. Occasionally you'll encounter someone who actually knows, but most of the time non-cyclists estimate distances low and assume most area are essentially flat.

Oh, and know your minute to mile (or kilometer) conversions. If they tell you, "Oh yeah, it's only 10 minutes up the road." ... that's 10 minutes by car. Assuming that the speed on the road is 60 km/h, 10 minutes by car is about 10 kms ... or a good 30 to 45 minutes by bicycle.
Haha --- Machka's Law is so true...Gotta watch out for it's opposite too: over exaggeration. some non-cyclists can't determine how difficult hills are on a bike. Example someone talking like some 5mi climb in the plains is a string of 16,000ft mountain passes.

Last edited by scumglob; 03-13-08 at 06:18 PM.
scumglob is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 08:17 AM
  #7  
Junior Member
 
Neil G.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: On my bike
Posts: 99
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by roseyscot
i'll be passing right between the northern tier and trans america routes for the vast majority of the trip.
I just wanted to mention that there have been a couple threads recently about this "middle route" between Yellowstone and Chicago.

https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/391256-yellowstone-grand-tetons-black-hills.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/386917-yellowstone-badlands.html

You can find links in there to a couple of our sites with maps of the routes we took. It's not quite Adventure Cycling-level, but I do have a file I created (for Delorme StreetAtlas, but I think it could be exported to GPS) that maps out all the campgrounds along the route, so it comes sort of close. Maybe just seeing *a* mapped route would increase your confidence?

As for the general question, I'm a mapping addict, so I can't really answer. I've always toured with a computer and full-blown mapping software, and never even carried paper maps. But mainly that's because my tours are always quite time-limited, so I want to be sure that I'm finding the shortest and fastest routes, and not getting lost. If my tours were more open-ended, I would probably be fine without the computer. Between Iowa and the west coast you barely need a map anyway, since there are so few roads to choose between.

Regarding locals, I've found that their route information is almost always less accurate than what I already know, but again, that's because I have computer-level knowledge. I guess if I just had paper maps, then they would seem more helpful. They *are* good for information about dynamically-changing conditions though, such as road construction or weather reports.

Neil
Neil G. is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 08:27 AM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 11,865
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1251 Post(s)
Liked 753 Times in 560 Posts
My advice is to use the AC maps where they make sense, but don't worry about going "off route" and improvising where it makes sense to do so.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 08:38 AM
  #9  
Hooked on Touring
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,859
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 347 Post(s)
Liked 143 Times in 93 Posts
No need to worry.
There are numerous great routes east of Yellowstone to Chicago thru South Dakota.
As for your order or places, I guess you will start out on the Northern Tier from Seattle to Sandpoint, Idaho. Then you can cut southeast to Missoula on Hwy 200 and back north to Glacier. Going to the Sun Road is one of the finest rides in the world. US 89 makes a pleasant ride all the way to Yellowstone - scenic with low traffic. Plenty of places to camp in the national forests and in small towns. From Yellowstone you can run US 16 east to Devil's Tower, ride the Black Hills, then have an easy ride across South Dakota and Iowa.

One point - I do not like visiting big cities when bike touring. Seattle and Portland are exceptions since they are so bike friendly, but even there the issue of theft is always a concern. In other cities, it is often very hard to find any kind of decent route. Usually you can find a good route in but not out the other side or vice versa. If public transportation is available - like from Joliet, Illinois - would you consider shuttling in? You might even be able to leave most of your unnecessary gear at a local bike shop. By doing something like that you could take a series of canal and bike trails across Illinois.
jamawani is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 09:30 AM
  #10  
east coast tourer
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 60

Bikes: too many to list

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
thanks everyone. i just called AAA (not AA) to get a bunch of state maps for the areas i will be passing through. i am looking forward to researching those.

i chose those cities because i have contacts to visit in each of them so safety and theft is not a concern. i know the glacier natl park and montana areas quite well. i rode going to the sun last summer with my wife and have spent lots of time in and around Missoula.

here is a link to the route so far on google.
https://www.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en...3,2.796021&z=9

i hope to keep the touring gear light so i won't be carrying a computer.
roseyscot is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 09:40 AM
  #11  
SRS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 107
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Many states have road maps developed specifically for cyclists. In every case where I've investigated these maps, the maps were free for the asking. In general, you can contact the bicycle coordinator within the state (fill in the name) department of transportation. The maps I've used have traffic counts, shoulder widths, road conditions, grades (in some cases) and other information that can be useful for trip planning.
SRS is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 02:47 PM
  #12  
In Real Life
 
Machka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Down under down under
Posts: 52,152

Bikes: Lots

Mentioned: 141 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3203 Post(s)
Liked 596 Times in 329 Posts
I use CAA maps (Canadian Automobile Association), and they are decent. Likely your AAA maps are similar. Once I'm through an area, rather than continuing to carry my road map and any tourist maps I may have picked up for that area, I will often mail them home (they are souvenirs!). That might be an idea for you if you want to travel fairly light.

BTW - Tourist Information places may also stock cycling maps. Some have cycling maps for the entire state or province, others might have maps of trails or quiet roads in a certain county or area.
Machka is offline  
Old 03-13-08, 11:50 PM
  #13  
Macro Geek
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 1,362

Bikes: True North tourer (www.truenorthcycles.com), 2004; Miyata 1000, 1985

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 43 Post(s)
Liked 12 Times in 7 Posts
These days I buy detailed maps when I arrive in an area I am touring in, and make do with other resources (less detailed maps, library maps, google maps, etc.) while I plan my trip.

Before my tour in France, I managed to get my mitts on the specific Michelin maps of the regions I was heading to. I found them useful, although not essential, for route planning. When I arrived in France, the maps that I needed were sold everywhere at a fraction of the price I paid at home!

Like others, I frequently ask people I meet for directions, and check out the offerings in tourist booths. As for Machka's Law: I can provide empirical evidence of its veracity! It's so true!!!!
acantor is offline  
Old 03-14-08, 05:28 AM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
gregw's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 988
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
West of the Mississippi the routing is much easier, finding campgrounds or places to stealth camp is not too bad. As you approach Chicago and all points east of there is gets a lot harder. So maybe make more use of the ACA maps in that region. The hardest part of any routing for me has always been lodging. I don't like stealth camping, so picking roads that have either motels or campgrounds at about 60 miles apart is tough.
gregw is offline  
Old 03-15-08, 08:09 AM
  #15  
Senior Member
 
lighthorse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 498

Bikes: LeMond Buenos Aires, Trek 7500, Scattante CFR, Burley Hudson

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
rosey,
Now that you have the AAA maps you can begin planning. I use MapQuest.com to scope out details along the way. It is useful for finding commercial camping sites, motels, restaurants, grocery stores, bicycle shops, libraries, etc. By the time I begin riding my AAA map has been transformed into an ACA map. There are folks here who recommend using Google mapping as well. Even though I have a route all planned out when I begin, I seldom end up using that exact routing. But the AAA maps will give you a broader view of the area so that when you want to divert a bit you can do it and still stay on your map. you will need quite a few maps for the trip that you have outlined. Once you have finished planning you can cut the AAA maps down to size and only use the area that you will be traveling through, thus saving a lot of bulk.
Good luck on planning and riding.
lighthorse is offline  
Old 03-15-08, 09:45 AM
  #16  
Senior Member
 
BigBlueToe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 3,392

Bikes: Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by slowjoe66
IMO, it's not an issue. You can find out a lot by sitting in front of a convenience store and having a gatorade and a power bar and asking a few locals about the roads ahead (traffic levels, shoulders, distances etc). People really enjoy talking to bicycle tourists in my experience. How about the waitress in the diner? Or the cashier at the gas station. People know a lot about their local communities and the areas directly adjacent to them. Use them as a resource and some good maps and also feel free to stop in at libraries and look at their maps, books and internet. No need for highly instructive, turn by turn maps.
I agree. 95% of the time locals will have good advice. I've gotten excellent tips from waitresses in cafés. Not so much from checkers in grocery stores - they seem too rushed for time to chat. However, have your radar out for bogus information from blowhards. Once a guy sitting at a table in front of a Starbucks gave me totally wrong information that would have gotten me totally lost. However, I double checked with a couple of other people and got information that would help me. Another time I was eating breakfast in a restaurant and a guy who had seen my rig came and sat down at my table. He tried to tell me all about his bicycling exploits "back in the day" before he was "injured". I picked up some hints that indicated he was full of hot air. He gave me some route tips. I stuck to the ACA map. It turned out his tips were totally wrong.

I consider the source. If I feel like someone telling me "local knowledge" might be less than accurate, I double check with someone else. But most of the time people have been right on and given me very valuable information.
BigBlueToe is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.