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What level of detail in route plan do you require for touring?

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What level of detail in route plan do you require for touring?

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Old 06-12-09, 04:17 PM
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duppie
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What level of detail in route plan do you require for touring?

We are embarking on our first self supported trip It will be in Northern Michigan (LP) We have done supported trips before where we did have cue sheets, or just followed the masses (RAGBRAI). We kind of have the overnight towns figured out.
I was wondering how detailed of a route plan you create. Do you go down to the level of turn-by-turn directions; do you just wing it; or anything in between.
FWIW, we will be riding a tandem and the stoker's main role, besides pedalling, will be navigating. In a sense it is like having a full-time navigator
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Old 06-12-09, 04:47 PM
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Just take a state map and follow that - you'll be fine. Although it is nice to get off the main roads through big cities, we generally just stay on the main thoroughfare because we don't know other routes. In the end, we figure it's easier to do that than to try to follow some kind of complex directions where we are spending so much energy trying to figure out where we are going!

Another tip - try to plan your route so you don't go through big cities inthe first place!
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Old 06-12-09, 05:29 PM
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Nancy is right. For a self supported tour, all you really need is a road map. After all, you're carrying all the gear you'll need for overnighting with you. That's touring at it's most basic and has the element of surprise at what's around the next curve. Most of the time it's a nice surprise, occasionally not so nice. In the end, it all works out. Mostly.

In this day and age, using Google and ACA maps, you can examine nearly every mile of a tour in great detail if you desire. Least in the US. Wouldn't leave much to discover, but some don't like surprises.

The important thing is to plan the trip in as much detail as you and your partner require to be reasonably comfortable, both mentally and physically. Only you know what that is.
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Old 06-12-09, 07:07 PM
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Definitely not turn by turn... It depends a bit on the length of the trip.

For an overnight or three day trip, I'll likely know the places I plan to stay and roughly which roads from the state map I might take. I'll figure out my tricky parts of the routes from the maps as I go along and perhaps have looked at them before I leave.

For an eight month trip, I'll know the airport I'm flying into, the airport I'm flying out of...how long my visas need to be valid, rough climate from seasons and what immunizations I need. I'll have the rough concept (e.g. circumnavigate Australia), but I won't know where I'll stay when, let alone what roads I'll take or turn by turn.
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Old 06-12-09, 07:19 PM
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I've only done short trips before so I have a turn by turn route planned. :3

I'm kinda scared about long trips I'm planning... I'll probably try to get a turn by turn itinerary for each day too, because I'm anal like that. I can foresee that going wrong though, because I might not get to bike as far as I want every day or things might come up. Yeeeah...
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Old 06-13-09, 05:57 AM
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I am likely to create a turn by turn map and then mostly ignore the details and just generally follow it. That is kind of what I did on my last tour.

OTOH: On an Adventure Cycling route I am likely to mostly follow the route with few intentional detours off route. That is what we did on the TA.
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Old 06-13-09, 08:30 AM
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When I just have a road map I tend to stay on highways. When I have time to do research I often find better roads - less traffic, more picturesque, quieter, etc. If you do Google searches you can often find trip reports from locals who know the roads. Another alternative is to stop at local bike shops and ask the folks for routing tips. A word of caution: a couple of times I've talked to locals - at a restaurant, outside a grocery store - and gotten totally wrong information. I'd feel more confident talking to a fellow cyclist at a bike shop.

I like the ACA routes because they seem to have searched out these alternative roads off the main drag. I've been impressed with the ACA routes I've followed.
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Old 06-13-09, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
...Another alternative is to stop at local bike shops and ask the folks for routing tips. A word of caution: a couple of times I've talked to locals - at a restaurant, outside a grocery store - and gotten totally wrong information. I'd feel more confident talking to a fellow cyclist at a bike shop.

I like the ACA routes because they seem to have searched out these alternative roads off the main drag. I've been impressed with the ACA routes I've followed.
I agree. Local routing advice from people that don't bike can be really crazy since they usually have no real feeling for distance or elevation gain that are relevant to bicycling.

I usually just follow a road map but also use the ACA maps and if available bicycle-specific maps like those available in Washington, Oregon and Marin County (in California).
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Old 06-13-09, 12:06 PM
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Michigan DOT has some nice bike route regional maps you can order. (The paper ones are better than the on-line versions) Also, the Cherry Hill Bike Club publishes a nice map of NW Lower Peninsula. The combinatio9n is what I am using for my wanderings from Manitowoc to Luddington this summer.

http://www.cherrycapitalcyclingclub....odule_id=40089

http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,...2734--,00.html
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Old 06-13-09, 03:45 PM
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I went most of the way around the lower half of Lake Michigan a couple of weeks ago. It was a spur of the moment trip, and when I left home I had no maps of IN, MI, or WI. I picked up road maps at gas stations as I entered each state. It worked out fine for me, and even added to the sense of adventure. That being said, if I'd had more time to plan, I would have ordered the MDOT maps.
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Old 06-14-09, 03:38 AM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by duppie View Post
We are embarking on our first self supported trip It will be in Northern Michigan (LP) We have done supported trips before where we did have cue sheets, or just followed the masses (RAGBRAI). We kind of have the overnight towns figured out.
I was wondering how detailed of a route plan you create. Do you go down to the level of turn-by-turn directions; do you just wing it; or anything in between.
FWIW, we will be riding a tandem and the stoker's main role, besides pedalling, will be navigating. In a sense it is like having a full-time navigator
Duppie
My wife and I rode from Los Angeles to Washington DC in 1977 with a large USA map and picked up state maps as we entered a state. We planned usually on a 50 mile day and looked for a destination that likely had a shower, and the days ranged from 20 to 100 miles. I think we did about two days of "stealth" camping

We left on May 4 and had a deadline to be in Boston on July 1. In Colorado we realized the we weren't making enough progress, so we veered towards Washington and arrived June 27 and took the train up. It became a standing joke about how much we obsessed about the maps and at virtually every stop, and at our destination for the night we would pore over the current map.
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Old 06-14-09, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by duppie View Post
We are embarking on our first self supported trip It will be in Northern Michigan (LP) We have done supported trips before where we did have cue sheets, or just followed the masses (RAGBRAI). We kind of have the overnight towns figured out.
I was wondering how detailed of a route plan you create. Do you go down to the level of turn-by-turn directions; do you just wing it; or anything in between.
FWIW, we will be riding a tandem and the stoker's main role, besides pedalling, will be navigating. In a sense it is like having a full-time navigator
Duppie
I'm a wing it sort of person.

I will carry a general road map and a compass to keep me going in approximately the direction I want to head, but too much detail, too much planning, is restrictive and unadventurous. Oh, and I'll stop in at tourist info centres now and then to get a more detailed map if I suspect there might be something I want to see which isn't listed on the general road map.

Are you doing the Peninsula? From what I recall, it's pretty straightforward ... and quite pretty.
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Old 06-14-09, 06:21 AM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by duppie View Post
We are embarking on our first self supported trip It will be in Northern Michigan (LP)...Duppie
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Are you doing the Peninsula? From what I recall, it's pretty straightforward ... and quite pretty.
FYI, Michigan has two peninsulas, the upper and lower. I've heard the term, "UP," but never the "LP," presumed lower peninsula. Probably because the LP residents vastly outnumber those from the UP. BTW, I'm a Michigan native. My wife and I back around 1987 did a nice trip from Cheboygan to Mackinaw Island, Mackinaw City and to Harbor Springs (beautiful, reminded me a bit of a Cape Cod town), Petoskey, Traverse City and back to Cheboygan by way of Douglas Lake, all with a state highway map.

I recall we went through an area where Ernest Hemmingwa had lived. From Wikipedia:

"Hemingway adopted his father's outdoorsman hobbies of hunting, fishing and camping in the woods and lakes of Northern Michigan. The family owned a summer home called Windemere on Walloon Lake, near Petoskey, Michigan and often spent summers vacationing there. These early experiences in close contact with nature instilled in Hemingway a lifelong passion for outdoor adventure and for living in remote or isolated areas."

We crossed a river on a ferry boat that was said to be featured in The Nick Adams Stories. Just one of those little things that make Bike Touring so memorable.
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Old 06-14-09, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
I agree. Local routing advice from people that don't bike can be really crazy since they usually have no real feeling for distance or elevation gain that are relevant to bicycling.
I have found that generally true, but with an exception. Professional truck drivers have generally provided very accurate info with relevant details.
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Old 06-14-09, 02:32 PM
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I had never heard of the term LP either, until somebody in another thread mentioned it. The ride is going from Muskegon to Manistee then into the forest and south again. Four or five days.

I had found the bikemaps that kdiehl mentioned. Part of our trip is on these maps. For the rest of the trip I may get the Michigan Atlas and Gazetteer and just copy the pages I need. I plan to mark the route that I believe is best on these copies and use that.

Thanks, Duppie
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Old 06-14-09, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I'm a wing it sort of person.

I will carry a general road map and a compass to keep me going in approximately the direction I want to head, but too much detail, too much planning, is restrictive and unadventurous. Oh, and I'll stop in at tourist info centres now and then to get a more detailed map if I suspect there might be something I want to see which isn't listed on the general road map.
This is similar to my approach. I've tried the whole "plan each and every day" approach and it wasn't as fulfilling. On that tour I ended up screwing up the plans anyway. Now I go with a general idea of where I want to go, but I don't plan each day (not even the overnight stops). If I'm in a place that isn't so exciting, I'll just ride on. If I'm feeling tired, I'll stop.
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Old 06-14-09, 10:35 PM
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Erick L
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I do a lot of research but plan loosely. The research is to find points of interest as well as roads that should be avoided.

I plan in sections. I find points where I should be what date. I make sure I allow plenty of time for each section so I'm never on a rush. I also plan for lower mileage and more off-bike days towards the end because I get sick being on the road after a while.
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