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Maps and things

Old 04-02-10, 05:50 PM
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Maps and things

Hey, I'm going on a tour from Buffalo, NY to Austin, TX in a month or two. I'm not really sure how I should go about planning my route though. Adventure Cycling doesn't have a map, what do you think about using google maps? They have a biking option for directions, the only thing I'm wary of is that it is the "beta version", which worries me a little.

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 04-02-10, 06:01 PM
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We just use plain ol' state maps and good for the small roads rather than the interstate and major highways. We like the AAA maps the best - if you aren't a member, find someone who is and ask them to get you free maps of all the states you'll pass through.
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Old 04-02-10, 07:28 PM
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What Nancy said, AAA maps are good. AAA also publishes books listing all the campgrounds in different states (private and public), which can be useful. I've also used Google Earth to get an idea of what an area looks like (especially getting in and out of airports, train stations, etc.). I think the original Bikecentennial maps (Bikecentennial is the organization now known as Adventure Cycling) drawn up in the '70s were based pretty heavily on AAA maps. Google Earth can also be good for finding dirt roads that aren't on your regular maps.

www.delorme.com publishes atlases of individual states that show contours, lots of dirt roads, camp grounds and other good stuff. At around $20 each, they can add up if you buy enough of them to get from NY to Texas, and I think I would just photocopy the necessary pages on a trip that long, or mail them ahead.

You could also go to the websites for the various state highway departments (departments of transportation) and see if they have cycling maps or other info on cycling in their states.
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Old 04-02-10, 07:28 PM
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I like just going to a visitor center when I get to a new state and pick up a state road map from them. They show a ton of detail and are always up to date, and the best part is they're free.
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Old 04-02-10, 07:37 PM
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For my up coming trip, I ordered state maps. They seem to have more detail than the AAA maps. I used this site; it has links to state tourism sites and DOTs:
https://www.heyitsfree.net/2009/01/29...travel-guides/
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Old 04-02-10, 09:09 PM
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I enjoy using Google for rough planning. Might do some print outs of a route thru a large city if said city was unavoidable. I use state maps during the tour.

I was very impressed with Googles bicycle option recently. Routed me thru east Phoenix on a 20 mile ride. Bicycle lane streets only and 10 miles on one of the canal paths, basically a bicycle/pedestrian trail.

Someone suggested that the algorithm they use is based on traffic counts. Must be more to it than that, based on my experience with it in Phoenix.
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Old 04-03-10, 04:43 AM
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Some states dept of Trans. have specific bike route maps. Write the states you'll be going though.
Some forums members may have routes they'll share with you
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Old 04-03-10, 04:46 AM
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Yep ... head to your local bookstore or newsagents and pick up some plain ordinary paper maps. Also look for paper topographical maps, those can be very useful as well.
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Old 04-03-10, 04:25 PM
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Do two google map plans. One for walking and the beta bicycle route. The bicycle route will guide you to bike lanes and the walking route will give you a shorter route. Balance your plan somewhere between the two and then you can mouse move waypoints to customize to the adjusted route you want.

May require several iterations of making adjustments.
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Old 04-04-10, 05:23 AM
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For most places, that probably works ok. Around here, I found the walking option endlessly frustrating, because it regularly dumps you on roads without sidewalks, and it routes you around most of the good shared trails. If you want to use it for actual walking, you'd go nuts and end up going out of your way a lot.

Basically, what the bike there algorithm does is go for bike trails first, then bike lanes, then for bike boulevards/designated cycling routes. This is based upon what local riders say (particularly when they complain about routing). The problem in Madison is bike lanes only show up on the arterials... so this pattern routes you to the high speed, multilane roads that maybe aren't the greatest for a new rider or someone unfamiliar with the area. I'm betting Portland OR has similar troubles, since the only bike lanes I remember in my sister's neighborhood were on Interstate... which is really not a road I'd pick to bike on.

Google also has a topo map layer. I find it really handy.
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Old 04-04-10, 12:18 PM
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Thanks guys. My cousin is going to AAA later this week to get me a bunch of maps and he's going to get a Triptik for a "bike friendly" traveling. I'm going to use this in conjunction with google maps.

Another question: Has anyone used couch surfing to find places to stay? I am either going to do that or camp, because I can't afford to stay in motels and hostels every night.
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Old 04-04-10, 01:16 PM
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Couchsurfing and warmshowers are both great resources. YOu find a lot of people in small towns, but there are plenty in all the cities you will pass through.
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