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Your Routine for Planning a Tour

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Your Routine for Planning a Tour

Old 12-05-13, 11:47 AM
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Your Routine for Planning a Tour

As I plan this winter tour, its sorta cool to learn from the stuff from other tours, especially in the planning stage. I am curious, from you all, what your routines are when it comes to planning.

In my very limited experience, I like to figure out, in general, where I want to tour, find a starting point, see what parks are available followed by a general area of stealth camping, map it all out with miles in mind, find out if there is any warmshowers hosts around, research the towns, final map out in ridewithgps, look at it with google earth, note the bicycle shops close by, restaurants that might be great and other places to visit and go from there.

The planning stage takes some time but it is a lot of fun. I know some do not plan at all which is respected.
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Old 12-05-13, 03:53 PM
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I think you pretty much cover it. The main things I look at on a route are the availability of food and stealth camping opportunities. Everything else is non crucial to me and usually takes care of itself.

If I feel like I want to be more prepared, I try to map out good swimming and rest spots.
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Old 12-05-13, 05:08 PM
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For me the planning is scaled differently for the size of the tour:
- For a quick overnight or two/three day trip, I am typically not very far from home. So I'll make my final decision the week preceding the weekend, finalize where I will stay each night, pick some routes and just go.
- For a trip of around a week, I might fly/travel elsewhere. So in this case, I'll make my rough plans a month or two in advance. I'll look through an approximate route, read journals of others that have traveled, find out candidate places to stay (e.g. parks or motelguide.com). I'll figure a rough mileage "budget" with several alternatives. For example, rather than finalize exactly areas to stay, I'll know town X is at mile 65 and town Y is at 85 and town Z is 110. If on a particular day I start at 0, I can wait to decide whether I reach X/Y/Z. I don't look up bike shops explicitly but sometimes that is something I look in Yellow pages along the way.
- For a trip of a half a year or more, I'll start my planning a few years in advance. I'll look up climates, visas and big parameters I need to get right. I'll make plans to wrap up my work/life/home and move things into storage. I'll have read journals and pages I can find and index them on my own web site I've created for the trip. I won't necessarily know where I am going day to day - but I will know rough time budgets involved.
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Old 12-05-13, 07:41 PM
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I like to pick a destination somewhere on the tour route that is not directly related to the bike trip in itself. On one trip I was headed south through the Dakotas approaching the Rockies and while reading a magazine in camp I realized I would be near Crested Butte CO during their annual July "Fat Tire Bike Week". This gave me direction. I made that my goal and stopped there for 2 weeks, rented a mountain bike for the event and temporarily suspended the road tour.

Another time I chose to ride to a folk music festival in Canso, Nova Scotia about 2 weeks away from my home in NH. I spent a long weekend there and then rented a car back to the ferry to Portland, ME and cycled back home.

I've done several trips in France. One was a seven week tour solo camping. My destination on that trip was to meet up with friends in the Pyrenees on a credit card/hotel tour timed to intersect with the Tour de France. I joined them and enjoyed a week of relative luxury.

This past September I rode from NH to VA to visit my brother and nephews there.

Waaaay back in high school my buddy and I cycled from Arlington VA to Montreal. Our destination? Expo 67! The next year I rode from VA to Land 'o Lakes WS. Our destination was my riding partner's uncle's cabin on a lake.
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Old 12-05-13, 08:37 PM
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I'm not much of a planner.

Short Tour (overnight, long weekend, a few days) -- maybe a month in advance, I might have a thought that it would be nice to go to a certain location, and I might float the idea past Rowan so that we can pencil it in. Our weekends are quite busy. Then I don't give it any more thought until about a week before we go, at which point I might check what accommodations are available, and might book something if I think there could be some difficulty getting accommodation. And then we pack and go.

Once there, we'll often swing by the local Tourist Information Centre and see what there is to see ... and then go explore.

Longer Tours -- if they involve flights, I'll need to book those at least a month in advance. And I like to book the first night's accommodation when we arrive somewhere. I might also have to look into visas, vaccinations, etc. ... and if the tour is long enough, there's the business of quitting the job, packing the stuff into storage, etc.

But as for routes etc. ... they'll develop once we get there.
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Old 12-06-13, 09:44 AM
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Since I'm a highway boy and not a backroads boy...

After this years trip I learnt one very valuable lesson. Watch your route. Make sure your route isn't trying to take you down any limited access highways. I screamed every darn time I came to turn and saw 'Bikes Prohibited'. Totally irritating.

Generally, I know where I'm trying to go and first go to ridewithgps and point on the start location and finish location and let it draw out the route. From there I reroute to avoid big cities, unless I want to go into the city. I also try to reroute around any major climbs that could easily be avoided by a short 'retour'. Once I have the route selected then I start looking at the daily distance I'm planning on riding and look for a town roughly that far away each day and then I start looking for stealth campsites...typically baseball dugouts that aren't within eye sight of too many house. I use Google Earth for this idea. From there everything generally falls pretty much into place. I just have to wait for the date of departure and hope(so far hasn't happened either of the past two years) nothing forces me to delay the departure and throw the entire planning into the dumps. UGH Otherwise, like the past two years I end up planning on the ride and throw away all me pre trip planning. Can't wait for the day when I actually go on a trip and it goes according to schedule...even remotely close for that matter.
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