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Navigation Tips?

Old 03-30-14, 01:43 PM
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Navigation Tips?

How do you guys plan your navigation for trips of several days?

Last year I cycled down the west coast of Sweden and across into Denmark using just my mobile phone with offline maps and a solar charger. But not having a place to mount the phone on the handlebars meant I kept having to stop every so often to check if I was on-track.

What tips have you got for pre-planning routes and following the plan on the journey? Are there any decent handlebar mountable cycling GPS devices you would recommend?

The journey I'm planning is from Sweden to England in early June. Starting in Gothenburg, Sweden, I am aiming to take a ferry to Denmark, cross to the other side of the country and get the ferry to Harwich in England and cycle to Wolverhampton and am trying to plan the best and most realistic safe route. I think it might be possible to go to Cambridge on the first day, Rugby on the 2nd and arrive in Wolverhampton on the 3rd, or is that over-optimistic?
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Old 03-30-14, 02:10 PM
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My approach is to not pre-plan much, but I do have one suggestion. Most phones can do voice directions Most of the time I have my phone turned off while riding, but when I do use it to navigate while riding the voice directions work great.
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Old 03-30-14, 02:47 PM
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Low Tech ...

Sun sets in the West rises in the East

Magnetic north is not at the North pole.


What tips have you got for pre-planning routes and following the plan on the journey?
Paper Maps . whole states in Delorme's atlases are bound 11x15" books, maps of various scales
[OR west uses a smaller 1"=2.4 miles, low density east it's 1":4.8 miles]

Typical Geography department at a University has a Map library with a lot of them ..

on my European trips, I buy them at Booksellers as I go, tourist Info centers when I get places, for town specifics.



but the dominant theme here is buying electronics , Delorme has a digital version .

the Ordinance Survey in The British Isles does too, as I understand.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-04-14 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 05-04-14, 10:21 AM
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I've tried using my cell phone and my car GPS on my handlebars, but the trouble is that neither of their screens are really visible in full sunlight. They are designed to be in shade which is ok if you're inside a car or can hold your phone in a shaded position but not on a bike handlebar. Also, keeping the device fully charged while riding is a bit tricky. I have mounted a small solar panel with its own internal battery onto my handlebar with a rain-resistant cell phone mount:

Then I run a USB cable from the solar charger over to a handlebar bag, where I keep the phone. If your phone is visible in full sunlight, you could mount it in a second waterproof mounting like this one and run the power cable to it. You can find these mounts on eBay or Amazon. They mount with a ball-joint, so while riding you can change their orientation to the sun.

I also have a small bell with a compass built on top of it, from Nashbar, for a general idea of which way I'm headed.

I'm interested in a new GPS device that was a Kickstarter project, scheduled to be on sale soon, called "earl". They call it a backcountry survival tablet. The great thing about it is that the screen is a different kind, one which is visible in full sun. Its features make it the Swiss army knife of hand-held GPS devices. Read about it here at Earl - Backcountry Survival Tablet.
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Old 05-04-14, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
Low Tech ...

Sun sets in the West rises in the East

Magnetic north is not at the North pole.
+!

As I was talking to my wife about checking the web for prevailing wind patterns of an area we plan on riding next fall; I half seriously asked, "what did we do before gps, cell phones, Booking.com, accuweather, ACA route maps, digital cameras and the internet"?

We decided that we had some pretty darn fine tours, and never had to worry about charging issues!

Seriously, I think those innovations have taken a lot of the adventure out of bike touring. Yes, I still use some of them, but at my age, I'm a little less adventurous.

Last edited by Doug64; 05-04-14 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 05-04-14, 02:18 PM
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Wet finger in the wind works well on wind direction ..

I really liked the qualities of the Ordinance survey maps of the British Isles , but not being my first roadeo,
as soon as I bought them , Id Lay down a strip of clear packing tape where they were folded ,

to preserve the printing on those creases ..


Seems people use a car GPS on their boat then run the keel into the bottom , and hole the hull
because unlike the NOAA Nav Charts there is no information of what is under the water.
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Old 05-04-14, 02:29 PM
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Wet finger in the wind works well on wind direction ..

I really liked the qualities of the Ordinance survey maps of the British Isles , but not being my first roadeo,
as soon as I bought them , Id Lay down a strip of clear packing tape where they were folded ,

to preserve the printing on those creases ..


Seems people use a car GPS on their boat then run the keel into the bottom , and hole the hull
because unlike the NOAA Nav Charts there is no information of what is under the water.

to the OP,I am someone that gets up and spends time riding the bike always ready to dawdle and look at stuff along the way

Norway Krisiansand, to Hirtshals to Esbjerg is the 2 danish ferry ports you have in mind, or Sweden, via Goteborg to Fredrikhavn ?
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Old 05-04-14, 08:08 PM
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try the intertubes! in particular, visit the googles!
enter something crazy, like "sweden cycling maps"
or maybe "swedish cycling federation."

you find stuff like: The Best European Bicycle Maps

SWEDEN

Lantmäteriet, scale 1:100.000 (blue series)
113 sheets cover Sweden
Estimated price 6-9,- Euro (50-70,- Dkr)

Lantmäteriet, scale 1:200.000 (red series)
23 sheets cover Sweden
Estimated price 9-11 ECU (67-86,- Dkr)

The maps are the official Ordnance Survey maps of Sweden. The 1:100.000 maps have excellent detail. They show contour lines, youth hostels, camping sites. My suggestion is to buy these maps for southern Sweden.

If you are going long distances, or if you are travelling north of Gothenborg you may not need all the detail in the blue maps as there simply are fewer roads to the north. you may settle for the red, scale 1:250.000 series, which has an amazing amount of information in relation to the scale. However, they do lack camping sites and youth hostels. (But remember the "allemansret" whereby you may camp anywhere as long as you do not disturbe anyone).

Sweden not only has a national bicycle route from north to south, but also several regional bike routes - for example along both the eastern and western coastline. (Ystad-Stockholm-Örnsköldsvik) and (Helsingborg-Norwegian border). Contact the local tourist office. Ask for the 24 page brochure "Cykelleder i Sverige" (3,- ECU). It gives a brief discription of the many bicycle routes in Sweden.

Here's a pick of some of the local bike-route brochures:
The West Coast Route (Helsinborg - Norwegian border)
- Cykelleder i Nordvestra Skåne, 1:250.000
- Hallands Cykelleder, 1:250.000
- Cykelsporet Bohuslän, 1:250.000

The East Coast Route (Ystad-Stockholm-Örnsköldsvik)
- Cykelspåret langs Ostkusten (Ystad-Stockholm) 1:300.000
- Cykelspåret langs Ostkysten (Stockholm-Örnsköldsvik) 1:500.000

Göta-Kanal: The Swedish Waterways
- Västgötaleden, 1:250.000
- Eastgötaleden: Motala-Söderköbing
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Old 05-04-14, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by vijinho
What tips have you got for pre-planning routes and following the plan on the journey? Are there any decent handlebar mountable cycling GPS devices you would recommend?
Garmin makes a number of handlebar mountable cycling GPS devices. All their motocycle GPS devices have handlebar mounts including many of their Etrex line. There are GPS mounts on ebay for your cell phone if you like.

I like to create my own route so there's no need to even see the street level. Once your route is created, all you have to do is have the GPS run in "Arrow" mode to point you to all the turns. People think you need this expensive large GPS or tablet on your handlebar and that is not the case. Learn to create routes on your computer then upload to the GPS.

I've been using a GPS for years and never purchased the maps until several years ago. I did fine uploading the route and just following the "Arrow" which is large enough to see even with a small GPS.

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Old 05-04-14, 10:56 PM
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As an afterthought, I took my GPS loaded with City Navigator, Europe on a three month tour of Europe. Even though we did not use it as described in most of the posts, I'm glad we had it. We started in Lisbon with the only thing planned was the first day's route getting out of the city, and a list of countries and cities we wanted to visit. The plan for getting out of the city changed before we got out when we talked to the ticket agent at the ferry terminal; he knew a better route. We managed 7 countries relying primarily on Michelin Maps, with some backup from the GPS. We find the maps better for looking at the big picture with good road detail, and would usually plan our route for 2-3 days in advance. My wife and I are a firm believer in serendipity, and sometimes our route changed daily depending on campgrounds, towns, attractions, interaction with other riders or locals, etc. The GPS worked well for finding alternate routes when we were on established bike routes such as the Rhine Route or Eurovelo Route 6.

Except for large cities, there was not a need to have the unit visible at all times, nor was there a reason to have turn by turn directions. It was usually stowed in my jersey, bar bag or in my rain jacket pocket. It was a real time saver navigating through large cities. It was also great for finding campgrounds, hotels and other points of interest.

Copy of a slide from one of our Power Point presentations

Last edited by Doug64; 05-04-14 at 11:08 PM.
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Old 05-05-14, 04:27 AM
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I sometimes use paper cue sheets, especially if I need to navigate an unknown city with many streets. No Internet connection, batteries or charging required.
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Old 05-05-14, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by vijinho
How do you guys plan your navigation for trips of several days?
I use these methods:

1) I point the bicycle in approximately correct direction ... and ride.

2) I use a compass, the location of the sun, and the location of landmarks to determine if I'm still going the right direction

3) I follow road signs.

4) I use paper maps such as what you'll pick up at Tourist Information Centres, Petrol Stations, Bookstores, or Sporting Good Stores. At night I'll look over the next day's route, and then tuck the map into the map case on my handlebar bag the next morning.

5) I will use Google Maps occasionally to get an idea of distance ... and once in a while, I'll zoom in to have a quick look at a road. But there's no point "following" the road in advance ... it'll spoil the surprise and it takes too much time.


Flexibility is the key! We plan low distances and extra days just in case we happen to meander off the route or want to explore something else.

And if there's a city in the way, we'll plan to take the entire day to get through it. Cities are a pain.
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Old 05-05-14, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by vijinho
The journey I'm planning is from Sweden to England in early June. Starting in Gothenburg, Sweden, I am aiming to take a ferry to Denmark, cross to the other side of the country and get the ferry to Harwich in England and cycle to Wolverhampton and am trying to plan the best and most realistic safe route. I think it might be possible to go to Cambridge on the first day, Rugby on the 2nd and arrive in Wolverhampton on the 3rd, or is that over-optimistic?
Use Google Maps to pick a non-highway, non-toll road route between your starting point and finish point ... and find out what the distance is. Divide the distance by 3. Do the daily distances seem realistic to you? Have you ridden those distances before?
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Old 05-05-14, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by vijinho
What tips have you got for pre-planning routes and following the plan on the journey? Are there any decent handlebar mountable cycling GPS devices you would recommend?
I use a Garmin Edge 800. It's small and has good battery life and is fairly weather proof. Some tourers like the Garmin eTrex models (the models that can use microSD cards).

Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
All their motocycle GPS devices have handlebar mounts including many of their Etrex line.
The motocycle GPS units don't have very good battery life (around 3 h).

Originally Posted by Doug64
We managed 7 countries relying primarily on Michelin Maps, with some backup from the GPS. We find the maps better for looking at the big picture with good road detail, and would usually plan our route for 2-3 days in advance.
The GPS aren't very good for a big picture. Paper maps work well for that. Smartphones work pretty well for that too. If you are carrying the smartphone, it's easy/cheap to download maps onto it (you don't need to have a cell-connection to use it either).

Last edited by njkayaker; 05-05-14 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 05-05-14, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I sometimes use paper cue sheets, especially if I need to navigate an unknown city with many streets. No Internet connection, batteries or charging required.
And I bought a cue clip for US$5. Add a ziplock bag and I'm good in rain.
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Old 05-05-14, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
Seriously, I think those innovations have taken a lot of the adventure out of bike touring.
On some level I disagree with this. I came to bicycle touring by way of backpacking, back in the 1970's. For backpacking I used Topo's, but when I bike toured it was too pricey to buy that level of detail on paper. So I had to rely on "road maps" which never showed the back-country and forest roads that I like to explore. Now with GPS tech I can carry all the detail I need to explore anywhere.
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Old 05-05-14, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
And I bought a cue clip for US$5. Add a ziplock bag and I'm good in rain.
I have that exact same clip and also use a ziplock if it's raining. When I am done with a particular cue sheet I can often use it to help start a campfire.
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Old 05-05-14, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by vijinho
What tips have you got for pre-planning routes and following the plan on the journey? Are there any decent handlebar mountable cycling GPS devices you would recommend?
I've used Garmin Edge 705 and Edge 800 GPS devices on tour and century rides. They work especially well when you can plan your route ahead of time and then upload it to the Edge. Creating routes using only the device is much more frustrating. Entering destinations is cumbersome and the routes the Edge chooses aren't always the most bike-friendly. I get anywhere from 12-16 hours of life on one charge; the Edge 800 seems to be a bit better than the 705 in that respect. I find the displays on the Edge 705 and 800 are generally more readable in direct sunlight than any of the smartphones and tablets I've tried (Nexus 5, Nexus 7, iPhone 5, iPad mini with Retina display, 1st generation Kindle Fire, etc). The Edge works so well, I can't remember the last time I needed to look at a paper map...
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Old 05-05-14, 11:28 AM
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see Sustrans
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Old 05-15-14, 07:17 PM
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Ditto on the delorme atlases. Wife loves them. ( my personal navigator) they have elevation markings .
I too wonder about electronics ( thinking about upgrading my iphone 4 to a samsung note 3 ( (bigger screen to seen more of a map ( in the shade I suppose)
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