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navigation tools?

Old 01-07-15, 11:52 AM
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navigation tools?

In order to efficiently plan out the day's ride, I think it's a good idea to use a gps. I have a garmin edge 500, and it has the capability to import courses from mapmyride, ridewithgps, strava, or some other course generating website, with turn by turn signals. the only thing is that it doesn't have street names, and doesn't "recalculate" if you decide to deviate. I'm thinking the tour can be split up by days, where the route is preset on the previous evening. That way, the day can be somewhat planned for the time arrived to lunch, dinner. etc So based on your experience, how often have you had to deviate from your predetermined route on a tour? (eg. realized the road is not suitable for riding, decided to take a different route, other reasons)
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Old 01-07-15, 12:27 PM
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I know you want other tech lovers writing here from work to answer this..



Being older and well versed in Map Reading , I bought Paper maps .. Now I Have a Collection of maps from the Many Countries I visited .

Including the local town maps I got at visitors Information Centers that are in Many Towns ..

I dont really do A lot of Pre Planning
I land at an Airport and 1st Town I hit the Bookseller and Buy a Map , when I ride off the edge of that One I buy another
Ordinance Survey Maps of the British Isles are Excellent.. 4 of then cover all of Ireland.


A Sailor always is wise to have Paper Charts , as GPS wont tell you how much water is Below your Keel.

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Old 01-07-15, 01:04 PM
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I my experience, changes to the daily route do occur but rarely is it a "major" detour. The inability to to predict where and when a particular meal will happen is more likely caused by punctures, repairs or just "having one of those days" when you check to see if the brakes are dragging.

My system is to carry the paper maps in the bottom of a pannier, On my tablet I use Locus, a mapping app that allows downloading and saving maps at any level of detail you want. Prior to the tour I save the whole route if a week or less otherwise I just stay a week ahead based on my speed and plans. I save the area near the route with high detail and surrounding areas with less. The GPS in the tablet shows my position and direction on those. I also have all of the map/information panels of the ACA maps I own scanned in for when I am on one of their routes.
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Old 01-07-15, 01:18 PM
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Funnily enough the words "efficiently" and "bicycle touring" don't often go together in my vocabulary. I generally don't plan my routes in great detail, and some of my most enjoyable days on tour have resulted from my getting "lost" and seeing something I wouldn't otherwise have known about, or simply turning aside because I've spotted something, or a signpost to something, that interests me. If you plan your routes precisely and then simply follow the route you've uploaded to your garmin, then in my opinion you're missing a hell of a lot.

Paper maps are still an invaluable aid.
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Old 01-07-15, 01:26 PM
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I have always been interested in GPS, but so far never have used it on a ride. Your biggest issue if you want to know where to go before you get there is intelligence, not keeping on your route. In reasonably developed areas if you have a map it is probably correct and easy to follow. If you get turned around, then GPS will sort you out right quick. But as with the below one's keel thing, the GPS is like online news that is destroying news gathering institutions without adding it's own infrastructure, though it did find some erors on maps, I guess.

When cycling two side of a river can be utterly different, whle hard to get lost on either one. I can't say I could be bothered, but running the route in streetview would be more relevant. That way you can tell what the road does, not just whether you are on it. And that is the kind of stuff that is integrated these days.
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Old 01-07-15, 01:34 PM
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Preface: I'm a total tech head.

How often do i have to deviate? sometimes multiple times per day. You certainly wouldn't want to be stuck on your mapped route just because you don't have other resources for finding your way. things to cause deviations would be: road construction, poor original choice of road, seeing something interesting you want to go check out, finding a restaurant/store/lodging off your route, making new friends and wanting to ride with them, weather, illness, other random changes of plans.

If all you have to navigate with is a line on a blank screen, you will be really constrained.

You might find a GPS like the Garmin 800, 810 or 1000 useful, because you get an actual map to use (if you buy it, which you should) - but the 500 with a breadrcrumb trail will make you tear your hair out. It would be better to have a paper map.

I used a Garmin 705 on tour once (predecessor to the 800), and it was somewhat useful for navigating in cities where there were lots of turns. Once you are on the open road, it's not particularly useful. And in town, a breadcrumb without street name information would be worse than useless.

In cities, i find my iPhone easier to use for navigation than the 810, but the 810 is better than the 705 was.
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Old 01-07-15, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
In order to efficiently plan out the day's ride, I think it's a good idea to use a gps. I have a garmin edge 500, and it has the capability to import courses from mapmyride, ridewithgps, strava, or some other course generating website, with turn by turn signals. the only thing is that it doesn't have street names, and doesn't "recalculate" if you decide to deviate. I'm thinking the tour can be split up by days, where the route is preset on the previous evening. That way, the day can be somewhat planned for the time arrived to lunch, dinner. etc So based on your experience, how often have you had to deviate from your predetermined route on a tour? (eg. realized the road is not suitable for riding, decided to take a different route, other reasons)
Google maps and sign posts/asking people work for me. I often take screen shots of google maps on my phone and usually have a paper back up of some sort.
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Old 01-07-15, 02:11 PM
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Quite often my primary map is an AC paper map. I wind up deviating from my planned route pretty frequently on some tours and hardly at all on others. I typically have picked up a paper state map when I leave one state and enter another. At that point, I give or throw away the one from he previous state. I have mostly relied on paper maps on most tours, but could see relying on my phone and a paper state map picked up in each state. Most often when I deviate it is just because I want to, but poor roads or roads with construction going on are often a reason as well.

To be honest taking simple routes and using maps sparingly appeals to me. For example I'd consider riding mostly on US 90 between Jacksonville Beach Florida and Van Horn Texas mostly not using maps at all. Not that I have even actually done a trip that way... When I rode that section I did ride a lot more of US 90 than the AC maps used, but not all of it.
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Old 01-07-15, 02:19 PM
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I carry a Garmin 62S with an Open Streets map layer that I download off the internet, cycling layer. That usually tells me a lot about other roads around detours, etc.

But the Garmin screen is small, so when I need more screen room for planning, I use an Android based 7 inch tablet. I have two pertinent apps, Maps.Me (free) (formerly named Maps With Me) and Soviet Military Maps Pro ($11) with Open Streets Cycle layer. I load the maps for where I will be on the internet before I leave home on both apps. Those three options are usually all I need.

While I also like street maps on paper, simple fact is that when you are biking hundreds of miles it can be impractical to find and carry the street maps you might need for small towns or rural farm areas. I however have e-mailed other states where I plan to travel and ask them to mail me state highway maps or other pertinent maps, those can be a big help.



Also carry a compass, but I do not recall the last time I actually used it.
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Old 01-07-15, 02:35 PM
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I find the route feature on the Garmin Edge 500 nearly unusable. Were I planning to rely upon GPS routing, I'd want to upgrade to a higher-end model. I prepare my route in MapMyRide and print out the turn-by-turn instructions and put them in the map case on the handlebar bag. I like plenty of way points to know that I'm on the correct route as I get quite anxious if I don't know exactly where I am. When I detour on purpose or by accident, I rely on my smartphone to get me back on track.
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Old 01-07-15, 04:17 PM
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I know the garmin edge 500 uses breadcrumbs, but I only plan to use it for the highways, which is where I'll spend 90% of my time probably. When I'm in the city, I'll have with me a regular gps (~0.5 lbs) that has street navigation. Because they only have 2 hrs of battery life, I will only use it to find out where I am, or where the nearest restaurant is, and then turn it off. from the city/town, it should be simple to find the highway and be on my way again.

and I do want to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.. But I also want to get there quicker, and try to use the more direct routes and safer routes. one of the nice functions of ridewithgps is that it has street view. I plan to use that pretty extensively to determine if the road has a good shoulder, how busy it will likely be. etc.


I just tried the route feature. And it appears that the route likes to disappear. the online community seems to think that garmin purposely tried to dumbdown the 500 so people will be more inclined to buy the better versions. anyhow, I realize these gps things have a pretty steep pricing margin. my 500 cost $150 on holiday discount. the 510 costs twice as much as that. the 810 costs 4x as much... I mean it's to the point where I'm happy with just paper maps than spending that much money on a GPS.

But I'm going to try out the map function again, with the zoom held constant at 500 ft, which will decrease the amount of thinking the garmin 500 has to do, and hopefully keep the route on the screen. b right back

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Old 01-07-15, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
In order to efficiently plan out the day's ride ... That way, the day can be somewhat planned for the time arrived to lunch, dinner. etc
When we tour, we spread out a map on a picnic table in the evening (or maybe call up Google maps) and chat about where we would like to go the next day or maybe generally over the next few days. And we might end up going there ... or we might change our minds in the middle of the day and go somewhere else.

We don't care what time we arrive somewhere for lunch and dinner ... if we're in a town around lunchtime and we're hungry, we'll stop to eat. Same with dinner. It could be the town we kind of thought it might be ... could be a completely different place. And each day ... we might stay around the area, we might cover a short distance, or we might cover a long distance. Depends how we feel.

About the only time schedules come into the situation is if we've got to be somewhere for a flight. And several times we've been meandering around the countryside somewhere, then one of us says, "What date is our flight?" There's a bit of a scramble through the paperwork and we discover that we've got 5 days to get to the airport. So ... "I guess we'd better start heading that direction then".
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Old 01-07-15, 05:35 PM
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Over Christmas/New Year, I recently did a 9 day ride (Brownsville to Austin). Here is how I planned it out...

1. Before I left, I did some looking on Google Maps and on internet to understand:
- what towns had motels
- how far apart these towns were
- create an approximate plan, along with multiple alternatives
2. Before each day ride, in consultation with paper and internet maps, I had an approximate route figured out as well as a few choices:
- perhaps at most half a dozen turns in an entire day. Nothing too complex, but more like
"US281 through Pharr; once I reach Hildago go right towards US83"
- first motels will be in McAllen (~55 miles) and then mission (~70 miles). If things go well, there is also one in La Joya (~80 miles).
Some places things the choices were more constrained, but if I could I had a few alternatives to pick from and decided as I went along.
3. During that week, there was a major front that blew in - so during some of the evenings I made some bigger choices. For example,
from Laredo, I could have gone to Carrizo Springs - but decided to go to Freer, TX instead. I also decided to spend a day or two in
San Antonio rather than bicycle in the most extreme cold.

Those had been possibilities when I did my first assessment [step #1 ], but I waited until I was on the road to make the choices.

If I'm on a trip longer than just a week, I also try to keep that level of flexibility. Keeping an eye on an overall mileage "budget" and an overall direction I am headed. However, I'm not going to get things down to level of detail that I even have pinned down a precise "predetermined route", so I guess I deviate all the time...
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Old 01-07-15, 06:34 PM
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I met a German woman who cycled from a farm job in S France, to Hamburg in N Germany, without any maps, compass, GPS etc. Keep the sea on your left. Pick up the marked cycle routes
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Old 01-07-15, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
Over Christmas/New Year, I recently did a 9 day ride (Brownsville to Austin). Here is how I planned it out...

1. Before I left, I did some looking on Google Maps and on internet to understand:
- what towns had motels
- how far apart these towns were
- create an approximate plan, along with multiple alternatives
2. Before each day ride, in consultation with paper and internet maps, I had an approximate route figured out as well as a few choices:
- perhaps at most half a dozen turns in an entire day. Nothing too complex, but more like
"US281 through Pharr; once I reach Hildago go right towards US83"
- first motels will be in McAllen (~55 miles) and then mission (~70 miles). If things go well, there is also one in La Joya (~80 miles).
Some places things the choices were more constrained, but if I could I had a few alternatives to pick from and decided as I went along.
3. During that week, there was a major front that blew in - so during some of the evenings I made some bigger choices. For example,
from Laredo, I could have gone to Carrizo Springs - but decided to go to Freer, TX instead. I also decided to spend a day or two in
San Antonio rather than bicycle in the most extreme cold.

Those had been possibilities when I did my first assessment [step #1 ], but I waited until I was on the road to make the choices.

If I'm on a trip longer than just a week, I also try to keep that level of flexibility. Keeping an eye on an overall mileage "budget" and an overall direction I am headed. However, I'm not going to get things down to level of detail that I even have pinned down a precise "predetermined route", so I guess I deviate all the time...

This is quite similar to what we do.

We'll also make note of public transportation options just in case we need to get somewhere quickly. We might use it ... we might not.
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Old 01-07-15, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
I met a German woman who cycled from a farm job in S France, to Hamburg in N Germany, without any maps, compass, GPS etc. Keep the sea on your left. Pick up the marked cycle routes


And this is the sort of thing we do too. Just follow the signs and landmarks.
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Old 01-07-15, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka


And this is the sort of thing we do too. Just follow the signs and landmarks.
I usually decide on my destination sometime after lunch. Sometimes I change it if an alternative looks goo. I was chatting to a couple on a ferry in Norway one late afternoon and they told me that a small island of Kvitsoy, the next stop was a good place to see with a nice camping spot.

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Old 01-07-15, 07:01 PM
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I brought up the predetermined route idea with west texas in mind, where the towns are pretty spread out, and there really isn't much to see. I suspect that if I do this tour, west texas going into new mexico are going to be the most boring and challenging in terms of planning and 'survival'. So with that, my intention is to simply find the fast ways to go from town to town, which I think is important, especially if I want to be getting responses from warmshowers.
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Old 01-07-15, 07:38 PM
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Like fietsbob, I too suppose you are calling out to tech heads with this post. I am (sort of) one of them, EXCEPT when it comes to bicycling -- especially bicycle touring.

I don't want to take the wind out of your sail, but I'd like to suggest that you try touring with the roughest idea possible of where you are going. That means, you jot down some basic directions before you leave home, you grab a paper map, then you make sure to leave early enough so that when you get lost, you can still arrive safely somewhere before darkness falls.

It's what lifelong memories are made of.
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Old 01-07-15, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
I usually decide on my destination sometime after lunch. Sometimes I change it if an alternative looks goo. I was chatting to a couple on a ferry in Norway one late afternoon and they told me that a small island of Kvitsoy, the next stop was a good place to see with a nice camping spot.

Usually we have some idea where we might go the night before ... but sometimes our plans change in the middle of the day.

Coming out of Switzerland and into France a couple years ago, the traffic was so heavy and the road so narrow that by the time we had gone about 30 or 40 km we were exhausted and frustrated. We were going to cycle another 30 or 40 km to the next town and possibly venture toward Italy, but decided instead to get a train. 2 days later we were in Perpignan near the border of Spain.

On another occasion, we were hanging about at the end of the PBP when someone mentioned Strasbourg and the Rhine Route in a passing conversation. We had been thinking of heading toward the Loire Valley or someplace like that, but just then Rowan turned to me and asked what I thought of going to Strasbourg. Sure why not ... next day we were on our way.
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Old 01-07-15, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
I brought up the predetermined route idea with west texas in mind, where the towns are pretty spread out, and there really isn't much to see. I suspect that if I do this tour, west texas going into new mexico are going to be the most boring and challenging in terms of planning and 'survival'. So with that, my intention is to simply find the fast ways to go from town to town, which I think is important, especially if I want to be getting responses from warmshowers.
If I were you, I'd look up tourist attractions ... even minor ones hardly anyone has ever heard of.

Check out the Alamo in San Antonio ... the Caverns of Sonora ... Fort Davis Historic Site ... maybe the New Mexico Museum of Space History ... whatever grabs your fancy.

Tourist attractions often have accommodations and supplies nearby ... and they give you something to look forward to
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Old 01-07-15, 09:58 PM
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The faster you go from town to town the less you'll see . . .
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Old 01-07-15, 10:12 PM
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I believe the longer the tour the less route specific planning is required.

My wife and I started a 3 month, 7 country ride in Lisbon Portugal with only the first day planned. We planned a route out of Lisbon, but that changed when we talked to the ticket agent at the ferry terminal, who showed us a better route. We knew what cities and attractions we wanted to see, and and where we needed to be to catch the flight home. Our priorities changed frequently, sometimes daily. We knew the general route we wanted to take, and would plan specifics for one or two days at a time.

When we do our annual short tour with our daughters, we plan the route pretty carefully. However, I've never found a need for turn-by-turn cue sheets. Heck, on some routes you may not get off a road for several days. Heck, on one tour we roughly followed the same road for 74 days; sometimes we were on it, sometimes parallel to it. No smart phones or GPS, just maps we picked up as we entered a new state.

I realize that when there are time constraints, and a need to get from point A to B, it is hard to be so cavalier about route planning. However, try to leave some room for serendipity.

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Old 01-07-15, 10:52 PM
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k I think I got the message.

my roommate did a trans am in 33 days with 3 other guys, going the credit card route. I think they did a fundraiser though. so I guess it's all a matter of preference. As a racer, and someone making a career transition, I don't feel like I have too much time to blow. I don't know, we'll see. part of touring is learning more about oneself right?
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Old 01-07-15, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
k I think I got the message.

my roommate did a trans am in 33 days with 3 other guys, going the credit card route. I think they did a fundraiser though. so I guess it's all a matter of preference. As a racer, and someone making a career transition, I don't feel like I have too much time to blow. I don't know, we'll see. part of touring is learning more about oneself right?
If you want to do a fast tour, maybe look up something like this ...
pactour.com/southern
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