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Mapping a route has changed

Old 03-07-21, 04:58 AM
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TiHabanero
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Mapping a route has changed

Been mapping a cross country route for a while now and have been using various mapping sites on the internet. This is so different from paper maps that were used 40 years ago. Back then by candle light we mapped a general route avoiding interstates and then used the sun as a compass heading. A three state tour required at least three separate maps. Electronic mapping is very convenient! Tempted to get a gps unit or carry a phone for the mapping functions. Paper maps will still be the main source of direction, but if a detour is necessary, the electronic map will prove to be handy.
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Old 03-07-21, 05:15 AM
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I love using paper maps! They provide an overview that's difficult to get/access on the internet. I tour with a smartphone and paper maps. I use Google bicycle directions to look at route options, Google street view to check out shoulder width and other geographic conditions, and then use paper maps to keep track during the day. I don't do a lot of detailed route planning, though. I start a tour with a rough idea of the points I want to hit and then decide my route day by day. But access to the internet on the bike now gives the option of heading out in the morning without a clear idea where the day will end, yet still some informed sense of that the options are. Which is how I like to do it.
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Old 03-07-21, 07:02 AM
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It is nice to have options. These days we have many including paper which I too still like to use on the bike throughout the day.
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Old 03-07-21, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Been mapping a cross country route for a while now and have been using various mapping sites on the internet. This is so different from paper maps that were used 40 years ago. Back then by candle light we mapped a general route avoiding interstates and then used the sun as a compass heading. A three state tour required at least three separate maps. Electronic mapping is very convenient! Tempted to get a gps unit or carry a phone for the mapping functions. Paper maps will still be the main source of direction, but if a detour is necessary, the electronic map will prove to be handy.
I miss paper maps, too, but I must say, I like being able to preview some of my road choices on Google Maps Street View ahead of time. One thing I still won't do is depend on GPS once I'm out on the road. I still print out directions and insert them in a polyethylene slip case that's tied to my handlebar with a pipe cleaner!
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Old 03-07-21, 08:26 AM
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My last tour was somewhere that did not have any bike maps, bike routes from organizations, bicycling guidebooks, etc. It was just a place on the map with a scattering of touristy spots. Thus, no pre-determined "best" route that was picked by others for a bicycle tour.

I mapped out a rough plan on Mapsource (computer based GPS mapping program by Garmin that is no longer supported). And I also included a few short cuts in case I was behind schedule and needed to make my flight home. But that was only a generalized plan. The only firm points on that map that I needed to take were a few bridges and a ferry, otherwise routing was flexible. Sometimes I took the roads on that general route and sometimes not.

But on the ground, every night I would look at where I wanted to go the next day, which almost always was a campground. Sometimes I just told my GPS (Garmin 64) to take me there (usually used bike touring option, minimize elevation option). But sometimes if the route looked less than desirable would compare other options.

The list of options that I used was as follows:

- GPS (Garmin 64), sub options for different routing:
  1. Cycling (this appeared to avoid bike trails).
  2. Cycle touring (I think this favored mapped trails more).
  3. Automobile
- Komoot bicycle routing (Android app on phone, only useable on-line).

- Maps.Me (Android app on phone, can use off-line)
  1. Car routing
  2. Bicycle routing
- Paper map.

And at one time or another I used every one of those options. Twice I chose the route that looked best on the paper map even when no electronic options picked that. I think the electronics tried to use national or provincial roads over local roads, but sometimes a local road is in good condition and is more direct.

I did not have the ability to transfer routing from my phone to my GPS, if I wanted to use a route I saw on my phone, I would pick a few points and set my GPS to take me to those specific points. Then my GPS would do the routing between those points.

Also, I had on my GPS two maps that I could pick from for routing decisions (1) Open Streets national automotive routing map, (2) Open Streets cycle routing map, Sometimes did not like the route on one, chose the other.

And on a couple days, just chose to take a gravel trail that none of the electronic methods suggested, but I knew the trail was there, so chose to take it.


I know that there are a lot of other options on-line, but I am almost overwhelmed already with how many different options I have, I do not need more.
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Old 03-07-21, 10:33 AM
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I use both.
The mapping info available online is amazing.

The one thing about paper maps I love is to spread one out on the table and look at the big picture.
It's hard visualizing the big picture on a phone screen.
Not to mention a paper map will never run out of charge.

Last edited by jamawani; 03-07-21 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 03-07-21, 12:13 PM
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Paper maps have information one may need for a detour. RideWGPS routes are fine, until the DOT decides to replace a bridge. Even dedicated paper maps have this failing if they are too dedicated to the route.
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Old 03-07-21, 07:28 PM
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I think electronic mapping tools takes a lot of the adventure out of touring, but I use them. However, I use them "with a grain of salt". I also like paper maps for the same reasons listed above.

I think we were using our phone's GPS with a map that was downloaded earlier when we could connect to wifi. We were in the Czech Republic and had limited phone data, and that is a good way to go. It was getting late, raining, and we were trying to get to a Decathlon store before it closed. We took a route that started on pavement, turned to gravel, and then to dirt. That was not the frustrating part. The route took us to the base of a set of stairs that led to the road we wanted to connect with, which was about 75' above us. We should have used 2 grains of salt on this one. There are a lot of similar stories like this out there.

Pushing our loaded bikes up these stairs to the road was a challenge, but the wide steps made it easier.

Last edited by Doug64; 03-07-21 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 03-07-21, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
The one thing about paper maps I love is to spread one out on the table and look at the big picture.
The next ~900 miles of Oregon and CA coast cut out of DeLorme atlases and laid out on my motel room floor in Portland a couple years ago. I number them, fold them, and rotate them through my map case.
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Old 03-08-21, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
I think electronic mapping tools takes a lot of the adventure out of touring, but I use them. However, I use them "with a grain of salt". I also like paper maps for the same reasons listed above.

I think we were using our phone's GPS with a map that was downloaded earlier when we could connect to wifi. We were in the Czech Republic and had limited phone data, and that is a good way to go. It was getting late, raining, and we were trying to get to a Decathlon store before it closed. We took a route that started on pavement, turned to gravel, and then to dirt. That was not the frustrating part. The route took us to the base of a set of stairs that led to the road we wanted to connect with, which was about 75' above us. We should have used 2 grains of salt on this one. There are a lot of similar stories like this out there.

Pushing our loaded bikes up these stairs to the road was a challenge, but the wide steps made it easier.
Paper maps don't show currently closed roads due to a bridge out or construction, but Google Maps can.

It's almost as if both have benefits and potential drawbacks.
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Old 03-08-21, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Brett A View Post
The next ~900 miles of Oregon and CA coast cut out of DeLorme atlases and laid out on my motel room floor in Portland a couple years ago. I number them, fold them, and rotate them through my map case.
...
I used to do that with USGS topographic maps that were cut into quarters when I was backpacking in the Rockies. I was a college student in the 70s and you did not have a lot of choices for mapping tools. A Silva Ranger compass back then cost me almost 10 hours of wages as a research assistant.
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Old 03-08-21, 10:36 AM
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On my first ever tour in 86, I rode from Sweden To Barcelona with just a map of the whole of western europe. Got there fine but did ask a lot of people to point me in the right direction along the way
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Old 03-08-21, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I used to do that with USGS topographic maps that were cut into quarters when I was backpacking in the Rockies. I was a college student in the 70s and you did not have a lot of choices for mapping tools. A Silva Ranger compass back then cost me almost 10 hours of wages as a research assistant.
The Silva was expensive, but was a good investment. This is the one I used in my 47-year career tromping through the forests of Oregon and Washington. Some days I'd stand on a ridge and think to myself, " what a great place to be, and to think I get paid for being here". And that feeling stayed with me right up until the time I retired.

This was bought in the early 60s and has an aluminum casing.


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Old 03-08-21, 12:41 PM
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My first crossing of the US was 29 years ago. I still have some similarities of using a blend of both paper maps and electronics to plan out the route.

Back in 1991/1992 I used a MS-DOS program named "Automap" to give me an approximation of the route. I even brought along a 80286 Sharp laptop on my trip. I used this to get me some rough approximations, e.g. if I wanted to go via Yellowstone, then roughly how far would it be and what major US highways would I take from the Oregon coast. Once I had the rough approximation, I would use paper maps on a day-to-day basis to see where I was and how I was following those routes.

So today, I will still get a rough approximation with Google Maps (auto directions with no highways checked) of general routes and I will still bring state highway maps. In general, I will have figured out the general route in advance of the day and limit my use of electronics as far as turn directions to either (a) sometimes more detailed corrections in a larger urban area e.g. finding a motel at end of the day or (b) reacting to some change, e.g. road construction removing the shoulders. In a selected cases, I might also use a bit more in advance planning such as checking Strava Heat maps for an urban area or peeking at a Google Street view to check general shoulders/conditions.

However, just as 30 years ago, I used a blend of some electronic tools and some paper maps, I still find myself doing some of the same. I still like to have something in my handlebar bag, either a folded map or some instructions I wrote down the night before - and use that instead of switching electronics to tell me where to turn.
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Old 03-08-21, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
... my 47-year career tromping through the Forests of Oregon and Washington. ...

This was bought in the early 60s and has an aluminum casing.
You must be a forester. I did not see the clinometer option in yours. I assumed foresters would have a clinometer.

Geologists usually relied on Brunton Pocket Transits. They cost so much almost nobody bought one of their own, schools and employers provided them instead. I got one that was army surplus, had to change a few parts in it.
https://www.forestry-suppliers.com/p...s.php?mi=13102

My Silva was for personal use, not professional. Mine has plastic cover, I had never seen one with a metal cover like you have. The Silva is much more practical for a backpacking or canoeing trip than a Brunton is.
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Old 03-08-21, 07:49 PM
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County maps used to show road surface - dirt, gravel, pavement. Maintained by the people who maintained the road surface. I don't find that information consistently and accurately available on any mapping software.
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Old 03-08-21, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
You must be a forester. I did not see the clinometer option in yours. I assumed foresters would have a clinometer.

Geologists usually relied on Brunton Pocket Transits. They cost so much almost nobody bought one of their own, schools and employers provided them instead. I got one that was army surplus, had to change a few parts in it.
https://www.forestry-suppliers.com/p...s.php?mi=13102

My Silva was for personal use, not professional. Mine has plastic cover, I had never seen one with a metal cover like you have. The Silva is much more practical for a backpacking or canoeing trip than a Brunton is.
Yes, I was a Forester, and I did use a clinometer. It was a separate instrument, about the same size as the compass.
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Old 03-09-21, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
County maps used to show road surface - dirt, gravel, pavement. Maintained by the people who maintained the road surface. I don't find that information consistently and accurately available on any mapping software.
Iowa's DOT website has maps of every road in the state broken down into interstates, us/state highways, county roads, maintained gravel roads, unimproved level b roads, etc.
downloadable and easy to read. I am sure other states have something similar.
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Old 03-10-21, 10:20 AM
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Electronic route planning is really good for determining distances. Especially on bike paths that are in the Google data base. County and Rand McNally paper stuff *might* show paths but there are probably not going to be mileage indicators. Sometimes the local municipality in charge of operating and maintaining the paths will have a good paper map, like as not it'll be a pdf file. My local path is a pdf and shows no mileage, except "15 miles long", not useful if you want to enter/exit other than the end points. Can you estimate within a mile or 2 - Yes, and that maybe is good enough if on a tour.
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Old 03-10-21, 03:26 PM
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I was doing a loaded test ride and found a nice canal cycle path on the digital map. Like the previous post there were stairs not shown. I had to take the bags off and being pre pandemic a couple of people kindly brought the bags up the steep stairs while I carried the bike.

I've only just got into the cycling GPS and have found it has really opened up my local area where I would get lost using paper maps or have to stop a lot more for navigation. GPS on my phone eats battery so it's nice to have the bicycle one mounted to the bike especially as it works with my gloves on.

I plan to take it on the next tour, but will be taking some battery banks to keep it topped up and maybe a solar charger. I'll also take a paper map for that overall view just in case I can't power the electronic devices or they break. Never forget the power of local knowledge. People are often quite happy to point you in the right direction if they can, but can also inadvertently point you in the wrong direction.
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Old 03-10-21, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I used to do that with USGS topographic maps that were cut into quarters when I was backpacking in the Rockies. I was a college student in the 70s and you did not have a lot of choices for mapping tools. A Silva Ranger compass back then cost me almost 10 hours of wages as a research assistant.
That raises another point. I found that while a compass was a great tool when hiking, sailing, or even riding off road, I pretty much never use one when riding on the road. I guess the sun, distant mountains, and sometimes bodies of water keep me oriented enough to make choices in turns on road that never involve subtle degrees of direction. If I carry one on tour it is for hiking, but usually I don't bother these days.
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