Last night was all about tour planning. I use a few tools when planning a trip:
Adventure Cycling Association maps – I like the detail, planning and thought put into these. They are pricey, so take look on eBay or even Craigslist to see if someone is reselling their set, or consider becoming a member of ACA to get a discount and support their efforts.
Google Maps – If you haven’t tried out the bike route feature on Google Maps, it’s a teriffic resource. Word to the wise: it’s far from perfect. Sometimes Google routes you way out of your way to favor bike paths and trails, and sometimes it puts you on roads that are flat out bad ideas (hello Highway 9 in West Virgina!). Still, this is a great way to deviate from established routes.
Crazy Guy on a Bike – Warning: this site will pull you in, trap you and keep you there for hours (but in a good way). For years, this has been a repository of bike touring routes, and a great way to get first-hand stories on how the roads treated the author and his or her group. The site’s design will force you to remember what websites looked like in the late 90s… a serious throwback. Amazing information.
Other people’s stuff – blogs, message boards, e-books, routes using mobile phone apps… the list goes on and on. Google terms related to your route and get ready to sort the wheat from the chaff. There’s a ton out there.
I’m working on a hybrid ride of the Lewis + Clark and Northern Tier routes by the ACA, linking by a “short cut” from Missoula to Great Falls, MT mentioned in a book by Tod Rodger. More to come on that.
What resources do you use? Have you found anything else to be particularly helpful? Do you recommend anything in particular based on your experience?