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What's the best way to plan a tour?(8 posts)

What's the best way to plan a tour?Matno
Mar 26, 2003 8:41 AM
Not like the TDF! I'm talking about a long distance ride with camping gear (approx 500 miles). I've done stuff like this in the past, so gear isn't really a question. What I'd like to know is if anybody knows of any web-based sites that can help me plan a route? Mapquest only shows freeways (they only offer "alternate routes" for drives of under 60 miles). Am I going to have to do the old fashioned "look at the Atlas" thing, or is there an easier way? (Honestly, if I had the choice, I'd RATHER ride the freeways. Much larger shoulders = safer, in my book. Too bad it's not allowed. Or is it?)...

Incidentally, the route I'm currently looking at would be from Idaho Falls to Bonners Ferry, ID. That's about 550 miles on the freeway and I'm hoping to find more rural routes that aren't too much longer. We can always drive part way if we need to (to keep within time restraints!)
Adventure Cylcling AssocScot_Gore
Mar 26, 2003 9:05 AM

Try Adventure Cycling. You're right in the area where a number of their routes converge. Both their Lewis and Clark route and their Northern Tier Route are running in that area. Those routes are mostly East to West, but there may be many portions you can use. Those maps are aimed at the long distance sef supported cyclist. They will highlight things like shoulder width, busy traffic, bike shop locations and other stuff you won't find on a regular map.

BTW- Become a member they do good work, provide a quality magazine and it gets you discounts on the maps.

It's Not That Hard....Gregory Taylor
Mar 26, 2003 11:03 AM
The guys that I ride with did a trip around the Chesapeake Bay a couple of years ago that we planned from start to finish. The Adventure Cycling maps work well, and we combined them with a local riding guide ("Tours in the Delmarva" or something like that - check REI to see if there is a book for your area) to come up with our route. You have to watch with the highways - some are limited access roads that do not allow pedestrians or bikes.

As for hauling gear, we rented a big-ass Dodge Van from Thrifty and stuffed all of our crap in that. We took turns driving the van as a support vehicle while the others were riding. The guy driving the van would jump up the route and set up a rest stop (complete with lounge chairs, etc.), but would stay in touch with the group by cell phone. We found that church grounds and cemetaries worked well for rest stops. After a snack, we'd swap drivers. It really worked well...
let someone else do ittarwheel
Mar 26, 2003 9:57 AM
Check out some of the supported, cross-state tours like Ride the Rockies, Cycle North Carolina, RAGBRAI, GOBA, BRAG, etc. Most of these tours involve camping, but the organizers carry all of your gear and sometimes provide food. The costs are usually very reasonable and the organizers plan routes that avoid traffic and often go through very scenic areas. I have ridden in 4 cross-state tours and every one has been a blast. You meet lots of nice people along the way and it's great not having to lug all your gear. The ride I did last summer, POWOW in Wisconsin, only cost about $350 and included dorm rooms in colleges every night and all-you-can-eat meals. It would be hard to spend less than that on your own, particularly when you consider all of the money you would spend on racks, panniers, etc.
Never liked too much planning, myself.dzrider
Mar 26, 2003 10:21 AM
Used a road atlas or state maps and road toward what interested me or campgrounds. You could probably use mapquest to name roads that are just small lines on state maps and plan your own route.

I agree about highway shoulders. I use them once in a while and get off the exits and back on the entrances as often as possible to avoid crossing traffic. After a few minutes I feel like that big shoulder is mine all mine until a construction site and its Jersey barriers come and take it away.
Oh man, not the freeway!Kerry
Mar 26, 2003 5:36 PM
If you think you'd rather tour on a freeway, you're missing the whole idea of touring. Low traffic side roads and real people, not the shortest route between two points with 18 wheelers roaring by at 70 mph. Often, there is a state route that parallels the FW, though the roads are sometimes left to deteriorate. Looks to me like you could either head north (SR 28 or US20) through Missoula, or head west on US 20 to Boise. The Snake River valley is relatively flat but pretty uninteresting. The recommendation to check with Adventure Cycling (headquartered in Missoula) is the best.
Maybe "tour" isn't the best word...Matno
Mar 26, 2003 7:52 PM
Of course we want to see the nicest scenery we can, but our main goal is to ride 500 miles in as short a time as possible! (Unsupported). It looks like we may start in Boise instead and ride up the west side of Idaho. The scenery appears to be nicer there. (I've driven up past Bozeman and through Missoula several times in a car, so I'm not too excited about riding it again on a bike. New territory is always the most fun... At this point, it's just an indefinite plan for the future. Right now we are completely "unsupported." That is, our wives are not supporting the idea of this trip! Grrrr... (Mostly it's just the timing though, so we'll be able to work it out eventually...)
re: What's the best way to plan a tour?jimPz
Mar 26, 2003 5:54 PM
One way to find goor roads is to contact a local bike store or a local club. If you tell them on day x, we are starting at point A & going to point B they can probably recommend good roads.