What You Need for Self Supported Touring by Bicycle
Considerations - Maps
Quality and Usefulness
- AAA - Michigan is good; other states may only be marginal. Don't get the Trip-Tic - they don't show back-roads.
- State Maps from Highway Department - generally too little detail to be useful.
- County Maps - good when available - may be available through State Government or from DeLorme or Rand MacNally. Take only the counties you will need.
- City Maps - for exploring a city - from the Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, Car Rental, Tourist Information, or large hotel - once you arrive.
- Electronic Maps
- Take your computer and a CD
- Visit a library for internet access to MapInfo.com, MapQuest.com, etc.
- Before you leave, print maps of the general area you plan to visit.
- Important: include a scale-of-miles with each printout.
- Use water-resistant ink, or protect the pages.
- Maps that only show highways are only useful for fast travel between population centers. Riding is somewhere between boring and dangerous.
- Paper maps that show every road, whether paved or not, are hard to find, and bulky for touring.
- Every map probably has some errors and omissions, and is soon out of date. However, most of the effect of aging is good - unpaved roads become paved.
- Electronic maps are seldom as current as their publishishing date. Most rely on the same governmental source for data.
- Having any map, on average, is vastly better than having no map.
- Remember - after you pass through an area, you can mail home the maps you used.
- It is really useful to have a compass. The sun will not always be out.
- Thick lines are busy, but direct. Thin lines have little traffic, but may need maintenance.
- Round lakes are in flat areas. Long lakes are in hilly areas.
- In mountains, more roads follow them than cross them.
- Right-angle vs stairstep - which is:
- Look for water and railroads as you ride.
- Look for roads that are not east/west, or north/south. They are generally more scenic, and make good landmarks on maps.
- Lost? - Turn at every stop sign in the direction you want to be going. The roads should get busier with each turn, until you get to one you recognize.