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Best way to plot a route?

mrbezmrbez Posts: 113
edited September 2010 in Tour & expedition
Hi Guys,

What is the best way to plan a route?

I am thinking of London to Italy next summer, via a few different countries.

I was thinking of taking a bike gps loaded with the europe maps, but I want to make sure I get this perfect.

Thanks in advance.

Posts

  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Trouble is, there isn't a right or a wrong way to plot a route (OK buy expensive maps and the end end up with them covered in a confused mess of highlighting is probably not a good way).

    My advice would be:

    - think where you want to go - ie places you want to visit;

    - and think about where you want to cross the Alps;

    - then think about how you want to get between them. via.michelin is an excellent resource because scenic roads are marked in green (or you could get some Michelin paper maps).

    Once you have a rough route in your mind, then you can start thinking about routeplanning websites, software, GPSes etc.

    Bear in mind, when you come to plotting GPS tracks etc:

    - don't trust the GPS to plot a route. You can plot a route on a computer and it looks fine, but then the GPS will recalculate it and the whole thing goes haywire;

    - SFAIK most GPSes have a limit of 500 trackpoints per track. So divide your route into segments;

    - if you use waypoints bear in mind that there is a total limit of 5000 waypoints.

    Personally I don't think it's worth overplanning. You can enter waypoints direct onto the GPS the night before for the next tday's riding. It's not as convenient as doing it on a computer but it gives you more flexibility.

    Aslo research OpenStreetMap and OpenCycleMap. These are fast becoming (arguably, they've already become) a viable alternative to Garmin City Navigator. the last time I looked, the only major hurdle seemed to be getting the maps onto the GPS but I'm sure there will be plenty of advice around (and possibly also Garmin-compatible files eg these for France:

    http://fredericbonifas.free.fr/osm/garmin.html)

    EDIT: it looks like, if you don't mind paying a few quid to the OpencycleMap project you can get mapss for the UK and Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Benelux. (there is also an OpenStreetMap Italia and the 'mappatori' are hard at work).

    http://shop.opencyclemap.org/
  • psmiffypsmiffy Posts: 236
    I get a map out showing the whole route - pick the places I want to go to enroute(hereafter described as waypoints) - file in my brain (you have already picked start and finish so there is no point in working out how far it is) - buy 1:100k to 1:200k map for the first bit - decide as I go along which roads I want to take to the next waypoint - pop into a shop as I go along and buy maps as necessary



    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=RrzKj&page_id=144153&v=2k
  • mrbezmrbez Posts: 113
    Is this a daft question, but how do you know which roads to go down, surely some will be poor terrain or even not for cycles?
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    mrbez wrote:
    Is this a daft question, but how do you know which roads to go down, surely some will be poor terrain or even not for cycles?

    Not a daft question. My golden rule is to stay off main roads and dual carriageways (and of course motorways) unless yuu absolutely have to use them (eg because there's only one bridge over river x for miles).

    Equally unsurfaced roads or roads in poor condition are usually marked (unsurfaced road with a dotted line).

    Consult the map key - for Michelin avoid red and red and white roads, yellow or uncoloured are OK. Green highlighter means a scenic route.

    The steepness of the terrain is shown of topographic maps with contour lines. But you don't get these on larger scale maps - but (at least on Michelin maps) you'll find the altitude of mountain passes, villages etc marked which gives you lots of information to work with.

    I also meant to say, Google Maps is an incredibly useful research tool (don't know about actually mapping the route). If all else fails have a look at the terrain view in Google Maps.
  • blorgblorg Posts: 1,169
    I sketch up a basic idea with Google Maps walking directions as it is the quickest way to plot a route and get overall distances, etc. Walking directions will tend to avoid main roads and still produce a pretty direct route. It is very easy to pull the route around until it matches what you want. I then plot segments in www.ridewithgps.com to get an elevation profile and download a .gpx file. You can use this .gpx file directly in a GPS like the Edge 705 where it will appear as a line in the map view but to get turn-by-turn directions for countries I have the maps for I load the gpx into Garmin Mapsource, create waypoints for a few towns along the way and draw a route connecting them. I have gone as far as Belgrade from Ireland without any paper map whatsoever using this method; even after I got maps of Serbia and Bulgaria for an overview they were not essential.

    A paper map is a good idea for an overview but all the detail I generally now do on the GPS. It is also good if you are not bringing a computer for changes as most GPS screens are too small to get a good overview. I would not trust the routing on a GPS over a long distance to be sensible; unless you have your entire route planned out in advance and are going to stick to it you need either the computer or a paper map IMO. I trust the routing to go from town to town and it generally works well (car, shortest distance.)
  • blorgblorg Posts: 1,169
    I sketch up a basic idea with Google Maps walking directions as it is the quickest way to plot a route and get overall distances, etc. Walking directions will tend to avoid main roads and still produce a pretty direct route. It is very easy to pull the route around until it matches what you want. I then plot segments in www.ridewithgps.com to get an elevation profile and download a .gpx file. You can use this .gpx file directly in a GPS like the Edge 705 where it will appear as a line in the map view but to get turn-by-turn directions for countries I have the maps for I load the gpx into Garmin Mapsource, create waypoints for a few towns along the way and draw a route connecting them. From Ireland I have cycled as far as Belgrade on the way to Istanbul without any paper map whatsoever using this method; even after I got maps of Serbia and Bulgaria for an overview they were not essential.

    A paper map is a good idea for an overview but all the detail I generally now do on the GPS. It is also good if you are not bringing a computer for changes as most GPS screens are too small to get a good overview. I would not trust the routing on a GPS over a long distance to be sensible; unless you have your entire route planned out in advance and are going to stick to it you need either the computer or a paper map IMO. I trust the routing to go from town to town and it generally works well (car, shortest distance.)
  • have a look at bikeroutetoaster.com i used that my my 2600 mile trip through europ and then downloaded it from the web onto my gps unit. if going to italy i would recommend going south through france to the south coast and then follow that into italy, thats they way i went and the roads wer excellent with cycle paths most of the way along the coast. i followed to coast mostly only going inland to pisa and then over to rome. then up the east coast and over the alps via the brenner pass.
    you need to look at where you want to visit and then initially plan on google maps to get vague distances and then try the website i mentioned above to get exact routes along with elevations (calculated for you)

    of course on your actual trip i would recommend having even just a vague map even if you do have a gps, its just alot easier and you dont need to worry about battery
  • mandiemandie Posts: 218
    My way of plotting a route is basically to use google maps or similar to work the route out as if I were going to drive it, then look for minor roads that run more or less parallel to that route.
    Bear in mind that sometimes in mountainous or sparsely populated territory there may only be the main route.
    We\'ll kick against the darkness \'till it bleeds daylight
  • MrBez,

    Have alook at this thread, theres a vid also

    http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewtop ... t=12702169

    I copy someone route of of Bikely, and check it through.
  • DmakDmak Posts: 445
    mrbez wrote:

    I am thinking of London to Italy next summer, via a few different countries.

    I'm thinking of doing this next year! :D

    In a week or 2 I'll be cycling to across to Holland, in terms of route planning I'll print out a load of maps and as backup I'll have my Nokia 5800 which has included sat nav and free downloadable maps for the entire planet.

    I will probably use Google's street view to help familiarise myself with junctions before I leave and may print some off.
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