planning a route, how do you do it?

mesteph Posts: 59
edited July 2013 in Road beginners
So, I have got the new bike, and I am starting to put some decent miles in and would like to get a bit more adventurous. But how do the more experienced guys plan a route. I really dont want to be out on bike constantly worrying about whether I am on the right road so ideally I could plan the route properly before I leave and it is just a matter of checking now and again. I have an android phone so any apps etc that are useful let me know.

So what is your preferred method? App? Garmin? Map?

Help me please!


  • AntD365
    AntD365 Posts: 11
    I've been using to date, but going to have a look at now I've invested in a Garmin.
  • mesteph
    mesteph Posts: 59
    I would love a garmin as I hope it would get rid of any doubts, but will be a while yet unfortunately. When you say you were using cyclestreets what do you mean exactly? Save a route on your phone then check on it as you are riding?
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,545
    i usually look at a paper map or google earth, then depending on distance/complexity either...

    wing it
    take some notes
    take the map, or a print of the bit i need

    i've got a garmin but haven't used it for a couple of years, i find i prefer riding without a gps

    unless you know the roads, it's hard to know what traffic conditions, road surface etc. are like unless you've got reports from other people, changing route on the fly can be better sometimes

    if you've got a map and can read it, it's hard to get really lost, and with a mapping gps or smartphone you'll never get lost as long as the battery lasts
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • ianbar
    ianbar Posts: 1,354
    it varies for me, some arebased on local sportives, another might be to go to certain areas i know are nice, or has a good climb that i want to do. strava is useful to check for any nightmarish climbs what could catch you out !
    enigma esprit
    cannondale caad8 tiagra 2012
  • fsman
    fsman Posts: 112
    Get a free account with
    Great for planning and you can print your route or send to gps.
  • gubber12345
    gubber12345 Posts: 493
    have a look at
    Lapierre Aircode 300
  • alihisgreat
    alihisgreat Posts: 3,872

  • markhewitt1978
    markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Plan it out using Bing maps (OS), Google maps including sat view and street view for junctions etc. Then bike hike to export to GPX file and import to Viewranger on iPhone.

    I carry my phone in my pocket so I have to stop every so often to check. But going an unfamiliar route is rare.
  • fatsmoker
    fatsmoker Posts: 585
    I use mapmyride at home - which shows elevations and cycle routes - and note down key places on paper to check as I go along. The map myride app tracks my ride on my phone, so if I get lost I can check the map.
    Much of the fun is wondering where I am and trying to work that out through a vague sense of directon.
  • mesteph
    mesteph Posts: 59
    Cheers for the replies. Will give bikehike a look. I know that when I am out with a mobile phone or a map there is no chance of getting lost and should really just go out and see where the ride takes me but I just dont enjoy it. Would much rather follow a route and get home in a loop that I have planned
  • Initialised
    Initialised Posts: 3,047
    I tend to use to plan routes as it'll let you link up bits that are missing on other maps and it uses the same maps as cycle streets and lets you import and export as GPX. It's also useful for emailing a link to a significant other to let them know where you're likely to be should you end up like the guy in 127 Hours.

    When out on the bike I tend to use Strava or if I'm likely to be going out of mobile signal range I'll use the caching feature of the OS Atlas maps app and google maps to make sure I have a map when I don't have internet.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    I have a local route which I use as a warm up. I have added to it as I get fitter, stronger, faster and more adventurous. So I just keep bolting on new bits and my bail out plan is out and back ... So quite a lot of my riding is up the road and back down the same road ... Seems a bit naff but it works for me and although I have a 500 I can't be faffed with the navigation thing
  • MichaelW
    MichaelW Posts: 2,164
    You need a couple of local loops of different lengths for when you want to give your brain a rest. It takes a couple of rides to finesse a good route the old fashioned way using OS paper maps. Other days you want to try something new but don't expect to blast through the distance in the same time.
    Have various routes in different directions so you can always head out into the wind.
  • mesteph
    mesteph Posts: 59
    Ah I see. I had visions of everyone off discovering epic climbs whilst I repeat the same boring loop! looks like I will just have to take my time and gradually get to know some more roads. The GPX thing is a bit of a mystery to me so that's something to try next weekend. Thanks everyone for the ideas.
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    Presuming you know a decent radius of where you live - 30 miles would do - all you need to do is a mix & match follow-your-nose arrangement, where you go out for an hour or so then loop back towards home from a different direction.
  • Bordersroadie
    Bordersroadie Posts: 1,052


  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    I very rarely plan a ride in advance. If its a long one - i may scribble down some towns to aim for. If I've no fixed route - then I'm never lost I figure.

    Join a local club and they'll show you the best routes I reckon.
  • socistep
    socistep Posts: 88
    I've got a Garmin Edge 810 which has mapping so I tend to plan 'courses' on either ridewithgps or garmin connect and then transfer to the device to follow, I like to know where I'm heading/mileage/elevation etc. so that it fits with time available for a ride - I also like having the turn by turn navigation on. Likewise for sportives I'll upload the route into garmin to follow.

    If I'm doing a ride that I've done before then I won't follow a course, last night I did a 24mile loop which I do quite regularly so no need to follow a course
  • mesteph
    mesteph Posts: 59
    CiB wrote:
    Presuming you know a decent radius of where you live - 30 miles would do - all you need to do is a mix & match follow-your-nose arrangement, where you go out for an hour or so then loop back towards home from a different direction.

    This is exactly one of my problems, recently moved to Aberdeen so I have very little local knowledge. A few rides with a local club is on the cards but I want to get more comfortable with my bike and fitness before I do that. A garmin does really appeal to me because I like the idea of following a turn by turn route so maybe it will be worth while for me.

    With that said if anyone in Aberdeen would like to show me some decent routes fell free to get in touch, very much a beginner but keen to improve :)
  • dai_t75
    dai_t75 Posts: 189
    I hadn't long moved to my current area before taking up cycling so my knowledge of the local roads was poor at best. I started out by just looking at google maps and looking up the smaller roads near my house - just wanted to keep off the main roads really. So then started doing some small loops (<10m, my fitness was awful) and started using ridewithgps. Then just started building up the lengths of the loops while sticking to the small roads as much as possible. I always looked on street view just to get an idea of the road and what junctions to look out for - this was really useful for me.

    Of course I discovered some of the "smaller" roads were in fact busy and not much fun, but I just put it down to experience and avoid those roads now. On the plus side I have found some really nice areas and roads and my local knowledge of the roads is now very good.

    That has been my experience anyway!
  • BigDaddyG
    BigDaddyG Posts: 63


    +1 - This is by far the best if you just want to plan the route and see the elevation and gradient. Doesn't allow you to send it to GPS (or if it does I have never done it and will stand corrected)
    Summer - Wilier la Triestina
    Winter - Trek 1.2
    Turbo bike - Trek 1.2
    I love my Trek 1.2
  • Kieran_Burns
    Kieran_Burns Posts: 9,757
    Not so sure about bikehike, it misses all the relevant cycle paths around here, and as I need to get over the M1 and around the A50 at the same time, it's kind of essential

    I use mapmyride now, but in answer to the OP: I just ranged further and further out each time. I've got lost a few times and thought I'd cycled through the village of the damned on more than one occasion but this half the fun. I go out knowing that at worst I get the phone out look on Google maps to see where the hell I am then aim for home.

    I'm very much of the "I wonder where this road goes?" school of thought.
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
    2009 Specialized Tricross Sport
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5
    2012 Felt F65X
    Proud CX Pervert and quiet roadie. 12 mile commuter
  • marylogic
    marylogic Posts: 355
    Good old fashioned paper OS map for me.

    If I have time constraints I'll then plot it on ride with GPS to get an idea of distance.
  • craigr
    craigr Posts: 53
    Create my new route on any junctions that look tricky i usually use Google street view so i can see signposts, identifying features, etc so i know where to turn.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,532
    I know most of the local roads within 30 miles or so of home. If I go for a ride in an area I don't know I look at a map to get my bearings of towns and villages for reference points and just follow roads that look interesting. There'll usually be signs back to a place I recognise and it's more fun than sticking to a pre-planned route.
  • nanas1
    nanas1 Posts: 50
    I'm up in Turriff mate and I use Mapmyride on my Iphone, I have a few routes planned out all from 10 miles to 60 miles around the local countryside. The phone used to only be good for around 30 miles before the battery dies, but I've now got an under handlebar battery pack which keeps me going for hours, great bit of kit.
    Not yet a member of any club, more of a lone wolf at the moment.
  • drlodge
    drlodge Posts: 4,826
    bikeroutetoaster for me. Easy to plot a route and download directly to my garmin. Can save routes too with a free account.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava