It looks like I have been out of the loop for a couple of days...
Sounds interesting -- I hadn't considered using that software. How far have you gone using Delorme? What was the longest individual trip?
Have you considered using online maps? I.e. google, msn, bicycling.com, mapmyride.com?
Thanks for the reply.
My very first tour was mapped out using Delorme Street Atlas. I started in Alpena, Michigan. My stops were Aloha State Park, Wilderness State Park, Fisherman's Island State Park, Traverse City State Park, Hartwick Pines State Park, and then back to Alpena. The two problem with my route were taking US-31 into Traverse City and M-72 out of Traverse City. I learned two things from this experience.
1) Riding 80 miles a day (loaded) was not fun.
2) Just because a route looks good on paper, you need some local intel. I had near death experiences on US-31 and M-72.
A local showed me a route out of Traverse City that did not use US-31. When I got to Kalkaska, I rerouted myself on the fly off of M-72. One of the things that I had packed with my gear was a book of Michigan county maps. I got to my next stop using country roads.
Two years ago I layed out a route from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia trying to follow the original route of the Pennsylvania Canal. Again, I did this using Delorme Street Atlas. My touring partner and I drove to Pittsburgh and attempted to follow my route by car. Our general conclusion was that the route was just not doable. PA drivers go 20 MPH over the limit, there are no shoulders on the roads, the lanes are narrower, and there were not very many canal fragments left to see. We gave up and decided to do a Greater Allegheny Passage ride instead.
Last summer, I tried to lay out a 4 day Northern Michigan ride, again using Delorme Street Atlas. This was hampered because Delorme was missing some rural roads. I was trying to route myself through a state park near Wolverine, Michigan and it just was not in Delorme's database. We gave up and did the North Central Trail (Gaylord to Mackinaw City).
What is cool about Street Atlas is that you can specify your begin and end points, tell it to take the route less traveled, and then tweak the route with VIAs. Microsoft Streets and Trips did not have the VIA feature last time I looked. As far as I know, Delorme software is the only software with VIAs. Street Atlas also has a POI (points of interest) feature which is good for finding things like restaurants and grocery stores. You would think it would be good at finding campgrounds, but I did better with using the Internet. What sucks about Street Atlas is that it is geared towards cars, so you have to draw a road when you go onto a trail. Street Atlas is also very inaccurate when it comes to minor roads. I have not looked at Delorme's Topo map product. It might be better suited to this kind of thing. I bought the original implementation, and returned it. Mostly I think Delorme is a once proud company run by MBAs, which made a decision to fund marketing by firing the cartographers.
I have made limited use of Google and MSN maps. I have used their satellite images to make route decisions. When I was doing my PA Canal route, I used the images to decide which bridges to cross a river on based on pedestrian walkways. I will have to look at bicycle.com or mapmyride.com. I also have topo maps from a company named Maptech. Mostly I use these to trace out rail trails, as the topo maps often show the old railroad routes.