Author Topic: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps  (Read 9902 times)

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Offline bb87

cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« on: March 13, 2009, 11:56:04 am »
Hey everyone,

Do any of you have any ideas on, or have any of you ever cycled, coast-to-coast without using the ACA maps? I'd like to be a little more independent and plot a route myself, or use some lesser traveled routes.

From experience, word of mouth, or general know-how, does anyone have any ideas of how I might be able to do this?

Finding quieter roads, places to stay, and beautiful scenery are my priorities.

Thanks!


Offline paddleboy17

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2009, 12:06:34 pm »
I have plotted out smaller routes using Delorme Street Atlas.  The software is appallingly inaccurate when it comes to smaller roads, so you should verify details with say Google maps.  What is nice about Street Atlas is that you can steer the route.  Beside plotting the usual begin and end marks, you can insert vias which mean, go through here.  You will run into situations such as the only way from A to B is a really bad road.  MSN's satelite images show much more detail that Google's do.

Good luck and please publish what methodology you settle on.
Danno

Offline bb87

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2009, 12:47:08 pm »
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.

Offline Noir

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 04:30:02 pm »
I am not sure what ACA Maps are, but if you would like, i have the entire Coast to Coast Trans america route plotted out on google earth. About 2/3 of the way through i modified it to connect to the Western express route to give more of a straight line across the US. Starting in Allentown, PA and ending in San Clement, CA.

Offline wildandcrazy

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009, 04:49:06 pm »
I don't know if this helps, but google maps has a feature where you can specify walking as your mode of transportation.  It is in the testing stage, but it tends to show some back roads that could be useful.

Offline grandfatherbike

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2009, 05:18:25 pm »
I have done several trips without the aid of cycling maps.  The best source of routes are other bikers.  I never pass up a bike shop or a fellow biker to get advice.  Two summers ago I came off the Trans Am route in Ky to fly home.  A local bike shop gave me a route into Lexington that was as good as anything on the Trans Am from the Atlantic Coast.  On the other hand I never rely on average citizens.  They usually send you the most direct way and often on the busiest roads.
Grandfather Stoker

Offline jimbo

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2009, 09:24:52 pm »
bb87..You should get a lot of advise on this one. 

I have only done one coast to coast trip ( 08) and 5 of the 10 weeks on the road we followed ACA Northern Tier and Lake Connector routes. I found ACA routes to be excellent 90% of the time and the other 10% there were no other choices available. ACA looks for the least travelled roads for their routes. We were delighted with their choices for the NT route to Glacier. The other 5 weeks of the trip we routed ourselves using all of the following: State/ County Bike Maps showing traffic density and shoulder availability; advise from area Cycle Clubs via E-mails; advise from ACA Forum and CGOAB touring cyclist; and occasionally on-site advise from locals. ACA and CGOAB riders via the Forums are an excellent resource if you let people know your general destinations.
JK

Offline johnsondasw

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2009, 12:29:37 am »
]The weirdest thing I have found over and over is that locals usually know ver little about the geography and especially the topography of their own area.  I have received bogus info over and over from locals and, often, an "I don't know" in response to very basic queries about the local area.  Anyone else have this same experience?
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2009, 01:50:29 am »
I have bicycled across the USA six times. I used ACA maps on only one trip. If you don't want to pay out for maps, here is what you can do.

1. Go to the library, and get Donna Ikenberry's book on the TA. Copy the maps and put in your own notes for services available. If it is a violation of copyright to copy the maps, draw them out yourself. Make strip maps for less weight.

2. Carry Ikienberry's book with you. It is much less expensive than maps.

3. Follow Ikenberry's route and mark it out on maps. Copy maps in a library, and they cost you only 10 cents each.

4. Look at ACA's route on their web page. You can figure out for yourself which routes they follow. Plot it on your own maps or copies of maps.

5. Make copies of maps in a library, and make your own route.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2009, 09:09:52 am »
]The weirdest thing I have found over and over is that locals usually know ver little about the geography and especially the topography of their own area.  I have received bogus info over and over from locals and, often, an "I don't know" in response to very basic queries about the local area.  Anyone else have this same experience?

You are not the only one. I am not sure what it is about people and their seemingly habitual misdirection giving. I have experienced this many times. I do understand part of the problem, but not all of it. For example, you ask about some stretch of road and territory between Podunk and Hicksville; the information giver tells you it is flat; there are two cafe-restaurants at the second intersection, and Hicksville is 15 miles distant. You set out. The road is rolling to hilly. There are no cafes at all. Hicksville is 21 miles down the road. And the information came from a lifelong resident of Podunk. Now, I have come to understand the errors in topography. Most people have traversed those roads only in modern, powerful, automobiles; hills required no personal effort to overcome; therefore, the terrain is flat in their "experience" even if it is rolling or a bit hilly. Going that way on a bicycle would be unthinkable. Most people just do not know distances. As for their telling me there were services where there were not any, I am still stumped on that one. I do not want to be unduly critical of others, or harsh. That is not the purpose here. The fact is some of the attitudes I have encountered cycling cross country, coast to coast, were deplorable and irrationally hateful.

In answer to your observation, I have experienced what you mention more times than I care to remember, and it sometimes takes the joy out of it when it is plainly deliberate and spiteful.

If you read about trips on crazyguyonabike.com, it might do well to keep in mind they are cyclists on a well known and mapped route for bicycling. They are keeping journals on a well known site. Many of the people they meet along the way serve them out of commercial-financial interests, and they know they and their businesses will be mentioned on that web site. People in general who meet the cyclists along the way are aware of the publicity. It can be a very different matter if you are just out cycling across the USA, and coming into towns where cycling and cyclists are not well known. Sure, some people are quite nice, but I have come across some downright hateful malicious people too.

Offline Tourista829

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2009, 12:13:48 pm »
In a word, don't. Unless you have alot of time and are confident in your survival skills. If a first time use them. It would take you awhile to compile the info that has gone into them. It is handy to know there is a bike shop 5 miles ahead or where a hospital is. The last group who didn't use ACO maps was Moses and look how long it took them to get to the promised land. LOL

Offline staehpj1

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2009, 06:24:37 pm »
No reason you can't go without the AC maps, but if they go where you want to go they are a great resource.  Personally I think they do a great job of getting you off the beaten path and make it easy to keep up with where the services are available.  I love that you meet a few other cyclists along the way, too.

We did some parts of the TA "off route".  Here and there we did a few miles to a few hundred miles off route to go somewhere or to avoid a section we didn't like.  That is a good way to compromise  between following an AC route and doing your own.

That said, read some journals on the crazyguy on a bike site.  You can find some that did their own route to get a feel for how that went.


Offline John Nettles

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2009, 11:37:22 pm »
You didn't say if you meant basically following an ACA route but breaking off occasionally OR a route you totally made up on your own.  Nor do you give you  r skills as topography and map reading.  While I have not crossed the country itself without using ACA maps, I have done numerous regional or multi-state rides without them.

If #1, I would strongly consider using the ACA maps and use #2 when breaking off.

If #2, yes you can.  It has been done probably thousands of times over the years.  You can use basically any decent map but stick to the smaller roads when possible.

Typically, but not always, avoid the 4-lane divided highways unless a full shoulder exists.  If possible, get a hold of a traffic count map from the state riding in and review it.  Avoid roads over 2,500 vehicles/day when possible but obviously, this count increases closer to towns.  Avoid major towns (bigger than 10k people) so that you avoid major traffic.  Use google maps to help plan the route as you can sometimes zoom down to see the road as if you are standing there.  This is useful in seeing the shoulder width.  If a road is squiggly, it most likely hilly unless following a creek or river.  Don't be afraid to ride a gravel road if need be (just have decent tires and go a little slower).

Go to Bikely.com; mapmyride.com; etc. and see if routes exist in the area you are looking to ride.  View these routes with suspicion however as racer-types tend to not worry about traffic as much it seems.  If you like a route, click on the author's name and see if s/he has other routes to get a feel for their riding style.  These websites are really good for getting into and out of a bigger town/city.

Others have suggested CGOAB.  You can search journals (which can give a map) for a particular state.

Finally, ask for help here for a specific state and you will most likely get help or suggestions.  For instance, if you ask for the best route between LA & Vegas, I am sure you will get some decent suggestions from here and CGOAB.

The biggest problem I have been having recently is that a lot of the services (grocery, campgrounds, etc.) are drying up even in towns of 2,500 so supply stops are getting harder to find.

Overall, use common sense and stay away from bigger towns.  Hope this helps and enjoy the adventure!!
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline paddleboy17

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2009, 12:37:47 pm »
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.

Danno

Offline biker_james

Re: cross-country WITHOUT ACA Maps
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2009, 07:26:33 am »
Touring in Canada, where I am, there are no ACA maps. Yet hundreds of people manage to ride across the country every year. How do they do it? I think the vast majority just pick up a road map, look at where they are starting from, where they are going to, and any places they want to hit in between. Then just connect the dots. Thick lines on the maps indicate freeways or major highways, thin lines secondary highways or roads. Terrain is kind of a non issue, as your bike can probably travel any road in the country. They don't really built highways or even secondary roads with 40% grades too many places in my experience.
You might have to work a little more in terms of locating campsites, etc.., but that can be part of the fun. It may also take you into areas that aren't used to seeing as many cyclists, so you may be more of a novelty than on the main route.
Certainly, the online mapping sites can be ghelpful if you want to go that way, and if using Google maps, select the walking option, and it keeps you off of the freeways. I guess it depends on how much information you need to have with you before you leave also. My wife and I have sometimes just used road maps we pick up at the Tourist info centre that you run into when you get to a new province. Right now we are looking at some tourist guides as we finish planning the final leg of our Cross Canada Tour. For us, its just about looking for things we may want to see along the way, and if they fit into the route somehow.
Please let me know if I have been touring with some sort of "fatal flaw" by not having "cycle touring" maps, will you?