Author Topic: ACA Maps  (Read 3599 times)

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Offline Stevenp

ACA Maps
« on: April 26, 2011, 09:16:45 am »
Hey guys/gals,

I'm looking for information on the ACA maps. I will be traveling across the country and will be following much of the TA and PC routes. One of my ideas is to simply look at the waypoints, copy them down, and do google maps step by step. I would simply buy them if they weren't so expensive but thought I'd get your feedback on a few questions:

First, would you say they are necessary?

Second, do you want to sell yours?

Third, are the gps waypoints all there for me to simply download and upload onto a gps device for free?

Fourth, anything else you have to say about them?

Thanks!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2011, 09:56:04 am »
In order:

(1) No, not necessary.  Daniel Boone found his way across the mountains without any ACA maps.  You can get state road maps (which I recommend in any event), and make do with only those.  But they're very useful.

(2) Check the for-sale ads on crazyguyonabike.  Some usually go up late summer through early spring -- you may be too late for this year.

(3) Yes.

(4) I expect you'll find the paper copies worth every penny they cost. 

If you're camping, knowing where to look for good places to stay will pay for themselves a couple of times every $12 map. 

If you're credit-card touring, you can try a combination of GPS (with motels and restaurants) and cell phone, but knowing there's a cheap motel in this town, or no re-supply in that hamlet, is worth the price of the maps. 

As I mention above, you could make a route with nothing more than state highway maps, if you don't mind a few 20-mile stretches of busy highway and no shoulder, or running down a long gravel road to find there's no bridge and an impassable river (as the thunderstorm is coming and the sun's going down -- cue the coyotes!).

Offline indyfabz

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2011, 10:02:49 am »
Necessary?  No.  Convenient?  Yes.  Names, locations and contact information for most services along the route.  They also contain directions to campgrounds, etc., that are off route.  The ones for the mountainous areas have general altitude profiles.  If I were doing one of their long routes I would spring for them for convenience sake.

And they make good chest insulators on those long, chilly descents.

Offline John Nelson

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2011, 11:44:03 am »
In my experience, they save you more than enough money to pay for themselves. It's not just the map and route that you want. The service directory is also very valuable. The state map may tell you how to get where you're going, but it probably won't tell you if you can get any food in the next town.

Offline staehpj1

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2011, 11:45:29 am »
Hey guys/gals,

I'm looking for information on the ACA maps. I will be traveling across the country and will be following much of the TA and PC routes. One of my ideas is to simply look at the waypoints, copy them down, and do google maps step by step. I would simply buy them if they weren't so expensive but thought I'd get your feedback on a few questions:

First, would you say they are necessary?

Second, do you want to sell yours?

Third, are the gps waypoints all there for me to simply download and upload onto a gps device for free?

Fourth, anything else you have to say about them?

Thanks!
I'd be inclined to guess that the maps will save you more money than they cost you.  The biggest part of their value is all of the info in them about services along the route.  Lots of things that you might otherwise miss are listed (services, hospitality, etc.)  Need something mailed from home? The zip codes for the towns you will pass through are there.  Need to know what services are in the next town? They are listed.  Knowing what is in the next town becomes increasingly important where the towns are small, few, and far between.  When there are only three towns in the next 150 miles and only one of them has a store, that is pretty valuable info.

Can you go without? Sure.

Can you download the way points and use them? Yep.

Personally I'd skip the GPS and buy the maps.  I sent my GPS home after a week.  I didn't miss it and was happy to have purchased the maps.

Offline Stevenp

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2011, 01:47:33 pm »
Yeah, I'm convinced.

I think I may just have to go some figuring on what parts of each of the routes that I will be using. I know I will be on most of the TA, about half of the PC and part of the WE, so maybe I just purchase those segments, but I think that sounds great to know everything about the upcoming towns while i'm on the road.

Thanks for the input!

Offline whittierider

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2011, 02:28:19 pm »
They are printed on plastic paper.  It looks like normal paper, but water doesn't affect it, and it's very tough.  There are plenty of other just plain sensible parts of their design too.  They're always getting updated, so I think it's worth it to buy the latest instead of used ones.

Offline staehpj1

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 02:35:14 pm »
They are printed on plastic paper.  It looks like normal paper, but water doesn't affect it, and it's very tough.  There are plenty of other just plain sensible parts of their design too.  They're always getting updated, so I think it's worth it to buy the latest instead of used ones.
By the way... Also remember to print out the on line addenda just before you go to get any last minute changes.

Offline rabbitoh

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2011, 05:12:11 am »
Maybe it's just me, but I think that the ACA maps are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I marvel at their artistry; I am stunned at the enormous number of hours of route research that has gone into them; I am gobsmacked at the amount of invaluable information in their service directories; I am enlightened by the field notes contained in section, informing me of the history and geography of the area I am riding through; they give me intricate turn by turn instructions no matter in which direction I am riding; and finally, they are a precious souvenir, a keepsake of my ride that I can refer to at any time after my tour, remembering a particular strecth of road here and there, a lung bursting climb...........

You see, we have nothing like them here in the land down under.

They are worth every cent!
Good Cycling
Dennis

Offline cdavey

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2011, 12:15:41 am »
I agree with rabbitoh.

I am a map guy. Hand me a map and I can immediately get lost in looking at it and studying it for 30-45 minutes oblivious to anything around me.

The ACA maps rise far beyond their utility value to practically being a work of art. I have never seen so much information packed into a map of that size. So much so, that when I got my first set of them, it took me an hour of study just to digest the format and what I could find on them. And as I said I'm a map guy who is good with maps.

Granted, depending upon what features your GPS may have, you might be able to come with more detailed information for any given town that you can get off the ACA maps. But then, you don't have the extra weight of a separate GPS unit if it isn't in your cell phone. You won't coverage issues to worry about in places like Wyoming if the GPS is in the cellphone. And you won't have to worry about trying to recharge the phone of GPS unit because it might go dead in the middle of nowhere -- and well, cue the coyotes again!!

My advice -- Part of the fun and adventure of bike touring is to have enough of a framework of information sufficient to get you from place to place without unpleasant surprises but not so much that there are no surprises at all. The ACA maps will help you do that. Spend the money, buy the maps, skip the GPS, and go have fun.

Lucky13

  • Guest
Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2011, 03:55:30 pm »
Fourth, anything else you have to say about them?

I've used them - on an ACA led TransAm ride, and as a supplement on a self-planned tour. I have mixed feelings about the maps.

As mentioned, they do offer detailed notes on services and grades and so forth. That's OK, but sometimes, NOT knowing what lies ahead is one of the charms of bicycle travel. Relying only on these strip maps can lead to a type of tunnel vision. You may be missing something just beyond the narrow range covered here.

If traveling solo, then following an ACA route will put you in contact with many more bicycle tourists along the way. That can be a real treat on an otherwise lonely stretch of road. On the other hand, cycling off the established routes might garner you a bit more of the rock star treatment. I'm just guessing here, but the locals might be a bit more willing to offer hospitality to a seldom seen tourist.

It might depend on how you feel about the actual process. Do you enjoy reading maps? Would you feel good about following an established route - staying on course and all of that? Would you consider it a feather in your cap? I rode the Northern Tier! If so, then go ahead and use the ACA maps - they are very detailed and very useful. Just don't forget that they offer only a narrow field of view.

Offline BobT

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2011, 07:10:30 am »
I have just finished my first ever bike trip and found the ACA maps superb!

I'm from the UK and decided to bike a loop around Florida while my wife went on a cruise! We flew to Miami and I then cycled to Key West using the Atlantic Coast Section 7 map. After taking a catamaran to Fort Myers Beach, I then used the Florida Connector to take me across to Fort Lauderdale, before reusing the Atlantic Coast Section 7 map to get me from Fort Lauderdale back to Miami.

The maps were detailed, easy to follow, and best of all, kept you off any major routes and on quieter roads and bike paths....Extremely useful when cycling through metropolitan areas and cities. My trip may not have been the hardest, but it was made easier by the quality of the maps.

Just buy them; it not as if they are expensive in the first place!

Bob

Offline happyriding

Re: ACA Maps
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2011, 05:45:33 pm »
Don't forget the story of the area's history on the back of the map!   I loved the maps--even when inaccuracies had me fumbling around in the dark late at night cursing the ACA!

I found it is not necessarily the case that when traveling North, the directions are just the reverse of when traveling South, yet it was quite apparent the person who wrote the map was riding South. 
« Last Edit: May 12, 2011, 05:49:56 pm by happyriding »