Author Topic: A weighty question  (Read 812 times)

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Offline New Jawn

A weighty question
« on: October 25, 2021, 12:43:05 pm »
My usual intro, which in this case has relevance:  In May 2022, I will go E-W across these United States, using the Eastern Express to Kansas, then TCA the rest of the way.

I bought a Garmin Express Edge, which has mapping, distance and elevation, and not much else, and that's fine with me since I'm very uncomfortable with tech stuff.
I bought the ACA maps of the TCA and they're just fine.  I'll have to use the magnifying lens, but that's ok.
The Eastern Express maps, available at www.easternexpressroute.com/ , are downloadable in PDF files for printing and through Ride With GPS (and many thanks to the people who put together the maps and made them available gratis).
I downloaded/printed the sections I need, and it comes to a stack about 1.5" of 8X11 paper (pic attached).  It's kinda bulky, heavy, and cumbersome.  Now I know that at the end of each day, one can discard the maps completed to lessen the load a page at a time, but...

Questions:  For those who use GPS mapping, do you also carry paper maps?   I can print double-sided to cut the stack in half, but is there a better way? Are Eastern Express maps in a presentation similar to ACA's maps available for purchase?


Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: A weighty question
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2021, 01:23:16 pm »
Eastern Express maps are "as is". However, I have modified the Ride with GPS files to match our first few weeks adding a total bypass of Pittsburg and adding or lodging/camping locations. After a week or so it is pretty hard to stay on schedule. I get turn-by-turn voice prompts via my Garmin 1030 Plus linked to my phone. I was going to carry the digital maps on a USB drive and I also have them in my One-Drive account. A lot of days do not have tons of turns but it is important to make sure that you sync your bike computer's daily start mileage to their map.

My plan was to print just the summary at the end of each section (before I leave) that has the services at each mile marker. I plan to review the digital version of the PDF cue sheets the night before and just hand write the important DO NOT WANT TO MISS turns on the back of the services sheet for that section. The ride with GPS files should take care of the rest and if not Google Maps can give you a sanity check. Of course, there is always asking for directions. I will probably carry a small tablet with me - but I am a computer engineer :).
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Offline Pat Lamb

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2021, 04:06:43 pm »
Of course, there is always asking for directions.

I'm a guy -- how's that "asking for directions" thing work?

Back to O.P.  The first thing I'd try would be to consolidate segments.  A.C. maps usually have 20-25 miles per panel, which is about a third of a letter size page.  From what I could see of your top page, it looks like Adventure Cycling would get about two or three of your pages onto a third of a page.  That'll shrink your pile!

Next, as you suggest, would be double-sided printing.

Finally, if you have a friend or family who would be willing to help, you could ask them to mail you additional pages as needed.  Figure out where a small town is that will still have a full time post office, and call them to mail the next packet about a week before you get there.

Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: A weighty question
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2021, 04:37:54 pm »
Just be careful on general delivery "drop boxes". Not all Post Offices accept general delivery mail and most will only hold it up to 2 weeks. Some travelers have reported the P.O. just returning the package after a few days. Plus there is the issue of shorter hours in small towns and being closed Sundays and holidays.

P.S. - been a guy for almost 70 years - it took special training to learn how to ask for help but the training has paid dividends. :)
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline ray b

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2021, 04:44:48 pm »
Questions:  For those who use GPS mapping, do you also carry paper maps? 
Yes. (Garmin Etrex, ACA phone maps, ride with GPS and paper maps)

(If shrinking and double-sided printing don't work for you, and you have the time, consider mapping out some sections of the Eastern Express on cut sections of commercial maps.)
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 10:14:27 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline staehpj1

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2021, 05:23:09 pm »
Just be careful on general delivery "drop boxes". Not all Post Offices accept general delivery mail and most will only hold it up to 2 weeks. Some travelers have reported the P.O. just returning the package after a few days. Plus there is the issue of shorter hours in small towns and being closed Sundays and holidays.

Never heard of that.  I have just picked a small to medium town with only one post office and never had a problem.  Their stated policy is 30 days.  Based on what you have said, I guess it is a good idea to call the post office in question to be sure before choosing them.

I did usually mark it with something like "coast to coast bicyclist please hold 30 days".  When I'd arrive they'd say they were expecting me and maybe even know my name before I gave it.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2021, 05:56:09 pm »

Questions:  For those who use GPS mapping, do you also carry paper maps? 

To answer your question .... It depends, but usually no. And even pre gpx I didn't usually carry maps. Mind you, that was in Europe and I did a lot of navigating by river or canal. A photograph of a bike map placed regularly along the route could last several days.

I use mapping apps on my phone, either to see where I am and to get local, live info (Google maps), route plotting (cycle.travel, Osmand).

I like a paper map to see the "big picture" which is difficult on a phone. But those maps are invariably poor for trying to plot a route on.
Bear in mind that I rarely have a definitive route in mind when I set off. They also serve a useful (for some) purpose by drawing people towards you if sitting down poring over a map. They are far more sociable than a phone or tablet.

Presuming you have the route already created in RWGPS what information will these maps have that you will need?
Is it just for redundancy? A back up in case of a technology fail? Do you want to be able to wander off course and need the extra information that these maps offer?

Depending on your answers there are probably better, lighter and more useful options.
Any info about the route (accommodation, stores, etc.) can simply be stored in a memo app on your phone or on a mapping app like Google or Osmand.

For redundancy, time to be realistic. If your Garmin fails you still have your phone. If your phone fails you still have your garmin. If both fail you have other problems than just a lost route. In any case, a new phone, Internet connection and you're back in business. Or just buy a map in a store.

Have you tried looking at the downloaded pdfs on your phone? If that works for you you can bring them all with zero weight penalty. Or perhaps you're planning on bringing a tablet?
Perhaps the PDF format doesn't work well so try photographing the map on your phone. A photo might "play" better.

The only disadvantages of using a phone are battery dependence and difficulty in rain.

And (as above) there are people. You can always talk to them! Just remember that drivers always underestimate the distances! :)

If you are going to take printouts remember that unless using special "paper" or laminating them they will likely need handling with kid gloves and bone dry storage.

Since you have a new gps unit and admit to not being very technically adept (neither am I) I'd encourage you to stress test it (and yourself!) as much as possible.
Try going off course and see what happens.
In an urban area pretend that a road is closed (or totally unsuitable) and see how to get around it.
Try creating a route "on the fly" both online and off.
Create a figure 8 route and see how the unit handles it.
If it has the function to save locations practice using that feature (perhaps for hotels in large urban areas)
Get a handle on battery life. Just how far will 10% get you? 5%? Similarly, how long to charge it?
Can you input an address into it and will it calculate a good, safe route?
The better you know and understand your unit the less stress you will have.

Just a final comment. One of the best pieces of gear I use is a Kindle. Not only am I toting a huge library with me I can also back up important documents, route notes and even maps (quality may vary) on it. For travelling I can download entire wikipedia articles about places. Of course, there's a kindle app for phone and tablet but a separate device is another layer of backup.

Good luck!

Offline John Nelson

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2021, 06:21:43 pm »
I bought a Garmin Express Edge

AFAIK, “Garmin Express Edge” is not a thing. Garmin Express is an app on your computer or phone. Garmin does make a set of devices called Edge, but you don’t know much about it without the number that comes after the word Edge.

Anyway, 1.5” of paper is a lot, probably more than you want to mess with. But relying on your Garmin alone is probably not a great idea, especially for someone “very uncomfortable with tech stuff.” At a minimum, I’d carry state maps with enough detail to show the roads you will ride.

Offline TCS

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2021, 01:49:26 pm »
Ask a local for cycling directions.  Uh...

"Pleasant Valley Lane to a covered bridge?  Never heard of it.  Naw, you need to go back about 6 miles and turn on Deep-Soft Sand Road, take that to Gumbo Mud Trail and that'll get you right to the base of the Route 666 bridge where bicycles and pedestrians are banned."

 ;D ;D ;D
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: A weighty question
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2021, 01:55:48 pm »
I was think more of asking a guy who drives for a living like a truck driver, or a mail man, who knows if bridges are out or if there is a shoulder. Stopping at a bike shop is another good source. Of course, there is always winging it with no care about the outcome, but I like to at least try.
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Online HikeBikeCook

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Re: A weighty question
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2021, 07:51:14 am »
The Eastern Express maps, available at www.easternexpressroute.com/ , are downloadable in PDF files for printing and through Ride With GPS (and many thanks to the people who put together the maps and made them available gratis).
I downloaded/printed the sections I need, and it comes to a stack about 1.5" of 8X11 paper (pic attached).  It's kinda bulky, heavy, and cumbersome.  Now I know that at the end of each day, one can discard the maps completed to lessen the load a page at a time, but...

It took some time (maybe 20 to 30 minutes for the first one) but I opened the Eastern Express Maps in Adobe Reader and cut and pasted narratives and maps into a MS Word document. I converted tables into text, shrunk maps and floated to fixed position on page, reduced font size, put library, post office and hospital information in a text box, and shrunk the 9 pages (Section 08) to three pages (landscape layout narrow margins) which I am going to print on double sided waterproof paper. PM me and I can share the ones that I am doing if you are interested.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline John Nettles

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2021, 10:14:04 pm »
I'm a little late to the discussion.  Been traveling a bit lately.  Anyway, yes, I use a GPS and always carry a map and/or cue sheet.  The cue sheet is more important to me since I theoretically have access to maps via the GPS and my phone. 

One way to reduce the bulk of the printouts is to mail sections (say a couple of weeks worth) to you care of "General Delivery" at any USPS post office.  I frequently mail stuff to myself (or have my better half do it) when on tour.  A few suggestions.  Pick a town of about 1k-5k people since the post office will be open at least 5 days and possibly 6 yet be easy to find since there will only be one post office in town.  Second, since at least a few days before you plan to arrive.  They will hold it for 30 days.  Try to plan it if you can so arrive at the post office Tuesday to Thursday.  That way, if you are off by a day on your arrival date, you have a buffer day.  Remember about federal holidays too.  If the stuff is critical, i.e. meds, if you send via Priority Mail, it can be forwarded (usually next day) but if regular or parcel, it can take a few days to forward if you need to forward for some reason, i.e. you arrived after 5pm on Friday and Monday is a holiday. Just call the post office that has the package and have them forward it.  Priority and First has free forwarding but parcel is not.

Have a great ride!

Offline PeteJack

Re: A weighty question
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2021, 01:59:30 pm »
I was think more of asking a guy who drives for a living like a truck driver, or a mail man, who knows if bridges are out or if there is a shoulder. Stopping at a bike shop is another good source. Of course, there is always winging it with no care about the outcome, but I like to at least try.
I seccond that. I was in a bike shop in Medford OR and asked if I could go on a highway to Ashland. "Not unless you want to get flattened" was the response.