How do you keep track of your tour info? - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

How do you keep track of your tour info?

Kelly Iniguez
Photo for interest.

 I’m not a fly by the seat of my pants type. I plan tours out, stop by stop, months in advance.   I’m not a good tourist, so I don’t generally research tourist sights, although I do make notes of where to eat!

all of this information has to go somewhere. I used to use a small notebook. It was easy to carry and reference. When we started touring with others, Oren suggested a shared Excel Spreadsheet. While it has plenty of columns, making daily notations isn’t as handy. 

Is there a website that caters to tracking all a touring cyclist would want? Am RV friend says there are several sites available.  RVlifetripplanner is one she mentioned. 

I know RWGPS maps can be marked with an I for information, but I’ve never considered trying to add lodging, etc. plus, I like to keep my maps ‘clean’ so I can see where I’m going! However, a second layer, or easily pulled up screen would be of interest. 

How do you handle all of the notations necessary for a successful tour?

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Larry MitchellTo Kelly Iniguez

I am now using the app MapOut on my iPad which integrates to my iPhone and Apple Watch.  It allows me to draw routes, import gpx files from other sources (Ridewithgps) as well as mark waypoints, etc.  Fair amount of impeding folders inside folders, etc.  You can also enter a fair amount of information into the various “edit” fields and then export different parts in different ways.

My main interest is the ability to export such information to my watch as I use it to follow routes and see points along the way.  It keeps my phone out of sight and a simply turn of the watch allows me to see where I am.  On the watch, i use an app Workoutdoors for that interface.

A few extra steps but it is working well for me at the moment.

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Henry DaltonTo Kelly Iniguez

I also plan out my lodging, grocery stores and restaurants, water sources, etc. ahead of time, especially when I'm touring with a friend who doesn't camp. I plot out the route using RWGPS and then add "points of interest" (POI); you can pick from a long list of symbols. I've put an example of what it looks like below, with the knife-and-fork symbol for any town that has a source of food (grocery, restaurant, convencience store) and tent symbol for campgrounds. Touching a POI shows the notes I've added for each place (like the name of the campground and what site I've reserved, or whether the food symbol means a town has restaurants or just a convenience store). I don't think it clutters up the map too much, but YMMV. You have to have a paid subscription to RWGPS to add POIs to the map, but you can share the map with someone who doesn't have a subscription and they can see the POIs (I think, someone correct me if I'm wrong). You can download the maps to your phone and use them when you don't have cell service, or when you've put your phone in airplane mode to save power. It will give you voice directions, but I'm not sure if that works if you don't have cell service. It used to be that you couldn't edit RWGPS routes on your phone, which was sometimes mildly annoying if you had to change plans mid-tour, but I think they've changed that.

Example RWGPS route, showing points of interest with different symbols.
Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Ray SwartzTo Kelly Iniguez

Like you, I wanted a place where I could store all the information I gather when planning my trips. I also wanted to be able to access this easily from the road. So, I created a tour planning page on my website. At present, there are 25 (public) bike tour plans. Some are extensive; some only a link or two.

Touring plans can only be created by registered users (free registration required), who can choose to make them public or keep them private. A touring plan consists of 5 sections: Itinerary, Route Maps, Web links, Travel information, and packing list. You can create a default packing list that is attached to every touring plan you create. Here is an example of a tour I planned (and rode) that was a loop starting in Venice and going into the Balkans and the Dolomites.

I have found having all my planning links and information in one place accessible over the internet very useful. In fact, more than once, I've used links in a plan to bail me out of a difficult situation (phone numbers, addresses, bus schedules). In the past, I tried to carry all this on paper, but having the ability to click on links makes things a lot easier.

In addition to easy access, my hope for this planning application was for people to use it to plan tours and make them public so that other bike tourists could benefit from the work users put into their bike touring plans. As is usual, I'm the only one who really uses this feature, but I still hope that people benefit from the planning work I've done (and continue to do).

Incidentally, in the past, I've been castigated for posting links to my website on Since this feature doesn't exist on cycleblaze, I am taking the liberty of posting links to it here. If the powers that be find this post offensive, please feel free to delete it.

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Rich FrasierTo Kelly Iniguez

Hi Kelly -  

I basically do what Henry has highlighted below, except that I put notes into the route as custom cues instead of POIs.  

The custom cues come up on our computers as we're navigating along.  The custom cue allows you to enter the text of the cue that will pop up as you ride along.  So I put stuff in there like "Toilet Left" or "Restaurant over the bridge".  

 It works pretty well, although if you're in a city with lots of navigation instructions flashing by on the screen, sometimes you could miss a cue.

I think you have to have a paid subscription to RideWithGPS to add custom cues, but I'm not really sure.

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly Iniguez

We’re pretty simplistic (or just simple minded?), and don’t keep many details at all unless they’re critical to the logistics of the tour.  We map out candidate routes for each of the moving days of the tour on RideWithGPS that begin and end at the hotels we’ve booked for the day, and load them all to our Garmins.   Beyond that though we don’t try to highlight or set waypoints for anything along the way, and we don’t make use of any of RideWithGPS’ navigation functionality.  

Together with this, we maintain a Word document for the tour on the iPad.  It’s pretty simple also: a five column table with a row for each travel day of the tour.  The columns are the dates, the hotel we’re booked at, the distance and elevation (from the GPS routes, but included here to give us a thumbnail overview of the tour), and space for notes.  The few specific things we keep notes on are for things like the details for plane or ferry connections that we can’t afford to get wrong.

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Kelly Iniguez

I create a spreadsheet for each tour, with columns for day count (so I can figure out how many days will be needed), date (to highlight holidays at the destination and used for making accommodation bookings once I've booked flights), the riding/activity plan, where we'll sleep (edited once I've booked accommodations since they aren't always as initially planned), riding distance and estimated climbing from most-likely RWGPS routes, name of booked accommodation, cancellation date for accommodation, and notes if there's anything of interest I don't want to forget about.

I'm also involved in creating routes for a relay tour (from a mining company's head office to its new mine) and it's a different mindset to create routes for others to use when you won't be there.  I have included cues (which I don't normally) and POIs (again, not something I do for myself).  

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
George HallTo Kelly Iniguez

I have tried several methods.  At first I used a small notebook with 1 page dedicated to each day - I noted lodging reservations, phone #s, and any pertinent info on it - it rode in my handlebar bag and I added info about photos I took and other points during the day.  These days I do several things in advance using digital files - I map out the route using RWGPS showing each day's planned ride - I keep a spreadsheet with raw data like mileage, elevation climbed, To/From points, cost of lodging, etc. - and I keep a Word file that has notes for each day.  The Word file is probably the most useful, because I keep the "plan" for that day by noting the mileage to c-stores, restaurants, points of interest, anything I think that may be useful.  The night before, I review the Word file for the next day and make a plan for the upcoming day.  

Regarding daily notes; if I have good cell service, I dictate my notes via voice-to-text directly into my CycleBlaze entry for that day (not yet visible to the public), and then at the end of the day all I have to do is clean up my notes and add the photos and I have a journal entry.  If I don't have good cell service during the day, I keep notes on my phone in a "Notes" app, then at the end of the day I email them to myself to use in the journal entry that night (I carry a computer to use for journaling, I don't have the patience to do it on a cell phone).

Reply    Link    Flag
1 week ago
Graham SmithTo Kelly Iniguez

A mud map is my main tool. Once I have a general scheme, I don’t worry too much about details. Usually I work these out day-by-day after I start riding. 

This is the plan for my next ride. Because I’m already reasonably familiar with the region, I’m not going to do any detailed research in advance.

This minimal approach is for tours where only myself is involved or perhaps one other experienced tourer. If I was responsible for others, I’d be much more prepared with a matrix of details. 

Reply    Link    Flag
3 days ago
Mike AylingTo Graham Smith

Very effective Graham!

Reply    Link    Flag
2 days ago