Planning - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

February 24, 2019

Planning

Sometime before each tour it occurs to us that we should get brave and head out with just a couple of maps in our pocket (maybe) and only a general idea of where we might go. This sentiment usually lasts about 60 seconds, before we are overcome by images of folding and unfolding those maps in the wind and rain,  while finding that we have pedaled into the middle of nowhere with night coming and no place to stay. So that's when we settle in for what is usually ten days of intensive planning.

The process for us is quite well established by now. First we just imagine the general outline of a trip. Even there, we can not claim to be very adventurous. We will always have just come off reading a blog from some other adventurer, usually Trish Graham, Kathleen Classen, Scott Anderson, or other intrepid Cycleblaze blogger, and just more or less trail them around. Well, it's not quite that bad. For any given continent, let's say the "community" pretty well knows the interesting routes.

But the devil is in the details, and we are soon deep into them. For us, even more than for the others, we want to follow named routes.  And whether named or not, we want to set off with GPS tracks in hand for the whole thing. Just how we actually approach getting that is revealed in the coming page "Tricks With Tracks". 

As far as paper maps go, we like to get our hands on dedicated cycle maps. The best are the Bikeline series from publisher Esterbauer. These mainly address Germany, but many other European countries (plus New Zealand) are handled as well. There are probably a couple of hundred of these books, costing about $20 each. We currently own about 40. Similar books are put out by other companies too. These are mainly French.  Then there are dedicated cycling maps, such as the series from the German national cycle club, ADFC, and finally road maps, assuming the scale is big enough.

Once we have the paper maps for the route, we scan them. Then we resize and print them, four panels to the two sides of 8.5 x 11 paper. Folded, these fit nicely in our handlebar map case. If there was no paper map for a part of the route, then we will reluctantly resort to printing screen captures. These always turn out barely legible and we hate them.

Our quest for maps can get quite intense. When we learned that the Nicholsons in Kamloops (big cyclists but not bloggers) had a map of the Vienna to Prague Greenway, we asked them to mail it to us. It's about all there is for this section of route, but half the time we are looking at it and need to check if it might be upside down. See what we mean?

Is this thing right side up?
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Grampies planning sessions are usually cat assisted.
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The photo shows some of the almost 200 map pages we ultimately print. On the screen is Google's MyMaps, which we have found to be a great boon. More on that in a later post.

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Tricia GrahamWhen we were in Prague last year we got a really good cycle map of a route from Munich to Prague. Actually for some reason we only used part of it. We get home from Brisbane on Wednesday and if you like could post you our Czech maps. You will of course know there is a Bikeline one from Prague to the Elbe. If you would like them just email us your postal address
Tricia
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonThis was a really interesting post. We’ve been using a GPS for a decade now, and I’d forgotten how difficult it can be to get sufficiently detailed maps. When we first started out in Europe I mapped out a route at home on the most detailed map I could find, and then started picking up much more detailed Michelin maps at shops along the way. By the time we got back to Paris 6 weeks later I had a dozen of these crammed into my panniers, most of which I still have.

We never went the route of mounting them on the handlebars (which is more or less what we do now though with our GPS’s). Instead, I kept a map handy in my jersey pocket or on the rear rack. I would haul it out for consultation when we came to a critical juncture, and then try to remember the next three or four instructions. We stopped a lot, unfolding and recording maps dozens of times per day, and got lost more often than we would have preferred.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesYour comment seems to tell me that now you rely on GPS, in opposition to paper maps. True? We find that even though we are using a smartphone that has swappable battery, as GPS , we are leery of running it all day. Also, the sun mostly makes the screen unseeable without stopping and shading it. So paper on the handlebar bag remains an important ingredient for us.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Tricia GrahamThe Munich to Prague is interesting -must be way different from our ploy of shooting out east along the Donau and then up from Vienna. Butt it's too late for us to change routes now, and a mailing would also likely not reach here in time. Thanks, though. (It would be fun to know which way the thing does go.)

Yes, we have the Bikeline Elbe, which will take us beyond Dresden, where we will hit the Berlin-Leipzig, and turn south. Watch for our "The Route" post, coming soon.
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1 month ago
Tricia GrahamWhy don’t you send me your postal address and you can have a look at that route it wouldn’t be as steep to start You leave the Danube around Resenberg Go home tomorrow so could post it rapid post then
Tricia
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1 month ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonAnd here's me, the youngest of the group commenting here at only 60, who uses paper maps. I like the big picture they give and thus the ability to change my route en route.

I have a GPS too, with OSM cycle maps for the area loaded, but generally only use it for navigation within towns. When I let it direct me between towns, it might me through farm tracks or up unrideable hills, when there are better alternate routes. Not only that, when Al and I are standing side by side, each with the same device and the same base map, doing a search for the same destination, we can get different results!
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1 month ago