How do you select your routes for dual sport trips.

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by bamagator, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. bamagator

    bamagator Adventurer

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    By that I mean to ask.... Those of you that do 3-5 day trips and that like to utilize as much backroad or dirt road as possible, what do you use to plan?

    Topos, google earth, basic delorme state maps, etc.?

    As a solo rider, I prefer the road less travelled and the sights less seen as many do. That said, I am kinda stinky at picking good paths of travel our of my neck of the woods in N Central Al.

    Any tips or insight.

    Bonus ? What do you use to keep you on route? Ie which gps, etc
    #1
  2. Walterxr650l

    Walterxr650l Long timer

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    When I leave home I will have some general destinations in mind, but no route. As an example on one trip it was North Cascades N.P., Grand Coulee Dam, Glacier N.P., and Yellowstone N.P. On anther trip it was The Steens MT., Leslie Gulch, and Hat Point. I didn't make it to Hat Point, a wild fire got in the way.

    I put a state hwy map in my jacket pocket. I put forest service, and BLM maps, for any areas I think I might ride through, into a zip-lock bag, and put that in my saddle bag. When I stop for a break, I get out my maps and figure out what the route for the next leg of the trip is. If it is a multi state trip, I add maps to my bag as needed.

    I don't need anything to keep me on route. Wherever I decide to ride is my route.

    Walter
    #2
  3. bamagator

    bamagator Adventurer

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    Wow. I am a little surprised at the lack of replies. I talked with a local guy here I respect who is an avid traveller around the world. He uses topo, Google and other means to plan route and destination. Me? I suck at it and need to learn a better method to tie cool destinations (or find them at least) and route it properly.
    #3
  4. Wansfel

    Wansfel 50 yrs on 2 wheels

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    I have turned to Google Maps for my preliminary planning per you criteria - the roads less traveled - 2 - 8 days. Save by day to My Maps (Google Maps) then convert to a KMZ which is downloaded and imported into Base Camp. Base Camp breaks into multiple tracks which can be recombined as desired and then manipulated as desired into routes/tracks to load to a GPS. I use a Garmin Etrex Legend which is small to see, but gets me by. 50 point limit to routes so I usually break routes to retain granularity. Lots of map disparancys in this area so winging it is expected on occasions. I carry Benchmark book maps for the state(s) I happen to be riding for backup.
    #4
  5. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    If I am traveling, all I carry is an AAA atlas. Usually just the states pages I'm going to be riding thru.

    The small grey roads are big bike friendly non-pavement.

    The fine solid black line roads are rural pavement.

    Ask at a local cafe, etc if the road is passable and then go.

    For more detailed rides. Small bike, forest treks, etc. I use the Benchmark Atlas.

    Maps first then I may check google to clarify off-road routes.

    3-5 days is a close to home trip and I would be using Benchmark.
    #5
  6. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Been here awhile

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    Location:
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    1: Pick a destination, whether it's a place, region or a route.

    2: Using a Benchmark map, find the dirt road that gets closest to the destination.

    3: Using Google Streetview, confirm or deny that gas stations are present in towns between here and there where it's not obvious. Using Google's "My Places" mark them out

    4: Back to the Benchmark, pick the gas stations with the best dirt routes in and out.

    5: Go ride, find that 30-70% of my route guesses came out right. Run into a lot of closed gates. Ride a lot more pavement than I wanted to.

    6: Go ride about three more times, without the mistakes made on previous trips.

    7: Know the best overall dirt route from from Point A to any Point B in my state or the next.

    8: Get bored with that region, never ride it again.

    9: Repeat the three to five year process :norton
    #6
  7. HighTechCoonass

    HighTechCoonass Living the Dream....

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    For out west...

    Benchmark map books, (or similar) and google earth!
    Touratech Back country discovery routes
    #7
  8. kimzx1000r

    kimzx1000r Been here awhile

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    All mine are planned in Google earth! You can see how remote you are, what the terrain is like by tilting, how wooded or open it is. You can get an idea if it is paved or not by zooming. In some cases it is clear in others not so much but based on how remote you are and what part of the country your in you can pretty well guess to its nature. I have planned all my rides with Google earth, converted the route to gpx format and then loaded and road the route. Occasion reroutes were due to roads being on private property but for the most part all have been spot on. And the rides have all been great for us so far. Back roads off the beaten path with good scenery and terrain changes.
    #8
  9. DakarGuy

    DakarGuy Been here awhile

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    I am planning a long trip later this year. The plan is to take 2-3 months off work, and head west, then south, then north-east back home.

    My trip planning process has been something like this:

    I know the major areas I want to see, so I plan out in my head a very high level route. That route is basically:
    - Chicago > Badlands SD > Mt Rushmore SD> Devils Tower WY > Jackson WY > Astoria OR > Lake Tahoe SD > Page AZ > Moab UT > Taos NM > then back to Chicago via Route 66 (not loving all the highway on this segment though).

    With this high level plan in mind, I turn to Google Maps 'My Places'. I enter 'Get Directions' origin and destination, and then add destinations of places along the route I would like to include, and sequence them in order. I save the route to My Places.

    Now I have a basic route, I zoom in on the route, and look for lower level roads and interesting places.
    While I'm doing this, I also have Google Earth open. Google Earth has a lot more layers that one can use to see what's going on in the vicinity. This helps me find places I would not necessarily find in Google Maps alone.
    I 'edit' the map, and drag the route to follow the lower level roads.

    It is a long process and it is not perfect. I have no clue half the time if I'm on a private road, if I'm going to run into a locked gate, or find something else that will cause me to have to turn back.

    I have pretty much planned the route at this level from Chicago to Page AZ. I am now looking into the various mapping resources out there (BDR, Butler Maps, Benchmark Maps) to refine my route.
    I'm not sure which would be best, and have started another thread for help in that regard: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=23488945#post23488945

    Any suggestions for process improvement are welcome.
    #9
  10. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Our maps, Benchmark maps & various books I have plus input from others.
    #10
  11. yann L

    yann L Adventurer

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    I do exactly the same
    #11
  12. ysup

    ysup Motorcycoholic

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    While Delorme puts out a good atlas of the individual states, I prefer (Dos Equis?) Benchmark. Map for map, details just add up and go very nice with the GPS. Google Maps great for the gross overview of where you're headed when parked and near wi-fi, but I guarantee you a Benchmark Road & Recreation Atlas is in my saddle bag for the state where I'm meandering.

    No right answer to your question - just a bunch of opinions. Best of luck.
    #12
  13. FBR

    FBR Been here awhile

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    I like to use a program called Tyre. It is a lot like Base Camp, but a little easier to use. You can use the map, or a satelite view to pick the route you want. Then its just a few clicks for each road/trail and your done. They have a pretty good, free download, or for around $30 you can upgrade for some really nice options. Google earth is awesome, but I don't like converting everything over when I'm done.
    #13
  14. danketchpel

    danketchpel Long timer

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    I've used most of the methods mentioned and it seems like it takes more than one resource to find what you need. What is a pain is locked gates or knowing if a route shown crosses private property with a locked gate. I wish more gates were marked on back country maps.

    I need to pick up a Benchmark road & rec atlas to put in the map arsenal. I've been using Butler maps plus the google/garmin stuff or local forestry/BLM maps for trail rides.
    #14
  15. MasterMarine

    MasterMarine Long timer

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    For my big trips, I use Benchmark Atlases for the state I am interested in at first. I stare at them trying to find the way to get from one town with a gas station to the next while going on the most interesting looking dirt roads. I also order any MVUMs I can get if I am going thru some National Forests. I search online for maps and posts in forums such as this one and for interesting sights to see in the areas I am planning to visit. After a week or more of this, I sit in front of the computer and plot out my idea on Basecamp. Then I view the route on Google Earth. I follow the route paying special attention to look for fences that don't look like they have traffic thru them, cattleguards, water crossings, no road there, and ranches along the way. I edit the route in Basecamp as I am doing this and then look back at it on Google Earth again. I also try to pay attention to alternate routes and sometimes make some bailout routes on Basecamp in case a water crossing is too deep or something. After all that map staring, I get to know the area somewhat well. Of course, the best part is riding it!

    I also try to contact ranches to ask for permission to cross them. Most of the ranch managers I have talked to have allowed me to cross. They are often surpirsed at what I am planning to do at first and then they become quite interested in it before the end of the call.

    The best information comes from locals. I try to ask the ranch managers about roads and conditions and other land owners who I should call when I talk to them. Also local gas stations, motels, and restaurants can be helpful. I post in the appropriate Regional Forum for specific info too.

    I have been doing a bunch of this lately planning for this summer's trip. I can't wait! :D
    #15
  16. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    I start by generally planning where I want to go and how many days I want to ride. (BTW I plan rides for a large group. We usually have 10 or more guys on a ride.)

    I get lots of ideas by reading the ride report threads.

    I mainly use Garmin Mapsource and Basecamp software with City Navigator and Topo mapsets for planning. I will typically create a Route and iterate until I like it. Then I convert the Route to a track for actual navigation.

    I get a lot of GPS tracks from dualsportmaps.com and GPSXchange. I end up creating at last half of our trips by stitching together other people's tracks.

    We do 180-250 miles a day with about 70% dirt and maybe 20-30 miles a day of challenging primitive dirt roads.

    I also use Benchmark maps and Google Earth quite a bit as a backup to verify that the GPS routes and tracks are viable.

    Here is an example of a trip we did last year:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=892221
    #16
  17. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    Locked gates can be the bane of our rides. I have greatly reduced the problem by not trying to ride minor roads on private land. I try to stay on public lands as much as possible. You really have to be careful trying to just use Garmin City Navigator to plan. It shows tons of attractive looking primitive roads on private land.

    The Benchmark maps are pretty good for showing land ownership. The AZ and NM ones are excellent.

    Also BLM maps are good at showing land ownership. But online availability is inconsistent at best. Again New Mexico has a full set of 100k Topo/land ownership maps available.

    I typically do include what look like major roads on Benchmark maps thru private land, especially if a road has some kind of official number on it and shows as a wide dashed-red line.

    But if the road is named something like Jones Ranch Rd, I get suspicious.

    When I am in doubt I usually post a question in one of the regional ADV forums to try to get some local MC rider knowledge.
    #17
  18. canadian chris

    canadian chris Been here awhile

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    I keep a google map called 'places to visit' that I populate from trip reports on ADV. Essentially "hey that place looks cool!" locations that people have mentioned or photographed in their ride reports.

    When I have a destination, I see which of those places more-or-less line up with it and the route kinda selects itself
    #18
  19. MasterMarine

    MasterMarine Long timer

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    Locked or Posted gates suck! I usually make a note of them and who posted it so I can contact them later if I want to try to go thru there some other time.

    I always have the hardest time with gates and private land when I get close to towns to get fuel. Or on the way back out of town. Out in the back country, there are not so many gates or signs. If you are traveling on BLM land, the ranchers who have grazing contracts cannot lock gates on BLM land stopping public access. But they normally have private ranch land nearby and they can definitely lock you out of there.

    The NV Benchmark is pretty good for the areas I have been using it for (N NV).

    I also use free maps from the web for planning on Basecamp. The ones I use the most are called something like US Planimetric NW and US Planimetric SW. They show BLM and FS land ownership on them.
    #19
  20. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    MM - Thanks for the tip on the planimetric maps. I found them on GPSFileDepot and downloaded the southwest one.

    I can see it is several years out of date in some areas, but I am sure it will still be a useful reference source for land ownership.
    #20