Some seven years ago, I unexpectedly found myself on a dirt track in Southern Bolivia, leading roughly in the direction of Uyuni, a town famous for its cast salt flats nearby. Having learned to ride a motorcycle just a couple of months prior and never ridden dirt before, I found it a challenge. Most of all, however, I found it a complete surprise: given the fact that Uyuni was a fairly touristy town even back then, I figured that surely, the roads would be paved. But the route I had chosen wasn’t one of the main ones, and I was left to paddle and elbow my way through endless corrugated dirt tracks and sand.
It pretty much never happens these days, however. Researching routes, you can always use Google Earth to zoom in and see exactly what the road is like, whether it’s paved or not, and what’s the terrain like. You can post a question on a forum or a Facebook group, and within a few hours, you’ll have several people commenting with detailed route descriptions, photos, and likely, videos of the route you want to do. Even if you’re aiming for more remote areas and places off the beaten path, chances are, other riders have travelled them before you, and you can find out exactly what awaits you on any given road or off-road trail.
On the one hand, this availability of information is fantastic, especially when it comes to up-to-date border crossing, bike shipping, or carnet de passage news. It’s also handy to know there had been a massive landslide on the route, or that a bridge had been washed away during a heavy flood. But is too much route information, well, a little too much?
Do you prefer to go blind, or do you always meticulously research the routes before you go and get as much information as you can? Let me know in the comments below.