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I'm thinking of trying to bike to the house of some friends who live about an hour's drive from my house. I think I could bike the distance in about 5 or 6 hours, but I have no idea on what route to take. All of my biking thus far has been local, this would be my first long trip. By car nearly the whole trip is by highway, and I don't think riding along the side of a highway is safe (or legal?). How do you all plan lengthy trips? Do you have to buy detailed local maps and plan your route through local towns? Or is there an equivalent of Map Quest for bikes, that will give you a route along low traffic roads? I found a website with instructions on how to bike across the whole continent, but I'm not planning on going that far. :) This trip will only be about 50 or 60 miles.
 

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Chatham NJ
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That seems like a pretty long trip. Are you making it yourself? Road bike or mountain bike? Just curious.
Now onto your question about routes, I would recomend just checking out local maps. Maybe ask for some directions along the way if you get lost :p
 

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paintbucket
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You can ask mapquest to avoid major highways, although I'm not sure I'd trust it. There's also a series of atlases out called Delorme Gazeteers. Each one will cover an entire state at around 1:50,000 and show everything from interstates to dirt roads. Great planning tool.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
eman said:
That seems like a pretty long trip. Are you making it yourself? Road bike or mountain bike? Just curious.
Now onto your question about routes, I would recomend just checking out local maps. Maybe ask for some directions along the way if you get lost :p
Mountain bike with slick tires. I suppose it is kind of a long trip, but I read stories about other people doing twice as much distance in a single day on hard terrain like the great divide race. My trip will be all pavement. I think I can handle it.
 

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some_guy282 said:
Mountain bike with slick tires. I suppose it is kind of a long trip, but I read stories about other people doing twice as much distance in a single day on hard terrain like the great divide race. My trip will be all pavement. I think I can handle it.

Once you think you have route mapped out you might want to make a "dry run" with your car. Some online and digital map servies can get unreliable when it comes to side roads. The route I ride to work is only 4 miles, but Delorme Street Atlas says I can't go that way (shows a road ending at the interstate wheres theres on overpass). Also you can gauge the traffic and condition of the road.

And whatever you do, take money!
 

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I second the DeLorme Gazeteer notion. I resisted buying one until about 2 weeks ago, because they are somewhat expensive, plus totally impractical for carrying on a bike.

But it has been raining so much, I've been on my road bike a lot more. And I'm tired of riding the same routes. So I bought the Gazateer for my home state. The pages are almost exactly 17x11". I can copy one page onto the 2 sides of a standard sheet of paper using my scanner and color ink-jet printer. Then I sprayed the sheet of paper with fixative (available at art supply stores) so the ink doesn't bleed in my sweaty jersy pocket. If you can't get this stuff, just make sure your print is very dry before you ride with it. I also fold the copy into 4ths, and it fits into a standard plastic sandwich bag (also good for wallets).

Saturday I rode from my home to the adjoining state line, a 90 mile round trip, and never got off my 1-sheet map. I was able to improvise my way without adding a lot of miles to my route.

It's still worthwhile driving the route first if you have the time. The map won't give you traffic conditions or construction areas. Bring enough water, and something to eat. Have fun.

BTW, 60 miles at 15 mph is 4 hours of pedaling, call it 4 1/2 hours with rest breaks.

Walt
 

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dubjay said:
I found this site during the Bike to Work promotion. See if this will work for you and your locale.

http://www.bikemetro.com/route/routehome.asp
Dangit! I've been looking for something like that, but unfortunately your site is for CA only! I'm in NC.

I also use the detailed state map sometimes, only other pitfall is that some of the roads on there are gravel, which sucks on a road bike.

Some of my roadie buddies also use some "mapping" software. I think you can lay out the exact miles and the type of road and all that. Have not tried it, but I might.

Also second the "bring some money" tip. A $10 bill is much easier to carry than extra drinks and snacks....

I think it is great what you are doing, I'd like to do something like that too. I've thought about "riding" to a family vacation (beach, etc) and meeting my wife, daughter and car there.....
 

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try state and local websites

I know that Arizona and Washington local governments or even private firms will sometimes put up bike path and route maps on their websites. I know that Seattle and surrounding areas do that, as well as the Phoenix area. My personal best is 88 miles in Southern Oregon down into Northern California. I used to do 40 mile runs weekly on the paved path system in Phoenix (Indian Bend Wash). All on a mountain bike, 50-60 miles is very do-able.

Be certain that you're bicycle is in good shape mechanically, ie all lubed and stuff. Depending on how hilly the area is, and what gear ratios, weights etc. on you bike,15 mph may be a bit fast, 14 is fast for me as a average speed for 1 hour+ rides. Take a pump and patch kit as well as some basic tools (standard do all bike tool, or chain tool, flathead and phillips screwdrivers and allen wrenches) and LOTS of water.

Good luck
 
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