How to choose your route

Decide where you want to go. Use Maps, books, local bike shops, local bikers, and the internet to find cool places and cool roads. Here are some tips we at bike49 used:

laurel and aaron finish plan a

Aaron and Laurel dig Google Maps

Try the free and easy online maps, Google Maps. Plot your start and end points in “get directions”. Choose “walking” in the drop down menu and Google Maps will choose the shortest route while avoiding interstates. Once you have this you can click and drag the blue route on the map to modify your route. This is a great way to get mileage estimates.

Check out Adventure Cycling Association’s network of bike routes all over the United States. They have put together some great maps that include elevation gain, camping spots, and bike shops in towns.

Read journal entries from bike tourists around the world on crazyguyonabike.com. You can search by locations, learn routes of other bikers, and learn what they thought of their route. This is an awesome resource and very inspiring.

Things to consider when planning your route:

Distance- Cyclists tend to average 40-70 miles a day. You will find a distance that works for you, don’t push too hard.

Camping stops- You can plan this day by day, but try and plan to be at either a camping spot (most maps have camping symbols) or some where else you might be able to sleep. Check out our list of places to sleep.

Rest days- plan to take around 1 day off a week. Use this time to give your body a break, deal with unexpected bike issues, do laundry, and check out the local area.

Loops vs shuttles vs there and back- There are pros and cons to whatever you choose.

Weather- Sometimes it is unavoidable, but probably best to avoid crossing the Rockies in the middle of winter and Death Valley in the middle of summer (but don’t let us stop you). Besides temperatures, think about wind, rain, and snow.

Sometimes you just have to wing it:

The beauty of bike touring is its flexibility. You might meet a local biker that swears by a road you are not planning on taking. You might fall in love with a pizza joint and want to stay three extra days eating pizza. You can’t plan for everything, so go with the adventure and see where it takes you.