How to Plan Your Route
Since your destination on a bike overnight is generally nearby, you are probably familiar with many of the roads that you can use to reach it. If there are areas you are unfamiliar with, ask around with bike clubs or your local shops. You will likely find someone who is familiar with your route and give you suggestions on it. Remember to keep in mind if you will need to make any stops along the way for water, food, or anything else, and plan those in as well.
When you must resort to planning your route by maps, use a critical eye to evaluate the route options. Try to predict the terrain, traffic, and services along each by comparing them to roads you are familiar with. Are the roads straight or windy, are there any large hills that you know of? Does the road connect large cities and collect feeder roads, or is there a nearby highway that will take the majority of the traffic? Online mapping tools are a great way to check your assumptions with their aerial and street-level views.
If your destination is especially far away, or there are few local routes you enjoy, give your self a head start by driving out of town or perhaps riding transit. Don’t worry, this is not cheating. Bicycle overnights are supposed to be fun, not a dreary sludge over too many miles or through bicycle-unfriendly urban expanses. Make sure that you find a safe place to leave your car overnight, or that the transit schedule will not leave you stranded. Transit (or a very generous friend with a car) can also be used for a one-way bicycle overnight. It is recommended that you bicycle back into town rather than out of town so that you don’t have to worry about missing the connection at the other end.
Photo by Dennis Coello
Guest post by Sean Smith