Thursday, January 8, 2009

Resources for Designing Your European Bicycle Tour Route #2 - Maps

Our first post introduced the Eurovelo long distance bicycle touring network in Europe. Click on "route design" in the margin and you'll get all the posts relative to designing your route.

This post talks a little about basic maps for your trip: which maps to use and which to avoid, where to find the right maps, specialty maps, and so on. Later I'll talk about your basic bicycle touring books and why they aren't all that good. Then we'll begin to steer you toward two really valuable resources: 1) interactive online resources for bike route design; and, 2) newer edition publications that combine route notes and maps (available only in very popular bike touring areas).

We often see cyclists pedaling down a busy highway in Italy with a 1:1,000,000 Michelin map of Italy. No wonder that cyclist is on the wrong road. Michelin is French and their Italian maps aren't very good. Plus, the scale of one to a million is way too small (small scale, small detail; large scale, large detail).

For Europe, generally speaking, you want a map at about a 1:200,000 scale. You can get larger scale maps (1:100,000 or even 1:25,000) but to go anywhere on a bike you'd need a pannier full of these maps.

With that scale map you can cover most of a region and with two or three you can get across France, most of Italy, and so on.

Key Maps in A Few Countries of Europe

France: Michelin; regional maps at a scale of 1:200,000
Germany: The German Bicycle Touring Club (ADFC : Allgemeiner Deutsche Fahrrad Club) produces an excellent series of bicycle maps at 1:150,000
Italy: Italian Touring Club (Touring Club Italiano, TCI); regional at 1:200,000 (shown on this post)
(Michelin makes maps of Italy at 1:400,000 but they aren't detailed enough)
Ireland: Ordinance Survey Maps (Irish Government); 1:250,000 (you can cover the whole Republic in three maps; add Northern Ireland with a fourth
Spain: Instituto Geografico Nacional (Spanish Government mapping office) makes a great series by Province (Mapa Provincial) at 1:200,000 (find them in local bookstores or tobacconist shops)
Greece: Greece is tough but DON'T rely on foreign maps; I like Road Editions, 1:250,000 covering the entire country in 6 maps.
England, Scotland, Wales: Ordinance Survey 1:250,000 maps cover the entire United Kingdom (these are the maps generally recommended by the premier British bicycle touring organization, the Cyclists Tour Club - the CTC)

In the USA, of course, you'll be looking at the materials produced by the Adventure Cycling Association.

Later we'll talk about even more valuable resources and other maps. But don't forget the fun part of getting a paper map and poring over it to design your route!

1 comment:

  1. we are interested in a self-guided tour of 3 towns in Provence this October or November. Any information on how bad the mistral winds are traveling from Arles to St. Remy to Avignon or suggestions for flat routes, interesting vineyards along the way? Thanks!:) Jan