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In this part of the guide I will focus on maps. You can read this section alone but I recommend checking out and of this guide first.

The bike maps you carry can make or break parts of your tour. You should get some kind of handlebar mounted bike map holder so that you can read relevant sections while you are riding. The bike maps should also be formatted for use while riding a bike. Taking a region map and folding it into a shape that will fit onto your map holder is not nearly as effective as using a map that was designed for cycling. When it comes down to it you have three major options with maps. The first is plain text directions. While they aren’t strictly a map they are sufficient, provided you don’t miss your turns. Personally I can’t use just the text alone.

I like to use a combination of text and graphics. The maps I used had a graphical representation of the route and on the side the text directions were given as well. Lastly if you feel that the route you will be taking is simple enough you could use maps without text directions. Regardless of the map format you choose if you want to read a bike map while riding it will need to be divided into panels. Each panel will only show a portion of your total route. This allows a better level of detail and can help you organize your ride. How the maps are divided into panels determine how useful the map is.

If the maps show too much area then then off route areas will lack detail. This can become a problem if you take a wrong turn; are forced to detour from construction; or you just want to go off route. On the other hand maps that are too detailed wont show much distance and will force you to stop and switch panels often. If you ride through cities then having a high level of detail is a good thing. On the other hand long stretches of highway riding are good places where the map can zoom out and show a lot of ground. Ultimately the best bike maps will strike a balance between detail and distance.

While you are planning for your tour try not to over think things. Riding off into the sunset on a bicycle is not like firing a cannon, you can always change your course. If something isn’t working for you, fix it. If you aren’t having fun then stop riding. Take a rest day, enjoy your time! Lastly always remember: There is no wrong way to tour.

Ian Harper is an avid cyclist and publishes the blog about bike maps and other topics. The blog also hosts a bike map creator web app.

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How to Go on Tour – Thoughts From a Cyclist That Rode the Pacific Coast (part 2)
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In of this guide, I discussed two of the most basic issues when planning a tour, lodging and training. If you have not read it yet I suggest you start there. In this article I’ll tell you about my favorite aspect of touring, food!

Eating while you are on tour is perhaps that most important thing you do. The food you eat is literally the fuel that gets you down the road. With that, all I can tell you about eating on tour is, it depends. One of the most limiting factors is simply what is available. If you are riding through moderately populated areas then finding a good grocery store shouldn’t be a problem at all. However if you find yourself nearing the end of the day at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, do what you can. Hopefully by the time you find yourself in that position you will know what foods get you down the road best. For me foods high in fat and protein worked best. Occasionally areas of limited food choice serve up amazing treats. Areas with lots of farmland are usually sprinkled with roadside produce stands so be on the lookout for those.

I had a simple strategy for diet: I literally tried to eat as much fat and protein as I could. I found that fat and protein gave me better energy than carbs. Your body and metabolism are unique and what works for you may be entirely different. I’ll leave you with the advice that was given to me and a word about applying it. When you are on tour put yourself on the 6,000 calorie diet. When something edible is out in front of you, eat it. It is better to eat too much and feel bloated than to eat too little and hit ‘the wall.’

In the final article I’ll discuss bike maps.

Ian Harper is an avid cyclist and publishes the blog about bike maps and other topics. The blog also hosts a bike map creator web app.

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Things You Will Need:

  • A craft knife
  • A stiff piece of paper-board
  • 3 strips of Velcro (cord keepers work well)
  • A pencil
  • A large Ziploc bag
  • Clear tape

Things you will need

Instructions:

  1. Hold the paper-board up to your bike and mark where you want to position the Velcro strips. You will need two near the top corners and one in the center. The strips in the corners will wrap around your handle bars. The one in the middle will wrap around your handle bar riser.
  2. Cut out 2 horizontal holes large enough for your Velcro in the top corners of the paper-board.
  3. Cut out two holes for the middle strap. The holes should be a little farther apart than the handlebar riser is wide.
  4. Now put your paper-board into the plastic bag.
  5. If the bag is much bigger that a map then cut off the excess and tape the top shut.
  6. On the underside of the bag cut 4 slits that correspond to the holes cut for the Velcro. They should be in the middle of the holes and about 1/4 inch longer than the holes.
  7. Cut 2 slits at the top of the bag in line with the top two holes on the paper-board.
  8. Feed the Velcro through the paper-board and the bag so the Velcro exits the bag through the slits on the underside of the bag.
  9. Now attach the map holder to your handle bars. The upper Velcro strips should wrap loosely around your handlebars and the strip around your bar riser should be tight.
  10. Map holder attached to bike.

  11. Go for a ride!

Notes:

This is really easy to make an essential for one day rides in new territory. You can make the holder as large as you want but I think anything much over 6 X 9 might get to be cumbersome. I saw this design on another How To but instead of paper-board they used some kind of plastic. I chose the paper-board because it is much more common, recycled, and free. You could really use anything as long as it is stiff and easy to work with.

The map in the holder at the end is the 2009 edition of the Oregon Coast Bike Route. It’s published by the Oregon Department of Transportation. They give the map away for free and at kiosks in the state. I found mine in a kiosk near a bridge in Astoria.

In this simple guide I’ll show you how you can recycle a square bucket and make your own panniers which are incredably useful. I used four panniers just like this on a 2100 mile Pacific Coast tour with great success. This kind of panniers are also called Bike Buckets.

Things You Will Need:

Things you will need.

  • A bike with a rack
  • A drill.
  • Wrenches, screwdrivers, and/or allen keys.
  • A razor blade or a sharp knife.
  • A plastic bucket.
  • 2 rope hooks.
  • 2 bolts
  • 2 nuts
  • 4 washers
  • ~ 60 inches of 1 inch wide webbing
  • 3 webbing slides
  • 1 side release buckle

The things you need for this project are pretty standard except for the webbing and webbing hardware. I was able to find everything at a local hardware store and a sporting goods store. If you can’t find webbing in your area you can always try Suitable buckets are also easy to find. Mine came from cat litter and mayonnaise. It is worth asking around for the mayonnaise buckets because they have much better lids.

Instructions

  1. Using your razor blade cut out a portion of the ridge next to the bottom of one of the handles.
  2. Cut bucket

  3. Drill two holes in the bucket just under the portion of the ride that was cut out.
  4. Align a rope hook with one of the holes and tilt it toward the edge of the bucket. Make a mark on the bucket where the second hole of the rope hook is positioned.
  5. Drill holes where the bucket is marked.
  6. First three holes drilled, last hole marked.

  7. Bolt the rope hooks on the bucket. Put the washers on the inside of the bucket.
  8. Strap the bottom end of the webbing on to your rack using one of the webbing sliders.
  9. Put the bucket on your rack.
  10. Wrap the webbing around your bucket, around the top bar of your rack, and back over the side of your bucket. It should hang down to about the middle of the bucket.
  11. Sizing the webbing.

  12. Attach the free end of the webbing to the top bar of your rack using a slider.
  13. Starting from the top of the webbing pull it taught over your bucket. At the halfway point of your bucket cut the webbing.
  14. Attach the female end of the buckle to the top piece of webbing using the last slider.
  15. Attach the male end of the buckle to the bottom piece of webbing. The male end should not need a slider to attach.
  16. Give yourself a pat on the back!
  17. Finished product

    Notes:

    I’ve gone through a few different versions of this design. In this version I tilted the rope hooks so the natural wobble of the buckets will be lessened. Prior designs where the hooks were vertical had a tendency to crack along the sides of the hooks. While not new to this design the quick release buckle makes life a lot easier. You could make this work using only sliders and adjusters. A previous design of mine used this but it was cumbersome to take on and off.

    You may want to wrap something around your rack or around the hooks. After heavy use the hooks can damage your rack. I’ve wrapped webbing designed for rock climbing around the hooks with good success.

    Of course you will need to determine if this will work with the brand of rack you have. The majority of racks I see are the universal delta racks which work well but don’t have a horizontal bar at the bottom of the rack. For the purposes of this demonstration I attached the bottom piece of webbing in a way that would mimic a delta rack. As soon as I took that picture I moved the webbing to the horizontal bar. If your rack has one I’d suggest using it.