Breaking Down the Route miles/km, hills to climb, typical weather
Places to stay A good beginning and ending destination
Limiting the day
Plan on early departures
Allow for early arrival at the end in order to find accomodations and food
Using Mappy, Google Earth, Map My RIde and others to look at routes. But don't forget the printed ones.
Research and planning a bicycle trip is a key part of the experience. The better you prepare, the better you can learn and adjust things later when you are on the road. Maps, books, newspapers, magazine articles, talking in-person to those who have gone before and the internet offer a plethora of options - almost making the research part an overwhelming task. It's amazing how many blogs one can find of people who have already bicycled from Budapest to Istanbul, or Bar Harbor Maine to downtown Boston, MA. But definitely all of these sources contain pearls of wisdom that are worth storing in your brain, it's just a matter of combing through, absorbing and organizing it all.
The beginning and ending destinations are the first choices. How many days do you have to bike, how much time do you have, and what is there to sightsee along the way?
Often, the research is the envelope into which the trip is contained. You end up learning more than you need, but when you make a change in plans, the knowledge is already there.
This over researching can be important because once you finally get out on the road, the route might need to change. A closed and detoured road going up a mountain pass in the Pyrennes is not something you'll know about until you roll up to it. So flexibility is something you'll need to learn too.
And remember too, that planning your trip with military precision is not the goal; having fun, being safe, and BEING FLEXIBLE are all integral parts of a successful trip. Trusting your knowledge, capabilities, the kindness of strangers, and just plain luck are part of the magic of a great trip too.
Read this great excerpt
from one of our fellow travelers recounting some things that have made his trips memorable.