Adventure Cycling Association

The existence of this plugin is rooted in the use of the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) paper maps and wanting a tool to plan unsupported bicycle tours. That coupled with a desire to learn web development has lead to this plugin and this version.

TWACA.net is a standalone website deploying this plugin as a public utility,TWACA “Touring With Adventure Cycling Association”

The ACA and other sources have information on how to use their paper maps Those maps are supplemented with digital data files which includes a set of .gpx files intended for use with GPS devices. If you are a member you may download the digital data and the .gx files will include services information as  Points/Places Of Interest (POI) map markers. If you are not a member you can get the .gpx files without the services information.

The paper maps of  an ACA route, such as the Trans American (TA) route, come in sets or individual maps. The digital data .gpx files parallel the paper maps, one file for each paper map. Each paper map has a number of panels covering the entirety of the paper map. The .gpx file for a paper map has a series of .gpx routes each corresponding to a map panel.

The ACA paper maps are great resources and they are widely used on the road. When coupled with a good bike odometer they are all you need to follow an ACA route successfully, from a navigation perspective. However there are updates and addendum that need to be considered when using the ACA mapping data. There can be great peril ignoring this data.

Now that does not mean it is an optimal situation. The paper maps with the panels don’t necessarily accommodate an individual’s traveling style. Directions for traversing a map reset at panel boundaries. An individual may traverse one, two, perhaps three or more panels in a day. While certainly doable its not ideal. Another issue when using the .gpx files is that they are directional while the paper maps are bi-directional

The .gpx files are sparse when you view them on a Google Map view. The waypoints are such when using a GPS devices they are quite adequate. But when looking at them on Google Maps you generally would like to see the route follow the roads. And it would be nice to see the travel direction be the same.

If you have the .gpx files with resources this is great planning information. But like any data things change and that information should be used as a starting point. Places close, move, open and so forth.

This is a sample of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Trans American map 12 Digital Data .gpx file .

main-1

To use the ACA .gpx files for planning a tour this is a way to do that using the plugin.

  1. Do not modify the original .gpx files. Keep them for reference.
  2. You can load more than one ACA .gpx file at a time when planning across map boundaries.
  3. Obtain the latest addendum.
  4. Use the plugin’s drawing tools to plot your daily travel, with diversions, parallel to the ACA route and in your travel direction. Use the Google Directions Service facility of the plugin to drag the generated route on top of the ACA route. When done you will have a printable cue sheet and a route that follows roads or bike paths. The waypoints will have the navigation data too.
  5. Use the plugin’s Googles Search Box feature to verify food, lodging, camping and other resources. Place mark those you’ll be using and record the pertinent information with the marker. Remember the ACA resources have been vetted to some extent.
  6. Use the plugin’s elevation panel to check out your route’s difficulty. Sometimes a shortcut really isn’t a shortcut.
  7. Save your work often.

 

From the sister site TWACA. Overlaying the ACA route using Google Directions Service.

Cue Sheet

Cue Sheet

 

Finally there are a number of web site providing similar facilities. And there are a number of WordPress plugins that are likely adequate for this type of planning.