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Trip Planning

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by TWEET, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. As many know, I do quite a few multi-day trips that involve riding with a group, often L/P riders.
    I get quite a few questions from people about how long it takes to complete some of the routes I plan for the days away.

    Obviously the total time to travel the required distance is affected by;

    * Speed over ground
    * Time stationary
    * Road design and terrain

    Many people use Google maps to plan a route, I sometimes do too, but I prefer statistical information based on experience. Many, particularly new riders have the misconception that when out of the suburbs they can cover a given distance using the average speed of 100km/h for their calculations. eg- 400km in 4 hours thereabouts.

    Even on a major highway, this isn't that easy to maintain over any great distance if you keep to the speed limit of even 110km/h. When riding tight, winding roads it is even more difficult despite the speed limit still being 100km/h. This often results in riders taking far longer than anticipated to get from A-B, which results in them riding in the dark (which many don't like on regional roads) and in some areas of Australia this poor planning can leave you stranded for hours, for example when you are in an area where there is no 24hr fuel, and you don't make it to the servo before they close despite planning to do so.

    I was just looking at some data from my onboard GPS, and looking at this graph, you can see that I have covered only about 432km, but it took almost 10 hours!!
    I only had 1 rest stop along the way and it wasn't a long one. The reason I took so long to travel this meagre distance is that my average speed was only 43km/h, and that was dictated by the terrain and road design.

    Looking at the graph for elevation, you can see that I started out at almost 950m above sea level and over the next 127km, I was climbing to a peak of 1450m. Thats a pretty long uphill run.
    It gets even more interesting when you look at what happens next. My descent is 1200m over 120km (half way along the trip now), which is an equally long downhill run.
    From the low point of 201m, I climb another 1290m over 149km, an even longer ascent than the first part of this trip.
    Clearly this is a very mountainous area, and when you throw into this roller coaster of peaks and troughs the tight, winding road design, my average speed was severely affected, thus taking the time it did to reach the destination. You will notice that my speed was pretty much no higher than 100km/h along the entire route.

    This just goes to show, that looking at a Google map (Google says 7:45 to complete) and planning on what Google says can't always be taken as gospel, and some experience coupled with common sense and reference to other data sources is necessary to ensure you reach your intended destination in a timeframe you expect.

    When planning, make sure you plan well and take into account the terrain you will encounter, the availability of fuel, particularly the hours the servo is open..........

    Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 22.20.10.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 23.26.43.

    Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 22.47.00.
    • Informative Informative x 6
    • Like Like x 2
  2. This is why I ride with Tweet. He does all the homework for you, and all I do is pitch up and RIDE :D
    • Like Like x 4
    • Funny Funny x 3
  3. In the interest of helping us all use historical data to plan future trips, would you mind sharing what you use to capture the data? ;)
  4. On android, its called 'my tracks'
    • Like Like x 1
  5. On BMW it's called Navigator V ;)

    The available data from the factory BMW GPS is comprehensive to say the least. It works out , avg for speed, fuel used (quite accurately), instant fuel use, elevation inc difference between lowest/highest, heading inc magnetic, time stationary, time enroute, time to sunrise/sunset, ambient temp, distance to empty, distance to destination, time to destination, distance since departure, time since departure and much more.

    When riding in the real outback there is often no 24hr fuel, and if you miss a scheduled fuel stop, there are lots of places where you won't have enough to carry on to the next one or turn around and go back to the previous.

    • Like Like x 3
  6. Definitely got a shock arriving at Bradwood years back at 7pm to hear the only Petrol station had closed for the night at 630pm. Luckly the pub had rooms and the kitchen was still open.
  7. Still a very common scenario in some parts Zim. I found out the hard way once (in the car thankfully) when I arrived at Cunnumulla at about 730pm to find the servo closed. My car then, a petrol Nissan Patrol 4.2L could only manage about 500km on a tank.
    Charleville (no 24hr fuel) was a further 200km North (the direction I was heading) and of course I didn't have enough to get there or Bourke which had 24hr fuel was 250km back the way I came from.
    They didn't open until 6am, and it was a l o n g wait!
  8. AKA a Garmin rebadged for BMW. The software tweet is using us Garmin Bascamp, it is a fee download.

    You can pickup any gps enabled Garmin device and get the same data from a $200 etrex to a $800 zumo.
  9. I got into an argument a while back with someone here who was planning a Oxley highway run, the departure and arrival times for the planned route were ridiculous. The poster claimed it would be done at a fast pace and if I couldn't keep up not to come or words to that effect.

    My retort was unless they were going to maintain an average speed of 140km/h the whole trip and not stop for fuel or rests it would be impossible, they then asked a mod to delete the thread.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. I've found Google maps to be pretty accurate for distances and time. There is a lot of data collected on the routes especially if the route has street view coverage But it doesn't take into account how much time you dick around, gear off, gear on, filling up fuel, eating, chin wagging, stopping for photos etc. etc.this can add hours to a trip.

    Basecamp is great for planning trips as you can add in all your stops with times for arrival, layover and departure. Provided you enter realistic times for stops you can plan trips very well, if you also add some time for miscellaneous stuff you pretty much have it all covered.

    Note though that Basecamp is useless without maps, if you have a Garmin device Basecamp uses the map installed on your device.

    "Tyre" is another free alternative for planning trips although unfortunately windows only. It uses google maps.
  11. The whole story was a bit more dramatic,it was summer and being on the direct route from Canberra to the coast we expected there would be plenty of fuel.Some one had run out of fuel about 20ks back up the road,we hid there bike under a bridge I think and headed to the next town to get fuel and retrieve his bike.Didn't happen till the next morning when the petrol station opened.No such thing as PCs or the net in those days.Taught us a good lesion about planning though
    • Like Like x 1
  12. I use Google maps as a starting point and then a fudge factor based on a number of guestimations. As Tweet and iClint says if you have someone who knows that section of road then it helps to pick their brain. Then apply the fudge factors of:
    • Skill levels of the riders in the group.
    • Size of the group.
    • How many smokers, they will always light up at a break and you need to let them finish.
    • Range of the smallest tank or thirstiest bikes.
    That part requires a bit of crystal ball gazing. I have started to use a spreadsheet I created that you plug in distances and break/refuel points and it gives you a timetable of what times you can expect to be at certain points. Keeping that as a printed list stuck to the fairing bubble gives me an idea of if I am ahead or behind in schedule. I only bother with this on transit stages.

    My best point though I think is allow yourself contingency time. Mechanical breakdowns, flats, riding incidents may need to be dealt with.

    One question I will ask the guys who have traveled into the wilder reaches recently re fuel and 24 hour stations. Unattended pumps with credit card readers are becoming more common. Is this appearing in small town stations yet?
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Yes basecamp is the software to interrogate the BMW Nav, which is specifically made for BMW by Garmin, but it is not a re-badged production Garmin. The data itself is collected and processed by the GPS though, and Basecamp just reads it.

    Many of the servos in rural areas that sit on highways have had 24hr Diesel for a couple of years, and now ULP/PULP is made available in many of those places using your card.
    It was only 3 years back that there was no 24hr ULP/PULP on the Landsborough Hwy (look at the pic of the sign I posted above) between Cunnamulla and Cloncurry, a meagre distance of about 1100km!! Basically if you got fuel at Bourke and didn't make it to Cunnamulla, assuming you could do 500km on a tank you would make Charleville then be stuck all night.

    Sourcing 24hr fuel when in rural areas AND riding back roads you still find very few servos have it. Far Western NSW is one such place.
  14. The raw data is collected by the GPS and stored in a GPX file, any processing is done by software both inside the Garmin or Basecamp or any other software you use.

    If you look at the raw GPX file it's just logging all the data between points, It's the software in both the Garmin/Nav 5 and Basecamp that actually analyses and makes sense of the data collected as you can take your GPX file to other software which can also display useful data.

    For example in the picture below I have simply high lighted one leg of a trip and basecamp has recalculated all the average speeds, and elevation data etc.
    Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 7.17.07 am.

    I find the most interesting use is looking at the speed and elevation overplayed on top of each other for particular legs of trips

    Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 7.37.02 am.

    Ultimately I prefer to plan trips to be fun, not have deadlines or places to be by certain times or razor thin margins to make it to destinations before dark, Leaving plenty of time to setup camp unpack relax or see the sights around the destination. I have found planning trips this way means that even in the event of catastrophic stuff ups or murphy's law you still get to where you need to be with minimal fuss.

    I'd rather cover 600km in a day and see the sights or make unplanned detours than ride with laser beam focus to push out 1000km.

    I'm currently planning my wife's first small tour, she will also be carrying some light cargo, I'm only planning to cover about 300-400km each day over 3 days. We won't have to leave at the crack of sparrows and we will arrive at each destination with enough time to setup camp, do dinner, have a swim etc.

    We're just doing an Oxley highway run with 3 layovers, it's only 300km a day but we will be stopping often and making a lot of detour's off route to see the various stuff along the way.

    I'm using a number of tools Basecamp, Google maps/street view, and my Budget camps & stops book and motorcycle atlas for tips on things to see and do along the way. I also just be using my own knowledge of the various legs of the trip.

    I like to look at the data purely out of interest after the trip but don't really use it for planning future trip's other than to perhaps refresh my memory.

    One of the best uses for GPS though is the ability to mark locations along your trip, by this I mean if you see something of interest but can't go to far off course I just mark it on the GPS as I ride by, I can later then see where that mysterious road goes and or find that location with the great view next time or on the way back.
    • Like Like x 4
  15. Travel time really depends on who you're travelling with and your own mood.

    For example google maps reckons it takes 5hrs10min to get from my place to the Tathra Hotel. I usually leave at around 8am. I have never gotten to Tathra at 1pm. The earliest was 2 and the latest 4. Likewise for a couple of rides I've done to Merimbula. The quickest time I've done was when I was on my own, the slowest was when I was in a small group of 4 riders who rode at a similar speeds to me, but we took longer at stops because it takes longer to fuel 4 bikes than it does 1, it takes longer to feed 4 people than it does 1 etc. On the last ride to Merimbula I had my wife on the back and we didn't get there until 3:30. But on the trip home we left an hour later but got home at 3:30. On the trip down we took our time and stopped a few more times.
  16. I plan based on requirements.

    If I have to be at point B at a certain time, I will plan accordingly. That may mean stopping less frequently, leaving earlier, riding a different bike that carries more fuel or riding in the dark which I don't mind doing. If I'm riding in a group, of course as Mick says, it takes longer to fuel and feed multiple bikes/people so I allow for that. I also take into account the road design, and what if any previous experience on that road I have as well as a factor for the riding style and ability of others in the group.

    Like you Clint, I like to mark places on the GPS when I see what might be interesting when I have no time to go take a look, and then pull it up later at home to see what's there. It can be a great way to find things without wasting time finding nothing riding to the end of a dead end road.
  17. I think that's part of the adventure.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. Great advice (geez I'm writing that a lot here!) Looks like I just added a GPS and basecamp software to the shopping list.
  19. Great thread Tweet (and other contributors).
    I take Google estimates as a best case scenario, excluding refueling and rest stops, and in perfect weather/traffic conditions. And I never EVER take Google seriously on fuel availability and other services. Most of their info is 5+ years out of date if it was ever accurate. Ring ahead, get the info from a human on the ground.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. On the other hand, if you are out on the flats, you can often arrive earlier if you are on your own.

    So was part of the ride in the OP the Alpine Way Road and the Great Alpine Road ? Not many roads in Australia reach 1450m ASL!