Apr 4, 2008

i don't need no stinkin' map...

...or do i??

i've always had a fondness for paper maps. there was some sort of instant bond the first time i opened one up - even if i couldn't get it folded again. opening a map was like expanding the world, new areas to explore, new places to go.

over the years, i became adept at reading maps, quickly figuring out where i was and picking out routes to get me where i wanted to go. did i ever get lost?? sure, but that was part of the adventure.

fast forward many years... i get a gps for my bike... did i need it?? of course, not, especially since i'm an expert map reader. it's fun toy, a complement to my paper maps, certainly not a replacement.

over time, i used the gps more and more... learning how to use it, exploring the capabilities, the ease of use. it's not perfect, it did get me on the wrong road a time or two, but it could correct itself and ultimately get me where i wanted to go. but i got lost using paper maps too, so i guess i can't fault the gps too much.

the more i used the gps, the more i liked it. the more i could use it to my advantage and avoid it's disadvantages. and the more i used it, the less i used paper maps. heck, i can't even remember the last time i looked at a paper map. unless you count the pirate maps my son and i plan our adventures with...

even though i still carry paper maps on my rides, i'm thinking they're more conversational pieces, bits of history. that was until my wife, always looking for a good deal, found an offer for a free motorcycle map!! a double-whammy. not only a motorcycle map, but a free one!!!

i jump online, head over to america rides maps, and order me up a map. the hardest part was decided which one to get. the maps mostly cover western north carolina, an area i'd like to spend a couple extras riding around. and heck, with a new map, i'd have a reason to take a couple extra days.

after i ordered the map, reality started to set in. what the heck am i really going to do with this map?? after all, i have a gps. and my paper maps are just along for the ride - they don't play an active role in my riding anymore... at worst, this map would give me some ideas of roads to ride...

a couple days later, the map arrived... i tell you, i'm pretty impressed with it. first thing i noticed was the paper it's printed on. looks very durable and waterproof - an important feature when you're taking a trip on a bike for a few days. the size of the folded map is perfect - it can easily fit into a windshield bag or even a jacket pocket.

unfolding the map was like entering new worlds again, discovering roads and areas i never knew existed. i was also discovering how much was packed into this map. on one side is the maps itself. with 'featured' roads, marked in red, and easy to follow. the addition of gas stations marked on the map takes the concern out of riding and wondering when, or even if, you're going to make it to the next gas stop.

route descriptions are on the other side of the map. they contain everything you need to plan the route - mileage, turn-by-turn instructions, road types, traffic patterns and other useful information to make the trip enjoyable. there are also suggested rides, which helps take the guesswork out of creating your own perfect trip from scratch.

the next time i travel to western carolina, some things will be different... the trip will be a couple days longer and i'll be bringing this map along. not only that, i'll actually be using it to plan a couple rides around the area, taking roads i would have never found or taken with just my gps.

the america rides maps have brought the paper map back on par with the gps - more of a companion again... check them out - for five bucks you can't go wrong. hell, throw in the extra three bucks and get the waterproof.

happy ridin'...