If you are planning to lead a ride, either use a previously drawn map from one of the mapping websites (the FOBGEE has a club site with hundreds available to share) or map it using one the the above mapping utilities. Share your route in advance by posting the map URL on the blog or emailing it.  You may also want to print and distribute Cue Lists. Here is the general procedure we use.

1) Setup your mapping program to "Follow roads" and if available to "Show bicycle routes."  Set it for the "Map" or "Street View" option.

2) If you are familiar with the area, just click on the roads on which you wish to ride in the direction that you wish to ride.  The program will automatically generate the Cue List

3) If you are not familiar with the area and do not have a previously created route, considerably more analysis is require. 
     a) Set the program to the "Terrain" option so you can see the 

        elevation changes.  Try to put bike routes where the elevation 
        changes the least.
     b) Use Street View in Google Earth to examine the roads that 

         you selected for surface quality, shoulder widths, and absence 
         of rumble.
     c) Examine your route for traffic levels and speed.  Bike Suitability  

        Maps which are usually available from most state departments 
        of transportation.  Keep routes in areas of low motor traffic.
     d) If you are planning a tour, also look for nearby services, 

         such as food/drink, restrooms, and rooms/campsites.

4) For touring you should read Ken Kifer's webpage (click here)


     For long rides (greater than 40 miles) printed maps and Cue Lists are difficult to follow.  Cue Lists generated by RideWithGPS or MapMyRide often have uncommon road names and misleading "artifacts.".  What's worse rural roads often are not marked.
      The best alternative is to download GPX tracks into a hand-held GPS unit or into a smart phone having one of the APPs described below. If you are in unfamiliar territory that has not been marked (such as for a charity ride) you really need a GPS unit to lead a ride. The general practice is

1) Create a route with one of the online mapping programs.

2) Export the GPX track of the route either directly to your GPS unit or smart phone or to map editing program such as BaseCamp or MapSource and then to you GPS equipment..

3) Follow the track while riding.

      The detailed steps for accomplishing the above varies with equipment and editing programs and may get a little complex.  The process is not straight forward and the manufacturers of this equipment do not provide decent instructions.  It is best to find someone using these items and have them show you how to do it.

      An editing program (e.g. BaseCamp supplied by Garmin with the GPS unit) is not needed unless your GPS unit is unable to handle the large number of "bread crumbs" created by the online mapping software, (often a few thousand) such as the case with some of the older Garmin units which limit input to just 500 points.