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I use Google for mapping out long distance tours in areas I don't know. Often it takes me on gravel roads. I can't tell from the app that is not really road bike friendly till I get there. This can really mess up my plans (since I may I have to back track and go around adding hours to the day and getting to my camping destination.

That said - any favorite apps for bike travel - camping? Maps? (I do have warm showers! Love it for emergencies!)

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    There are OpenStreetMaps, but they are community-driven (although generally very good) and their offroad detail will vary depending on that community, and on where you are in the world. I offer this as a start-point, but I have no idea whether your current device can read them. T/he good news is that they're free, so it's probably worth investigating. Aside from that, there are apps like Orux Maps for Android, but this likes for you to be connected (there is a caching feature that I never worked out) and the maps available are quite limited. But again iirc it is free.
    – PeteH
    Jun 18 '16 at 17:51
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    @PeteH I think the problem here is on-road routes that are gravel. Open Street map would be a good tool for checking suspect roads, but I'm not sure if any of the cycle route planners based on it have the option to ignore gravel roads.
    – Chris H
    Jun 18 '16 at 19:32
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is off topic for bicycles. You should ask on softwarerecs.stackexchange.com where this question is specifically on-topic.
    – Criggie
    Jun 18 '16 at 22:55
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    The app can only be as good as the data it uses, which varies by country and supplier. First thing to check is the data source, and look up whats best in your country.
    – mattnz
    Jun 19 '16 at 5:06
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    Thanks for the ideas everyone - this has been helpful! *not sure how this is off topic for bicycles - it is about riding my bike. I would think that finding good roads and good support apps are just as important as good bike equipment and riding techniques, etc.
    – Sandykay22
    Jun 20 '16 at 15:53
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There is no tool that I know of that solves your problem for you.

The way I solve the problem of finding out what a road is like, is to

  • use Google maps to find a route.
  • then use Street View to check the roads at important points. Of course, if the road is gravel, Street View is probably not available.
  • if the route is not what I want, drag the route line to another road, and check that.

In addition (I didn't know about these and haven't tried them) there's Gravel map and similar sites that perhaps could be used to see where the gravel is, so you can avoid it.

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  • Yeah - using street view is a good way of eyeballing a new route, I've done that to get a feel for just how navigable a "path" is, although even that isn't perfect. That site you link to seems very sparse.
    – PeteH
    Jun 19 '16 at 15:18
  • Thanks - I did start using street view with Google maps and it helps from my home computer - not so much when I am out touring across the country and just using the phone. We try to plan ahead, but sometimes we go where the road takes us - thanks for the ideas!
    – Sandykay22
    Jun 20 '16 at 15:47
  • I was surprised just last weekend by a gravel road. I see that road is marked on Gravel Map. I'll be using that site from now on. Thanks for the recommendation!
    – rclocher3
    Jun 20 '16 at 18:23
  • Hi @rclocher3. In a friendly way, I'd like to encourage you to vote more than you do, since I see from your profile that you don't vote much, even on your favourite SE sites. I looked because you took the trouble to comment that this post was useful, and unusually, hadn't voted. Then saw that you were new here. Each SE site has it's own character, created by the behaviour of its members. While voting is completely your option, it's the way SE sites measure our reputations. Please don't take my unsolicitied suggestion as a request to vote on this post :-)
    – andy256
    Jun 21 '16 at 1:52
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There is a tool I know of that solves your problem: OsmAnd (available for free on F-Droid, paid versions on Android Play Store + iOS App Store).

If the region has decent coverage with properly mapped highway types, the app's offline routing offers a bicycle mode + the option to avoid unpaved roads. Whether the data coverage is good enough in the region can be visually checked on openstreetmap.org by zooming in. In the default style, blue dashed cycle ways are paved, while brown dashed tracks are unpaved.

I can only confirm the routing feature for Android, though. The OsmAnd homepage states as of Jun'16:

Navigation (Android only)

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  • Nice to hear there's something!
    – andy256
    Jun 21 '16 at 14:16
  • Also, if the data coverage is poor in your area, then you should help improve it for the next person! It's pretty easy to update OSM using the in-browser editor on openstreetmap.org. Jun 22 '16 at 12:31
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I personally use MapMyRide by Under Armour. It can track routes as you just bike along, or you can plan them out first. It also has community routes that others have completed.

When planning out your route, it tells you elevation and can also indicate gravel or other materials (dirt).

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    Where is the gravel indicator on MapMyRide? I just set a route onto a road I know is gravel. There was no indication that it went from asphalt to gravel.
    – kmm
    Jun 19 '16 at 18:55
  • Hit map options and select "Terrain". I know for sure this is on desktop version but it takes some finding in the app
    – a13a22
    Jun 19 '16 at 18:57
  • Screenshots and more description would seem to be required for this to be a useful answer. Any time you say "not obvious" you should ideally make it obvious in your answer. That way people saying "this is wrong" because they missed it will be inclined to follow your instructions and discover that you're correct! Plus, obviously, you're helping people which is the whole point :)
    – Móż
    Jun 20 '16 at 1:03
  • I do use MapMyRide - great to know there are other views. i can't tell the gravel with the "terrain" view for some reason (I did check it out on a road i know is gravel) I did find the US topo view will show gravel. Thanks for the ideas.
    – Sandykay22
    Jun 20 '16 at 15:49

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