How to find the route [cyclable]
Whoever embarks on a short or long trip on bicycle must first of all deal with the problem of finding one’s way. The problem can seem trivial if the route is already known, but becomes more complicated when one ventures to new locations following dedicated bike paths or marked bike routes. Even when the latter are well signed it is possible to lose one’s way and find oneself off the intended route, with the risk of time wasted, increasing the distance of the route, or to find oneself on a road busy with traffic.
I myself, during my bike rides, in order of reliability, use:
a good-quality map: it is the best assistance, and in fact the only means to find one’s way back to the bike route when one is lost. By comparing the map with the actual surroundings in general it is easy to reestablish the right direction; it is important as well to observe the position of the sun in relation to the time of day to orient the map correctly.
a GPS navigation device: those with embedded maps are less than ideal, having been designed for automobile drivers, not for cyclists: bike routes tend to be ignored. The most basic and inexpensive GPS receivers intended specifically for hiking and biking function really well. They are very useful to store the various routes and always to know one’s location.
the signs along the bike route: they are a major help, but at times they are in a barely-visible location or missing altogether; and if you lose the bike route, you will have lost the signs as well that are usually posted only along the route; at this point there is no option except to refer to one’s map … or
passers-by: it’s a bit of a gamble, it can go very well or very poorly, and it is not always easy to assess the reliability of the passer-by on the spot… In Germany it is easy in that it will be the passers-by who will offer their assistance; just stand still for a few moments to study a map, and somebody will appear to offer their kind assistance; it is better all the same to double-check the map to see if the directions make sense or not…; the most reliable are usually (for obvious reasons) other cyclists; it is wise to be wary of non-cyclists, they usually direct one to main roads and with traffic…