a Tactical Route and a
Social Support Network for a Long Ride
Planning to undertake a long ride in a foreign land can initially be a very daunting proposition, as everything in that country is going to be unfamiliar to you. The weather, terrain, roads, traffic, even the law and the culture are all going to be different from that in your own country. First, familiarise yourself with the terrain on your chosen route,
Using “Google maps”, plot the first draft of a reasonably direct route. Then log onto “Google Earth” which is a free software package that uses satellite imagery, maps and layers of other information to create a realistic 3D aerial view of just about anywhere in the world. Zoom in to where you plan to start the ride. You can then set the tilt control so the horizon just comes into view, and then you can follow every mile of your proposed route in 3D, as if in a helicopter flying over where you plan to ride. You can see every hill, road, track, river, and building, absolutely everything. It even has a measurement tool, so you can accurately determine the distance you will be riding.
If you are planning a ride in the USA, try to set up a support network. A horse friendly “band of brothers”, people that would be willing to help, if and when, the need arises, and who will also provide you with somewhere safe to spend the nights, and rest days. "Search” for the Fairgrounds, Rodeo grounds, and campgrounds on your route. Call the County Sheriff, the Mayor, feed store owner, the Chamber of Commerce, or tourism officer. Tell them you are looking for somewhere to stay, around a certain date, and ask if they know of anywhere.
And Long Rider Jean-Louis Gouraud, who rode from Paris to Moscow, has assured The Guild that, when travelling in France, it is only necessary to telephone the Mayor of the next town along the route to ask him for information about where to stay the following night.
If your journey is in a far-flung, non-English-speaking country, then you can still use Google Earth to plan your route but, unless you speak the local tongue, setting up a support network will be much harder. Still, try and find somebody to help you at the beginning of your journey. He or she is likely to know more people along your planned route, and so your first few days should be relatively easy until you get into the swing of things, know more about the local culture and language, feed availability and so on.
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