My Favorite Bike Touring Map

May 26, 2017 - Willie Weir blogs for Adventure Cycling every other Friday.

I adore maps — physical maps, maps that fold and sometimes tear, maps that wear the dirt and grease smudges of adventurous travels, maps of places I dream of traveling pinned up on my wall. Every trip I’ve ever taken has begun with my gazing at a physical map.

But of all the maps I have, and I have boxes full of them, I do have a favorite. It is no bigger than three by four inches. It was drawn for me by a man I met on the road in South Africa. He was trying to describe which route I should take. I kept getting confused with his instructions. He pointed to my small notebook and asked for a pen.

After a couple of minutes, he handed it back to me — a little piece of art with the information I needed. There was me on my bike, the town I should sleep in, and the way to the Tugela Valley.

That was many years ago. Today, no matter where I travel, a local is more likely to pull me inside to their computer and bring up Google Maps than to draw one in my notebook. That is magic in its own way, but I still miss the feel of a map.

Am I the only one? Do you love paper maps? Do you have a favorite hand drawn map from one of your tours? Scan it, or take a photo of it, and share it with us.

Photos by Willie Weir

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday.

Willie Weir is a contributor for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can also find him at, Facebook, and Instagram.  



Julian August 9, 2017, 10:05 AM

Hi Willie,

Great post, and to answer your question no, you are not the only one. I share the same love for maps and bike rides. I´m from Dublin, and I'm fortunate to ride a bike every day introducing the charm, history, and traditions of the city, to new people. And I still have an old map of Dublin with all my notes that I use on our bike tours.

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