I've been spending way too much time and money lately on somehing peculiar: mapping solutions for long bicycle trips. I dream of having a perfect map that will tell me which roads are awful and which are awesome. Technology is almost, but not quite, there.

DeLorme's Topo USA 7.0 is a good product, and we use it on Bike & Build. Its major strength is that DeLorme researches the data for the product independently, instead of buying it from one of the standard map providers (NavTeq, for example). At least, I think they do. The major weakness of Topo is that it doesn't tell you which roads are gravel.

Garmin packages a bunch of different data. They rebadge NavTeq road data in the forms of CityNavigator and Metroguide. These maps are pretty well suited for in-car use, but don't seem to be ideal for the bicycle.

I've decided that a mapping GPS is the way to go. Instead of waiting for the Garmin Edge 705, I've decided to buy a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. That ought to be here on Tuesday. I'll post my experiences with that device in due time.