For general background on countries, start with the Web, the library, and WikiTravel.
For information specifically on cycling in a country, go to Travelling Two – Bike Touring Inspiration and look under Resources to see the By Country page with clickable map and a list of countries grouped by region. See also Worldbiking for their A-Z project.
We’ve learned to ignore the warnings against cycling contained in general guidebooks. These are often alarmist or downright silly, clearly written by a non-cyclist. It’s best to read other cyclists’ blogs to get a realistic feel for bike travel in any given country or region.
For planning at home, we use paper copies of guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, & National Geographic from the library. On the road, we carry a small netbook or tablet to view pdf versions of Lonely Planet.
Making an effort to learn at least a few words of the local language has huge paybacks. Knowledge of greetings and numbers goes a long way, and body language is always important. Margo speaks fluent French, adequate Spanish, and some very basic Mandarin. She has become used to the format of Lonely Planet phrase books, and uses these for less widely-spoken languages as needed.
If you are not good at languages, there are books of pictograms to help communicate basic travel needs. Phrasebook and translation apps for I phones are now available.
For visa information or entry requirements, look at official government pages for each country. In some cases you’ll need to plan well ahead, so get organized and start early. Even if you find yourself gritting you teeth, don’t let bureaucracy stop you from going on your dream trip.
For complex itineraries to neighbouring countries with tense relationships — having two passports can be a boon. One way to have two passports is to have dual citizenship. We understand that — in exceptional situations — it may be possible to hold two Canadian passports.