Monday, 9 November 2009

How to tackle a new route on your bike

Today I had to go to a different venue for my work - Millbank to be precise. Here's what I think you're supposed to do when you are going somewhere different on your bike:

1. Study route the night before
2. programme route into iPhone, and place iPhone in handy iPhone strap-on device on handle-bars
3. If you don't have an iPhone, print off map
4. stop every now and then to look at by now crinkly map
5. Go back to old fashioned techniques - ask people where to go

Being me, here's what I did:

1. Hurriedly check address as I try to leave house, failing to print map
2. Go on normal commute route, hoping I'll recognise a few landmarks
3. Get lost around Trafalgar Square
4. Suddenly spot Big Ben
5. Find venue just in time.

I suspect that many people are more organised ... but is a cool iPhone the only answer?


JJ said...

Probably not, but A-Zs don't tell you where you are which is useful when you're lost and need to figure out which way to go. I'm not sure I'd put mine on the handlebars though. And don't use anything as an excuse for not being able to read maps, of course.

Paul said...

I don't run to an iPhone just yet, so my low-rent solution to Sat Nav is to have a look at the key junctions on Google Street View the night before - it allows you to make a note of key landmarks on the crinkly map. Works a bit. Sort of.

KarmaCycle said...

So what we need is a waterproof A-Z combined with Google street view ... weirdly enough after writing that last entry I did see a guy carrying about 5 A4 bits of paper in one hand while steering his bike with the other, consulting the papers all the while (I assumed it was a map rather than an important business document he had to prepare for ...). To me that looked seriously dangerous.

Thanks for the comments JJ and Paul - I'm glad I'm not alone with the old getting lost tricks ...

Natalie said...

Despite loving my iPhone I have a far more old skool method when tackling a new route. First I use the route planner - do you know it? You can choose from a direct route, a quiet route or a balanced route. Each one tells you quietness in a percentage and elevation. Then I take a very small piece of paper (a sixth of A5) and write down the turning points on the route: i.e. L Smith St, R Millbank. I then pop it in my pocket and pull it out when necessary. I find the act of writing it down often puts it there in my brain but if not I have an aide memoire to hand. I realise this may sound incredibly organised and dull but it really takes just a few minutes. Plus I am quite obsessed about cycling through undiscovered backstreets and avoiding buses and lorries as a bonus. It's a great way to see some interesting spots!

KarmaCycle said...

Thanks Nat - you're right that does sound very organised, but also very effective and I will try to discipline myself to do that. There's nothing more annoying than being lost and vaguely remembering where you're supposed to be going. For some reason this always happens to me when I have to go any where near Chelsea.

I didn't know that map site either, thanks. I used the Sustrans site but it's not very user-friendly, I found.