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Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 4:03pm
I have quite happily hiked in the Brecon beacons with a 1:25 000 OS map and see little need for GPS there (except in a whiteout) - I have quite a good sense of direction I think.

I arrived in Bastia, Corsica in late April armed with a 1:180 000 paper map and two GPS apps on my phone and tablet. I needed to get out of the city and navigate the small, windy roads through the mountains into the centre of the island. I had been intending to stick mainly to the paper map. Ok I could have done that possibly but it would have taken half a day longer. It's not just about navigating in/out of a city, but also the mountain roads were very windy and full of switchbacks, and in those conditions my sense of direction goes out of the window even with a compass. Yes you can stop and ask locals and use road signs (I did both) but without GPS it would have taken me a lot longer. Which is no problem on an open ended cycle tour, but this was a short 7-day trip and I wanted to cover some ground. Maybe a higher scale map would have helped but I would have had to carry 2-3 of those, and that gets impractical. Plus the GPS were multifunctional i.e. they were my phone and tablet that I could use for other things, whereas a paper map only has a single function.

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 3:49pm
I don't have a cycle computer which can do navigation, so I use an OS map, 1:50000 scale, sure it may be on my smart phone and it may cheat a little by pinpointing my location, but it's still what I use for navigation.

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 3:48pm
As artefacts, I prefer paper maps to screens. I like the way it's easier to read the surrounding countryside on a 1:50 / 100k map. The biggest stumbling block for me always was the fact that I was never very good at reading a map! So for me, a GPS jobbie is a God Send 'cos it simply says, 'You don't know where you are, do you, Simon - let me remind you!' and I can then follow the route I was planning all along, on the paper map! I am used to the way the land shows on an OS map (and to a lesser extent, the IGN Top 100 maps) and so I'll always take them with me. I will take them out to peruse when I have my evening meal, to plan the next day's ride, spreading it out so I can 'see' for miles around.
And the other problem these days is my eyesight but that's just the way it goes!

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 3:23pm
Ironically I've been thinking about this very subject this week as I start thinking about my next trip.

Now that I want to put more effort into Bikepacking/MTB trips I think it will be important to get back to map reading rather than GPS (which will be a handy back-up). The advantage of a paper map is you can hunt down all the fun small forrest trails, bridle paths etc and read contours to have a better idea what is coming.

The largest disadvantage compared to how I now do things is more time navigating and planning and the pain of constantly refolding a 1:50k map.

In some recent trips I've lost the feeling of where I'm actually riding because I'm just following a line on a gps. Though the gps is convenient, easy and takes a lot of stress out of navigating, I think there's something to be had from the experience of interacting with your location while on holiday, as we already spend so much time in a digital world......

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 2:59pm
I'm perfectly happy map reading, I learned with 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 maps while walking a lot in N. Wales and the Lakes from 10 years old onwards. I don't see any need for a GPS device when cycle touring on roads or cycle routes. If I get into multi-day mountain bike routes one day, that could be a different matter.

In towns, my first stop is always the tourist information office to pick up a free map (providing I can find it )

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 2:04pm
I think the OS map through a built up area can work if you know your starting point. Micro-navigation around is possible. I did orienteering at school and often it was done using an OS map round town. Instead of orienteering checkpoints we used hydrant points as they often had fairly unique letters identifying them. It still relied on at best a 1:25k scale. It was not hard if you could be bothered to run around. Personally most of us just got the first few then played dumb saying we got lost. Not the case at all.

I've done walks in new areas and i must admit it often got harder to navigate near human activity. For example forestry is often difficult to navigate as things can change as they work the land. Around farms can get difficult at times as well as when you have to pass through part of a town.

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 1:51pm
Bicycler wrote:but try using your OS map to get you through the cycle networks of an unfamiliar town or city.Quite so. Using even a 1:25k OS map, generally regarded as detailed and revealing by some users, for example walkers, would present a challenge if it was the sole source of info. for crossing a strange city. Horses for courses - pick the right tool for the job! Same could be said for a turn-by-turn satnav-style tool, if you have no specific goal to enter into it, for it to aim at.
I remember the hash I made of navigating across St. Brieux in Brittany, just prior to my getting hold of a GPS equipped jobbie. I wasted most of a whole day trying to get across and out of the town and up onto the main route. It was all my own fault and centred mainly on that good old map readers' adage, Always Know Where You Are! If you don't, you stop and work it out. Now of course, that skill - prerequisite, if you like, is completely irrelevant as far as a GPS-equipped device is concerned, because, by definition, it always knows exactly where you are, providing it's working properly that is - and therein lies the rub...
Use it or lose it! (the skill, not the GPS jobbie... )

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 1:44pm
Horses for courses. I can read a map to a decent level due to years I mean decades of walking and orienteering. I still own a GPS and am looking to buy one for the car. I use my phone maps/satnav too. I find a tool for the use at hand, simple as.

I believe a lot learnt through scouting or similar. My school taught map reading and orienteering to those interested but geography had a short bit on map reading. If someone can not read a map then I question their intelligence, they might not be good at it. It is a pictorial representation of what is there so you just compare the two and you are map reading at a very low level but still map reading. TBH I don't really know if I was taught. My Dad showed me the map and said we are here and we are going there and I just walked the right way. I learnt it purely through practice as that was really the best way for me. Other learnt through Scouts (I knew how before even cubs, better than the cub leaders TBH) which is quite a common source of the skills. Cadets in more urban areas I think.

Once you have a basic gist of map reading a course does help especially if you are into walking. I would not go to Scottish highlands for example without a bit more skills under your belt. Then it is just how far you need or want to take it. If you become a keen walker/outdoors type then I believe a good course is something worthwhile if you can spare time and money. Personally I didn't have either so I learnt the long way round through reading and doing. I have been lost a lot over the years but going back to basics always gets you found eventually.

So I reckon that most people posting on here can read a map not least because they must have some means of getting somewhere and back when riding a bike. Most have visited a new place on holiday using a map from tourist information, etc. It is all map reading. GPS units and phones are very handy and I think the modern way now is to rely on someone telling you what to do/where to go hence the reduced need to use a map. Reliance on the GPS is more common. That does help with the impression people are not map reading or no longer know how but I doubt that is the true case. If it all went pear shaped then I think most GPS users could revert to maps, if they wanted to.

Re: touring tool kit

23 June 2015 - 1:33pm
Tubes x 2 or 3
tyre levers (unbreakable steel)
Tip-top puncture kit, plus box of Park instant patches
proper pump
bits of old tyre for boots
spare folding tyre sometimes, depending on bike weight and state of wear of existing tyres

Victorinox Bit Wrench and a set of bits - 2,3,4,5,6,8 allen, T25, 8 & 10 mm socket, screwdriver
1/4 inch combination spanner (for when the bit wrench is too big to give access - i.e. inward facing upper rack bolt)
Park mini chain tool
NBT2 cassette remover
Leatherman Juice CS4 (sometimes)
pair cone spanners (sometimes)
Swiss Army Knife (not in tool kit)

film tub with spare bolts (rack/bottle, SPD, crank self-extractor, mudguard stay etc), chain powerlinks (2 pair), bits that don't fit in the holder, spoke nipple.
Small bottle of chain oil
zip ties
gaffer tape
electrical tape
pair brake pads
spokes (half a dozen or so, taped to the saddlebag dowel)
rear brake & gear cables (sometimes)

Re: touring tool kit

23 June 2015 - 1:22pm
Mudguard nuts I have replaced Allen bolts and large washers saving the need for a spanner. Likewise a few Shimano mechs take a spanner on the cable clamp and I'd switch to an Allen head. Pedals which take an Allen key are available too.
I'd go for a small adjustable spanner over a fixed one if I needed to carry it, simply because it is more versatile.

I would always take a couple of chain links and two fast links on multi-day tours and I like a Leatherman tool as it has several screwdriver bits, knife and pliers in a compact package.

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 1:19pm
Well it is great that you can read a map, but try using your OS map to get you through the cycle networks of an unfamiliar town or city. Like other Sat Navs I think they have their uses but over-reliance upon them can be a problem. To me they are not a replacement for route planning or map reading skills, but they are a useful tool, even if it is just to check your position.

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 1:17pm
One of the under-appreciated benefits of using a map is the things you can see when route planning, like detours to something interesting nearby or bail-out routes if you are tired or if the weather turns. Personally I dislike things with batteries in them and prefer paper maps.

Re: Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 12:55pm
Always happy to discuss maps and reading them...
I learnt with cub scouts and then school cadet force, but never got very good until I started, quite recently to go for regular walks with a chum and doggins. We do a country walk every fortnight and cover between 8 and 10 miles and as I'm the planner-in-chief I get to do all the navigating, so I'm getting better at it these days. It's definitely a skill that grows on me, I learn the nuances slowly...
For walking, used to prefer 1:25k but am now getting more used to using 1:50k.

Map reading - can anyone do this now?

23 June 2015 - 12:37pm
One of the most useful skills i learnt at school/scouts was map reading. To this day i often pull out a map and peruse the contours and symbols - online mapping can be useful too - if you can read a map and understand what it tells you.

There are regular questions on here about GPS units/apps - today someone even asked for a talking version so i'm curious, do people genuinely not have map reading skills or is it just laziness? If your GPS malfunctions are you lost?


(i can offer a distance learning course of basic map reading for those who don't know what a map is and how to interpret one! )

Re: help...sat nav

23 June 2015 - 11:36am
I have no experience of this app. Never tried it (never even loaded it) but noted it as part of a related app search https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/navfree-gps-uk-roi-+-street/id391334793?mt=8


Re: touring tool kit

23 June 2015 - 11:03am
I've been refining things for many years both toolwise and bike to make things simple so here's the parts/tools i take on tour:-

2 tubes
Park self adhesive patches
Tyre boot
SKS Micro tool - 2 tyre levers and spoke keys
Emergency spoke - no need to remove cassette to use
Multitool with chain tool - all the hex bolts on the bike are covered - my pedals included
Spare computer magnet - lost several over the years!
1 spare nipple - have had one break
1 pair brake pads
1 each gear/brake cables
Leatherman Micro - pliers, blade, screwdriver, bottle opener, file, saw blade
2oz bottle of lube
pair of latex gloves
'j' cloth for cleaning

Bike has self extracting crank bolts so if needed i can remove the cranks. Sealed BB unit, Campag hubs that don't need cone spanners if they needed attention.

If my tool kit can't do the job its a workshop thing ie replacing BB/headset/cassette

All fits into an Ortlieb Micro seat pack - total weight 495g

Re: Finding new touring friends!

23 June 2015 - 9:39am

If you live in S.W. Wiltshire presumably you are fairly close to Warminster. They had their 7th annual Warminster Wobble cycle festival a week ago, which I hear was very successful. Have a look at their website warminsterwobble.org.uk

Re: CTC Poly Bike Bag and Easyjet Questions

23 June 2015 - 9:05am
simonhill wrote:Of course an XRay wouldn't show what was inside the frame tubes so their insistence seemed a bit pointless!!

I used to think this too. I mentioned it to an X-ray guy at an airport once, and he showed me the screen while he X-rayed my frame, demonstrating that airport X-rays can indeed see inside a bicycle frame. Clearly they are using something a bit different from medical X-rays.

Re: Bikepacking the Wessex Ridgeway -It's a date to remember

23 June 2015 - 7:14am
Thank you PH.
Mercalia, I didn't get too wet, just spattered.

help...sat nav

23 June 2015 - 6:32am
i need a free iPhone app that will talk to me when navigating routes. I have downloaded Wikiloc and saw some good routes that folks have put on their site. Question, when i download the routes on to my phone will i have to pay to use them or are they free to use..........anyone?


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