I’m a man who likes to keep it simple and multifunctional – and that means I’ve had my trusty paper map of the UK – just 99p from Morrisons, for many years now. It’s followed me from car to bike and although it’s lost half its cover all the key bits are still there.
Granted it means that on the bike when needing to check a route, I’ve had to contend with trying to find dry places sheltered from the howling wind and rain, folded pages that refuse to bend, trying to get it in and out of tank bags without ripping it and of course getting cold hands in and out of my dripping wet gloves.
Andrew Dalton has a sat-nav of course and when he was upgrading his gear handed me his old Garmin Zumo 550 urging me to enter the 21st Century of map reading.
It was last year as I was headed out on the RBLR 1000 with Martyn that I thought I might as well get on board and put it to use – once I’d got one of the team to take pity on me and upload the route to it!
1000 miles later and I was a convert! Now it becomes clear why people who have a sat-nav seem so in love with the little machines. The ability to tap in a postcode – whilst wearing thick gloves, and have it clearly come up and easily guide you to your destination has cut through the traditional faffingaround with paper maps.
Getting a real-time estimation of arrival, having a zoom out map to see the entire route, safety camera alerts, a clear indication of when the next turning is and a big reduction in the number of times stopping to check the route-map have just added an extra layer of comfort to the biking experience.
I particularly like being able to find petrol when the Kwak is running on fumes, a place to eat and in some emergencies a cheap hotel to crash out in.
Whilst I’m no computer geek I’ve even worked out how to use the avoidances so I don’t end up on the motorway if I don’t want to. However I admit my boredom threshold kicks in at the thought of trying to work out how to plan routes on the computer and upload them.
It’s a seductive bit of kit – and on at least one occasion I’ve been lured into taking the most long winded route to get somewhere when I’ve known better, simply because the sat-nav was directing me to.
Once I realised I was being sucked in I’ve made sure I don’t abandon my common sense and get lulled into a false sense of security – sometimes a human brain really is better than a computerized one.
Last week as I was heading to Royal Leamington Spa I didn’t hesitate to reach for the sat-nav. I still keep my old faithful map in the top box just in case, but first choice was definitely the little gizmo particularly in the pouring rain.
Have you been converted to using sat-nav instead of the more traditional paper based map? How do you plan your journeys, do you get a rough idea before setting off then just put your faith into following road signs or is the route planning more detailed than that? Tell us in the comments below
Andrew Prendergast aka Chef