My cycling has been a bit (whisper it) boring for most of this year – I’ve been busy and haven’t had the time to just go out for the hell of it and my two cycling buddies have been as bad, inexplicably letting husbands and children and their careers take priority over going out exploring by bike. So realising that I was in danger of wearing a groove in the road between here and the papershop, I siezed an opportunity today to do a ride I’d long wanted to try out.
Sanquhar is a little town up in the hills, that seems rather a long way from anywhere, and there was a lunch being held there which I’d been invited to. I knew I’d never manage the round trip, but there’s actually a station there and I calculated that if I took my bike up with me on the train, I could ride it back along the back roads. Google maps calculated it would be about 28.5 miles, (plus 8 miles to the station in the morning) – not too much of a stretch, although rather longer than I’ve done in a long time. And, more importantly, more or less downhill, although of course I knew that even so the roads have a way of going up as well as down.
The only problem was navigating home. The back roads are signposted on the basis that if you don’t know where you are you probably shouldn’t be there, and the google map instructions were of the ‘travel along unknown road, take third left onto unknown road, right on unknown road’ sort that didn’t fill me with confidence. My GPS had only a very out of date OpenStreetMap map on it that didn’t show any of the roads in the area as it dated from the time when practically the only mapper in the region was me. Time to update it, I thought. And then left it to this morning to actually do, not calculating that downloading several hundred meg of map file on our internet connection was going to take a looooong time.
Still, download it did, with about five minutes to spare and I unzipped it and started transferring it onto my GPS. ‘transfer will be completed in 18 minutes’, it said. Aargh. Cancel that. Could I memorise the route? Could I print it out in time and still catch my train? Could I rely on an almost blank GPS to point me in the right direction and just wing it?
It was at that point I remembered that in the other room we had some amazing hi-resolution navigational gadgets with an incredible battery life, and wide screen, full colour views of the whole route – and all weighing just grams.
And no, I didn’t get lost, although I did (stop me if you’ve guessed already) get rained on on the way home.