Posted by: Ian | October 17, 2012

JOGLE Day 5. Navigation.

Today’s cycling began as yesterday’s ended: on the A78 and more drek. Leaving for smaller roads at Ardrossan did nothing to relieve the horror of the built environment. Added to that, I had a headwind and rain and frequent stretches of road surface, even on the A713, that were so poor that I yearned for a mountain bike.

Town-wise, Largs turned out to be the classiest in the area. If Patna isn’t the ugliest town in Britain I hope I don’t have to cycle through whichever one is. Gone were the quaint Highland tea rooms: this seemed in every sense Another Scotland, and one that might furnish the Daily Mail with evidence for damning views on Scottish nutrition. I went in all four places that I saw advertising food when I started to get hungry. Only in the last could I find anything that I could eat without self-loathing; none of them had anything on brown bread.

In Dalmellington a friendly couple said how nice my bike looked. I thanked them and silently agreed, privately doubting whether there was an equally nice man-made object to be found within a 50 mile radius.

I began to wonder whether my first four days, up to the Dunoon ferry, had been some kind of enchanted bubble that I’d left and could never re-enter. Then I passed a sign announcing Dumfries and Galloway and it was if I’d slipped back behind the magic curtain. The scenery became spectacular again, and remote. The roadway was black and ironed smooth. Even the rain lifted for a while but when it returned it was wonderfully refreshing. I started to find a pedaling rhythm for the first time today.

And so it continued. With only 18 miles to go I stopped at a place in the village of Moniaive called the Green Tea Rooms. There, I had a large cup of excellent filter coffee and a delicious custardy slice of peach and raspberry flan. There was a wood burner and sofas and the girls who worked there were very welcoming (one is a cyclist).

By the time I left the rain had intensified even more: as much of the road was covered from side with running water as was not. I loved it.

In Dumfries it took me a while to get to my B&B because I foolishly got confused by the Garmin’s Route directions rather than just sticking to my pre-defined Course cues. (I explain this in another post on the blog.)

This brings me to my topic… For navigation I have 2.5 methods:

The first, which I use in the evening for orientation, is in the form of pages from a road atlas that I’ve marked up in pink highlighter and cut into sections to bring with me.

The second, my main method, is my Garmin 800, into which I loaded a course for every day. I have the Turn maps switched on, which is usually great but can be misleading (see above). Then I have:
1. A training page with the stats I care about.
2. A navigation page telling how long in distance and time I have to (a) my next course point and (b) my destination.
3. A live list of my time and average speed over each successive mile.
4. The map page, because I don’t think it turns off even if you want it to.
5. A list of course cues.
6. The elevation profile of the upcoming (and previous) couple of miles.

It works a treat.

My 2.5th navigation method (other than asking people) is the google maps app on my iPhone.




  1. Wow. That way you should never ever get lost.
    My main navigation method is the map on the iphone (with a loaded course: for example i set up a course on imapmyride and then have it in red on the screen while on blue i can see the way i am going)
    My secondary method is exactly the same on an android device. The advantage with the android is that you can actually “make available offline” the map areas that interest you (from google maps).
    It worked great while travelling in northern italy and switzerland for about 6-700km. Also it worked great for shorter rides (50-100km) in unknown areas pretty much everywhere in asia, europe and australia.

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