(a.k.a. user error)
Today I had on paper (or on screen at least) a straightforward route from home to Kirkby Lonsdale via Sedbergh, a ride of 22.5 miles mainly downhill. With that all set out I ushered the support vehicle (a fancy name for Lydia in my beat up Honda) to rendezvous at 12:30.
Trusting a little too much to the new technology of Garmin Edge Touring GPS and the mapping software at ridewithgps.com (since Garmin’s BaseCamp software is a crock of …) I didn’t inspect the map to closely, in particular the sections avoiding main roads. So once lost or at best unsure of the route around Sedbergh golf course, I failed to use the small screen map with any expertise (my best blame factor was the sunlight). It looked like the club was a dead end and everyone around was too busy playing golf so I had nobody to confer with.
A few u-turns, circles and map re-checks still didn’t help so I legged it back on the main road into Sedbergh before getting on the principle road to Kirkby Lonsdale. All this time the GPS was bleeping and flashing “Off course” and I continued to ignore it (as is my wont). I reset the GPS direct to KL. More bleeps and turn instructions to side roads followed and I chose to go with it hoping I’d save time and get away from the moronic motorbike riders who seemed to delight in passing very close to me at extremely high speed (not all but enough of them to cheese me off).
Before long I was trapped in something like a scene from “The Prisoner” as every junction in what turned out to be a large private estate had signs saying ‘No though road, no cycles, no walkers, no right of way’. Having run out of options (the GPS merely indicated a ‘service road’) I had to back track to the main road. Another such short cut ended up at a very overgrown bridal way which would have been difficult to follow even on a mountain bike, so I turned round yet again.
My journey ended up at over 31 miles and took 2 hours 45 minutes, a full one hour longer and almost 50% further than planned. In post-ride analysis It turned out that I’d suffered a ‘fat finger’ episode in re-selecting the destination.
The lessons learned:
- don’t blindly rely on a GPS
- check twice, ride once
- study the map more carefully
- if in doubt stick to the roads with meaningful signposts.