Maps v GPS
It is tempting to hook up with the current enthusiasm (amongst some cyclists) for GPS. Download your route, charge up the battery and mount it on the bar stem. However, when I hear whispers about batteries running flat, or the mere fact that you should never rely entirely on GPS (in other words, carry a set of maps as well!) I am easily dissuaded.
When it comes to maps for long journeys, I hesitate both about the extra luggage and the expense. Maps at a scale useful to cyclists don’t come cheaply, and when you are crossing whole countries, you need quite a few. My solution for my Land’s End-John O’Groats in 2008, was to buy a £1-99 road atlas of Britain from a service station, at a scale of 1: 190,000 (3 miles to the inch) and tear out the relevant pages. As each page was completed, it was consigned to the recycle bin. No temptation, therefore, to parcel up used maps and send them home for keepsake. The other great advantage of using map pages was that they could be folded up small to fit the maptrap, and this meant no stopping en route to unfold and consult large maps. Very handy indeed!
I was delighted to discover the Michelin Road Atlas series at a scale of 1:200,000 (2kms to 1 cm). The France version will see me safely across Switzerland as well. The atlases for France and Italy have cost me a total of £17 and, at the risk of people crying “foul!”, I will tear out the pages I need (about 20 in total) and leave the rest at home.
I have done the same with guide books in the past, tearing out the relevant pages for an area and leaving the bulky bit behind. I know some of you might report me to the Royal Society for the Protection of Books (RSPB), but it does save a lot of weight and bulk. Try it next time. You’ll find if you do it once, it gets easier and easier ;0)
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