Navigating a route you don't know

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  • Navigating a route you don't know
  • b r

    Make some simple notes, and tape to top tube?


    I use the device now, but prior to that a small hand sketched map / notes

    Premier Icon ononeorange

    Map hung over Camelbak waistband. Doesn’t work well in wet weather. I have usually spent the evening before memorising as much as I can, trying to assess obvious cues etc.


    Map in pocket.

    That’s how you *learn* an area. Once you’ve done the route the first time, you’ll never need the map again. You’ll also have spent far more time eyeballing the actual landscape than if you were being lead along by a black box, so you can end up spotting all kinds of little hidden extras.


    I have a picture memory and very good sense of direction once I have been somewhere before. But the first time can be painful…

    I suppose I could just photocopy a map to A4 and shrink-wrap it before folding and jamming in pocket…


    Do you carry a map in your pocket and pull it out frequently to check?

    Tend to use GPS now but in the past, I’d look at the map and have a reasonable idea how long I can continue before looking for a feature or turn I needed to make and as long as things were progressing as I expect, map reading is kept to a minimum

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer

    Used to scribble a few notes on a scrap of paper. GPS in the back pocket with a handful of “key” waypoints and “bail-out” locations, “just in case”. Only needed to get the real map out 3-4 times so far.

    Premier Icon jam bo

    wing it. getting lost can be fun…

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    @Conan, I prefer the map route. I do have an OS Getamap subscription (£20) which allows me print out sections/ride overview as well – either GPX upload or hand-drawn route. As a backup I tend to track routes via Endomondo so if necessary I can refer to the live track, this is particularly useful in wooded areas without landmarks.

    I did exactly this navigating in Peaks on Sunday, it’s fun to use maps and it doesn’t take long to stop and as above you can enjoy the landscape and identify local features.

    FYI You don’t need a fancy map pouch, I use large sized sealable foodbags, even when map is in camelback to ensure it stays dry.


    Map and an ok memory.

    Here in the Peak it’s not that complex that you need to check every five minutes.

    I managed a whole new 8.5 mile loop with just 2 checks of the map.

    Premier Icon stevomcd

    I tend to just do “map-in-pocket”, but the method they teach on the MBL courses is to use rally-navigator style route cards.

    You do a little sketch of each junction, indicating which way to turn, along with any obvious identifying features (e.g. “church with spire”). From the map, you work out the distance between each junction (and the total cumulative distance at each turn). You then use a bike computer to tell you when you’ve reached the junction.

    Done well, this is really effective, but does require a lot of preparation and also means using a bike computer (which is a pain in the ar$e).


    I use Memory Map, double sided A4 print of the route in my pocket, with backup in camelback. Photocopy would work just as well.


    map and intuition, i find i tend to know which is the right way. You know where you start, you know if you have been uphill, downhill, north south etc. I find the best way to learn is often just to ride.

    Map is there when totally lost for ideas.


    Many moons ago when I first started to explore The Peak I bought a map bundle from which helped a lot (I wasn’t a member on here back then) over the yrs I’ve transfered it all to memory and a highlighter marked OS map.

    I bet if you asked for a Stw’er to show you around you’d get an offer or two

    Usually I just follow my nose and check the map on a regular basic to confirm my current location (and where I’ve been).

    Photocopied map in a A4 sized freezer bag. One side the map, other side some notes.

    The more complex the route the more detailed the notes and the more the map comes out to check off waymarkers.

    Kept in my back pocket.


    How do people do this?

    Do you carry a map in your pocket and pull it out frequently to check?

    I don’t do it very often, so spending money on an electronic device which would lead us round is probably not an option, but I’m thinking that pulling a map out the bag every 5 minutes will be a pain.

    Looking mainly at Peak District routes that we haven’t ridden before.


    If it’s a particularly long / complicated route I’ll create a set of waymark cards (beermat sized) and keep them in a ziplok bag in my jacket pocket – easy to grab them and take a peek whenever you need them and a backup full map in the camelbak for when if you get lost.


    The Peak is a lot like a trail centre anyway, it’s pretty hard to get lost when the ground is battered by a thousand bikes and their tracks every weekend.

    Premier Icon ir_bandito

    bar-mounted dumb-smartphone (sim-free) running mmtracker. Much easier than stop-starting every 200 yards to check the directions.
    When you’re walking, you can read the map on the go. You can’t really on a bike.

    but also carry full OS or at least A4 (laminated) print of relevant area.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    Map and inherent sense of direction / handrailing / tick off waypoints in my head…
    e.g. ‘Down a steep hill, building near bottom on left, woods start at bottom and turn right onto a flat track or trail with lake on right’


    wing it. getting lost can be fun

    +1. I’m rubbish at reading maps anyway.


    Map and almost comically abysmal memory..

    e.g. ‘Down a steep hill, building near bottom on left’ at the bottom of the steep hill the map will come out to check if building was on left or right, was it a building or a bridge..? did I go past it on the left..? the right.? through it, over it or around it..? OK

    ‘past woods on left and turn right at flat track’ five yards later the map comes out to check if woods were on the left or the right, past or through them..? Right or left at the flat track/gate/stile/stream/pub/mill/tree/cake/duck..?

    I ride alone fairly often

    Got to be honest I use a garmin and wish I hadn’t spent the money, ime it is impossible to follow a route. I.e the trck from the recent gorrick race.


    It’s a fact that 2/3 of the earth’s surface is covered by water and everywhere else is on the edge of a map. So go to the OS website and get a 1:25000 map centred on your house. Then, pin it on the wall and spend lots of time looking at all the available routes.

    Premier Icon seadog101

    I splashed out the princely sum of £20 quid on a OS getamap sub.

    So I print out pocket size maplets, and laminate them at work when no one is looking.

    That and a compass do me well.

    Although I do fancy getting one of the cheap garmins. would help me with the type of riding I do.

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