Reading a map – why can’t/won’t you?
Well maybe not you specifically
There seems to be a lot of people who can’t or won’t read a map on here and elsewhere ,on a bike or otherwise?
What is it that brings difficulty?Posted 9 years ago
I don’t think I’ve ever been properly lost (When following a map)
Just keep referencing it as you go, check whats around you and relate it best you can to whats on the map? Sometimes a bit little trial and error if the map lacks a key detail or something, but nothing to major enough to worry mestumpy01Member
Well, last time I was at Cwm Carn, I met a couple of blokes after the ‘out of the car park’ climb who had lost some friends. They had gone the wrong way from only a short distance up the climb from the car park!
At a trail centre with only one way to go!! Figure that one out.
Although if I am in a group my sense of direction/memory is rubbish as I literally ‘follow the leader’, whereas if on my own I remember routes much better.Posted 9 years agospeaker2animalsSubscriber
Or is this a dig at us who use GPS and as for routes?
I don’t mind using a map but can get annoyed at stop start. Depends where you’re riding. Out on a moor or open space it’s fairly easy to look at a map, find your line and ride for quite a while without having to recheck. In a forest (like Cannock Chase) if you want to follow a particular route it can be hard as there are trails all over the shop sometimes only metres apart. The idea of using GPS to me is to be able to ride with less stopping. I can use a map and compass. Just don’t want to do so all the time.
Mkay?Posted 9 years ago
I can read a map fairly well but I quite like not having to get it out very often. But once you’ve done a route once with a map you can usually remember the way the next time.
I grew up walking from a young age and was always shown how to read maps etc – I suppose for some people mountain biking is their first real exposure to the great outdoors and they feel less confident in using them.
I do feel that people who only ride trail centres because they can’t read maps are missing out on a hell of a lot.Posted 9 years ago
My thoughts exactly. I’d rather get a little lost than having to stop every 5 minutes to reach into my backpack to get a map.
Where do you ride though? If you want to ride in some of the more mountainous/remote areas of the uk its quite important to know where you are and where you are going.Posted 9 years agoGillesMember
map reading on a bike is just painful, except on top of a moor when you don’t need to look at it every 5 min. I’m using my GPS all the time now, map has a backup. Only problem is when the GPS lost its signal and I have no clue of where I am. A bit scary until I got my signal back.Posted 9 years agoMosesMember
TJ- I’m surprised you don’t need a compass for hiking. I’ve been lost a couple of times on peat mosses in Wales or the Pennines and needed a compass to re-orientate & find my way back to a path. I guess it depends upon the visibility of th tracks you’re following, but I think maps & compasses are a necessityPosted 9 years agomikey74Member
Where do you ride though? If you want to ride in some of the more mountainous/remote areas of the uk its quite important to know where you are and where you are going.
To be fair I do ride in the North Downs most of time where you can never get lost: If in doubt ride up until you reach the top of Leith, Holmbury, or Pitch Hill.
However, when I do travel to other places I tend to stick to marked trails as I am usually on my own and find that map reading gets in the way of a good ride.Posted 9 years agoMrKMember
i usually have a map. especially now i live in scotland. however i remember meeting a scotsman in the quantocks once and he’d never been and never had a map, that was about ten years ago when you’d not see a soul all day. he just had a few vague directions given to him by a bike shop. nutter! a friend of mine who knows the Qs really well has told me about the times he’s got lost there, despite knowing it really well…Posted 9 years ago
Moses – Member
TJ- I’m surprised you don’t need a compass for hiking. I’ve been lost a couple of times on peat mosses in Wales or the Pennines and needed a compass to re-orientate & find my way back to a path. I guess it depends upon the visibility of th tracks you’re following, but I think maps & compasses are a necessity
I don’t think you read TJs post properly.Posted 9 years agomatt_outandaboutSubscriber
Maps take me on adventures.
Nothing finer than an evening with a map, a couple of books, internet, and a choice single malt 8)
Actually the best bit is taking that route, and actually doing it and finding out what its like – thats the adventure bit.
I cycle for an adventure. and for a buzz. and to keep fit. and to get me places I wouldn’t get to in many other ways.
I have to buy a couple of new maps this week – I *am* excited.
I don’t read it every 5mins – most routes are simple enough to follow. Its in forest/lowland that turns etc are every few minutes. On hills, they are fewer.
I have been reading maps since a young un, have ML/Winter ML training. Maps have to be used with a compass in poor conditions.Posted 9 years agocpSubscriber
i can read a map and navigate no probs, and I’m fine with it when walking, as there’s much more time to plan the next turn. However, when biking, it really hacks me off to keep looking at a map for each junction (or remembering a few and checking every few)… but it’s not just junctions you need to take, it’s the ones you need to avoid, and this i think is where gps comes in nicely.
I have just discovered the delights of memory map, creating waypoints and downloading these to the gps (just a basic etrex). The ability to keep riding, and just check the map every so often is fab, riding straight past junctions that might have been ‘should i, shouldn’t i’.Posted 9 years agoMr AgreeableSubscriber
What everyone else said, not to mention awkward to carry, fragile, you’re always on a bloody crease on the thing, and at six quid a pop you need to spend as much money as a GPS system costs if you ride in more than a relatively small area.
For a lot of people’s local riding, maps are redundant. In terms of sussing out new routes they can be useful, but they don’t tell you that much about the terrain you’re going to ride. For the majority of my riding I’d rather do it by route guides, word of mouth or blind exploration.Posted 9 years agoheiheiMember
I can spend hours looking at maps and find that after a while you can build up a great mental picture of an area you’ve never been to, which can help on the ground. However, I do understand those who hate the stop-start of reading a map and biking. The trick is to build up your “map memory” – again something that grows over time.
I did 2 night rides in the Lakes over New Year in an area I’d never ridden before. We got lost a couple of times, but navigating and working out the correct route just added to the huge satisfaction of night riding in such an awesome area.
I do ride regularly with someone who can’t read a map for toffee, and even after riding the same trails over and over still doesn’t know where he is!!
BTW Women CAN read maps, they just have to keep turning them round to face the direction of travel!!Posted 9 years agoaracerSubscriber
I’d rather get a little lost than having to stop every 5 minutes to reach into my backpack to get a map.
Why not use a map board then? Still not sure why more people don’t use one for general ridng where they’re having to use a map regularly – it really does take away a lot of the hassle. I can understand why a lot of people don’t like maps, though for me it is all part of the experience (and I much prefer exploring to riding somewhere I know so well I don’t need a map at all, which is the case for anywhere I ride reasonably regularly).Posted 9 years agoCaptainMainwaringMember
So agree with matt_outandabout. Planning a route over a map to get the feel of the terrain with a glass of something alcoholic to hand is a pleasure in itself. To preserve the OS map, and to make sure you are never on a crease, put the route into Memory Map or whatever and print out. Put in plastic folder – easy to get in and out of a pocket.
Have GPS in my pack just in case I get lost or need to double check on where I think I am.Posted 9 years agosimonfbarnesMember
I love getting lost, and as a result my map reading ‘skills’ are undeveloped – though these days I do find it hard to get lost because I’ve done most rides dozens of times 🙁
I’m famous for carefully following the map only to go in a complete (unintentional) circle :o)Posted 9 years ago
Moses – for me navigation is a process not an event. I set off knowing approximately my route and by looking around keep orientated – using tracks or not.
If you are always aware of where you are then you don’t get lost. Be aware of where north is and what direction you have come from and observe the lie of the land.
I have been going out in the hills by bike and by foot for decades tho – it just becomes second nature to remain orientated in the landscape.
I carry a map and compass but my treating navigation as a continual process rarely need one. Plantation forest is the one place I find you need them a fair bit to ensure you are on the correct path.Posted 9 years agomatt_outandaboutSubscriber
The ‘mental picture’ thing is important as well – I too can look at a map and ‘see’ in my head the terrain, the basic layout and turns etc. This means some rides are very straightforward, and even not knowing a route, I may get the map out very occasionally – eg on coast to coast in Scotland, we got from Kingussie to Ballater, and only checked the map once all day (The turn off the road over the ‘dont ride this bridge’ the Feshie. Next day was the same, with only checks being made were road turns – after going over Mt Keen. But these were clear days on ‘big mountain hill tracks’.
Micro-navving in Sherwood is a different matter! Mind you, its that small, getting lost is difficult!Posted 9 years agomolgripsSubscriber
I don’t think I’ve ever been properly lost (When following a map)
I have. Sometimes the maps are wrong, sometimes trails have changed a lot over the years. Often trails on the map are just not there on the ground, or they’re impassable. Or overgrown so you can’t see them. Of course, if you’re in the lakes or Scotland where your ride is ‘this great big trail over this pass between two huge mountains, followed by this big pass trail back’ then navigating is a breeze. Picking your way through a murky Welsh forest where no-one goes apart from foresters digging up old trails and laying new ones, and the map data is 15 years old is another matter.
It’s not trivial, even if you do have a map.Posted 9 years agodominoSubscriber
I walk as well as cycle and love maps, I can happily spend ages looking at potential routes and joining up bits I know with unexplored areas.
It was nice when I moved house to look to see where I could ride from home – I have a choice of maps if I ride from home, The South Dales or The South Pennines – Burnley, Hebden Bridge, Keighley & Todmorden. To ride from home the South Dales map is more prefereable, riding from the other map results in muddy farm tracks, locked gates and bridleways that end suddenly.
Its got to be said though, map reading can end in some comedy arguments though!Posted 9 years agoportercloughMember
I’ve never been lost cycling in the Peak District as I have a map with me.
However I did get ‘lost’ going around Cannock precisely because I didn’t have any sort of map and was just following the way signs and trying to relate it to the sketch map in the car park – so had to go all the way round with no idea how near the finish or whether there was a short cut, which I didn’t like, much prefer to know where I am.Posted 9 years agoSammySammSammMember
It’s a strange feeling seeing a path on a map and just “knowing” it’ll be a good one in terms of view and terrain. The challenge is linking those paths up – and it’s even more fun up in the Highlands where paths tend to dissapear to nothing, halfway down a vally miles and miles from any road…
As I think it’s been said, if you review the path you’ll take extensively in more terms than just “left here, right here” then you can often get a long way without needing to look at the map. It’s only when you think you’re at the top of that really nice decent the bloke in the shop mentioned and pointed to that you need to double check where you are- just incase it isn’t this one!Posted 9 years ago
Scotland where your ride is ‘this great big trail over this pass between two huge mountains, followed by this big pass trail back’ then navigating is a breeze.
Or its – “hmmm – the trail has disappeared. We need to go thru that pass and hopefully a trail reappears – well we need to go down the nth side of that glen”Posted 9 years ago
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