What’s so good about road cycling maps?

Portland Heights - Road cycling mapsIn a previous and very popular post, Christian Coates, a CTP Operator at Dennis Maps, told us about his hobby of collecting trig points. Christian is now back to talk about another of his interests, road cycling, and how he uses road cycling maps.

What made you take up road cycling?

Simple – we couldn’t afford two cars! We lived on the outskirts of town and my wife needed the car for work, so I bought an old mountain bike for the four mile round trip to work.

Then I began arranging bike rides for the staff of what was then Butler Tanner & Dennis. The first one was in 2009 to Kilmersdon and back. Nine people went on that ride and we used old Ordnance Survey maps – before we even started printing them!

A colleague of mine had a road bike and did events called Exmoor Beast and Longleat Lionheart. I wanted to try this as well, so I changed my bike using Cyclescheme, which helps you save money and spread the cost of a new bike and accessories.

I got a Felt N85 Road Bike. It was totally different and I literally had to learn how to ride it, it was so difficult. In 2012 I did the Exmoor Beast, over the Quantock Hills and Exmoor.

What do you think the benefits are?

It’s great to be outdoors, and good for heart, lungs, body, mind and soul. It’s not just good for your physical health, it’s a form of therapy that helps you escape the stress and pressure of life and work, so it’s good for your mental health too.

What type of bike do you ride now?Salisbury Cathedral - Cannondale Liquid Gas SuperSix

I’ve had a Cannondale Liquid Gas SuperSix since 2012. I’ve used it for Ironman events and I call it my Iron Lady. I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

I also have a Fuji Norcom Time Trial bike that I plan to use next year, and a couple of others as well. My family all have bikes. We need a trailer to take them all when we go on holiday!

How do you use road cycling maps and OS maps when planning your route?

I use OS paper maps for preparation, I’m a big fan of the Explorer series. I will look at a map and choose an interesting place and then plan a route of how to get there. It’s old fashioned, but much more fun.

Some cyclists have Garmin watches and they download a map from their computer to their Garmin. But then they get absorbed in following the exact route rather then enjoying the scenery.

If I get lost, it’s not a big deal. I don’t want to keep checking a map and I’m lucky to have a good sense of direction. I do have a GPS watch, so I can cross reference if necessary.

What’s your favourite ride?

Prospect Stile - Favourite spots for cyclingI have a top three. First would be Portland Bill and Weymouth. The scenery is stunning and the cycling is great there.

Second would be what I call the Christmas Detox. It’s Frome – Radstock – Bath – Frome. It can be done as a novice ride with beginners, plus you can stop en route for some refreshments, so maybe it’s not such a detox after all!

Third would be jointly Stourhead Gardens, Longleat Estate, and Chew Valley Lake, such beautiful places. I use Sustrans Cycle maps to plot my route for some of these.

Keen cyclists always ask about your favourite hill. Mine would be King Settle Hill, leading to King Alfred’s Tower. It’s a 1 in 17 gradient, which is the hardest.

What events would you recommend to someone wanting to get involved?

There are hill climbs every month, and time trials along the Frome bypass. One of the most popular time trial routes for someone new who wanted to give it a try is around Mere and over the Deverills, 25 miles in all.

Personally, I do triathlons, which are swimming – cycling – running, and Sportives, which are road racing over a long, rolling route arrowed out in advance.

Any advice for people wanting to start road cycling?

Contrary to what you may think, it doesn’t have to cost much. Buy yourself a good new helmet, but then look on eBay for a secondhand bike. No need to spend a fortune – just enjoy it. Then when your family see you the fun you’re having, they will want to join in, and it can become a family pursuit.

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