Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fancy A Day As A Human Sat Nav Anyone?

UPDATE: **I know there are a few places linking to this post and so people are still coming to it anew... so it seemed worth writing this little update to say that I reckon I've got pretty much all of the days covered now. Thanks to everyone who's offered their services, it's really appreciated.**

When I first mentioned that I was going to do this upcoming tour by bicycle I was surprised by the number of people who got in touch asking if they could accompany me on this day or that.

I was very wary about saying yes for various reasons... for one I wanted to avoid a feeling of responsibility. I'd get an e-mail from a stranger asking if they could accompany me and I obviously wouldn't know anything about them at all. What if they'd never cycled on the road before? What if their bike was unsafe and falling to pieces? I'd feel horribly responsible for their safety all of a sudden... and I definitely didn't want that.

But more importantly... I had no way of knowing how I'd feel about the ride when it was months away. People I didn't know were basically getting in touch in April to ask me if they could spend a day with me in September and I had no way of knowing what mood I'd be in by then. Maybe I'd be craving company? But then again, maybe I'd be craving solitude? It seemed impossible to predict when the whole thing was months away.

Of course, that was before I'd done any meaningful training...

But then, a short while ago, I did a training ride - 90 miles a day for three days - and I discovered quite a bit about myself, my bike and my attitude. I wrote about it at the time and one of the things that was most apparent was how different I felt when I was cycling on familiar turf. I cycled from Bethnal Green to Witney, from Witney to Stafford, from Stafford to Northampton and then I got the train to Euston before pedalling home.

For most of the travelling I was relying on my sat nav... but when I got off the train at Euston my instincts and local knowledge kicked in and I realised I'd been missing that out on the open road.

Which is why I've decided it would be useful to tap into other people's local knowledge. I don't want to invite strangers to accompany me - making me feel like a tour guide and giving me a responsibility that doesn't sit easily with me - I want to see if there's anyone out there that feels like being my guide for a day instead.

If you're a regular cyclist and you know your way between any two of my tour dates and you fancy being my Human Sat Nav for the day then get in touch. I'm not necessarily looking for the shortest or quickest routes - it's not a race after all - but the best route with the most to see and do. (One that avoids killer hills would be good too.)

There's obviously no real flexibility about the dates and destinations... the gigs are booked after all. It starts on August 30th when I'll be cycling from Lizard Point to Grampound near Truro.

From there it's as follows:
Aug 31: Grampound -> Liskeard
Sept 1: Liskeard -> Exeter
Sept 2: Exeter -> Taunton
Sept 3: Taunton ->Bristol
Sept 4: Bristol -> Swindon
Sept 5: Swindon ->Wycombe
Sept 6: Wycombe -> Cambridge
Sept 7: Cambridge -> Ipswich
Sept 8: Ipswich ->Lowestoft Ness
Sept 9: Lowestoft -> Kings Lynn
Sept 10: Kings Lynn -> Peterborough
Sept 11: Peterborough -> Leicester
Sept 12: Leicester -> Stoke on Trent
Sept 13: Stoke on Trent -> Salford/Manchester
Sept 14: Salford -> Preston
Sept 15: Preston ->Lancaster
Sept 16: Lancaster ->Kendal
Sept 17: Kendal ->Threlkeld (nr Keswick)
Sept 18: Threlkeld -> Carlisle
Sept 19: Carlisle -> Dumfries
Sept 20: Dumfries -> Cumnock
Sept 21: Cumnock -> Glasgow
Sept 22: Glasgow -> Dumbarton
Sept 23: Dumbarton -> Ardlui
Sept 24: Ardlui -> Fort William
Sept 25: Fort William -> Ardnamurchan
Sept 26: Ardnamurchan -> Glenfinnan
Sept 27: Glenfinnan -> Fort Augustus
Sept 28: Fort Augustus -> Inverness
Sept 29: Inverness -> Dornoch
Sept 30: Dornoch -> Lyth
And then finally, on October 1st I'll complete the journey by reaching Dunnet Head.

If you fancy being my Human Sat Nav for the day - and you're an adult of sound mind - drop me a line via my website.
It's going to take some organising and I might well get three offers for day 6 and none for day 7 (or none at all) so please put in a bit of information about how much you cycle and how you've tackled the journey in question before. And put in as many contact details as you can... that'll help me to get myself organised and to be in touch to work out quite how this'll hang together.


BenAS said...

Brilliant idea. I would love to be a guide for you, but sadly I can't make the dates you're near Bristol.

Leonie said...

I would love to do Cambridge to Ipswich (I'm in Ely) but don't cycle at all! I imagine you'll get a lot of offers for Cambridge, seeing as you can't move there for falling over someone's bike!

Rich said...

I hope you write a book about your experiences! Such a unique idea

Paul said...

If you get multiple offers on a day you can ride as TEAM GORMAN, much easier doing distance in a bunch.

I think Kendal ->Threlkeld will be tough, the lakes aren't really that flat! We are coming to the Kendal gig, I'll email you a route from Lancaster to Kendal, used to live in Kendal and ride around there a lot, and if I can make it would love to ride it with you

Neil Jenkins said...

Hi Dave,

Is your idea to just have someone who knows the route or also to gather mini pelotons for each leg to keep you company? Either way, it's a great idea.

I'm living in France right now but hope to be back in the Bristol area by September so would be up for joining you into or out of Bristol. I'm a regular road cyclist and am used to covering distance, so completing a leg wouldn't be a problem.

By the way, have you thought of contacting local road cycling clubs at each stage of your journey to see if they could be involved? The members of these clubs tend to have a good knowledge of local routes and cycle 100km+ week in week out, so would be good companions.

I'd be happy to help out with coordinating something related to this for you if you like.

Best regards,

Neil Jenkins said...

> Paul said ...
> If you get multiple offers on a day you can ride as TEAM GORMAN, much easier doing distance in a bunch.

Yes indeed! The members of Team Gorman can take turns to do all the work on the front to guide our star man to his destination with the minimum of effort. The Mark Cavendish of comedy!



Unknown said...

Is this only open to people called "Tom" ?

Richy said...

I'm sure my dad would love to help! He's already doing it for someone else - check - they're doing a pretty similar thing to you Dave!

Anywho, best of luck on your adventure!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to help but there's two problems: 1) My bike is looking distinctly rusty in the garage and 2) you aren't coming anywhere near me! Best of Luck

Jackie Diamond said...

I've only just got back on my bike after years so wouldn't be confident enough to offer any suggestions for a route from Glasgow to Dumbarton which is the closest part of your route to me.

Otherwise, I'd have loved to put myself forward as one of your human sat navs. I'm sure you'll get plenty of volunteers anyway. I'll make do with seeing the show at the Pavillion.

Ryan said...

Would it controversial to suggest a bike specific satnav for when you cannot get a human satnav?

I would rather have a human guide as the company makes things fun but if I was going lots of places that I did not know I would consider buying a Garmin Edge (Although very very expensive).

Fonant said...

Dave, your should talk to the CTC (, , 01483 238 337) who are like the AA for cyclists (in fact the AA was formed as a break-off group from the CTC in the early 1900's). Ask for the Touring Department for route advice.

The CTC know all there is to know about LEJoG, including bike-friendly accommodation along the way. I'm sure many of their 60,000 members are fans of yours, and would be very willing to offer advice on routes, show you the way, etc.

The good thing about cycling is that you get fit for it very quickly, compared to other sports. Look after your knees, though, and consider placing a peeled banana in your cycling shorts each day to prevent saddle sores :)



Neil Jenkins said...

] I don't want to invite strangers ... making me feel like a tour guide and giving me a responsibility that doesn't sit easily with me - I want to see if there's anyone out there that feels like being my guide for a day instead.

OK, Dave. Understood.

I suggest, therefore, you aim to assemble a small group of 4-5 riders for each stage to guide you from A to B. By 'guide', I mean not only take you on the best route (good road surfaces, minimum traffic, direct, avoiding big hills where possible, etc.) but also to take turns working for you on the front hepling to take you through with the minimum of effort on your part (you'll have a show to do at the end of each leg, afterall!), keeping you company, and helping you carry stuff (drinks, food, unecessary Sat Nav, etc.). So, the group WILL be your guide, in more ways than one.

I still think contacting road cycle clubs is a good way forward (they're also pretty good at emergency roadside maintenance too, on the rare but important occasions such abilities needed).

Best regards,

Biker Betty said...

Would we be allowed to talk to you on the way or just give you directions 'a la sat nav'?

i.e. Dave, please take the next exit and then turn right.

If so, I will have to get practising on my computer voice impression...

Bassettsandbeyond said...

hello Dave,
my name is Luke Bassett and i'm a massive fan. I live with my flatmate, James Fishwick. He also a massive fan. Not only will we be coming to the Exeter show but we are also mad about bikes and own about 10 between us with all the gear imaginable. James goes on bike rides all the time and could easily navigate you to or from Exeter as he is the manager of a local bike specialists and it's his job to be able to do things like that. So im therefore offering our services should you require!

Unknown said...

I can't offer to be a human sat-nav, but I if your doing any form of map tracking of your journey (adding where you are on days, yoru routes etc.) then I would love to interview you for my PhD in Volunteered Geographic Information.