A couple of tips for bike touring navigation

These are instructions on how to take a google map and get it into a GPX file for use for offline navigation using OSMAND+ on an Android Phone.

  1. Go to Google Maps and get directions (choosing the biking option) between two points.
  2. Pull the route around finding the smallest roads you can!
  3. Click through to the “details” page for the route and copy the URL
  4. Paste the url into gpsvisualizer choosing “gpx” as the output.
  5. Save the GPX into your Dropbox account (this is just to get the file onto your phone, there are lots of ways to do this, but Dropbox is the easiest)
  6. If you have an Android phone, install OSMAND+
  7. Go into Dropbox on your phone, and find the gpx file, click on it, and choose to save it as a track
  8. Then open up OSMAND and go into “Configure Map” -> “GPX track…”, then find your gpx track
  9. Finally just click on the navigation button and it should prompt you for “Do you wand to use the displayed map for navigation?” after that you’ll have offline directions on your chosen route – perfect.
  10. Specifically for the UK – the Sustrans website was handy. It shows bike routes around the UK. For the life of me I couldn’t see how to export a GPX of the route we did (route 4) eventually finding a sort-of export someone made from all the OpenStreetMap data. A very handy file which I can’t seem to find any more … however.. waymarkedtrails.org seems to allow you to download some of them. Note however that sometimes route 4 splits in two.. so I’m not sure how that works on a GPX.

Do you have tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

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And back to Dublin

Then it was time for the final run to Dublin. Ireland seems pretty woeful from the point of view of nice bike-paths, at least from Rosslare to Dublin anyway. Google tried to route us on the N1 all the way, but there was a way more towards the Wicklow and Dublin mountains that we ended up taking. First day was a run up to Avoca (almost) and then the second day all the way back to Dublin.

sign to Dublin

We had our second day of rain on our way to Dublin, it felt good to be home ;). The hill in these pictures is “The Sugarloaf”. In Maori culture there’s an introduction people do, called the mihi. As a part of this you talk about your mountain, the Sugarloaf would definitely be mine, I forget the number of times we hiked up it as kids.

my mountain - the sugarloaf

Anyway, finally we made it back to Dublin. All the family was there (my sister’s family was over from the US). It was lovely to complete the trip successfully. I’d happily go bike-touring again, it was lots of fun :)

back on my brothers car

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Q: What’s better than meeting friends on a road trip?

A: Nothing :), well, unless it’s a care package from NZ including Tantrix and Chocolate ;) hehehehe

After Wales it was to the Pembrook coastline for us. We had a lovely day biking to Llanelli via Swansea (pronounced Clan-eth-li). Well, lovely, except for the puncture we got. It would have been fine, but the bicycle levers I had were old, and they broke off while trying to lever the tyre off the rim. Fortunately, a passer by took us to their place, gave us the tools to fix the bike and we were on our way again. Lesson learned – make sure you have extras (and new extras) of things like bike-levers that do tend to perish over time.Llanelli was a nice seaside town. The AirBnB was the best we’d been to anywhere, the view was stunning and the breakfast delicious.

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The next day it was on to Laugharne, which is where the poet Dylan Thomas lived. He certainly had a nice view from which to compose his poetry, the boat house & writing shed were amazing.

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We met up with our friends Rachel & Justin from Christchurch for a day. She was over visiting family and came and collected us from Laugharne and off we went to see around Tenby (where we bought a delicious pork pie) and then to the area of the coast around St. Govan’s Head. There’s a 13th Century chapel there built into the cliffside, and some quite nice beaches and wetlands. A nice place to explore for a day.

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Also, Rachel had brought over a care-package from our friends Michelle & Steve in ChCh. She’d packed in lots of yum chocolate, and a replacement set of Tantrix to replace the one we’d brought travelling and then swapped for Quirkle. Maaike promptly beat me at it again. My winning streak is definitely over :(

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Then for the last couple of days from Laugharne to Fishguard, my old college friend Declan and his partner Heather met up with us and we biked from just before Tenby over to Fishguard together, staying the night at Broad Haven (and a very beautiful sunset).

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They certainly threw themselves in the deep-end, as it was probably the hardest bit of biking we’d done – certainly the hilliest. Still, with enough brakes and decent weather and the prospect of a pint and a decent meal at the end – well, the miles just flew by.

All too soon we arrived at Fishguard and time to get the boat to Ireland. Not far left to go now – just 110km up the coast to Dublin.

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Wales (to Cardiffish)

Leaving Bath we headed Northwards towards Wales. I wasn’t quite sure what this piece of the trip was going to be like as it didn’t seem like we had a nice route (at least for the bit to where we crossed the Severn). Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be a single source of truth for bike routes in the UK… Anyway, it was a nice enough route until Bristol, but then we did run into a few larger roads which weren’t quite as much fun. Only a few km’s really, but enough to put a dent in your happiness levels.

Still, nice to see our crossing for the first time, and once we’d stopped for an ice-cream and a drink our morale was on the up again.

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We stayed at a nice AirBnB in Caldicott. We were the first people to stay there, so you never quite know what you’re going to get. Still, it worked out fine. I felt for the guy though, commuting to Bath every day, probably a good 90 minutes each way. If at all possible, I want to stay within biking distance of wherever I work.

 

From Caldicott it was on to my Aunt and Uncles place, a little bit outside of Cardiff. Hot day on the bike. In fact, the weather in Wales was almost entirely dry! It was lovely to see Rosemary & Sam. We went for a nice walk through the “physic garden” of the local village. We saw a bunch of kids playing Pokeymon-Go. This game has quite literally taken the world by storm. In some ways I reckon it’s a good thing, as it gets people outside and interacting with each other. There are worse things. It was unfortunate that we just missed all my cousins who had been staying – Aidan over from OZ, Hugh from the US, and Anna up from London. Annoying, but just bad timing with getting from A to B on the bike.

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Immediate thoughts on biking in Wales: the bike lanes weren’t quite as nice as in the UK, it’s a heck of a lot hillier, and the people seemed a bit friendlier / kinder to bikes on the road. Wales is definitely not a flat country, that’s for sure. Would I go bike here again? Hell yes – this trip we’re going to catch the boat at Fishguard, next time it’d be fun to get to Holyhead and get the boat from there. The reason we didn’t is that I was nervous of the brakes on the tandem. They’re basically just regular brakes (like you’d have on a road bike). Sometimes going down a (steep) hill it’s impossible to actually stop the bike. There’s quite a bit of weight between Maaike, me and the luggage. Mostly me and the luggage of course ;) If there was one change I’d make it’d be to change the brakes to be disk brakes. Still, it has been SUCH fun so far.. the tandem has definitely been a highlight.

Oh, and a word on bike gates. There are a lot of them. An awful lot of them. Some are far harder to get through than others. On one particular gate (the one I’m wheeling the bike through vertically), someone had written “This is a shit gate” and a follow-up commentator had said “yes, it really is” ;)

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Bath – ’tis a pretty place.

We had a nice run from Mike’s up to Bath. It’s a really nice part of the world, lots of thatched cottages and we found a route into Bath along the Canals which was great.

My cousin Lucy kindly offered their place to stay in. Unfortunately they were away in Edinburgh for the weekend so we actually didn’t get to see them :(

Bath itself is a very pretty town. Lucy had recommended a few things – Bath Abbey and the skyline walk being two of the highlights. The walk was especially nice, 10km or so with some nice views, but just good to get out and stretch the legs.

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We also visited the Roman Baths. They are worth seeing, though quite touristy. There’s not tooooooo much of it which is still original, but you can see the way they heated the rooms, the old lead pipes are pretty impressive, and the leftover stonework.

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I did enjoy the “curses“. The old way of cursing someone was to write it down on a lead curse and then throw it into the baths. Wonderfully specific in their details – for example:

Docimedis has lost two gloves and asks that the thief responsible should lose their minds [sic] and eyes in the goddess’ temple.

…so long as someone, whether slave or free, keeps silent or knows anything about it, he may be accursed in (his) blood, and eyes and every limb and even have all (his) intestines quite eaten away if he has stolen the ring or been privy (to the theft).

Love it!

Yip, Bath was a great stop on our tour :)

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