Today I got a sudden urge to go for a cycle ride. I don't currently own a bike of my own but luckily my Dad had several old bikes in the garage. Now, most of them didn't work (generally things wrong with the gearing systems) but one of them was in fairly good shape and needed only a little air in the tyres, an oiling and a bike-stand transplant from one of the other bikes. Being an OpenStreetMapper, I only go on trips to places that need mapping (fortunately that is almost everywhere, even if I'm only adding addresses) and so I perused the maps to find a suitable location and I noted that there were substantial bits of countryside that I had traced from aerial imagery but had not yet been in person to check up on. So I decided to take a trip to Havant Thicket which is a nice forest/scrubland area about 6 kilometres from my house with what I remember being very nice cycle paths around it. So I printed off come paper maps of the area for annotation and loaded myself up with my GT-11 GPS, my N96 and N810 and set off. Before I left, the area looked like this:
It wasn't until I got going that I realised two things: how unfit I seemed and how different roads are for a cyclist compared with a car driver. Hills seem to appear that weren't there before and the places you are allowed to cycle are much less obvious. For example unsigned cyclepaths mixed with footpaths really don't help. However, I made to Havant Thicket without too much trouble (although cycling along the single-carriageway 60 mph road was a little scary at times) and started mapping. I found many routes which I hadn't been able to put on the map before simply by randomly cycling around taking whichever path seemed most interesting. In fact there are some paths I didn't venture down in case they kept on going forever and I never got home and some were just too muddy for me to bother with today:
The area just south of Havant Thicket is scheduled to be turned into a water reservoir and nature reserve whilst at the moment it's very nice heath land:
And so with all of that I cycled home, wishing that I'd bought more water with me but thankful for the many benches scattered around the thicket, especially as today was unusually warm for England. Fortunately, it's the time of year for blackberries and so halfway home I stopped and ate about 20 blackberries from the hedge which made be feel very rustic indeed. All in all, I cycled about 14.1 miles which isn't bad considering I've only got on a bike about twice in the last five years. Of course, once I was home I added/re-tagged all the cycle paths in OpenStreetMap and added what cycle lanes I'd noticed on the way. Once the map was re-rendered, it looked something like:
In other news, I've also been doing a lot of mapping around my more immediate area. I'm planning on fleshing out the whole area with building outlines and full addressing but at the rate I'm moving, that'll be several years away. Finally, I'm getting more and more annoyed by my internet connection at home. It seems to flicker on and off which isn't noticeable for web browsing but makes any sort of sustained connection impossible - that includes IRC, IMAP and FTP which are basically unusable with timeouts after a few minutes at the most. Anyone else had similar problems?