A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


Robin Hood

Robin Hood, or The Outlaw
About 65 miles

Called the Outlaw, I imagine, because it takes place in the area of the old Sherwood Forest, the Outlaw triathlon is one of the most popular long-distance triathlon races in the UK. Perhaps the fact that it’s half the price of the Ironman-brand races has something to do with its popularity. At any rate, I was down in Nottingham for the weekend to watch the club relays at Holme Pierrepont; this is an entertaining affair, where teams of 4 compete in (approximately) a 500m swim, 15km cycle and 5km run, with the whole team completing the swim in turn, then the cycle, then the run - so unlike a normal triathlon, each competitor has a rest between each leg. The following day, we had decided on a bike ride, and for the route we picked one based on the course of the Outlaw triathlon’s bike leg. This was the first time I used my fancy new phone for navigation, trying out three different programs, with varying degrees of success.

The route was fairly flat, and I can see how it would be a good course for a fast race; at least, if the headwind was less than it was for us! Apart from the wind we were very lucky with the weather; it was essentially a perfect riding temperature all day, neither too hot nor too cold, with enough sunshine but not too much. Unfortunately I need some more practice with my phone I think! I took over navigation only near the end of the route. When I did my phone seemed to take a very long time to acquire a GPS location fix; I first tried with Bikehub, but the program seemed to have difficulty loading the GPX file (which is basically a collection of coordinates that define the route) - it either took ages to load, or failed to load at all. I had a little more success to start with using Osmand, but the map didn’t seem to show as much detail. The latter program also has an annoying habit of suggesting which maps to download if you leave the area covered by one you are using - which would be fine, except that it also does that with maps I’ve already downloaded, leading to an annoying overlay covering the map for half the time I was using it.

Still, despite the problems, I think I’m going to try using my phone more often for navigating: having a map on the top tube, even a very crude, small, and hard-to-read one, is handy and saves stopping so often to retrieve a paper map. However, I don’t think it can replace a paper map for long-distance navigating and route planning, so I won’t be throwing out my paper ones any time soon! And, more importantly, the ride was very enjoyable! :)