Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I love maps and I especially enjoy Google Maps. The street view is particularly interesting but it isn't as much of a help when planning trike trips as you'd think. It's just fun to find your own house and see what your front yard looked like when the Google-mobile came past.

We don't plan any trip, whether a morning one or an all-day trip, without carefully reviewing the route and while we use Google Maps as one of our prep tools we bring along a couple of good, old fashioned paper maps in one of our panniers. It may be fun to just pick a direction and go and we do that sort of thing in a very local manner but for serious trips we study maps.

We are very fortunate in that the city of Ottawa is quite well laid out although there are a few areas that present challenges for us. For instance, one of the roads nearby, Albion Road, is sliced in two by a railway line. That means having to detour around the rail line to re-gain our intended track. Knowing what other roads, streets and pathways are around goes far in helping us there. One of the more irritating features of this city is that, too often, streets are not adequately signed so missing an important turn is always a possibility. Having and studying the street maps keeps those mishaps to a bare minimum.

Finally, with the snow melting, it's only a short time before construction and road crews come out of hiding to plant themselves and dig up the road for some eventual purpose - even if no one knows what that is. Construction invariably includes road closures or roads so degraded by whatever grinding, digging, pummeling machine is out there - uh - grinding, digging and pummeling, that it's impossible to ride our trikes over top. Catrikes, as I said, sit low to the ground and that means the chain does as well.

As you can see from the picture at the top of this blog entry, the clearance on my Catrike is a measly 89 mm while Adam's Catrike Speed checks in at an even lower 51 mm. So having to negotiate construction zones is something we try to avoid. Having a good map can help us find our way around whatever's being torn up. Still, there are times when we cannot avoid shredded roads and so all we can do is gently ease our way through ever ready to have to hop out and lift our trike over a curb or some other impassable object. Thankfully, trikes do not weigh a great deal and so it is easy to scoop it up and carry it over. Once safe on the other side, it is common for us to pull over, grab a drink of water and read over the map once more. Otherwise, we may not always have a good idea of precisely where we are!

Maps allow both of us to plan, to dream and to muse about trips. We can look at what's nearby (and there's a lot nearby - if you just look), think about travelling there and mentally plan the whole entire journey. Now, with the sun just having set at 5:45 pm, and the forecast high for Saturday to reach a whole +10C, I can just feel the day I take my trike out approaching so I'll just go and pore over a map and think about where I can go.

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