Sunday, 6 December 2009

Why bother?

Tracing stuff for OSM is an excuse to get out on the bike, get some relaxing exercise, explore places that I wouldn't otherwise visit, and learn a bit more about the area where I now live, and its history. As I add stuff, I tick it off my list of local things that are missing from the map, because doing this also satisfies my urge to see things completed. I also like to think that I am sharing something which is going to be of value to others. So my reasons aren't entirely selfish.

It's been bugging me that I never finished plotting the Harding cycle route near Amersham that I began to add back in September. Since then I've finished the other two cycle routes that make up the three loops of the Chiltern Heritage Cycle Trail. As they were rendered on OSM, bits of the Harding route were left dangling, which looked wrong.

So yesterday I thought I would try to close the two remaining gaps in the Harding route. One ran northwards from Chesham through Asheridge to St Leonards. The other ran eastwards from Amersham towards Chenies. I'd missed both parts last time because I'd got myself confused with the signage on the ground, and drifted off route. This time, though, I managed to follow both.

It baffles me how I lost the stretch between Amersham and Chenies last time. It's perfectly well signed, and quite straightforward. Presumably I was tired, or distracted at a critical point. This time I misread things at one stage, and dithered a bit, but apart from that it was easy enough to follow the route. It wasn't so easy to cycle a very muddy and slippery bridleway through the woods on a bike designed for the road though.

I can understand better how I lost the stretch from Chesham to St Leonards last time, because the route through Chesham is a bit convoluted. I've now had a few chances to untangle how this works, but until yesterday I never really got it. This time I finally did, but it still meant frequent stops to check the instructions in the leaflet, and a certain amount of back tracking. After Chesham things are much more straightforward. The only challenge was that the road was flooded in a couple of places, so I got the chance to swoosh through a couple of inches of water with my feet off the pedals. Great fun.

Quite a bit of the route that I was following is also Sustrans regional route 30, so I've added that as well. Some of the route 30 signs are very clear, and look quite new, but between Chesham and Amersham they appeared to disappear and then reappear, so I'm not absolutely sure that I've got it right. Looking at the Sustrans map of the area, they seem to leave out bits of the various routes that are properly signed on the ground, and the bits they have plotted don't always match up with what I saw on the ground. Maybe there are a lot of changes going on, or maybe I'm not the only one who is struggling to untangle all the cycle routes in the area.

I hope that spending a day trying to plot this stuff is going to be useful to somebody, but whether it is or not, I selfishly had the benefit of a good 60 miles riding over fairly hilly landscape. I left the daily grind well behind me, got home tired, had a great night's sleep, and my legs are feeling the effects this morning. The weather wasn't perfect. It was dry to begin with, but drizzle turned to rain on my way home, and I was soaked by the time I got in. But I enjoyed the ride through some decent countryside, with decent views. We'll see how the results are rendered in a few days time, but however they turn out, it was well worth the effort, just for the day out.


Gregory Williams said...

Sustrans don't always have completely accurate data for their own routes! I'm a Sustrans Volunteer Ranger for a route near where I live in Kent and for at least a couple of years they had a fairly significant error in their version of the route compared with what was on the ground. I also noticed small errors in their mapping of two other routes near me. After checking the history of the routes with my fellow Rangers that helped to devise them I ended up mapping these all correctly in OSM, then directed Sustrans towards our own maps to let them know which bits of their maps they needed to correct. So, now they're correct on Sustrans's own website too. I still much prefer OpenCycleMap to Sustrans's online mapping though. :-)

gom1 said...

Me too. Sustrans do a great job, but mapping is not one of their strengths.