This is post 6 in a series of posts detailing preparation for my upcoming trip to France. It's getting close now so get in while they're hot!
It seems that today GPS rules the roost when it comes to making your way around different countries but for the purposes of my own trip to France it very much looks like I will be using good old-fashioned paper maps supplemented by a route that I made on Google Maps and subsequently printed. Having used GPS through my phone on a couple of previous locations in Ireland, where I am, it has proven handy but then I don't have to worry about data charges here. I do if I am abroad and have not even looked into things such as offline maps yet. And I don't think I will either. People have been using paper maps for a long time and road signage is supposed to be decent in France so surely I can get by. There is also a certain romanticism to using paper and planning it out well beforehand. But why is this?
I would think that this is all especially prevalent on motorbikes. After all, the cliche of "it's not about the destination, it's about the journey" has been developed almost specifically for bikes! This post is not supposed to be a criticism of GPS, I have stated that it is very useful, but I have found it extremely exciting to be studying maps on screen and on paper, checking a road on Google Street View, counting roundabouts, noting the name of towns that I should pass and imagining what they look like. I'm sure I will be in for some shocks as I pass by a prettily named town that's actually falling down around itself! With a GPS unit I could just set the destination and follow it but, in a certain way, that would mean removing some control of the process from myself. I would be following what the machine tells me and while I acknowledge that I set the machine to not send me on toll roads or motorways, and thereby control aspects of it, there is something about physical maps and good old paper that really make a trip like this special. They will bear the crumples and tears of some hours in the saddle, the portray places in your mind, they allow the imagination to run a little wild. They also consume no battery power!
Today I spent a few minutes on Google Maps, perhaps contradictory to what I am saying above about GPS, and printed off a routing for myself to study before buying a proper map later. And studying the bits of paper made me pretty excited about the whole escapade, it's becoming real now. On top of this I had to make sure to photocopy my driver licence, my bike registration cert, my insurance cert, and I made a copy of my ferry tickets as well. Just in case. Seeing them strewn on the desk in work was interesting, they were concrete items which showed that the trip, indeed was real. It was happening. It will be.
Old school as photocopying is (why not take a digital picture of the documents?) it just added some reality to the whole trip. I had to make a conscious effort to get into the university library and use the photocopiers, not much effort mind you, but more than just clicking a mouse or directing a web browser to some site or other. It made it into a physical reality. I don't know am I conveying this properly but it is late here at this stage and I still want to watch the MotoGP practice before I fall asleep!
The plan for Saturday is to fit the new rear tyre, which should be a gym session of a time considering I will be doing it manually (but with help and direction from Eddie on the SV650). With that out of the way it will be time to consider packing. I say consider because I have never been the best packer. THe suitcases will look neat and tidy once I am done but the time in between consideration and actual action is always verrrrry long. I tend to make a list, take some stuff out and throw them on the bed and then wait. I make a "maybe" pile and allow it to become substantially bigger than the "definite" pile or "no" pile thus ruining the whole idea of this! I sit around a little more. There is the inevitable moment where I think "why didn't I throw this out before?" I am sure that tomorrow will be little different but, again, it is part of the fun. It is manual, it is slowish but it addes reality to the whole thing. Obviously I will need clothes but I will also need to bring a few folders and books for working when in France. My camera is coming with me as well. Sounds like I'll have to notch up the preload a few bits already...