Rapha Manuals: Lost and Free

The fear of getting lost is a common obstacle to riding further away from home or even riding at all but with a little pre-ride planning, there’s nothing to worry to about. Here’s our guide to adventuring, with a little ‘a’.

26 July 2018
“Humans are drawn to stability as if by instinct. There is no safety in motion or in change. We want to be grounded in a place, in a space, with which we feel familiar.”

So wrote John Hessler, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, in Rapha’s fourth Mondial. But while it pays to be wary, we needn’t fear getting lost. With a little preparation before you head out, cycling quickly becomes an opportunity to embrace a new adventure. It is harder now than ever to truly get lost and, as Hessler points out, the second half of the twentieth century has seen the jeopardy in adventure swapped for opportunity.

One of the best things about riding a bike is the freedom that comes with being able to set off and, under your own steam, explore. It’s an idea so well-worn as to sound cliché but experiencing this freedom for the first time rings true for many of us – glimpses of a breakaway adventure on two wheels, far from parental supervision, live long in the memory. As adults, it’s much more likely that a fear of getting lost or going too far will rear its head, waylaying would-be adventurers. But that shouldn’t stop us from pursuing two-wheeled ambitions.

“Changes brought about by the science and technology developed through the fighting of two world wars, the advent of computers, the discovery of newer and faster mathematical and computational algorithms, the birth of satellite imagery and the widespread use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), created a new definition of a map, beyond anything that any of the great cartographers of even the near past could have imagined,” says Hessler.

With a smartphone in your pocket you have an incredibly powerful mapping tool tucked away, ready to right any wrong turns. Battery packs for recharging your phone are also no bigger or heavier than an inner tube, so you can be prepared for flat batteries in the same way you would flat tires. Rapha Clubhouses are also a font of knowledge to empower local adventurers; the Rapha Cycling Club hire bikes include on-bike GPS computers with preloaded local routes and hundreds of organised rides for all abilities leave every week to explore new roads around the world.

If you’re especially worried about going far and getting lost, start out on adventures with a little ‘a’. Map out a short route that doesn’t stray too far from your house – you can always do another lap of the same loop to make sure that you’re never too far away, all the while getting to know the roads nearest home.

Take some time to get to know where you’ll be riding, for example where the nearest train stations are. If you ever find yourself unsure, stop and check where you are. Having a pre-planned route on your phone or cycle computer can be useful as they’ll keep you right, although you may not learn the way as well when you’re relying purely on turn-by-turn instructions.

Try not to see this preparation as a chore, but rather sowing the seeds of a forthcoming adventure. If you’re anxious about an unknown route or road, you can go some way to get to know it before you leave the house. Is it near a road you already know? Does it join up with a village you’ve been before?

In time, you’ll come to know your area well. Once you’re comfortable riding a roads you know, why not try out turns you don’t usually take? Remember, you’re in control – you can always turn around.

Ride With Us

For more advice on how best to explore your city and the roads that surround it, Rapha Clubhouses around the world are filled with passionate cyclists happy to share the best and quietest routes. With more than 350 rides a week, there is always an upcoming chance for a little adventure.

Find A Clubhouse

Rapha Handbook 01 Getting Started in Road Cycling

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