Providing Information for Members / Other Cyclists
There was a time, not that long ago, when the information, provided by CTC on all matters relating to cycling, was unique and very highly regarded. With the internet this is no longer the case, but we still like to think that our material is relevant and reliable, if sometimes a little dated. Member Ben Morris made the following apt comments some while back now. He also specifically mentioned some items relating to certain places and these have been added under the ‘Notes’ tab to the appropriate country information ‘sheet’ on www.ctc-maps.org.uk.
I was interested in your notes about touring information. Over the 20 years or so two of us have toured a range of out of the way places including rural Greece, Eastern Slovakia, and last year Kyrgyzstan. Many of our routes have been on the principle that if it is in the Rough Guide it will be too crowded. I have always scoured the web and CTC lists for an idea of what the places will be like but rarely get much useful information. Guide books are often good but arranged from the view point of someone in a car. On a bike you have to find somewhere to stay before it gets dark and within a few miles – we arrived at an isolated village in Spain where both small hotels were full and the next village was 20 kilometers away and we were already tired and it was getting dark. We have slept in a bandstand and a number of beaches and other strange places. The guide book doesn’t help in these circumstances so a bit of comment about how the locals view desperate cyclists bunking off piste might be useful.
I largely agree with your concept that the adventure is mostly about finding the unexpected and not following other’s tracks. However, it is responsible to do some research and useful to know if you should put on the knobbly tyres or the tourers.
Not useful: other peoples route details are of little interest – I can never find their route on the map. What the weather was like is of no use. There are some wonderful weather web sites online so we don’t need that info. Details of a particular guest house or hotel are no use – even if I am near at the time of day they could be closed, changed hands, full, etc.
What might be of interest is more general info and some detailed tips; the state of the roads and any particular hazards to be avoided, like this, for example…
In Kyrgyzstan we read that the tunnel from Bishkek towards Sysamyr is very difficult on a bike and so we took notice – we went through on a bus and it would have been a terrifying experience of narrow lanes, high altitude, little ventilation, no escape path, heavy lorries and quite a steep gradient for over a mile.
Maybe a simple form to cover each country could give basic information
a) Airport hints – access routes, can you sleep the night in the waiting area,
b) State of the roads. Main roads, secondary roads, minor roads, tracks
c) Features to avoid – deadly tunnels, race tracks, etc
d) A simple list of the good things – the south side of the lake good for swimming, main roads that are bike friendly
e) Camping availability and options for wild camping (none in Italy – everywhere in Kyrgyzstan).
f) Where are the toilets and what type are they usually
g) The people. Everyone waved in Kyrgyzstan, most in Morocco were sullen and some threw stones at us.
h) In very remote places you can almost always find a room if you ask. But in some places don’t do this!
i) Problems for women on their own.
j) Availability of bike shops
k) Are you prepared to talk briefly on the phone/email to someone planning a trip where you have been?
I bet you can think of more but I think a standard format could guide people into providing simple information without the extensive travelogue rubbish that might be artistic but is of no practical use to a cycle adventurer.
Hope this is useful
Certainly is, Ben. I can’t admit to agreeing totally but quite enough to add doing a re-hash of our ‘information submission’ forms to my extensive ‘to do’ list. It’ll go near the top too.