Trail Testing the SplashMap in the South Downs

It’s a week of Trail testing the SplashMap in the South Downs.

Decending the Downs at Levin Down, wearing West Central South Downs SplashMap

Descending the Downs at Levin Down, wearing West Central South Downs SplashMap

At 10pm on Saturday evening I received a call from Jon.  “It’s Jon, Friend of John” said Jon.  The Colden Common Sad Old Dads (S.O.D.s) were short one man for the Wiggle Epic, would I like to join?

8 hours later I was riding my way across the West South Downs Map to Colden Common to meet up with the rest of the guys and by 8.30 we were registered at the Fontwell race course near Chichester and patiently waiting at the start line for the 40 miles of “Epic”.

Our starter broke in the middle of his brief on riding etiquett.  “Wasn’t that map on TV?” he asked.  It wasn’t the first time I’d been upstaged by our fabric map, which is an almost permanent accessory around my neck these days.  “Aren’t you Martin Barden?” was my response to show that I was not bedazzled by innovative multi-functional headwear.  I’d done my research earlier and Martin runs the new and rapidly growing UK CyclingEvents.  The company manages 52 events in the year including this one on behalf of on-line retailer, Wiggle.

The event was superbly managed.  Only an imbecile could miss the clearly marked pink arrows that were lashed to every inanimate object on the route.

…Okay, I missed an arrow.  So what’s the biggie?  I had a few extra seconds of feeling great about myself and my down-hill skills.  But I also had a great opportunity to use the Central West South Downs SplashMap to find a way out of this mess once the arrows had disappeared.

Back on track, it was great to catch up with the Wiggle guys (with unfeasibly large wheels and all the gear), the SODs (thankfully illnesses and lack of condition plus a heavy night before meant they were the same standard as me… on average) and other punters … everyone who rides a mountain bike is fantastic… and everyone seems to know Purbeck dude Charlie the Bikemonger!

Loads of people loved the map (just a clothes-horse , me!) and had seen the BBC, Daily Mail and Daily Echo coverage recently.

This evening (Tuesday) I led the New Force evening ride from the Bridge at Shawford.  With our usual leader gone, it was down to the map and my skill in using it to find an intriguing trail.  Whilst I tested the map (the clear designations of byway and bridleways gave us complete confidence!), my friend Adrian from the OS was road testing their latest app.  It looks slicker by the week!

SplashMaps found us extra “Noodles” around Cheriton and Titchfiled so we could extend our route and still get back for last orders.

Testing is essential for any product, but what could be more fun to test than this?

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