Never trust that all men can read a map!
I got lucky with the G-Force. There are many reasons why I got lucky but one of the many things I love about him is his ability to read a map and navigate. You see, I am not the best navigator and so I need a man who can take me in the right direction whether in the car, on a bike or on foot. But I also assumed most men could read maps! But sadly this is not the case.
Right now I am cycling from Paris to Mont St Michel over one week with my friend and journalist Skinny H. We are enjoying a fantastic press trip and we have been given route details, GPS downloads and treated to accommodation and restaurants. Because Skinny H is a bloke I tasked him with logistics. I have organised the rest of the trip with the French Tourist board press officer.
The route on day one and two from Paris to Chartes has not been so easy to find. The new Veloscenic (www.veloscenic.com) cycle route has not been fully completed and so we needed to find our own way for the first 100km or so. I thought that Skinny H would rise to the challenge and takes us on a straightforward route from pretty village to beautiful town, along cycle paths and via castles and cafes. But not so!
We got lost just a few miles after leaving the EuroStar. We then faltered and diverted; turned back and asked locals. We cycled dozens of miles extra and I can only say: “Thank goodness the sun was shining!” In defence of Skinny H, the signposting in France is vague in the extreme. One clear signpost fades to nothing. Town maps are upside down and bizarre. The road numbers on GPS maps rarely correspond with signposts. Even the French laugh at their own maps!
To start with I was no help at all. But after the 12th time of being “almost close” to the route I became very involved. I took an interest in the maps and route. I suggested directions. I didn’t save the day – not by any means – but I realised how challenging the map reading was.
Thankfully the weather has been amazing so far and the scenery has been lovely. Half way through day two we have found the Veloscenic route proper signposts and we have enjoyed castles and cafe stops. I have taken a greater role in navigating and between us Skinny H and I are en route to Mont St Michel with smiles on our faces.
Don’t tell Skinny this but I do wish the G-Force was instead! G chose climbing in the Alps instead of cycling in northern France for his holidays but I could have done with a man to follow these last two days!