GET THERE WITH GOOGLE

Real Classic - - Ariel Nh350 -

Be­fore I could meet Ewan and pho­to­graph his Ariel, there was a sig­nif­i­cant hur­dle to over­come. I hadn’t the fog­gi­est idea of where Ewan’s bike-en­crusted dun­geon was lo­cated and I don’t have Sat­Nav on my Bon­neville. So I con­sulted Google maps and be­gan the la­bo­ri­ous task of sketch­ing out di­rec­tions to be placed on my tank-bag – much as with a VMCC ori­en­teer­ing chal­lenge. My prac­tised method is to con­struct an easy to fol­low list made up of di­rec­tional ar­rows and key word lo­ca­tions that in­clude towns, vil­lages, round­abouts, road names or route num­bers. This I cre­ate by study­ing my in­tended route on Google maps. But then I had a eureka mo­ment and won­dered if it would be pos­si­ble to ex­plore the route on Google Images Route Fin­der (GIRF for short). This handy aid is avail­able as a pop-up win­dow on any Google map page. If you’ve al­ready dis­cov­ered this magic win­dow then go and have a nice warm brew. But if like me you are not fa­mil­iar with GIRF, then what fol­lows is worth a few min­utes of your in­dul­gence... I had my sketched map to hand, but as soon as I opened GIRF I hardly re­ferred to the piece of pa­per at all. Many years ago, Google pho­tographed and mapped the UK’s road net­work us­ing a fleet of re­con­nais­sance ve­hi­cles. Now you can cy­ber-travel from any street to any other street in the UK from the com­fort of your own liv­ing room. En route you will see road names, signs and build­ings, all dis­played as a se­ries of linked dig­i­tal images that give the il­lu­sion you are trav­el­ling down real roads on your mo­tor­cy­cle.

The clever part is you can blow up road signs, stop any­time, any­where, re­verse or ro­tate 360 de­grees in or­der to study and me­morise your jour­ney–and all at your own pace. What’s more, it’s in­tu­itive and fun. As a vis­ual aid in trav­el­ling un­fa­mil­iar roads to a de­sired des­ti­na­tion, GIRF proved to be a re­mark­able and use­ful tool. Be­fore I at­tempted the route for real I was able to make sev­eral prac­tice jour­neys along the dig­i­tal high­way to Ewan’s Crypt; around 50 miles, which I mem­o­rised in ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes. I ar­rived un­flus­tered, fresh and in good time – with­out once re­fer­ring to my tank map. Hats off to Google!

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