I thread between the speed cushions and turn right at the end of the road, looking for BBL40. This is a grid-iron of respectable brick Victorian terraces. It’s just possible that there will be a small neighbourhood boozer on the corner of Holme Road and Gertrude Road…but there’s no sign of one. I pull up, dig the bonus book out of my top box and start to swear, because while there may very well be a pub around here somewhere, it sure as hell isn’t going to be Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. Which is famous not only for being one of the oldest boozers in Blighty, but for its location nestled against the sandstone cliffs at the foot of Nottingham Castle. Which was, last time I looked, still located in the city centre.
I take a deep breath and remind myself that I am not, by a long, long chalk, in this to win, reprogramme the zumo with the postcode instead of the lat-long GPS co-ordinates, and resume.
I signed up for the Brit Butt Lite with some optimism. I like riding the RBR, and the National Rally, and this seemed a good combination of them both, on a manageable scale, as there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to ride a thousand miles in a day. But as the day grew nearer my spirits fell about as fast as the mercury.
The Grim Rider announced that the bonus lists would be sent out as “gdb file for Mapsource users; an ov2 file for Tomtom users; a txt file for everyone; and a map list for those of you not using a gps system.” While I have AutoRoute, it dates from the last century and lives on a Panasonic Toughbook running Windows 97. I could go out and buy a new edition, but it wouldn’t run on my Mac anyway. So I would have to load the Zumo with the bonus locations – 40 pubs – using each individual postcode. Which is what I should have done, but I was travelling to meetings on the Wednesday and Thursday before the rally and couldn’t print the pdf out. So I got clever. You can create your own Zumo POI lists using a text editor, advised the Garmin site, encouragingly. I used to code websites using NotePad and a unix command line, so I launched into this with enthusiasm but inadequate geographic understanding.
Apparently converting lat-long co-ordinates given in degrees, minutes and seconds into decimal is not as simple as moving the decimal point and turning “W” into “-.” My discovery of this on Thursday morning at least explained why some of my pubs appeared to be in the middle of the sea. So I tried again, using an online converter to switch the formats around. Not a valid POI file, said POI loader.
Greyer of hair and shorter of temper, I exploited one of my contacts and asked if he would mind using his copy of MapSource to convert the gdb file to gpx so I could upload that instead. This is the point at which I should have checked every location on the Zumo against the bonus book. But I trusted in technology, which was my first mistake.
My second mistake was to get swine flu.
My third mistake on Saturday morning was to press the “Optimise Route” button. I had a really nice loop all set up, taking me out of Old Arley up towards Nottingham via Oadby, Burton and Long Eaton, and with several baling-out points in case the Nurofen Cold and Flu lost the battle against my breaking out in rashers. The Optimizer wanted me to go south west first. I disagreed, but couldn’t find a way to revert to my previous route. Just punching it in again from the page I’d worked it out on on Thursday didn’t occur to me, and my hasty re-instatement omitted Burton and Long Eaton and took me straight to the spot where Ye Trip wasn’t.
I cursed a bit. Then I decided that although I had destroyed the elegance of my route, I was still riding to some great pubs under a blue sky – the Grim Rider is in better favour with the weather gods than I am, and kindly arranged a break from the deluge which has arrived instead of the promised barbeque summer – and then I realised that incompetence had brought one significant advantage. My lack of progress meant that by lunchtime I was still near enough to Old Arley to be able to claim the 1,000 bonus points available for calling in at the Wagon Load of Lime between 1 and 2pm.
By which cunning means, I managed to finish second-from-last, and retired with my box of Kleenex balsam.