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View Poll Results: What is your skill level for Navigation
Use a Compass with Map 5 12.50%
Map and Compass - Understand Dead Reckoning 10 25.00%
Use a GPS Only 2 5.00%
Use a GPS combined with Map and Compass 7 17.50%
Use a map Only 16 40.00%
Voters: 40. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-08-06, 12:10 PM   #1
fthomas 
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Navigation - Map & Compass, GPS, Other

Use a Compass
Use a GPS
Understand Navigation - Map and Compass
Understand Navigation - GPS

There is a giant differance between kind of using a map and compass and understanding and using Dead Reckoning.
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Old 05-08-06, 09:17 PM   #2
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dead reckoning is (or at least used to be) used mainly at sea. with the advent of gps, which is vastly more accurate, it's becoming more of a backup "survival" skill. in the alpine environment, i've used dead reckoning a few times in white-out conditions, in conjunction with an altimeter.

but as regards to bike touring, it's about as important as knowing how to do start a fire with two sticks. even knowing how to use a compass is largely irrelevant when traveling on a road. anything more than a map is pretty much superflurous.
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Old 05-08-06, 10:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philso
dead reckoning is (or at least used to be) used mainly at sea. with the advent of gps, which is vastly more accurate, it's becoming more of a backup "survival" skill. in the alpine environment, i've used dead reckoning a few times in white-out conditions, in conjunction with an altimeter.

but as regards to bike touring, it's about as important as knowing how to do start a fire with two sticks. even knowing how to use a compass is largely irrelevant when traveling on a road. anything more than a map is pretty much superflurous.

You are obviously one of the few gifted souls with a built-in sense of direction. Afterall, real men don't ask for directions.

Dead Reckoning is used at sea, in the air, on the ground and even if you simplify it to a road map. The fundamentals are the same:

Time
Distance (Against ground speed)
Heading

Had it not been for a few years as a helicopter pilot flying air ambulance (yes we could see the roads - IFR Not Instrument Flight Rules, but "I Follow Roads") and the use of the principles of Dead Reconing there would have been quite a few people (maybe self included) that would not have made in back alive. Sometimes it would have been nice to be able to find a road sign. Most of our accidents required we find an accident scene. Other wise I too might have thought that Dead Reconing was an unneccessary skill.

I find your conclusions to be inappropriate to anyone, anywhere who wants to learn how to get themselves safely and sanely around the planet whether on bike, boat, or with back pack to where they want to go. It may not be totally necessary, but it can and does add an additional dimension of enjoyment to the trip. It might also keep one from missing the intended destination for the evening.

Granted, most bicycle tourers are not going to be leaving the ribon of asphalt, but in many areas of the US and most developing countries available road maps are inaccurate, misleading or flat out not available.

The basics still apply. A GPS is a wonderful invention, but without knowing the fundamentals of navigation and map use one really can not take full advantage of a GPS and translate it back to the map. And hopefully it is with the map that that the journey begins.
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Old 05-08-06, 10:51 PM   #4
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One other thing.

For those that only use a map. Believe it or not. You are already using "Dead Reckoning"

Time Elapsed
Distance Distance made good against speed and time.
Heading The road is taking me __________________

I should be right about here and it is only XX miles to the next right / left turn on such and such road. We camp here tonight.

We made it!
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Old 05-09-06, 07:12 AM   #5
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....An excellent book on navigation-

"Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass" by Harold Gatty, Dover Publications.

Mr Gatty was Wiley Post's navigator on a record setting round the world flight in 1931; his book, republished by Dover in 1999, was originally entitled "Nature is Your Guide: How to Find your way on Land and Sea by Observing Nature", was first in print in 1958.

A very interesting and useful book. many non traditional methods of navigation discussed.

If you ever wanted to know how to navigate reading the nuances of sea ice reflection, or the habits of sea birds or the shapes of trees, this'd be a must read.
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Old 05-09-06, 07:56 AM   #6
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Depends on where I navigate.
  • Paddling - map, compass, GPS
  • Biking - map, bike computer (for distance & time). GPS as a backup (power off).
  • Hiking - map, compass. GPS as a backup (power on to log distance).
  • XC skiing - map. Compass and GPS as a backup (power on to log distance).

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Old 05-09-06, 11:27 PM   #7
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you know what i really hate fthomas? i hate it when people put words into other people's mouths, especially mine. and then make little snide remarks like "after all, real men...".

for your information:
- yes, my in-built sense of direction is pretty good.
- it's not perfect though, so that's why i've taken the time to learn about navigation on land. my skills are adequate enough that i don't feel the need for a gps unit.
- what's this cr@p about real men don't for directions? what exactly did i say that would imply anything along those lines? when i'm touring on my bike, i happen to ask for directions rather frequently, if i feel the need. it's a lot more efficient that trying to approximate where you are by "dead reckoning".
- in the same way that there is art with a small "a" and then Art with a capital "A", you could call what people intuitively figure when they say to themselves "i've been going for [x amount of time] so far, so i've probably got another [y amount of time] to go." dead reckoning in lowercase letters. still, it's a far cry from sea or air navigation, where you would want to be able back up using gps readings and celestial navigation with Dead Reckoning taking into account wind direction and speed, water current direction and speed, last known location, current apparent heading, etc.
- "Other wise I too might have thought that Dead Reconing was an unneccessary skill." if you'll note, i said "but as regards to bike touring, it's about as important as knowing how to do start a fire with two sticks." i didn't say it was an unnecessary skill for helicopter pilots. nor for any aother pilots.
- why would you find "[my] conclusions [that Dead Reckoning and even compass are " largely irrelevant when traveling on a road"] to be inappropriate, when in the very next sentence you yourself say that "It may not be totally necessary"?
- i'm the first to admit that good navigation skills can "add an additional dimension of enjoyment to the trip", even on a bicycle tour. much the same as being able to start a fire in the rain with 2 sticks. with the advent of lighters and cooking stoves however, i think most people find such skills to be "largely irrelevant".
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Old 05-09-06, 11:56 PM   #8
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Excerpts from the Gatty book.

Chapter 17, finding your way in towns

"As you approach the outskirts of a town there are many indications to announce to you its close proximity. Converging roads, railway lines, telegraph lines and heavy power lines all point the way to a city. As the greater numbers of people are coming into a town in the morning and leaving in the afternoon, the direction of heavy traffic in or out at these times will show the way to the heart of a city..."

"to a newcomer, a strange town presents many of the same problems in direction finding as those set by pathfinding in dense woods. They are both unknown areas and there is the same need for accurate orientation. ...A first mistake in orientation at the beginning of a visit to a strange town seems to be curiously ineradicable....."


he goes on to tell in some detail how to tell direction in towns by building construction, which way the paint peels, the fenceposts weather, and the bridges rust. Really is fascinating.


Chapter 16, estimation of distance

at 50 yards, the mouth and eyes of a person can be clearly distinguished

100 yards, the eyes appear as dots.

200 yards the general detaisl of clothing can be distinguished.

300 yards, faces can be seen.

500 yards, colors of clothing can be distinguished.

800 yards, a man looks like a post.

1 mile, the trunks of large trees can be seen.

2 1/2 miles, chimneys and windows can be distinguished.

6 miles, windmills, large houses and towers can be recgonized.

9 miles, an average church steeple can be seen.

good stuff.
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Old 05-10-06, 12:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philso
you know what i really hate fthomas? i hate it when people put words into other people's mouths, especially mine. and then make little snide remarks like "after all, real men...".

for your information:
- yes, my in-built sense of direction is pretty good.
- it's not perfect though, so that's why i've taken the time to learn about navigation on land. my skills are adequate enough that i don't feel the need for a gps unit.
- what's this cr@p about real men don't for directions? what exactly did i say that would imply anything along those lines? when i'm touring on my bike, i happen to ask for directions rather frequently, if i feel the need. it's a lot more efficient that trying to approximate where you are by "dead reckoning".
- in the same way that there is art with a small "a" and then Art with a capital "A", you could call what people intuitively figure when they say to themselves "i've been going for [x amount of time] so far, so i've probably got another [y amount of time] to go." dead reckoning in lowercase letters. still, it's a far cry from sea or air navigation, where you would want to be able back up using gps readings and celestial navigation with Dead Reckoning taking into account wind direction and speed, water current direction and speed, last known location, current apparent heading, etc.
- "Other wise I too might have thought that Dead Reconing was an unneccessary skill." if you'll note, i said "but as regards to bike touring, it's about as important as knowing how to do start a fire with two sticks." i didn't say it was an unnecessary skill for helicopter pilots. nor for any aother pilots.
- why would you find "[my] conclusions [that Dead Reckoning and even compass are " largely irrelevant when traveling on a road"] to be inappropriate, when in the very next sentence you yourself say that "It may not be totally necessary"?
- i'm the first to admit that good navigation skills can "add an additional dimension of enjoyment to the trip", even on a bicycle tour. much the same as being able to start a fire in the rain with 2 sticks. with the advent of lighters and cooking stoves however, i think most people find such skills to be "largely irrelevant".
Sorry, it was not intended as a slam against you personally. Not a very well defined hasty generalization I must admit. It wasn't intended to start a flame war.
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Old 05-10-06, 07:50 AM   #10
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The more ways you learn to navigate, the better. At work, we just got a GPS unit, which I'm learning to use. It's pretty nifty. The problem is (and I guess the more expensive models fix this) is that it does not provide as much info as a USGS topo. I wouldn't mind having one for day-to-day use, but when hiking way up in the Adirondacks, I'd rather have my map and compass. Learning to use a sighting mirror definitely helps mitigate the little tricks that your brain plays. And taking altimeter shots at trail intersections definitely provides some backup info for the return trip.

On a bicycle, a computer definitely helps things too. Average speed*time = distance
reset at each waypoint
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Old 05-10-06, 08:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
Excerpts from the Gatty book.

<snip>
he goes on to tell in some detail how to tell direction in towns by building construction, which way the paint peels, the fenceposts weather, and the bridges rust. Really is fascinating.

</snip>

good stuff.
The book sounds interesting. I don't know when it was published but a modern way to tell directions in towns are satellite dish direction and sun panel direction. Although I did see some panels facing north once (I am in the northern hemisphere) so satellite dish direction may be more accurate because it just plain won't work unless it is pointing at the equator (where the satellites are).
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Old 05-10-06, 05:50 PM   #12
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I mainly just use a map, the location of the sun, and/or the location of other landmarks.

However, in the middle of the day, or when it is heavily overcast, or when it is the middle of the night, or when I get in an argument with my cycling partner(s) about which direction we should go, I'll bring out the compass to back up my intuition.

I've never used a GPS. I've lost my computer in the middle of a tour and have ridden quite a distance without it. I don't like watches or clocks, and although I will have one with me tucked in my panniers somewhere I don't have it accessible when I'm riding.

All that technology might be nice, but it isn't necessary .... as Bekologist mentions, you can get a lot of details about time, distance, location, etc. simply paying attention to your surroundings.
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Old 05-10-06, 05:55 PM   #13
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I use a GPS mainly because it's fun and cool, not because it's necessary. I'm a gadget kind of guy.
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Old 05-10-06, 06:31 PM   #14
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Incidentally, here's a site that will tell you the times of the sunrises and sunsets all year long, all over the world: http://www.timeanddate.com/

Click on World Clock to get into a list of places around the world. When you click on a city, and scroll down, you'll reach a link which says: Find sunrise and sunset-times for other dates, and you can do exactly that.

Once you know the times of the sunrises and sunsets for the area where you will be cycling, you can make some judgements about what time it is during both the day and night.

For example, if you are cycling through the night, it usually gets very dark just before dawn, and then about an hour before sunrise, the first faint hints of light will appear along the eastern horizon. By that, you can tell approx. what time it is, and you will have a reasonable idea which direction east is.
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Old 05-11-06, 07:19 AM   #15
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I started carrying a GPS with me so I could plot on a map where I'd been on the ride, not where I was.
After I return home, I download the data onto the computer and print off a map with distances, etc. on it and mark on the paper whether it was a good route or not. That map then gets shared with my club members for a ride at some point in the future.
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Old 05-11-06, 01:06 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbrians
I started carrying a GPS with me so I could plot on a map where I'd been on the ride, not where I was.
After I return home, I download the data onto the computer and print off a map with distances, etc. on it and mark on the paper whether it was a good route or not. That map then gets shared with my club members for a ride at some point in the future.
Very good use of a GPS. There is a rider in the over 50 thread that is mapping mountain bike trails. Has a ton to his credit.
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