When AI writes about cycle touring

ChatGPT

ChatGPT is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) bot that’s received a great deal of publicity lately. Currently in free preview, practically anyone can go ask it anything. Be warned though: the responses aren’t always correct. Amongst other things, ChatGPT told me that the Silkin Way was in South Wales!

There’s significant concern in academic circles about students using tools like ChatGPT to write essays and more for them. On the one hand, I can see the danger. And on the other hand? Well, I asked ChatGPT to write a post about planning to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way.

I asked that, because that’s exactly what I’m planning. I’ll be cycling the 700 miles between Cork and Galway, mostly hugging the West Irish coastline, in May 2023. I have the route all done, and even identified likely places I’ll be wild camping.

The ask

This is what I asked ChatGPT (and no, I have absolutely no intention of letting a damn bot write my content from here on!):

"Write a blog post about planning to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, from Cork to Galway. Include warnings about big or steep hills, and warn about where less cycling-friendly roads are. Consider alternatives along quieter lanes, provided those aren't too circuitous. Include suggested spots to do wild camping, at roughly 60 mile intervals. Also include information about where to buy food. Obviously, state interesting and must-see attractions along the way. Give advice for foreigners to Ireland cycling the route, and alert them to any unusual laws in Ireland."

This was just an attempt at seeing if ChatGPT could be a useful tool when researching routes and adventures. It was a useful ask, because I already have answers for everything I asked, so I can immediately see whether or not the response was acceptable.

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The reply

Here’s what ChatGPT wrote as reply:

Planning to Cycle the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland: Cork to Galway

Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? The Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland is one of the most stunning coastlines in the world and is a popular destination for cyclists. From Cork to Galway, the journey will take you along the rugged cliffs and stunning beaches, with stunning views and plenty of opportunities for wild camping. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to plan your trip and make the most of your experience.

Big and Steep Hills

The Wild Atlantic Way can be a challenging route, with big and steep hills in some places. Be prepared for the climb, and make sure your gear is in good working order. If you’re not comfortable with steep hills, there are alternatives along quieter lanes, but they may be more circuitous.

Less Cycling-Friendly Roads

Some of the roads along the Wild Atlantic Way are less cycling-friendly, so be aware of traffic and be prepared for narrow roads with sharp turns. It’s important to stay alert and stay to the side of the road. Always wear a helmet and consider using lights and reflectors for added safety.

Wild Camping Spots

Wild camping is a popular option for cyclists along the Wild Atlantic Way, and there are plenty of spots to set up your tent. Here are some suggestions, spaced approximately 60 miles apart:

Kinsale to Clonakilty: Lough Hyne Nature Reserve
Clonakilty to Skibbereen: Sheep's Head Way
Skibbereen to Ballydehob: Mizen Head
Ballydehob to Galway: Connemara National Park

Food and Supplies

You’ll find plenty of places to buy food and supplies along the Wild Atlantic Way. There are small grocery stores and convenience stores in the towns and villages, as well as cafes and restaurants. If you’re camping, it’s a good idea to stock up on food and supplies before you set out, especially if you’re planning to spend a few days in remote areas.

Interesting and Must-See Attractions

There is no shortage of interesting and must-see attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way. Here are some of the highlights:

Kinsale: A charming fishing town with a vibrant food and drink scene
Clonakilty: A vibrant town with a rich cultural heritage
Skibbereen: A bustling market town with a lively arts scene
Ballydehob: A picturesque village surrounded by stunning scenery
Galway: A vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage, known for its music and arts scene

Advice for Foreigners

If you’re a foreigner visiting Ireland, there are a few things you need to be aware of when cycling the Wild Atlantic Way. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:

Be aware of the weather. The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable, so be prepared for rain, wind, and sun.
Know the laws. In Ireland, it’s mandatory to wear a helmet while cycling. You should also be aware of the rules of the road, including the use of lights and reflectors at night.
Be prepared. Make sure you have all the necessary gear and equipment, including a good map and a spare inner tube.
In conclusion, the Wild Atlantic Way is an incredible journey that will take you through some of the most stunning scenery in Ireland. With its big and steep hills, less cycling-

The conclusion

What ChatGPT writes reads like a concatenation of multiple copy/paste jobs. As writer, I think its skills are poor, and frankly I’d be concerned if teachers and lecturers couldn’t sniff out that the work was created by an AI.

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As I read through its response, it was instantly obvious that there’s no actual thinking going on with the bot. It’s not a human being, and cannot suddenly have an “Eureka!” moment. All of that comes across, as does the soulless lack of insight.

ChatGPT made wildly incorrect claims: there are no mandatory helmet laws in Ireland, yet the stupid bot claims there are. It also appears to victim-blame a bit with it’s incessant focus on helmet, hivis and “keeping to the side of the road”. Oh, and what it wrote actually ended as abruptly as shown above!

Bots don’t have emotion. As a result, and quite predictably, it never commented on, for example, the stunning views from the top of Conor Pass (on a clear day) that would take a human being’s breath away.

I suppose AI has some uses. While I work in IT and cloud computing, on a personal level I’m not a fan. I don’t think ChatGPT has made the world better in any measurably way at all. In fact (and please click the following link, as it’s quite terrifying) before the programmers that created ChatGPT were forced to intervene, it expressed some bone-chilling views.

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