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  1. #1
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    GPS Computer for directions

    Eyes aren't what they use to be but can hear quit well. Is there a gps that can be mounted on a bike tha gives voice prompts turn by turn? I've looked at Garmin bike gps and the screen is just too small and not visible in strong sun light. Anyone actually using one? If not what are you using for long distant cycling.
    Thanks,

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    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    I use the ETrex 20, and use bifocal cycling glasses ($15 or so) so I can read the Garmin, the bike computer, and the cue-sheet.

    Works fine for me on long and short rides.
    Regards,
    Duncan

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    A lot of my rando riding buddies use Garmins. I don't, though.

    One thing I hear about the Garmin option is that you have a garbage-in-garbage-out syndrome. Specifically, if you're not very careful about how the course is entered, you can get some frustrating errors. For example, instead of telling you to turn left, it'll tell you to turn right, then 50 feet later, indicate a U-turn, because your point was actually a smidgen off. So it's not an automatic cure-all for route-finding.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

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    you can always tell when you are riding with a gps user if there is a controle where you backtrack after stopping. Invariably they seem to miss those. After I did a nasty little bonus hill following someone with a gps, I made an effort to know where we were supposed to be going even if I did trust them for the turn to turn directions. The other thing that changed my behavior was when a group of them started arguing over directions when we had just ridden the same roads a month before. I just kept going and left them arguing. My mind is like a steel sieve, but I can remember a road for a month. My experience from using a gps in my car is that I might not learn the route that well if I just follow directions, so I suppose it isn't too surprising that they didn't remember where they were.

    I think it's important to have an idea where you are going even if you are going to use a GPS. The people that make the routes themselves have that experience as an advantage. If you just take someone else's file, you are at their mercy and the mercy of your GPS.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    I use the ETrex 20, and use bifocal cycling glasses ($15 or so) so I can read the Garmin, the bike computer, and the cue-sheet.

    Works fine for me on long and short rides.
    +1. I've ridden almost 36,000 km on brevets with GPS (eTrex Vista Cx) and bifocal "safety" glasses (available clear or tinted). I get these at:
    http://www.safetyglassesusa.com/safreadglas.html

    I don't know of any GPS with voice directions suitable for long distance cycling. Car GPS's won't have enough battery life and won't be designed to be weatherproof enough. Maybe there's some way of connecting external power and weatherproofing.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    you can always tell when you are riding with a gps user if there is a controle where you backtrack after stopping. Invariably they seem to miss those. After I did a nasty little bonus hill following someone with a gps, I made an effort to know where we were supposed to be going even if I did trust them for the turn to turn directions. The other thing that changed my behavior was when a group of them started arguing over directions when we had just ridden the same roads a month before. I just kept going and left them arguing. My mind is like a steel sieve, but I can remember a road for a month. My experience from using a gps in my car is that I might not learn the route that well if I just follow directions, so I suppose it isn't too surprising that they didn't remember where they were.

    I think it's important to have an idea where you are going even if you are going to use a GPS. The people that make the routes themselves have that experience as an advantage. If you just take someone else's file, you are at their mercy and the mercy of your GPS.
    With respect to remembering roads, following a cue sheet is no different than following a GPS. Neither "forces" you to remember roads, nor to know where you are going. My first year of randonneuring was without a GPS and I never knew where I was going or coming from, I just knew that I needed to make a right turn in 1.2 miles. Even after I got a GPS and was making all my own routes, I didn't really have all that much better idea of where I was going when I was actually on the ride itself. All that matters is that my cue sheet says to make a right turn in 1.2 miles and the GPS beeps to wake me out of my daze and help me remember to actually make the turn. In my first year of randonneuring, I rode a total of about ten bonus miles. Since I got a GPS, I have ridden less than ten bonus miles over the subsequent seven years.

    I didn't understand your comment about a controle where you backtrack after stopping. Do you mean that the route has a little out-and-back segment to the control? I always program my GPS files with separate routes from control to control (except info controls) to force it to take me to the control. I had an experience with an out-and-back to a control being skipped one time when I had my GPS set to "bicycle" instead of "car/motorcyle".

    I'm not a fast enough randonneur to be able to afford bonus mileage, so that's why I use a GPS. I know a lot of fast randonneurs who put in a lot of bonus miles. The most magnificent example is Rich Carpenter's story of taking a wrong turn on the Mille Miglia, descending 15 miles and several thousand feet, then discovering he's in the wrong village! For me, that would be a ride-ending event. I would not be able to make up the mileage and finish in time. But for Rich, it's just a bump in the road.

    While I encourage everyone to make their own GPS files, I think that there are very few who do, most just download my files from the DCR website. I'm not hearing complaints at the end of rides, so they must be working as well for others as they do for me.

    Nick

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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    A lot of my rando riding buddies use Garmins. I don't, though.

    One thing I hear about the Garmin option is that you have a garbage-in-garbage-out syndrome. Specifically, if you're not very careful about how the course is entered, you can get some frustrating errors. For example, instead of telling you to turn left, it'll tell you to turn right, then 50 feet later, indicate a U-turn, because your point was actually a smidgen off. So it's not an automatic cure-all for route-finding.
    Nothing is an automatic cure-all for route finding! I've used many cue sheets that are certainly less helpful for route-finding than they should be. Often I've found the cue sheet problems in the process of programming up a GPS file and then contacted organizers to point out problems.

    As to the problem of having viapoints a smidgen off, there's a simple solution: When you make the GPS file, if you right-click on the intersection where you want to put a viapoint then it brings up a little context menu that lists the places that you can "stick" the viapoint to, including the intersection itself and the businesses around it, etc. So if you select the intersection then you know for sure that the point will be in the intersection. Sometimes the context menu has no choices, in which case the intersection is the only place it'll stick the viapoint. Using this "right-click" technique makes it so that the route almost never has you doing "turn right then do a U-turn", and in the rare occasions where this happens (mainly because the map does not quite match conditions on the ground) you can see from the purple line which way to go.

  8. #8
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Not a randonneur, but, when I go to a new area - and am moving again at the end of this year - one of my favorite ways to get to learn the area is to go on long rides until I get myself well and truly lost (or at least unsure of where I am) and then either use a map or my general sense of direction and asking strangers to get home again. Have been thinking a gps computer with directions to tell me how to get home again sounds like a good idea, but was surprised to find out how expensive the garmin ones for bikes that come with directions are (mainly garmin edge 700 and 800 series, right?). It sounds like some people just use the ones for hiking instead? Do those work well enough for directions? I'm assuming they don't have speed/odometer data (or do they?), but I can just leave my current computer on. Does that make for a more reasonably priced purchase?
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  9. #9
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    I bought an etrex 20. I haven't really figured it out yet, but it does display an odo and speed. I'm going to get the City Naviator package and see how that works out.

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    Randomhead
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    While I encourage everyone to make their own GPS files, I think that there are very few who do, most just download my files from the DCR website. I'm not hearing complaints at the end of rides, so they must be working as well for others as they do for me.

    Nick
    I think the only ride we've been on together is PBP, so I don't get to follow you around. I agree with what you said in your post, but from the observed behavior of people with GPS's and their bonus miles, a lot of people aren't using files that are as carefully prepared as yours. I've gotten to know who uses flakey gps files among the people I ride with. I figure a gps would save me from some nighttime confusion. And the worst bonus miles I've ever ridden probably could have been avoided if I had a gps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
    I bought an etrex 20. I haven't really figured it out yet, but it does display an odo and speed. I'm going to get the City Naviator package and see how that works out.
    Make sure to get City Navigator on a DVD. That way you can design routes on your computer. If you get the SD-chip version, then it's my understanding that you will not be able to use it on your computer to design routes. It's possible I'm wrong about that, but why risk it?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I think the only ride we've been on together is PBP, so I don't get to follow you around. I agree with what you said in your post, but from the observed behavior of people with GPS's and their bonus miles, a lot of people aren't using files that are as carefully prepared as yours. I've gotten to know who uses flakey gps files among the people I ride with. I figure a gps would save me from some nighttime confusion. And the worst bonus miles I've ever ridden probably could have been avoided if I had a gps.
    A nice trick at night is when you're at a control and have told it to navigate the route to the next control, then you can compare the GPS's turn-by-turn directions with the cue sheet to double-check that the GPS matches the cue sheet. Then you can be confident that when the GPS is telling you to turn that it is on the cue sheet. Also, having reviewed the cue sheet at the control, the street names should (may?) be slightly more familiar as you get to them, so that adds some confidence, too.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
    Make sure to get City Navigator on a DVD. That way you can design routes on your computer. If you get the SD-chip version, then it's my understanding that you will not be able to use it on your computer to design routes. It's possible I'm wrong about that, but why risk it?
    Will do

  14. #14
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    one of my favorite ways to get to learn the area is to go on long rides until I get myself well and truly lost (or at least unsure of where I am) and then either use a map or my general sense of direction and asking strangers to get home again.
    This is the technique I use when I'm traveling with my bike and want to really learn a new city. It's quite an effective method. GPS is just too easy, there's no real incentive to learn anything.

    When I do a brevet, I try to get the route sheet early (or use last year's route sheet) and go over it with Google maps. I try to memorize as much of the route as I can, so that when I do have to refer to the cue sheet on the road, I'll have a picture of the map in my mind. I would think that this would work best for people with "visual" memories.

    Otherwise, I'm holding off on getting a GPS until I can get one that is small, waterproof, and gives audible directions. I'd set it to give me the directions in German. Nothing sexier than a female voice calmly giving directions in German!

    Luis

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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lhbernhardt View Post
    This is the technique I use when I'm traveling with my bike and want to really learn a new city. It's quite an effective method. GPS is just too easy, there's no real incentive to learn anything.
    Yeah, I'd definitely keep it off until I'd decided my ride was half over and it was time to try finding home. I have just run into times when I can't find any cross streets on my map (if I've brought one), and there's a part of me that doesn't like asking for directions, and sometimes it's nice to have an emergency backup (though I suppose if I was just going to use it for that, I could just make the call of shame home and have my wife look up where I am on googlemaps). Also a small gps is easier to carry than a large map. Sometimes going home blind can be fun, though I have wandered into areas where people gave me the "what are you doing here" look that way too. A GPS wouldn't help me avoid that the way the dude at a gas station could.

    Quote Originally Posted by lhbernhardt View Post
    Otherwise, I'm holding off on getting a GPS until I can get one that is small, waterproof, and gives audible directions. I'd set it to give me the directions in German. Nothing sexier than a female voice calmly giving directions in German!.
    Since I don't speak German, this wouldn't work for me, but I like the idea of a sexily accented voice giving directions (in English).
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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    Senior Member joewein's Avatar
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    I get a GPX of the route and convert it to a KML, then import that into the "My Maps" section in Google Maps. On Google Maps for Android I can then go to "Layers" and select "My Maps" and pick the named KML. You can combine multiple routes into one map in "My Maps". It superimposes a red or blue line on the map for the route(s) and shows an arrow for the bike's current position and direction. It's very hard to get lost with that.

    It doesn't give spoken directions but it has worked great for me. Unlike a cue sheet, the backlit LCD is easy to read at night.

    Since the phone is a relatively power hungry device, I use it with an external USB battery (4 x 18650 cells, ca. 8000 mAh, US$30) which lasts more than 24 hours (have never completely run it down yet). That and the phone holder are my only expense on top of the phone that I already use (Google Nexus S).

  17. #17
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    The screen on the Garmin Edge 800 is the most disappointing part of the device. There's rumors of an Edge 900 being released in the not too distant future, maybe at Eurobike in September, and I hope the screen is the thing that they focus on. On my 800, I don't like it to give me turn-by-turn directions - I just generate a GPX file using mapmyride and upload it to the device, then set the settings to always display the track as a solid black line, then I just follow the line; if I decide to alter the route while riding or if the plotted route is not what I intended, then the device doesn't give me any warnings about being off course, so I prefer doing it this way.

  18. #18
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
    I bought an etrex 20. I haven't really figured it out yet, but it does display an odo and speed. I'm going to get the City Naviator package and see how that works out.
    don't give garmin more $$$

    use openstreetmaps for free: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin

    admittedly even though i work with GIS/GPS for a living, due to having 3 young children i haven't worked out the turn by turn stuff with openstreetmap yet but i do have a beautiful free streets file for my area i can use in conjunction with my GPS for when i get lost (not too often anymore unfortunately, NO TIME).

    i'd love to hear if anyone else got the turn by turn thing running using openstreetmapand just general thoughts with it vs. the pay garmin data if they have used both. coming from a world where data like this is free i feel like garmin are robbing peopole making them pay for basically the same street files that can be used free everywhere outside of a garmin device.

    btw i use a 60csx which is basically a color version of the etrex. most of the new garmin bike specific computers my friends have are designed to capture ride data but not display routes or aid in navigation unless i am missing something. i believe you need one of the bigger versions with a full display for navigation.
    - the revolution will not be motorized -

  19. #19
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    don't give garmin more $$$

    use openstreetmaps for free: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin

    admittedly even though i work with GIS/GPS for a living, due to having 3 young children i haven't worked out the turn by turn stuff with openstreetmap yet but i do have a beautiful free streets file for my area i can use in conjunction with my GPS for when i get lost (not too often anymore unfortunately, NO TIME).

    i'd love to hear if anyone else got the turn by turn thing running using openstreetmapand just general thoughts with it vs. the pay garmin data if they have used both. coming from a world where data like this is free i feel like garmin are robbing peopole making them pay for basically the same street files that can be used free everywhere outside of a garmin device.

    btw i use a 60csx which is basically a color version of the etrex. most of the new garmin bike specific computers my friends have are designed to capture ride data but not display routes or aid in navigation unless i am missing something. i believe you need one of the bigger versions with a full display for navigation.
    Ah, too late! I already bought it. I guess if it's tough to get the turn by turn working on the open source stuff I don't feel too robbed.

    The eTrex 20 is not a bike computer, it's intended for hiking. It has colour too.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    don't give garmin more $$$

    use openstreetmaps for free: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin...
    I certainly have no desire to send garmin more $$$ or even more $$$$.

    But the OSM maps that I've used do not have searchable points of interest. So if you're in some dinky town and want to find the nearest bike store or restaurant, you are SOL. Of course you could be sociable and ask a local :-)

    I did try loading an OSM map in my GPS and then navigating it in auto-routing mode, I think it worked fine. But since I have the Garmin maps, I'm not sure that my test was "perfect". I'm not sure if I made the route file using the OSM map or using a Garmin map.

    Using OSM maps is not for the novice user. It took me awhile to figure out how to do it. The instructions are pretty scattered and sketchy.

    As I understand it, the Garmin Edge 700 and above are able to do auto-routing. They can even navigate a track and tell you when turns are coming up--something that the eTrex line cannot do. But the Edge computers are so expensive and have limitations like short battery life (that requires you to carry some sort of external power lash-up) that they don't interest me. I'm still using an eTrex Vista Cx and if/when that dies will likely upgrade to the eTrex 30 or successor.

    Nick

  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    don't give garmin more $$$

    use openstreetmaps for free: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin

    admittedly even though i work with GIS/GPS for a living, due to having 3 young children i haven't worked out the turn by turn stuff with openstreetmap yet but i do have a beautiful free streets file for my area i can use in conjunction with my GPS for when i get lost (not too often anymore unfortunately, NO TIME).

    i'd love to hear if anyone else got the turn by turn thing running using openstreetmapand just general thoughts with it vs. the pay garmin data if they have used both. coming from a world where data like this is free i feel like garmin are robbing peopole making them pay for basically the same street files that can be used free everywhere outside of a garmin device.

    btw i use a 60csx which is basically a color version of the etrex. most of the new garmin bike specific computers my friends have are designed to capture ride data but not display routes or aid in navigation unless i am missing something. i believe you need one of the bigger versions with a full display for navigation.
    I use only OSM or other open source maps on my 800. I've finally figured out a way to get reliable turn-by-turn directions. AFAIK, getting good turn-by-turn has nothing to do with the map itself, and everything to do with the way the file you are using is created.

    I make or find a GPX file for the route I want to do somewhere and download it to my computer. Right now I'm creating the route using bikely.com. I upload the GPX file into BikeRouteToaster (BRT). You have to do the free sign-in to be able to upload files. I then go through the route and set a Course Point at every turn where I want a direction to come up. On the Summary page, I check "Add Course Point Warnings" and download a TCX file. I put the map and the TCX file on an SD card and stick it in the 800. Works perfectly. Of course there's a little more to it than that, but if you already know how an 800 or your particular device works and what settings to use, that should get you going.

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