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  1. #1
    Senior Member burbankbiker's Avatar
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    GPS Route Planning Software? How does one load a whole tour?

    I've been reading about GPS options for an upcoming tour and what I want seems so simple but getting a definitive source which points me towards it has been surprisingly elusive. So here's what I'd like to do:

    1.) Get a GPS - Easy enough, I've decided on the Garmin GPSMap 62s for it's bright screen, AA Batteries, and General good reviews
    2.) Plan my route on my desktop computer (mac) with turn by turn directions plotted out and following the Bicycling the Pacific Coast book
    3.) Transfer that route to my GPS so that I can load it up at my start point and follow the line to my destination.

    Simple enough, right?

    But this is what I'm wondering:

    1.) What Mac software can do this sort of route planning? Garmin Basecamp seems to be loathed by everyone who reviews it and the Garmins can read .gpx files so can I create a route using other software and load it in via .GPX? If so, is there any amazingly great software out there? It doesn't need to be freeware, either. I'm happy to pay for quality mapping software.
    2.) Do I need to buy extra Garmin maps beyond what comes with the 62s?
    3.) Can I just create my whole 850 mile tour as a single route in some software and follow it from day to day or would I break it up into segments on my GPS? Can the GPS handle a long route, in other words?

    Anyone who knows their stuff about GPS feel free to chime in because I'm a super noob on this stuff!

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Guess I'm too old, worked no IT gigs.

    Paper maps don't have a battery to go dead ..
    a sailor always has more than one means of navigation ..
    a bike trip never has nothing but water, as far as the eye can see, in all directions .

    bring the tech gadget and a map and compass..

    southbound on US101, keep the ocean on your right, and all will be well..


    DeLorme has a CD to load on your computer version
    of their paper map books, I have the books of WA & OR maps.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-30-12 at 11:34 PM.

  3. #3
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    Lots of different options for this; I'll share what I do on an eTrex 20. Forget routes unless you typically go directly to your destination. While you can set up waypoints and "via points" on BaseCamp it's really a hassle. Often I will get the route I want in BaseCamp, upload it to the GPS and the route created in the GPS is different. Frankly, I don't want to be directed over that 600' climb when it's an extra 3/4 mile to go around. I've mucked around with putting in very precise waypoints/via points and it's still a pain.

    So, instead, use the track navigation feature in newer Garmins. This allows you to create a ride on any number of sites like Ride With GPS. It will automatically draw your path for you then you can export the file in tcx format. Import that file into BaseCamp and you will get an automatic track with a waypoint at every turn. Name the waypoint as you like, display the appropriate data fields on your map, and you will get distance to the next turn and the name of the waypoint (which i usually title L Main St). See this site for a quick description.

    I also like to slip a cue sheet into the map case of my handlebar bag and agree that a backup map is helpful. It usually stays in my bag. Finally, pre-load everything that you can because, otherwise, you have to either create the track on the GPS (a pain) or find/carry a computer.

  4. #4
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    I bought the Mapsource software. I am not recommending that you do so, my GPS did not have the topographic basemaps loaded that I needed so I had to buy the topo maps separately. I am not familiar with any other GPS software. I think I bought it over 5 years ago, it was so long ago that it came on CDs instead of DVDs.

    I have found that if I make a route with too many points in Mapsource and then transfer that to my GPS, it truncates the route after X number of points. Unfortunately, I do not remember how many points a route can have. Maybe it was 50, maybe 150, I just do not remember. It also may vary for model, I use an older Etrex Legend and it may not take as long a route as some of the newer ones.

    Routes and tracks are different, routes is where you go from waypoint to waypoint. Tracks is where your GPS records points where it has been and saves that as a track. I downloaded some tracks that others saved to the internet and joined them into one 350 mile track for my entire tour and loaded that as a single track into my GPS. Over 750 points and the remainder were truncated, thus my long track did not work. I had to break my trip into 5 tracks to get it all loaded.

    In my case, I loaded my data into my GPS from my computer but I got no warning that tracks or routes were being truncated. It was only when I loaded that data from my GPS back into my computer that I found out how much data was missing.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by burbankbiker View Post
    1.) What Mac software can do this sort of route planning? Garmin Basecamp seems to be loathed by everyone who reviews it and the Garmins can read .gpx files so can I create a route using other software and load it in via .GPX? If so, is there any amazingly great software out there? It doesn't need to be freeware, either. I'm happy to pay for quality mapping software.
    Why pay? Why use desktop software? When I rode from SF to LA, I planned the route using one of the free on-line services (RideWithGPS, BikeRouteToaster, MapMyRide, etc). They'll all output data in various formats, one of which can probably be loaded into your device.

    2.) Do I need to buy extra Garmin maps beyond what comes with the 62s?
    Dunno what maps come with the 62s. My Garmin Edge 705 came with a basemap that contained very little detail. Effectively, it was only major streets, highways, expressways, etc. I bought the upgraded maps, which coms closer to showing every street in the country.

    3.) Can I just create my whole 850 mile tour as a single route in some software and follow it from day to day or would I break it up into segments on my GPS? Can the GPS handle a long route, in other words?
    I don't know anything about the GPS you're considering, but I would suggest that you want to create one route per day of the trip. For my Edge 705, at least, many of the stats are given in terms of either the next waypoint or the end of the route. For me, it was more useful to know the time/distance to my current day's destination than to know the time/distance to the end of the trip. Practically speaking, I found that the Edge 705 gets pretty lethargic as route file becomes larger.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I have found a GPS unit to be extremely helpful. I have used mine for mountaineering, backpacking, and back country skiing; but scoffed at using it on bike tours-- until I cycled Europe! It saved me countless hours looking for campground, hotels, navigating through large cities, and finding alternate routes.

    I have a Garmin 60CSX, a little older version of the unit you are considering. Based on using City Navigator-Europe NT, I purchased City Navigator- North America NT. Even though it is called "City Navigator", it includes all roads. The product combined with Gamin's Map Source easily allows creation of routes including distances. I also downloaded ACA's Erie connector as a route along with the waypoints for campgrounds and other amenities. The software has a tremendous amount of information about campgrounds, hotels (addresses and phone numbers), and other points of interest. The one thing I am disappointed about the software is the lack of information about state and national parks.

    I have only used my GPS for bike touring for 3 months in Europe, and for 5 weeks of riding we did earlier this summer. We plan on doing another 6 weeks, starting next week in Michigan and Canada. We have several real tentative routes that we can do, including parts of ACA routes. It all depends on weather, visiting friends and relatives, and just our mood. We really don't care where we go as long as we are back at the airport to catch our flight home in October. This is the kind of situation where a GPS is very useful. We carry a netbook for a number of reasons (photography downloads, net access, word processing, etc), and have Garmin's Map Source loaded on it. It is really easy to play with alternate routes. Our smart phones could do some of this but I like a larger screen and a full sized keyboard. We also back up all our photos on jump drives daily. However, we are considering not bringing the netbook on this trip and rely on our phones, but the GPS is going.

    Two years ago I would have said a GPS unit is not needed for bike touring, and would have left mine at home. While it is not really a necessity, it sure comes in handy. If you are on a relatively simple ACA route and have the maps, it probably is just extra weight. However, if you are riding a complex route, a route you put together or making up your own route as you go along, they are darn handy. There have been times on a tour when our planned route changed almost daily.

    Having said all that, we still carry paper maps.

  7. #7
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Here ya go... Use Google maps, bike option, convert to gpx file, copy gpx file to your Garmin 62S... You won't need any mac software and the Garmin's directory reads perfectly on a Mac as just another hard drive. Here are instructions on how to do it.

    http://murphymac.com/google-maps-to-gpx-or-motionx-gps/

    not exactly sure what directory on the 62S where the gpx file should be copied... But probably easy enough to figure out.

  8. #8
    Senior Member burbankbiker's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone, for some great tips here. I bought the City Navigator Maps via Garmin's website (hooray for instant download).

    I had used MapMyRide before and I'm lukewarm to it. There's some stuff I find pretty frustrating with their mapping but I signed up for RidewithGPS.com tonight and created tomorrow's test ride there. I exported a GPX file, loaded it onto my new Garmin 62s, and went outside to ride the first mile of it and sure enough, it was tracing the track for me just like I hoped for. So far, so great! Thanks again for all the help.

    I'll update this thread, for the sake of archive browsing, if I have anything to add but so far this solution will do exactly what I need. Thanks again all!

  9. #9
    Bicycle Lifestyle AsanaCycles's Avatar
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    I used a Garmin 705 for about 2 years
    now onto a Garmin Edge 800.

    ok... so here's the deal with the west coast.

    its so amazingly simply to navigate that you pretty much do not need a map. maybe an odometer so that you can have an idea how much further to camp.
    signage is amazing.

    another killer option, at least with the bicycle related garmin
    is that all you have to do is punch in a destination and as it to "Go"
    if your Routing options have been selected for Bicycle, it simply figures it out for you.
    no brainer.

    I use BaseCamp for a multitude of creating "Tracks" I often do this for dirt roads.

    another method is to simply tag Way Points at key junctures. in this method, I do not tag a way point at an intersection, but instead maybe 100ft down the road away from the intersection, this way, you know which direction to keep traveling.
    by using the map screen, usually I can see the way points coming up, so I just aim for them along the way. in this method there is no reason/need to actually create a Route. also Waypoints use much less memory than Routes.

    another web source is: http://ridewithgps.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by burbankbiker View Post
    I've been reading about GPS options for an upcoming tour and what I want seems so simple but getting a definitive source which points me towards it has been surprisingly elusive. So here's what I'd like to do:

    1.) Get a GPS - Easy enough, I've decided on the Garmin GPSMap 62s for it's bright screen, AA Batteries, and General good reviews
    2.) Plan my route on my desktop computer (mac) with turn by turn directions plotted out and following the Bicycling the Pacific Coast book
    3.) Transfer that route to my GPS so that I can load it up at my start point and follow the line to my destination.

    Simple enough, right?

    But this is what I'm wondering:

    1.) What Mac software can do this sort of route planning? Garmin Basecamp seems to be loathed by everyone who reviews it and the Garmins can read .gpx files so can I create a route using other software and load it in via .GPX? If so, is there any amazingly great software out there? It doesn't need to be freeware, either. I'm happy to pay for quality mapping software.
    2.) Do I need to buy extra Garmin maps beyond what comes with the 62s?
    3.) Can I just create my whole 850 mile tour as a single route in some software and follow it from day to day or would I break it up into segments on my GPS? Can the GPS handle a long route, in other words?

    Anyone who knows their stuff about GPS feel free to chime in because I'm a super noob on this stuff!
    I'm going to answer question #3 because it's very important.

    You will have to create several routes to complete the job since each route can only store 250 way points. This isn't too bad at all when you think about about because I like to have at least 45-60 way points for a 75 mile journey. You have the ability to create 50 routes, each with 250 way point is more than enough.

  11. #11
    Senior Member burbankbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I'm going to answer question #3 because it's very important.

    You will have to create several routes to complete the job since each route can only store 250 way points. This isn't too bad at all when you think about about because I like to have at least 45-60 way points for a 75 mile journey. You have the ability to create 50 routes, each with 250 way point is more than enough.
    If I'm not mistaken though, the GPSmap 62s (the model I have) can have tracks with up to 10,000 waypoints. I'm basing it off this review:

    There are actually some real improvements with track data storage on the 62s compared to the older 60Cx. The 60Cx had a maximum track point capacity for all tracks of 10,000 points, and a maximum of 20 stored tracks, each with no more than 500 points. The 62s allows up to 200 named stored tracks, each with up to 10,000 points.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by burbankbiker View Post
    If I'm not mistaken though, the GPSmap 62s (the model I have) can have tracks with up to 10,000 waypoints. I'm basing it off this review:
    Routes and tracks are different, thus you can have different maximum number of points for a route as you do for a track. I make this comment in response to post number 11, I also touched on this topic in my post number 4.

    A track is a series of points that is created by the GPS as it moves around. A route is a series of points that you enter into it to go from point to point to point, etc.

  13. #13
    Senior Member burbankbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
    A track is a series of points that is created by the GPS as it moves around. A route is a series of points that you enter into it to go from point to point to point, etc.
    While there is a distinction, Garmin doesn't help things by having you access and load Routes via the "Track Manager" in their menu system. So I plotted a route on ridewithgps.com. I exported a .gpx file (a route file format, as far as I know) but then I go to Track Manager and choose my route. :-\

  14. #14
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    My old, tough, Garmin eTrex is very slow to process long, preplanned Routes, thus impractical. No problem with a Track. If I want a short turn-by-turn, I simply set a waypoint(s) on the Track and select Go To. Useful in navigating through a city. Or preplan the Route using Basecamp and CNNA. Only totally reliable way I've found for downloaded routing in the eTrex.

    This very basic article may give you some useful pointers that would apply to the 62, though you seem to be moving along the learning curve quickly. Lot quicker than I did.
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 09-02-12 at 05:31 AM. Reason: fix link
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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