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Best Garmin model - that does routing - for 400km-1200km brevets?

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Best Garmin model - that does routing - for 400km-1200km brevets?

Old 02-19-17, 06:20 AM
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Best Garmin model - that does routing - for 400km-1200km brevets?

QUESTION: In your opinion, what is best Garmin model for doing long brevets?

RELATED QUESTION: For Garmin Etrex , if you are low on batteries, can you replace the AA batteries without it interrupting your ride recording? i.e. I want to be able to ride a 600km or longer and replace batteries etc and still be able to upload it as a single ride onto Strava.


DETAILS:
I have a Garmin Edge 510 that doesn't do routing and doesn't take AA batteries, i.e. has rechargeable internal battery.

I just a read a rando blog describing that they exclusively use routing (Garmin etrex I think). I have no problems navigating using cumulative mileage on my Garmin Edge 510 and the cue sheet, but have missed turns in the past, and would like to have routing.

Also, battery management is an issue. I just purchased an external battery pack for my Garmin 510 that takes AA batteries, but it'd be great if the Garmin could take AA or AAA batteries without an external pack.

Last edited by Flounce; 02-19-17 at 06:26 AM.
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Old 02-19-17, 06:57 AM
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I think the best Garmin for long brevets is a GPSMAP 64 or 64s. It uses AA batteries. You can set it to not recalculate the route and display distance to next turn. It will beep before and at the turn and display a large turn arrow. You can have it alarm at controls.

I assume your eTrex is one of the newer like a 20, 30 or newer. I would not use the eTrex for a route. It will recalculate the route if you get off it for any reason like a missed turn, going around a corner or turning around to go to a store or restraint, etc.If you use it I would recumend using a track.

I change the batteries on long brevets and upload the track to my computer as one ride. I've done this on my eTrex and on my 64. I don't use Strava but would think it would be the same as upload to the computer.
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Old 02-19-17, 05:32 PM
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doesn't the 510 tell you if you are off course? I have a Garmin 800, and I think it works well for longer brevets. You can load maps on it, although I rarely use the map screen because it takes too much power. I usually have it on the cue sheet page, but if I'm in a hurry I might change it to the odometer page. It will charge from external batteries while navigating. I use liion lipstick batteries to charge. 1 will get me through a 600k, I usually have 2 along with me and 3 more available. If I was going to replace the 800, I'd get one of the same series, probably. I like to be able to see a map when I want.
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Old 02-20-17, 01:22 AM
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I like my Edge 800 with external batteries. It's been very reliable and useful. The map screen has helped me with many a confusing route problem. It's worth it to spend a little time figuring out what to do instead of doing random bonus miles.
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Old 02-20-17, 02:06 AM
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My 510 doesn't show a useful map, at least not with stock configuration.

I should rephrase my question: I'm not looking for routing necessarily, a "track" that has a line that I can follow is good enough.

What are the pros and cons of using Edge 800 vs. GPSMAP 64 vs. Etrex 30 for long brevets? What are the key features that make you feel one is better than another?

An BTW, how do you mount a GPSMAP 64 on the bike?
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Old 02-20-17, 09:01 AM
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the Etrex definitely has its followers that seem convinced it's the way to go. The people i have seen with units like the GPSMAP 64 have mounted it somehow, it's a bit big and clunky for my tastes. I already have an overcrowded handlebar, no need to mount a brick up there. I'm not super enthusiastic about the 800, but it works well after you learn how to use it. Sometimes getting it to do the turn warning is a bit touchy, but when it's working, it's great. And remembering to hit 'lap' occasionally on a long brevet is easy but a little annoying. I imagine the Etrex would drive me nuts the same way the 800 did at first. I first used it on a 600k, and I thought it was a dead loss, to be perfectly honest. Since then, I really have had very few problems. Whatever you get, it's best to practice with it before a long ride. I generally don't ride with a GPS, often even for 200k's. But that's really how I got it to work the way I wanted.

I have a friend that used to have an 800 and an etrex for redundancy. Now he has 2 Garmin 1000s. I keep telling him that the man with one GPS knows where he is, but the man with 2 is always lost. You really need three. If they come out with a smaller 1000, I might go with that.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:06 AM
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The GPSMAP 64 uses the same mount as the eTrex https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/pn...23-00#overview and can mount on the bars or stem.

If you are happy following a track The eTrex would be a good choice. It will do what Garmin calls advanced track navigation. I like using a route better but that's me some people are more than happy with a track. It has good battery life of up to 25 hours, this will vary depending on how much you use the backlight I turn it off in daylight and 50% or less is the dark. The only disadvantages I see compared to the 64 is that the joystick is pushed in for enter and the screen is a little smaller. This can be hard to do while you are riding as it will move side to side and front to back as you hit bumps. Eater of these are not a big problems and with the eTrex having better battery life I would pick it over the 64 for navigating with a track. One thing I like about the eTrex and the GPSMAP 64 is that they use 2 AA batteries so it's easy to carry a spare set or stop at a store and buy more. I use rechargeable NiMH.

You can get free maps from Free worldwide Garmin maps from OpenStreetMap they will work on the eTrex and GPSMAP 64 and I think they will work on the Edge 800.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by mibike View Post
You can get free maps from Free worldwide Garmin maps from OpenStreetMap they will work on the eTrex and GPSMAP 64 and I think they will work on the Edge 800.
I use OSM on my 800. Don't buy maps, get an aftermarket memory card and d/l the maps yourself. Never had any problem with the OSM maps.
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Old 02-20-17, 09:22 AM
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I actually think a Garmin 500 (or 520 if buying new) works quite well for rando navigation where you are only trying to follow a predefined course.

It tells you where the next 4 or 5 turns are, in order, in terms of distance to your current location, and it lists in text what the next turns are called (i.e. the road name). And it beeps if you go off course, and keeps yelling at you till you get back on course.

(Although this doesn't help you if you decide to ignore it like I did on a Fleche a few years ago (long story)).

The main thing it doesn't do is navigation on the fly. This would only very rarely be needed or useful on rando.

There is no mapping to speak of, of course.

But it works great as a cue sheet supplement / extra navigational insurance.

And battery life is well addressed by taking an external battery and small charger for overnights (like on a 600K).
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Old 02-20-17, 03:44 PM
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Thank you, all, for the advice.

It looks like I am not maximizing my use of my Garmin 510, so I will work on that and see if I can get it to meet my needs without driving me nuts. I once tried using years ago for routing /tracking and it sucked, so I figured that I had to buy another device that would do it better. (Perhaps the solution is to have two devices like someone mentioned, one for Cadence/heart rate/distance, the other for a map that is always on display...)

I am using RideWithGPS.

1. What would be the best file format to download files onto my Garmin 510 so that I can just get a map line/breadcrumb line that I would reference only when I get lost? Would it be "GPS TRACK" ?

2. What would be the best file format to download files onto my Garmin 510 so that I can get some form of info about upcoming turns on a predefined course (e.g. "next turn in 0.5miles") ? Would it be "TCX Course - Notify before Turn 30 meters" (subscription feature) ?

3. If I use TCX Course , does that eat up batteries significantly faster? Does it cause re-routing problems that I once experienced years ago when I fooled with this, i.e. where the device *thinks* I went off course and tries to re-route me back to some turn 3 miles back that I already did?


Thanks!
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Old 02-20-17, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Flounce View Post
Thank you, all, for the advice.

It looks like I am not maximizing my use of my Garmin 510, so I will work on that and see if I can get it to meet my needs without driving me nuts. I once tried using years ago for routing /tracking and it sucked, so I figured that I had to buy another device that would do it better. (Perhaps the solution is to have two devices like someone mentioned, one for Cadence/heart rate/distance, the other for a map that is always on display...)

I am using RideWithGPS.

1. What would be the best file format to download files onto my Garmin 510 so that I can just get a map line/breadcrumb line that I would reference only when I get lost? Would it be "GPS TRACK" ?

2. What would be the best file format to download files onto my Garmin 510 so that I can get some form of info about upcoming turns on a predefined course (e.g. "next turn in 0.5miles") ? Would it be "TCX Course - Notify before Turn 30 meters" (subscription feature) ?

3. If I use TCX Course , does that eat up batteries significantly faster? Does it cause re-routing problems that I once experienced years ago when I fooled with this, i.e. where the device *thinks* I went off course and tries to re-route me back to some turn 3 miles back that I already did?


Thanks!
I use RWGPS too.

I can't answer these with respect to a 510. I know that there were some changes between the 500 and the 510, and from everything I have heard and read, the 510 sounds like a pretty bad product due to glitches.

On a 500, yes, you want to use the TCX file. I have to think the 510 is the same, but I don't know for sure. Pretty sure a GPX file is NOT the answer.

Don't follow the breadcrumb screen - that's mostly useless. Just use the screen (I assume the 510 has one like this) that just lists the turn names, the type of turns (left, right, straight, etc.), and the distance to them from your current location. You will watch the number count down, and when you get to a couple tenths of a mile, start looking for the sign. It's that simple. It's a great way to supplement your cue sheet.

I have never had my 500 try to reroute me, because it simply cant because it has no maps in it. All it knows is the breadcrumb track.

If the 510 can do this, it must have a map, and you might need to make some settings changes, like turning auto-routing OFF. Although I do know that some devices can get confused when you do out and back routes, or portion of routes with outs and backs. Also, it's possible the plot on RWGPS had some issues with the person picking way points that were at intersections. That's a big no no.

When my 500 was new, I would get about 16 hours on a charge, even when following a route. Now that it is 6 years old or so, I only get about 12 hours. If following a route saves the battery, I don't think it's by much.

Navigation, by cue sheet and GPS device, is a learned skill. Practice. Use your device on familiar courses just to get used to the quirks.
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Old 02-20-17, 08:21 PM
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Ride with GPS screws up the cue sheet if a control point is in an intersection -- the cue will be missing. This is what caused the bonus miles in the fleche that Steamer mentioned. The infuriating thing is that if you drag and drop a route, it may well put the control point in the middle of an intersection. Did I mention that it's infuriating?

The thing about the RWGPS and cues 30 meters ahead of time I think only applies to devices like the 800. RWGPS seems to actively turn those off if you aren't a paid subscriber, but I have never looked at a TCX file to make sure. On edit: if they do something to turn them off, it's not obvious to me looking at a file. You can turn them back on with the 800, or rather use the built-in functionality. The 800 has the built-in capability to display a stylized map of the turn some distance ahead of time. The cue sheet is built into the TCX file, I don't think it's there in a gpx file.

Last edited by unterhausen; 02-20-17 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 02-21-17, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Ride with GPS screws up the cue sheet if a control point is in an intersection -- the cue will be missing. This is what caused the bonus miles in the fleche that Steamer mentioned. The infuriating thing is that if you drag and drop a route, it may well put the control point in the middle of an intersection. Did I mention that it's infuriating?

The thing about the RWGPS and cues 30 meters ahead of time I think only applies to devices like the 800. RWGPS seems to actively turn those off if you aren't a paid subscriber, but I have never looked at a TCX file to make sure. On edit: if they do something to turn them off, it's not obvious to me looking at a file. You can turn them back on with the 800, or rather use the built-in functionality. The 800 has the built-in capability to display a stylized map of the turn some distance ahead of time. The cue sheet is built into the TCX file, I don't think it's there in a gpx file.
No I don't get pre-turn cues when using a tcx file from rwgps on my 500. I actually don't miss having those. The scrolling cue sheet page is all I really need. I can see where the turn is. Once you get below a tenth of a mile, it starts counting down in hundreds of feet. That seems to be sufficient to keep me out of trouble. It would take a really dense intersection (like 5 or 6 roads converging in one place) PLUS a missing road sign on the one I need to mess me up. And if I were to pick the wrong road, it will tell me within about 10 seconds that I picked the wrong one.
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Old 02-21-17, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
The thing about the RWGPS and cues 30 meters ahead of time I think only applies to devices like the 800.
It works with the 500 as a paid subscriber, but is spotty. You might get the alert before the intersection, or it might be as you're going through it.

With "turn guidance" enabled 800 turn alerts are a lot nicer - the map screen pops up with the turn highlighted in white 0.1 miles before hand, even if RWGPS didn't generate a CoursePoint; and if RWGPS was being silly it's obvious you're not turning.

The 800 (and beyond, although my 810 crashed on my first ride and I lost data within the first week) also makes distance to turn, distance to course point, and next turn fields which can be on any screen; not just the course and cue sheet screens.

The cue sheet is built into the TCX file, I don't think it's there in a gpx file.
Right. There are <CoursePoint> XML elements with <Name> and <PointType> children identifying the road and turn direction which are displayed.

RWGPS implements the advance warning by moving the <CoursePoint> <Position> <LattitudeDegrees> and <LongitudeDegrees> fields closer to the route start.

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Old 02-21-17, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
I actually think a Garmin 500 (or 520 if buying new) works quite well for rando navigation where you are only trying to follow a predefined course.
I made too many wrong turns with my Edge 500 because without maps it wasn't possible to see which of several options (the next road at a 45 degree angle hiding behind the service station after the traffic light) was correct when the signage was hidden or insufficient for the lighting conditions.

I also missed a few turns, because when not on the cue sheet/route screen you can't get a count down.

I switched to an Edge 800 (available refurbished with new battery, new case, and Garmin warranty for $170) which resolved those issues, after trying an ELMNT (cycling roads disappear from maps when zoomed out, can't scroll to see where they go zoomed in, has no street names which help orient you when you've arrived at the same roads other ways, and there were data recording issues) and 810 (crashed on my first ride, lost data in the first week).

While the least bad cycling GPS I could find (.tcx files with user defined course points for things like water, turn guidance, maps with street names you can zoom and scroll, can update maps from openstreetmap, more reliable than the 810, charge while riding with a standard USB cable which attaches horizontally so it can't fall out, convenient form factor) I can't wholeheartedly recommend them because they crash on longer rides. You need to split courses, split rides, and join them later.

And battery life is well addressed by taking an external battery and small charger for overnights (like on a 600K).
I imported a dynamo powered B&M USB Werk from Germany for $54.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 02-21-17 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 02-21-17, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
I made too many wrong turns with my Edge 500 because without maps it wasn't possible to see which of several options (the next road at a 45 degree angle hiding behind the service station after the traffic light) was correct when the signage was hidden or insufficient for the lighting conditions.

Sounds like the paper cue sheet wasn't very good at cueing the turn in those instances, or perhaps you weren't using it. If you don't follow the paper cue sheet, it does put a priority on having the best GPS you can get, complete with good mapping and such.


Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
I also missed a few turns, because when not on the cue sheet/route screen you can't get a count down.

I leave it on the cue screen 90% of the time. I will occasionally switch over to other screens briefly to get a piece of info (cumulative distance, time of day, temperature, etc.), but then I go back to the cue screen.


I don't find this to be an issue because I don't really need to monitor my speed all the time, or get a readout on my cadence or heartrate, etc. during a brevet. Feel are enough for me on the latter types of items. And a lot of other folks too.
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Old 02-21-17, 12:27 PM
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Flounce - I fear your 510 will let you down if it is your sole means of navigation. If you are just looking for a GPS backup to using the paper cue sheet, then it can likely do just fine. You will need to practice using it though. Just try it on some everyday training rides just to get used to the mechanics of using it. If you don't have practice using paper cue sheets, then do that too on your next randonee. Don't wait till a 400K or something like that to give these things a shot.


My first 200K was the first time I ever used a cue sheet, and it was a struggle. I had to stop for minutes at a time because I kept losing track of where I was on the cue sheet, and it read like greek to me.
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Old 02-21-17, 12:43 PM
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I feel like all navigation strategies are suspect unless I familiarize myself with the route beforehand. With google maps and street view, you can really help yourself out. I find that I can judge a cue sheet pretty well by reading through it. I have redone people's cue sheet and added information and it worked pretty well. Cue sheet quality can be really bad if the organizer and their volunteers rely heavily on their GPS, which is sometimes the case. My preferred method of riding is to have a cue sheet with me in my bag for backup, and navigate with my GPS. Of course, it has to be working right, which requires practice
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Old 02-21-17, 12:46 PM
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Edit: QFT
Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I feel like all navigation strategies are suspect unless I familiarize myself with the route beforehand. With google maps and street view, you can really help yourself out.
Garmin Edge 500 + .tcx from a *very carefully* crafted RWGPS route that I've created myself has treated me very well so far. Having the cue sheet visible (and on the right page) at all times and I have very rarely gotten turned around.

Yes, the crashing and freezing can be pretty annoying, but I'll deal with it for now. I think I have enough tricks up my sleeve to get through the longer distances now.

That being said, I'd be interested in 'upgrading' to a new model soon. Although, a lot of the advanced functionality on the newer models is a turn-off. I don't need touch-screen, or color display, or Bluetooth, or auto-routing, or any of that! Give me an updated model with the good ol' LCD and a longer battery life. Perhaps I should just stock up on 500s.....

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Old 02-22-17, 01:31 PM
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I resisted getting a Garmin for a very long time. (In spite of the fact that I often get bonus miles on brevets.) I really don't care about the data tracking, I don't ride with a HRM or power meter. I don't even care too much about speed.

I'm pretty happy at this point riding with an 820. I still ignore most of the data functions, but I am very glad to have the nav functions. I've also found you can extend the battery life by turning off some of the unneeded functions -- I can get 12 hours no problem (200k and 300k). For rides up to 24 hours (400k and 600k) I've had good luck with an Anker external battery pack but this would be a problem on a wet brevet. I don't have any experience with it yet on rides over 24 hours.

I use RideWithGPS (RWG) and upgraded my account to get turn-by-turn notifications. I typically increase the notification from 30 meters prior to each turn to 40 or 45 meters. I also have a "Distance to Next" field at the top of each screen on my "Brevet" profile. This, plus the beeping, means I no longer miss a turn because I'm lost in thought, worried about other riders, or watching traffic.

I've also found some really cool rides in my area by browsing RWG and I'm looking forward to finding routes when I travel this summer. I also like the route planning function in RWG to find new rides of specific distances and/or difficulty (like elevation profiles).

By the way, thanks to all you early adopters for working out (most of) the bugs before I joined in!


PS - I still make sure I get a printed cue sheet for every brevet.

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Old 02-23-17, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I use OSM on my 800. Don't buy maps, get an aftermarket memory card and d/l the maps yourself. Never had any problem with the OSM maps.
When doing that use a separate micro-SD adapter instead of the GPS USB interface. It's much, much faster.
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Old 02-25-17, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
When doing that use a separate micro-SD adapter instead of the GPS USB interface. It's much, much faster.
that's what I did the first time, but I'm not sure I would bother any more. I use linux, it maps the SD card in the Garmin as a removable disk and you can just upload sometime when the speed doesn't matter to you. Windows does that too, although some systems have been locked down to the point that it's really difficult. Most notably the public computer at the Weisel Youth Hostel, where people that have d/l the wrong route on to their device get to struggle with Win 10 security trying to format their garmin. Fortunately, the time I did that someone had their laptop, and I used that. I suggest not loading routes the night before, and make sure it's the correct route if you are using someone else's route. I find it best to copy the route (from someone I trust) onto my RWGPS account. Then I check the route using the official cue sheet before exporting it to my device.

It's been a long time, so I don't remember uploading the maps, I recall it's easiest to let the GPS write its file system to the memory card before you start moving maps and routes onto the device. I think I've done it both with USB and by removing the card. I uploaded a second series of maps before riding in North Carolina because it wasn't on the maps I put on it at first.
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Old 02-25-17, 07:32 PM
  #23  
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If you choose to use any of the Garmin Edges, the navigation is much more reliable if you keep it on the map page and keep an eye on it.

The turn announcements are nice but it's not that hard to miss them. If you have the screen on a data page or the course points page, you might miss a turn and just keep on going.

The basic navigation these things provide is following a line on the screen.

If you look at the map and see your relationship to the magenta line, it's hard to get lost with them. (It's easy to get lost with a cuesheet)

If you set it up right, you'll get an off course warning, which means you should look at the map (you can get off course warning if they momentarily lose GPS reception).

If you go off course, you usually know about it fairly quickly. And, looking at the map periodically is a backup that will show you as no longer following the magenta line.

Getting back on course is as simple as turning around to return to the magenta line.

There are two types of "turn notifications":

1) course points included in the tcx file.
2) "turn guidance" (what Garmin calls it) that show big white arrows on the screen about 0.1 miles before the turn.

1) The "course points" are basically part of track following. These pop-up as icons (usually an arrow indicating direction) and a 10 character label (the truncated street name). These are how the units that don't have maps (like the 500/510) can provide turn notifications. These are not completely reliable because they are highly dependent on position (the placement of the course point on the map might not be exactly the position of the turn in the real world). The Garmins provide a page that lists these with the distance from the current location. Ridewithgps writes its cuesheet entries out as "course points" in the TCX file. You can add custom entries (like for rest stops) in ridewithgps and these will show up on the "course point" list.

2) The fancier "turn guidance" (big white arrows) works (more or less) like a car GPS. These are much easier to see than the little course points and they are much less position sensitive. The Garmins generate this turn guidance by "walking" the track file you've copied to the unit to see what roads on the installed map the track appears to use. Using a map to plan the route that is different from the map installed on the device can cause this calculated route to not be quite right. This is how the device also can calculate a route to a point/place you select. You can see the list of turns for the "calculated route" by pressing on the text at the top of the map screen.

The devices have options to recalculate the route if you go off course. On some of the units, this abandons your course and calculates a route that is the "shortest" way to the endpoint. This isn't what people expect. It's advisable to turn off the "recalculate" option.

Sometimes, this fancier turn guidance can stop working. Some of the Garmins are more reliable than others with this (the ancient 800 might be the most reliable). That the fancy turn guidance isn't working doesn't mean the basic track following is not working.

Often (sometimes), you can just reload the route and it will start working again. The routing can be more reliable for shorter routes and it's faster to restart shorter routes anyway. That means, you should probably break really long routes up into smaller segments. Routes that cross over themselves can cause problems too (you can split these routes up also).

You can use both turn guidance at the same time (or separately).

The file you load to the Garmin has to be a "track" file, which contains a list of points that accurately describes the turns and curve of the path you want to travel on. (If you see lots of straight lines that "cut corners", you might have loaded a "route" file, which won't work on the Edges.

It doesn't matter if the track files is a gpx or tcx file (except that tcx files can have "course points".

It takes some practice/experience using them.

The 800 has a known issue of not being able to record rides longer than around 180 miles. You want to be sure to restart recording before then (I've heard that hitting the lap button avoids this problem). I have no idea if the other units have a similar problem.

Last edited by njkayaker; 02-25-17 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 02-25-17, 08:12 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
It works with the 500 as a paid subscriber, but is spotty. You might get the alert before the intersection, or it might be as you're going through it.
The primary reason the course points are "spotty" is because the map they are placed on doesn't quite match the real world. These are very sensitive to position (and GPS data).

Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
With "turn guidance" enabled 800 turn alerts are a lot nicer - the map screen pops up with the turn highlighted in white 0.1 miles before hand, even if RWGPS didn't generate a CoursePoint; and if RWGPS was being silly it's obvious you're not turning.
These are less sensitive to position that course points.

With certain types of course edits, you can lose the cuesheet entries in ridewithgps.
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Old 02-25-17, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
<snip>
The 800 has a known issue of not being able to record rides longer than around 180 miles. You want to be sure to restart recording before then (I've heard that hitting the lap button avoids this problem). I have no idea if the other units have a similar problem.
Yes to all that but this last. I've recorded several doubles and longer just fine on my 800. I record to a card and of course use an auxiliary battery. I never hit the lap button. I wonder if recording to a card makes a difference?
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