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Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Note on Importing These Bike Routes into Your GPS

I find it quite exciting that one can develop bike routes thousands of miles from where we will ride. A benefit of being able to do so is to enable as many who wish to download them into their own devices and use them as needed to be sure get back to the boat either from the Tow Path or an excursion. About this, I have a couple of observations.

  • It is possible to do
  • It requires a bit of practice
GPS units are changing. The format of routes is changing. To be able to use these routes with confidence (and that includes me) will require some workshopping. But we have more than enough time to do this (if we want) before next October.

Here are several ways GPS devices can be used.

  • You can download a track into them of the desired route. Then you can "follow the track" or "see if you are on track." 
  • You can download crucial waypoints into your device. If you are on roads, the waypoints could mark left and right turns, for example. They can be numbered so that you could follow them in sequence.  
  • You can download a set of waypoints called a "route." In a route you will typically get alerts that a turn is coming. In the best case, you'll get a right arrow, left arrow or straight ahead arrow. This is what is typically known as "turn by turn."
  • You can download the above (a set of waypoints) and a track as well. That way you can see whether you are "on track" as well as being alerted to turns. If you take a little time to set up your GPS, you will also have distance to the next waypoint, distance to the end of the route and a projected time of arrival. This is very nice to have. And quite possible to have. Each of the routes in this blog is capable of being used in each of these ways. But it will take practice. More about this later.

A note on smartphones. Yes, smartphones can now be used as GPS devices. But they are less accurate than true GPS units and depend on being on a network. Typically they would be too expensive to use abroad on roaming, but I plan to check my iPhone out as a GPS device on at least one ride. It's now possible to import gpx and other files into them, including the files available on this blog. But some practice is necessary to work with your phone and application. Stay tuned.

A note on the gpx files on this Blog. They are currently in "track" format except for the zipped files referred to on this earlier post. There are a variety of reasons for this, but check with me before you attempt to import files. You'll want "route files with tracks". Some GPS units have space limitations and cannot accept a large number of trackpoints or waypoints.  In that event you'll want a route with just enough waypoints to smooth the curves. :)

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