Category Archives: using garmin

Ride With GPS: Open Street Maps vs Google Maps

I just saw that the map in the post below actually shows the connection between Trails End Rd and Yeagerville Rd. After a quick conversation with Zack Ham from Ride With GPS, I found out why: Ride With GPS uses Google Maps for routing as a default. However, if you export a jpeg, it is based on Open Street Maps, which differs significantly from Google Maps. You can switch the default routing map in the upper-right-hand corner of the main Ride With GPS screen to RWGPS, which uses Open Street Maps.

Why is this valuable? In comparing Google Maps and Open Street Maps, it appears that the latter includes a lot of back roads that Google Maps does not include. For example, I just found a back road to near the very highest point in the Catskills that appears only in Open Street Maps. So if you’re looking for gravel or the road less traveled, make sure you explore your area using both map bases.

Now, I just have to find someone dumb enough to accompany me on a 3500-ft climb on loose gravel this weekend. Any takers? Think of the bragging rights: The highest bike-navigable point in the Catskills, at 3711 feet! It even has a 27.8% grade just to add to the good times.

And by the way, if you don’t want to pay the $100 or so for Garmin’s map, Ride With GPS now sells an SD card with Open Street Maps preloaded for $25. A good deal. Of course, you can buy an SD card and download the maps yourself, but it looks to me like more time and trouble than it is worth.


Using Ride With GPS Routes, Continued….

I went for a long and brutal ride with my friend Doug this weekend (more about that later, but it involved crashing on ice, freezing mist, massive climbs, and fervent prayers to St Milhaus the Retainer), and we both had Garmin 800s. Despite the fact that we both had the same course loaded, my Garmin was giving the correct directions, while his kept telling us to make U-turns and was generally just a pain in the ass.

I realized this morning that I had made some changes to my Garmin setup long ago that facilitate its use as a tool for guiding bicycle routes. These changes are important:

  • When you first turn on your GPS, click on menu. Then click on the wrench icon on the lower right. Then click on system, and then routing
  • Make sure the first line says “Calculate Routes for Bicycle”
  • The second line (guidance method) should say “off road”
  • The third line (lock on road) should say “no”
  • Click through the fourth line (avoidance setup), avoid U turns, toll roads, highways, carpool lanes. Do not avoid unpaved roads.
  • Click the back arrow, and the fifth line (recalculate) should be set to “off.”

If you don’t do this, your GPS will recalculate your route every time you stray off course. Also see my previous post on using Ride With GPS routes for full directions on loading courses into your Garmin.


Using Ride With GPS Routes

As you’ve probably noticed, all my routes are on Ride With GPS. It’s a great platform–much better than Map My Ride–plus the guys running it are great at responding to questions and fixing bugs. At this point, though, there’s little to fix.

A friend who is new to using Garmin just asked me for directions on how to get a route into his device. Since I wrote it up for him, I thought I’d cut and paste the directions here for your edification.

Go to my Ride With GPS page.

Click “view” for the route of your choice. On the next page, you’ll see a map and 3 tabs on the right: overview, metrics, and photo. Click on overview, if needed (it should be the default tab), and below you’ll see more three tabs: comments, share, and export. Click on export. Right click on TCX course and save to your desktop.

Plug in your Garmin. A folder should automatically pop up (if it doesn’t and if you have a PC, go to Computer and click on Garmin). Drop the TCX course into the “New Files” subfolder. When you start your Garmin up next, [route name] will appear in your list of Courses.

When you turn on your Garmin, click on the route you just uploaded, then when the map comes up, click on the wrench icon. Turn on turn-by-turn directions (which are off by default), turn off virtual companion (which is on by default), and make sure that off-course warnings are on. This is important and was a source of considerable frustration when I first got my Garmin…I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t giving me directions!

That’s it!

You can also print the cue sheet using the print icon on the left. It prints as a PDF and is not ideal for riding. I copy and paste the text into Word in landscape mode, increase the font size, and improve the formatting. If you leave a 2″ margin at the top and bottom, after trimming with a scissors it fits into the map case of a Berthoud bag perfectly.

You can get most of the functionality of Ride With GPS for free, but I’d recommend paying for it. It’s inexpensive, you get some additional functionality, and you will be supporting the guys who created this useful tool.

Note that there is a second post in this series that deals with the proper Garmin settings for cycling.

PS: Read the comments for some useful information from a man who rides far more than me.