Calais to Brussels - navigation

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Dwnglasgow
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Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby Dwnglasgow » 16 Jan 2020, 9:42am

I've booked my travel and am looking forward to my first ever multi-day trip (and first in Europe) this May.

There are a huge number of cycle route planning apps, some of which look very good. I don't want to take a paper map, and would like turn by turn navigation. I can't decide whether to mount my phone to the bars (with a power bank in the bar bag), or shell out for a Garmin Explore. Fwiw, I currently have a Garmin Edge 130, which has been excellent for recording my rides on Strava, and which is fine for speed and distance.

Has anyone tried the Garmin Explore or bar mounted phone for navigation in France or Belgium, and if so, what was your experience?

Thanks

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mjr
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby mjr » 16 Jan 2020, 9:57am

I've used phones to get from Dunkerque to Bruges (and beyond) and Aalst to Bruges to Ypres to Dunkerque but it's not really necessary. EV4 with place names and D road numbers (even most standalone cycleways have D numbers) will get you to Belgium and then you connect to the junction number network and can ride by numbers to reach your destination.
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DevonDamo
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby DevonDamo » 16 Jan 2020, 10:15am

Dwnglasgow wrote:Has anyone tried the Garmin Explore or bar mounted phone for navigation in France or Belgium, and if so, what was your experience?


Yep, I went across France, Belgium and Holland to Amsterdam and used my phone for navigation. The main app I was using was OSMand and it worked well, with the exception of not being 'smart' at a couple of points in the route - e.g. in Holland it sent me to get at least one ferry which wasn't running. With OSMand, you can download a number of maps for free, and these were enough to cover my route, and included the knooppunten numbering system for the Belgian/Dutch cycle network. I was using it with the screen switched off, and only turned it on when I wanted to check I was still on the route. I use the Sony Xperia Compact range of phones, which have amazing battery life anyway, so doing it this way meant I could go at least a couple of days between charging it (either plugging it in at campsite or using my portable charger.) If I hadn't had my phone, I'd have come unstuck at points - a lot of the signs for the numbered node cycle network were wrong/missing and there were lots of detours around roadworks without any signage at all.

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mjr
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby mjr » 16 Jan 2020, 10:24am

DevonDamo wrote:If I hadn't had my phone, I'd have come unstuck at points - a lot of the signs for the numbered node cycle network were wrong/missing and there were lots of detours around roadworks without any signage at all.

I've only suffered missing signs in South Holland, not Flanders. Some of the Belgian ones were a bit hard to spot, though.

I wonder if there were no signs or if they were just unrecognisable. Roadwork diversion signs are different in the Netherlands, consisting of black letters or numbers in boxed arrows on fluorescent orangey yellow. I don't think they say "omleiding" or whatever it is on them often any more. I think Belgium uses the same system but I can't remember for sure. French "Deviation" signs are more like the UK.
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skelo
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby skelo » 16 Jan 2020, 12:18pm

last summer I did south Holland & Belgium, roughly Europoort-Utrecht-Kinderdijk-Bergen op Zoom- Antwerp-Ghent-Ypres- Brugge- Zeebrugge out and return on the ferry from Hull. (softy southerners an use Harwich)

I planned the route using Cycle Travel taking in interesting places en route and simply wrote down of the towns/places of interest on the route each day. In Holland the signposting on cycle routes is second to none. In Belgium there is minimal signposting. I used google maps on my iPhone 5 and simply put the next destination in as I went along. All I can say is that despite cycling about 100km more than expected over the week I got there in the end. I expect that with a Garmin I would probably have been bang-on.

Great countries for quiet easy pace cycling with no hills, most of the routes beside peaceful and idyllic waterways. especially good for lovers of moules-frites and Beer! The routes in and out of cities tend to be along major roads but with separate or segregated cycleways.

BTW if I were going Eurostar I would consider getting off at Lille and heading to Roubaix and onward. depends what you want to do and see en-route.

nirakaro
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby nirakaro » 16 Jan 2020, 12:27pm

I've found a bar-mounted phone to do the job fine, except –
Even one raindrop plays havoc with the touch-screen
It can be hard to see the screen in bright sunlight.
Never asked it to do turn-by-turn navigation though.

Dwnglasgow
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby Dwnglasgow » 16 Jan 2020, 12:39pm

Thanks for all the replies. I'm sure that the routes will be well signed, but my limited experience of cycle routes in the UK has left me wary of optimistic assumptions.

I've been a bit surprised at the cost of the recommended (elsewhere) bar mounts for phones! It makes the purchase of a Garmin Explore a little easier to swallow. I had also been a little uncertain if the phone screen might provide difficult to read.

Pleasantly surprised at how easy and inexpensive it was too arrange the bike transport through the Channel Tunnel, and even the Eurostar back with bike isn't too bad.

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mjr
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby mjr » 16 Jan 2020, 12:47pm

Dwnglasgow wrote:Thanks for all the replies. I'm sure that the routes will be well signed, but my limited experience of cycle routes in the UK has left me wary of optimistic assumptions.

Rest assured that you are unlikely to find anything quite as bad as our cycle routes. Occasional signs do go missing, but as soon as you lose the trail, you can check the map or smartphone and usually get back to it soon enough.

I've been a bit surprised at the cost of the recommended (elsewhere) bar mounts for phones!

What are they recommending? Both my old Birzman Navigator (a top tube bar bag with phone holder lid) and my wife's quick-release handlebar phone holder from Lidl were about a tenner. They work fine. You can just about operate the phone screen through the plastic but it's easier if you can set the phone so you don't need to.

Or you could just put the phone in the map pocket on top of a bar bag. I know you can get rubber 8 mounts big enough to hold a phone, but that's only for good weather unless your phone is really waterproof.

I had also been a little uncertain if the phone screen might provide difficult to read.

That's easy to test, though. Well, once we get a sunny day again :)
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
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DevonDamo
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby DevonDamo » 16 Jan 2020, 1:17pm

Dwnglasgow wrote:I've been a bit surprised at the cost of the recommended (elsewhere) bar mounts for phones!


My bar mount was a single loop of elastic which went under my (square-section) steerer stem and looped around either side of my phone, which was laying in landscape-orientation on top of the steerer stem. I can get away with this as the phones I use have lanyard attachments, so I was able to rig a safety line to catch the phone if it fell out of the elastic loop - which it never did.

Dwnglasgow
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby Dwnglasgow » 16 Jan 2020, 2:57pm

What are they recommending? Both my old Birzman Navigator (a top tube bar bag with phone holder lid) and my wife's quick-release handlebar phone holder from Lidl were about a tenner. They work fine. You can just about operate the phone screen through the plastic but it's easier if you can set the phone so you don't need to.


I was an early adopter of phone mounts and the early ones were always terrible, so that has made me wary. There's a lot of love for the quadlock mounts, but the version for my phone is coming in around £60. Now, that's still £120 cheaper than the Garmin explorer but I can offset some of that by selling my edge 130.

This Brussels trip is a bit of a trial run for a longer route through France next year, so probably useful to have a dedicated gps device

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mjr
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby mjr » 16 Jan 2020, 4:43pm

Dwnglasgow wrote:This Brussels trip is a bit of a trial run for a longer route through France next year, so probably useful to have a dedicated gps device

I feel like you're trying to justify buying what you want. Just admit you want it and feel free to do what you want - it's your money - but don't expect many people to tell you that you need a GPS to navigate what's maybe the third most bike-friendly country on the planet!
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iandriver
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby iandriver » 16 Jan 2020, 6:13pm

Your current device will do breadcrumb following from uploaded gpx files. I'd start be playing a local gpx route in something like cycle.travel and see how you get on without mapping. I don't know if you can page screens while navigating, but it'll give you experience in course creation etc. I think it might allow you to access your real needs better.

The advantages of mapping, to me, are seeing which junction you actually want at busy intersections and dense streets and the ability to see a way round if your preferred route is blocked (or see what side of a river you should be on).
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PDQ Mobile
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby PDQ Mobile » 16 Jan 2020, 6:26pm

Or...
One could buy a Michelin 100,000:1 sheet (or similar) that would probably cover the whole route and would convey a deal of other interesting information about what's along the way.
Not cycling specific but even small gravel tracks are mostly shown.
Heights and gradients are a bit hit and miss though careful study of given spot heights helps.
Not as good as UK Ordnance Survey though but cheaper.

Advantages as I see it, fantastic detailed overview of the whole route on account of sheer size (but easily foldable into relavant sections).
No power source, connectivity or battery issues.
Easily tucks into clear upper of bar-bag.

I am rather old fashioned in such things!!

Dwnglasgow
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby Dwnglasgow » 17 Jan 2020, 9:30am

PDQ Mobile wrote:Or...
One could buy a Michelin 100,000:1 sheet (or similar) that would probably cover the whole route and would convey a deal of other interesting information about what's along the way.
Not cycling specific but even small gravel tracks are mostly shown.
Heights and gradients are a bit hit and miss though careful study of given spot heights helps.
Not as good as UK Ordnance Survey though but cheaper.

Advantages as I see it, fantastic detailed overview of the whole route on account of sheer size (but easily foldable into relavant sections).
No power source, connectivity or battery issues.
Easily tucks into clear upper of bar-bag.

I am rather old fashioned in such things!!


There's no doubt that a paper map gives you a better sense of where you are in a place - much more than following instructions on a satnav. However, for many years we spent our holidays in rural french campsites and trying to find our way with paper maps and a car full of overheated children was no fun. Our first car with air con and satnav was such a leap forward in reducing stress that I swore never to travel long distances without both.

If I were cycling in the UK, I wouldn't bother with satnav, but for a first trip overseas it seems like it would be helpful. It's a personal thing of course, and I know that many people still love paper maps

Dwnglasgow
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Re: Calais to Brussels - navigation

Postby Dwnglasgow » 17 Jan 2020, 9:38am

iandriver wrote:Your current device will do breadcrumb following from uploaded gpx files. I'd start be playing a local gpx route in something like cycle.travel and see how you get on without mapping. I don't know if you can page screens while navigating, but it'll give you experience in course creation etc. I think it might allow you to access your real needs better.

The advantages of mapping, to me, are seeing which junction you actually want at busy intersections and dense streets and the ability to see a way round if your preferred route is blocked (or see what side of a river you should be on).


Yes, I'm going to try the edge 130 tomorrow for a pre-,mapped course and see how I get on before splashing out on the larger unit