Route planning

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
indy
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Joined: 17 Jul 2010, 6:06pm

Route planning

Postby indy » 15 Feb 2013, 6:19pm

Sticking with the UK how are people planning multi day tours in terms of there actual route?

I've just been on Google maps which seems to have a half decent cycle route planner as does cyclestreets.net If using one of these how do you translate it to getting directions when on the bike?

Are things like the Garmin Edge 810 popular? If so is it possible to keep it properly charged? Or is trekking GPS with AA batteries a better option?

pq
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Re: Route planning

Postby pq » 15 Feb 2013, 6:44pm

I use Tracklogs (mapping software), but that's expensive. You can do the same thing with any number of free online alternatives (such as Google earth). I never use automated routers because they don't do as good a job as you can do yourself, although the DIY method takes time. Just get a paper map, with your mapping software open alongside, and plot a route which sticks to the smallest, wiggliest roads you can find. You need the paper map to see the big picture.

I have an Edge 800 which is more-or-less the same as the 810. It is badly specced with poor software and vastly overpriced for what it is. It cannot calculate routes (at least not usable ones) and the processor doesn't have enough grunt to resolve mapping quickly enough. However it will allow you to follow a pre-planned route effectively, and if you spend the cash, it will display OS maps which is nice. The battery life is very good - it'll do 2 long days between charges. I think Garmin do a cheaper model which does the navigation stuff without all the whistles and bells of the 800/810 which are really only useful if you're racing.

On routing, if you really want the GPS to route for you, you can get free downloadable maps which fool the 800 into routing better. They're based on OSM mapping and are easy to find with a bit of googling.

A decent smart phone will out-perform the Garmin in almost all respects, but to use one, you'll need a waterproof bar mount which contains an extra battery. Without that, the battery won't last and the screen won't work in the wet. There was a company at the bike show with mounts for some of the more popular phones.
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andymiller
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Re: Route planning

Postby andymiller » 15 Feb 2013, 7:02pm

As a general piece of advice, beware of the temptation to overplan. You can do perfectly well with a decent map marked up with campsites and/or places to stay.

(A higher-tech version is to put 'waymarks' onto the GPS' map at important junctions. You can use the GPS to calculate routes between them - but always keep an eye on what it is telling you).

indy wrote:I've just been on Google maps which seems to have a half decent cycle route planner as does cyclestreets.net If using one of these how do you translate it to getting directions when on the bike?


There are a number of routeplanning websites around. Look for one that allows you to download a gpx 'track' - not 'route', the gps unit recalculates the route and the result is unpredictable. You can convert a route to a track using http://www.gpsies.com (you can also use it to convert fiels between different formats, simplify tracks and/or insert altitudes).

indy wrote:Are things like the Garmin Edge 810 popular? If so is it possible to keep it properly charged? Or is trekking GPS with AA batteries a better option?


Things like the Garmin 810 are (IMO) mainly aimed at people who want a training aid. If all you want is something with a map that you can use to find your way around and/or record your route then something like a Garmin eTrex 20 will be perfectly fine - and as they use AAs. Even if you use AAs you still have to keep them charged (or pay out for disposable batteries), but if I had to I'd take the risk of leaving an AA battery charger in a campsite toilet - while I definitely wouldn't for an expensive piece of kit. However, keeping something like an 810 charged up is perfectly do-able.
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Vorpal
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Re: Route planning

Postby Vorpal » 15 Feb 2013, 7:19pm

The only time I've had a planned out route, someone else has done the planning.

When I was younger, my brother and I would just pack stuff up & leave. Sometimes, we didn't even have a map. We'd just buy one when we got past where we'd been before. Or we'd just ride until we reached a landmark of some sort. When my touring got more sophisticated, I took the map(s) with me when I left. :)

I have, on a few occasions taken an organised and/or supported ride with others, and someone else always did the planning for those.

With children along, I have to plan at least a little. It's no fun to be trying find a place to camp, or wondering when we'll find someplace to eat when there are tired, hungry children in the equation.

But I prefer paper maps. I supplement them occasionally with my phone GPS (which is pretty good as these things go), but I like having paper. It's easier to zoom out. :wink:
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Bogawski
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Re: Route planning

Postby Bogawski » 15 Feb 2013, 8:05pm

Quite,
I usually plan out on a small scale then have a larger scale which takes in a days riding, A4 folded in a see through folder.
If your memory isn't that good and you need glasses it can be a bit of a bind if the route is not simple, but makes life interesting.
I have never used GPS cycling or driving. If you have no map how do you know where you are? or are they all more sophisticated these days? nuff said.

pq
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Re: Route planning

Postby pq » 15 Feb 2013, 8:14pm

My GPS shows the OS map, so I always know where I am.

If you've got any sense, you'll have a paper map as a back-up to a GPS. GPS's can fail and are pretty hopeless for seeing the big picture.

I use one because it saves the bother of stopping all the time to peer at maps - I can just get on with enjoying the ride. They are particularly good in wet and windy weather - maps are just a nightmare then.

Nothing wrong with using maps of course - but for me a GPS is a lot better.
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BeeKeeper
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Re: Route planning

Postby BeeKeeper » 16 Feb 2013, 10:26am

I've used Bikeroutetoaster for several tours in France and found it very quick. You can easily see the profile of your route and change it as necessary to avoid steep hills. Recently, I have started using SatMap's Xpedition which takes a bit of getting used to and has a few quirks but then I suspect they all do. One advantage of Xpedition is you can choose from different sorts of maps, for example in the UK you can have OS, OSM or Open Cycle Mapping. There is a free version but for all the bells and whistles you have to pay an annual fee but I am using it at the moment to plot a route up the west coast of France and create individual gpx files for each day and find it excellent. Most if not all GPS devices designed for bikes or walking should take gpx files.

My SatMap GPS will run off either a rechargable or separate AA batteries - of which lithium are by far the best and give about two and half days riding per set. However, the Satmap is currently expensive for mapping although they are beginning to introduce OSM mapping as I understand. The Garmin Etrex 30 is very well recommended and takes free OSM mapping now so this is a very good alternative.

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Sweep
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Re: Route planning

Postby Sweep » 16 Feb 2013, 11:34am

Agree totally about needing a paper map for the big picture - it would be all but impossible to actually plan a route on my Etrex 20 - screen way too small (though OK for on the ride) and you just lose yourself with al the scrolling in and out.

I have however had slightly surprising success with lying in the tent of an evening planning the next day's ride using a paper map to help me place number-coded route waypoints at appropriate places on the GPS - tend to think that I could actually set out on a long long tour and actually just plan a day at a time that way. It's a bit time consuming but kind of relaxing and helps me to study the map/route in detail - and I don't have much else to do at that time of day.
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foxyrider
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Re: Route planning

Postby foxyrider » 16 Feb 2013, 8:57pm

Whilst i use paper maps for the trips and more detailed terrain checking and so at home, i use the ACSI camping site route planner - not cycling specific but you can set ride speed and so, set waypoints and of course it has hundreds of campsites on it already!

The mapping covers most of Europe including the UK and whilst not high on detail can be zoomed in to 1cm-10m scale! Just search for ACSI camping :)
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Tigger
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Re: Route planning

Postby Tigger » 16 Feb 2013, 9:17pm

Never, ever trust your GPS gadget!!!

20130216_Distance-to-Dest_lr.jpg
OMG, I'll miss dinner!

I was actually 13 miles from home at this point. When I was 1/4 mile from home it still said 7153 miles to destination! Everything else seemed to be in order and it kept me on track etc.

ossie
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Re: Route planning

Postby ossie » 16 Feb 2013, 9:41pm

indy wrote:Sticking with the UK how are people planning multi day tours in terms of there actual route?

I've just been on Google maps which seems to have a half decent cycle route planner as does cyclestreets.net If using one of these how do you translate it to getting directions when on the bike?

Are things like the Garmin Edge 810 popular? If so is it possible to keep it properly charged? Or is trekking GPS with AA batteries a better option?



I use a Garmin Extrex legend Hcx which takes AA batteries backed up with a map for an overview and use lithiums when touring. If you are going from A to B and have the time to work out your route before hand you can download the route to the Garmin using a programme such as bikreroutetoaster. You will need to download maps to the Garmin in the first instance, either pay for something like Garmin City Navigator or get openstreetmap free . It is then as easy as following your pre plotted route on the screen but there is a bit of a learning curve in doing all of this .If you deviate you can always make your way back to your route highlighted on the screen.

I back it up with Michelin 1:200 000 maps, a whole book of France can be had for a tenner on amazon, just rip the pages out I need before I go. These provide enough detail to get you by. More detailed maps are expensive.

I have never been in a position just to amble (I usually have a time constraint) but if I was just changing / deciding my route daily rather than in advance the Garmin wouldnt be much use other than recording an accurate account of my route and giving me my position (which combined with a map is ideal).

However things move on so this advice is probably out of date :wink:

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andrew_s
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Re: Route planning

Postby andrew_s » 16 Feb 2013, 9:55pm

ossie wrote:I have never been in a position just to amble (I usually have a time constraint) but if I was just changing / deciding my route daily rather than in advance the Garmin wouldnt be much use other than recording an accurate account of my route and giving me my position (which combined with a map is ideal).


If you've got a map that allows auto-routing (City Navigator, some but not all of the OpenStreetmap options), it's quite simple to plan and load a route on an eTrex at the start of the day from a large scale paper map.