Using a GPS for bicycle touring

June 3rd, 2008 by scott

This is our first trip with a mapping GPS (Becky has had a Garmin Edge 305 fitness GPS for a while, but it doesn’t have maps) and it is proving to be quite useful. For our ride to Kingston, I have been trying to follow the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour route, as best as I can remember it. Yesterday I was a bit iffy in a couple of places, but the GPS (with a big pink arrow pointing us toward Perth) was very helpful. It let us know we were going in the right direction (even when Becky didn’t believe me) and how far we had to go – as the crow flies at least.

It is possible to get detailed GPS maps with turn by turn routing, but they’re expensive, and a paper map worked just fine as a backup.

During our rest day today, I discovered that someone had uploaded an RLCT route to Bikely, and that I could download a GPX file from Bikely to Mapsource, and then to my GPS. Pretty basic stuff to some I’m sure, but I’m impressed!

I discovered that my recollection of the RLCT route was spot-on as far as Perth, but I was confused about the Perth to Kingston portion. Good to know now before tomorrow, since my planned route would have put us on more heavily travelled roads.

I do want to be careful that these new tools don’t cause us to artificially limit our routes though – sometimes the best adventures come from unplanned detours!

I’m sure there are other useful routes on Bikely, as well as other sites like www.gpsies.com. Alex Carr’s article on Bicycle Touring with a GPS on CGOAB has more details and other suggestions. Perhaps if I had re-read it after getting the GPS I wouldn’t be discovering this now…

RLCT Classic to Kingston

Share your bike routes @ Bikely.com

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