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Hi Everyone,

Just looking for some advice and tips on navigating. I've only been cycling for a year now but am finding when i go on longer routes (therefore in unknown areas) i keep having to stop and look at a map/end up on a motorway!

Just wondered how others follow a route, find a route or make up a route as they go!

At present ive tried taking a map but memorising key roads/features; making concise notes and a)sticking to top tube b)writing up my arm!

Am considering a top tube case with a clear panel for my phone?

PS I'de love a Garmin 800 (or now 810) but that just ain't gonna happen! So "old school" tips appreciated  1

Thanks All

Ben

30 comments

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 3 years ago
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Simplest form is to plot out a ride on google maps or similar, I believe there is one called Map My Ride?

You can either print it or write down the turns and stick them inside one of those A4 polypocket things and strap it to somewhere on your bike?

Do you have a smart phone? There are a few biking app's where you could map out your route, then just put it into your phone as a GPX or other file format, then it will act as a sat nav for your bike, while recording speed and distance....etc.

Hope that helps, others will come along with more idea's I'm sure  26

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formereve [61 posts] 3 years ago
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All good suggestions from Keith  1 I use www.bikeroutetoaster.com

At the top of site is a link called course creator. Click on that and you can start plotting from wherever you want. Once you start plotting to the right of the screen you'll see various options including climbing speed (if ya know it) and a useful option called auto routing which will make the route youre plotting follow the road whilst yer on the map tab.

Above the map itself youll also see other tabs named courses map summary and cue sheet. Youll find that on the summary tab once you start making a route it will give you your height elevation and other details in the course details frame.

I love using this mapping tool. I use it all the time. Another useful feature once youve made the route is that if you ever do get a garmin you can make a route and then download it onto a garmin or other gps unit that accepts the different file types it saves in.

Have a play and enjoy

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Marauder [268 posts] 3 years ago
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Like Gkam says you could use a smartphone app (or buy a Garmin Edge 200 for £120).

Even if you dont have a smartphone/Garmin device you could sign up with Strava and find some segments to add to your ride. Segments are basically roads which may be challenging and if you have a smartphone/Garmin device then you can upload your stats for the segments and see how you are doing over time and compared to other riders.

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andybnk [97 posts] 3 years ago
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I have moved to new areas a couple of times over the last few years, the most helpful thing was actually joining a local club both times, as riders there will usually know good local routes for all sorts of distances and can advise on directions. The other way is to look at a map before you set off and make a mental note of the towns/villages you want to head through and keep an eye open for road signs, after a couple of hours maybe stop and check a map on how to get back! Would love a Garmin 800 myself too but have a long list of other stuff to buy first!

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bike_food [167 posts] 3 years ago
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I do the same as you Ben. Print off parts of route I don't know from Google maps. Got lost loads of times and love the feeling of adventure during the 'oh crud where am I stage' then the feeling of relief when you find your way again. You can get a map holder for your handlebars too.

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02curtisb [62 posts] 3 years ago
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Hi Guys, Thanks for the advice. Definately all sound tips.

Seems to me like the best thing is when going manual:

Set a nice clear route, with village names, roads etc. Main thing is being organised!

or...

GO electronic!

I have a garmin forerunner watch as far as im aware has similar GPS Functionality to the cheaper edge product...ie not turn by turn.

Do any of you have experiance using these type of devices for navigation?

Also, Brian, im already on Strava (Just recently) and am getting to my lectures on time now thanks to the added competition!

Cheers

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 3 years ago
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The other one is to get a little compass and mount to the stem. If you know the rough layout of the area, i.e. you're going to do about 20 miles south-east then back again, and you have a good look at the map, noting down significant roads/villages etc on the top tube, you'll be ok. Even if you go off course, you'll know if you've been heading south for the last half hour. Do this in slightly different directions a few times and you'll end up at junctions saying "oh - THIS is where that one comes out!" If you've got a computer (even a cheap one) you'll also know how far you've gone since you went off course.

If you're regularly in the same area, joining a club is a great idea as suggested by andybnk. If you find they're a bunch of cliquey snobs that won't wait for you if you get dropped or puncture, no worries, just move to another one, most are decent.

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 3 years ago
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Because you have a forerunner watch. You should get Garmin's Fit app, if it will work on your phone. Iphone and Android I think.

That will give you maps and all should pair with your watch to give you all the info at your fingertips.

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Squiggle [403 posts] 3 years ago
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I'd second joining a club and going out with local riders. Although I've found some amazing roads just by going out and getting lost.

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fatbeggaronabike [760 posts] 3 years ago
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how about.... (on dry rides) use a pile of post-it notes (available free from most admin sections of your place of employment) work your route out then write each turn down on your post-its place them on bars then after each turn take off and put in pocket (don't litter) thats extremely old school!  4

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Sadly Biggins [269 posts] 3 years ago
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Like the posters above, I look at the map and/or look on bikehike.co.uk and then memorise the key features/road names/villages as much as possible. Having said that, many of my best routes have come about through wondering "where does this go?" or "where am I?" and blundering on.

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Bobbys boys [76 posts] 3 years ago
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I use bikemap.net

Nice facility to keep a training log too.

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robert.brady [155 posts] 3 years ago
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I find Google Street View invaluable. Plot a route on any of the suggested sites above and then use Street View to pick out landmarks for particular turnings you don't want to miss - turn left at the Red Lion pub, look for a house with a wooden garage door for example. Often I find I can recall images better than words.

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Tour Le Tour [87 posts] 3 years ago
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I start up the appropriate ap (and personally I prefer Sports Tracker, it is free, easy to use and well integrated with google maps, but I am sure there are a dozen aps that would do the job) stick my smartphone in my pocket (and you can get them pretty cheap these days, just make sure it has GPS), and go out and ride.

Usually I figure out how to get home on my own, sometimes I pull out the phone and look at the map. Either way after the ride I have a look at the route I rode and figure out where the good bits were, so I can head back there in the future.

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CraigS [129 posts] 3 years ago
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02curtisb wrote:

I have a garmin forerunner watch as far as im aware has similar GPS Functionality to the cheaper edge product...ie not turn by turn.

Do any of you have experiance using these type of devices for navigation?

I use the Edge 500 and I can add a course which is basically a squiggly black line and a marker to show where you are on that line.

It's pretty easy to relate the shape of the line to the road you're on and figure out where you need to turn etc. and if you miss a turn it beeps at you to let you know.

Apps are great but the battery life on smartphones is just too poor to use GPS for 4+ hour rides.

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Tour Le Tour [87 posts] 3 years ago
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CraigS wrote:

Apps are great but the battery life on smartphones is just too poor to use GPS for 4+ hour rides.

Not sure how I got lucky, but running Sports Tracker on my HTC desire Z I can easily have it running for ten hours and still have significant charge left in the battery. I do the odd multi-day or multi-week ride though, and I do have a little stack of spare batteries that cost me 7 euro each, which I take with me if I am heading out with only half a charge or expecting to be away from a charging point for multiple days, to make sure the phone can always fulfil the primary purpose of getting me out of trouble...

As a side note, for longer rides I also carry the charger that came free with those spare batteries - at about 50g and free I feel much happier leaving it and a 7€ battery plugged in to some random power point while I go off to eat or shower or whatever than I would be about leaving my phone there!

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Here is a proper old skool tip.
Plan your route before hand - either on a computer based map or on a real map.
Then write the relevant turns and road numbers on masking tape which you then wrap around your top tube or head set.
You have to do the route backwards though with the first direction at the end of the tape - (if you get my drift) and the last direction on the first bit of tape you wrap around the tube.
When you make the turn you just unpeel that instruction to reveal the next instruction. You dont even have to stop.

Other thing to do - which i like doing but my riding companions less so - is to get lost. You find new routes and see new things. I dont see it as 'getting' lost - more of an 'adventure'!  4

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Kapelmuur [294 posts] 3 years ago
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Waterstones have had a '3 for the price of 2' offer on OS Explorer maps, so I bought half a dozen and have been happily planning longer rides for when the weather improves. I then write the routes on old Kardex (remember them?) cards which slip into a jersey pocket.

But what I wanted to enquire about is the discrepancy between distance recorded by my Garmin Edge 500 and on the MapMyRide app on my Android 'phone.

MapMyRide always records a distance 2.5% further than Garmin. It's not a problem, I'm just curious about why this can happen when both devices are, presumably, using the same GPS info?

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teamrocket13 [72 posts] 3 years ago
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Do you not know a like minded soul to ride with? Pop into your lbs always someone in there buzzing about who could help some shops even organise their own rides for free so worth asking

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Eg3ftp1 [65 posts] 3 years ago
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View ranger is the best smart phone app I've found for following a pre planned route. You can plot a route online at the view ranger website, or using google maps, then upload it to your view ranger account. the soon your phone then automatically syncs to it,. You then follow the route and it gives clear left right or straight on indications at each way point.

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SammyG [274 posts] 3 years ago
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Just get lost, find your way back. Then next time you go out you will know that route. After a while you will know the roads.

I don't need to plan a route any more I just decide as I go.

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PJ McNally [589 posts] 3 years ago
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OSMand - open street maps, on Android. Turn by turn navigation, following a pre-plotted GPS route. A bit of a faff to configure the first time, but after that, great!

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Rockplough [11 posts] 3 years ago
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On long unfamiliar routes I plan out using google maps, using street view to identify landmarks or signposts at the junctions. Then get a strip of paper long enough to wrap round your bars. Write the route down step by step, mainly the turns - very carefully - with a fine pen then tape the strip round your bars in such a way that you can slide it round i.e. not stuck to the bars. Got my inspiration from those pre-GPS winding map things they used to use in the paris-dakar etc. Sounds complex but it's actually quite simple and works very well.

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02curtisb [62 posts] 3 years ago
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Hi All,
thanks for all the advice. I took a good long planning session but made it from Bath - Swindon all on route and as planned. Used some online sites to plan a course and used my forerunner 405 watch. Although not a true navigation it has an arrow which follows the road and shouts when your off track. As my watch froze for half the ride i relied on my backup of a list of the expected villages with some pics from google maps.

If anyone has a Forerunner and is struggling i can let you know how i did it as the Garmin software does not want to help but i pretty much nailed it over the course of a few evenings!
Thanks Again!

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Cooks [490 posts] 3 years ago
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I did a lejog, and I'd plan out my route using am a5 road atlas then write it down on my forearm with a marker pen...

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Seoige [104 posts] 2 years ago
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I had a similar problem but my solution whilst not be as good as a Garmin edge 800 is pretty close and more affordable. I bought a Tom Tom One car gps and attached it to the stem. Looks the total bollocks and works extremely well. Battery life is in around 3 hrs and and long trips you do not need it on all the time.Besides you can always buy a spare battery of ebay. I did that carry a map routine on a long trip it so does not work.  4

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bikerdavecycling [73 posts] 2 years ago
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Write down the villages names of where you're going through, one under the other. This should mean you've a long thin list which you can cut down and sellotape to them stem. Then simply on the road follow the signs for the villages, mentally ticking them the list as you go.

Obviously have a good look at the map beforehand to ensure a to b can be misinterpreted as a go via main road when a parallel little road was your aim, etc...

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bikerdavecycling [73 posts] 2 years ago
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Like this I mean, but with village names on instead of interval sessions!  20 4 4https://twitter.com/J_T_Locke/status/304321341224521728/photo/1

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MrBLH [26 posts] 2 years ago
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I started off using the forerunner 405 too, i thought it was pretty good for following new routes up to about 100km but soon came across some issues (it's better suited to running):
- battery life is limited to 5 hrs, doing a long ride you could lose your way or not be able to track your pace/distance.
- it's rubbish in the wet, touch bezel goes crazy.
- can only store 1 route at a time.

I now have a 500 edge (150 quid) and think its fantastic  1
Solves issues above, course following is by lines which is clearer than the arrow direction pointer. Only drawback is its not always clear if routes overlap (figure of 8).

I also go for the just get out and ride plan every now and then and take whatever roads catch my eye.

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bambergbike [88 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd rather get lost than get bored, so I usually head off in random directions. I plan properly when I can't afford to get lost (long ride planned, or limited daylight). I used to make lists of villages and bring a map or a google maps printout (1 printout for 50 km). But I've noticed that signposting is usually geared to getting motorists onto more major roads and on the way to bigger places, so it often ignores "my" villages. So these days I pay more attention to working out how my route relates to the bigger places where I DON'T want to go. Knowing that town X should be to my right and town Y on my left as I head through villages A, B and C makes it much easier to avoid momentum-sapping map-reading stops when I come across a signpost at a crossroads that points to five places that aren't on my list and none that are.