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GPS route navigation

 
A GPS device is not essential, and there is no need to learn how to use one to enjoy any of our holidays. They do however have a number of useful functions which aid navigation and can be used to record information about the route you are following; there are also a large number of apps for smartphones that enable some form of navigation using GPS.
 

How it works

If you opt to download the gpx files for your holiday, then you will be able to follow each day’s cycling route on either a dedicated GPS device, or a smartphone using an appropriate app. How you utilise the gpx files will depend on the device and/or app you choose to use for this purpose.
  • If you own a dedicated device, then you will need to download the files to a computer and then transfer them to your device, before locating each one on the device on the required day; if you are unsure of how to do this, you will need to refer to a user manual for the device. You may also need to consider downloading and/or purchasing digital mapping; there are some country-specific websites, but a few sites offer global or Europe-wide mapping, including http://garmin.opentopomap.org/ (Garmin-specific, but free) and https://shop.viewranger.com/.
  • If you intend to utilise a smartphone, then you will also need to have downloaded an app capable of reading and displaying gpx files. There are a large number available, some of which are free and others that have more ‘premium’ features which you will need to pay for. You may need to do a little research or check Help/FAQ sections to find out how to open and use the gpx files in any given app, as they’re unlikely to automatically open them, and no two apps work in the same way. Some commonly used apps are RidewithGPS, BikeGPX, OsmAnd, and Wikiloc, but there are many more. Almost all apps will already be programmed to use a specific map. These vary in terms of detail and accuracy, but as you will be cycling predominantly on roads the level of detail is likely to be sufficient.
 

Other considerations

  • Our route notes give useful, practical information, regarding junctions and navigational issues as well as more general points of interest, which simply following a GPS track cannot replicate. There can also be safety implications as our notes provide warnings of steep descents, sharp bends and unusual road/junction configurations. We therefore recommend reading the notes thoroughly the day before each ride, to make yourselves aware of both points of interest where we might recommend a stop, and more importantly any difficult or potentially dangerous sections. The notes remain our primary form of navigation and information provision.
  • Whichever option you take, you will need to consider how you will view the screen as you cycle along. There are various mounts available for bicycles, depending on what device you are using; for smartphones there are relatively cheap holders which attach to the handlebars and can hold smartphones of varying sizes. Be aware that on most of our cycling holidays a handlebar bag is provided with the bike.
  • Dedicated GPS devices tend to have good battery life, but if using an app on a smartphone you should think of taking a back-up battery pack with you. If your phone screen is on for the duration of the ride, and particularly if you need to use a data connection in order for the map to work, you could find that your battery runs out before the end of the day. It is worth checking whether the app you choose requires a data connection in order to function properly, as this could also prove costly; some apps will allow you to download the mapping in advance, worth doing when you have a wifi connection.
  • For those who are relatively new to using a GPS device, it is worth being aware that even in perfect conditions they are rarely accurate to just a few metres, and we would not recommend them for micro-navigation. In certain situations, such as tree cover or when travelling in a built-up area, accuracy can be badly affected, and GPS should not be relied upon.

    We make reference to distances between navigational points in our notes, and these have usually been measured using GPS as well as checked with online mapping software. These distances are therefore very accurate, but be aware that no two GPS devices are likely to plot identical paths – for a variety of reasons – and there may therefore be discrepancies between our notes and your device; over the course of a day’s cycle, this difference can easily be 10% or more.
Last fetch time is : 11/19/2019 7:46:59 AM