NOTE: A track is still a route, but think of a track type file as following a track of breadcrumbs (GPS coordinates),
whereas a route type file follows directions, such as turn left here, turn right there.
GPX Tracks
(Global Position Exchange Format Track – contains many GPS coordinates for navigation)
This is the best format, as long as you do not need custom cuesheet entries. A GPX Track contains the
hundreds/thousands of points used to draw a route, but it doesn’t contain cuesheet “note” information, so any
“custom” created cuesheet entries will NOT be present when you navigate this route. However, the GPS unit will strictly
follow the plotted route and will also provide you with true navigation style turn by turn instructions, with a stylized map
and a superimposed direction arrow. Additionally, the compass on your GPS unit will always point in the direction you
need to go, and you can see your route plotted on the Garmin Edge’s map display. As long as you don’t need any custom
cuesheet entries, this is the best format to use.
GPX Routes
(Global position Exchange Format Route – cuesheet directions only)
Sub-optimal, not useful for most people. A GPX Route file contains only the cuesheet directions and not the hundreds or
thousands of points required to draw the route. Since the GPX Route file only contains the cuesheet notes, the Garmin
will use its internal maps to route from the cuesheet entries. Often times this means it will take different streets than
expected, so total overall mileage is almost guaranteed to be shorter. It usually calculates the routes to be as short as
possible. As a result, a GPX Route is rarely a desirable format to use on any Garmin product. One “benefit” is that the
custom cues you created on RWGPS (Ride With GPS) will be present, but how the Garmin unit actually routes you
between them is anyone’s guess.
(Training Centre Exchange Format – proprietary to Garmin; includes data such as heart rate, cadence, etc.)
TCX navigation a good compromise between GPX Route and Track if you need custom cuesheet entries.
Great training aid – Ride With GPS will be releasing training features using this format soon. It offers the best of the GPX
Track and Route – turn notifications while explicitly following the route you plotted on our maps. The downside is the
lack of “true navigation”. It just memorizes the location of each cuesheet entry, and when you ride within 20-30 feet of
the point, it beeps and says the name of the entry, such as “Left”, “Right” or “Food”. It doesn’t say “Turn left on 15th
avenue”, and, if you approach this turn from the opposite direction (say you got turned around mid-route and came at
the turn from the other side), it will still just say “Left”. But, once you recognize that limitation, the benefit of
notifications plus staying exactly on track makes this, most likely, the most desirable format if your route contains
custom cuesheet entries.
How do I get the GPX file?
First, choose what route you want to cycle. This can be found on either the main route page of or the
tables provided on the individual zone pages 1 - 8. Either way, click “view” and it will navigate you to a page dedicated
entirely for that route. Once you see your desired route page click the “Ride With GPS logo, the one under the text
“View map full-screen” and you will see the route much larger on the Ride With GPS website. In the upper right corner
you will see a tab called “Export”. Click that tab. Several options will be displayed. As per instructed above choose the
file called “GPX Track” and save the file where you can find it later.
How do I get the GPX file onto my Garmin Edge 605 or 705?
To put a GPX file on your Edge 605 or Edge 705, export the desired file from the RWGPS website. Once you have the file
saved on your computer (remember where you saved it, whether that’s the desktop or downloads folder or wherever),
you can transfer it to your Garmin unit. Every computer is different, but the general idea is that the Edge 605/705 acts
like a USB thumb drive. Plugging it into your computer should allow you to view the files stored on the unit. Once you
have it plugged in, open up the “drive” (on Windows this is found under “Computer”) associated with the GPS unit, then
open the “Garmin” folder inside the drive. You’ll now see a list of several files/folders. One of the folders is called “GPX”
– if it doesn’t exist you may need to create it. You should copy (drag the icon) GPX file to this folder. Once done, safely
remove the GPS unit. “Safely remove” means follow your systems instructions for removing a USB flash drive. This, on
Windows systems, is usually done by clicking the remove hardware icon in the lower right corner of the screen, next to
the clock. On OSX, you can eject the device from the Finder to accomplish this.
Once the file is transferred to the Edge and the Edge is safely removed from the computer, power the device up. If you
placed a GPX file in the Garmin/GPX folder, you will find it on your device under Menu – Where To – Saved Rides. From
there it should be fairly self-explanatory. Please practice navigating a route with something simple, around your
neighbourhood, and don’t try to do this the first time before a big ride with friends.
NOTE: When you press “Navigate” when in the “Saved Rides” menu the route will not show up on the screen of your
device unless you are near the route. The screen will show where “you” are not where the route is. Remember this is
GPS, Global Positioning System, and will always show where the “unit” is. If you are in the parking lot where the ride
starts, then you will see the route immediately because that is where the unit is. If you are at home and want to see if
the route loads after pressing “Navigate”, scroll over to where the routes starts and look for the “route” line.
How do I get the GPX file onto my Garmin Edge 800 or 810?
The process is almost exactly the same as the Garmin 605/705 version. The only difference is the folder names. First,
open the drive associated with the Garmin unit. You’ll see a few folder names. Click the one labelled Garmin. Then open
the one labelled “NewFiles” and drag or copy the IMG file into this folder. After you have properly removed your device
from your computer, you will find the route under “Courses”.
When you load any route or track file onto your Garmin unit you load the route or track only, not the maps that come
with it. The route or track overlays the map beneath it. The only site that loads both route, track and map is “Bike Route
Toaster”. The last time I checked their site was down. Even if their site was up and working it would be redundant for
me to recreate all the maps onto another site. That’s doesn’t mean you can’t take the Ride With GPS route and create
your own route on Bike Route Toaster…. So the next step is to load the map segments onto your unit so you can see all
the street names.
Option1: Buy the map set from Garmin.
This is the method I use. When you buy the mapset from Garmin you load the maps onto your computer like you would
any other type of software. Once loaded it stays there until you delete the program. It opens into a program called
“MapSource”, a proprietary Garmin program. From here you can load whatever segments of maps you like onto your
Garmin unit by way of USB cable. You can also create routes with this mapping software directly in MapSource, save
them to your Garmin folder and send them directly to your Garmin unit also by way of USB cable. No manual GPX file
transfer is needed. The program automatically loads it in the proper file for you. This method is the most universal as it
will work with Garmin 605, 705, 800 and 810 units.
As for the GPX Track file you just downloaded from Ride With GPS, you simply open the file with MapSource, save it and
send it to your GPS device like any route you plan out on the mapping software.
If you use the “Let Ride With GPS do the work” option listed below, the maps come on micro SD card, which you insert
into to the port on your unit, and can only be used on your Garmin unit. You cannot load these maps onto your
computer and create routes with them as you can with MapSource. These types of preloaded SD cards are for
“navigational” use only.
The link below displays what I think is the best Garmin map set for Canada. Make sure you buy the DVD version, NOT
the SD version. If you buy the SD version you may as well use option 2 below. The provided link is a map set for all of
Canada. The DVD map version also includes topographical data. I use this feature all the time when designing routes
because you can see where all the best hills are.
Option 2: Let Ride With GPS do the work.
Ride GPS will send you OSM (Open Street Map) maps preloaded onto an SD card for $25. See details and purchase your
preloaded OSM maps here. Choose Canada/Alaska option.
This method is cheap and will give you all the map data you will need. You will not be able to load this type of map onto
your computer and create maps like with MapSource, see above. This is best alternative to option 1.
Option 3: Download the maps and load them onto a Micro SD card.
This is the most difficult option, but it’s free.
1. To download the Canada mapset use this link and click the “Direct Download” link (small print under the blue box
with the text “Download Map with Bit Torrent) . The file size is 1.15 GB so it may take about five minutes depending
on how fast your computer is. This will be a zip file. You will need some type of program like WinRAR to unzip it. Once
the zip file has finished downloading unzip the file to a desired location on your computer. Don’t bother with the “Bit
Torrent” download option. It will take too long, especially if you don’t already have your torrenting client
downloaded and ready to go. DO NOT CLICK START DOWNLOAD. It’s an ad.
2. If you haven’t done so already insert your blank SD card into your Garmin unit and power it up. This will create the
necessary folders and sub folders on the SD card.
3. Connect the unit to your computer via USB. Go to the screen on your computer that displays all the drives
associated with your system. On a Windows machine you would click “Computer”. You will see two drives associated
with your unit. One will say Garmin and the model of the unit the other should say something like “Removable Disk
and an associated drive letter. Open the “Removable Disk Drive”.
4. Open the Garmin folder and copy the IMG file to the SD card. It may take up to 1 hour to transfer the file. You
will see other folders inside the “Garmin” folder, but the image file will sit by itself. It does not go into a sub folder.
You will need at least a 4GB SD card so you will have room for other data after the maps have been loaded. The
image file must be called GMAPSUPP.IMG, if it is not change the name of the file.
5. Once the file is copied, safely remove (right click on the icon in the lower right of screen for Windows users) the SD
card from your computer.
6. Go to the configuration menu of your unit: Menu ->Settings->Map ->Show (605/705) and select the appropriate map
type by placing a check mark in the box beside the map set you want to use. On a 800/810 unit press Settings
(wrench icon, lower left) -> System->Map->Map Information and then click desired map and enable it.
Trust me. It’s not that bad. If you choose to let RWGPS send you the SD card all you have to do is plug it into your
Garmin unit and you’re good to go as far as the maps are concerned . As for the GPX Track file? Easy. Click the export tab
on the RWGPS website, plug your Garmin unit into your computer open a few files and the drag the GPX file where it
needs to be. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. I gave lots of info to answer any questions the user may
have. If you choose one of the more complicated methods, it won’t take that long either. Just follow the directions and
you’ll be fine. Don’t be in a rush to get out the door when dealing with all of this, give yourself time and be precise in
what you do.
You’ll be happy you spent the time. This is definitely the way to go in cycling. After you get your maps figured out and
transfer one or two files you’ll see just how easy it is. And don’t wait until the day you are going to ride these routes. Do
a few practices sessions before you really need to have this stuff done right. For all you Socycling Racing Team members
you always have my shoulder to lean on.
Lance Donnelly (with excerpts from the team at Ride With GPS)
February 18, 2014