A lot of adventure riders use electronic guidance when they travel. It seems that most riders are using a combination of dedicated GPSs, phone, and paper maps. The problem with electronic guidance devices is that they often display a route based on their programming, not the route you want to follow. To get them to cooperate, you often have to “program” them so that they take you on the precise route planned.
Staying on Route
Getting a previously planned route from your computer/phone onto your dedicated GPS/phone can be a bit challenging. These devices have built-in parameters that may not follow your predetermined route. The GPS will use its internal programming to get you to each waypoint. So even though you’ve “programmed” them, a GPS will still use its parameters to take you to your destination. Careful planning is necessary to ensure your GPS takes you via the route you want.
So whether you’re a GPS Noob or a track plotting, route building, GPS ninja, ADVRider can help. The main forum has a section titled “Mapping & Navigation”. Once inside, you’ll find all sorts of information with GPS topics. Some of the topics include:
- Which GPS is the best choice for your type of riding?
- A Basecamp Tutorial – Basecamp is one of the software programs used to plot tracks or create routes.
- A Mapsource Tutorial – Mapsource is an older program (the predecessor to Basecamp) used to plot tracks or create routes but is still used today.
- An excellent FAQ section for GPS Noobs.
- Threads that discuss the merits of different GPS planning platforms.
- Lots of GPX files or information on where to find downloadable GPX files that can be downloaded for free.
If you are looking to download actual GPX files, you’ll also find them in the “Mapping & Navigation” section. Once there, you’ll find GPS information and GPX files pre-sorted by geographic location. Here are the USA sections (excluding Alaska):
There are also GPX files and information for the rest of the world (including Alaska). They are sorted into larger chunks and include:
- Alaska & Canada
These files will give you a pretty good head start on finding some excellent routes/tracks. Surfaces can be paved, dirt/gravel, sand etc. It’s a good idea to check the files by first before giving them a try. GPX file viewers such as GPXViewer are widely available on the web so you can check how the GPX file you have is routed.
The GPX files that appear in ADVRider have been shared by ADVRider inmates so others can find, ride, and enjoy places that other inmates have already discovered and enjoyed. They have done so for free. What a great community eh?
Please note that none of the shared GPX files were made/shared for profit. Nor have they been verified or checked at all. You are responsible for your own safety and actual navigation. It is possible that the GPX files provide routes that are impassable at certain weather, times of the year, or outright impassable. They could take you over private property or land that requires a permit. Terrain can be very difficult to ride, even for experts and outright dangerous. You get the idea. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you navigate within your own abilities and on property that is open to riding.
Other GPX File Sources
Even though there are many GPX files on ADVRider, you may find yourself wanting even more. There are many sites that will GPX files for a fee, a donation, or in some cases free. Here’s a smattering of these types of sites.
Trans America Trail (TAT) – Just as the title implies, the Trans America Trail is a mostly off-road journey across the USA.
Trans Euro Trail (TET) – The Trans Euro Trail is a large looping mostly off-road journey around western and eastern Europe.
Trans Canada Adventure Trail (TCAT) – Trans Canada Adventure Trail GPX files are provided through Gravel Travel. Just as the name implies, the Trans Canada Adventure Trail is a mostly off-road journey across Canada.
Once you download the GPX files, once again, you may want to check the routing beforehand. There is lots of software that allow you to see the GPX file route you just downloaded (e.g. GPXViewer). Some software also provide the capability to edit the GPX file you just downloaded.
The software varies in ease of use and capability. Garmin Mapsource and Basecamp have been the baseline for route planning/editing. If you need additional information about Basecamp, you can go to Garmin’s website and find several video tutorials for both PC and Mac:
Google maps and Google Earth also provide a capability to create GPX files using 3rd party sites like GPSVisualizer. GPSVisualizer is free, but you will have to also obtain an API key from Google as well.
Dedicated GPS devices have been in use for years, but the landscape for route planning and the tools for using preplanned routes are rapidly changing. In the last few years, individual apps have become available that let you plan your route without connecting to a computer.
Dedicated GPS devices for personal use seem to be becoming less popular. Phone-based navigation is growing, so it will be interesting to see how motorcycle navigation will advance in the future. Nonetheless, GPX files are here to stay for the foreseeable future and ADVRider is a great place to find some good files and excellent rides.