GPS aided navigation is integrated part of our everyday life. We are using it in our smart phone and in our cars all the time. GPS based technology is a big help to guide us from point A to point B, quick and trouble free. Thanks to the advancements in technology, and rapidly shrinking prices, GPS navigation on motorcycles are ubiquitous now. The peculiar thing in motorcycle navigation is, we don’t want to get from A to B on the quickest and less challenging way. On the contrary, specially if you are into dual-sport or “adventure” riding, very likely your GPS navigation device will take you on the “wrong” way from time to time.
Automated routing in GPS devices are not the most clever things and coupled-up with the inaccuracies of the electronic maps, your device will take you to places where you did not intend to go. Although GPS navigation devices are great help on our rides, we still need to put some work into planning our afternoon ride or summer trip. Here it is how can you plan the perfect ride.
In your GPS navigation device, the basic building block of your trip is the waypoint. A waypoint can represent one well defined point on the map.
When you are planning a ride, put waypoints on the map, to mark road sections you would like to ride through and the beginning and end points of your trip. The more waypoints you put on the map, the more likely you will end up on the intended roads on your trip.
When you are connecting the waypoints with a line, you are creating a route. A route in your GPS navigation device is a crude way to tell what points do you want to visit or travel trough on your trip, but it will not tell you what route to take. For sure, you cannot follow the route as it is put over a map.
At this point steps in the “track”. A track can be built or generated from your route. A track is a refined version of your route what you can really follow. Your track is laid over roads and ways what you can ride trough. While waypoints can have a name, description and you can assign different signs to it, trackpoints have only a location and time information assigned to them to make possible to calculate speed and elevation. Your GPS navigation device also can be set to record your actual movement as a track. While you can easily edit routes, tracks are need to be re-built or generated again.
GPS navigation devices are usually coming with some kind of mapping software which can help with doing planning on your computer. For example, Garmin Basecamp is available for Garmin GPS device users. There are some free on-line services which offers similar functionality. You can try Open Street Map, MapQuest or Google. If you are looking for a routing software to use it off-line, worth to try QMapShack (for free).
Get a good quality and free New Zealand map for QMapShack or for your Garmin device from here. This map is free and updated monthly. There is also a simplified version of this map, available from the NZ Open GPS Project website.
Do you have a “track” or “route” of a memorable ride? Share it with us together with a short description or ride report.