Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 5: Send Custom Map Panel to Garmin Edge

Garmin Edge Screen Shot of Custom Map

To send the newly created Custom Map to a Garmin Edge it must be saved to the device. To do this, right click the custom map in the Places section on sidebar on the left-hand of Google Earth, then select Save Place As and save the file in the KMZ format.

Now move or copy the KMZ file to your Garmin handheld device in the /Garmin/CustomMaps/ directory. Alternately, the file can be saved to a microSD card, in a /Garmin/CustomMaps/ directory. Once the Custom Map is saved to the device, it will appear on your Garmin Edge by default.

While I have searched my Garmin Edge manual, I can’t find the instructions on how to create a Custom Map. However, while not specific to the Edge the following can be used as a guide:

Creating Garmin Custom Maps in Five Easy Steps

Creating and Loading Custom Maps to an Outdoor Garmin Device.

Transfer Paper or Electronic Maps to Your Device

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 4: Add Overlay to Google Earth

Use the add tab then select Image Overlay in Google Earth to add the JPG overlay. In the dialog box add the name of the overlay, provide the path for the JPG overlay and adjust the transparency of the overlay.

It can be a bit tricky positioning the overlay in Google Earth. However, with the route displayed in Google Earth from part 3: Add Route to Google Earth, it is a simple task to match up the route with Google Earth and the overlay by using the green marks to adjust the corner, edges, center and rotation. It may also be necessary to adjust the transparency (in the New Image Overlay dialog) to a level that allows adequate viewing of the JPG and imagery beneath.

Once you are satisfied with the alignment of the source material, select “OK” on the New Image Overlay dialog box.

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 3: Add Route to Google Earth

To help georeference the overlay to Google Earth in Part 4: Add the Overlay to Google Earth. This step will help to precisely position the overlay on Google Earth. Fortunately, the route is available on RidewithGPS in the Google Earth .kml file format. Use the Export tab and click Google Earth (.kml). Now with the route in red on Google Earth, it will be easy to position the overlay to Google Earth.

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 2: Save Map as JPG

To use a custom map on a compatible Garmin Edge the map must be in a JPG format. In my example, I’m using the Sea Gull Century map offered to the public at

Unfortunately, like many online maps this map is in a PDF format and must be converted into a JPG. This can be done with several Adobe products such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or Adobe Acrobat Standard DC. However, if you don’t have software that can convert a PDF file, you can use GIMP a free software package at or other suitable software.

In most cases, the conversion is as simple as opening the PDF file and then saving it as JPG file.

Ken Whittaker

Custom Garmin Edge Map Panels – Part 1: Introduction

Garmin Edge 810

Several years ago, I volunteered to be a beta tester for Adventure Cycling. At the time, Adventure Cycling had converted their Northern Tier route map panels to custom maps and GPX files that could be displayed while navigating the route on my Garmin Edge 810.

I started my test at Bar Harbor, ME riding the Northern Tier westward across Maine. However, I couldn’t resist starting from the top of Cadillac Mountain. Still, I was able to pick up their route a mile or so from the bottom of the mountain and I continued on their route without looking at the paper maps. In my opinion, being able to view their route map panels on my Garmin Edge while navigating turn by turn with the GPX files was a fantastic enhancement to Adventure Cycling already excellent maps.

Evidently, Adventure Cycling didn’t fully agree with my assessment and a few years later I was a beta tester again. This time I tested Route 66 on my phone with their new Bicycle Route Navigator app. While this app was another fantastic enhancement to their already great cycling maps, I prefer to use my GPS for navigation and not my phone.

Fascinated by the first test with the GPS, I began to research how to create custom maps and GPX files that could be displayed while navigating a route on my Garmin Edge (I am now using the Garmin Edge 1030). Surprisingly, I found that it was much easier than I thought. Now I create my own files for the Garmin. Over the next several posts I will demonstrate how it is done using a map for the upcoming Sea Gull Century that I will be riding September 2018.

Ken Whittaker

How I Eliminated My Leg Cramps – Part 3: Lowering My Heart Rate

While I sometimes find it necessary to dial back my intensity before I fatigue my legs, I’ve found it is much wiser for me to calculate and maintain a desired target heart rate zone at which I can sustain my heart rate over long periods in the saddle without overworking it. When I do see my heart rate creeping up, I’ve found that there are three additional steps that I can take to lower my heart rate and avoid overexertion.

1. Breathing deeply – One of the reasons I can’t judge my physical exertion is that I don’t always breathe deeply when I am at a high heart rate. Consequently, I monitor my heart rate and force myself to breathe deeply when it increases. Sometimes just consciously focusing on my inhaling and exhaling works for me. However, when that doesn’t work, one of the most effective ways I’ve found to breathe deeply is to try to completely exhale all the air from my lungs. This technique forces me to take in a large quantity of air when I inhale.

2. Stay hydrated– As I mention in my pervious post Cycling During Heat Advisory Warnings I drink plenty of water. To make sure I keep drinking I set an alarm to sound at the completion of every mile. This reminds me to take a sip of water. The rule of thumb to stay hydrated is to drink a water bottle every hour when cycling. This technique makes my intake of a sip of water just the right portion size for my body to easily process.

3. Fuel My Legs – Similar to my alarm to remind me to drink, I also set an alarm to remind me to consume some carbohydrates to fuel my legs. I prefer whole foods like apples, oranges and bananas, if I can find them. However, I do carry processed carbohydrates such as GU if I can’t find anything else.

I hope you will have the same success at eliminating leg cramps as I have with these simple techniques.

Ken Whittaker

How I Eliminated My Leg Cramps – Part 2: Knowing My Maximum Heart Rate

As I mentioned in my previous post, How to Judge Physical Exertion, I can’t judge my level of physical exertion by how I feel. Therefore, I must rely on a heart rate monitor to gauge how hard my heart is working to help me to avoid leg cramps. However, to use a heart rate monitor, I needed to know my maximum heart rate first. The commonly accepted way to calculate maximum heart rate is this simple formula:

220 – age = maximum heart rate

For example, let’s say I am 65 years old, subtract 65 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 155.

Maximum heart rate is the maximum number of times my heart should beat per minute during exercise. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate. Nevertheless, not everyone at the same age has the same maximum heart rate. I’ve found that my maximum heart rate has always been a little higher than what this formula gives me.

Knowing my maximum heart rate along with the ability to monitor it greatly helps me take steps to reduce my heart rate before I get fatigued and get cramps.

Ken Whittaker

How I Eliminated My Leg Cramps – Part 1: Judging My Physical Exertion

I find that the more tired my leg muscles get while cycling, the more likely I am to get leg cramps. To keep from cramping I sometimes try to dial back my intensity before I fatigue my legs. One way to do this is to judge my physical exertion by how I feel. Here is a simple guide I use based on the Mayo Clinic’s article Exercise intensity: How to measure it

Light exertion – There is no noticeable change in breathing patterns. Don’t break a sweat unless it’s a hot, humid day.

Moderate exertion – Breathing becomes deeper and more frequent. Will break a sweat after performing the activity for about 10 minutes.

High exertion – Will break a sweat after 3-5 minutes. Breathing is deep and rapid. Can only talk in short phrases.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that I can’t always judge my physical exertion by how I feel while I’m cycling. With other types of physical exertion, this method works fairly well for me, but not cycling. Many times, I don’t breathe deeply or rapidly although my body is working harder. While my exertion is the same, my heart rate tends to creep up without me knowing. This has become a real problem while touring because if my heart rate gets too high for a sustained period of time, I fatigue and I get leg cramps.

Ken Whittaker

Bicycle Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a gentle Chinese exercise that combines slow movements and deep breathing. It’s been said to be like meditating while you move. In many ways cycling is my Tai Chi. I find the rhythmic pedaling and deep breathing a form of meditation, especially while cycling a relatively level rail trail through wooded areas. Without the worry of automobiles around me, my sense of the environment comes alive. I start to smell the fragrance in the air. I hear the running water in the stream nearby. I see the movement of small creatures in the brush. But most of all, my mind lets go of the daily stress and is free to wander to any subject. Cycling helps me solve some of the most complex problems in my life in the simplest way.

If relieving stress wasn’t enough, cycling has also improved my balance, strengthened muscles, and lessened arthritis pain. I guess you can think of it as Bicycle Tai Chi.

Ken Whittaker

Bicycle Karma

Today while riding my local Rail Trail I passed another cyclist riding on a flat tire. As you may know, many cyclists believe that it is bad karma to not help another cyclist who needs it. So, to get a sense of his dilemma, I rode up beside him and mentioned that I noticed his flat tire. In return, he simply replied “yup, I got a flat” and nothing more. Since he was very close to a parking area, I assumed he was simply riding a short distance on the flat to get back to his vehicle.

Later, while taking a short break a few miles further down the trail the rider with the flat passed by. I jumped on my bike and caught up with him. This time I asked if he needed help, something I should have done when I first saw him. To my surprise he refused my help. So, I asked him how much further he had to go. He said that he had seven miles more to go and that he had already ridden about eight miles on the flat tire. Being more persistent, I explained to him that I was carrying everything needed to fix his flat and that it would only take a few minutes to repair. Yet, again he refused help.

I’ve found myself many times in situations where I’ve needed help while touring. And I’ve always been amazed how friendly, helpful and kind people have been to me on my journeys. There is nothing wrong with accepting help when you need it. Simply return the kindness to another cyclist when you can help. That is good bicycle karma!

Ken Whittaker