As we already know, it’s getting a lot more dangerous on the roads for cyclists However, there is some comfort in being able to provide our family and friends with our live location information while cycling. As I mentioned in my post DIY Garmin Charge Power Pack Hack, I use Garmin’s Live Track function while I’m cycling. However, you don’t need an expensive bicycle computer/GPS for live tracking.
The makers of ROAD iD offer the free ROAD iD – Live GPS Tracker App that can provide a real-time eCrumb trail of your location and an optional Stationary Alert if you are inactive for a set amount of time. Your loved ones can have peace of mind while they monitor your status when you’re out on your next cycling adventure.
I use this app when I am cycling, walking my dog, hiking or any time I want someone to know my location. It has worked faultlessly for me. And you can’t beat the price . . . FREE!
I tour with a Garmin Edge 1030 bicycle computer/gps and I’d be lost without it. However, I don’t only use my Garmin for navigation. Being able to send Live Track information to my loved ones while I am on an adventure is priceless to me. On tours where I’ll be camping along the route without electric, I am always worried about keeping my device charged. So, I was considering purchasing the Garmin Charge Power Pack. That was, until I read the users manual. To my surprise, I was shocked to learn that the $129.99 Garmin unit only has a 3,100 mAh battery.
If you are not familiar with the cost of a 3,100 mAh battery just Google 3100 mAh battery. I could buy a 3,100 mAh battery for about 10% of the price of a Garmin power pack. But that was only for the battery. I still needed a battery case and Garmin’s external power pack also attaches neatly underneath the Garmin Edge. So another google search for 2X 18650 8.4V Rechargeable Battery Case Pack Waterproof turned up a number of viable options for a complete DYI battery pack that would attach neatly to a bicycle and for only about 25% of the cost of the insanely expensive Garmin unit.
However, I like how the Garmin Power Pack attached directly on the Garmin Computer, so I wanted to attach my DYI battery pack in the same fashion. With a handful of parts I cobbled together my version of a Garmin Power Pack. In comparison, my DIY Power Pack is 10,000 mAh, fits neatly under my Garmin Edge when needed, but can also be switched out easily with a headlight or GoPro camera when the power pack isn’t needed. On the downside, my power pack is not waterproof so I guess I will not be charging my bike computer/GPS the rain.
I have a love / hate relationship with Garmin products. While I love their cycling products, I hate their prices. On the upside, their high prices have brought several new entries into the cycling computer/GPS market. Hopefully, these new entries will fuel more competition that will help bring consumers better products at lower prices.
Until then, you can avoid paying Garmin for their cycling maps. In fact, you can get maps of anyplace in the world for your Garmin device for free. That’s right, FREE! The OpenStreetMap (OSM) initiative is designed to provide free maps, to anyone. And with a few basic computer skills like downloading files, navigating folders and copying files it is easy to install OpenStreetMap data to your Garmin device.
I wouldn’t think of riding my bike without my Garmin Edge. I’d be lost without it! No pun intended. Unfortunately, it is a small device that can easily be lost and is expensive to replace.
Just in case I do have the misfortune of loosing my Garmin, I’ve added my contact information to the boot up splash screen. If someone finds my lost bike computer and they have it in their heart to return it to me, all the information they need is displayed on the splash screen when they power it up.
It is an easy process that all Garmin owner should do. Simply attach your Garmin device to your computer > Open the drive labeled Garmin > Open the Garmin folder > Open the file named startup.txt in your text editor > Follow the on-screen instructions to add your custom splash screen message and save. That’s it! Now if you loose your Garmin there is a chance of being reunited with your wayward device again.
Day 1 – San Diego, CA to Alpine, CA – 41.5 miles – Elevation: + 3969 / – 1547 ft
My excitement and anticipation didn’t help me sleep last night. We will perform the ritual rear bike tire dipping in the Pacific Ocean this morning. This ritual ends with a front tire dip in the Atlantic Ocean when we reach St Augustine, FL 52 days and about 3,000 miles from now. We’re off to conquer the largest elevation gain for a single day of riding! I am hoping the adrenaline rush will help me get through the day.
In addition to downloading the RidewithGPS files directly to his smartphone, (see RidewithGPS Maps Offline on Your Smart Phone) my friend and fellow coast to coast rider, Bruce, also exports the Garmin files directly to the external storage on his phone. This can be done from the RidewithGPS website using a web browser and the site’s export function. It should be noted however, that this can’t be done from the RidewithGPS app. It can only be done from the smartphone web browser. With the RidewithGPS route files on your smartphone they then can be sent to Garmin devices without using a computer.
To do this you need a dongle that allows a direct connection between the smartphone and the Garmin device. In my case, for example, I have a Samsung Galaxy S8+ smart phone with a USB-C port and a Garmin Edge 1030 with a micro-USB port. Therefore, I need a male USB-C to male micro-USB cable to attach my smartphone to the Garmin. A USB Type-C to Micro-B 2.0 Cable can be found on Amazon and elsewhere.
Once the two devices are attached, my smartphone sees my Garmin as an external storage device and I simply copy the file to my Garmin device using the path Garmin > NewFiles on the micro SD card in my Garmin device as illustrated below.
Hopefully, RidewithGPS will add the ability to export Garmin files directly to the smartphone external storage in their next app update.
While I don’t use my smartphone for navigation, I do enjoy viewing the route on my smartphone beforehand. However, this can be a problem when reliable internet or cellular service isn’t available in remote areas like the Northwoods. In these cases, I find that it pays to download the files directly to my smartphone so that they are available offline, as illustrated below.
However, this can’t be done with a RidewithGPS free account. You must have a Basic account or higher to download the maps to your smartphone.
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:
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.
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.